OleChess Camps

July 19-24, 2020

Minnesota – Premier national chess camp with five class options.
Featuring instruction by GMs Kaidanov, Goldin, Gurevich, Yermolinsky, and Shulman and WGM Baginskaite.

Before camp: OleChess Summer Tournament July 18 with $1,050 in prizes, open and reserve sections, 4 round at G/61, d5.

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, tournaments, and games, games, and more games with fellow chess enthusiasts.

Sessions, Fees, and Registration 

Class fees include double-occupancy lodging, meals (Sunday dinner – Friday breakfast) instructional sessions, special activities, and shirt. Campers are assigned to classes based on factors including the camper’s registered section, age and ability. Class assignment decisions rest with the camp staff.  Campers nine years of age or younger must be accompanied by an adult escort (see escort policy section).

  • Chess Exploration: $$$
    For players of all ages and strengths. Campers are divided into classes of like ability and age.
  • Intensive Study: $$$

    Section rating requirements are strictly adhered to, only limited exceptions granted with documentation (see Class Registration Exception Information)
    All Intensive Study Options automatically include the Evening Lecture Series and separate camp activities for blitz, quick and bughouse.

  1. Advanced Youth: Under 18 with 1500+ rating – for strong students.  The option includes greater classroom rigor.
  2. Advanced Adult: 18 and over OR rating of 1700+. This option is intended for serious adult students with greater classroom rigor.  This session will admit serious, mature-acting youth students who meet the requirements and have camp director approval.
  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.
  • Intensive Study – Master Class: $$$
    For serious players (including mature-acting youth) rated over 2000. Includes the evening lecture series, instruction by GMs only, electronic ChessBase format class materials, and the tournament section will be limited to the strongest players only (allowances for camp size). Masters are encouraged to participate.
  • How to Be a Good Chess Parent: FREE
    Sunday Seminar 2:30 pm – 3:00 pm
    A brief program discussing the important role of a chess parent, based on Kevin’s article that has been on the Internet. Key chess basics will be covered: how to select a chess coach, what books to study, what kind of tournaments to attend, and what kind of a chess player do I 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 topics.

Escort Policy and Fee:  $$$
Participants nine years of age or younger may attend camp with an adult escort, and escorts may also attend with older students. There is a maximum of three campers per escort. The escort fee includes meals and housing in a shared room with the camper.

Campers are housed two per room and may request a specific roommate. Roommates need to request each other on their registration form. Camp space is filled on a first-come basis and spots cannot be held for a late-registering roommate.

Camp fee includes:
Lodging, meals, and camp t-shirt (if registration is received after the t-shirt order has been submitted we will do our best to provide a t-shirt).  Campers are housed in comfortable, secure students residence halls.  Bedding and bath towel are provided. Coaches and counselors live in the residence halls and provide 24-hour supervision.  St. Olaf employs a professional security staff that is on duty 24/7.

Register Today:
Register now with our secure online form youth, adult (18+) or complete a printable registration form on your computer and send it via mail or fax. Registrations are accepted until capacity has been reached.  When completing the online form please see options below.

Exceptions for class requirements: If you are interested in registering your camper for a section for which they do not yet qualify, please read Class Registration Exception Information and follow the instructions.

Option 1: Pay in Full
At the conclusion of the registration form, you will be asked to submit credit card information.  Once submitted, the full amount will be paid.

Option 2: Submit Deposit Only
At the conclusion of the registration form disregard the payment section at the end and close out the window.  The registration form is still saved and submitted.  Once closed, go to the make-a-payment link and submit a minimum $100 non-refundable deposit to reserve your spot today. Registration is not officially accepted until completed registration form and deposit is received on the same day.  Payment must be paid in full 4 weeks prior to camp start date.

Refund Policy:
Written cancellations (post or email) received four weeks prior to camp start date will receive a refund less the $100 non-refundable deposit. No refunds given within four weeks of camp start date, but substitutions are accepted.

Late Fee Policy:
Registration received prior to June 1 no late fee will be applied.
Registration received between June 1 and July 1 a $50 late fee will be applied.
Registration received after July 1 a $100 late fee will be applied.

For 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.

Tournament/Lecture Fees and Registration 

OleChess Summer Tournament:
July 18, 2020
For campers and non-campers.
Register Now.

Boy Scout Chess merit badge counselor on staff. Fulfill your requirements at camp.
Must be pre-approved by scoutmaster.

Rated Blitz Tournament: $5
Sunday, July 19 – 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Open to campers and their families during check-in.  Register on site.

Evening Lecture Series: $25
Fee/lecture pre-registered by 7/5/19 OR $30 at door
Adults (over age 17) who are not campers may also attend the Intensive Study evening lecture.  Lectures last 1.25 hours and begin at 5:45 pm.  Adults wishing to attend should arrive at 5:30 pm. Lectures by camp GMs.  Lecture topics are below. No refunds on advance registration.  Register Now.

  • 2019 Topics:
    All classes begin at 5:45 pm and end at 7:00 pm in Regents 310.
    Monday:  GM Alex Yermolinsky – When It’s Good to Play g7-g5 & When It’s Not
    Tuesday: GM Yury Shulman – Is the French a Defence?
    Wednesday: GM Gregory Kaidanov – Amazing Ding Liren: Best Chinese Chessplayer Ever
    Thursday: GM Dmitry Gurevich – Great Games I Saw Live

Meet the Staff 

Each year, Kevin Bachler, OleChess Camp Director, FIDE Master, FIDE Trainer, USCF PCC – brings the best available masters to OleChess.
2019 Instructors include: Grandmasters Gregory Kaidanov, Alex Yermolinsky, Yury Shulman, Alexander Goldin, Dmitry Gurevich, WGM Camilla Baginskaite, FM/FT Kevin Bachler, NM James Neal.  Every camper will have an opportunity for GM instruction.

Camp Schedule 

Camp opens on Sunday afternoon with check-in between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm, followed by an orientation meeting, dinner, and an exciting exhibition pitting participants against their class instructor. Monday morning begins with the first round of a tournament that runs throughout the week. Following each round, players analyze the game with their instructors and then have the first of three daily class sessions with their base or rotating teacher. (A partially 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 11:00 am Friday with trophies awarded to winners in all competitions. Family and friends are invited to attend.

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.

Financial Assistance 

Bon Appetit – Stav Dining Hall 

Meals are prepared by Bon Appetit. Healthy options include the salad bar, grilled meats and veggies, and hot entrees, cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, a deli station, soup, and dessert station.  There are plenty of food options for vegetarians, gluten-free, and other specific needs.  However, if you have a specific food allergy, please email us so we can get your camper connected with the kitchen.

Do you like good food? So do we! Four schools across the country, St. Olaf being one of them, with food service operated by Bon Appétit Management Company were placed on the Princeton Review ‘Best College Food’ list this year. Campers will have the chance to taste the amazing creations, experience and service from our friends at Bon Appétit! Check out this article to learn more about their recent accomplishment!

Transportation, Additional Housing, and Non-Residential Option

Contact the St. Olaf camp office to inquire about additional housing and non-residential options, and go here for transportation options to and from the airport.

Commuter Tuition: -$50
Campers commuting to and from camp daily may deduct $50 from fees listed above. Commuter tuition includes lunch and dinner, instructional sessions, special activities, and a camp shirt.

Additional Housing Option
Single Occupancy: $90
A limited number of single-occupancy rooms are available to adult campers only.

Youth campers are housed two to a room in a comfortable, secure residence hall. Hall TBD
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

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do you get on our mailing list to receive open registration updates and brochure?
E-mail us to get added to our list.

How many youths 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 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 is 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 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 is 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+.

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.

Will participants be allowed to travel around campus alone? 
Campers are informed to travel with a buddy during movement between breaks.

What are your cell/smartphone and other electronic devices policy? 
Cell phones and other electronic devices are not prohibited but should be used only during free time.

If a participant drives themselves to the program, can they leave whenever they want? 
No, at check in the driver’s keys are turned in and given to the directors of the camp.  If they wish to leave, a note must be provided by their guardian in advance.

Do you have enforceable consequences for prohibited actions?
Campers who break rules are sent home.

My child is one year too young for camp. Can they still register?
We maintain a wait list and if there are still openings prior to the start of camp we will fill positions with younger students. Call the camp office to get your name on the list. 507-786-3031.

My child is bringing medication to camp. What do I need to know?
Campers administer their own medication at camp. Camp staff will hold medication upon request in a secure location, and will assist in reminding campers to take their medication. Northfield Hospital is one mile from campus should any emergencies arise. With parent/guardian approval, a St. Olaf employee will help transport the camper to the hospital or clinic.

Does St. Olaf provide transportation to campus?
Please go here to learn more about transportation options to and from the airport.

What are the housing guidelines during camp?
St. Olaf College has traditional style residence halls. Campers, unless they request a roommate, can expect placement with another camper of the same gender identity. Please contact the camps office to discuss alternative housing accommodations.

How do I request or change roommates for my camper?
Any roommate selections or changes will be honored when received 14 days prior to the start of camp. Roommate selections or changes received within 14 days of the start of camp will be considered if room assignments have not yet been finalized.

May 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.

What is the refund policy?
Written cancellations (post or email) received four weeks prior to camp start date will receive a refund less the $100 non-refundable deposit fee. No refunds are given within four weeks of the camp start date, but substitutions are accepted.

When are t-shirt orders placed?
T-shirt orders are placed 14 business days prior to the start of camp. There are limited numbers of extra t-shirts ordered, and they will be distributed on a first come first serve basis to those who register after orders are submitted.

What if I need to cancel due to a medical circumstance?
Doctors note and written request will need to be submitted.  Once received and confirmed,  refund/credit will be submitted on a case-by-case basis.

What if camp gets canceled?
Any camp not meeting the minimum enrollment week prior to camp start date will be canceled and notification will be sent.  Some camps may have earlier deadlines and either a refund/credit towards another camp will be offered if the camp is canceled.

Where is St. Olaf College located?
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.