Bay Area is a metropolitan region that surrounds San Francisco, and includes many „chess places“ like Berkeley, Concord and Fremont. I had the pleasure of visiting the latter at the beginning of August. The famous coach Ted Castro from the Norcal House of Chess invited me for my first chess camp on American soil. It took five days and was well attended, and ended with a simul on twenty boards. The club was very active this year, and before my participation two other GMs- Varuzhan Akobian and Ray Robson also did camps there. These events are extremely popular in USA, the kids use their summer time to get better in various activities. Chess is one of them, but a camp is not only the pure accademical work. The children are also having sports activities, and various competitions. In the Norcal House for example, they were collecting points for participating in the lectures, puzzle solving competitions, wins in training games. Disciplined students win additional points. Points are turned into „things“ and „things“ are transformed in various goods (Lego constructors, Barbie dolls, or mere candies) at the end of the day. This is the sweetest part when kids can taste the fruits of their efforts.
On 11 August Susan Polgar made a quick detour to East Palo Alto to visit Dyhemia Young. You probably have heard the story of the girl, but here it is in brief, as it comes to show one of the many positive sides of chess:
Dyhemia, who is fifteen years old, has spent the last three years in and out of foster care, received one of the wild card bids for the Annual Susan Polgar Girls Invitational in Lubbock, Texas. However, she later on disappeared and it was not sure if they will find her in time for the start of the event. It took almost a month and the help of the San Francisco‘s pollice detective to find her. Then the usual money problem occured, as she needed the funds to reach Lubbok. Still, with the help of many good people, including the famous movie star Will Smith the young girl made it to the event. And even though she did not win the it, she came back to Bay Area with a chess scholarship worth 40 000 $. From a poor orphan without a future Dyhemia got her chance thanks to our beautiful game.
Susan gave a „girly“ simul, against ten promising young ladies, and answered many questions on the formation of a champion, and gave many useful advises on what the young players need to do to become better.
After the wonderful time in Bay Area, I moved to the south, and took part in an open tournament in Central California, in a town called Fresno. It was a funny experience to me. I arrived one day later for the tournament to take the two day schedule instead of the usual three day. This meant that the first two games are played in a faster mode than the remaining games, so that the players can catch up with the three-day schedule. Then, in the third round the events are gathered together, and the tournament proceeds with the usual time control.
The five-round open event went smooth for me and I managed to tie for the first together with GM Nick De Firmian and IM Enrico Sevillano, scoring 4/5.
Here are the final standings
Altogether there were five sections, and plenty of young players. Some of them could not even reach the edges of the boards easily, but enjoyed greatly the game.
The journey proceeds to the south. More news would follow from L.A.