Friday, January 29, 2010

Exams Finally Over, Time for Chess

I'm sure everyone knows the feeling of finally finish writing some important exams. No matter how well you did, you feel relieved because you got it over with! Well, that describes my emotions right now. =D

In high school, you hardly ever get to relax for a long period of time, especially for me, since I'm in the IB program. Winter and summer breaks are always piled with things to do. It's the mental stress that kills it all. Perhaps my mind can rest for a day ( actually not even, haha ) and then the next day when I wake up, I usually start worrying about this and that, and trust me, there's always more and more things to do! Although my exams are over, I cannot relax as I have a busy weekend ahead of me. Tomorrow morning, I will head off to the Pleasant View library to do some promotion of the program. I just finished making the poster ( it looks quite decent to me :) and we'll be playing a simul to promote the program. "We" as in - me and Kevin Wu. Kevin will be the new leader of the program at Pleasant View due to Yutong departure, as he moved to a land far far away. Yutong will remain as our Webmaster and of course, his contributions toward the program will always be remembered.

Well, hope the promotion goes well tomorrow! I need some sleep now... :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

CITL Entering Toronto's Second Largest Library - North York Central Library

For the program, different library sizes have their own advantages and disadvantages. With larger libraries, we don't need to worry about promotion since tons of people go in and out of the library each day. However, the downside of larger libraries is that room bookings are tight because it is first come first serve. The bigger the library, the longer you'll have to book the rooms beforehand.

Yesterday night, I went to a meeting at the North York Central Library (NYCL) to discuss the Chess in the Library program with the Youth Services Specialist, Elsa as well as our future leader of the program at NYCL, Gal. Since the NYCL is Toronto's second largest library, the room bookings there are just plain crazy. According to Elsa, in order for us to have a large room booked weekly for the program, we'll have to wait until 2012. In 2010, we are able to get a very small room (can fit about 12-16 people for playing chess) on almost every weekday night and only the large room (can fit about 30-40 people for playing chess) once a month on a weekday night. Saturday room bookings are even tighter than the ones on weekday nights. Perhaps the program at NYCL will be the first one that will not run on Saturdays. Well, it's always nice to try out new things!

We are still currently in discussion and once we finalize the starting date and the time period we will run the program there, I'll let you guys know!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Opening Day at Northern District and Fairview

The opening of the Chess in the Library program at Northern District took place last Saturday. Thanks to Michael and his team of volunteers for making it possible! Welcome to the team Steven Barnett and George Wan! Of course, I couldn't forget Brent Zhang, who couldn't make it to the opening day but will be volunteering at the program in the future. Please visit Michael's blog for an upcoming full report and lots of great pictures (the playing site was huge)!

The opening of the program at Fairview was just yesterday and it was a huge success! All I'm going to say is that we had a total of 50 (that's right, 50!!) participants including many adults. Jesse Wang is the leader of the program at Fairview and he did a lot of work to make everything go smoothly. He even brought a laptop to record the results!! Round of applause to Jesse for showing initiative! :) Of course, if you want to hear about all the juicy details of the program at Fairview yesterday, visit Jesse's blog for an upcoming "interesting article" (that's what Jesse calls his written work) and loads of awesome pictures!

Well, if you can't wait for Michael's and Jesse's posts to come out, take a look at a few of my pictures below (teaching chess at the Fairview's program yesterday):

Me teaching :)

As you can see, I was teaching the names and values of the
pieces to kids who knew nothing about the game

A few of my audience - notice how they are girls! Who said girls can't play chess?

I'd also like to welcome a few more volunteers to our team: Yolanda Zhang and Arsalan Beg-Menhaj who will be volunteering at the Fairview library as well as Jesse Feng who will be volunteering at the Brookbanks library. Also, speaking about the Brookbanks library, we've got some news that might interests you. Want to find out? Check out Kevin's blog!

Friday, January 22, 2010

5th Library's BIG Opening Day Tomorrow

Last week, the program at Northern District opened successfully. I took some pictures and I will be uploading them tomorrow. As for the full report, expect one very soon from mine or Michael blog.

However, that's not the biggest news of this month. The Chess in the Library program at the Fairview branch will be opening TOMORROW. Now why am I making this such a big deal? You'll know why once you hear how many people have registered so far---------------->63!! That number was reported to me early this week so I'm assuming that by tomorrow, there would be close to 70 registrations! That is just crazy~~~

We've never had that many people interested in our program before. 63 is double of what we usually get! How can I possibly not be excited? Well, another factor to this is the fact that me and Jesse Wang (click here for his blog) went to the library 2 weeks ago to do 2 hours of promotion. We got about 40 registrations on that day!

I'm very curious to know how many people will show up tomorrow. I've placed 20 chess sets there so there's room for 40 people. If the number overflows this week, I'll bring more sets next week.

Come support us and have fun at the same time!! Open to everyone at all ages and strengths. Location:
35 Fairview Mall Dr.
Toronto, ON
M2J 4S4

Open from 10am - 12pm on Saturdays

See you there~

2010 - New Year, New Changes

The Chess in the Library program started in June 2009 and since then, the program has expanded to 5 different locations. During these 6 months, my team and I have been through the wind and the rain, encountering numerous barriers and difficulties with the program. Looking back, it's hard to imagine that what we've actually accomplished with the program is a reality. Especially the fact that we have a website that people visit quite often! Overall, the 2009 year for the Chess in the Library Organization was quite a success. More importantly, it was the start of all hopes to bring Canada's chess popularity to new heights.

I want to thank all the kind individuals and organizations that have donated and sponsored the program in the 2009 year (remember to visit our website at!):

Donors Donations
Anonymous Individual $500
Anonymous Individual 100 sets value $700
Anonymous Individual $20
Filipovich Family, in honour of Ms. Vineeta(Bini) Kalia 274 chess materials including various informants, chess magazines, and chess books
Gordon Ritchie $250
Southam Family Various chess books, chess clocks, trophies and plates of $200 value
Maurice Smith 6 demo boards
Bob Armstrong 1 box of chess magazines

Chess 'n Math Association
Scarborough Chess Club
The Greater Toronto Chess League
Toronto Public Library
Toronto School Chess League
Victoria Park C.I.

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.

Now with the changes of the program this year:
1. We will try to rate our games with CMA rating as often as possible. Thanks to Larry and the Chess'n Math Association who have agreed to sponsor us 3 months of free rating!! Of course, with the ratings in place, more kids would be interested to play because seeing their ratings go up and down is an incentive. This is a huge step in our program and I cannot express how much I appreciate Larry's support toward our program! I believe our volunteers are still trying to get familiar with the system, and our first rated tournament will be held this week. :)

2. We will set up an activity for the first 20min of the program each week. We have currently decided to rotate between basic teaching (thanks to Maurice Smith for the demo boards!!), puzzle competitions and simuls with our volunteers. We have already tested out each one of the 3 at different location and they seem to do well.

3. New flyers for the program! Well, of course you guys won't be able to see it here (I am not aware that I can upload a PDF file yet - any tips, guys?). However, it does look better with more information on it!

4. We consider purchasing 1-2 clocks for the program at each library. Sometimes when the kids play too slow and we need to end the program, we'll need a clock to speed up the games. I always hate the idea of counting pieces to see who wins by the way. My teammates and I are currently voting on whether we should purchase them and how many.

Alright, that's it for now. I'll announce new changes as soon we have an agreement within our team. Any suggestions? I'll be more than happy to hear any comments, opinions or suggestions!!

Let's hope that the 2010 year for the Chess in the Library program will be 3 times more successful than it was in 2009!! Thanks to everyone who's supporting us!! :D


Friday, January 8, 2010

Supporters from Chess Clubs in Canada

Of all the chess clubs that I've been to in Canada, there are 2 that are the best of the best in my opinion. :)

The first one is the RA Chess Club in Ottawa. Although I do live in Toronto right now, I've lived in Ottawa when I was little. It's the place where my chess career began and where I played in my first tournament. There is a chess club in Ottawa that would run every Thursday evenings and my parents would take me there every week. At first, the club didn't allow kids that were under 14 years old to join, but I believe that I was their very first exception. At that time, I was a 8 years old girl whose feet couldn't even reach the ground when sitting on the chair! The friendly environment and all the nice and kind people around me made me excited every Thursday because I knew that I would be going to the RA Centre that day!!

Personally, I've received a tremendous amount of support from the club members. Some sponsored me to play in the WYCC in 2003 and others gave me chess books and printed opening lines to prepare me for the tournament! I had a wonderful time at the RA Chess Club and that's definitely a place that I would want to visit often and of course, it will forever be in my heart. Thank you RA Chess Club and all the members for everything!!!!!!!!!

If you're chess player living in Ottawa and need somewhere to play chess, I would definitely recommend the RA Chess Club to you. I promise that you'll find your experiences there just as incredible as mine! Visit their website -

The second amazing chess club is the Scarborough Chess Club (SCC) in Toronto. When I moved to Toronto 2 and a half years ago, I was looking for a club to play chess and found the Scarborough Chess Club right away. At that time, there were only a few masters in the club - I believe it was just Bryan and John. Nevertheless, I was sincerely welcomed to the club and during these 2 years, I'll had a great time there. Recently, the club moved to a new location with a much bigger and better room. However, that's not what makes the club so significant to me. It's the people in the club that makes the club so friendly and worth attending weekly.

Many of the SCC members have contributed greatly toward the Chess in the Library program. Maurice Smith, the current President of the club, has donated 6 demo boards so that our dreams of teaching some basics about chess can become a reality. Bob Armstrong, who publishes the club's newsletter and enters games into the database, has also donated a box of chess magazines to add to our program's chess library. I want to thank these two people for not only supporting the program, but also for making the Scarborough Chess Club possible.

Here are some pictures taken at the Maria A. Shchuka library:

The demo board - thanks Maurice!

Michael teaching in front of the class

Kostya busy making the parings :)

Playing site at the Maria A. Shchuka library

I hardly ever miss a game at SCC because after going to the club for more than 2 years now, it almost feels like as if it is my second home. I really appreciate the existence of this club and without a doubt, I would recommend it to anyone who likes to play chess and lives in Toronto. Check out their awesome website -