Tuesday, July 25, 2017

OLE Chess Camp

I just overdosed on chess. My brain is fried.

I played in the OLE warmup tournament, Attended the OLE Chess Camp, and played in the US Senior Open, all at St Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota.

The camp is a Sunday afternoon through Friday morning of chess. It was a very interesting experience, but for adults it is probably more cost effective to spend the money on individual lessons.

Students were grouped into classes by rating. This was mostly a good thing as topics could be tailored for the level of the players.

On Sunday there was a blitz tournament, and each class had a simul against the class teacher.

The main days (M-Th) started out with a G/60 game against fellow classmates followed by three 90 minute lessons. One in the morning and two in the afternoon. In the evening there were activities or intensive study presentations. You had your main teacher all three classes Monday and for the first class on the other days.

I was in the top class and our teacher was GM Kaidanov. He was very good, and gave us lots of good information in the context of going over our games. He spent most of our class time going over our games. This was the most instructive part of the whole camp. He continually gave us examples of play from our games where we were to passive or defensive and needed to play more actively.  Since most of us had reach our current strength (1900-2100) by eliminating errors, this was very good instruction.

My class had GM Goldin for two sessions. He gave good instruction on time management and perhaps the best exercise during the camp.  He pulled up a random grandmaster game and picked a random position from the game and gave us a time limit to make a move selection. He used his judgement on how much time we had (2-4 minutes).  He would not accept moves until the time was up. Then he did a short discussion of the differing moves that we picked. There were always several good moves. He stressed that a difference in computer evaluation  of moves of 0.25 or less was inconsequential, and not worth spending a lot of time to make the choice. If you have two good moves to choose from, don't dither about which is best, but pick one and play it.

One of the class activities that did not work well, was tactical problem solving.  The kids would begin blurting out moves in the attempt to be first, without really taking time to calculate. They were so noisy doing this, that I was not able to put a list of candidate moves together.

I am glad that I had the experience. I think the camp is much better suited to youth. For a youth player is is probably worth the money, as summer camp is about more than the education.

I do not think I will attend the camp again, but it was a good thing to do once.

BTW, GM Goldin's lesson proved useful during the US Senior Open. I had much better clock management, and never had less time than my opponent.


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  2. Hi, Thanks for your comments. We continue to work to make select sections of the camp more attractive for adult students. With the recent growth in the camp that becomes increasingly possible. Prior to bringing the camp to Minnesota, there was a more stringent division between adult and youth classes. Due to attendance, this was made more permeable -- perhaps we need to look at that more. The more adult students we have, the more we can have that type of division.

    I'd also like to hear about some aspects you didn't mention. The evening lectures, for example, which I think often provide unique topics that may not be as easily presented in a 1:1 lesson.

    It is a very important goal of the camp to tailor selected camp sections for adults as well as for youth.

    Thanks for your feedback!