Toronto Women’s Chess Club

A new initiative called Toronto Women’s Chess Club is being created through the efforts of Annex Chess Club (ACC) working in collaboration with other interested GTA Chess Clubs.

The idea is to create a unique chess club for women (including girls) that meets monthly. It 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, or maybe even join their first chess club.

A confident, modern-day chess player—she loves her chess.
It helps define who she is.

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

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dominated by males, but it is our strong belief as confident and capable women that it’s long overdue that we leave outdated prejudices behind.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

Anna Burtasova, WGM

For now, the plan is to meet at The 918 Bathurst Centre for the Arts, the home of Annex Chess Club, on the second Monday of every month. Attendance is free.

The first meeting of Toronto Women’s Chess Club is this Monday, November 14, 2022 from 6:15 to 7:45 PM in the Star Room at Annex Chess Club, 918 Bathurst Street, Toronto. (The start of the weekly tournament and Toronto Closed will be delayed by 15 minutes to accommodate.)

The Toronto Women’s Chess Club is open to all women (including girls) who want to become better chess players and compete on an equal footing in a largely male-dominated game or sport, depending on your perspective.

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?

Hikaru Nakamura at ACC Video

Below is a video of Hikaru Nakamura playing blitz chess against Evgeny Bareev at Annex Chess Club. This was part of Hikaru’s 3-day visit to Toronto (Oct 15-17), in which he visited Pub Chess (at The Madisson), Chess in the Park (at High Park) and Annex Chess Club (at 918 Bathurst Centre for Creative Arts).

Hikaru is currently rated World #5 in classical chess and is a former World #2. He is also rated World #1 in blitz chess. Evgeny is currently the top-rated classical chess player in Canada and a former World #4.

Here the gentlemen play two blitz games using a 3-minute + 2-second increment. Much of the audience is watching the game display on a large screen behind and to the side of the players. The results were a draw in Game #1 and a win for Hikaru in Game #2. These were the 21st and 22nd blitz games played at ACC by Hikaru, out of a total of 37 games.

Game #1:

Below is the Lichess game analysis for Game #1. It shows that the two players played to approximately the same level of accuracy and average centipawn loss, and both made a similar number of inaccuracies, mistakes, etc. This is common in blitz chess where time pressure is a factor.

Game #2:

The engine considers White’s move 26. Rc4 to be a blunder as 26. Rxe5 was best. The game would have then continued on from this alternative position, which you may wish to analyze further on your own.

Below is the Lichess game analysis for Game #2. It shows that Hikaru played to a higher level of accuracy and a lower level of centipawn loss, and he made fewer mistakes than Evgeny. Evgeny was slightly better with White in the opening, and in the middlegame Hikaru took the initiative with Black and achieved the win.

We are grateful for this OTB chess at ACC as well as hearing the players’ comments about their previous encounters at the Corsica Masters in 2007 and the Millionaire Chess Blitz in Las Vegas in 2015.

Falling Leaves, Round Three

Here are the results of round three of our current tournament.

Results for Round 3: Crown

121Samuel Ulrich30John Fines
270Shabnam Abbarin61Charis Zhu
 1½Tony Bohan Bao  BYE
 4½Albion Kolndreu  BYE
 5½Arkadiy Ugodnikov  BYE

Results for Round 3: U1800

270Shafkat Ali131Jose Escobar
361Toy Chack Kwan210Robert Joy
4110Umid Allahverdi201Stephen Papadatos
591Jim Sadden250Christopher Kuchma
622½Ivan Huang3½J. Armstrong Robert
715½David Dunikov24½Orkhan Kazimov
8191Justin Huang50Salim Belcadi
980Ian Greig41Adie Todd
10170Kevin Gaffney161Javier Dixon
11230Sam Ghamarimonavvar121Robert Wagner
 2½Dania Surya  BYE
 1½Glib Dunikov  BYE
 10½Ulli Diemer  BYE
 18½Leon Noel Merse  BYE

Results for Round 3: U1400

12130Onur Naiboglu21Nicolas Bonnard
1340Alexander Wagner241Joshua Bakradze
14290Robert Zuccarello111Charlie Bain
1570Marko Bulatovic231Maxim Bondarev
1691Artur Jankobayev60Zeyu Liu
17260Preston Rehdner51Adam Comer
18121Benjamin Kamnitzer190Richard Kang
19211Henry Prickett-Morgan320Peter Grucza
20161Nicholas Baschiera300Alexei Antonov
21351Sivaram Manoharan170Yeeshuen Li
22180George Flagg201Anoush Avakian
23400Adam Saher151Justin Ryan
25310Andrey Donin11Neil Goel
26270Christian Manco31James Taylor
2928½Evan Nearing34½Jonathan Kravtchenko
30391Danny Rokhvarger220Tsing Yee [Tina] Hui
31251Melanie Directo360Ziya Musayev
 41½John Zabbal  BYE

And here are the current standings.

Standings. Falling Leaves: Crown

#PlaceNameRatingRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Total
11Tony Bohan Bao1983W6W2H—2.5
22-3Samuel Ulrich1758W4L1W52.0
3 Charis Zhu1634W5L4W72.0
44Arkadiy Ugodnikov1698L2W3H—1.5
55John Fines1756L3W6L21.0
66Albion Kolndreu1733L1L5H—0.5
77Shabnam Abbarin1469U—U—L30.0

Standings. Falling Leaves: U1800

#PlaceNameRatingRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Total
11Jose Escobar1477W17W6W43.0
22-3Toy Chack Kwan1544W24D3W122.5
3 Stephen Papadatos1268W25D2W82.5
44-5Shafkat Ali1531W9W14L12.0
5 Jim Sadden1514U—W25W152.0
66-15Glib Dunikov1595W19L1H—1.5
7 J. Armstrong Robert1558H—D10D131.5
8 Umid Allahverdi1494D15W22L31.5
9 David Dunikov1435L4W17D141.5
10 Leon Noel Merse1391H—D7H—1.5
11 Justin Huang1273U—D18W231.5
12 Robert Joy1248D21W16L21.5
13 Ivan Huang1239U—W19D71.5
14 Orkhan Kazimovunr.W18L4D91.5
15 Christopher Kuchmaunr.D8W21L51.5
1616-20Dania Surya1564U—L12H—0.5
17 Adie Todd1547L1L9W211.0
18 Ulli Diemer1496L14D11H—1.0
19 Robert Wagner1487L6L13W261.0
20 Javier Dixon1408U—U—W251.0
2121-22Ian Greig1514D12L15L170.5
22 Aaron Sponagleunr.H—L8U—0.5
2323-26Salim Belcadi1544U—U—L110.0
24 Isabelle Zhu1464L2U—U—0.0
25 Kevin Gaffney1400L3L5L200.0
26 Sam Ghamarimonavvarunr.U—U—L190.0

Standings. Falling Leaves: U1400

#PlaceNameRatingRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Total
11-3Nicolas Bonnard1283W21W11W93.0
2 Charlie Bain1103W39W25W123.0
3 Joshua Bakradze734W30W39W53.0
44Maxim Bondarev787W36D14W152.5
55-13Alexander Wagner1214W22W20L32.0
6 Adam Comer1203L11W35W252.0
7 Artur Jankobayev1132U—W31W142.0
8 Benjamin Kamnitzer1086L12W34W222.0
9 Onur Naiboglu1068W26W13L12.0
10 Nicholas Baschiera1021W41L12W262.0
11 Henry Prickett-Morgan957W6L1W332.0
12 Robert Zuccarello456W8W10L22.0
13 Sivaram Manoharanunr.W16L9W202.0
1414-16Zeyu Liu1198W38D4L71.5
15 Marko Bulatovic1162H—W33L41.5
16 Justin Ryan1024L13D32W291.5
1717-30Neil Goel1311U—U—W321.0
18 James Taylor1214U—U—W391.0
19 Abdullah Caglayon1052W34U—U—1.0
20 Yeeshuen Li1014W29L5L131.0
21 George Flagg1012L1W41L231.0
22 Richard Kang993L5W40L81.0
23 Anoush Avakian979L25F27W211.0
24 Melanie Directo645U—U—W411.0
25 Preston Rehdner559W23L2L61.0
26 Alexei Antonov200L9W37L101.0
27 Andre Pereiraunr.U—X23U—1.0
28 Danny Rokhvargerunr.U—U—W381.0
29 Adam Saherunr.L20W38L161.0
30 John Zabbalunr.L3H—H—1.0
3131-35Evan Nearing472U—L7D340.5
32 Andrey Doninunr.U—D16L170.5
33 Peter Gruczaunr.H—L15L110.5
34 Jonathan Kravtchenkounr.L19L8D310.5
35 Glen Newburyunr.H—L6U—0.5
3636-41Kris Todi1152L4U—U—0.0
37 Keith Denning1121U—L26U—0.0
38 Tsing Yee [Tina] Hui882L14L29L280.0
39 Christian Manco540L2L3L180.0
40 Paul Kempunr.U—L22U—0.0
41 Ziya Musayevunr.L10L21L240.0

ACC Update (for Monday Nov 7, 2022)

Here’s a summary of what’s new at ACC.

There’s lots of news about ACC to report.

1. Weekly Tournament

This week, Rd #3 of our “Falling Leaves” 5-week classical chess tournament continues in the Great Hall. Keith Denning is Arbiter for this event. Currently, 65 players are registered. Emails requesting registration or bye requests should be sent to Players can join the tournament in any round as long as they have (or purchase) a CFC membership. ACC pay-as-you-go and annual membership options for tournament play are available. The results for the last round (#2 on Oct 24) may be found here.

2. Toronto Closed

This week , Rd #8 of the 9-round, 40-player Toronto Closed Championship continues in the Great Hall. There are two rounds to go, plus 13 makeup games, 10 of which are scheduled for the main makeup night, November 14, at ACC. The other 3 makeup games are scheduled to be played at Hart House.

Here are the latest Crosstable results for the Toronto Closed. One crossable page exists for each of the 4 sections.

  • In the Championship Section, there’s a real battle with 5 of the 10 players realistically within reach of reach of the top two spots. The 5 are Rusonik (5.5/7), Gavrilin (5.5/7), Jaferian (4/6), Plotkin (4/5) and Malakhovets (3.5/6).
  • In the Reserve Section, four players are within reach: Ning (5.5/7), Southam (5/7), Noah (4.5/7) and Fradkin (4/7).
  • In the Development Section, two players, Mohan 7/7) and Ghanbari (5.5/6), are running ahead of the pack.
  • In the Annex Section, there are three key players to watch for: D’Souza (5.5/6), Kalposhinikova (5.5/7) and Quick (4.5/8). Three other players are 1 point behind at 3.5.

The game moves for this event are all available on our website. Non-participating players should consider replaying some of the games to see what openings players are using these days for classical tournament play in their respective sections. Participating players can also use the games as the latest form of intelligence information about their upcoming opponents. Approximately one-third of the participating players are ACC members.

3. Casual Chess

Casual chess continues in the 918B Sun Room. Several tables are available for nightly play with sets and clocks provided. Non-ACC members must register and pay a $10 nightly drop-in fee.

4. Chess Classes

Chess classes continue downstairs. New INTERMEDIATE CLASSES for both kids and adults start this week, while ADVANCED CLASSES are about half-way through their planned 6 or 7-week programs. Registration of all classes is available here. For information about the possibility of BEGINNER CLASSES, please contact Keith Denning at

Our in-person classes are run in conjunction with our chess education partner, Chess Institute of Canada. CIC brings Chess to Life!

5. Maplewood Invitational

The Maplewood Invitational GM Norm Chess Tournament in Waterloo Quebec is scheduled for the week of November 14. Final arrangements are in process and a press release is pending. Updated ratings for the participating GMs and IMs are listed in our original article here.

Information about the players is now available here.

Manoir Maplewood

The Maplewood Invitational Sponsorship page may be found here. It should be a great time and ACC’s involvement in supporting this new event is both substantial and exciting!

6. Thoughts of a Chess Master

We’ve started a new ongoing series called “Thoughts of a Chess Master” in which Canadian Chess Masters share their thoughts with us, from time to time, using interactive games analysis and videos. In the first episode, IM Mark Plotkin shares his games from last week’s ACC Halloween Rapid, 5-round event which were captured here on a DGT smart board. After Mark’s great game annotations, we’ve added our own Lichess computer analysis of the 5 games.

The mix of human evaluation and computer assessment of game play certainly makes for an interesting juxtaposition.

Mark Plotkin playing blitz against Hikaru Nakamura at ACC recently

Mark Plotkin will be playing in the Maplewood Invitational (see item #5 above).

7. ACM Followup to ACC’s Ontario Open

ACC in the News: We’ve just posted a 6-page followup article from the most recent Issue #29 of American Chess Magazine in which 3 intense chess battles from ACC’s 2022 Ontario Open were analyzed by the participating players. You can read about that here.

8. ACC Women’s Club is coming soon!

On Monday, November 14, 2022, WGM Anna Burtasova is bringing a new Women’s Club concept to ACC. The idea is women nurturing women to build confidence and improve their chess. Details to follow shortly.

9. 2022 GTCL Cup

This team rapid event is coming to ACC in one month. Is your team getting ready? Register now.

Link to our previous post on this event.

Link to our Registration Summary.

Notes: A non-ACC team can be any 4 or 5 players who each have an active CFC membership or pay a CFC tournament fee. Team members of a non-ACC team do not have to belong to a chess club. If the players have a relationship with a GTA chess club, it may be recognized at time of registration. An ACC-team, which is eligible for a small registration discount is, by definition, a team comprised solely of active ACC members.

ACM Followup to ACC’s Ontario Open

As we previously mentioned in our June 26, 2022 news post, American Chess Magazine (ACM) agreed to cover the balance of the games from Annex Chess Club’s successful Ontario Open tournament held in May 2022.

ACM’s original article on the Ontario Open may be found in ACM issue #27 here. The latest ACM issue #29 contains 6 pages covering 3 additional intense chess battles as follows:

  • WGM Maili-Jade Ouellet vs IM Nikolay Noritsyn (won by Maili-Jade)
  • FM Koosha Jaferian vs Roman Gavrilin (won by Koosha)
  • IM Shiyam Thavandiran vs GM Razvan Preotu (won by Shiyam)

These games were originally annotated by Maili-Jade, Koosha and Razvan at the conclusion of the tournament and we thank them for their insightful commentary. Maili-Jade won the Ontario Open top woman’s prize as well as the tournament brilliancy prize (against Shiyam). In this game, she delivers Nikolay’s only loss of the 3-day tournament.

Click on the image below to see a PDF of the 6-page ACM Followup article on the balance of ACC’s Ontario Open games.

In this writer’s view, American Chess Magazine is the premier chess magazine in the world. The latest issue has great coverage of many interesting topics and key events, including commentary and analysis of the Hans Neimann/Magnus Carlsen saga.

Chess for everyone