The fourth session of US Chess School took place in Lexington, Kentucky at the end of July. The founder of the school, IM Greg Shahade invited the following eight players: Victor Shen (NJ), Christian Tanaka(CA), Alec Getz(NY), Michael Lee(WA), Brian Luo(WI), Aleksander Ostrovskiy(NY), Daniel Naroditsky(CA), Darwin Yang(TX). This group of players was a who's who of scholastic chess, with all eight of the players being ranked in the top 3 for their age group. I have been the trainer for all four sessions thus far, and it's been a real pleasure working with such enthusiastic and talented players.
Darwin Yang, Brian Luo, Michael Lee and Daniel Naroditsky hard at work at the USCS. Photo Dujiu Yang
The session consisted of five days of very intense and focused training. Each day we gathered in Central library in downtown Lexington for eight hours of chess. The program included lectures, analyses of students' games and solving difficult exercises (both tactical and positional).
The lecture topics ranged from How to know where to put pieces? Mikhail Tal: how good was a tactical genius in positional play?, Discussions about the role of psychology in chess. And How different is to play against higher and lower rated opponents? Rather then calling them lectures, it probably would be fair to say that we had the discussions. Everybody contributed stories about their chess experiences, frankly talking about their strengths and weaknesses. I thought it was incredibly instructional for all kids to learn that many decisions they make over the chess board are based not only on their chess ability, but also depend on the personality's traits. Not only they got to know each other better, they also discovered many new things about themselves.
Back: Victor Shen, Christian Tanaka, Alec Getz, Michael Lee, Gregory Kaidanov
Front: Brian Luo, Aleksander Ostrovskiy, Daniel Naroditsky, Darwin Yang. Photo Dijiu Yang.
We also talked a lot about how chess teaches important life lessons. I showed to students the article I found on the internet, which emphasized how important is to say "I am sorry" when you are wrong (here is a link ) Then I followed up with some chess examples, which demonstrated the situations in which you have to acknowledge your mistake and back up from originally planned operation.
We also had a lot of fun joking around and telling the stories, which had nothing to do with chess. The undisputed champion in this area was Christian Tanaka. He was the inexhaustible source of all kinds of funny stories, each of them though starting with the same phrase "One of my friends.."
The storyteller of the group, Christian Tanaka. Photo Dujiu Yang.
One enjoyable activity were a series of consultation games. One team consisted of Alec Getz, Aleksander Ostrovskiy, Michael Lee and Brian Luo. The other had Victor Shen, Christian Tanaka, Daniel Naroditsky, Darwin Yang.
The kids really enjoyed the session. Brian Luo said: " GM Kaidanov is a very great chess teacher," and noted rook endings and the lecture on Nakamura's fighting spirit as his favorite parts of the session.
According to tradition the last day featured a party in my house. Both kids and parents enjoyed Russian food prepared by my wife Valeria. We also played a lot of ping-pong, but the highlight of the event was a double round robin blitz tournament, which was won by Victor Shen.
Chess was not the only game played at the US Chess School. Photo courtesy Deren Getz's Iphone.
Thanks to all of the students for making this program so enjoyable for me, thanks to Greg Shahade for putting it together and also thanks to Jim Roberts in conjunction with the AF4C for sponsoring the US Chess School. The next session of the USCS is expected to be held in San Francisco at the Mechanics Chess Club from January 2-6 2008. For the first time there will be a different trainer, as my spot will be filled by GM Yury Shulman. The future plans on the USCS include ideas of holding three sessions each year, all in different geographic locations, with three different rotating trainers. As much as I love participating in the program myself, I agree that it's in the best interests of the students to receive exposure to as many strong players and styles as possible.