Cincinnati Scholastic Chess

Inviting you to enjoy the king of games in the Queen City

Mason Chess Fest

2018 Summer Camp and Tournament

Not much happens in scholastic chess during the summer, but scholastic players hungering to get back into action can rev up their chess game just in time for the new school year at the 2018 Mason Chess Fest. This four-day camp includes three days of focused instruction followed by a tournament. Most area chess camps concentrate on beginners, and while beginners are certainly welcome at the Chess Fest, this camp offers additional classes specifically designed for more advanced players who are serious about improving their game.

Camp Details

Dates: August 6–9, 2018 — Monday through Thursday

  • Monday through Wednesday: instruction and open play
  • Thursday: tournament

Time: 9:00 am to noon each day

  • There will be a break each day, Monday through Wednesday, during which we will provide campers with a healthy snack.
  • Campers are welcome to bring snacks of their choice for the tournament on Thursday.

Location: Heritage Presbyterian Church, 6546 Mason-Montgomery Road, Mason, OH 45040 (just across Tylersville Road from Mason Middle School)

Cost: $80 for the four-day camp, $20 for the Thursday tournament only

Award: All campers who complete a class will receive a Mason Chess Fest participation medal.


Enter online here and pay the registration fee through PayPal with PayPal account or credit card. Online entries must be received by 6:00 pm on Sunday, August 5, 2018.

Download an entry form and mail your completed form to Chess Fest, 9180 Pinewood Drive, Loveland, OH 45140 along with your check payable to Cincinnati Scholastic Chess. Mailed entries must be received by Saturday, August 4, 2018.

Enter onsite: for camp, subject to space availability, 8:15–8:45 am on Monday, August 6; for tournament only, 8:15–8:45 am on Thursday, August 9; payment by cash, check or credit card accepted.


Six classes are offered; campers may choose the class that best suits their level and interest. Some guidelines are offered below to help campers determine which class is best for them. Anyone still unsure about which class to choose should feel free to contact Alan Hodge by phone/text at 513-600-9915 or by email to

Each class will be limited to approximately 12 participants. If a player selects a class that is full, we will recommend an alternative or refund the registration fee.

Teachers include Expert-level players/teachers Jon Applebee and Justin Storn; coaches/teachers Keith Brackenridge and Alan Hodge; and members of the Mason High School chess team.

Beginner 1: Start Here taught by Chess Team members

If you are just starting to learn the game of chess, this class is for you. It will cover all the rules of the game, different ways a game can end, and all the fundamental knowledge that you will need to play a proper game. Whether you have never played before, or have played a little bit but aren’t quite sure of all the rules, your road to chess success starts here.

Topics to be taught in Beginner 1: Start Here:

  • Chessboard vocabulary
  • How the pieces move and capture
  • Objective of the game: checkmate
  • How to set the board up correctly for a game
  • Special moves: castling, pawn promotion, en passant capture
  • Illegal moves
  • Material
  • Discovered check and double check
  • Defenses to check
  • How to win or draw a game

Beginner 2: Moving Up — taught by Chess Team members

If you already know the rules of the game and are ready to explore basic techniques of good play, then you are ready to move up to this class. Here you will learn about hanging pieces, safe squares, protecting pieces, the arithmetic of attacking and defending, smart opening play, and fundamental checkmating techniques. The class will also cover the essential rules of tournament chess. It is expected that campers in the Moving Up class will thoroughly understand all (or nearly all) of the topics taught in Beginner 1: Start Here. Players who are not familiar with the Start Here topics will have a difficult time in the Moving Up class.

Topics to be taught in Beginner 2: Moving Up:

  • Basic principles of the opening
  • Basic pawn play — opening and middlegame
  • Basic pawn play — endgame
  • Protecting pieces (other than the king)
  • Protecting the king
  • Chess notation
  • Basic checkmating principles
  • Fundamental checkmates
  • Rules of tournament chess

Intermediate 1: Essential Tactics — taught by Keith Brackenridge

Tactics are tools that you can use to gain a material advantage in the middle game. The better you know how to use these tools, the better your chances of creating a winning advantage. But tactical success depends on knowing what to look for. To help you improve your “board vision,” this class focuses on problem solving, providing practice and insights into finding tactical opportunities in real game situations.

It is expected that campers in the Intermediate 1: Essential Tactics class will thoroughly understand all of the topics taught in Beginner 1: Start Here and Beginner 2: Moving Up. Players who are not familiar with the Start Here and Moving Up topics will have a difficult time in the Essential Tactics class. It will help also if a player is already familiar with basic tactics including pin, skewer, fork, and discovered attack, but a player unfamiliar with these tactics will do OK in this class if he or she is motivated and attentive.

Intermediate 2: Decision Making — taught by Alan Hodge

Players at all levels constantly face the challenge of deciding what move to make. Sometimes there are several obvious moves to choose from, and sometimes no move choice is obvious. If you have ever found yourself staring at the board and feeling like you just don’t know what to do, this class will help you figure it out. It will give you a framework for finding and evaluating candidate moves in any situation and then choosing the best one.

It is expected that campers in the Intermediate 2: Decision Making class will thoroughly understand all of the topics taught in Beginner 1: Start Here and Beginner 2: Moving Up, and be familiar with basic tactics including pin, skewer, fork, discovered attack, weak back rank, deflection and decoy. To the extent that they are not familiar with these topics, players will find the Decision Making class difficult.

Advanced 1: Creating Multiple Threats — taught by Jon Applebee

If you are already skilled in fundamental techniques and basic tactics, this class will help you improve your attacking chess by applying the principle of two weaknesses: if you attack one piece, your opponent has a pretty good chance to defend it, but if you attack multiple things at once, you can create really serious trouble for your opponent. In this class you will learn how to coordinate threats against two or more targets.

Advanced 1: Creating Threats is intended for players who have a thorough understanding of the fundamentals, good familiarity with multiple tactics and checkmating techniques, and extensive playing experience, preferably including tournament play.

Advanced 2: Understanding Opening Principlestaught by Justin Storn

This class is for advanced players who want to really understand the principles of chess. Most players know about the fundamental principles of the opening: center control, piece development, and king safety. But understanding these principles does not always equate to applying them in a game. In this class you will learn how to execute these ideas successfully and how to punish opponents who ignore them.

Advanced 2: Understanding Opening Principles is intended for players who have a thorough understanding of the fundamentals, especially basic opening principles, good familiarity with multiple tactics, and extensive playing experience, preferably including tournament play. It would be helpful for a player also to be familiar with a few particular opening systems.


This will be a four-round Swiss tournament with three sections corresponding to class levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Players play only other players in their own section.

Players will play all rounds — this is not an elimination tournament. Exception: In a section with an odd number of players to be paired, one player is necessary left without an opponent. This player is “paired out” (meaning that he or she does not play that round). No player can be paired out more than once in any tournament. A player who is paired out scores 1 point for that round, just as if he or she had played a game and won.

The top five finishers in each section win a place trophy; all other players scoring 3.0 or more but not finishing among the top five places win an honorable mention trophy. Standard tie-breaks will determine the order of finish among tied players.

This tournament will not be rated, although ratings, for players who have them, will be used for pairing purposes. Players are not required to be US Chess Federation members.

Players who do not attend the camp on Monday through Wednesday are welcome to enter only the tournament for an entry fee of $20, subject to space availability. A limited number of places are reserved for tournament-only entries. Players signing up for the entire camp will have priority over tournament-only entries for the remaining places.


Send email to or call/text Alan Hodge at 513-600-9915.