Latest Young Stars Camp in Saint Louis

(left to right): Nastassja Matus, Vincent Tsay, Rochelle Wu, Christopher Yoo, Wesley Wang, Andrew Hong, Liran Zhou. Photo: Lizhi Wu

The Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) and Saint Louis Chess Club have been running the very successful Young Stars – Team USA program for the past six years. Team USA’s program has helped develop several American chess prodigies from across the country, including the likes of GM Jeffery Xiong and GM Sam Sevian. Team USA has been capped off with individualized training sessions with Kasparov’s coaching staff and special training sessions with Garry Kasparov himself.

The latest of the Young Stars camp was held at the Saint Louis Chess Club, and it brings forward a talented new generation. The players attending this camp already have several World titles between them:

Rochelle Wu – U10 World Girls Cadet Chess Champion 2016

Vincent Tsay – U12 World Cadet Chess Champion 2017

Andrew Hong – U12 Silver Medal World Cadet Chess Championship 2016

Liran Zhou – U10 World Cadet Chess Champion 2017

Christopher Yoo – 2nd ranked U12 player in the World

Nastassja Matus – U12 Silver Medal Girls Cadet Chess Championship 2017

Wesley Wang – All-America team member in 2016, 2017 and 2018

The camp was three days long and focused on evaluating each player’s current skill and providing guidance towards future improvement. The attendees presented some of their games against top-level competition: six annotated games, all within the last six-month period. Kasparov went through every game, providing his insights and analysis as well as recommendations for improvement.

Students also were tasked with absolutely top-notch tactical and strategical problems to solve – after all, a back and forth banter with Garry Kasparov is difficult to follow even for an in-form GM! Kasparov was in charge of reviewing the players’ games, offering feedback and giving his evaluation of the player’s strengths and weaknesses. He was assisted by FIDE Senior Trainer and KCF President Michael Khodarkovsky.

Kingside Diner, next to the chess club, is always a favorite for the players of top tournaments to eat lunch and relax. Photo: Andrew Tsay

Rochelle Wu kindly answered a few questions about the camp:

– What did you feel was different about this chess camp compared to others?

I think this camp is tougher and at a much higher level than others. People here take chess more seriously, and it feels like I’m with the best.

– How is Garry as a teacher?

Garry is an interesting teacher. He’s world class unlike me, and sometimes he is too advanced, but, at the end of the day, I feel like I learned something.

– Can you share a couple of your favorite examples from this camp?

I like how during presentations, he would come up with entertaining ideas. He gives interesting studies, and it feels great when I get them correct. I felt really good when I solved the knight and pawn ending.

Rochelle Wu solved Tigran Gorgiev’s study from 1928, can you?

White to move and win.

Parents are invaluable in the process of achieving success. Seven talents, seven parents!

The highest rated player of the camp was Andrew Hong, a talented and hard-working player that is only one point shy of breaking the 2400 mark.

Here is one of Hong’s annotated victories against a grandmaster.

The camp finished, and, of course, these kids could not get enough chess, and played a strong blitz tournament held at the Saint Louis Chess Club to finish off the weekend!

The Young Stars program has also gone global, and is currently accepting applications world wide. If you are or know of a talented youth that could immensely benefit from the expertise of Garry Kasparov, please find the information and submission forms by clicking here.

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