Tag Archives: simultaneous exhibition

Play the Grandmaster at Chessfest


Pictured in the iconic photograph “Grandmaster at work” (2010) by David Farrant, GM Bator Sambuev is a Russian-Canadian Grandmaster.

four square shadow

Play the Grandmaster

On June 15 at the first annual Harbourfront Centre Chessfest presented by Scotiabank, GM Sambuev will be playing 16 games simultaneously. Sixteen players will have the privilege of playing a game against this illustrious Canadian Grandmaster.

Tickets are now on sale for $25 for the initial sitting of 16 players. If seats become available with sufficient time left to play a game, there will be buy-ins available for $20 on site.

Proceeds from the event will support this year’s Canadian Olympiad Team at the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Norway.


GM Sambuev won the Canadian Championship in 2011 and again in 2012, qualifying for the 2013 World Cup. At the World Cup, he defeated Russian Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich, who is currently ranked 30th in the world.

GM Sambuev is an active player in Canadian events. He played in the 2014 Toronto Open at Annex Chess Club just this April. He is also the top-rated Canadian by CFC rating. He has been selected again for the 2014 Canadian Olympiad team.

GM Elshan Moradiabadi in Toronto

July 8 – Simultaneous Exhibition and Chess Lecture

While the 126 mm of torrential rainfall in Toronto on Monday afternoon and evening (beating the one-day record set during Hurricane Hazel) dampens some spirits (and drenches others as it causes flash flooding and power outages around the city) we still have quite a good turnout at the Club to meet with, learn from, and play against our visiting Iranian grandmaster, Elshan Moradiabadi. Thirteen players play in the simultaneous exhibition, and many regulars as well as half a dozen guests join in for the lecture. But before GM Moradi gets started, we are treated to a special presentation (and an urgent plea) by David Bitton.

Before the show – David Bitton’s chessboxing documentary

David Bitton

The evening’s opening act is David Bitton, promoting his documentary, Chessboxing: The King’s Discipline. David is currently using Kickstarter to fund production of the film. If he raises $35 000 before Wednesday July 18, he gets to keep all the pledges. (Note that there are T-shirts and other rewards in return for your donation.) But if not, he gets nothing, the money is refunded, and the film doesn’t get produced – crowdfunding through Kickstarter is all or nothing! Please help him out if you can. Check out the promo video, below!

Elshan’s lecture – “Simple Chess: Capablanca to Carlsen”

Moradi Lecture at ACC - play

The theme of Elshan Moradi’s lecture is “simple chess,” which is a common chess expression used to describe calm, solid moves that simply enhance one’s pieces, creating a stronger, more logical position. Contrary to popular belief, Elshan emphasizes that these “simple chess” moves are not to be played as an alternative to complicated calculations, but rather “simple chess players do have to calculate well – and at a very deep level.” Using Capablanca as the original “simple chess” player, Elshan shows how the “simple chess” tradition is continued through Karpov and Carlsen. He also humbly includes himself in the list of “simple chess players.”

“Capablanca is a very logical player,” he tells us. “His play looks easy.” But not only does it often take a lot of calculation to be able to see that Capablanca’s solid “simple chess” move is playable, it can take a lot of foresight to see where the pieces have to go to create a “simple,” logical position. And then the slight advantages played for by “simple chess players” like Capablanca often require a lot of finesse to convert to a full point.

After establishing the “simple chess” technique in Capablanca’s games, the lecture moves on to examine Karpov’s play. Along with showing Karpov’s strong “simple chess” moves, Elshan jokes about points in his games where Karpov just plays a3 or h3 (or both!), waiting to see what his opponent will do. “a3, h3; a3, h3; … You should see how many games there are where Karpov plays a3 and h3!” But not everything the strongest players do should be imitated. “Karpov can play a3 and h3 because he’s Karpov. I’m not allowed to play like that.”

Elshan is even more full of admiration (and humour) when it comes to Carlsen. Carlsen doesn’t mind, even when he’s playing white, exchanging pieces into a position that looks dead equal. In a few moves, it won’t be equal any more. “Carlsen doesn’t like to play opening theory…. He wins because he’s Carlsen.” Showing a position where Carlsen has gained a very slight advantage, Elshan admits that “it’s not easy to win from this position. But Carlsen just …” At this point Elshan imitates Carlsen putting his hands up, stretching on one side, then on the other, as we all laugh. “Yeah,” he says. “Have you seen Carlsen play? It’s like he’s at a picnic.”

This enjoyable and instructive lecture comes with fully annotated games, which Elshan has promised to provide. We’ll post the notes here.

The Simul – GM Elshan Moradi vs 13 Toronto chess players

GM Elshan Moradiabadi at Adrian Chin's board 12 (Mike Ivanov on 11, Marcus Wilker on 13)
GM Elshan Moradiabadi at Adrian Chin’s board 12
(Mike Ivanov on 11, Marcus Wilker on 13)

With a few more players joining night-of, there are 13 players ready to play. Fourteen boards are set up, including a board with no player, as it turns out to be impossible for Lanting Qian to make it in from Mississauga.

Board Player Result
1 Vlad Nitu 0
2 Manuel de Jesus 0
3 Jeff Back 0
4 Richard Morrison 0
5 Brett Campbell 0
6 Lanting Qian (absent)
7 George Supol 0
8 Rhys Goldstein 0
9 Ted Winick 0
10 Indervir Dhaliwal 0
11 Mike Ivanov ½
12 Adrian Chin 0
13 Marcus Wilker 0
14 Robert Roller ½

At the end of the night, Elshan walks away undefeated, with a +11 -0 =2 record! (Congratulations Mike Ivanov and Robert Roller for holding the GM to a draw!)

Selected games:


6:30 – doors open
7:30 – lecture “Simple Chess: Capablanca to Carlsen”
8:30 – simultaneous exhibition


Click below for .pdf of the original promo flyer

moradiabadi july 8

Nigel Short visits ACC

On Monday June 18, 2012, GM Nigel Short came to Annex Chess Club in Toronto to deliver a chess lecture and hold a 20-board simultaneous exhibition. His lecture featured one of his games from the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters tournament at the beginning of the year – which he won on tie-break over Hou Yifan.

Nigel Short’s chess lecture at ACC
(photo by Dave Bitton)

The game he chose for the lecture was from the tenth round of the Gibraltar tournament, where Nigel played a Benoni against India’s number two player, Krishnan Sasikiran. Asking the audience if anyone played the Benoni, he called those who did (including himself, apparently) “masochists.” When one of the audience also admitted to playing the Stonewall, Nigel said that was even worse. “The point of the Stonewall,” he quipped, “is to give yourself weaknesses at the start.” Its redeeming feature, however, is that “you know what they are.”

The same Stonewall logic – that playing a move you understand is more important than playing a move you know is “correct” – seemed to guide him in his own play against Sasikiran. With respect to his choice of 9…Nbd7 and 10…h6 in the game, he explained that he had asked Garry Kasparov why everyone plays 9…a6 in that position. “Garry said it was so you could put your queen on c7 without being disturbed by a knight on b5.” Nigel didn’t dispute the correctness of the move. “But I was thinking,” he continued, “why in the hell do I want my queen on c7?” The anecdote served as an opportunity to teach an important lesson: “You shouldn’t just follow what other people do. You’ve got to think for yourself.” And that is what he does in his lecture game. “I go my own way. It’s not that my understanding of the Benoni is correct, but at least I know what I’m trying to do.”

While it’s important to understand your own reasons for the moves you make, Nigel insists it’s equally important to be flexible and willing to change plans. “You have your basic ideas, but – in chess as in life – when the circumstances change you have to alter your plans.”

His lecture entertained a broad audience of beginners and experts, old and young. It was peppered with British humour, had a number of references to well-known figures in chess, and even contained several facetious evocations of the basic guidelines that every beginner learns – such as the point system of piece values (a queen is worth nine points, etc.). With reference to the classic question of the relative strength of bishops versus knights, for instance, he jokingly pointed out that “rooks are better than knights, especially in the ending.”

One of the most well-received pieces of wisdom he imparted was the emphasis on tactical play. “There is no such thing as a good strategic player who can’t play well tactically. You very often have to use tactics to achieve your strategic ends.” Later in the lecture, he put it more emphatically: “Games are decided by tactics, really. Cheap tricks. All this stuff about strategical play is rubbish. I may look like a quiet person, but… I always keep my eye open.”

Here is the game featured in his lecture:

After the lecture, the simul began. The following are the 20 players who tried their luck against Nigel. The final result, though, was 20-0.

1. Shabnam Abbarin
2. Jeff Back
3. Brett Campbell
4. Geordie Derraugh
5. Rowan James
6. Jim Mourgelas
7. Zehn Nasir
8. Razvan Preotu
9. Ian Prittie
10. Alejandro Renteria
11. Manuela Renteria
12. Rolando Renteria
13. Carlos Romero
14. Josep Sobrepere
15. Michael Song
16. George Supol
17. Michael Sutton
18. Daniel Wiebe
19. Marcus Wilker
20. Yuanchen Zhang

Some players may be embarrassed by their games (some of which ended after a dozen moves or so), but I’ll post here the ones I get. If you’re not too ashamed (and you shouldn’t feel bad – he is 2700 after all), please send your gamescore to info@annexchessclub.com.

Nigel Short simultaneous chess at ACC
(photo by Dave Bitton)

Play a Game Against a Grandmaster

GM Nigel Short at Annex Chess Club – June 18

Annex Chess Club is proud to present a chess lecture and simultaneous exhibition by English GM Nigel Short.

This January, Nigel won a very strong Tradewise Gibraltar Masters tournament, spoiling an otherwise fantastic tournament for Hou Yifan, who lost to him in a rapid tiebreak playoff.

In April, he won the 12th Bangkok Chess Club Open with 8/9, after which he re-joined the prestigious 2700+ club.

From May 11 to 12, he was in Moscow providing live commentary for the first two rounds of the World Championship match. (See this recent interview for some of his impressions of the match.)

And June 18, on his way to the 7th Edmonton Chess Festival, he is stopping in at Annex Chess Club.

Short Biography

Nigel Short (Elo 2705) is the most famous English grandmaster of recent times. He has had a long career among the world’s elite. At 19, he was the youngest grandmaster in the world; now in his late 40s (and currently ranked 40th in the world) he is the oldest player in the FIDE top 100.

He is especially known for his successes in the 1980s and 1990s when he won the British Championship several times, came first in a number of international tournaments, ranked third in the world by rating, and challenged Gary Kasparov for the World Championship.

Nigel in Toronto

We had a great time when Nigel visited us last September, and we are very pleased to have him return to Annex Chess Club this June 18. He will once again give a chess lecture and offer a simultaneous exhibition, playing up to 30 chess games at the same time.

His chess lectures are always entertaining, and the simul is a rare chance to play a game against such a legendary super-GM.



The simultaneous exhibition is limited to 30 players on a first-come, first-served basis

Register online today through Guestlist.

  • lecture and watch simul – $10 (free for ACC full-year members)
  • play a game against GM Nigel Short – $60 ($50 for ACC full-year members)

Hosting an awesome event? Guestlist makes event registration easy!

Brooklyn Castle – Special Event in T.O.

BROOKLYN CASTLE from Rescued Media on Vimeo.

The Film, Brooklyn Castle, is showing in Toronto at the Hot Docs International Film Festival.

Film Screenings

Sun, Apr 29 6:30 PM
Cumberland 3

Tue, May 1
9:00 PM
The ROM Theatre

Sat, May 5 1:15 PM
The Regent

Special Kids’ Event at Hart House

Kali Holloway (Outreach Director for Brooklyn Castle) is inviting young players in Toronto to be a part of a special event before the screening on Tuesday. The event will take place on Tuesday, May 1 from 5 to 7 PM at Hart House, a beautiful space on the University of Toronto campus. Members of the college’s chess team will be on hand playing games and doing tandem simuls.

Chess parents, please contact Chess Institute of Canada (CIC) if your son or daughter would like to participate. CIC teaches life skills in Toronto schools through chess, and runs a Saturday Chess Club in the downtown “priority neighbourhood” of St. James Town.

Film Synopsis

Public school I.S. 318 is a chess powerhouse, producing national champions straight out of junior high. The secret to the school’s success? Coaches who hold leadership skills and divergent thinking above standings and trophies, and students eager to learn and improve. Brooklyn Castle follows the challenges and triumphs both on and off the chessboard as the financial crisis brings severe budget cuts to after-school programs. With three-quarters of the student body living under the poverty line, will the chess club survive the economic downturn? Will the students realize their goals? Will Rochelle become the first female African-American chess master? Will sixth-grade prodigy Justus conquer his stage fright? Will Patrick overcome his ADHD by honing his powers of concentration? In life, as in chess, the answers aren’t clear. The truth is not about right and wrong, it’s about infinite moves and the choices we make.
Angie Driscoll (Hot Docs Programmer)

Rochelle Ballantyne (1970 USCF),
one of five players featured in the film