OleChess Camp

July 26–31, 2015
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OleChess offers a week of quality instruction and chess-related activities featuring some of the world’s premier players and teachers. Chess players of all ages, abilities, and experience levels will enjoy a week filled with classes, demonstrations, lectures, and tournaments … plus games, games, and more games with fellow chess enthusiasts.

Classes and Fees

Class fees include double-occupancy lodging, meals (Sunday dinner – Friday lunch), instructional sessions, special activities and a camp shirt. Campers are assigned to classes based on several factors, primarily including the camper’s registered section, age, and rating/chess strength. If possible, the camp will provide a variety of primary instructors from year to year.  All classes require a minimum enrollment, which have typically been met in the past.  Reassignments or refunds are available for classes cancelled due to low enrollment, in which case notification will be sent at least two weeks prior to camp. Final class assignment decisions rest with the camp staff.

  • Chess Exploration: $665
    For players of all ages and strengths. Campers are divided into classes of like ability and age. Campers 9 years of age or younger must be accompanied by an adult escort.
  • Intensive Study: $795“All Intensive Study Options automatically include the evening lecture series”
  1. Advanced Youth: Under 18 with 1500+ rating. This option is only for strong youth students. The option involves additional classroom rigor and an additional evening lecture after which students may join evening camp activity including separate sections of the blitz and bughouse tournaments.
  2. Advanced Adult: 18 and over OR rating of 1700+. This option is intended for the serious adult students and involves additional instructional period, lectures, and greater classroom rigor. This session will admit serious, mature-acting youth students who meet the requirements and have the approval of the camp director.
  3. Fundamental Adult: 18 and over. For the novice to moderate strength adult interested in strengthening their chess knowledge for themselves or for the additional purpose of teaching others. This option includes take-away materials and for those interested in coaching a letter of recommendation for the USCF Certified Chess Coach Program. Stronger players should consider Intensive Study-Advanced Adult.
  • Chesscorts: $50
    For parents/guardians escorting their child to camp. This daily class is Chess 101 lite for escorts.  Escorts will learn the basics of chess, chess notation, and chess tournaments so that they can better share in their child’s chess experience. It will also include a “mini-tournament” among class members only so that parents can share in the tournament experience and learn from their own play. The class and tournament will be in the mornings-only and Chesscorts will be free the rest of the day.
  • How to Be a Good Chess Parent (Sunday Seminar 2:30–4): $20
    Based on an article by Kevin Bachler, this is a brief program discussing the important role of chess parent. Key chess basics will be covered: how to select a coach, what books to study, what kind of tournaments to attend, and figuring out what kind of a chess player you have.
  • Chess Basics Class (Free)
    Sunday afternoon chess class covering the basics of chess moves and chess notation for anyone who needs a refresher in the topic.

Evening Lecture Series

$25 per lecture for those pre-registered by 7/12/15; $5 late fee after 7/12/15
Adults (over age 17) who are not campers may attend the Intensive Study evening lecture. Lectures last 1–1.5 hours, and begin at 5:30 p.m.  Adults wishing to attend should show up at 5:15 p.m. Lectures by camp GM’s and IM’s. No refunds.
Monday, 5:30pm: GM Alex Yermolinsky: “How to Bust Out of a Slump”
Tuesday, 5:30pm: GM Yury Shulman: “Constructive Approach In Critical Positions”
Wednesday, 5:30pm: GM Gregory Kaidanov: “What is my ‘chess style?’
Wednesday, 7:00pm: Special guest series GM Wesley So: “Examples of 1 e4 e5 from My Games”
$30 if registered before 7/12/15, $5 late fee after 7/12/15
Thursday, 5:30pm: GM Jesse Kraai: “A Couple Practical Decisions from Carlsen’s Games”

Escort Policy and Fee:  $245

Parents or guardians may attend camp (but not classes) as an escort.  An escort is required for participants nine years of age or younger.  There is a maximum of three campers per escort.  The escort free includes meals, housing in a shared room with the camper, and bowling night.


Camp opens on Sunday afternoon with check-in between 2 and 3 p.m., followed by an orientation meeting, dinner, and an exciting exhibition pitting participants against instructional staff. Monday morning begins with the first round of a G/60 tournament that runs throughout the week. Following the tournament is the first of three daily class sessions in which participants are divided into groups and work with a single supervising teacher. A rotating instructional schedule allows participants to study with a variety of teachers during the camp. Afternoon class sessions are followed by dinner in Stav Hall and special activities. Camp closing ceremonies start at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon with trophies awarded to winners in all competitions. Family and friends are invited to attend.

Camp Activities

Special activities such as movie and bowling nights, a campfire, and recreational opportunities, including soccer, frisbee, or basketball, keep things active and interesting at OleChess. Other activities include quick chess tournaments, a “blitz” tournament, and Ole Bughouse Mania. Students from Intensive Study and Chess Exploration participate in separate groups.

Instructors – 2015

Each year Kevin Bachler (OleChess Camp DirectorFIDE Master, FIDE Trainer, USCF PCC) brings the best available masters to OleChess. Past instructors have included Grandmasters Gregory KaidanovAlex Yermolinsky, Jess Kraai, WGM Camilla Baginskaite, and National Master Ken Wallach. Additional instructors may be added.

Campus Housing and Dining

Participants, instructors, and the counseling staff live, eat, study, and play together on the scenic campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.
Meals: (Sunday dinner through Friday lunch) are catered by Bon Appétit in Stav Hall, the campus dining hall. Fresh foods with healthy choices and a menu that changes daily provide a satisfying dining experience that meets the needs of campers young and old.

Housing: Bedding and a bath towel are provided.

Youth campers are housed two to a room in a comfortable, secure residence hall. Hoyme Hall
Adult campers are housed in an air-conditioned residence hall and have the option of single occupant rooms. Ytterboe Hall
Families (camper and their escort) are housed in double occupancy rooms in air condition residence hall. Ytterboe Hall

Camp Location and Transportation

St. Olaf College is located 40 miles south of the Twin Cities metropolitan area in historic Northfield, Minnesota. Call the conferences, camps, and events office at 507-786-3031 to inquire about transportation options to and from the airport and/or refer to stolaf.edu/camps for further information.

Registration Form

Register now with our secure online form or complete a printable registration form on your computer and send it via mail or fax. Registrations are accepted until capacity has been reached.  There is a $50 late-fee for registrations submitted after June 1, and a $100 late-fee for registrations submitted after July 1.

Late Fee
$50 late fee for registrations received after June 1.
$100 late fee for registrations received after July 1.

Refund Policy

Written cancellation received by June 1 will receive a refund less a $100 non-refundable deposit. No refunds will be made after July 1.

More Information

Contact Kevin Bachler, camp director, for questions about staff or instructional content, or the St. Olaf Camps office: 507-786-3031800-726-6523.

Frequently asked questions

Camp Faculty:Each year, Kevin Bachler, OleChess Camp Director, FIDE Master, FIDE Trainer, USCF PCC – brings the best available masters to OleChess. Past instructors have included Grandmasters Gregory Kaidanov, Alex Yermolinksy, Yury Shulman, Alex Onischuk, Gregory Serper, WGM Camilla Baginskaite, Irina Krush, International Master John Bartholomew, and National Master Ken Wallach. Visit stolaf.edu/camps for 2015 instructors.

How many youth attend?
Recently we have had approximately 75 campers in attendance, of which about 50-60 are youth.  Most adult campers attend one of the Intensive Study sections.  Our short-term goal is to get closer to 125 campers. As we add campers we add instructors, intending to maintain a ratio of 8-12 campers per per instructor — with the occasional class creeping up to 14 in order to fit classes by age and rating.  Classes must have at least 6 students to be a “go”, and special arrangements are made in the event of classes of fewer than 6 participants.

What are the predominant range of ages of the campers?
Ages typically range from 7-year-old campers to 50-year-olds-plus; the widest range we have had was from age 6 to age 80.  The majority of participants are ages 10–17, and the largest group is ages 11–14.  Adults generally select one of the two adult-oriented Intensive Study sections, although some adults select the general camp, particularly if they wish to attend with their children.

What are the predominant range of ratings of the campers?
Ratings range from Beginner to 2300+. The majority of our young campers ratings range from unrated/600 to 1200, with the next largest group 1200–1600.  Adult campers generally break into groups of 1000-1400, and typically 1600+.

What is the refund policy?
Written cancellation received by June 13 will receive a refund less the $100 non-refundable deposit. No refunds will be made after June 13.

Can I use a credit card to pay for camp other than online?
No. In order to meet regulations we can only take credit cards using our online form.

How can I view my child’s chess ratings?
Go to the US Chess Federation, select “Look up a Member,” and enter your child’s name or ID.