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On the edge of Toronto's Annex

Toronto Women's Chess Club

A modern-day chess player who loves her chess. It helps define who she is—independent but also collaborative, a critical thinker and a problem solver.

Each week at TWCC, a theme is selected for the evening. Here is a list of previous themes by Meeting #:

  1. Introduction and game example
  2. A grave mistake: Don't let emotions and past evaluations drive your decisions in chess
  3. Calculation routine and the concept of "candidate moves"
  4. Vera Menchik, the first Women's World Champion, trailblazer and superstar
  5. The importance of endgames
  6. The World Chess Championship
  7. Good vs. Bad Exchanges

Tedx Talks: Below, Carina D'Souza, an ACC Member and a talented chess player, talks about gender bias in chess.

Toronto Women's Chess Club Initiative

On November 10, 2022,  a new initiative "Toronto Women’s Chess Club (TWCC)" was announced. The idea was to create a unique chess club for women (including girls) that meets regularly.

(TWCC meets on the second Monday of every month at 918 Bathurst Centre from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. Women players of all ages and skill levels are welcome. Attendance is free. Scheduled Monday TWCC meetings for 2023 are as follows:

 #3: Jan 9 #9: Jul 10
 #4: Feb 13 #10: Aug 21
 #5: Mar 13 #11: Sep 11
 #6: Apr 17 #12: Oct 16
 #7: May 8 #13: Nov 13
 #8: Jun 12 #14: Dec 11

TWCC is not intended to replace a woman’s existing local chess club but instead create an ongoing supplementary environment for chess—women nurturing women—so that they can go back to their respective clubs and prosper as more confident and emotionally stronger chess players, or come back to chess after several years of being away from it, and maybe even join their first chess club.

Anna Burtasova, ACC’s Resident Woman’s Grandmaster (WGM), is spearheading this new initiative. Anna writes:

Chess is great for everyone. No matter the age or background, people who play chess build skills that matter in life. Decision-making, confidence, accountability, believing in oneself, learning to accept defeat and draw conclusions for future victories are all part of it. Chess is also a great asset. It can help you to build a career, establish business contacts, and present yourself as a thinking and analytical person.

Traditionally, there have been less women than men in chess. A strategic game and sport, it has been dominated by males, but it is our strong belief as confident and capable women that it’s long overdue that we leave outdated prejudices behind. 

Women love chess, enjoy the game and can benefit from all that it has to offer. The percentage of chess players that are women has historically been about 10%, rising recently to a historical high of 15%. I’d like to see that change over the next 4-5 years, so that at least 1/3 of all GTA chess club players are women.

Chess has helped me become who I am now. Through it, I developed my analytical skills and increased my confidence. It has always brought me joy and excitement. I invite all women of any skill level to join our women’s club to get better at chess, work on all the qualities that naturally come with chess development, and, most importantly, have fun and enjoy themselves.”

Here’s a link to a great article called “Chess Queen” by Paul Hoffman, published in Smithsonian Magazine back in 2003. It’s about Jennifer Shahade and Irina Krush, two U.S. WGMs that have helped move the bar for women in chess. Even though the article is almost 20 years old, it’s still perfectly relevant today. The only difference is that, since The Queen’s Gambit Netflix series (2020), chess has been enjoying a real renaissance and now even more women are attracted to the game. Playing chess has become cool and it helps define many modern-day women.

Beth Harmon, the isoLanni?

WGM Anna Burtasova

WGM Anna Burtasova

News Post at ACC's former website, August 12, 2022

Annex Chess Club is pleased to announce that it has now added Anna Burtasova as a new titled member of the Club.

Anna will also assume the role of ACC’s Resident Woman Grandmaster (WGM). This new position for ACC means that Anna will participate as an in-house consultant/advisor to the Board of ACC. From time to time, she will coordinate/provide lectures and simuls, and advise ACC’s members and invited guests. She will also help improve the coordination of ACC’s chess education programs for children and adults.

Salim Belcadi, President of Annex Chess Club, says that … “Anna is a superb addition to our ACC team. With her experience playing high-level chess and doing media coverage of important chess events, ACC will be well-positioned to handle additional future growth and also attract more women chess players to the Club. Anna recently participated in our 2022 Ontario Open and we were very impressed with her natural enthusiasm and interview skills during that event. She has a warm and friendly personality but plays chess like a tigress!"

Background and Accomplishments

Anna Burtasova is currently FIDE’s Website and Social Media Manager. Here is a link to a Globe and Mail article published in March 2022 about her.

In 2021, Anna held Board #3 for Canada’s mixed team (men/women) at FIDE’s Online Chess Olympiad (an online event in response to Covid-19). She finished third on her team, with a score of 4.0 pts. out of the 6 games she played in the 9-round event. 

Anna received her chess-playing FIDE titles as follows—WGM-2009, WIM-2004 and WFM-2001.

In 2013, Chessbase noted that Anna “has a nice list of achievements including under 14 Russian vice champion and under 16 champion, as well as winner of tournaments like Mondariz, Kharkov and Jakarta. She also graduated as a lawyer from Vladimir State University, moved to Moscow and worked as an editor and reporter for the Russian Chess Federation website. Later, Anna joined the FIDE Chess in Schools Commission as General Coordinator. Her articles have been published in chess magazines like “64 Chess review”, “New in Chess”, “Schachmagazin 64”, “Schach”, etc. and of course she provided a few great articles for ChessBase.”

In May 2013, Anna joined the ChessTV team as an editor and reporter, and she interviewed Viswanathan Anand prior to his 2013 World Championship Match with Magnus Carlsen. Here is a link to that interview which she did for Chessbase. 

Anna notes for us that ChessTV was subsequently reorganized as ChessCast and during the years 2014-2018, she was the General Manager of this new company which produced official live streams of major chess events including Olympiads, World Team Championships, and both Candidates and World Championship matches. Here is a link to an article where Anna is interviewed about ChessCast’s coverage of the 2018 Candidates Tournament.

There are many YouTube videos showing Anna’s fine commentating and analytical skills. Here is an example of one from the 2019 World Team Championships, Round 9.


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