USA opportunities for chess kids

by Kasparov Chess Foundation
7/2/2019 – The latest news from the Kasparov Chess Foundation includes and update on their Young Stars program and, from New York, the Harlem Children's Zone. The most recent camp for US stars took place in June in Saint Louis, while the global camp has just wrapped up in Zagreb, Croatia, alongside the Grand Chess Tour. Try your hand at a few of the studies that Garry Kasparov himself poses for the students! | Pictured: Saint Louis celebrates the Blues hockey team with a parade, as IM Christopher Yoo analyses a position

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


The Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) and Saint Louis Chess Club have been running the very successful Young Stars program for the past six years. Team USA’s program has helped develop several American chess prodigies from across the country, including the likes of GM Kayden Troff, GM Jeffery Xiong and GM Sam Sevian. Team USA has been capped off with individualized training sessions with Kasparov’s coaching staff and special training sessions with Garry Kasparov himself.

This Summer’s session at the Saint Louis Chess Club was a more intimate camp for the students, as Young Stars is now global with sessions in America and Europe. The participants were:

  • WIM Rochelle Wu, the youngest participant in the 2019 World Team Chess Championship representing the USA
  • IM Brandon Jacobson, who obtained the IM title last year and has crossed his rating requirement for GM, needing only two more norms
  • IM Andrew Hong, a silver medallist at World Cadet Championships 2016
  • IM Christopher Yoo, the youngest player to defeat a 2700 grandmaster in tournament play at 12 years old
  • Abhimanyu “Abhi” Mishra, who holds the record for the youngest Master in US Chess history

The camp took place from June 14th to June 16th and was held in the boardroom of the Saint Louis Chess Club, the same room that hosts such tournaments as the Sinquefield Cup, Cairns Cup and US Chess Championships. The players spent time on every aspect of the game, and Garry Kasparov evaluated their progress from their last meeting in New York six months ago. Players also had a very strong training session, including special hand-picked by Kasparov and KCF President and FIDE Senior Trainer Michael Khodarkovsky.

Group photo

Left to Right: Andrew Hong, Rochelle Wu, Michael Khodarkovsky, Garry Kasparov, Brandon Jacobson, Abhi Mishra, Christopher Yoo

Andrew Hong and Christopher Yoo focused on a tough puzzle:


Black’s position is in a precarious situation, but he has counterplay against White’s own king and with his powerful passed pawn. Can you find the way to convert the advantage, but more importantly, can you also find black’s counterplay and the refutation to that? Solution below! (Only the main line is given, you are free to explore the refutation to other Black tries via the playable diagram above!)

1.♘f2+ exf2 2.♖h6+ ♝h2 3.♕d1! ♜c1!! 4.♕xc1 ♛xh6 5.♕a1!! ♛h8 6.♕b1 ♛h4 7.♘d3 ♝g1 8.♘f4 ♛e7 9.♘e2 ♛h4 10.♕e4+ ♛xe4 11.♘g3+ ♚h2 12.♘xe4 +-

Mishra and Jacobson

Abhi Mishra and Brandon Jacobson

Three more of the far-from-trivial studies given to our students:


The camp served as an excellent preparatory session for a couple of the students, as Brandon Jacobson headed to the strong Summer Classic C-group and the upcoming U.S. Junior  Championship (under 20), with an average rating well over 2500, and Rochelle Wu will be participating in the 2019 U.S. Junior Girls Championship (under 20), both July 10th to 21st. The other players will also have a full schedule, trying to finish up their quest for their titles and higher ratings.

Hard work almost immediately paid off! The players were also part of the Saturday Night Special rapid tournament at the Saint Louis Chess Club – a venue that always attracts grandmasters because of the strong prize funds and the number of GMs in the area! Brandon was able to split of first place with GM Dariusz Swiercz, USA’s #1 board in the 2019 World Team Championship, and that was because 'Abhi' nicked Dariusz for a draw in round two!

Coincidentally, Saint Louis was having a big celebration the weekend of the camp! For the first time in the city’s history, the Saint Louis Blues hockey team was able to raise the Stanley Cup as their own! The parade was scheduled for Saturday, and the whole city dressed in blue.

Blues parade

Saint Louis has traditionally been a strong sports city and The Blues celebrated in style a big victory over the Boston Bruins

It’s unique that Garry Kasparov and the Stanley Cup champions were in one place at the same time!

The next Young Stars program session has just wrapped up in Zagreb where it was held from June 29th to July 1st, in conjunction with the Croatia Grand Chess Tour. There were participants from Europe and Asia. We will be bringing you all the info from that session soon!

Photos of the chess camp by Adithya Chandra, courtesy of the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Photos of the parade and the Saint Louis Blues taken from the official Facebook page.

Harlem Children’s Zone Workshop

A big part of the Kasparov Chess Foundation’s goals is to give back to the community. Our projects with chess in the schools, and specially our cooperation with the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) is one of the more rewarding ones. On June 19th, KCF President and FIDE Senior Trainer Michael Khodarkovsky conducted the annual workshop for chess coaches at HCZ. It is traditionally scheduled upon conclusion of the school year and before the start of all the HCZ summer camp programs.

The Harlem Children’s Zone, established in the 1990s, has been driven by the belief that the success of our children and the strength of the community go hand in hand. Their needs are inseparable and must be addressed together in order to break the cycle of generational poverty and give our kids a real shot at the American dream. They offer a multitude of programs and training systems to help kids in all aspects of education. We at KCF are delighted to be part of this visionary program.

As one of the most rewarding programs in the KCF aimed for kids in underprivileged communities, the HCZ workshop has been a resounding success since its inception in 2002. The founder of HCZ, Geoffery Canada, and the HCZ Chariman, Stanley Druckenmiller, approached Michael Khodarkovsky to get the program up and running in Harlem. On an annual basis, over 200 kids take a part of the chess workshops. We serve eight locations, including the Promise Academy Charter schools.

Khodarkovsky in Harlem

FST Michael Khodarkovsky with staff of the Harlem Children's Zone

A true telltale sign of the success of the program is in the returning alumni! In the above photo, Christina (next to Michael Khodarkovsky, with cap in hand) and Ruel (second on the right) are alumni of the program and now they are working as chess instructors, sharing their knowledge with the new generation of HCZ students. In the portrait on the wall behind, we see Geoffery Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone.

KCF workshop

Hard at work discussing the curriculum and teaching methods

The curriculum, “Teaching Chess Step by Step”, is aimed at teachers school settings. Volume one is for teachers, focusing on how to teach chess lesson by lesson. Volume two focuses on exercises for kids, relevant to the lessons taught in volume one. Volume three is an accompanying book.

HCZ students have been able to participate at city, state and national championships. A new generation of students is coming in, and we also have a new generation of teachers beginning their chess work at HCZ.

Our curriculum is available online (PDF).


The vision of the Kasparov Chess Foundation is primarily to use the many benefits of chess to help children worldwide. KCF does this through a variety of different programs, which you can find at


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register