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2012 Toronto Closed Chess Championship

Toronto’s Best Go Head to Head – March 26

With five titled players and an average rating of 2350, the 2012 Toronto Closed Championship (starting Monday March 26 at 7:30 pm) is one of the strongest in recent memory.

Top Players

Artiom Samsonkin is the fourth highest-rated chess player in Ontario and the top-rated player in this event. He was awarded the International Master (IM) title by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in 2007, and became Canadian Champion the same year. In 2008, he was Canadian Junior Champion.

IM Artiom Samsonkin

Behind Samsonkin is one of Canada’s hottest young chess players, Roman Sapozhnikov. Sapozhnikov is the top-rated Junior player in Ontario, and the third-best Junior in Canada. He earned the FIDE Master (FM) title in 2011, and came second in last year’s Toronto Thanksgiving Open behind IM Nikolay Noritsyn.

FM Roman Sapozhnikov

Next by rating is Victor Plotkin, the defending 2011 Toronto Chess Champion. Plotkin won the 2010 Championship as well, so he is going for a threepeat in 2012! He faces a tough field this year, but he is an FM and an experienced veteran. Nobody should count him out!

Defending Champion,
FM Victor Plotkin

Only one rating point behind Plotkin, Michael Kleinman is another strong Junior. Kleinman is third on the Ontario under-18 list and eighth on the national Junior list. He earned the FM title in 2011, and has been improving rapidly, gaining some 150 rating points in the last year.

FM Michael Kleinman

What is the Toronto Closed?

The Toronto Closed Chess Championship is an annual tournament, sanctioned by the Greater Toronto Chess League (GTCL). The event pits the top Toronto players who register against one another in a Round Robin tournament. With one round per week and pairings announced in advance, players can prepare specifically for each opponent. This traditional championship format has a long history, from the days before the Swiss pairing system and the large Open tournaments so popular today. Records of Toronto Chess Champions date back to 1854. (See history of the Toronto Closed; see also cross-tables from recent Toronto Championships.)

The tournament also includes a Reserve section, running parallel to the Championship section. This second section sees the next eight players, by Chess-Federation-of-Canada (CFC) rating, competing for a free berth in next year’s Championship section.

This year’s city championship is proudly hosted by the Annex Chess Club. We are a new downtown Toronto chess club, only a year and a half old, meeting on Monday nights near Bloor and Bathurst, in the heart of the city. We are pleased to have several of our club’s players participating in the event, including Michael Humphreys (our new Club Champion) and three members of one of our club’s most illustrious chess families, the Renterias. Rolando Renteria is a certified FIDE Instructor (FI), and his two children, Manuela Renteria and Alejandro Renteria, were under-12 and under-10 National Champions in Colombia.

Players from Around the City

In another chess family story, Mark Plotkin, who is the son of defending champion, Victor Plotkin, has also registered. Mark Plotkin was the lowest rated player in the 2011 Guelph ProAm, but he tied for 4th, only a point behind the leaders, with a performance rating over 2200. He is a member of the Knights of Chess school in North York.

Two other notable young participants are Danny Zotkin, who won third place in the under-10 section of the 2011 North American Youth Championship, and Michael Song, who won a bronze medal for Canada in the under-12 section of the 2011 World Youth Chess Championship in Brasil. Song is also the 2011 Toronto Junior Champion.

Rounding out the Championship section, Michael Barron and Vlad Birarov are the president and tournament coordinator of the GTCL. Both gentlemen have been instrumental in coordinating and promoting this year’s Toronto Closed. Barron is an FM and also a previous two-time winner of the Toronto Closed, in 2007 and 2009.

Finally, with the expansion of the Championship section to a 10-player Round Robin, Dave Southam has joined the top section. Southam is one of many strong Toronto chess players who play at both the Annex and the Scarborough Chess Club (which meets on Thursdays near Kennedy and Ellesmere).

In the Reserve section, Juliaan Posaratnanathan is another co-member of both Annex and Scarborough; Zehn Nasir is an Annex player (and his is another of our club’s chess families – Zehn’s dad, Jack Maguire, is rated under 1600 but comes armed with a dangerous opening repertoire); Dmitry Chernik is a member of the Willowdale Chess Club (which meets on Tuesdays in Earl Bales Park); and Stephan Tonakanian is from Richmond Hill – he tied for fifth in the under-2000 section of this past summer’s Canadian Open, but his rating has already jumped more than 100 points since then.

Registration and Pairing list

Registration for the Toronto Closed is now CLOSED. Lots were drawn at 7:00 pm on March 19 for Round Robin pairings. (See pairing numbers and pairings, below.)

  • Pairings are shown by pairing number, based on FIDE Berger tables
  • See cross-table, pairings, and results on the results page

Championship section – FIDE rated

# title name CFC rating FIDE rating pairing number
1 IM Artiom Samsonkin 2568 2398 10
2 FM Roman Sapozhnikov 2528 2377 5
3 FM Victor Plotkin 2399 2243 7
4 FM Michael Kleinman 2398 2284 8
5 Michael Humphreys 2345 2187 6
6 FM Michael Barron 2271 2168 4
7 Rolando Renteria 2267 2139 9
8 Vladimir Birarov 2261 2172 2
9 Michael Song 2217 2082 3
10 David Southam 2209 2095 1

Championship Pairings (Round 1 is March 26)

Round Championship Pairings
1 1-10 2-9 3-8 4-7 5-6
2 10-6 7-5 8-4 9-3 1-2
3 2-10 3-1 4-9 5-8 6-7
4 10-7 8-6 9-5 1-4 2-3
5 3-10 4-2 5-1 6-9 7-8
6 10-8 9-7 1-6 2-5 3-4
7 4-10 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-9
8 10-9 1-8 2-7 3-6 4-5
9 5-10 6-4 7-3 8-2 9-1

Reserve section – FIDE rated

# title name CFC rating FIDE rating pairing number
11 Stephan Tonakanian 2113 0 7
12 Dmitry Chernik 2075 1975 2
13 Mark Plotkin 2000 1887 5
14 Juliaan Posaratnanathan 1944 1839 8
15 Zehn Nasir 1882 1807 3
16 Daniel Zotkin 1747 1785 4
17 Manuela Renteria 1664 1907 6
18 Alejandro Renteria 1383 1699 1

Reserve Pairings (Round 1 is March 26)

Round Reserve Pairings
1 1-8 2-7 3-6 4-5
2 8-5 6-4 7-3 1-2
3 2-8 3-1 4-7 5-6
4 8-6 7-5 1-4 2-3
5 3-8 4-2 5-1 6-7
6 8-7 1-6 2-5 3-4
7 4-8 5-3 6-2 7-1


As per our FIDE registration listing, the official start date of the tournament is April 26. However, please note that based on previous commitments, we are still scheduling four rounds in advance of this date, starting Monday March 26, then April 2, 16, and 23. Rounds continue April 30, May 7, and 14. And the Championship section continues for two final rounds May 28 and June 4. Note that April 9 and May 21 are holidays.

Time Control

G/90’+30″ – Each player has 90 minutes for the game, plus a 30-second increment (30 seconds per move added from move 1). Clocks will start at 7:30 pm.


The tournament will determine the 2012 Toronto Chess Champion. In addition, there are modest cash prizes:

  • Toronto Champion wins a trophy, $420, and re-qualifies for the 2013 Toronto Closed. (2nd and 3rd prizes are $240 and $180.)
  • Reserve winner qualifies for 2013 Toronto Closed, and wins $200. (Reserve 2nd prize is $120.)
  • Performance prizes: top relative performance (difference between performance and rating) in each section earns $100.

The trophy is awarded by the GTCL, which also covers rating fees for the event. The prize fund comes from players’ entry fees. In addition, an anonymous sponsor has provided two $100 performance prizes and donated another $100 to the prize fund.

Tournament Director

The chief arbiter of the 2012 Toronto Closed is Alex Ferreira.


The 2012 Toronto Closed is organized by Annex Chess Club. Contact Marcus Wilker at info@annexchessclub.com.

Player photos…

Defending Champion,
FM Victor Plotkin
IM Artiom Samsonkin
FM Roman Sapozhnikov
FM Michael Kleinman
Michael Humphreys
FI Rolando Renteria
Vladimir Birarov
FM Michael Barron
David Southam
Michael Song
Stephan Tonakanian
Dmitry Chernik
Juliaan Posaratnanathan
Zehn Nasir
Alejandro Renteria
Manuela Renteria
Mark Plotkin
Daniel Zotkin
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