Check mates

Sure, kids often go to summer camp to run and hike and scrape up their knees, and at MATCH (Teaches Champions) Chess Camp, they still have the opportunity to do all of these things, but they also have the chance to learn chess from 1999 International Chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley right in their back yard, at Proctors in Schenectady.

My philosophy about chess is twofold, said Ashley. "One is that it's ridiculous fun. We always stress that you're not coming in to learn calculus. Chess is fun " first and foremost. It's an amazing game that is very social between two people having a good time trying to take each other's heads off."

He said that the most important thing about chess for the kids is that it helps them in a variety of character-building ways.

"You learn all this problem-solving stuff, and you learn how to concentrate and focus better, and you have this self-esteem in doing something well and this real confidence in the ability to plan better in sophisticated planning ideas," said Ashley.

He said those qualities and skills not just valuable for playing chess but in life too.

"If the kids can take away any of that then it's a major success," said Ashley. "I don't know if I can always pull that off in a week, but we'll give it our best shot."

According to C. Marshall Tucker Jr., MATCH Chess Camp organizer, this was Ashley's first chess camp (there are now two other locations " Ashley hopes to eventually expand to 40 throughout the country).

"We're friends, and he gave me a call one day and said, 'Look, I want you to help me create my first chess camp, and I want to hold it in Schenectady,' and I said, 'Cool.' That's exactly what I said," said Tucker.

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