Master Chess Summer Camp Instructor: National Master Nolan Hendrickson

Hello again! Today I’d like to tell you about another fantastic instructor working at Master Chess Camp: National Master Nolan Hendrickson.

Nolan has an interesting chess background: He played in his first tournament at the age of 13, didn’t have a non provisional rating for two years, and became a National Master before his 18th birthday. He told me he took chess seriously, almost from the very start: Reading books, playing and analyzing on the Internet Chess Club, etc.

This is a nice example of something I always say: Chess is not just a game for young children! Sometimes I worry that this perception has taken hold — that if your child is not a tournament player by the age of 5 or 6, that they have somehow missed the boat. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many kids benefit greatly from starting chess at 5 or 6 — but many kids benefit greatly from starting later in their childhood, or even adolescence. Every chess player has their own unique individual path.

Nolan was interested in analyzing the openings he played from a very early stage: In a simul against Grandmaster Larry Christiansen, when Nolan was still a relative beginner, he played a novelty on the white side of the Grand Prix Attack! For non chess-players: A novelty is a new move in a previously reached position. By virtue of surprise value, objective strength, or both, a novelty can be a very powerful weapon in tournament play. Later, as an 1800 player, Nolan played his novelty against Grandmaster Tigran Petrosian (not the former world champion, but his namesake) and reached a winning position before ultimately getting swindled!

As a young chess player, Nolan attended chess camps, including studying with GM Alex Stripunsky for a week! He mentioned learning how to calculate as a result of working with stronger players — Nolan feels that many players have trouble progressing because they don’t learn this fundamental skill.

After his impressive scholastic chess career, Nolan was awarded a full chess scholarship to Lindenwood University. In addition to continuing to develop as a player, he excelled academically, going on to earn a Master’s Degree as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I have seen first hand how Nolan’s background helps his teaching: He is amazingly patient with every class, often making insightful observations about individual students in between sessions. We are very lucky to have Nolan as the main coach of our Steps Method program. It has been really rewarding to see his students progressing strongly through the Steps, and his private students making rating gains.

If your child is rated up to 1500, they will have the opportunity to study with this terrific teacher during Master Chess Summer Camp!