Day 3 Summary at the Prairie Chess Camp

Post date: Jul 19, 2017 11:41:34 PM

Dear Prairie Chess Camp Families,

Before I get into my daily update, I need to let you know that I will be gone a good part of the day on Friday as I have a funeral to attend. I will be back before the end of the day, though. We have arranged for Eric Vigil to step in for me on Friday. Many of you may already know Eric as the Iowa State Chess Association President and is very active with scholastic chess, particularly in Iowa City. So, I doubt the camp will miss a beat. If, on Friday, you need to contact the camp, you may reach Eric at 319-621-3116.

Wow! We have made it past the halfway point. Students are now thinking and playing very sharply and silly mistakes are fewer and farther between. The instructors are responding with more critical analysis and higher level lessons for the students.

As I described yesterday, each instructor focuses their lesson on a specific subject of chess (tactics, middlegame, endgame, and instructional games). Within each subject, they have broken it down further into specific lessons and a very focused concepts. In the endgame, this may be how to checkmate with a King & Queen (or Rook) vs. King then building up to more complex positions with additional pawns and minor pieces (a Knight or Bishop) on the board. In the middlegame, the lesson may focus on finding the be placement of the pieces or arrangement of pawns (pawn structure) and how that then forms the basis of forming a plan. If the plan is “what you want to do” then the tactics are the move by move calculation of “how you are going to do it.” Finally, the instructional games show how this all comes together.

That is why we play tournament style games in the afternoon. So that our students can learn about all the different facets of the game and they try to put it together for themselves. By writing down their moves and reviewing the game afterward with the instructor, we can assess what the students are picking up on well and where we need focus more attention on the next day….and so it goes each day :-).

Our afternoon tournament was a team match. We were able to get in two games today and will finish up tomorrow with two more games. So, I will post those results tomorrow when the tournament is completed. I often compare a team match format to a tennis match where individuals on each team play head-to-head with the top player on each team facing each other, the second players facing each other, and so forth. The team with the most individual victories wins the match. In our case, this afternoon, we made eight teams of eight players each. The kids really get into it. They are as excited to watch their teammates battle it out as they are in their own game. I had some players tell me that it was “more stressful than playing their own game” or that they accepted a draw in a better position “for the team.” Chess has its own way of building camaraderie and this is just one of them.

Lunch today was pasta from Fazzoli’s. The kids had either spaghetti with marinara sauce or meat sauce or fettuccine alfredo. Salads and breadsticks were also provided. Morning and afternoon snacks included cheeseheads, chex mix, and licorice. Fruit was in abundant supply, too, including grapes, bananas, and apples. (We may very well consume 50 pounds of apples this week :-)

Finally, I have posted today’s pictures online once again online at the following web address:

Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Take care,