A range of campers participate in a camp simul

A range of campers participate in a camp simul



We have over 25 years of experience running major chess camps.

We are involved with two week-long premier chess camps:

  • OleChess 2019: July 21- 26, 2019

  • 2019 Caveman Chess Camp - Chicago: June 23-28 - followed by U.S. Junior Open and U.S. Senior Open

Daily Schedule (2018)Camp Brochure ▪ Camp Rules ▪ Rules for Competitions

2019 Caveman Chess Camp - Chicago

Caveman Chess Camp provides a week of high-quality instruction and chess-related activities featuring some of the world’s premier players and teachers. We welcome chess players of all ages, abilities, and experience levels, to enjoy a week of classes, demonstrations, lectures, tournaments, and games, games, and more games with fellow chess enthusiasts.

Camp Options and Fees

Caveman Chess Camp has five options that are a "camp-within-a-camp" -- providing each student with alternatives that best fit their needs.  Generally, there are multiple classes available within each section option.

  • Resident fee includes camp registration, double-dorm room, Sunday dinner, M-Th breakfast-lunch-dinner, and Friday breakfast.

  • Non-resident fee includes camp registration, lunch and dinner, M-Th.; Non-residents still need to register Sunday afternoon, and arrive for the Sunday evening simul by 5:50 p.m. (There are nearby restaurants for dinner on Sunday.) Non-residents need to arrive at the tournament room by 7:50 a.m. M-F, and will plan on departing approximately 9:00 p.m. Sun-Th, noon on Friday.

More information below. To learn how to register, click here. Do not register students for sections for which they do not qualify. Such students will be moved to the correct section and no refund will be given. Instead, follow the Class Exception Procedure, which requires students to register for the correct section and apply for an exception.

  • Explorer: $595 resident, $495 non-resident, (plus registration timing fee)

For players of all ages and strengths. Campers are divided into classes of like ability and age. Campers nine years of age or younger must be accompanied by an adult chaperone (refer to the chaperone policy). Explorer students have their own evening events and are separated from Intensive Study students for the camp tournaments.

  • Intensive Study: $795 resident, $695 non-resident, (plus registration timing fee)

    • Evening Lecture Series is included in each of the Intensive Study Options

    • Intensive Study students are combined into multiple similarly rated sections for the championship tournament, irrespective of their Intensive Study class. Master Class students are separated, Fundamental Adult students are separated to the extent possible

    • Class requirements will be strictly enforced. Exceptions are made only upon rigorous examination and approval by the camp director. Click here for details.

    • Advanced Youth: Open to players under age 18 with 1500+ rating – for strong students. The option includes greater classroom rigor and the evening lecture series after which students join evening camp activities including separate sections of the blitz and bughouse tournaments. There is no instructional difference between the highest Advanced Youth classes and the Advanced Adult class. Appropriately rated and mature Youth students may be placed into the Adult Class to ensure it is full, and overflow students in the Adult class may be placed in Advanced Youth.

    • Advanced Adult: Open to players age 18 and over, OR rating of 1700+. This option is intended for serious adult students and includes the evening lecture series and greater classroom rigor. This session will admit serious, mature-acting youth students who meet the requirements and have camp director approval. To the extent possible, a goal of this class is to have a strong, adult, class.

    • Fundamental Adult: Only open to players age18 and over. For the novice to moderate strength adult interested in strengthening their chess knowledge for themselves or for the additional purpose of teaching others. This option includes takeaway materials, and for those interested in coaching, a letter of recommendation for the USCF Certified Chess Coach Program. Stronger players should consider Intensive Study-Advanced Adult.

  • Intensive Study: Master Class: $995 resident, $895 non-resident, (plus registration timing fee)
    We expect to soon announce at least two masters participating in this class. Last year’s class included 2400+ Alex Bian, who was the 2017 U.S. Junior Open winner and a participant in the 2018 U.S. Junior Closed.

This class is for serious players (including mature-acting youth) rated over 2000. Includes the evening lecture series, instruction by GMs only, electronic ChessBase format class materials, and the tournament section will be limited to the strongest players only (allowances for camp size).

  • 2019 Instructors: 2018 Instructors included: Grandmasters Alex Yermolinsky, Gregory Kaidanov, , Yury Shulman, Alexander Goldin, Dmitry Gurevich, WGM Camilla Baginskaite, FM/FT Kevin Bachler. Every camper will have an opportunity for GM instruction. We are currently finalizing 2019 instructors, and anticipate adding key instructors to our staff.

The following free classes are available Sunday afternoon:

  • How to Be a Good Chess Parent: FREE
    Sunday Seminar 2:30 pm – 3:00 pm
    A brief program discussing the important role of a chess parent, based on Kevin’s article that has been on the Internet. Key chess basics will be covered: how to select a chess coach, what books to study, what kind of tournaments to attend, and what kind of a chess player do I have?

  • Chess Basics Class: FREE
    Sunday Seminar 3:30 pm – 4:00 pm
    Sunday afternoon chess class covering the basics of chess moves and chess notation for anyone who needs a refresher in the topic

Chaperone Policy and Fee:  $295 resident, $145 non-resident
Participants nine years of age or younger may attend camp with an adult chaperone, and chaperones may also attend with older students. There is a maximum of three campers per chaperone. The resident chaperone fee includes meals, and housing in a shared room with the camper. The non-resident fee includes the same meals as a non-resident camper. A late fee does not apply to chaperones.

Campers are housed two per room and may request a specific roommate. Roommates need to request each other on their registration form. Camp space is filled on a first-come basis and spots cannot be held for a late-registering roommate.

Camp fee includes:
For residents: Lodging, meals, and camp t-shirt.  Campers are housed in comfortable, secure students residence halls.  Bedding and bath towel are provided. Coaches and counselors live in the residence halls and provide 24-hour supervision.  North Central College employs a professional security staff that is on duty 24/7.

  • Resident fee includes camp registration, double-dorm room, Sunday dinner, M-Th breakfast-lunch-dinner, and Friday breakfast.

  • Non-resident fee includes camp registration, lunch and dinner, M-Th.; Non-residents still need to register Sunday afternoon, and arrive for the Sunday evening simul by 5:50 p.m. Non-residents need to arrive at the tournament room by 7:50 a.m. M-F, and will plan on departing approximately 9:00 p.m. S-Th, noon on Friday.


Register Today: 

Register now with our secure online form. There is a separate registration entry event for youth and for adults. Chaperones register on the youth form by registering just like any other camper. Registrations are accepted until capacity has been reached.  

We have three links to use to register a

You may enter multiple people across the links (for example, an adult camper, a youth camper and an chaperone), or multiple people within a link (for example, 2 or more youth campers) and collect all the registrations in your cart and pay for them all at once.

Dorm Room Registration: After registering for your camp section (including either resident or non-resident) - you must also register for a dorm room. Rooms are listed as a “separate tournament.” Look for either Adult or “Chaperones and Youth” registrations. Then just keep the camper’s name in the registration fields, and pick the dorm room type you would like. If you pick a double, there is no additional charge. When you do this, put the name of your roommate in the “Special Requests:” field. You would also do this for a camper staying with a parent chaperone - add the dorm room section and put the chaperone’s name in the “Special Requests":” field. When you register the chaperone, also register for a double room in addition to registering for the resident chaperone status, and put the camper’s name (not the chaperone’s name) in the “Special Requests”: field for the double dorm room registration.

Exceptions for class requirements: Follow the instructions on this page

Refund Policy:
Written cancellations (post, fax, or email) received by May 31will receive a refund less the $100 non-refundable deposit fee. No refunds are given after May 31 although substitutions are accepted.

Registration Timing Fee Policy:
We work hard to negotiate with the sites we use, our suppliers, and our instructors, to keep our costs and our prices as low as possible. For example, when you compare this camp to the three most comparable premier national camps (not run by us), we are generally hundreds of dollars lower - and in terms of the earliest registrations, it may even be possible to send two or three campers to our camp, for the cost of sending one camper to another camp. Most camps do not have as tiered of a structure to reflect different costs and timing as we do.
As a result, registrations received prior to:

  • December 31, 2018 - no timing fee

  • February 28, 2019 - $100 timing fee

  • May 31, 2019 - $200 timing fee

  • June 14, 2019 - $300 timing fee

For more information:
Contact Kevin Bachler, camp director, for questions about staff or instructional content.

More Important Information

Sunday US Chess Rated Blitz Tournament: $5, $10 on site (Registration link not yet available)
Sunday, June 23 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Open to campers and their families.

Evening Lecture Series:


  • Online by 6/14, 7:00 p.m.: $20, $10 for adults (US Chess unrated) who are chaperoning youth under age 18. Purchase all 4 lectures for $70 (adult chaperones $20)

  • At the Site:  Add $5

Adults (over age 17) who are not campers may also attend the Intensive Study evening lecture. Local youth under age 18 may attend the lecture if accompanied by an adult (limit 3 youth per adult). There is a special fee for chaperone adults who are unrated or not US Chess members.

Lectures last 1.25 hours and begin at 6:00 pm.  Local chessplayers wishing to attend should arrive at 5:45 pm. Lectures are by camp GMs.  Lecture topics are below. No refunds on advance registration.  Lecture room TBD.

  • 2019 Topics:

    • Monday: TBD

    • Tuesday: TBD

    • Wednesday: TBD

    • Thursday: TBD

  • All classes begin at 6:00 p.m. and end by 7:15 p.m.

  • Register at www.reg4chess.com, Illinois, Caveman Chess Camp - Chicago, Lectures

Each year, Kevin Bachler, Camp Director, FIDE Master, FIDE Trainer, US Chess Life Master, US Chess Professional Chess Coach – brings the best available instructors to Caveman Chess Camp.

2018 Instructors included: Grandmasters Gregory Kaidanov, Alex Yermolinsky, Yury Shulman, Alexander Goldin, Dmitry Gurevich, WGM Camilla Baginskaite, FM/FT Kevin Bachler. Every camper will have an opportunity for GM instruction. We are currently finalizing 2019 instructors.

Camp Schedule

Camp opens Sunday afternoon with check-in between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm, followed by an 4:30 orientation meeting, dinner, and an exhibition pitting participants against their class instructor. Monday morning begins with the first round of a week-long tournament. Following each round, players analyze the game with their instructors and then have the first of three daily class sessions with their base or rotating teacher. (A partially rotating instructional schedule allows participants to study with a variety of teachers.) Afternoon class sessions are followed by dinner in Kaufman Hall and special activities. Camp closing ceremonies start at 11:00 am Friday with trophies awarded to winners in all competitions. Family and friends are invited to attend. Special activities such as movie, and recreational opportunities, including soccer, frisbee, or basketball, keep things active and interesting.

Kaufman Dining Hall (https://www.northcentralcollege.edu/multimedia/2016/08/11/kaufman-dining-hall)

Healthy options include a salad bar, grilled meats and veggies, hot entrees, cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, a deli station, soup, and dessert.  There are plenty of options for vegetarians, gluten-free, and other needs. If you have a specific food allergy, please email us to connect your camper with the kitchen.

Camp Photographer

Ghostlight Foto - https://www.ghostlightfoto.com/ is the official camp and tournament photography. Additional photography by key camp staff.

Transportation, Additional Housing, & Non-Residential Option

Additional Housing Option
Single Occupancy: add $90
A limited number of single-occupancy rooms are available to adult campers only.

Youth campers are housed two to a room in an air conditioned comfortable, secure residence hall.
Adult campers are housed in an air-conditioned residence hall and have the option of single occupant rooms.
Families (camper and their chaperone) are housed in double occupancy rooms in an air condition residence hall.

Non-residential: See above for details

Lost key: If your camper loses their key, the fee is $125 per key core unit replaced, no exceptions. If this happens during camp your credit card will be charged so your camper can access their room.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many youth attend?
Based on our past camps, we anticipate 75-100 youth.  Most adult campers attend one of the Intensive Study sections. As we add campers we add instructors, intending to maintain a ratio of 8-12 campers per instructor — with the occasional class creeping up to 14 in order to fit classes by age and rating.  Classes must have at least 6 students to be a “go”, and special arrangements are made in the event of classes of fewer than 6 participants.

How many adults attend?

Typically our camps see over a dozen adult campers. Sometimes adults have made up as much as 25% of the camp.

What is the predominant range of ages of the campers?
Ages typically range from 7-year-old campers to 50-year-olds-plus; the widest range we have had was from age 6 to age 80.  The majority of participants are ages 10–17, and the largest group ages 11–14.  Adults generally select one of the two adult-oriented Intensive Study sections, although some adults select the general camp, particularly if they wish to attend with their children. Typically there are over a dozen adult campers at the camp.

What is the predominant range of ratings of the campers?
Ratings range from Beginner to 2400+. The majority of our young campers’ ratings range from unrated/600 to 1200, with the next largest group 1200–1600.  There is a strong contingent from 1800 – 2200+. Adult campers generally break into two groups – one of 1000-1400, and the second of 1600 – 2200.

How can I view my child’s chess ratings?
Go to the US Chess Federation at www.uschess.org, select “Ratings” then “Player/Ratings Look Up” and enter your child’s name or ID.

Will participants be allowed to travel around campus alone? 
Younger campers are informed to travel in a group with a counselor during movement between breaks. Adults may travel freely.

What are your cell/smartphone and other electronic devices policy? 
Cell phones and other electronic devices are not prohibited but should be used only during free time.

If a minor participant drives themselves to the program, can they leave whenever they want? 
No, at check in the driver’s keys are turned in and given to the directors of the camp.  If they wish to leave, a note must be provided from their guardian in advance. Adults may travel freely, but we ask that they notify the camp about their change in plans.

Do you have enforceable consequences for prohibited actions?
Campers who break rules are sent home.

What if my child is on medication?
Although camp counselors can hold the medication in a locked room, counselors cannot administer the medication to the camper.
All campers must be able to administer their own medications.

What is the refund policy?
Written cancellations (post, fax, or email) received by May 31 receive a refund less a $100 non-refundable deposit fee if the spot can be filled. No refunds are given thereafter, but substitutions are accepted.