Robin Altman and Barry Thorvilson
In the Purple group kids come to camp either knowing how to play chess or just starting to learn the game. We teach some campers how to move pieces, but most of the campers come needing to work on how to win the game. We also go over opening principles, how to get ahead in the game (forks and pins), and we spend a lot of time on how to win with two rooks and king/queen. We tailor our lessons to allow students to work at their own pace. Many campers spend multiple weeks in this entry level group. If your camper has a lot of experience playing chess they can ask to be tested at the Open House to try to pass out of Purple group.
The Red group is where I think “chess” really begins, as kids graduating out of Purple and into Red generally have a sense of recognizing when their pieces are in danger and are starting to form plans that might take several moves to execute.
We study all 3 phases of the game. Kids learn several openings that highlight the opening principles as well as early attacks on the f7 square. For middlegames we study tactics by covering forks, pins, and skewers/hurdles, as well as one new tactic each week. For each tactic, kids complete a worksheet with new puzzles each week, so campers get more practice finding these patterns on their own. And in the endgame we teach the king-rook checkmate as well as how to win or draw on both sides of the king-pawn endgame; we also review the king-queen and 2 rook checkmates taught in the Purple group.
In the brown group, we work on the two bishop checkmate, opening strategy, endgame strategy, middle game tactics, checkmate patterns and game management.
In the blue group we learn the Bishop Knight checkmate. We go over openings and we go over Grandmaster games as well as going over blue group members games.
In the Gold group students are introduced to the principal theme of chess mastery: Making your pieces “do” more than your opponents’ pieces. Through study of games and positions from opening, middle game, and endgame, they will learn about the relative power of the pieces, and how to improve such a balance. From wild sacrificial combinations to subtle pawn moves, the origins of the best ideas in chess are explored.