Chess Camp Updates

Day 5: Summary at the Prairie Chess Camp

  • Morning Lessons
  • Food and Fun
  • Afternoon Tournament
  • Chess on Saturday
  • Friday Photos
  • Final Thank Yous

Morning Lessons

Today the Blue class that moved to Alex’s room for their “block day.” Yesterday, we completed the last requirement for the Boy Scout Chess Merit Badge...the history of chess. Please let me know if you need documentation to submit for the merit badge.

Food and Fun

Today was the ever-popular Pizza Day. Unfortunately, Domino’s forgot the 11 cheese pizza’s we ordered and so had to make a trip to store to get things straightened out. So, we did noon recess first and then ate lunch afterward. This morning we had Chex Mix and Rice Krispie snacks. This afternoon we had our end of week Chess Camp Cake.

With the intense heat, we took an earlier than normal morning recess and then stayed inside for the afternoon recess. Unfortunately, that left the kids pretty wound up for the rest of the day...but we managed.

Afternoon Tournament

Today we had the student favorite Bughouse Tournament and for those who did not want to play bughouse, they played chess with Alex and Erik in a more “traditional: form of chess. Here is a video from one round of today’s event... you might want to turn the volume down on your computer: https://photos.app.goo.gl/JefJ3W3AY6rP6fEc8. Results of the tournament are posted on the Chess Camp webpage: https://www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp/tournament-results.

Satrday Chess

While the chess camp ended today, there is still more chess on Saturday. Alex will be holding a lecture in the morning and Erik will play a simultaneous exhibition in the afternoon. Squeezed in the middle is a complimentary pizza and a blitz tournament. The event is in Iowa City at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Melrose Ave. We start the lesson at 9 am, the simul at 2 pm, and pizza and the blitz will begin at noon; the simul should be done by 5 pm. You may register online and read further details online at https://onlineregistration.cc/CII/2019CIISIMUL.

If you are all “lessoned out,” you might consider the one-day chess tournament in Moline. There is a special “Beginners Section,” which might suit our beginning chess players. You read the details of the Quad Cities Summer Chess Tournament 2019 on our Iowa State Chess Association Website.

Photos

In addition to the Blue class pictures with Alex, I posted several pictures from today online: https://photos.app.goo.gl/b1A1cjADT79f4ErP9

Final Thank Yous

Thank you to all of our instructors, staff, and volunteers. We have an amazing, experienced staff starting with Alex Betaneli and Erik Santarius who have been with us all 11 years. We are blessed to have Iowa Masters Dan Brashaw and James Neal with us, too. Eleven years ago, we did not have such strong local talent available to teach our young chess players. Our student instructors also bring additional depth to our chess camp. Joseph Wan, Gokul Thnagavel, AJ Kozich, Owen Fiedorowicz, and Omkar Yada, many who started out as students and now are paying it forward to our latest class of up and comers. And finally, our staff that keep things running so smoothly. Prairie Alum Andre Vongpanya and my daughter Regan Hodina, Sonmanti Thangavel, and Crissy Vigil.

Take care,

Jim





Day 4: Summary at the Prairie Chess Camp


  • Morning Lessons with Chess Merit Badge
  • Food and Fun
  • Afternoon Tournament
  • Chess on Saturday
  • Thursday Photos

Morning Lessons

Today was the Yellow class that moved to Alex’s room for their “block day.” You can check out the pics from Alex here. Tomorrow it’s the Blue class’s turn. We also squeezed in the last requirement for the Boy Scout Chess Merit Badge...the history of chess. I was impressed that many of our students knew quite a bit of the history of the chess pieces and how the rules have changed over time.

Food and Fun

We had Culver’s today. Always popular especially with the diverse menu where everyone can find something they like. This morning we had Rice Krispie bars and Go-Gurt. This afternoon it was Skinny Pop popcorn and twizzlers. One again, with the heat and the rain, we stayed inside for the afternoon recess. Tomorrow is going to be the hottest day of the week and I do not plan to go outside for lunch or afternoon recess.

Afternoon Tournament

Today was another Swiss tournament. We had four sections based (primarily) on the class assignments (Blue, Yellow, Green, and Red). Results of the tournament are posted on the Chess Camp webpage: https://www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp/tournament-results.

We do make the students take notation during the game. Unfortunately, the score sheets have not been making it into their folders. I have stacks of score sheets on the table. If you would like to go through them and pick out your child’s, feel free.

Saturday Chess

While the chess camp ends on Friday, there is still more chess on Saturday. Alex will be holding a lecture in the morning and Erik will play a simultaneous exhibition in the afternoon. Squeezed in the middle is complimentary pizza and a blitz tournament. The event is in Iowa City at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Melrose Ave. We start the lesson at 9 am, the simul at 2 pm, and pizza and the blitz will begin at noon; the simul should be done by 5 pm. You may register online and read further details online at https://onlineregistration.cc/CII/2019CIISIMUL.

If you are all “lessoned out,” you might consider the one-day chess tournament in Moline. There is a special “Beginners Section,” which might suit our beginning chess players. You read the details of the Quad Cities Summer Chess Tournament 2019 on our Iowa State Chess Association Website.

Photos

As I was teaching the chess merit badge, I did not get to take many pictures today. In addition to the Yellow class pictures with Alex, I posted a couple of pictures I did take online: https://photos.app.goo.gl/mjoyjs9ziBVdRPHX6

Day 3: Summary at the Prairie Chess Camp

This email, along with all other camp emails, are posted online at: www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp

Dear Prairie Chess Camp Families,

  • Morning Lessons
  • Food and Fun
  • Afternoon Tournament
  • Chess on Saturday
  • Chess Merit Badge
  • Wednesday Photos

Morning Lessons

As we hit the half-way point of the camp and with that milestone, changed things up a bit. The Green class moved to Alex’s room for their “block day,” letting the Red class (beginner group) move into the rotation with the other instructors.

Food and Fun

We had pasta, garlic bread, and salad from Zio Johno’s. We continue to eat our way through the bananas, pears, apples, and grapes along with the other snacks like cheeseheads, Nutri-grain bars, and fruit chews. With the heat and the rain, we stayed inside for noon and afternoon recess. I know the kids were disappointed. Hopefully, the rain will cool things off for us tomorrow (but probably will just make it humid).

Afternoon Tournament

As you know, we have been playing tournaments in the afternoon. On Monday we played a round-robin, a group of four where everyone plays everyone. Yesterday it was a team tournament with 8 teams playing head-to-head like a tennis match. And today, we played a good-ole fashioned Swiss pairing tournament. For the Swiss tournament, we placed 8 players in a section for a total of 8 sections. In each section. Those who won their first game were paired against each other and those who lost were paired against each other. This process continued for two more rounds where after the third round, each section had at most one perfect score (3-0). Results of the tournament are posted on the Chess Camp webpage: https://www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp/tournament-results.

Saturday Chess

While the chess camp ends on Friday, there is still more chess on Saturday. Alex will be holding a lecture in the morning and Erik will play a simultaneous exhibition in the afternoon. Squeezed in the middle is complimentary pizza and a blitz tournament. The event is in Iowa City at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Melrose Ave. We start the lesson at 9 am, the simul at 2 pm, and pizza and the blitz will begin at noon; the simul should be done by 5 pm. You may register online and read further details online at https://onlineregistration.cc/CII/2019CIISIMUL.

If you are all “lessoned out,” you might consider the one-day chess tournament in Moline. There is a special “Beginners Section,” which might suit our beginning chess players. You read the details of the Quad Cities Summer Chess Tournament 2019 on our Iowa State Chess Association Website.

Chess Merit Badge

I will hold a special one-hour session on the history of chess. With the materials from the Prairie Chess Camp, this lesson completes the requirements for the Boy Scout Chess Merit Badge. Anyone may join this lesson, which I announced today to the kids. Thanks to one of our camper parents, Denise Zumbach, I will be able to fill out the forms and provide them to any students looking to fulfill this scouting requirement.

Wednesday Photos

Be sure to check out the photos today as we lined up for Chess Camp group photo. Camp pictures for Day 3 are available online at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/oD3SDSdjzGCzAPc2A



Day 2: Summary at the Prairie Chess Camp

This email, along with all other camp emails, are posted online at: www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp

Dear Prairie Chess Camp Families,

We had another great day. Everyone is getting into the groove and we stayed on schedule with all of our lessons and afternoon tournament.

In yesterday’s update, I explained that we broke up into groups and that students rotated through instructors. Each instructor has a specific area that they focus their lessons on throughout the week and with each group, they adjust the difficulty of the lesson to the level of the students. We actually have this mapped out throughout the week with each hour by class and specific exercise. We have been “blocking” one class with Alex in the mornings. We blocked the red group (beginners) on Monday and Tuesday (they are doing fantastic by the way). Tomorrow, we will start rotating the other groups (green, yellow, and blue) into the Block session with Alex. The other three groups will then rotate among Erik, Dan, and James.

In the afternoon, we have been holding tournaments with the purpose to apply the learning from the morning lesson into practice over the chessboard. Of course, we want all of the games to be competitive learning experiences and try to match up students equitably. Today, we played one game with a time control of Game in 30 minutes. Then, we started a thematic tournament where everyone played with a shorter time control together all in one section. The theme of the tournament was endgames, where Alex gave everyone a starting position with a king, rook, minor piece, and pawns. We played three rounds and will finish up the tournament first thing tomorrow morning.

Results of the tournament game from Monday and Tuesday are posted on the chess camp website: http://www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp/tournament-results. All students are doing a great job with writing their moves down and reviewing them with the instructors afterward.

We enjoyed food and recesses today. Our friend, Jim White, brought his giant chess set, which was a big hit. Snacks, lunch, and recess went smoothly, thanks in large part to our staff (Regan, Andre, Crissy & Sanmati). Morning snacks included Chex mix and GoGurt. We brought lunch in from Taco Bell, and afternoon snacks included “Chess mix” and Twizzler. Apples, pears, and bananas were offered throughout the day. We had recess after lunch and at snack time we let the kids play outside and run off a little energy. It’s going to be hotter tomorrow and so we may go into the gym in the afternoons.

I took more pictures in the classroom today. Here is the link to the photo album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ArmttNG8RhLA5CSh9

Enjoy!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.


Take care,

Jim



Day 1: Summary at the Prairie Chess Camp

Photos are posted on our Google site .

We got off to a fabulous start today. We kicked things off with a discussion about expectations for the week. Chess camp instructors and staff met Sunday night and discussed these expectations and how we will work to support those expectations.

  • #1: The safety and well-being of the students is our top priority. That means safety in the classroom, the bus, breaks, and recess. Safety includes acts of bullying in the classroom and at recess. I asked all students to show respect for each other regardless of age and skill level. [I am very pleased to report that I have no reports of any incidents today.]
  • #2: Having fun learning chess is why we are here. Our instructors have developed a targeted lesson plan for each level of students. They teach, demonstrate, and ask students to apply in each lesson. We are proactive and intervene when they are struggling, asking, “who needs help?” We help in the classroom in the mornings and in the afternoon and we go over games with the students when they are finished. [Each student maintains a folder of their work throughout the week and will bring them home on Friday.]
  • #3: We maintain the school facilities that we are graciously allowed to use. I asked everyone to pick up after their snacks and lunch and to reset the chess boards when done. [I am grateful for everyone’s cooperation in helping out.]

The school bus pickup and drop off went right on cue (thank you Gokul and Sanmati). We let the kids settle in this morning by playing some casual chess games before starting with our morning lessons. Spielman’s Event Services arrived early and set up pipe and drape to construct three classrooms in the cafeteria.

Our students are split out into four groups based on age and US Chess Federation rating. Our beginner group met with Alex, AJ and Nathan in the morning. The other three groups rotated among three classes taught by Dan and Joseph, James and Gokul, and Erik, Owen, and Omkar As the beginning group gets through the basics, they will be integrated into the daily rotation. Considering how well they did today, I expect that to happen very soon. By rotating, all our students get to work with each of our amazing instructors throughout the week. Our four main lesson topics are Tactics, Middle Game, Endgame (not the Avenger’s kind), and Instructional Games.

In the afternoon, we played a tournament among students. We played three games at 30 minutes a piece. All students recorded their moves in a scoresheet provided. After each game, the students then reviewed their game with one of our instructors to get direct feedback on their play.

Snacks, lunch, and recess went smoothly, thanks in large part to our staff (Regan, Andre, Crissy & Sanmati). Morning snacks included grapes, Rice Krispie bars and Nutri-Grain bars. Lunch was catered by Subway and afternoon snacks included cheeseheads with apples, pears, and bananas. We had recess after lunch and at snack time we let the kids play outside and run off a little energy.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.

Take care,

Jim

319-432-1459 (cell)


Pre-Camp Newsletters

Prairie Point Middle School






West High School Pick-up/Drop-off location

July 7: Day 1 Instructions

Dear Prairie Chess Camp Families,

Wow, just a week away to the 2019 Prairie Chess Camp. The instructors and staff have been preparing for a long time for the coming week and it is hard to believe that we are almost here. The chess camp is sold out! So, thank you very much for your support in keeping this amazingly unique opportunity available for our kids.

This is the last email before we kick-off our chess camp on Monday. This and all past emails are online at www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp. I hope your students are as excited as we are. I have every expectation that this will be the best Prairie Chess Camp ever! This email contains information on:

  • Please, Complete Your Lunch Sign Up
  • How to Reach the Camp During the Day
  • Drop off / Pick up Process
  • Bus Transportation to/from Iowa City West High School
  • Name Badges / Check-in and Out
  • Behavior Expectations
  • Recess
  • Personal Belongings

Please Complete Your Lunch Sign Up!

https://forms.gle/ArjQCWC7JsMhM9bs7

I have only received a little over have of the responses for your lunch sign up. I need to submit our Monday lunch order 24 hours in advance. Please follow this link to complete your choices for the week. If there are reasons that any of the meal choices do not work for your child, please let me know and we will see if accommodations can be made. Obviously it’s easier if we can stick to the menu, but I would much rather take the additional time to find a meal option that works for your child. The cost of these lunches are included in your registration.

How to Reach the Camp During the Day

  • If you need to get a hold of me during the day, my cell phone is 319-432-1459.
  • If this is an emergency and you need to reach the Prairie Point Middle School, their number is 319-848-5500. The school office is not staffed after 2:30 pm.

Drop off / Pick Up

The camp is held in the cafeteria of the Prairie Point Middle School. This is the same location as the many Prairie Chess Tournaments we have recently hosted. The street address is 8015 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404, and is immediately south of The Hotel at Kirkwood. You should enter the school through the North Entrance, also known as the Activities Entrance, near the tennis courts. The camp program will start at 8 am and end by 4:30 pm. You may drop off 30 minutes early and pick up 30 minutes late (7:30 am to 5:00 pm).

Bus Transportation to/from Iowa City West High

We have many students signed up for the College Community School District school bus transportation to/from Iowa City West High School. The bus will depart at 7:30 am sharp so that all of our students can get to Prairie by 8 am. It will return by 5 pm each day. It is very important that you are there on time to pickup and drop off your child by these times.

Signup are shown with the registration list as well as in the attachment. Please double check your reservation and contact me with any corrections or changes. There is plenty of room on the bus, so everyone will have the ability to ride the bus if they need. We also have many of our camp staff that will be on the bus, too. If your child is not accustomed to riding the school bus, please make sure that you discuss with him/her appropriate behavior. There are no seat belts on school buses, but that does not mean students can get out of their seat. They must be respectful of the bus driver at all times and follow the driver's instructions. Gokul and Sanmati Thangavel are our camp staff bus monitors. They will be taking attendance on the bus and reinforce these instructions. The drop off location is in the west parking lot of the high school as shown below. It is not in front of the school building.

Name Badges / Check In and Out

Every student will have a name badge. When arriving, we want students to pick up their badge and when they leave for the day, we want them to return it. This is how we check students in and out of camp as well as outside for recess. There is not a sign in sheet. If your contact information has changed since registration (primarily daytime phone numbers) please send me an email with the updated information. Please remember that you may drop off as early as 7:30 am. This is meant for parents who are trying to get to work on time. Camp is over at 4:30 pm, so please pick up your student no later than 5 pm. For staff, we have many things to do to get ready for the next day and very much appreciate your cooperation.

Behavior Expectations

I know we have been out of school for several weeks and understand that (especially for the younger kiddos) it is fun and easy to be a little more silly than during the school year.

However, at the Prairie Chess Camp, we expect all students to behave the same way as when they are in school. This will be one of the first things we discuss as a group on Monday. For your information, I am a member of the College Community School Board and am very familiar with school policies on this matter. It is my utmost intention to follow applicable school policies during the Prairie Chess Camp. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner fitting to their age level and maturity and with respect and consideration for the rights of others while attending the camp, including times when riding the school bus. Consequences for misconduct will be fair and developmentally appropriate in light of the circumstances. Students who do not follow these expectations will be counseled. If the behavior persists, parents will be notified.

Recess

We will have three recesses during the day: morning, lunchtime, and afternoon. Weather permitting, we will go outside. Please dress accordingly. This includes shoes if your child likes to play soccer or similar physical activities. There is a basketball camp going on the week of chess camp and so access to the gym is limited. If it rains or is excessively hot, we may need to stay inside - but we will still have the scheduled breaks.

Personal Belongings

What can students bring to camp? We do supply everything they need during the day. An exception may be any medicine that you want on hand (although we do have a first aid kit).

  • Water bottles: We will have cups and water available throughout the day. But if there is a favorite water bottle that students want to bring, that is great. Just, please put your name on the bottle.
  • Electronic devices: They are too numerous to name anymore, but if your child brings an electronic device, we cannot be responsible for it. They can use them during our recess periods, on the bus, etc. But they are required to be turned off during the chess camp. WiFi is a bit spotty in the cafeteria (sorry).
  • Cell phones: While this fits the category above, cell phones certainly serve other important purposes and do not need to be turned off as do other electronic devices. Students may carry a cell phone, but we are also happy to hang on to cell phones during the day if they check them in with us upon arrival.
  • Backpacks: We will have a place to store backpacks during the day. If, for dietary reasons, you need to send a lunch, we do have access to a limited amount of refrigerator space.

That is all I have for now. I will send you daily updates on our activities starting Monday evening.

Take care,

Jim Hodina

319-432-1459

June 30: Lunch Signup, Name Tags, etc.

Dear 2019 Prairie Chess Camp Students and Staff,

We are just 2 weeks away! We are busily preparing to make the experience the best camp ever. In preparation, I need some more information from you.

LUNCH

Please click on the following link to sign up for your lunch selections the week of the Prairie Chess Camps. According to the kiddos, this is the most important part of chess camp and so we take it very seriously :-). If you do not find any appetizing option for the day, please list something appropriate in "other." We do make special meal requests including gluten-free meals. We will provide morning and afternoon snacks throughout the week as well. We will have water and fresh fruit throughout the day. I do not purchase snacks with nuts. If you have other food allergies, please let me know. We do purchase our meals from restaurants (Subway, Taco Bell, Zio Johno's, Culvers, and Dominoes) and cannot guarantee their allergy safe food practices.

Click here to sign up for lunch choices: https://forms.gle/APpoxE7LrnjaBLnU8

BUS RIDER CONFIRMATION

You may view your registration online at https://www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp/2019-completed-registrations. This includes whether you signed up for the school bus to/from Iowa City West High School. Please let me know if your signup needs to be changed. There is still room on the bus if you would like to use this transportation option. I will send out separate information next week on the exact drop-off and pick-up location with expected times.

NAME TAGS

I am making name badges and folder labels for all students and staff. If your student prefers another name (e.g. Jim instead of James) please let me know so that I can make the change.

BEGINNERS

Each student will be placed in a class for the morning lessons based on skill level and age. We offer a track for the absolute beginner...someone who does not know the rules of chess. Unfortunately, I did not include an identifier with the registration. Please let me know if that your child is a student that does not know the rules of chess so that we may instruct them appropriately.

STAY INFORMED

I am posting all updates on the Chess Camp webpage at https://www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp/updates. Once the camp starts, I will post daily updates here.

MISSING REGISTRATION - NEED HELP

I received payment from Diane Bender but there was not a registration form completed. With no address or phone, I am unable to reach Diane. If anyone knows Diane Bender and can put me in contact with her, I would greatly appreciate it.

Take care


Jim Hodina

ph: 319-432-1459

June 4: Welcome Email

Welcome, 2019 Prairie Chess Camp Families,

I hope your summer is off to a great start. Six weeks from Monday, the Prairie Chess Camp begins. It is our eleventh annual chess camp and we are very excited about reaching this milestone. In the days leading up to the camp, I will share with you more information on food, transportation, and instruction. Once we start, I will provide daily updates and pictures of our chess camp activities as well. Feel free look at the 2018 camp pictures to get a feel for the camp. You can see the current camp roster from the website by clicking here.

There are still some openings remaining in the camp. So, if you have a sibling or friend thinking about the chess camp, please refer them to our registration website and sign up We have players from Kindergarten to High School. I will start a wait list once the final spot is filled. The refund policy for canceling has been posted with the registration information. It is 100% by June 16, 75% by June 23, 50% by June 29, 25% by July 6, & 10% by July 13.

Our great crew of instructors returns to teach our chess students: Senior Chess Master Alex Betaneli, International Master Erik Santarius, and Iowa US Masters Dan Brashaw and James Neal. Assisting our professional staff are Iowa’s top junior players led by US Chess Master Joseph Wan, US Chess Expert Gokul Thangavel, Owen Fiedorowicz and AJ Kozich. Along with me, we have five (5) have additional volunteers helping out with food, recess, bus transportation, and classroom activities: Regan Hodina, Trevor Ciha, Andre Vongpanya, Crissy Vigil, and Teresa Knecht. Finally, we have some scholastic classroom helpers: Clive Power, AJ Kozich, Owen Fiedorowicz, Nathan Chen, and Anish Lodh - all very strong players in their own right. So, you can see that we will be well staffed to provide a rewarding chess camp experience for our student chess players.

Over the years, we have refined a daily schedule that has proven to be a good mix of learning, play, food, and (of course) fun. We place students into one of four groups (about 12 - 16 campers each) based on chess experience and age. Each instructor has a classroom and, in the morning, the groups take turns rotating to each classroom. This way, every student has the opportunity to work with each instructor. Each classroom has a theme that they emphasize (endgame, middle game, tactics, and instructional games). In the afternoon, students will then play tournament style games (e.g. slow, writing down moves, touch-move) against one or more opponents of equal playing strength. The students will then review each game with an instructor. All students have a folder that they keep throughout the week where we store their tactics puzzles, recorded games, and other chess camp handouts. We break up the day with a 30 minute morning snack/recess, one-hour lunch/recess, and 30-minute afternoon snack/recess.

I will send out my next email in about three weeks. In that email, we will have a sign up for food from Subway, Taco Bell, Fazoli’s, Culver’s, and Dominoes (one each day). These have proven to be good options as they are well liked and offer options that meet the varying dietary needs of our campers. On the subject of food, we will also have healthy morning and afternoon snacks. We will avoid nuts and peanuts as a few of our students have nut allergies. If there are other allergies or dietary restrictions that I need to be aware of, please send me an email. I will also have more details on the logistics of transportation, drop-off, and pick-up.

In the meantime, feel free to check out our camp website and camp roster online at http://www.chessiniowa.org/chesscamp.

Take care,

Jim Hodina

Ph: 319-432-1459