My wife’s crazy (smart?) idea

by admin on November 11, 2008

Last weekend my wife, who is a quilter, went to a weekend quilting retreat at Asilomar, a conference center/resort on the Monterey Peninsula about an hour’s drive south of Santa Cruz. It’s one of the most scenic spots you can imagine, with lots of ocean views amid Monterey cypress trees, rustic cabins, and a dining hall that serves up gourmet food. I tell Kay, “The real reason that people go to to Asilomar is the food!” It has room for big conferences (I went to an origami conference there in 2001 that drew close to 100 people) and small get-togethers alike.

When Kay got back home, she asked me, “Why don’t you get some of your chess friends together and have a weekend retreat at Asilomar?” At first I thought she meant a tournament, and I started to explain why it wouldn’t work. You’d probably miss some meal times because of the unpredictable length of chess games. You wouldn’t have much time for appreciating the scenery. And also, I thought it would be kind of an expensive proposition. If I’m going to go someplace for a weekend chess tournament, I want it to have lots of players and prizes and stuff like that. Just getting together six people whom I already know, and playing for no prizes, isn’t exciting enough.

But Kay said no, no, no, that’s not what she had in mind at all. She meant a chess retreat. A weekend devoted to chess, but not a tournament. Maybe we could play skittles or speed chess. Maybe we could discuss certain endgames or openings, or jointly work through a book. Just relax and focus on chess for a couple days, but without all the pressure and emotional ups and downs of tournaments.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. And the amazing thing is that I haven’t heard of anyone doing something like this before. A chess weekend that’s not a tournament! The closest thing I’ve heard of is chess cruises, which I see advertised in Chess Life once or twice a year. But those are much bigger and more expensive propositions, with guest GM’s or IM’s giving classes. This event would be just six or eight or ten people, preferably at more or less the same level of ability.

I’m not expecting any readers of this blog to say, “Sign me up!” but what would you think if someone held an event like this in your area? Would you be interested in going? How much would you be willing to spend? What other chess-related, non-tournament activities would you suggest? Should there be a planned schedule, or should the weekend just be a free-form, unplanned occasion?

Also, have any of you ever heard of a weekend chess retreat? Maybe they already exist and I just haven’t heard about them. If so, tell us about it!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Carina November 11, 2008 at 11:16 pm

I’ve heard about the chess cruises, but not about an organized retreat for chess, without a tournament, for a handful of players. It’s a brilliant idea, though. Maybe it hasn’t been done so far because most chess players are so different from one another that simply hanging out seems like an awkward concept? Well, if my chessplaying friends were going, I’d go too. 😀


Andres D. Hortillosa November 12, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Not a bad idea if you can find six people willing to share chess ideas.


chesstiger November 12, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Never heard of a chess retreat but i have heard of chess players coming together just to work on their game. How, what, they did i dont know.


Jim Krooskos November 13, 2008 at 3:05 pm

I think it’s a clever idea. I’ve done some searching in my area (San Diego), and I believe there are some chess camps offered for kids, but I don’t qualify as a kid, at least that I know of :0) Anyhow, I think it would be cool, and I’d spend a fair amount of money on a retreat. I like the idea of having lectures in a scheduled format covering different topics, but an informal setting would be nice too.


Howard Goldowsky November 14, 2008 at 9:56 am

Bob Long, the editor at Thinkers’ Press, has been doing chess retreats for a while. I think he’s on his third or fourth. He gets about 15-20 people each time. Sometimes he flies in chess celebrities to lecture or hang out. See for more info.



thadeusfrei November 14, 2008 at 10:31 pm

yeah that would be awsome, I would do that any day.


thadeusfrei November 14, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Another thing that would be cool is a long and serious tourny that costs very little (food and place) but you get no prize if you win.(I rarely win anyway lol)


Mr F March 23, 2012 at 2:55 am

Yep me and some friends have thought about this too. Im up for it, love playing chess on hols. Be nice to have some music in the evening with a BBQ or something. Maybe even combine it with some Yoga if you want to bring a partner out and theyre not into chess (my girlfriend hates chess) . Send me an email if you wanna chat more !!


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