By FM Robby Adamson
The 1st Annual Western Alliance Chess Camp debut in Tucson was a tremendous success, attracting about 60 participants from Tucson, Arizona, as well as some out of town students from as far as Illinois! The camp was held June 24-27, 2006, at St. Joseph’s in Tucson, and was organized by Tucson International Master, Levon Altounian.
While Levon is best known for coaching Castle Hill Country Day School and their 2004 K-5 National Championship, he also coaches other successful teams and numerous talented chess juniors in Tucson. The other instructors included my former coach, FM Ken Larsen, who has coached in Tucson for over 20 years, National Master Matthew Beelby from California, and Experts Jonathan Shacter, Vaishnav Aradhyula, and Chris De Sa.
Students were divided into groups based on their USCF rating and strength as determined by the instructors. The students varied in strength from beginner to 1700. Each day the instructors rotated between groups so students could be exposed to various teaching approaches and experiences. Lecture topics included tactics, positional ideas, long term planning, playing games, solving puzzles, and playing out specific positions and review of the games. The camp also featured evening activities including lectures, blitz tournament, a simul, and some other fun activities.
Another nice feature of the camp was that it permitted children to attend part of the camp, if they had other commitments.
Following 4 days of intense instruction, the camp was topped off the day after by a USCF rated tournament for those who had not had enough chess! Also, the camp offered an evening session for adults, providing a rare opportunity for adults to get high quality instruction.
This year’s camp is to be held June 25-28, 2007, and is being run by Arizona Chess for Schools, LLC (headed by Levon), an organization designed to provide chess instruction and other chess educational activities in Arizona. This year’s camp promises to be better than last year, with some new instructors, including Tucson’s newest master, Leo Martinez, as well as many of last year’s instructors, including FM Ken Larsen, Vaishnav Aradhyula, and Jon Shacter. The link for the camp can be found on this website. Don’t miss out on chess this summer!!