Chess In The Library

Chess In The Library

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Let's Take A Look Inside the Canadian Youth Chess Championship!

Through days, month or even years of preparation, young chess minds finally awaited the CYCC 2011, which took place July 6-9 at the Sheraton Hotel in Richmond Hill. It is probably the biggest event in the young chess community, as the top 3 finishers in each section receive the honor of representing Canada at the World Youth Chess Championship (in Caldas Novas, Brazil).

First stepping down the stairs of the hotel, players were checked off on the registered list, received knapsacks for those who registered early and were offered the option of buying a CYCC T-shirt. Then eager participants lounged against the wall, sharpened their skills in the skittles room and reviewed their games on the computer to prepare for the intense rounds ahead of them.

When the pairings were posted on the wall, these young chess bees furiously devoured this pot of honey. Jotting down the table number, opponent name and perhaps complaining about being paired with too strong a player. Before leaving, parents snapped the best candid shots they can of their kids starting their game, and hustled them onto the journey they've all been waiting for.

After the storm, arrives the calm. Players settled into their thinking caps and the entire tournament hall seemed to freeze in time, with the occasional interruption of 'adjust' and the sound of pressing the clock.

All this time, while observing these kids during my spare time through out my games, I contemplated the future of chess in Canada. Seeing an increasing amount of youth becoming interested in chess certainly shines a bright light on Canada's trek to chess glory. These kids will not only come to realize the intellectual excitement within this board game, but the life lessons it can teach with only 32 pieces and a chess board.

Linda Fu
Art Director, CITL

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Plugging the Holes

I have spectacular news for everyone: Chess in the Library now has nine operating locations in Toronto!

You may wonder, “What’s so special about the number ‘9’?” Well, for starters, we can now officially claim to outnumber both Walmart and The Bay, more than double the number of Tommy Hilfigers and Aeropostales, and TRIPLE the number of Gino’s Pizzas.

The point is, CITL is rapidly expanding. And while the expansion seems like a great thing, it does come with a few consequences. One of these, as I’ve realized, is our lack of “quality control” to go with it, which, unfortunately, even Gino’s Pizza has a department for.

Recently, in an effort to check up on the programs at each library, I visited Fairview. Expecting to see a small quiet group of kids playing chess as I’ve seen in other branches, I have to admit I was a little shocked by what I saw. When I walked into the program room, I found the kids screaming and chasing each other around the room; the volunteers, clearly short in number, were screaming “SHUT UP” at the top of their lungs; and the parents, who really shouldn’t even be in the already overpopulated room at all, were walking around and helping their kids win, making the volunteers’ jobs even more difficult.

When I finally walked through all the chaos (trust me when I say it wasn’t easy), I went to introduce myself to the volunteers. To my surprise, I was greeted by a “Who the hell are you?”

Well, after I awkwardly introduced myself to them, it turned out that the volunteers weren’t that bad after all. I suppose they were just a bit cranky from being amidst that boisterousness too long. I mean, who wouldn’t be?

Anyways, despite the mishaps, I’m glad that I made the visit. After discussing the situation at our executive meeting last week, we were able to provide them with five more chess sets and two new volunteers. Of course, we’ve also added a few new items to our agenda for the October volunteer training session. (Hehe)

From this experience, I’ve learned that although CITL is not yet perfect, what’s important is that we are improving and plugging the holes. And from what I see, we definitely are.

Aaron Zhang
Treasurer and Secretary, CITL

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Chess in Armenia

School has started, and by now, most of us have entered our regular routine, whatever it may be. Some prefer to take a nap before they start their homework, while some prefer to procrastinate till 12 at night. Despite the differences in our individual schedules, we all have one thing in common: homework. Now imagine that other than your regular math, and science homework, you had homework for... chess!

The Armenian Ministry of Education recently made it mandatory for students age six and above to study chess in the classroom for at least two hours per week. Armenia is on its way to become a chess superpower with their top player, Levon Aronian, ranking number three in the world, and their national team winning at the biennial International Chess Olympiad in 2006 and 2008. With these new mandatory chess lessons, Armenia hopes to bring about a wave of talented chess players to enhance their army of professional chess players.

Despite Armenia's bad economic standing, Armenian Presdient Serzh Sargsyan and the Chess Academy of Armenia have decided to invest approximately $1.5 million in this program. The program is being implemented on the basis that it will nurture the students' intellectual development and teach them to think flexibly and wisely.

While the advantages of such a program are self-evident (intellectual development, recreational integration, etc.), the disadvantages seem to be non-existent.. at least at a glance. The economic repercussions of such a big investment are unknown but even without the economic prospect, the program may not necessarily be advantageous for the students.

Although details about how Armenia plans to go about this integration are yet unknown, one fact remains intact. If the students are required to study chess for two hours a week at school, that invariably means that the students lose two hours a week of school. Over the period of 12 years (age 6 - 18) this seemingly small number adds up to approximately 1080 hours. This means that students lose 1080 hours they might have otherwise spent learning any of the various subjects taught at schools.

Is it worth it? That is for you to decide.

Vivek Chachcha
Director of Communications, CITL

Monday, 5 September 2011

New Beginnings

Tomorrow is the first day of school, which marks a new beginning. It also indicates the end of summer and, for many, a renewal after hibernation, a clarion call back to work.

The Executive Committee of CITL did not hibernate over the summer though. We have held many long meetings, preparing everything behind the scenes to make sure CITL will be even greater and better in the upcoming year.

For example, several new library branches have joined us since the beginning of summer. We have been visiting these locations during July and August and I can personally attest that the attendance have been nothing short of amazing, making our newest additions some of our most active clubs. 

Before the year is out—before Christmas even—you can expect to see several more new locations joining rank. Our wonderful new Director of Communications has been actively updating our website with the new information. He and our new terrific Arts Director are working on a complete make-over for the website and their drafts are very exciting. (By the way, if anyone reading this feels they can contribute to this effort, this is your call to arms!)

We have also been working hard on some sensational grand-scale events, that will enhance and enrich CITL. The final details still have to be worked out, but be sure to stay tuned.

All in all, this promises to be an exciting year for CITL, and we hope that soon you will be as enthusiastic about it as we are!

Gal Gross