Friday, December 31, 2010
CITL received a big present a few days ago - something that means a lot to us all. Want to take a guess? :)
Well, our story has now expanded to Italy! How exciting is that, right? :) Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the program has physically expanded to Italy itself, haha (I wish...). An Itaty based chess blogger Giovanni Ornaghi has made 2 posts about Chess in the Library, a brief introduction and another full length interview. Below are the links:
If you understand Italian, then you're in luck! You get to read the article without any problem, unlike me, who has to use Google Translate. :)
Well, if you don't have time to use Google Translate and would like to read the interview, Giovanni has uploaded an original English PDF version of the interview for your convenience! Here is the link: http://blogchess.blogosfere.it/images/Blogchess%20-%20Yuanling.pdf
This has to be the best New Year present ever! Thank you so much Giovanni for spreading the word about Chess in the Library in Italy! I sincerely hope that people can be inspired by our organization and perhaps start doing something similar for their country. Now if you're hesitant about it, feel free to email us at email@example.com and we'll do our best assist your project in any way we can! My oh my, this is starting to become the promotion of chess worldwide and not just in Canada!
Happy New Year everyone~
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Recently, I encountered a few people that demonstrated two unique chess spirits. The former is more of a group effect as it was the entire family that participated in this "chess spirit". I was able to take a picture with the daughter and mother but not the father. Take a look at the picture below:
Now take a look at the shirts we are wearing. Mine isn't any special at all but if you pay close attention to the red and white one, you'll be amazed at the words written on it! The little girl's shirt said "Grand Master in Training" and her mom's shirt said "Chess Mom" (yes, it's a little covered up)! As I mentioned earlier, I didn't get the chance to take a photo with the father but his shirt said "Chess Dad". Isn't it adorable? :) Oh and I forgot to mention that this photo was taken at a chess tournament where the little was playing in. So the entire family wore chess T-shirts to support their daughter! AWESOME chess spirit!!
The second person that I'm going to introduce is John Granger, a chess enthusiast living in one of the best cities to play chess in Canada - Toronto. In Toronto, we have the greatest number of local tournaments plus the largest turnout rates. Wouldn't it be natural for chess devotees to play in a local tournament or a club at the very least?
Well, the truth is, before I met John, I thought that the amount of people who are really passionate about chess is limited to this little chess community that we've established in Toronto long ago. Those who play in clubs, tournaments and other chess events are the same people and after a while, every face will seem familiar. However, John's story is very much different from the people in this so-called"chess community".
A few weeks ago, I received an email from John regarding donations for Chess in the Library. He had read the article that was published in the Toronto Star and offered to donate a few boxes of chess books to our organization. I was undoubtedly delighted to hear this great news but after sending a few emails back and forth, I realized that his donation was beyond what appeared on the surface.
It was his chess spirit that touched me deeply. John had a collection of about a hundred chess books but never played in a single rated tournament or club match! Being a curious cat, I sought for an explanation. Below is what I received as reply:
I read these lines over and over, staring at them in awe for quite some time. His passion for chess is so great that simply enjoying the game itself could be so self-satisfying. Many people play chess for the rating and the titles that they can achieve once their rating gets to a certain point. However, in John, I saw a true appreciation of the game and nothing, absolutely nothing else could become a factor of his penchant for chess. I truly admire John's chess spirit; although the spirit he processes is not something physical (like the first one above), not many people are able to see it, but once you do, the effects are so much greater than those who show it physically.
So thank you John, for generously donating your trove of chess books to Chess in the Library and for unconsciously reminding us all the reason to why we love this game so much.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Does this quote sound familiar? Well, to all those supports that reads my blog often, I'm sure it does! I wrote this in a post in January this year called "2010 - New Year, New Changes". At that time, CITL had only 5 locations in Toronto since the establishment of this organization in June 2009. Thus, I gave myself and the rest of my teammates a goal, and that was to build an executive board along with the expansion of this program to a total of 15 locations by the end of December 2010.
Our executive board was elected at the end of August, as I mentioned in an earlier poster. If you don't remember, then here are the board members:
President - Yuanling Yuan
Vice-President - Michael Kleinman
Executive Director - Kevin Wu
Our VP is current organizing a volunteer banquet that will be held next weekend and our Executive Director is currently contacting a new location in Scarborough - the Woodside Square branch. And I'm just doing what I always do, the usual management stuff. As the organization grows, the three of us will just get busier and busier...
One by one, my teammates and I worked hard to introduce the Chess in the Library program to new public libraries. Each and every one of them took effort as planning, promotion and operation were essential to the program in each location. From 5 locations to 6, from 6 to 7, 7 to 8...slowly, we were closer and closer to our goal - 15 locations. Today, I'm pleased to announce that we finally confirmed our 15th location - the North Gloucester Library in Ottawa! Here's some info about the CITL program there:
North Gloucester Library
2036 Ogilvie Rd.
Open from 1:30pm to 3:00pm on Saturdays, starting from January 22nd, 2011I'm sure that by now, you all know who is our project leader in Ottawa. That person is none other than one of Canada's young masters - Joey Qin. He was the one who discussed the details of this new location with the local librarians and make sure that everything was going go smoothly. Joey has even made a complete training plan for the program there! He showed me a list of the materials he will be covering during the session and on specific dates too! I won't be giving anything out because I'm sure that Joey would like to share this awesome plan with you on his own blog. :)
Another person that I must thank is Gerry Litchfield from CFC. The librarians first contacted him about the possibility of having a chess program at the North Gloucestor branch and he was the one who forwarded us the information. Without both Gerry and Joey's involvement in this, our new year resolution would've still been incomplete.
Actually, my original plan for this year was to expand the program to 10 more locations in Toronto, and focus of the rest of the country next year. However, we already have 3 locations outside of the city that makes us officially a nation wide program (2 in Ottawa & 1 in Victoria, which was completely unexpected! Thus, with the help of Brian Raymer & the Victoria Chess Society, Joey Qin and all the other volunteers invovled in this program outside of Toronto, we haven't just completed our goal for 2010, but exceed expectations!
Our next step is to expand the program to at least 1 library in each province in Canada. So if you live outside of Toronto and would like to lead the Chess in the Library project at your local library (like Joey and Brian), please do contact us! I know that in our beloved country, there are so many people out there that are very passionate about the game and would like to see chess in Canada become super popular one day. I understand that the current situtation doesn't look very appealing but I believe that one day, dreams do come true. Nothing is impossible - keep that in mind! CITL's 15 locations will become 16, 16 becomes 17, 17 becomes 18...and one day, we might even reach 100! By then, think about how many extra chess players we'll have in the country! These kids will eventually go on to play in CMA or CFC tournaments (many do at the moment), which will contribute to everything chess related here. We need your help! Email us at info@chessinthelibrary if you want to help make Canada a better place for those that love chess. Thanks!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
1) Bloor/Gladstone Branch in downtown Toronto
Sometimes fate is just fate and things that are meant to be are just meant to be. A few months ago I received an email from a Bloor/Gladstone librarian (a different one compared to the one that I first contacted), Raymond, who was very keen on getting the chess club started at Bloor/Gladstone. Interesting how it comes to a full circle, eh? Well, here I want to give a big thank you to Raymond for making CITL possible at one of the most beautiful and high-tech libraries in Toronto! Although I've never met him in person, I can tell that he is surely one of the nicest guys out there! Another library staff to thank is Alice, the lady that took care of the volunteers and helped out with the club on Saturdays. :)
For the opening week, about 15 excited participants showed up at the program. Michael, Kevin and I were there to train the new volunteers Yeo-Jeong Kim and her brother John Kim. Welcome to the team guys!
2) North York Central Library on Yonge St. , Toronto.
This library is officially the second largest one in Toronto, ranked behind the Reference Library in downtown. It has 5 main floors in total excluding an underground one as the public study area. They are one of the branches that currently uses the self check-out system. Very user friendly, I must say! These self-serve machines are getting more and more popular that perhaps in 10 years, everything that we buy will be self-serve.
Like the Bloor/Gladstone branch, CITL and this branch has some history as well! I started contacting the youth service specialist Elsa since the beginning of this year and finally we were able to get it started! Thanks again to Elsa for all of hard work in this!
I'd also like to welcome a few new volunteers to our crew: Mike Ivanov, who will be representing Canada at the U16 Olympiad very soon and Stephanie who was retruited on the library's behalf. Of course we cannot forget about the returning ones : Stanley Su and Gal Gross. Thank you all for supporting CITL in North York Central! :)
Here are two pictures of the volunteers playing chess along with Michael and Kevin.
Although not many people showed up the first week of the program, I can happily announce that the proceeding weeks after that one were much better once we did some more promotion. Keep up the great work guys!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
When the Toronto Star journalist Dan R. called me one day about the article, I was extremely excited! Not only because it's Chess in the Library's first major publicity, but also because the media is finally talking about chess! He asked me which library the photographer should go to for the pictures and without even thinking, I said: "Brookbanks." The Brookbanks branch was our very first location and it had always been our headquarters. When I go to that library now, it doesn't feel much different from home. The branch head Denise had been extremely supportive of us so both her and the Brookbanks location are major components of the CITL program.
Before we take a look at the article, I just want to thank ALL of our past and present volunteers, ALL of our library liaisons as well as ALL of our donors and sponsors for making CITL possible. A special shout out goes to Yutong Luo, our hardworking Webmaster, Mr.Usprech, my IB guidance counsellor and finally my fellow executives Michael and Kevin. Without each and every one of your support, we couldn't have done it. The article is dedicated to you all and I strongly believe that you all deserve credit for this article!
I hope that this article will help us with expansion and finding corporate sponsors and other funds. Long live Chess in the Library!
Chess champ spreads her passion for the gamePublished On Sun Oct 24 2010
Yuanling Yuan, 16, centre, with Kevin Wu, 15, left, and Michael Kleinman, 16, at her library chess club.
The precocious 16-year-old from Victoria Park Collegiate Institute recently spent a couple weeks in Russia as a member of Canada’s team at the World Chess Olympiad.
She ranked 27th out of 564 female players — the highest a Canadian has ever finished. And when she’s not busy being a remarkable chess whiz on the board, she’s busy championing the game off of it.
In today’s digital world, chess may as well be lawn-bowling to many young people. At least that’s what some people think.
Yuan, however, is set on proving those people wrong.
Two years ago she founded Chess in the Library — a smart-sounding club for smart-sounding people. The kind of people who travel to the library (that ancient bastion of knowledge) to play chess (that game that old, wise people play).
“I just wanted to do something to promote chess in Canada,” she said of the day in spring 2009 when she walked into Brookbank Library and told head librarian Denise Drabkin that she wanted to start a chess club.
“She came in here and she said, ‘Hi! I'm really, really keen on starting a chess in the library program’ and I said ‘Wow, lets talk,’ ” recalls Drabkin, who admits she was skeptical at first. “The rest is history.”
Less than two years in, Yuan’s idea has turned into a weekly ritual for people young and old across Toronto. Chess in the Library now operates in 12 Toronto libraries, and has more than 40 volunteers.
The program also operates in a library in Ottawa, and recently expanded to a library in Victoria B.C.
Each library has between 20 to 30 participants coming to learn and play chess every week — that’s more than 250 people.
Most are teens, but some are as young as 5, while others are senior citizens. Experienced players face off against each other, while beginners can get lessons and tips.
“I think chess is a game for people of all ages,” says Yuan, who started playing with her father when she was 7. “As long as they can sit at the table and move the pieces, they should be allowed to play.”
Chess in the Library is not a pawn of an operation. It has a website, an elected executive, and a budget — which, Yuan notes, can use some donations.
“One person can’t really achieve much,” she says of the volunteers who’ve helped make the program a success. “It takes teamwork.”
Yuan enlisted the help of Sheldon Usprech, a teacher who coordinates the International Baccalaureate program at Victoria Park, to get students at the school involved. They are able to complete their community services requirements for graduation by volunteering with the program.
“For a kid her age, what an astounding accomplishment,” said Usprech. “What an incredible program she's created. It's something that people much older would be very proud to put on their resumé.”
And, no doubt it will be on Yuan’s resumé as she applies for business school in a few years. One day she hopes to master commerce the way she’s mastered chess.
Even then, she’ll continue to champion the game she loves.
That’s because, for Yuan, Chess in the Library is more than just a game on Saturday mornings.
“It’s become a group gathering event. It’s beyond chess,” she says. “They make friends there. They talk about — well — I don’t know what they talk about.
“But it’s more than just chess.”
Sunday, October 17, 2010
As for results, our team didn't perform exceptionally well nor exceptionally bad. We started off the tournament well but ended up around at our starting rank, being an average team. I, myself did pretty good and scored 7.5/11, finishing 27th of the 564 best female players in the world according to rating gain. Nevertheless, I was quite proud of my team because after all, we are the youngest Canadian women Olympiad team ever in history! :)
Upon my return a week and a half ago, my desk got piled up with huge stacks of homework to catch up on. Now you know why.
Anyways, something really really REALLY awesome took place yesterday at the Brookbanks branch here in Toronto but I'd like to save that story for later. Feeling the suspense yet? :)
The Olympiad reminds of why Chess in the Library ever existed. After my games, I would walk around and carefully observe all the other 150 countries. Team uniforms alone reflects how that country treats chess. Let's take a look at some pictures:
Canadian Women Team at the 39th Chess Olympiad in Russia. From left to right: Dalia Kagramanov, Liza Orlova, WIM Dina Kagramanov and WIM Yuanling Yuan (me!).
Therefore, in order for Canadian chess to receive the same amount of support, we've got to make chess more and more popular here! That's exactly why I started Chess in the Library last summer - to promote chess and nothing else.
Monday, September 20, 2010
My first reaction was - WHAT!??????? I honestly couldn't believe my eyes. After all, I really didn't contact anyone in Victoria about this at all. Was it magic?
So I opened my email and I saw a short message from Brian Raymer saying that the Chess in the Library idea has spread to Victoria and a local library there called the Juan de Fuca branch will be hosting a chess program starting in late September. They hope to call it "Chess in the Library" and Brian asks me if I mind.
I was so thrilled to hear this news that I read the email 10 times to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Making the program nation wide was my ultimate goal for CITL and now it's coming true a few years ahead of my expectations.
Here is some info of the program in Victoria that is also listed on our website:
Juan de Fuca Library
1759 Island Highway
Open from 6:30pm to 8:00pm on Wednesdays, starting on September 29th, 2010. Session ends October 20th. If you live in Victoria, please support the program by spreading the word about this!
On behalf of my team, I want to give Brian Raymer and the Victoria Junior Chess Society a HUGE THANK YOU for doing all of this. They are the ones organizing the program there but the fact that they also want to join the Chess in the Library network is just incredible.
I know that the idea was originally mine and I founded the Chess in the Library organization but in the end, the program and the organization belongs to ALL of us because the one thing that pulls us together is our mission of promoting chess in Canada. That's all it matters.
I know that there are many other chess clubs in Canada that are ran in public libraries. If anyone would like to join or network, we welcome you will open arms! The power of a team is much greater than an individual. If you want to promote chess, why not do it together with us?
As of now, CITL has 14 locations in total. 12 in Toronto, 1 in Ottawa and 1 in Victoria~ For a complete list of locations with detailed information, please visit our website at www.chessinthelibrary.com
Thursday, September 16, 2010
The paper boards that they printed were really nice.
Perhaps we can also do this for CITL to save some money on equipment.
Ottawa is my lovely hometown where I grew up and spent most of my childhood. It's where I first stepped into the chess community in Canada at the age of 7. I've had so many great memories at Ottawa - RA Centre, my chess friends, the tournaments, the nice people...the list could go on forever.
Joey and I go way back. We first knew each other in grade 1 or 2 but I don't remember the exact year. We used to learn and play chess together along with many of our other chess friends there. Now look at both of us, all grown up and already masters!
Ruth E. Dickinson Library
100 Malvern Dr.
Open from 1:30pm to 3:00pm on Saturdays, starting on September 18, 2010Yes, that's right, the grand opening will be held at the Ruth E.Dickinson Library this Saturday! When I was in Montreal, I brought Joey 18 chess sets, a demo board as well as 8 chess books from our storage in Toronto. The main sponsor of the program in Ottawa is Gordon Ritchie, who donated $100 to support the innovation. Thank you Gordon!
Finally, please do take a look at this ---> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92x1EoAG908. It's an interview that Joey and I did at the Montreal Open with Don from Godesschess. The interview is mainly about Chess in the Library and our milestone in Ottawa. The ending is cut off because we just happened to run out of batteries. :( Sorry!
Last but not least, I got a message from Joey today saying that registration for the program in Ottawa on the Ottawa's libraries website opened yesterday and it was full with many still on the waiting list in the first 5 minutes! That really amazes me because I honestly didn't expect that the program would receive such a huge interest from Ottawa citizens. Great work Joey and I'm looking forward to seeing that blog of yours coming out soon~ ^_^
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I've been talking to the Youth Service Specialist, Elsa at NYCL about starting up the chess club since the very beginning of this year. The starting date was first settled for May 1st, then due to tight room bookings and all sorts of problems, we had to push it back to the end of October.
Actually, during this period of time, the teen zone at NYCL is undergoing big renovations. We don't even know when it will be complete. However, thanks to Elsa, we're still able to run the program there before renovations end. The only problem is that we'll be moving around a lot, in different rooms each week. We'll have weekly sessions that runs each week plus a monthly session that runs once a month (weekly sessions will be cancelled on those days). Weekly sessions can hold up to 15 participants while monthly sessions will be accepting 30 people.
If you want to register for the program at NYCL, make sure to read the schedule below carefully!
North York Central Library
5120 Yonge Street
Open from 1:30-4pm every Saturday on the following dates:
October 30- Room 2/3 (weekly)
November 6- 3rd floor, SR (weekly)
November 13- Room 1 (monthly)
November 20- 3rd floor, SR (weekly)
November 27-3rd floor, SR (weekly)
December 4- Room 2/3 (weekly)
December 11- Room 1 (monthly)
December 18- Room 2/3 (weekly)
Hope to see you all there on October 30th! What is a better way to celebrate early Halloween than to play some chess at NYCL? :)
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Elsa, Peter and David Southam were the first ones to contribute chess items to CITL. In July 2009, my fellow teammates Michael and Yutong joined me on a trip to visit these lovely people. I've blogged about it last year and if you didn't see the post, I've linked it here. They donated to us 20 chess trophies, a few chess books, sets and the money for engraving the plates.
A few weeks ago, I was honoured the opportunity to pay the family another visit. They brought back from the US more things to donate to Chess in the Library! Among the huge bag of items were a few very new chess books, 2 chess clocks and 2 large recreational chess/checkers/backgammon sets. There was one book that really caught my eye:
Notice the colourful disney pictures used here~
So thank you so much Elsa, Peter & David! Words alone cannot express my appreciation for everything you've done for us. You guys not only made our dream come true, but also the ones of our little chess enthusiasts . :)
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Joey Qin is 14 years old and heading towards his first year of high school. In his sport of choice, it’s not uncommon for him to compete against athletes more than twice his age – and win.
First introduced to the game when he was seven, Joey Qin is a rising star in the chess world and he just keeps getting better.
Gordon Ritchie, a pillar of the Ottawa chess community, used to play Joey before he became too strong of a player. Now Ritchie refuses to play him because the teen’s calibre of chess is too high.
“He could beat 90 per cent of chess players in the country,” he said. “Joey is an outstanding chess player.”
The last tournament Joey competed in was the Canadian Open Chess Championship. The international tournament draws the best players from across the world.
Joey placed seventh overall in the nine day tournament and cleaned up in his age division.
Joey attributes his success in the chess world to studying past games – with the help of his dad – and knowing how to read his opponent.
“We look at their playing style and what to be aware of and what to target,” he said. “Their opening can tell a lot about them.”
Despite the wins, it’s the love of the game that keeps Joey staring down the chess board.
“I like concentrating on things and solving problems. Chess is everything glued together that I like,” he said.
In between tournaments, Joey is trying to give back to the community in a way that’s meaningful to him – chess lessons at the local library. The program is called Chess in the Library and is a volunteer based program that is currently only available in Toronto.
“Chess really is a great game and I want to share my experience with others,” he said.
The program is for players of all ages and strengths who want to come out and learn the game.
Only one library – the Ruth E. Dickinson branch – will be offering the program to start but Joey maintains hope that once people show interest, more branches will come onboard.
“It’s time for him to give back to the community,” said Lily Qu, Joey’s mother. “That’s why I’m glad (Marilyn Shanks) is giving him the chance to promote chess.”
The program will run Saturday afternoons starting in September.Credits to Jamie DoggartC. Source: http://www.yourottawaregion.com/news/local/article/855419--chess-champ-cleans-up-at-open
More details about the Chess in the Library program in Ottawa will be posted soon. Any support you would like to contribute to the program in Ottawa is very much appreciated. :) Thank you!
Monday, July 12, 2010
Welcome to the team, Joey!
Joey has already confirmed the program with the counselor in Ottawa and the proposal is currently being reviewed by the librarians in Ottawa. I hope that everything works out and we'll be able to see the program in action by September.
Since we're expanding to a new city, we need to buy more chess sets. The previously donated 100 chess sets are pretty much all distributed among the libraries in Toronto (there are 10 locations). I hope that everyone can support this new innovation by making a donation to the fund for the Chess in the Library program in Ottawa! Contact me if you would like to make a contribution. Thanks! :)
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Open Section Individual Champion: Magas Yusuf
Thursday, July 1, 2010
David Southam, representative of the Southam family who donated Todd`s trohpies to us. The Southam family is one of our first donors and it really means a lot to our entire team. The trophies are really nice - mostly marble based and ìf you want to see all of them, you`ll have to wait a few days. Thank you so much for coming David, and a BIG THANK YOU to the entire family for their support.
Magas Yusuf, past leader of the Brookbanks Library. The Brookbanks branch is our very first location and after I left to expand the program to other locations, it was Magas who took over the big responsibility. As of the first participants and volunteers of the program, Magas`s support will always be remembered.
Kevin Wu, present leader of the Pleasant View Library. After Hazel left, Kevin took over and currently, that branch has one of the highest participation rates. Being only in grade 9 (the youngest member of our team), Kevin has demonstrated everything required to be a leader. His speech during the opening ceremony was one of the best prepared.