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Chess For Everyone!

Toronto Women's Chess Club

In November 2022, ACC launched the Toronto Women's Chess Club. This initiative promotes chess to women and girls, and typically meets on the second Monday of every month from 6:30 to 8:00.

TWCC is led by the club's resident WGM, Anna Burtasova. Each month she discusses a particular chess theme, such as calculation in chess, or a review of the first Women's World Champion, Vera Menchik.

Burtasova 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 fewer 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dominated by males, but it is our strong belief as confident and capable women that it’s long overdue that we leave outdated prejudices behind.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. 

WGM Anna Burtasova

WGM Anna Burtasova

Anna Burtasova is ACC’s Resident Woman Grandmaster (WGM). She is a consultant and advisor to the club's board. She also lectures and conducts simuls, and advises ACC’s members and invited guests. 

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 earned her WGM title in 2009.

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 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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