For many casual players, chess is a model of a war game or a game to play when you just want to talk and chill. When my friends and I have a board, it’s just in our nature to start playing. Even when there’s no board available, mind chess is always a good option :-). However, once you start understanding the game a little more, chess becomes an art. Maybe you weren’t expecting art in that sense but yes, the World Chess Hall of Fame possesses some of the most artistic chess sets in the world. But much of the beauty of chess is hidden within the board: thrilling tactics, sensational sacrifices, and magnificent maneuvers that require deep thinking. US Chess School Camps never fail to portray these beauties. Take a couple minutes and see if you can solve this position.
Black to Move and Win
1... Rg8 with the idea of ...Nh4+ and ....g5This solution is a shocker. After seeing the the variation, I was asking myself “What is this move?” because I just couldn’t believe how strong this idea was. The coach who showed us this position was FM and FIDE Senior Trainer Aviv Friedman, the main coach of this camp. Aviv’s lessons were very powerful for me since I hadn’t been introduced to many things he taught us before. One of the principles he taught us was intuition. He did this by having us take intuition tests where you get positions and you have to try and find the best move in a span of 1 minute. Here’s an example below, try to solve it within 1 minute:
Black to Move
1... e5 2. Qxe5 (2. Qh4 Rc6 3. Kh1 f5) 2... Rc6 3. e4 (3. h4 Qh3) 3... d4 4. Rd3 Qh3 and Black winsIn a game intuition is extremely important. Many times there are long lines that are just impossible to precisely calculate so this is when you have to rely on your intuition to decide if you want to go into the variation or not. There were many times in my games when my intuition said to play a move but there wasn’t a clear winning line I could calculate. In this case, my intuition depending on how strong it is could make it or break it for me. A strong intuition can win many games while a weak intuition may lose some games for you. This is also the case in life. A strong intuition can give you a better chance to succeed where as if you have a weak intuition, it may be hard to overcome obstacles. At this camp, I realized that intuition is a long term thing. It takes a couple days to memorize an opening but it may take months, even years to improve your chess intuitively. Here's one more example. Take a couple minutes!
White to Move
White is better, obviously, and a continuation such as 1. c3 Kd6! 2. Bc2+ Kc5, 3. Nd7+ keeps an edge, but much stronger and winning is: 24. Bc4! Nxe4 (for example) 25. Rd7+! Bxd7 26. Rxd7+ Ke8 (26... Kf8 27. Rd8+) 27. Bf7+ Kf8 28. Bg6 leaving Black hopeless.As you can see many of the positions that we had to figure out were very difficult. Although most of the time, we were studying different positions and learning new ideas, the camp doesn’t lack fun moments. Below find the bullet Championships video below and the full blitz videos on Greg Shahade's YouTube channel. Get ready for some very intense action! Fellow camper Aydin Turgut described the camp as “a great experience which contained excellent coaching and instruction” and I completely agree. Me along with only 15 other lucky kids were invited to attend this camp with some of the most passionate coaches in the country! Yet, it wasn’t just the coaching that impressed me. Many other factors also stood out. Coming off of finals week, I, of course was brain dead already and I needed some time to just chill. USCS provided everyone with more than enough time to relax. My friends and I always played bughouse or bullet until very late at night which might sound like a strange way to relax but doing something fun and chill always works. On top of that we even got to tour the city of St Louis visiting a couple museums and of course the historical Gateway Arch. Former camper Emily Nguyen said “I’ve been to multiple USCS camps and I’m always able to learn and take away valuable lessons from each one. The instructors are always dedicated to helping us grow and the atmosphere is relaxed and enjoyable.” Although this was my first US Chess School, it was definitely one of the bright moments of my summer. I’d like to thanks coach Aviv and guest GM Yaro Zherebukh for providing us with their carefully planned out lessons. The content was great and I was definitely able to take away a lot of new ideas. Last but not least, I’d like to thank Greg Shahade and the sponsors for making this experience possible. This US Chess School was filled with amazing people and it will always be in my heart.