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Chess For Everyone!

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  • April 19, 2023 7:59 AM | Deleted user

    This week (Thursday, April 20) at 7:00 PM, has our third Marvellous Chess class. 

    This is an online class taught by FM Michael Humphreys. There's new lower pricing (see below)!

    Marvellous Chess (MC) means targeted online chess instruction that:

    • is practical and useful, yet inspiring and creative;
    • you can quickly add to your Monday night tournament-play repertoire;
    • you choose in order to meet your specific needs and interests; and
    • you take less frequently and on an ad hoc basis, thereby lowering both your overall time and financial commitments

    MC is targeted at club players who are at the intermediate or advanced level. Most players in our U1400 tournament section will benefit from this class as will many players from our U1800 section. Over the course of 90 minutes, students will receive instruction on three different topics (30 minutes per topic).

    This week's three topics are as follows:

    1. The Vancura Position

    Rook and Pawn endgames have a reputation for being quite drawish, but this is only true when the defending side knows their stuff! In this lesson learn how to make the most of your defensive chances even two pawns down!

    2. Defending Against the Jobava London System

    The Jobava London System is characterized by the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4 (or 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4).  It is quite popular amongst amateurs and grandmasters alike.  One of its selling points is that white can employ a set of very simple attacking schemes which can be very difficult to defend against without prior experience in this variation. Since this opening can be employed against both 1...d5 and 1...Nf6, virtually every player with the black pieces will be required to defend against it at least occasionally. In this lesson you will learn how to tackle this opening head-on, reveal white's pawn advances on the kingside to merely be weaknesses, and reduce your opponent to positional bankruptcy.

    3. Anand vs. Carlson 2007

    In this lesson, we will examine a modern classic played between Viswanathan Anand against Magnus Carlsen in the 2007 Morelia/Linares Super Tournament.  Knowledge of this game is essential for anyone who plays the mainlines of the Ruy Lopez or wishes to improve their skills as an attacker.

    Click on the image to Register

    What a great selection of topics!

    A single drop-in class for Marvellous Chess, with  the 20% ACC member's discount, is now only $20.00 incl HST ($25 incl HST for non-members). Four-class bundles are also available. This is our special pricing to promote the Marvellous Chess theme.

    Registering for the class will help you improve your game, and possibly even give you a winning edge in your ACC tournament game this next Monday evening.

    Remember that knowledge is power!

    Link to our original news post on Marvellous Chess.

  • April 16, 2023 12:21 PM | Deleted user

    Here’s the latest ACC news for this Monday, April 17, 2023:

    1. 2023 Toronto Closed Starts

    • The 2023 Toronto Closed Chess Championship is starting at 7:30 PM this Monday, April 17 at Annex Chess Club. This year, 30 players will participate in three sections—Championship, Reserve and Development. This is a 9-round, round-robin event with 10 players per section. The top two sections will be FIDE-rated. The tournament is scheduled to end on June 26 with one round each Monday evening until then, excluding the Victoria Day holiday on May 22.

      The Championship Section has a starting ELO range of only 188 points, which should make for some very competitive chess. The other two sections have much broader rating ranges, providing chances for a few improving players to play against stronger players. Note that 10/40 (25%) of players who participated in the 2022 event are back in 2023, so there will be lots of new faces. Of the 30 players in 2023, 21 (70%) are members of ACC. This includes all 10 players in the Development Section.

      A copy of the event flyer is available here Our original TC news post is here.

      Good luck to all the players!

    2. Greater Toronto Chess League (GTCL) Presentations

    This Monday, April 17, Michael Barron, GTCL President will be making the following presentations at Annex Chess Club shortly before our weekly tournament and the Toronto Closed starts:

    2022 GTCL Cup Winners:

      • Kids+Dads 5/5 (Mark Plotkin, Victor Plotkin, Max Rusonik, Jura Ochkoos)
      • Fellowship of the Board 4/5 (Ande Li, Saarthak Malakar, Nick Pestov, Bowen Zhang)

    2023 GTCL League Winners:

      • Hart House Students Team (Nicolas Vettese, Yunshan Li, Derek Ma, Wenzhi Dai, Ande Li)

    3. TWCC Meets on April 17

    Toronto Women’s Chess Club (TWCC) meets again this Monday at 6:30 PM in ACC's Sun Room. Resident WGM, Anna Burtasova, has informed us that her theme for the evening is “The World Chess Championship.”

    This is perfect timing as the world chess championship match is currently taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan at the St. Regis Astana Hotel. After 6 games, the score presently stands at Ian Nepomniachtchi (FIDE) 3.0, Ding Liren (CHN) 3.0.

    Note that this meeting is for women, including girls.

    4. 2023 Canadian Women’s Closed Championship

    This chess championship was completed on April 11, 2023. The event had 21 registered players of which 7 players (33%) were members of Annex Chess Club.

    Memorable performances by ACC members in this event were: Carina D’Souza (2nd place, 7/9 pts.), Ashley Qian (9th place, 5/9 pts.), Yeeshuen Li (12th place, 4/8 pts.) and Marie Guan (13th place, 4/8 pts.). Carina’s performance was especially notable in that even though she finished second, she handed the first-place winner, WIM Svitlana Demchenko, her only defeat.

    Congratulations to all players who participated in this event.

    5. Other Activities

    Round #4/5 of our weekly tournament series ("Night Moves") will be held in the Great Hall. Round 3 results may be found here.

    Casual chess will be held in the smaller Star Room until about 8:00 PM, after which time the Star and Sun Rooms may both be used for casual chess.

    In-person classes will be held downstairs Monday, April 17:

    • Kids - beginner (week 3/4) - 5:00 to 6:00 PM
    • Kids - intermediate (week 3/8) - 5:00 to 6:00 PM
    • Kids - advanced (week 3/8) - 5:45 to 7:15 PM
    • Adults - beginner (week 3/4) - 6:15 to 7:15 PM
    • Adults - intermediate (week 3/8) - 6:00 to 7:00 PM

    Students must register online and pay for a drop-in class (or bundle) prior to attending. Students may attend starting in any week. True beginner players should not generally skip weeks 1-2.

    On-line classes (kids and adults) will be held this week:

    • Tuesday, April 18 evening, intermediate/advanced (Marvellous Chess #3) with FM Michael Humphreys, 7:00 to 8:30 PM.
    • Thursday, April 20 evening, intermediate/advanced (Positional Chess 4/8) with IM Mark Plotkin, 7:00 - 8:30 PM.
  • April 13, 2023 10:50 AM | Deleted user

    This evening (Thursday, April 13) at 7:00 PM, is our second Marvellous Chess class. 

    This is an online class taught by FM Michael Humphreys.

    Marvellous Chess (MC) means targeted online chess instruction that:

    • is practical and useful, yet inspiring and creative;
    • you can quickly add to your Monday night tournament-play repertoire;
    • you choose in order to meet your specific needs and interests; and
    • you take less frequently and on an ad hoc basis, thereby lowering both your overall time and financial commitments

    MC is targeted at club players who are at the intermediate or advanced level. Most players in our U1400 tournament section will benefit from this class as will many players from our U1800 section. Over the course of 90 minutes, students will receive instruction on three different topics (30 minutes per topic).

    Tonight's three topics are as follows:

    1. Queen vs. Rook Endgames

    This is another endgame which has a reputation for being quite difficult.  Even the great Walter Brown failed to convert it in his famous game against the computer program "Belle".  Despite it’s notoriety, most online content only focuses on the finishing moves of this endgame—they don’t cover what it takes to get there.  In this lesson you will learn how to handle this endgame from start to finish, and convert it even against an engine.

    2. Pawn Storms

    Whenever there arises a situation with opposite-side castling, the pawn storm becomes the go-to plan.  Depending on one’s opening preferences, pawn storms may be seen quite regularly.  Their proper handling therefore, should be treated by the improving student with the utmost seriousness.  In this lesson, you will learn how to ensure that your pawn storm will crash through before your opponent’s.

    3. Doubled Pawns

    Of all the weaknesses in chess, doubled pawns are the most misunderstood. Oftentimes they will not be a weak at all but when they are, the techniques for exploiting them are often much different than the expectations of the average club player. 

    Click on the image to Register

    What a great selection of topics!

    Last week's MC free lesson was well-attended. This week's lesson is not free, but there is a 20% discount for ACC Members. A single drop-in class with  the 20% ACC member's discount is only $28.80 + HST. Four-class bundles are also available.

    Registering for the class will help you improve your game, and possibly even give you a winning edge in your ACC tournament game this Monday evening.

    Remember that knowledge is power!

    Link to our original news post on Marvellous Chess.

  • April 04, 2023 4:31 PM | Deleted user

    Here's a list of things happening at ACC over the next two weeks.

    Bunnies play chess

      1. We've posted the latest results for Rd #3 in our Knight Moves 5-week tournament at ACC. Rd #4 will continue on April 17.

      2. April 4 is Class #2 for IM Mark Plotkin's Positional Chess online course at ACC. This starts at 7:00 PM and runs for 90 minutes. The new topic is General Blockading. Last week, it was Blockading the Isolated Queen's Pawn (IQP).  You can watch a video of that first lesson here. This course is aimed at intermediate and advanced students already playing tournament chess.

      3. April 6 is FM Michael Humphreys' first class of Marvellous Chess, a series on independent classes on some of the best chess topics/techniques to learn. Please see our separate new post on this cool topic. The first Marvellous Chess class on Thursday, April 6, 2023 is a free one, just as we did with Mark Plotkin's class on March 21, 2023.

      4. Pre-registration for the Toronto Closed Round Robin event closes this Friday, April 7 at 12:00 AM. Play starts on April 17. Currently, we have enough players to support three FIDE/CFC-rated sections of 10 players each. Once pre-registration has ended, players that obtain a seat in the TC (based on rating) will receive an email explaining how to final register and pay.

      5.  The next meeting of the Toronto Women's Chess Club will take place at ACC on Monday, April 17.

      6. The Club will be closed this Monday, April 10 for Easter. Have a great holiday everyone and we'll see you on April 17!

    1. April 03, 2023 7:32 AM | Deleted user

      FIDE recently announced that the City of Toronto will host the 2024 Candidates Matches leading to the World Chess Championships for both men and women, playing at the same time. This is marvellous for chess in the GTA and will certainly lead to some marvellous chess being played and followed with great interest by all students of the game.

      With this in mind, we are pleased to launch our new series of Marvellous Chess Classes at Annex Chess Club this Thursday, April 6, 2023, at 7:00 PM.

      An AI-generated image produced for ACC, based on the phrase “Marvellous Chess”

      Each class, will be taught by FIDE Master Michael Humphreys  as a 90-minute exploration of three specific chess topics/principles (30 minutes each) that are sure to bolster your practical chess repertoire and prepare you for more meaningful and satisfying over-the-board tournament performances.

      Our strategy is simple. We plan to expose our weekly tournament players to “marvellous chess"—especially those kids and adults competing in our U1800 and U1400 tournament sections.

      To us, Marvellous Chess means targeted online chess instruction that:

      • is practical and useful, yet inspiring and creative;
      • you can quickly add to your Monday night tournament-play repertoire;
      • you choose in order to meet your specific needs and interests; and
      • you take less frequently and on an ad hoc basis, thereby lowering both your overall time and financial commitments.

      Sign up for fewer classes and only take those that really grab your attention—the ones that will result in greater chances of success over time. Chess instruction that, once learned, you will not likely forget. And please note that each week, FM Michael Humphreys will add at least one chess topic recommended by his students.

      The cost per class is as follows:

      • $40/class for non-members or $32/class (i.e. discounted by 20%) for ACC members.
      • A bundle of 4 classes is also available at $144 ($36/class) for non-members or $115.20 ($28.80/class) for ACC Members.
      • Prices stated above already include 13% HST.
      • Individual classes included in a bundle are good for a 6-month period from the date of purchase.

      Think about it. ACC’s Marvellous Chess may make perfect sense for you.


      Michael’s first three topics (Class #1) for Marvellous Chess are as follows:

      1. An easy-to-learn weapon against the Caro Kann

      Part of the appeal of the Caro-Kann is that from the very first moves black seeks to solve any potential long-term problem. It is thought that players with black will tend to enjoy a healthy pawn structure without any pieces locked in behind their pawns. In this lesson we will see a fresh approach by white with a bold and astonishing claim behind it—that black’s very first move 1…c6 constitutes a weakening of their structure and that this weakness can be exploited in the endgame.

      2. Checkmate with Knight+Bishop vs. King

      This endgame has a reputation for being quite difficult. To a certain extent, this is justified—if it’s your first experience with this endgame, you will be very unlikely to be able to figure it out on your own in a real-game situation. However, this endgame is also quite easy to learn, and once learned, it is very difficult to forget. Take the time to learn it now, so that you can face it with confidence when it arises.

      3. When not to fight for open files

      It can be quite tempting to fight for control over open files whenever you see them, but this is often the wrong strategy. Fighting for an open file in the wrong circumstances will often lead to a massive exchange of heavy pieces that will drain your position of any winning potential. In this lesson, you will learn to spot the difference between when fighting for a file is essential, and when it is pointless.

      Quite simply put, this is Marvellous Chess!

    2. March 28, 2023 4:33 PM | Deleted user

      IM Mark Plotkin starts his 8-week online "Positional Chess" course, tonight at 7:00 PM (Tuesday, March 28).

      Registration is now open and 20% discounts are available to all ACC members. Additional discounts are available to both ACC members and non-members if students purchase 4 or 8-week class bundles, instead of a single drop-in class.

      Classes are 1.5 hrs. in length.

      Here is a link to Mark's recent chess instruction video he did for Annex Chess Club. Viewing this video will show you just how good Mark is as a chess teacher.

      Be there tonight, or be the chessboard square!

    3. March 19, 2023 2:29 PM | Deleted user

      IM Mark Plotkin will be giving a free one-hour online class via Zoom to both intermediate and advanced students. The class will run from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM. this Tuesday, March 21.

      In this class, Mark will introduce the concepts of calculation in chess and also candidates moves. He will also share his views on chess improvement drawing from his own experiences. This material is aimed at those players (adults and kids) who are already playing in rated tournaments but wish to improve their chess results.

      Don't miss this free demonstration class of Mark's knowledge and teaching skills, especially if you want to improve your knowledge about these two technical topics.

      IM Mark Plotkin

      You can register for free here, after which you will immediately receive the Zoom link via email.

    4. March 15, 2023 2:35 AM | Deleted user

      Annex Chess Club is pleased to launch its new website as of March 15, 2023.

      You'll notice a new refreshed logo, designed and gifted to ACC for its website go-live by Jeff Kumagai of Oddball Creative Services in BC. It's still to be approved by ACC's Board, so it could be tweaked or even replaced. Once again, the focus is on the Knight. It's such a unique and interesting piece in the game of chess. Our motto is still Chess for Everyone! and it's part of our logo and branding. We've kept our old logo in some of our webpage footers, as a reminder of the Club's origins in 2010.  The original ACC logo was designed by the talented cartographer/graphic designer, Bettina Kuypers (dec.).

      Our new website is designed to have the look and feel of a newspaper. Visitors to the site can skim the material presented, learn a lot about the Club very quickly, and over time visit on those sections that appeal most to them. Our old website was focused on what's new at the Club, but now we've decided to display more useful and interesting content to those people who are either coming back to chess after a long absence, or are completely new to the game. It's also important to know what's not new at the Club. Depending on where people are in their chess journey, their interests may be weighted differently—a relative mix of classes (learning), low-stress chess (casual play) and competitive chess (tournament play and special events). So we are now presenting a balanced perspective for all types of players.

      Besides the new website, we've also added new integrated, online registration systems for memberships (JOIN US), weekly tournaments, classes and special events. We hope these serve our members and other customers well.  We think it's pretty cool that our new website and systems were essentially completed within a span of less than three months! We've also added an Online Store which we hope to develop more over time. We're sorry to see our old Wordpress site go—it served us well for a long time. But ACC continues to evolve and as they say, "the only thing that's constant is change itself." 

      At Annex Chess Club, a non-profit organization, we're really proud of our People and Governance and that means everyone involved in helping move the Club forward to the next level, in its ongoing story. We have a wise and experienced Board (all chess players who come and play most weeks), talented and passionate instructors, and some exciting player-members that hang out at our 918 Bathurst Centre home every Monday evening. There's also a regular group of ACC players who go out for a frosty beverage at a local pub (El FurnitureInsomnia or Paupers) after we tear down the Club each Monday, around midnight.

      We're proud of our legacy especially Ted Winick, our founder, who used to personally greet Club members and parents as they came through the doors most Monday nights. Ted really embodied the Club's spirit and promoted a sense of belonging to "the ACC community." More than anything, 918 Bathurst is meant to be an emotionally safe space where everyone is treated with proper respect and can enjoy playing and learning more about chess. Our primary goal is that our Members and visitors to the Club have a joyful chess experience every Monday night.

    5. March 10, 2023 12:10 AM | Deleted user

      The Toronto Closed Chess Championship starts on Monday, April 17, 2023 and runs for 10 Monday evenings at Annex Chess Club. This is a 9-round, Round Robin tournament with a 90 minute + 30 second increment time control for each game. One extra night (the ninth) is used for a makeup game.

      Last year (2022), there were 4 sections of 10 players each. They were as follows—Championship (#1-10), Reserve (#11-20), Development (#21-30) and Annex (#31-40). This year, the number of sections in use, will depend on how many players sign up. Spots are assigned to players in their relative order of CFC regular rating.

      The tournament has a storied past as many of the GTA's top players have competed in this championship. Below is a pic from the 1967 Toronto Championship, a precursor event.

      Winners of the Toronto Closed, Championship Section, since 2000 are listed below. Asterisks indicate those events that were held at ACC.

      • 2022 Roman Gavrilin *
      • 2019 David Cummings
      • 2018 Michael Barron *
      • 2017 Mike Ivanov *
      • 2016 Mike Ivanov *
      • 2015 Geordie Derraugh *
      • 2014 Victor Plotkin *
      • 2013 Michael Song *
      • 2012 Michael Kleinman, Victor Plotkin *
      • 2011 Victor Plotkin
      • 2010 Victor Plotkin
      • 2009 Michael Barron
      • 2008 Nikolay Noritsyn
      • 2007 Michael Barron
      • 2006 Leonid Gerzhoy
      • 2005 Sami Ademi
      • 2004 Tomas Krnan, Yaaqov Vaingorten
      • 2003 Goran Prpic
      • 2002 Isai Berengolts
      • 2001 Brett Campbell
      • 2000 Eduardo Teodoro IV

      Before Annex, GTCL President Michael Barron organized the closed at the Willowdale Chess Club. In the current era, the two most regular players, Victor Plotkin has won four and Michael Barron has won three. Plotkin won strong tournaments with average ratings of 2316, 2318 and 2329 (in 2014). Mike Ivanov has also won twice.

      Additional details about prior years’ Toronto Closed events, both Championship and Reserve Sections, may be found on the CFC website here.

      Pre-registration for the 2023 Toronto Closed starts on Thursday, March 16 and ends on Friday, April 7 at 6:00 PM. Players who have secured a spot through pre-registration will then have until Wednesday, April 13 at 6:00 PM to  complete their final registrations and pay their fees to ACC. Players will be able to follow pre-registrations and final registrations here.

    6. March 03, 2023 8:28 AM | Deleted user


      IM Mark Plotkin

      Annex Chess Club is pleased to announce that Mark Plotkin, International Master (IM), has officially joined ACC's chess instructor team.

      This is an exciting development for ACC, as Mark has developed a comprehensive online chess curriculum aimed at those students who are currently playing in rated tournaments and have a CFC ELO of approximately 1000 and higher. Mark's specialty is in working closely with junior players who are looking for rapid ratings growth, and are able to handle advanced chess topics such as positional chess, maneuvering chess, strategy and tactics, attacking and defending, and endgames.  

      When asked about this new development, ACC Board Member Michael Sutton, said:

      "We're really honoured to have IM Mark Plotkin join our teaching program at ACC. His commitment to work with younger players is exciting, and fits our mission. We expect many new masters in the future. Great for our Club, great for Canada!"

      Mark's first online offering for ACC will be "Positional Chess – Challenges and Rewards." This 8-week course will run on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 PM beginning on March 28, 2023.

      Mark writes the following about the topic of his first ACC class:

      "Positional chess refers to a style of chess where a player focuses on creating the best possible position for themselves rather than going for an attack, or winning through a tactic. Such examples will be to have control over key squares, establishing space, dominating your opponent’s pieces, and improving your own pieces. A player that plays through a 'positional' style will rely on plans that unfold in a few moves rather than searching for the quick kill shot that ends the game, and you will see incremental progress. Thus, an important idea that is taught is to be patient, gradually improve your position and don’t look for flashy moves.

      Positional chess is often associated with players who have a deep understanding of the game and can see several moves ahead. It requires a good knowledge of chess strategy, including an understanding of pawn structure, piece placement, and the strengths and weaknesses of different types of positions. While it can be less exciting to watch than tactical chess, it can be just as challenging and rewarding, and many of the greatest chess players in history, such as Anatoly Karpov and José Raúl Capablanca, are recognized today for their strong positional play."

      We are pleased that Mark will be providing online classes Tuesday evenings, while FM Michael Humphreys will continue providing his online classes Thursday evenings. Together, these two great instructors allow us to expand our coverage of advanced chess topics. An additional discount will be provided to those students who want to take both online classes simultaneously.

      Plans for the rollout of Mark's online classes for Tuesday evenings include a complimentary Introduction to Positional Chess class on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. This will be for advanced chess players of all ages who are seeking to improve the quality of their play and improve their ratings.

      Mark continues to be an active tournament player and in 2022, he played in the following ACC events:

      • Ontario Open (tied for 2nd with 4.5/6 pts)
      • Toronto Blitz (tied 4th with 11/14 pts)
      • Halloween Rapid (1st with 4.5/5 pts)
      • GTCL Cup (team and individual 1st)

      He also actively participated in ACC’s 2022 Hikaru Nakamura Blitz Event on October 16, 2022 by playing blitz games with Club members and other visitors.

      Welcome aboard Mark!


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