Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Present

On behalf of the Chess in the Library team, I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year! Thank you so much for supporting Chess in the Library in 2010 and may the new year bring us all good fortune!

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:

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 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

Just the Kind of Spirit

When you hear the words "chess spirit", what is the first thing that comes to mind? For some, it would be the good sportsmanships in the game itself or even the perseverance in achieving a master title. Others might believe that chess spirit is about the amount of people who play chess in a given community or show up at a certain tournament. The list goes on as the true definition of "chess spirit" cannot be defined - everyone has his own perspective when it comes to vague terms like this one.

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:

Left to right: little girl's mother, little girl and me!

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?

me and John

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:

"Truth is I much more enjoy walking through great games, and reading about great players, than studying theory. I did learn enough theory to avoid basic mistakes but I tended to avoid deep learning of opening lines. That way almost all my games were new and exciting (for me at least). (But it also meant that I would likely never develop into a high level player! :)

And yes - I only played for fun - never got a ranking.. I think I got so much enjoyment out of playing with friends and studying the game that I didn't look for more."

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

New Year Resolution Completed 1 Month in Advance!

"Our new year resolution for the program is to build the team larger, perhaps we will form an executive board and expand the program to 15 different locations in total (10 more than what we have now). I personally have lots of faith in my team and I believe this goal is definitely achievable."

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.
Ottawa, ON
K1J 7N8

Open from 1:30pm to 3:00pm on Saturdays, starting from January 22nd, 2011

I'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

Opening of the CITL program at Bloor/Gladstone & North York Central

The last two Saturdays in October were big days for the CITL executive team, which comprises of me, Michael Kleinman and Kevin Wu. Now why were those Saturdays so important to us? Well, it was the opening of the Chess in the Library program in two new locations! What makes them even more special is they are two of the largest branches in Toronto. We've been trying to introduce the CITL program to them for a really really long time now and finally it's come true! Here they are:

1) Bloor/Gladstone Branch in downtown Toronto

The brown and glass building in the background would be the Bloor/Galdstone branch. It's so gorgeous inside! Never in my life seen a library so beautifully constructed. No wonder it took 3 years to renovate!

There is a long story of CITL and this branch. When I first founded the program last summer, it became so successful that we've received requests from people regarding the startup of such a program in other libraries. Bloor/Gladstone was one of them. So I called the branch and told them about this request, hoping that the program would be accepted. Who knew that the branch just finished a three year renovation and it's rooms bookings are as popular as ever! With no rooms available to run the program, the librarians had no choice but to reject us. It was completely understandable too. At that time, I just moved on to seeking other libraries that might be interested in having the program there. I've always had a very strong faith in the program so thanks to that, being rejected by the Bloor/Gladstone librarians didn't kill my confidence. I was just a little disappointed, that's all...

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

Toronto Star Features an Article on Chess in the Library!

Two Saturdays ago, the a Toronto Star photographer Rene J. came to the Brookbanks Library to take some pictures of the Chess in the Library program and the newly elected executive members - me (President), Michael Kleinman (Vice-President) and Kevin Wu (Executive Director). It was a completely democratic election as we have 20 of our active volunteers vote for who they believe is the best candidate for each position. About 8 people in total were running for the 3 positions and it came down to the 3 of us.

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 game

Published On Sun Oct 24 2010
Dan Robson Staff Reporter

Yuanling Yuan, 16, is a world-class chess player who has set up chess clubs in libraries across Toronto.

Yuanling Yuan, 16, centre, with Kevin Wu, 15, left, and Michael Kleinman, 16, at her library chess club.

Yuanling Yuan is a relentless chess champion.

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

Where Have I Been? At 39th World Chess Olympiad!

To all of my blog readers, you must've all realized that I haven't posted anything for almost a month! Well, it's not nothing happened in the past month, but rather TOO MUCH that had happened. To start off, I was away in Russia for 3 weeks to represent Canada at the 39th World Chess Olympiad held in Khanty - Mansiysk, Siberia. This was my second time representing Canada at the Olympiad, the first time being in 2008 when I was 14. However, this year I played on board 1 and took the responsibility of leading the entire women's team.

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:

Team Netherlands

Team Turkey

Team Barbados

Team Malawi

Team Nigeria

Team Denmark

Team Italy

Team Cuba

And there are only a small portion of teams that showed team spirit! If the Canadian Team goes to the Beijing Olympics with EVERYONE where a red and white uniform, then why shouldn't the Canadian Chess Olympiad team members? Both competitions are at the world's highest level so why should there be a difference? Well, it is clear from the pictures above that not all countries differentiate in attitude between the Summer Olympics and the Chess Olympiad. As for Canada, there is sure a big difference!

Team Canada at the 2010 Beijing Olympics. What a team, eh?

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!).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the lack of uniforms for our chess teams (although having them would be nice), but rather reflecting upon the situation. Let's face it - chess in Canada is a lot less popular than many countries in the world, especially Europe. So why do those countries have uniforms? Because they either they've got a lot of government or corporate support. Now why would they receive such a support? Because chess is a popular game in that country and it is regarded as no different than other Olympic games. It's that simple.

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

Officially a Nation Wide Program Now!

I would like to make a quick announcement about the excellent news I received a few weeks ago. It was a long story because the original email that was sent to me from Brian Raymer somehow ended in my junk folder. It wasn't until 2 weeks later when I was checking my junk mails that I saw a message about Chess in the Library in Victoria.

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
Victoria, BC
V9B 1J1

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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Milestone: 100% Going Provincial Wide

Last weekend, it was an honour for me to participate at the 2010 Montreal Open. The tournament was simply A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! However, it was not only for the tournament that I went, but also for Chess in the Library.

The tournament site was gorgeous!

The paper boards that they printed were really nice.
Perhaps we can also do this for CITL to save some money on equipment.

In Montreal, I met up with Joey, the high school freshman who made CITL possible outside of our headquarters, Toronto. So where is this place that I speak of? Well, you've seen it before on my blog, just a little mention here and there. However, now I'm announcing this as our official 12th location - OTTAWA!

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!

Joey and I at the tournament site. 2 years younger than me and he is so tall!

Me playing my game...

Very focused~

So we talked about a lot of CITL related things there during our lunch breaks. He updated me on CITL in Ottawa and how it is officially confirmed! So now the CITL location in Ottawa is also listed on our website

Ruth E. Dickinson Library

100 Malvern Dr.
Ottawa, ON
K2J 2G5

Open from 1:30pm to 3:00pm on Saturdays, starting on September 18, 2010

Yes, 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 ---> 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

The Day We've Been Waiting For - NYCL Confirms!

For those of you who lives in Toronto and visits the public libraries on a regular basis, you must know how large and busy the North York Central Library (NYCL) is. There are always a group of people playing chess against each other on the tables outside, but it had never been a formal program.

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
Toronto, ON
M2N 5N9

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

Once Again, the Southam Family Brings Good News

As you all know, Chess in the Library couldn't have been possible without the help of our generous donors and sponsors. Among all these heart warming people, there is one family that has always been particularly special to us - the Southam family.

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:

Disney's Chess Guide! Learning chess with Donald and Mickey is so cute ^_^

Just a random page in the book. This one explains how to move a Bishop!
Notice the colourful disney pictures used here

There is also a comic section in the book about "chess land". Absolutely adorable!

Well, the Southam family doesn't just bring us those good news. There's one more! They've agreed to fund the annual trophy that will be given to the library team that wins the Open Section of our CITL Annual Festival each year! Isn't that exciting? The annual trophy would be placed in that library for a year and then transfered to the next winning library the year after. Branch names will be carved on the plates and it will certainly provide extra excitement to our festival!

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

A Typical Friday Night at the Bridlewood Branch

\The first thing I did when I returned from the Explore French program in Three Rivers was to visit the Chess in the Library program at Bridlewood. Last time I went, I didn't take a picture of the awesome chess display they had on their shelf. It's AMAZING!! Check it out:

this is the shelf that lies behind the check-in & out counter at Bridlewood

According to the program organizers Stanley Su, Linda Fu and Mary Xu, an average of 18-20 kids show up every week to play chess in the library. All the little chess enthusiasts in the pictures below were beyond excited to play the game for 2 hours straight! :)

Room overview

program co-leader Stanley (first on the right) teaches the kids how to play

organizer Mary (last one on the left column) explains the rules of chess to the younger girls

Bridlewood's Chess in the Library program has been running smoothly since the first day it started. New members are still trying to join the club each week, but then again, the space is limited. Well, first come first serve! We hope that after Bridlewood's success with the program becomes more solid, more branches in Scarborough will join the network.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Introducing the Program Leader in Ottawa - Joey Qin!

I found an interesting article on the Your Ottawa Region newspaper today titled "Chess champ cleans up at Open". Guess who's it about? Joey, our new program leader in Ottawa of course! :) Check out the article below (the last few paragraphs are about Chess in the Library! ^_^) :

Chess champ cleans up at Open. Chess sensation Joey Qin poses with his chess board in his home. Joey placed seventh overall in the Canadian Open Chess Championship.

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:

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

Expansion to Ottawa in Progress

From the very first day that I founded the Chess in the Library program, I've set myself and my team the goal to expand this program to other cities and provinces. Although I do live in Toronto right now, my hometown is actually our national captial - Ottawa. If we do host this program at another location outside of Toronto, Ottawa would be our first target. Last month, I was overwhelmed to recieve an email from Joey Qin, a young master with a CFC rating of 2340 while only in grade 8! It was about his interest in expanding the Chess in the Library program to Ottawa. :)

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

Chess in the Library 1st Annual Festival Awards Ceremony

Sorry for not uploading photos for the past 2 days...Our french camp went on a field trip each day for the past 3 days. So I didn't get the chance to touch a computer until now...

Grade 3 Section Individual Champion: Catherine Li

Grade 6 Section Individual Champion: Jonathan Chan

Open Section Individual Champion: Magas Yusuf

Grade 3 Section Team Champion: North York Central Library

Grade 6 Section Team Champion: Brookbanks Library

Open Section Team Champion: Fairview Library

Complete Set of the Grade 3 Section trophies

Complete Set of the Grade 6 Section trophies

Complete Set of the Open Section trophies

Close up Picture of the Open Section 1st Place Engraving
There is a trophy for the top 3 individuals in each section. They were presented by David Southam, the representative of the Southam family who donated their trophies to us. The old engraving plates were taken off and replaced by new ones. I personally think that it's a really good idea to redistribute one's trophies to the next generation if they are no longer in use. I know that they are people who treasure their trophies because they bring back old memories displays their accomplishments but on the other hand, I also know people who just keep their trophies in their closets. It is not easy for the Southam family to give away Todd's trophies and because of that, my team and I were really touched when they made such a decision.
If there is anyone who would like to redistribute their trophies through the Chess in the Library program, we would honour your contribution by engraving the plates with your name on it. ( e.g. Middle line: Todd Southam Award). Message me if you're interested! :)
Team prizes were presented by the referees for each section. Medals were given out to the top 3 teams in each section. Each team consisted of 3 players so we bought 27 medals using the donations. A big thank you to our donors!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chess in the Library 1st Annual Festival Speeches

The opening ceremony was the favourite moment of the entire festival. Below are all the people who made a speech, excluding me and Elsa (there`s a picture of her in the report). Below are the description of each speaker with their photos underneath.

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.

WFM Hazel Smith who played an important role at the Pleasant View Library before last September when she had to go to university in Waterloo. Hazel organized the puzzle competition at the Pleasant View branch and became a role model for the kids there . Having another Olympiad member on our organization team is truly an honor.

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.

Yolanda Zhang, current leader of the program at the Fairview Library. Being one of the few girls involved, Yolanda had done a lot to encourge he Fairview players to come to the festival despite the fact that their current session has ended (next session starts in Septemeber). One by one, Yolanda called the top 10 players on the list and succeed in convincing most of the players to join the celebration
Michael Kleinman, oh boy, I could write a whole page on this description. Chess master + leader. Michael was the second person to join the team after me. He always wanted to do something like this to give back to his community so Chess in the Library was perfect for him. We`ve went to meetings together, picked up donations together and right now, he`s leading the program at the Northern District. Michael has contributed so much to the program and I really, really appreciate everything he`s done for the program since the very beginning.
Kostya Golovan is the program leader at the Maria A. Shchuka Library. He is honestly one of the most responsible guys I know. I was informed by the librarians that Kostya NEVER missed a single chess club meet. Now that`s something incredible!
Alexandru Florea, another top junior chess player in Canada. He is currently leading the program at one of the farest TPL branches in Toronto - the Humberwood Library. It seriously took me 2 hours on bus just to get there one way! We`ve been always wanting to do the program there but until Alex came along, the only barriers we had were volunteers. I`m pretty sure that without Alex, CITL at Humberwood wouldn`t be possible.
Xiaohan Du, a pure math genius. Taking grade 11 IB math while in grade 10 is truly something rare. Anyways, Xiaohan is not in the organizing team anymore, but he was one of the first ones to join us. He also tried to open up the program at the Deer Park Library but due to the demographics there, we didn`t get enough participants interested in chess. Nonetheless, Xiaohan still came to celebrate the anniversary with us and I`m sure that he`ll always be a part of the program a bit here and there.