Sunday, March 20, 2011

2011 Humberwood Spring Tourney

Yesterday the Humberwood branch in Etobicoke held its very first official chess tournament and it was surely a great success! For the entire afternoon, young players ranging from 5 to 16 year olds battled their wits over the chessboard.

tournament site

From left to right: Kevin, Vivien, Julia (winner), me & Eunice

From left to right: Kevin, Mann (winner), Amber, me and Vivien

group photo of the winners~ SAY CHESS!! :)

Your fellow Executive Director Kevin and I made a gruesome trip across the city to support this event. It was definitely 200% worth it! I've been hearing from the librarians Vivien and Eunice the amount of enthusiasm the players bring to the Chess in the Library program but until I've actually seen it with my very own eyes, it is hard to imagine that chess would shine so brightly in an area so desolated. Vivien, the branch head of Humberwood was thrilled to see such an amazing turnout and at one point, she was jumping up and down exclaiming: "Finally, after 3 years, I've accomplished what I wanted!"

The other Chess in the Library staff coordinator at Humberwood was Eunice, of whom I was previously not too familiar with. However, throughout the event, she told me many stories of the program at Humberwood. She said, "Some of these kids, including my daughter, never even knew how to play chess at all until last October, when we restarted the program. They learned and improved slowly from the volunteers and now look at them - they are just so enthusiastic about the game! If it weren't for you, I would have never had the slightest thought about being an ardent chess promoter and all these kids wouldn't be having the time of their life! You're a true inspiration."

For the very first time in my life, I was told personally that I was an inspiration to the librarians, the volunteers and the kids. In the past perhaps I've heard similar comments or I simply assumed that I inspired others, but for some reason, it was completely different this time. At that very moment when I heard those words, my heart leaped and I couldn't help smiling. This is exactly what I hoped for from the very beginning - to inspire other people, especially those who had no previous connection to chess at all, to start promoting chess. I've known that an individual like me will not be able to accomplish much, however, if 100 people join in the team, then the impact that we create must be 200 times greater than the impact I create.

It was unfortunately that I did not get to meet Kevin Burda, a senior who not only volunteers at the program, but also contributes greatly to it. His creation of Whole Brain Chess (a method of teaching beginners with only half the board) and financial support of the entire 2011 Humberwood Spring Tourney, including prizes, medals, ribbons, rating fees, etc was critical to the program's success. On top of that, Eunice also told me that Kevin B. is willing to give it his all to help the program succeed in Humberwood. I am just utterly amazed at how there are so many people in this world that are willing to support this game unconditionally.

Luckily, I got the chance to meet Amber, another active volunteer of the program at Humberwood. Amber is very sweet girl and she is amazing with the kids. Since chess is a male dominant game, I love to see girls involved in the program, regardless of whether they play the game or not. Amber says that she she isn't so great at the game but nonetheless loves to watch the action and help out the club.

Amber and I

Thanks to Amber, who studies journalism at Humber College, the tournament was able to attract some publicity from the Toronto Star and the Etobicoke Guardian. The photographer from the Star took some really awesome photos, to the point that I have an urge to make some CITL posters with them! Check out the Toronto Star Photo Blog by Richard Lautens:

Photo by Richard Lautens. Caption: Kevin Johny, 6, reacts.

At the end of the game, I am just overwhelmed by the amount of surprises showered upon me. Vivien, Eunice, Kevin B. and Amber, all of you have touched my heart deeply and I thank you all for making this day a forever memorable one.

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