The 3rd Annual Western Invitational Chess Camp, held at the University of Arizona, July 9-13, 2006, was the strongest ever, and based on the attendance, was the highest rated chess camp in the United States. The instructors for this year included GM Larry (“I need an Ice Coffee”) Christiansen, GM Alejandro (“Handi”) Ramirez, IM Levon Altounian, IM Mark Ginsburg, FM Robby Adamson, and FM Danny Rensch.
This year marked a very diverse (probably not a strong enough word) group, both in chess ability and in personality. The top group consisted of players with an average rating of 2130. Aaron Kahn from Michigan, who cracked master at the 2006 World Open, won the camp tournament, with only a loss to his host and future master, Leo Martinez. The other master attending was Chris Williams, from Massachusetts, who injected a level of energy into the camp that was quite unique. Other newcomers in the top group included Jeffrey “Mechanics” Haskel from Florida, and Javid Aceil from Georgia. The other participants in the top group from Arizona included Leo Martinez, Jonathan Cox, Sean Higgins, Lee Lafrese, and Derek Tan from California, and Matan Prilleltensky (Matan actually attended the first year of the camp) from Tennessee.
The second group included another diverse group, with 9 of the 10 participants rated over 1900. The newcomers to this group included the laugh-a-minute Brian Kostrinsky from Georgia, Greg Kimmel from New York, Louiza Livchitz from California, Kevin Velazquez from Illinois, and Kaylan Burleigh from Arizona. Other participants in this group included Josephine Valenzuela, Amanda Mateer, Ben Marmont, and Pasha Savine (all from Arizona), and Jared Tan from California.
Because of the small numbers in the respective groups, Groups 3 and 4 were combined for the camp tournament, but had separate lectures. Members of these groups received great individual attention. Though the groups were small, it featured some real rising talents in Arizona, including John Williams (who has really shot up in spite of his Arizona State University shirt) and the young but talented Peter Fenger from Arizona. Other participants included Jenelle Wallace, John Barthel, Alex Curry, Victor Yee, Eddie Moskala, and Ryan Mead.
One of the unique features of this camp is that the students stay with host families, not in dormitories. I can not thank the local families enough for hosting these students. The camp is successful because of this cooperation. I hope this tradition will continue.
Finally, special thanks goes out to Jonathan Shacter, who did a fantastic job directing the camp tournament, handling the camp website (including the posting of all the camp games on the web site) and all the little things that go unnoticed but are essential to the smooth running of the camp.
Next year’s camp will be held in mid-July, and will be even stronger than last year. If you are interested in attending, please contact Robby Adamson.