I’m back from our recent chess camp in Alexandra and am looking forward to chess lessons starting again next week.  Alexandra is in central Victoria …. it’s cold and wet and you have to go into the carpark to get wi-fi but the chess was fun!

We had 36 kids, 5 coaches and numerous parents and siblings collected together in a fun atmosphere and discussed chess tactics.   The kids were divided into 4 groups and I had to give 4 lessons over the course of the 4 day camp.  I like to be a little mischievous in my lessons so I started with a “simple” puzzle where the students had to find mate in one move.  Each player got to have one go at finding the correct move.  How many of the 36 got the correct answer?  One!  Admittedly it was a complex (non-standard) sort of position where one side had 4 bishops and several queens, etc. but it did demonstrate the importance of pattern recognition in chess.  There were no patterns for the kids to recognise.  I think the lessons went pretty well and the kids seemed to enjoy in particular one puzzle that I showed them where the D Grade player finds a move, then the C Grade player looks one move deeper and finds a better move, then the B Grade player ….. etc. …… and we go right up to the grandmaster player who looks the deepest and find the correct answer.

Of course the kids had fun also doing other activities outside of chess such as playing soccer or table tennis and of then there was the flying fox over the very cold and wet-looking lake.   I was too scared to have a go but instead took a pic of the brave kids who were lining up for their turn.   I’m pleased to say that no-one got dunked in the lake!


Preparing for the flying fox…










As part of my preparation for the camp I’d been following the recent tournaments on the internet looking for interesting tactics or attacking games that I could use at the camp.  Fortunately Australia’s best player, grandmaster Zhong-Yuan Zhao stepped up at the Gold Coast Open and played a nice game which featured the material imbalance of 2 pieces for rook and 2 pawns.  I was following the game live when the players reached the position below with White to play, and I found a move which seemed to help Zhao with his attack.  Shortly after Zhao played the same move and proceeded to get a winning game but I thought to myself “this position looks like there should be some tactics and I’m going to a tactics camp so maybe I should have a deeper look at the position.”  After A few moments I did indeed find a nice tactic that would have been better than the line played.  Today’s puzzle is for you to follow in my footsteps and and find the line that Zhao missed.   Good luck!

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