I’m back from school holidays now, getting into the swing of my chess lessons, but only a week ago I was stuck in the middle of Gippsland a full 15 minute drive away from a good cup of coffee.   And getting a cup of coffee was not easy …. on one trip driving back from the nearest cafe in the early evening I nearly ran over a huge wombat squatting in the middle of the road.   He must have been a chess player as he sat there, totally unperturbed by his approaching death, and did not flinch a muscle as I swerved to miss him.   Would that my students could control their emotions that well during their chess games.

If you haven’t guessed I was at the Chess Kids annual camp, this time being held on a farm somewhere north of Wilson’s Promontory.  The camp was a great success … nice weather and I made friends with a huge pig who ate my apple cores after I had finished eating.  The camp also gave me the opportunity to do a humorous post on Facebook as follows:

“I’m currently stuck on a farm in the middle of Gippsland for our chess camp. There are 32 kids divided into four groups for lessons. No one told me who was in my group so I went up to some kids and said “are youse in my group?” They replied “yes” so now I’ve found my group (see photo) but where are the chess sets?”

The camp featured lectures by the Chess Kids coaches, a teams tournament, various recreations like flying fox and rope climbing and a chess trivia quiz.  I don’t wish to boast but my table “Chess Parents” won the quiz despite a few of the questions being very suspect.  I was particularly annoyed after being asked to name openings named after animals and the quizmaster accepted “Bird’s Opening” as a correct answer.  As everyone should know, that opening was named after a 19th century English accountant named Henry Edward Bird, who would probably not appreciate being called an “animal.”

The theme of the camp was “ranks, files, diagonals and outposts” so in my lectures I showed a series of positions to test my young students.  Sometimes they did well and saw the answer.  Other times I had to scream at them in desperation “can anyone see mate in two moves?”  Let’s see if I have to scream at you .   Look at the diagram below.   Black is losing and so is looking for swindle chances.   What should he play?

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