Best of CLO 2009: #2
January 27, 2010
Elizabeth Vicary at the 2009 National Chess Congress, Photo Chris Bird
The #2 article in Best of CLO 2009 is US Chess School Comes to Arizona (click here for Part II) by Elizabeth Vicary. Judges loved the way her article made readers feel like they were participants at the exclusive training session with GM Yury Shulman.

Vicary has written numerous articles on the US Chess School, including last year's Best of CLO 2008 #2 finisher, U.S. Chess School Comes to New Jersey Part I and Part II. She also covered the 2009 session at the Marshall Chess Club, Part I and Part II and the 2008 San Diego session. You can find a complete index of players and more information on the US Chess School homepage.

Elizabeth Vicary also reviewed for CLO, GM Shulman's book, "Chess: Lessons From a Grandmaster" To learn from GM Yury Shulman in person, those within striking distance should check out his lecture at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis on January 31 at 2 PM.

You can find more of Vicary's writing on her blog, lizzyknowsall.blogspot. Elizabeth is a member of the US Chess League team, the Queens' Pioneers, and the coach of the many time Junior High School Championship team IS 318 in Brooklyn. You can see the teaser for an upcoming documentary on IS 318 here.

The Judges Sound Off

Read more about the judges here

This is a pretty perfect overview of a chess training session. It features a lot of subtle details while not losing thread of the big picture. It's very enthusiastically written, entertaining to read even for non-chess players and there's a sense of wanting to understand and explain everything just right that makes Vicary's style very attractive.- Arne Moll
1) Elizabeth rules!
2) The article was written about something she witnessed, saw, thought about, not her own personal games. This is more difficult to write about, but, I feel like I was there!
3) Yuri Shulman is a great teacher.
4) I felt like I learned a lot about teaching and even improve my own play
5) The article gives you a great sense of actually being there!- GM Ben Finegold

Okay, I love Yury Shulman.  So I am biased.  I love Yury, and I love Greg Shahade and what they both do for chess.  Also, I love Elizabeth.  Her writing is always both clear and crisp in a way that reminds me of, say, Martin Amis when he is pointing at something funny.  But so this immediately gets a top-rank, because what was covered in Shulman’s lessons, that Queen Sacrifice lesson specifically, got copied, pasted, printed, stapled and placed in my folder of advanced lessons for my students this week.

Readability was a looming criterion for me; being a class player, a teacher, and, well, a reader, I figure I am a sort of average audience of this stuff, and so I was looking for chess I could understand and a narrative I could identify with.  Vicary describes the camp lessons and activities, then includes puzzles and games from the lessons, quotes funny bits by Shulman (the “concept of trousers?!” this is great), and creates the environment of the camp and its participants all seamlessly.
It feels weird to analyze Vicary’s analysis of Shulman’s analysis of the students’ games, but then, writing about chess can be pretty weird anyway.  Shulman is described as having the prowess of immediately “pinpointing students’ problems and offering concrete ideas for fixing them.”  So, I think it’s acute of Vicary to mention this, and so on.

An added benefit to detailing the camp’s lessons is that we feel like we are learning, too, and in a non-frightening, secret kind of way.  It’s like we’ve been invited to the lesson with the greats as well.  It takes some finesse to create this scene for us, and I know I am not the only one to appreciate it.- Jessica Martin

This article was important (as it helps promote the US Chess School, which is an excellent subject in need of more visibility). It was well composed, provided information and photos as well as human interest. It included personality profiles, which are always a plus.- Rachel and Myron Lieberman

Best of CLO 2009 Countdown
#2-US Chess School Comes to Arizona Part I and Part II by Elizabeth Vicary
#3-Krush on the Congress: From Worst to First by IM Irina Krush
#4- Castling Long Around the World by FM Mike Klein
#5-The Grandmaster House by GM Jesse Kraai
#6-Kamsky on Match: "Life Goes on." by Macauley Peterson
#7-Abby Marshall on her Denker Win by Abby Marshall
#8-How to Score a Summer Upset by Matan Prilleltensky
#9- Adventures of a Samford: Friedel on the 2009 US Champs  by GM Josh Friedel 
#10-Interview with a Hall of Famer: GM John Fedorowicz  by WGM Jennifer Shahade