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Young chess kings and queens learn to make their moves at UTRGV summer chess camp

UTRGV’s Summer Chess Camp will be held July 18-22 and will give young chess players a chance to develop their skills and strategies. It is open to all ages, kindergarten through high school, at all levels of achievement. (UTRGV Photo Courtesy of Alfonso Almeida)

By Cheryl Taylor 

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – JUNE 24, 2016 – Young chess players will have a chance to develop their skills and strategies at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s summer chess camp the week of July 18–22.

UTRGV chess camp will be held at the Episcopal Day School in Brownsville. It is open to all ages, kindergarten through high school, at all levels of achievement.

Senior program coordinator of UTRGV Chess, International Master Alfonso Almeida, will be the camp head coach.

“The camp offers three levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced,” Almeida said. “Beginners can learn the basics and start building a strong foundation, and those who are more seasoned will have an opportunity to hone their skills as they work with the coaches.”

Almeida will be assisted by Jeffrey Serna and brothers Erick and Aldrin Guevara, from San Benito.

Aldrin Guevara is a UTRGV senior studying international business, and Erick Guevara is a junior majoring in kinesiology with a minor in math. Erick was on the 2012 and 2013 Texas high school scholastic championship chess team from San Benito High School.

Serna, USCF chess Expert and a member of the university chess team, received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from UTRGV in May. A native of Taos, New Mexico, he began playing chess at the age of 8.

“I enjoyed it, it was fun,” he said. “Then around my freshman year in high school I increased in strength and was winning tournaments, and started to take it seriously, thinking maybe I could get a chess scholarship to help pay for college.”

His coach in New Mexico knew of the UT Brownsville/Texas Southmost College chess team’s good reputation, made the connection, and Serna was recruited. Throughout his college career, Serna has coached school chess teams and has been a private coach.

“It’s been a great four years here in Brownsville. My plan is to stay in Texas, where opportunities are better to find a good job using my computer science degree,” he said.

Almeida reminds parents of the benefits of chess, a game recorded in history going back about 1,500 years.

“Chess can last a lifetime, be enjoyed most anywhere, most anytime, at any age,” he said. “Research has shown the game of chess can help children improve memory, organizational skills, increase imagination and help develop critical thinking skills that will support them throughout their academic and professional careers.”

Almeida said summer chess camp is a good opportunity for kids to focus and concentrate, and for many, it will be a time for their interest in chess to take hold and solidify.

UTRGV Chess summer camp is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday July 18 – Friday, July 22, at the Episcopal Day School, 34 N. Coria St. in Brownsville.

Registration for camp is available online at 2016 Summer Chess Camp.

For more information, contact Alfonso Almeida at 956-882-5761 or

Related story: Chess Team returns with second place trophy in ‘Final Four of College Chess’

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