Monday, October 26, 2009

Chess and Disabled People

A few days ago I had an interesting chat with the Brookbanks branch head when I visited that library after school. I was told that the provincial government has passed a new policy for public volunteers. The policy is that these volunteers must take a course that involves in recognizing and dealing with disabled people. It's a very short course, about an hour in length, but everyone must take it in order to volunteer in public places. We haven't yet decided the exact date that we will take this course but I know it's definitely going to happen very soon. Once the date has been decided, I will let the rest of my team know.

Chess is actually an excellent sport for these disabled people. People say that chess is a sport or it is an art, and of course I agree with both of those. However, I look at chess as an universal communication language. That's why all different kinds of people can play chess together. People won't need to be able to speak the same language and by playing this game, they have already communicated more than you can imagine. Same with disabled people.

I've played in many international tournaments around the world and I've seen sights that are really touching. There was one in particular, that I will remember forever. It was a couple of years ago, 2005 I think, when I played in the National Open in Las Vegas. There was this kid (around my age back then) playing in the tournament who was sitting on a wheelchair with numerous tubes connected to his nose and mouth that would allowed him to breath. It was difficult for him to look down at the board as his head was in a fixed position. His mother would sit beside him every round and record the moves. The kid would then say his move to his mother in an extremely quite voice. He definitely had a hard time speaking as well. From what it looked like, this kid didn't have much time left in his life. That is how much chess means to him. Regardless of his condition, this kid would still come to the tournament site and play every single round. It was truly an amazing sight to watch. For most of us, we should all be grateful that we are healthy and have the opportunity to try so many different things. We definitely shouldn't let this opportunity go to waste.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WOW - 6 Libraries Confirmed!!

For all of you who has been following our progress, we have HUGE news for you! The Chess in the Library program has suddenly jumped from 3 libraries to 6 libraries! Isn't that exciting? 2 branches will be opening very soon, Maria A. Shchuka and Deer Park (visit Michael's blog for more information) both on Nov 7th, 2009. As for Maria A. Shchuka, I just got notified today that there are already 36 registered players!

The other 2 branches, Northern District and Fairview will be opening sometime next January. Both of these libraries are district size libraries, and have multiple program rooms. The libraries are pretty big, so don't get lost when trying to find us!! :) Also, if you would like to volunteer at Fairview, let me know. Please visit our website for the exact starting dates and locations for Northern District and Fairview.

I will keep you guys updated on each library as soon as it starts running! 3 more weeks until we have 4 libraries running. Can't wait! :)

Another Supporter

Just recently, the Chess in the Library program received another generous donation of $20 from on anonymous individual. Although the number didn't seem big, yet it showed a tremendous amount of support toward our program. My team and I all really appreciate this donation. Chess in Canada isn't a popular sport (hence our program - to promote chess), thus having someone to show us that he or she cares about chess and our program is something special. Knowing that we have another supporter motivates us all to keep making this program better and bigger. Thank you!!

Some people believe that only rich people like Bill Gates donate to charity. That is entirely untrue. I would agree that those group of people perhaps contribute the majority of the money toward charities, but they are definitely not the only ones that take action to support a good cause. Think about it, if everyone in Canada contributed $1 to an organization, that total amount of money wouldn't be less than what an average multi-millionaire can donate. A small donation can make a BIG difference. In our program. every $20 can support the supplies for approximately 5 more kids to play chess every week. Now imagine how many more kids would be able to play chess if everyone in Toronto donated $1! So if you want to show us that you care, email us! Any donation (money, chess boards, sets, books, trophies, medals, anything related to chess!) is greatly welcomed and appreciated by the Chess in the Library program. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Special Simul Event at Brookbanks

Due to the fact that the auditorium room (the room that we use for the program) was pre-booked for last Saturday (Oct 3) way before this program became a part of Brookbanks Library, we had to come up with another solution. The final decision was to host a simul event on the main floor of the library, where people coming in and out of the library could see us clearly. Of course a couple of shelves and chairs had to be pushed aside, the tables had to be carried upstairs but it was definitely worth it!! The fact that it was in an open space made it superb for promoting our program. Tons of people came and asked us or the librarians about the program. They didn't even know that there was this chess program before! There were other teens who came up to us and asked if they could play! One thing I'm sure of - by hosting this special event, we just gained a couple of new members!

On the other hand, it was an exciting week for all the participants as well. Everyone who came to play received a key chain, a magnetic bookmark and 3 simul tickets. There were 12 chess sets set up and 4 people who were playing the simul (3 boards per player). They were Michael Kleinman, Kevin Wu, Brent Zhang, and me. The kids can choose which one of us to play and sit in a spot in front of one of the three boards. Book prizes would be given out to players who either drew or won a game. Unfortunately, nobody received such prize in the end. However, one kid was extremely close to getting the prize! Each person is allowed a total of 3 games (or else the simul will never end!), hence the 3 tickets. The tickets were also used for a prize draw at the end of the event. The lucky winner took home 2 comic books and a yoyo, all sponsored by the Brookbanks Library.

I thank all the simul players as well as all the library staff who made this exciting event possible. I believe everyone had an amazing time. There will be 3 more of these simul events coming up, with different simul players. Please check the "Events" page on our website to find out the exact dates they will be held on. Hope to see everyone at the next simul!