Checkmates & Charms - Rancho La Puerta
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Checkmates & Charms

Week of July 27, 2024

Give your brain a workout this Family Week with challenging chess play for people at all levels and mind-bending card tricks!  Chess coach and puzzle enthusiast Alex Freuman brings his annual array of mental challenges back to the Ranch… don’t miss this chance to stretch your mind after a satisfying day of physical exertion!

Family: Social Chess and Lessons
Join Alex and your fellow chess enthusiasts nightly from Sunday through Wednesday at 7pm for social chess games, to learn/play chess variants like “Hand and Brain” or “Bughouse,” and/or participate in chess lessons for those who wish!  This year, new chess puzzles will also be offered nightly!

Family: Deconstructing Hollywood’s Famous Chess Games
Join chess coach Alex Freuman for a glimpse into the exciting games developed by internationally renowned chess masters for Hollywood. We will review the famous positions depicted in Wizard Chess from the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and another featured in Searching for Bobby Fischer. We’ll also review a full game from the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit played by the character Beth Harmon.Participants will develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of chess strategy and tactics.

Kids: Close Up Magic Tricks
Join Alex to learn some mesmerizing magic tricks to wow your family! Kids will leave class with the supplies they need to repeat the new tricks they’ve learned.

Tweens and Teens: Clever Card Tricks
You’ll leave everyone wondering ‘How did they do that??” after taking this class and learning a couple of brilliant tricks that use nothing but a standard deck of cards…. and some clever sleight of hand.


Alex Freuman, MS, BA, is a high school STEM teacher who holds a BA in mathematics from Oberlin College and an MS in mathematics education from Hunter College in New York City.   At Oberlin, Alex was a founding member of the Juggling Club, where he honed many circus skills, including fire juggling, fire eating and balancing tricks. Also a long time chess and puzzle enthusiast, Alex coaches the chess team at Nyack Highschool (Nyack, NY), is faculty advisor for the Nyack Highschool Puzzle Club, is the founder and President of the Rockland County Chess Club, and is a certified US Chess Tournament Director.  His current United States Chess Federation (UCSF) rating is 1900, and he hopes to break 2000 before his children beat him to it. Alex is passionate about creating community and fostering multi-generational connections through the joy of chess.