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Grandmasters in the making UTRGV Chess Summer Camp 2016 starts today

Students play against each other during the tournament that is set up for the last day of the chess summer camp so that students can know what a real chess tournament is like. COURTESY PHOTO
Students play against each other during the tournament that is set up for the last day of the chess summer camp so that students can know what a real chess tournament is like. COURTESY PHOTO

The UTRGV Chess Team will host its first summer camp from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today through Friday at Episcopal Day School, located at 34 N. Coria St. in Brownsville.

The lessons are divided into beginners, intermediate and advanced. Throughout the week, students will learn the pieces of chess, how they move and the rules of the game before advancing to the next level.

Students practice between the lessons and a tournament is scheduled for the last day of the camp, so they can experience what a real tournament is like, said Alfonso Almeida, chess senior program coordinator.

Almeida will be an instructor in the summer camp along with UTRGV students and alumni, who are recognized nationwide due to their victories in championships, their latest being the 2016 President’s Cup, in which they placed second.

“Basically, they are going to be taking over 12 lessons for the camp and it’s really amazing. I mean, the way these kids learn chess because like in a regular basis, we visit schools like once a week and their understanding is not as good as in the chess summer camp,” Almeida said. “They are exposed more to chess, the instructors, the game and it’s also the interaction with all the other kids that’s very helpful.”

Some of the benefits of playing chess are higher-order thinking skills in mathematics, problem solving, decision-making and logic skills that have been proved through research, according to Almeida.

Jeffrey Serna, a U.S. Chess Federation expert and UTRGV alumnus, will be one of the instructors of the summer camp for the second year in a row. He was an instructor at the chess summer camp at legacy institution UTB.

Serna said he feels a big sense of satisfaction when the students enjoy the game. Some students have a background knowledge of chess but the beginners are sometimes the ones that surprise them.

“Last year, I had a student who was a complete beginner and some of the kids kind of already knew how to play and by the end of the camp when the tournament was held,” Serna said, “the kid, even though he missed the first round because he was late, he won every single game after that and he almost won the whole tournament.”   

Serna hopes that some of the children who attend the summer camp will want to continue playing chess after the camp is over.

The cost of the summer camp is $250, siblings get 20 percent off. The last day to register and pay online is today. To pay online, go to webapps.utrgv.edu/it/em/

For more information, contact Almeida at 882-5761 or alfonso.almeida@utrgv.edu.

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