Here We Go!

School can be hard, but for me summer break is so much crazier!  I have done a lot of Chess this summer!!   I have: played in three tournaments, run two Chess Camps, and put in about 60-100 hours of intense Chess studying.  Along with that I have done a few other things that weren’t chess related.  Going into this summer (the first of June), my schedule was pretty much planned up until the middle of August (just in time to start school again).

Out of all the “busyness” I have had through the summer, I have had two things that have really stood out to me and I wanted to blog about these two.

These were:

1.       Getting to be the part of the Elite Training Program Sponsored by the Kasparov Chess Foundation and the Saint Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center.

2.       Having the chance to play in the 2012 US Junior Closed Chess Championship

I want to tell my view of the Elite Training Program in this Blog and hope to talk about the US Junior soon. (You can see the article on about the program here

The main goal of this program is to train us for the future US Olympiad team and to help us reach our top potential as GMs.

Here is the list of players included in the program:

Awonder Liang

Ruifeng Li

Jeffrey Xiong

Sam Sevian

Kevin Cao

Kayden Troff

Sarah Chiang

The main kickoff of the program was a training session with World Champion GM Garry Kasparov June 18-20.

In the training session Garry Kasparov was looking over some games that we had brought and asking questions to best figure out how to improve our Chess and what psychological and actual Chess improvement we need to work on the next while.  Garry Kasparov was very nice, but you could tell he had that intensity about him; it was an exciting experience.   Analyzing all of our different games is what we did for the first two days and Kasparov would openly invite us to share our opinions even if it wasn’t our game.  Then on June 20th, it was testing!

For the first test Kasparov setup 8 different endgame puzzles and gave us 45 minutes to see how many we could solve.  It was very intense and some of them definitely more difficult than others, but after the 45 minutes was up I ended up being the one to solve the most with 7 out of 8 and with other good performances from the other campers.

The testing did not stop there though and after our lunch break Kasparov had setup 2 problems for each of us separately to work with our different tactical levels and again we got 45 minutes for both problems.  I sat down at one of my problems and was told you should probably start with the other one since this one is “really hard”.  I started looking at the first one and was a little confused at first because it seemed not too hard.  I was confused because I didn’t think Kasparov would give me an easy problem. After I sat there for a while longer, I decided that I would move on to the next one.  The next one looked very interesting and I immediately started to calculate different variations.  Kasparov came to see how we were doing after he ate lunch and started talking to us about what our different ideas and thoughts were on the different problems.  When he came over to me I told him I was still thinking about the second one, but I knew the solution to the first one.  He asked me what it was. I told him the first move and he said, “No” and looked a little disappointed.  I told him the rest of my solution and he looked a little confused.  He said, “Yes, that should hold a draw.”  He pulled out the piece of paper he had the problem on and started looking at it and realized that he had accidentally placed Black’s Rook on h8 instead of the intended e8-Square.  He put it on e8, and since I had already thought about the ideas for a while earlier I was able to figure it out again very quickly.  He said, “Correct!” and I went back to thinking about the harder problem.  He told me it might be too hard.  After a while I started to figure out some of the mating ideas possible and after he came back I gave him the solution.  He was impressed and even clapped and then put out his hand to shake my hand. 

After the testing, we (my mother and I) met with Garry Kasparov and Michael Khodarkovsky (President of the Kasparov Chess Foundation) to discuss what they expected from us and what they were providing.  It was a little intimidating going in there, but afterwards I felt mostly excitement and I will be very interested to see what the future holds!

They will be providing us with different opportunities through the months and then we will meet again with Kasparov in December so he can see our progress. 

Overall, it is very exciting to be part of this program and I am just so very grateful for this opportunity since Chess is such a big part of my life!  I am committed to make the absolute most of it!!

I want to hurry and throw out a big “Congratulations” to GM-Elect Marc Tyler Arnold who recently got his Final GM NORM!  He is a good friend of mine and it is awesome to see him get his final Norm! CONGRATULATIONS MAN!

Here are some of the puzzles Kasparov showed us:


















If you think you know the answer message me the answer, PLEASE do not comment with any of the moves in the solution.  You get to see it like I got to see it, with no answer and no comments leading you to the solution Smile