Sunday, June 5, 2016

US Chess School / Schein - Friedman chess camp in St. Louis

"The Best Things in Life Are Free"

The Camp

On June 2-5, the 6th Schein - Friedman Chess Camp, in collaboration with the US Chess School, was held at the world-famous St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center.  This exclusive invitation-only camp was offered to some of the most promising young chess players in the USA, and was not only tuition free, but also accommodation free!  The campers had to pay only for travel and food.

Naomi was invited to this camp (yay!) together with other young talents with high chess ratings.  There were 15 kids, of whom 4 were girls.  Incredibly smart, perceptive, top-notch youngsters whose parents should be genuinely proud.

The camp coach was IM Armen Ambartsoumian, a long time US youth team coach in world events.  The organizers and chess guides were FM Aviv Friedman (Schein - Friedman Scholastic Recognition Project) and IM Greg Shahade (US Chess School).  These three guys made it all possible, huge thanks to them, and to the main sponsors: Mark Schein, Dr. Jim Roberts and the Scheinberg family.

Also huge thanks to the St. Louis Chess Club for providing the venue and accomodation.  The camp was on the chess club second floor 10 am - 6 pm daily, with a lunch break.  We all stayed at the nearby historic Chase Park Plaza, absolutely free of charge!  That's unusual for chess parents, who are used to paying a lot.

The chess camp was very fun and entertaining for kids and parents.  After study, many kids and parents would go to the pool.  On the second evening, Naomi played in a local tournament in the St. Louis Chess Club.  She got into the top quad and played with two FIDE Masters and one National Master!  Almost won a couple of games ;-)

On the third evening, Naomi and her friends Nastya and Martha visited the marvelous, phenomenal City Museuм.

Timeline and photos

While the kids enjoyed chess, we enjoyed St. Louis.  Each day we took Uber after 10 AM, back before 1 PM to feed Naomi lunch, then Uber again after 2 PM, back before 6 PM.  

Here are the resulting photo albums, take a look!

June 2: St. Louis chess camp, Cathedral, Riverfront, Arch




Naomi

Arch

June 3: St. Louis Chess Camp, Hall of Fame, Forest Park, Jewel Box, Fun Trolley Tour, Chess Quads




Parents

Kids

June 4: St. Louis Chess Camp, Art Museum, Botanical Gardens, City Museum



Art

Life

June 5: St. Louis Chess Camp, Zoo, Science Center




Eat

Play

Social Media

Thank you letters




Dear U.S. Chess School, Scheinberg family, Greg Shahade, Dr. Jim Roberts;
Dear Schein-Friedman foundation, Aviv Friedman, Mark Schein,

Thank you so much for making the U.S. Chess School camp possible!

I haven't been to a camp with people who are both my age and my rating for a considerable amount of time, and I've certainly never been as captivated in a camp as I was in this one.

In this camp, I not only have learned of new ways to study chess from both my peers and the coaches, but more importantly I know now both my weaknesses and my strengths.

This camp instilled in me a new fascination with chess and invigorated me with the motivation to improve my chess skills, and for that I can thank people like you who sponsor and support this camp.

Sincerely,
Naomi Bashkansky



Dear St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center,

Thank you so much for hosting this camp for us! I've never been in a camp more interesting, nor have I ever learned so much about myself in a camp before. It felt humbling to see the photos of some of the most elite chess players all stacked up in one chess club, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who hopes to be there someday as well.

Onto matters closer to the present day, my favorite part of the camp was when we played out positions that coach Armen showed us. Especially, for obvious reasons, the position with opposite-colored Bishops in which we all played against Greg, and I was the only one who found how to win.

And the hotel itself was one of my favorite parts as well, as it was wondrous to be able to see a hotel with such a classical structure, and there's also the fact that I got the room with the couch-bed all to myself. Though, to be honest, I liked the hotel elevators the best for the simple reason that I'd never imagined that the semi-circle and arrow above the elevator door existed in anything but movies.

Another thing I didn't expect was seeing dear old Benjamin on the hall of fame. I'd already know that he was many great things, but until visiting the hall I could never be sure with absolute certainty that he even knew what chess was. Even better than the hall of fame, however, was the studio.

At first I was bored and slightly confused, seeing seemingly random colors in either square or triangular shapes, but I got a shock when I realized that it was actually an entire game, represented rather creatively. I started trying to figure out the first moves in each game, and for one of the games I managed to figure out the first three whole moves (which I don't remember anymore, but it did help that I knew with over 99% certainty that the first move is not h3).

And then, there's the wooden King the size of a giraffe and many life-size chess sets (Right now, I'm just waiting until the year 2068 when there'll be Harry Potter movie-style animated life-size chess pieces).

And of course, I'm sure my parents are grateful for any excuse to visit St. Louis, take pictures of the arch, go to the zoo, the art museum, the botanical gardens, and whatever else it is they do when I practice and play chess.

This all thanks to your organizing the camp at your club. Thank you!

Sincerely,
Naomi Bashkansky



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