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14 Champs Gather in Glendale for 1st Schein-Friedman Camp Print E-mail
By Carol Nakagawa   
July 16, 2013
Late in June, 14 chess champions ages 11 to 17 gathered for the 1st Schein-Friedman Scholastic Project Camp -- a free week long high level, intense chess class taught by two of the nation's top chess instructors and coaches. The class or camp, as it's sometimes called, was sponsored by the Schein-Friedman Scholastic Project, with the help of the US Chess School (this camp was also the 21st USCS camp).

The students and parents were very grateful to Mark Schein and Aviv Friedman, the two founders of the Schein-Friedman Foundation, with special thanks to Greg Shahade, and to Dr. Jim Roberts, the main sponsor of the USCS.  The instructors were IM Armen Ambartsoumian, Head Coach of the American Chess Academy, and multi-time US youth coach for the world championships, and IM Greg Shahade, founder of New York Masters, the U.S. Chess League, and the US Chess School.

Front row: 12-year-old Siddharth Banik, 12-year-old Joshua Sheng, 15-year-old Soloman Ruddell, 17-year-old Eldon Nakagawa, 13-year-old Colin Chow, 14-year-old Simone Liao; Back row: 11-year-old Albert Lu, 13-year-old Atulya Vaidya, 13-year-old Craig Hilby, 14-year-old Daniel Mousseri, 11-year-old Nicolas 'Nico' Checa, 13-year-old Agata Bykovtsev, 15-year-old Nicky Korba, and 11-year-old Annie Wang.

The students each had a minimum rating of 2100 and were from Texas, New York, California, and Hawaii.  

The class was held in the music room of the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles in Glendale, California, where each student had an unobstructed view of the projector screen, the chess demo board, and the instructors.   


IM Armen Ambartsoumian


IM Greg Shahade

The instructors asked about each student's chess goals, chess playing style, and their other hobbies.

They were very kind and respectful and considerate to each student.  Chilled water and snacks were personally handed out to each student every day and the instructors tried to make it as comfortable as possible with fans and AC units amidst the extreme heat wave in Los Angeles that week.
In the afternoons, each student played a challenging endgame position against a fellow student with 15 minutes on the clocks.  IM Armen went over the games with the students, stressing that even GMs had difficulty in these positions.  Four of the positions that were given are shown below.  The object in each is for black to try and draw or win.  Go ahead and challenge someone at these positions - good luck!
Black to move 

A lesson in calculations and reaching a zugzwang. The moves and behind the scenes suggestions were some of the possible tries in the position:

1...h5 [1...f5 2.exf6 gxf6 3.g4 h6 4.h4 e5 5.h5 Kc6 6.Kxb4; 1...f6 2.exf6 gxf6 3.g4 h6 4.h4 e5 5.h5 Kc6 6.Kxb4; 1...g6 2.h4 h6 (2...h5 3.g3) 3.g4; 1...g5 2.g4 h6 3.h3] 2.h3 [2.h4 g5 3.hxg5 (3.g3 g4) 3...h4 4.g3 (4.Kb2 Kxc4) 4...h3; 2.f4 exf3 3.gxf3 h4 4.h3 f6 5.exf6 gxf6 6.f4 f5; 2.g3 f5 3.h3 g5] 2...f6 [2...f5 3.h4 g6 4.g3] 3.h4 [3.exf6 gxf6 4.h4 f5 5.g3 e5] 3...fxe5 [3...f5 4.f4 exf3 5.gxf3 f4] 4.g4 g6 5.g5 Kb6 6.Kxb4 Kc6 7.c5 Kd5


Flohr – Capablanca 1935 Black to move

The white knight looks dominant, and many would think black is in trouble, but Capa shows the proper defense, even with white to move:

25.Kc3 b6 26.f4 Bd7 27.Nf3 f6 28.Kd4 a5 29.Nd2 Bc8 30.Nb1 Be6 31.Nc3 Kc6 32.a3 h6 33.g3 h5 34.b4 axb4 35.axb4 Kd6 36.b5 g6 37.Na4 Kc7 38.Nc3 Kd6 39.f5 gxf5 40.Ne2 Bd7 41.Nf4 Be8 42.Nxd5 Bxb5 43.Nxb6 Bc6 44.Nc4+ Ke6 45.Nb2 Bb5 46.Nd1 Be2 47.Nf2 Bf1 48.Nd3 Bxd3 49.Kxd3 Ke5 50.Ke2 Ke4 51.h3 Kd5 52.Kf3 Ke5 ½–½


Spassky – Torre, 1982 Black to move

Torre actually played the erroneous 42...f6? and lost quickly: f6 43.a6 Kg6 44.a7 Kh7 45.Kh2 Ra1 46.g3 Ra2+ 47.Kg1 Kg6 48.f4 Kf7 49.fxe5 fxe5 50.Kf1 Ra1+ 51.Kf2 Ra3 52.Ke2 Kg6 53.Kd2 Ra4 54.Kc3 Ra1 55.Kc4 Kf7 56.Kd5 Ra5+ 57.Kd6 Kg6 58.Ke6 Ra1 59.Kxe5 Kf7 60.Kf5 Ra5+ 61.e5 g6+ 62.Ke4 1–0
43.Kh3 Kg7 44.a6 Kh7 45.a7 Kg7 46.g3 Kh7 47.f4 exf4 48.gxf4 Ra3+ 49.Kg2 Kg7 50.Kf2 Kh7 51.Ke2 Kg7 52.Kd2 Kh7 53.Kc2 Kg7 54.Kb2 Ra6 55.Kc3 Kh7 56.Kd4 Kg7 57.Kd5 Kh7 58.e5 Kg7 59.Kc5 Kh7 60.Kb5 Ra1 61.Kb6 Rb1+ 62.Kc5 Ra1 63.Kd6 Ra6+ 64.Ke7 Kg7 with no way to make progress for white, as he cannot create a passed pawn, or a pawn weakness he could try to win.


Gavrikov – Piesina, 1981, White to Move

A lesson on the potential agility of a Rook versus two minor pieces, especially in an endgame. Black just played the dubious 22....g5?! White obliges, while it took some time, it was clear who was having all the fun:
23.Bxg5 Rxd2+ 24.Rxd2 Rxd2+ 25.Kxd2 Ne4+ 26.Kc2 Nxg5 27.Rd1 Ne6 28.b4 Kf8 29.Rd7 Ncd8 30.Kc3 Ke8 31.Rd5 f6 32.a4 Nf7 33.Kc4 e4 34.Rf5 Ke7 35.Kd5 Ne5 36.Rh5 Nf8 37.Kxe4 Nc6 38.b5 axb5 39.axb5 Na7 40.Kf5 Nxb5 41.Rh4 Nc3 42.Rb4 Nd5 43.Rxb7+ Ke8 44.c6 Ne7+ 45.Kxf6 Nxc6 46.Rc7 Nd7+ 47.Kg7 Nce5 48.Kxh7 Ng4 49.Kg6 Nxe3 50.Kg5 Kd8 51.Rc6 Nf8 52.g4 52...Kd7 53.Ra6 Ne6+ 54.Kh4 Ke7 55.Kg3 Nf1+ 56.Kg2 Ne3+ 57.Kf3 Nc4 58.h4 Ne5+ 59.Kg3 Kf6 60.Ra1 Nc4 61.Re1 Nd6 62.Rf1+ Kg6 63.Rd1 Nf7 64.Rd5 Kf6 65.Rf5+ Kg6 66.Rf1 Kg7 67.Kf3 Kf6 68.Ke4+ Kg6 69.Rb1 Kf6 70.Rb6 Ke7 71.Rb7+ Kf6 72.Rb1 Ke7 73.Rf1 Nd6+ 74.Kd5 Nc7+ 75.Ke5 Ne6 76.Re1 Nf7+ 77.Kd5 Nfd8 78.g5 Kf7 79.Rf1+ Kg7 80.Ke5 Nf8 81.Kf5 Nf7 82.Rd1 Ng6 83.h5 Nf8 84.Ra1 Nh7 85.g6 Nh6+ 86.Ke5 Nf8 87.Ra7+ Kg8 88.Kf6 Ng4+ 89.Kg5 Ne5 90.Ra8 Nf3+ 91.Kf6 1–0

During the breaks, IM Greg played a blitz game with a young champion to get to know each student better while the other students played bughouse. A similar match from a couple years ago against Sam Sevian became a viral sensation, with almost 1 million views! 


On the first day, IM Armen lectured on the importance of accurately evaluating chess positions with equal material.  He started with evaluating the static position such as king safety, piece placement, pawn structure, open or closed position, whether the king was castled or not, open files and diagonals, etc.  

He showed many tournament games where the positions were equal and then after just a few moves, one side was in a much worse position due to inaccurate evaluations.  He went on to explain how accurate evaluations and obvious next moves little by little add up to a much-improved position.  IM Armen explained how even top chess players had difficulty accurately evaluating positions.

He recommended annotating games without any chess engine first, putting details such as missed tactic, wrong calculation, knowledge problems, etc.  Then after the annotation is done, a chess engine can verify the annotation was correct.  If there are common problems in openings, middle games, and end games, these problems can be worked on and corrected.

Armen recommended playing blind chess with anyone in order to visualize the chess board and pieces in your mind.  He also mentioned the importance of studying end game strategies in order to better understand the middle game and openings.

Armen talked about playing openings comfortable to you and how openings evolve into different openings.

IM Greg Shahade talked about the importance of returning to the previous position after moving to an unfavorable position.  He showed several tournament games on how continuing in the unfavorable position would result in increasingly worse positions.  He also showed how going back to the previous position would produce better results although students are normally taught not to do that.

Greg also went over positional chess strategies and analyzed the positions from many tournament games with the students.  He had the students find the best moves for many positions, challenging the students to get the highest number of moves correct.

The class also analyzed many tournament games of Emmanuel Lasker, the world chess champion for the longest number of years: 27 years.  Greg had the students find the best moves for various positions in Lasker's games and then had open discussions about the various moves.

On the last day, the students played a round robin 3 minute blitz tournament with the extra player having the privilege of playing against FM Aviv Friedman. 


FM Aviv Freidman (left) playing blitz with Eldon Nakagawa

It was a fun and mentally challenging class and the students gained valuable knowledge to help them become better chess players and bigger chess champions!

Aloha and Mahalo to the Schein-Friedman Scholastic Project and the US Chess School and IM Armen, IM Greg, and FM Aviv!