Tag Archives: Vladimir Birarov

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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Toronto Premier League

Club versus club – four on four

Matches start January 9, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

Final Results (Jan 23)

Chess Academy +2-0=1 (5 points)
Knights of Chess +2-1=0 (4 points)
Willowdale Chess Club +1-1=1 (3 points)
Annex Club +0-3=0 (0 points)

Congratulations to the Chess Academy of Canada! – view photos

Round One (Jan 9)

Academy – Willowdale 2:2
Roman Sapozhnikov – Michael Barron 1:0
Konstantin Semianiuk – Michael Kimelman 0:1
Michael Song – Dmitry Chernik 1/2
David Itkin – Alexander Strugach 1/2

Knights – Annex 3:1
Victor Plotkin – Michael Humphreys 1:0
Vladimir Birarov – Rolando Renteria 1/2
Mike Ivanov – David Southam 1/2
Mark Plotkin – Pavel Peev 1:0

With Pavel Peev’s game looking lost, David Southam’s drawn, and Rolando’s game looking drawish, we were all hoping for a win on board one to even the score. Michael Humphreys looked like he had an edge on the board and he certainly had a huge edge on the clock. But in the end, Victor Plotkin prevailed.

White: Plotkin, Victor (2374)
Black: Humphreys, Michael (2322)

GTCL Toronto Premier League (1)
Toronto, ON

B09 Pirc Defence: Austrian Attack

Round Two (Jan 16)

Annex – Academy 1:3
Michael Humphreys – Roman Sapozhnikov 0:1
Rolando Renteria – Konstantin Semianiuk 0:1
David Southam – James Fu 1:0
Wajdy Shebetah – David Itkin 0:1

Knights – Willowdale 3:1
David Cummings – Michael Kleinman 1/2
Vladimir Birarov – Michael Barron 1/2
Razvan Preotu – Michael Kimelman 1:0
Mike Ivanov – Dmitry Chernik 1:0

Michael Humphreys had an interesting game with Roman Sapozhnikov, and he must have been winning at some point. It stayed complicated as both players faced time trouble, and in the end Roman won. So Annex suffered a second team loss.

Team records (after 2 rounds)

Knights of Chess +2-0=0 (4 points)
Chess Academy +1-0=1 (3)
Willowdale Chess Club +0-1=1 (1)
Annex Chess Club +0-2=0 (0)

But let’s focus on the positive: here’s Dave Southam’s win over James Fu.

White: Southam, David (2205)
Black: Fu, James (2178)

GTCL Toronto Premier League (2)
Toronto, ON

D35 Queen’s Gambit Declined: Exchange Variation

Round 3 (Jan 23)

Academy – Knights 3:1
Roman Sapozhnikov – Victor Plotkin 1:0
Konstantin Semianiuk – Vladimir Birarov 1:0
Michael Song – Egidijus Zeromskis 1/2
David Itkin – Mark Plotkin 1/2

Willowdale – Annex 2.5:1.5
Michael Kleinman – Michael Humphreys 1/2
Michael Barron – Rolando Renteria 1/2
Michael Kimelman – David Southam 1/2
Dmitry Chernik – Hugh Siddeley 1:0

These were exciting last-round matches! Academy beat the Knights to take over the lead in the final round. And Annex needed a win over Willowdale to climb out of the basement, and almost had it, too – until ACC team captain Hugh Siddely flagged in a winning position.

Here are the Final Team records (after 3 rounds):

Chess Academy +2-0=1 (5 points)
Knights of Chess +2-1=0 (4 points)
Willowdale Chess Club +1-1=1 (3 points)
Annex Club +0-3=0 (0 points)

Congratulations to the Chess Academy of Canada!

And here are the full team lists…

Greater Toronto Chess Clubs

Annex Chess Club

(from downtown)
Michael Humphreys, 2322
Rolando Renteria, 2273
David Southam, 2205
Pavel Peev, 2134
Wajdy Shebetah, 2073
Hugh Siddeley, 1955 *

Willowdale Chess Club

(from North York)
Michael Kleinman, 2408
(Leonid Strugach, 2293)
Michael Barron, 2266
Michael Kimelman, 2220
Dmitry Chernik, 2011 *
Alexander Strugach, 1964
(Evgeni Tobolovsky, 1808)

Knights of Chess

(from North York)
David Cummings, 2440
Victor Plotkin, 2378
Vladimir Birarov, 2259 *
Egidijus Zeromskis, 2248
Razvan Preotu, 2194
Mike Ivanov, 2156
Mark Plotkin, 1985

Chess Academy of Canada

(from Thornhill)
(Nikolay Noritsyn, 2639) *
Roman Sapozhnikov, 2514
(Nikita Gusev, 2270)
Konstantin Semianiuk, 2207
Michael Song, 2184
James Fu, 2163
David Itkin, 2141
(Sergey Noritsyn, 1714)

* – captain
() – never played

Contact GTCL Tournament Coordinator, Vlad Birarov – vlady0101@yahoo.com – for more information.

Check for updates. Vlad is posting all the latest info on ChessTalk.


[Event “GTCL Toronto Premier League”]
[Site “Toronto, CAN”]
[Date “2012.01.09”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Plotkin, Victor”]
[Black “Humphreys, Michael”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B09”]
[WhiteElo “2374”]
[BlackElo “2322”]
[PlyCount “105”]

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 c5 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.e5 Ng4 8.e6 fxe6 9.Ng5 Bxb5 10.Nxb5 Qa5+ 11.c3 Qxb5 12.Qxg4 cxd4 13.Qxe6 Qf5 14.Qxf5 gxf5 15.Ne6 Kf7 16.Nxg7 Kxg7 17.cxd4 Nd7 18.Bd2 Nf6 19.Rc1 Nd5 20.Ke2 Rac8 21.h3 h5 22.Kf3 Kf7 23.Rhe1 Rcg8 24. Re2 Rc8 25.Ree1 Nf6 26.Red1 Ke6 27. Be1 Rc6 28.Rxc6 bxc6 29.Rc1 Kd5 30.Bh4 Rb8 31.b3 Rb4 32.Bf2 Ne4 33.Be3 Rb8 34.Bf2 Nxf2 35.Kxf2 Rb4 36.Kg3 Rxd4 37.Kh4 Rd2 38.Rg1 e5 39.Kxh5 e4 40.g4 fxg4 41.hxg4 e3 42.g5 Rh2+ 43.Kg6 Ke4 44.f5 d5 45.f6 d4 46.Kf7 e2 47.g6 d3 48.g7 Rh7 49.Kg6 d2 50.g8=Q Rh1 51.Qe6+ Kd3 52.Rxh1 d1=Q 53.Rxd1+ resigns. 1-0

[Event “GTCL Toronto Premier League”]
[Site “Toronto CAN”]
[Date “2012.01.16”]
[Round “2”]
[White “Southam, David”]
[Black “Fu, James”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “D35”]
[WhiteElo “2205”]
[BlackElo “2178”]
[PlyCount “81”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 c6 7. Bd3 Bg4 8. Qc2
Nbd7 9. Nge2 Rc8 10. f3 Bh5 11. Ng3 Bg6 12. Nf5 Bxf5 13. Bxf5 Nh5 14. Bxe7 Qxe7
15. O-O-O g6 16. Nxd5 Qg5 17. g4 Kd8 18. Bxd7 Kxd7 19. Nc3 Qxe3+ 20. Kb1 Nf6
21. Qb3 Rhf8 22. Rhe1 Qf4 23. Qxb7+ Rc7 24. Qb4 Qd6 25. Qa4 Nd5 26. Nxd5 Qxd5
27. Qa3 Qd6 28. Qe3 Kc8 29. Qe5 Rd8 30. h4 Qb4 31. Re3 Rb7 32. Rb3 Qe7 33. Rxb7
Qxb7 34. Rc1 Qd7 35. a3 Kb7 36. Rc4 Re8 37. Qa5 Re3 38. Qb4+ Ka8 39. Rc3 Re1+
40. Ka2 Qd5+ 41. Rb3 1-0

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