By Richard Pointer, Scholastic Coordinator
During July, were the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis [CCSCSL] to have a motto; certainly it would be “The Summer of Chess”. Indeed, we might say that it is the Summer of Youth Chess. We have hosted the U.S. Junior Championships, the Match of the Millennials, and a Kasparov Training Camp. Currently, another special event is unfolding on the shores of the Black Sea and it underscores this summer’s theme – the first annual Bulgarian-American Chess Camp is taking place July 20th to July 28th in Albena, Bulgaria.
The Camp is the fruit of the partnership between Foundation Topalov and the CCSCSL with support from the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria and the resort Paradise Blue Hotel.
At the end of 2016, Chairman of Foundation Topalov, Silvio Danailov, approached Tony Rich, Executive Director of the CCSCSL, with the goal of starting an annual chess camp to promote friendship, cultural exchange, and chess excellence among the youth of both countries. Towards that end, the first camp was organized and invitations extended to six talented junior players from each country.
The setting for this event could not have been more idyllic or beautiful. On the Black Sea Coast, Albena is situated among scenic forests, abundant, sunflowered fields, and rolling hills. A week in such an environment certainly has refreshed and reinvigorated those in attendance.
The schedule of activities has included a simultaneous exposition and lecture given by Former World Champion Veselin Topalov to the students. Moreover, daily morning lectures have been given by GM Krasimir Rusev on numerous topics: Attack and Defense, the Isolani, Prophylaxis, and How to Study Openings. FM Hristo Velchev organized afternoon training sessions focusing on practice matches and critical positions.
In addition to chess tuition, students have been able to enjoy swimming, sand, and sun on the golden beaches. A relaxing and truly unique experience has provided these students a perfect counterpoint to the stressful game that chess can be over the board.
The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis would like to thank Former World Champion Veselin Topalov, Director Silvio Danailov, the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, the Paradise Blue Hotel, Ruslan Yordanov, GM Krasimir Rusev, Maya Velcheva, and FM Hristo Velchev. Their vision, generosity, and hospitality have made this inaugural chess camp an unforgettable experience and a great success for all participants.