Summer 2019 has been yet another awesome experience here at the International Chess Academy. As we prepare to begin our final week in both Teaneck and Glen Rock, it is time to look back on the nine weeks that brought us to this point.
The summer started early this year. Week one was a Teaneck exclusive, with 18 campers showing up in the middle of June to kick off our summer session. After that week, we had camp every Monday through Friday (including the Fourth of July) in both locations. This included a scholastic camp in both locations and master trainer Sergey Grabuzov’s Master Camp in Glen Rock. GM Alex Stripunsky also held his Grandmaster Camp in Glen Rock on week two and weeks four through seven. We were lucky enough to have legendary coach GM Alexander Chernin join us to teach Super GM camp on week five. We had up to 30 eager students in Teaneck and, between all levels, up to 50 in Glen Rock. Two hundred seventy unique campers came to learn some chess for at least one week this summer, and many of them came back for more. Even those who didn’t fall in love with chess this summer often sang the praises of our camp due to our wonderful art, music, and math programs in both locations.
Of course, none of the above would have been possible without the hard work of our coaches. These experienced chess educators didn’t just give fun, interesting chess lessons; they also dealt with the wide range of emotions and behaviors exhibited by a gaggle of 6 to 16-year-olds over the course of eight hours per day. It has been a long summer, but some of our most dedicated staff have been here every single week. In Teaneck, Ivette and Alessandro completed 10 weeks of work while Robert Lieberman, though he has not worked full-time each week, has taken all the amazing photos in this location. Meanwhile, Chris, David, Philip, Nick, Noreen, Sergey, and Tanya formed a core group of permanent coaches in Glen Rock that powered through the weeks together. Thanks also to all the other coaches who, while too numerous to list, did important work to keep the camp running. Finally, thank you, Diana, for creating this camp and making sure that it has persisted for more than 20 years.
While I could write many pages on this summer’s many and various events of note, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to let some other voices be heard. Here are some stories and quotes from just a few of our wonderful coaches.
When asked which students he would remember from this summer at ICA, Sean Finn, a professional chess teacher at a private school in NYC, had several anecdotes to share:
“Thomas who topped the charts in soccer. Modestly declaring, ‘It is easy to stop the shot when you are a master goalie,’ Thomas was a force to be reckoned with, winning sudden death against me.”
“Charles has long held the ICA Teaneck dodgeball crown, but in the second-to-last week of camp he managed to clinch first in his chess group as well, finding the most ‘best moves’ during tournament review and analysis of grandmaster games.”
“Eliot was particularly impressive in his work ethic, solving tactics for breakfast, lunch and dinner. [His brother] Justin was a tough competitor, though, and it makes sense they both improved so quickly!”
“Shmuel was a simul slayer this summer, beating multiple coaches in queenless simuls.”
“Kento stepped up his tournament games big time this summer, beating some of his strongest opponents yet.”
Nick Katz, who only began working with ICA during this past school year, reflected on his first experience as a coach in ICA summer camp:
“It was gratifying to watch kids who insisted they couldn't compete at the start end up winning their sections with a perfect score towards the final weeks. Being a former camper myself, knowing that the process has kept going strong since my childhood and being able to pass on the knowledge I’ve gained is an enjoyable task. Also, I’ve never been able to pelt children with dodgeballs and have them enjoy and encourage it, so that's another plus."
One of ICA’s most veteran coaches, Slava Koza, was most impressed by the long-term effects of his work. “There is something meaningful in seeing individuals who were campers 10 years ago now working as counselors and teaching the greatest game of all time to the next generation.” Nine year ago, almost to the day, one such student finished his first week of ICA chess camp. This student, your author, exclaimed about the wonderful week he just had, “I know you want it to be over but I don’t cause it was so much fun!” While he doesn’t now remember the exact response he got, it was certainly in the same spirit as the following quote from Glen Rock camp administrator Noreen Davisson:
“Thank goodness its week 10!”