Chess Training with Chocolate: The 40th US Chess School

Article author Adrian Kondakov, camper Rui Yang Yan, with guest coach Kostya Kavutskiy watching

My summer was filled with chess. I attended several local strong chess camps, including the fun and educational Western Invitational Chess Camp in Arizona.  

I was planning to spend the last days of summer studying chess, swimming and playing in local tournaments. 

Then came a special evening: my parents told me that I received an invitation to be a part of the 40th US Chess School Camp in San Francisco, which was a big honor and surprise for me.

 My chess year had been tough so far. I have been through many challenging chess tournaments and many ups and downs. The invite meant a lot to me indeed. 

The camp was set for San Francisco Mechanics Institute, right in my area. 

“Yay! It is the first day of camp!” I woke up excited and ready to go!

When I walked into the Mechanics Institute Chess Room I saw campers playing blitz. The breaks are always fun filled blitz and bug fests at the US Chess School! 

As we took our seats for the main lesson, Greg showed a position to be played out.

Gellashvili,Tamaz (2600) VS Shahade,Greg (2400)

In the position above, it seemed to Greg that Tamaz just missed 1…b4, after which the game continued 2.Rac1 bxc3 3.bxc3 and White will win the knight on c5, after which he’ll have a dangerous initiative due to the pin on the c-file.  Greg thought his opponent just blundered but Tamaz actually sacrificed for the initiative. The lesson here: NEVER underestimate your opponent.

Then he showed us a few endgames, including one he played against GM Marc Arnold: 

Black to Move: Should he accept the draw offer?

Greg had to decide whether to accept the draw in the position above. Think about what you would do. Greg accepted the draw, but later regretted it, when he studied a game with a similar pawn structure.

If Greg knew this game that time he would have never ever accepted the draw.  This shows the importance of knowing classic games and remembering structures.

Later we had a intuition test, in which Greg gave us a minute on each puzzle. After the intuition test we had one hour for the lunch break. When the lunch break was finished Greg set up another position to play out.

World Girls Under 16 Champion Annie Wang plays Balaji Daggupati,in a training game at the US Chess School

One day, totally out of  blue, Greg took us to Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory store.

US Chess School campers Cindy Zhang, Rui Yang Yan and Annie Wang

It was great fun for us. We came back with a big bag of chocolate. We then got a challenge: if a student gets defeated in blitz, the chocolate bag will get split among kids

No one could beat Greg except Siddharth Banik who beat Greg! And we shared all great chocolate -yummy!!! Thanks Sid! 

Siddharth Banik

I would like to say a huge thank you to IM Greg Shahade for being a fearless leader of our diverse group of students ages 9 to 17, to Mechanics Institute Director IM John Donaldson, and Dr Jim Roberts, for supporting scholastic chess and providing a unique opportunity to us, young enthusiastic chess players to move to the next level in chess through such camps.

GM Daniel Naroditsky also gave a lecture to the class.

This camp is an valuable learning experience and lots of fun!  I look forward to returning next year!  

Find out more about the US Chess School on their website, instagram and facebook. 


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