The 4th Annual Western Invitational Chess Camp, held July 15-19, 2007, at the luxurious Hilton El Conquistador, featured some of the brightest chess minds in the United States. Every year, I try to add a new instructor or two, and this year the featured instructors included two of the finest instructors in the country: GM Gregory Kaidanov, from Lexington, Kentucky, and GM Yuri Shulman, from Chicago, Illinois. The other instructors included IM Levon Altounian, FM Robby Adamson, FM Danny Rensch, and FM Ken Larsen. Students attended from 11 states, including Arizona, California, Washington, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, and New York. The reviews of the camp this year were outstanding, which could not have happened without great instructors, enthusiastic students, and the support of local families and the local community.
The camp was graced with a very strong top group (Group 1), featuring fifteen year old International Master Robert Hess from New York, and five masters, Julian Landaw from California, Chris Williams from Massachusetts, Leo Martinez and Landon Brownell from Arizona, and Aaron Kahn from Michigan. The top group had an average rating of 2190!
The second group (Group 2) featured an average rating of 1964, with newcomers Daniel McNally from Illinois, nine-year old phenom, Varun Krishnan (1950) from San Diego, and Daniel Rohde from New York. The rating range of this group was 1930-1985.
Group 3 and 4 featured an average rating of 1785 and 1620 respectively, and based on what I observed, will see the most gain in rating and strength by next year. I predict rating jumps of at least 100 points by many of the participants at next year's camp.
The Winners of the Camp tournament in each group were as follows: Group 1 – Landon Brownell from Arizona; Group 2 – Pasha Savine from Arizona and Daniel McNally from Illinois; Group 3: Doug Thigpen from New Mexico; and Group 4 – Eli Alster from Arizona. The instructors also voted on the best student participation and most enthusiastic in each group: Group 1 – Leo Martinez from Arizona; Group 2 – Varun Krishnan from California; Group 3 – Alex Curry from Arizona; and Group 4 – Ethan Gottlieb from Washington. The above winners all received autographed chess books by the instructors to reward their efforts.
Excellent accommodations were again provided by the host families. Thanks to the Brownell, Martinez, Higgins, Cox, Savine, Alster, and Shacter families for being excellent hosts. I hope to continue the tradition of host families providing accommodations. Also, thanks to the Brownell, Martinez, and Cox families for hosting the evening parties that featured swimming, ping pong, basketball, video games, bughouse, blitz, and other activities.
Also, thanks to Brian "The Cat" Kostrinsky for providing the "word" of the camp, calling each person "the Cat," though some apparently were not deserving of this distinguished title, and were called "the kitten."
Finally, special thanks to Roger "The Cat" Brownell, who hosted 7 students, directed the camp tournament, hosted a party, took the group camp photos, and lots of other things. Thank you Roger!
Next year's camp will again be held in mid-July. If you are interested in being invited, please contact Robby Adamson. I cant wait until next year.