Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Chess Camp 2013

Today is the first day of the 2013 Chesskids chess camp. The camp is being held in the seaside town of Cowes, on Phillip Island, and the theme of the camp is endgames. I was on a bus that took us down to Phillip Island and we spent the first part of the day playing open aired simuls with locals looking on, and even joining in. It is a good team building exercise, with the kids playing in simuls against the coaches, and then being encouraged to play simuls against the other kids.
Guest coach Luke Li giving a simul (left), while kids like Max Phillips (right) also gave simuls
After the simuls we headed back to the venue for the first of the games and training sessions. The kids are split into groups for training purposes, and they are also placed into teams for playing purposes. To start with they played the first round in their team matches, and then they broke into the training groups for endgame lectures and activities. I'm not totally sure what the other coaches were teaching, but I was looking at rook endings with my main aim being to get my students think about when to "place rooks behind passed pawns", "place rooks on open files", or to "cut the enemy king off along the rank/file". Talking about king and piece activity will be a big part of this week, as well as creating and promoting passed pawns.
Lessons are good, but tournament games are better!
The chess camp is going on for 4 days, which is a long time to focus continually on chess, so there are some other activities planned. Tonight the kids are chilling out watching a movie (Searching for Bobby Fischer, I think) and we have some excursions and non chess activities planned for the next few days. We also have some endgame quizzes for the kids, homework that they will have to try and complete throughout the week. FM Luke Li, IM Robert Jamieson and I have all come up with some testers for the kids to solve. Here's a puzzle that I gave to them, see if you can solve this as good as our kids can. I will warn you, that some of the kids are pretty good, but try to solve this puzzle faster than our youngest kids who are 5 years old!

White played 1.Rf8. Does this win, lose, or draw?

Edit: although this an amazing looking move, it actually loses! 1.Rf8? Rxf8 2.g7, but black has the amazing counter sacrifice, 2..Rf3+!! and after 3.Bxf3 Bxh7 white will not promote, while black's queen side duo, guarantee him the win. The moral of the story: "always examine all checks and captures"

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