Strategy Session Recap - October 3-4, 2009

Posted: October 19th, 2009 by Daniel Rensch

Every time I visit Arizona, I am pleasantly surprised at the great interest that young Arizonian chess players show for chess! This past weekend’s strategy session was no different, as I taught three different groups. The intermediate group was small in numbers but made it up in enthusiasm. On the first day, we looked at some difficult endgames that incorporated many different basic endgame concepts, such as opposition, triangulation, zugzwang and others. We also learned some chess history, and saw some brilliant examples of Capablanca’s best chess endings. The MVP award in this group was extremely close! It had to be decided on a tiebreak, which was a quiz of chess history. At the end Thayer Alethia pulled through, but winning by only one point!

The largest group of the weekend was definitely the advanced group. Despite the somewhat large rating difference between the lowest and highest rating, I think that all players benefited plenty from the lectures. We spent most of day one looking at different pawn structures, specially the advantage of having the dark squared bishop when you are facing the c-d hanging pawn structure. The second day saw a lot of tactics, as some kids tried to solve their first composition ever. After that, it was back to the subtle play of endgames. Overall this group was also incredibly enthusiastic and seemed to have a great time.

For the master group, I had prepared about 12 games in the Najdorf to look at. On the first day, I was planning on showing a tactical game first and then looking at several English Attack Najdorfs to give examples of the power of initiative over material and the sharp qualities of these positions. However, we spent most of day one analyzing the complexities of only one game! The Morozevich vs. Vachier-Lagraeve game was so rich and complex that it took us a good three hours to finish. On the second day we settled down a little, and were able to look at many more games from this opening.

I had a great time at this strategy session and hope that my students did as well. I look forward to coming back to Phoenix, and thanks to Danny Rensch for hosting and organizing the event!

- Alejandro Ramirez