Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Generous Donation From the Southam Family

Todd Southam was the youngest son of the Southam family. He was a talented youth that won many Canadian Cadets and Juniors, and represented Canada in the world tournaments. He broke the record of being the youngest chess player to win the Toronto Closed Championship when he was only 15 years old and being the lowest rater player in that section. He not only was an excellent chess player, he was also a nice and kind person who would always stay behind and analyze games with juniors. Later on he became a FM, scored an IM norm and his final rating was 2423 before he suddenly died in 1996. Even though I never met him in person, but from how others describe him, I can tell that he had a great personality and if I had met him I would've liked him too. His death was a great loss for the chess community in Canada but he will always be in our hearts.

A great surprise was that about 2 weeks ago, I received an email from the Southam family saying that they wish to donate Todd's trophies and many chess sets to the Chess in the Library program! It was a complete honor to receive this donation. I was so touched of their enthusiasm and support for my program when I received this email and wanted to meet them in person.

Thus, last night, Michael, Yutong and I visited the Southam family. We were greeted by Todd's mother, Elsa, his father, Peter, and his brother David who I've met before at the Scarborough Chess Club.

Us and the Southam family- from left to right: Yuanling Yuan , Elsa Southam,
Peter Southam, David Southam, Yutong Luo and Michael Kleinman

The family showed us 5 huge binders of Todd's tournament records, pictures and articles. We listened with interest as they told us many chess stories from the past, most of them were before I was born! We also got to see many pictures of famous Grand Masters when they were younger. Last but not least, they showed us their chess magazine library which took up an entire book shelf! There was a complete collection of the New in Chess (originally from Germany), Chess Life (from the US), Inside Chess (from England), Chess Canada Echecs (from Canada) and the En Passant (from Canada) magazines. All these things were fascinating to me and beyond my imagination. It was like walking in a chess history museum!

The Southam family showing us the 5 huge binders of Todd's chess history

Their generous donation consists of 20 trophies and the money for new plates and engraving, 2 plaques, many chess sets and a couple of chess books. To remember Todd Southam and to make all these trophies more special, we've decided to customize a new plate for the trophies: "Chess in the Library - The Todd Southam Award". Along with the trophy, we will also hand out a little pamphlet to the award recipients which includes a brief about Todd, a couple of his chess stories, a list of his achievements and a couple of his most famous games. Perhaps we will run a Todd Southam Memorial tournament at each of the Chess in the Library programs and give out a couple of the trophies there. We are still working on the details.

A lot of trophies eh?

We are all just so happy to recieve all of this!

On behalf of all the participants who are and will be playing chess in the Chess in the Library program and the organization team, I would like to thank the Southam family here for their genenous donation and support towards our program. I also thank them for sharing all their wonderful memories with us. We all appreciate it very much and it was a pleasure to have the chance to meet them in person as they are an extremely nice family. This is a very important event in the development of the Chess in the Library program and I will never ever forget this day.


  1. oh damn, this is getting big
    can't begin to imagine the things you'll be able to do after graduation

    jia you (you're mandarin right?)

  2. haha thanks Michael, and yes I'm mandarin =) you wanna consider joining our organization team?

  3. talked to yutong about it
    got SAT classes in the morning for now
    maybe after january 2010 :P

  4. okay sure! I'll invite you again next january then =D