April 17, 2024
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International Chess Academy to Celebrate 20th Anniversary of Its Chess Camp and School

This summer, the International Chess Academy and its summer scholastic program will be celebrating its 20th year. Since its inception, many parents and students have passed through the academy’s doors, with some staying as little as one semester, and others for over 20 years. Many successes in state, national and international tournaments by both individuals and teams showed there was value, at the very least from a “chess” standpoint, in being associated with the school. Some students became international masters and grandmasters, while others became coaches themselves.

However, despite all the successes over the chessboard, one of the accomplishments that the school takes perhaps the most pride in is purely academic. What they have noticed is that those students who come to the academy and stay for approximately a decade, and whose parents put their faith in the institution for all that time, end up attending some of the best colleges in the United States. That is not a statistic in some faraway study but rather something the school has witnessed throughout the 20 years that the International Chess Academy has existed.

Recently, some of those Ivy League and “top university” students were asked to condense their decade-long experiences into a few sentences, in an attempt to relate the value of the ICA experience in their lives to potential future students and parents.

“My 15-year experience at ICA (as a student, tournament player and coach) has had a profoundly positive impact on the person I am today. Learning, playing and eventually teaching chess at ICA has offered me life-long friendships, some sick decision-making skills and loads

of fun,” said Ilya Krasnovsky, now in his fourth year at Princeton University.

Commented Alex Katz, a 14-year veteran of the ICA now in his first year at MIT, “I think playing chess has several intangible benefits. Obviously, this includes things like reasoning and analytical skills, but also subtler things like patience and the importance of staying constantly alert; chess imitates life in that you’re never more than one bad move away from disaster. All this shaped my approach not only to the game, but also to academics and life in general. For instance, I never had issues handling long tests and competitions—a three-hour test doesn’t seem like that big a deal when you’re used to competing for upwards of 10 hours a day!”

Natasha Komarov, a math professor who graduated from Carnegie Mellon and received her PhD from Dartmouth, who spent 10 years with the ICA, added, “I attended ICA chess school and summer camps between the ages of nine and 16, and was a coach for another three after, and the experience was incredibly valuable for me. Learning chess and logical-thinking skills in a fun and interesting way helped develop and discipline my mind. It also provided a fantastic social atmosphere and friendships that have lasted for over 20 years. The logical-thinking framework that I developed at ICA is a large part of what has helped me succeed in my career as a math professor and in countless other aspects of my life.”

One of the ICA’s first students, Eugene Sokolovsky, a Columbia graduate who spent 20 years at the academy, noted, “Back in 1995 when Diana started the International Chess Academy I

happened to be one of its first students. At that time I was a sophomore at Columbia University. Diana’s chess club turned out to be a source of support for me, for both Diana and Irina Levitina gave me the additional warmth and confidence I needed. While interacting with Diana and Irina I learned not only how to improve my chess skills, but also how to face life with dignity and a sense of humor.”

In this, its 20th year, the academy is again running its scholastic summer camp program, available to students from age six to 16. It promises a 5:1 student-to-teacher ratio, along with its goal of fostering an environment of learning and fun for all. Students can attend from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., or stay until 5 p.m. and enjoy creative art projects, piano, guitar and drum lessons in addition to the daily chess instruction, tournament play, sports and lunch.

For more information, please contact the academy at 201-833-1741 / 201-797-0330, www.icanj.net or [email protected].

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