Expect to see regular contributions about the goings-on at the Calgary Chess Club.
The Calgary Chess Club is officially CLOSED until further notice due to the COVID-19 crisis and current government and health advisories related to social distancing and the closure and cancellation of all non-essential businesses, events and group activities. Our online event registration system at Events has been disabled accordingly. We are refunding entry fees in full for those who have already made payment for any of the now cancelled events. For more information and to expedite your refund, please contact email@example.com.
We are actively monitoring all related announcements and health advisories, and will announce here when the club is expected and able to continue normal operations. Until then, stay safe and healthy!
Grand Prix Leg #2
Rex Yumen repeats as Grand Prix winner by defeating Maxim Vasic in the final round and reaching a perfect 5/5. The latter ended tied for second at 4/5 with FM Dale Haessel. Patrick Angelo Tolentino was top U2000, Avery Li top U1750, Phil Evans top U1500, while our youngest junior Conor Pavl claimed his first section win by sharing top U1000 with Zeeshan Munir.
Nearly 30 players participated in the event, with the Tuesday evening Grand Prix series very much in a period of rapid growth and popularity. Unfortunately however the next leg of the series has been postponed until further notice due to the COVID-19 crisis. For more information about event re-scheduling and club hours please refer to our Blog.
Alberta Blitz Championship
Five participants in the 9-player event were rated above 2000 Elo, which made the resulting triple round robin a competitive affair. Split into a morning and an afternoon session, the players contested 23 rounds in total! Predictably, the top rated players occupied the top places at the end of the day.
Alberta Rapid Championship
Butch Villavieva's path to the title was an interesting one, meeting four juniors in a row. Young April Wang, who showed her talent by winning two games of her own in the event, was the first to concede a game against the eventual winner. We expect her to climb the ranks quickly! Next came a loss to Patrick Angelo Tolentino, who somehow manages to defeat players in the 2300 Elo range more often than his own rating would suggest. Impressive!
Chess Library Donation Month
February is the Calgary Chess Club donation drive month. We would love to add chess books and magazines, and really any other related items to our growing collection...
Our donation drive is picking up steam, as long time member Bill Bentley has donated around 90 books to our library, followed by newcomer Zeeshan Munir who contributed $500! Zeeshan's generosity marks the first cash donation in support of our library, and we look forward to the acquisition of many new titles that otherwise would likely be unattainable for us. Thank you both for your kindness and generosity! Our goal of acquiring 500 books and magazines in February now stands at 350!
Grand Prix Leg #1
The 2020 Grand Prix Leg #1 finished with surprise winner Rex Yumen at a perfect 5/5 after defeating 2018 and 2019 Grand Prix winner FM Dale Haessel in the final round. Congratulations on a great performance. Milad Khoshooei, who had been largely inactive and rated only 1380, finished in second place. Yes, we had an event full of unexpected results!
Historical 1954 Chess Set Returns Home
A big thank you goes out to attorney Chuck Grau of Bedford, New Hampshire, which is located 50 miles north of Boston, USA. Chuck has generously donated a historical chess set back to the Calgary Chess Club that we originally sold to an unknown player on December 23, 1954. Even the original receipt is included. Chuck is a collector of beautiful chess sets, and became the owner of this particular set four years ago.
All told a near record of 34 players joined the tournament, including 18 juniors, 11 adults and 5 seniors. The average rating of all 32 rated players was 1692, with the top Section A average at 2207. Reviewing the results in several sections of the event, it appears as though volunteering your time at the Alberta Chess Association and Calgary Chess Club ends up improving your playing strength as well. Bonus!
Southern Alberta Open
The 2019 edition of the Southern Alberta Open took place in Calgary on the weekend of November 23-24 with a record 42 participants. Ten players made the trek from out of town, including Gordon McCall who came all the way from Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Pairings for the first round of the event were mailed out to players the day before, made possible because all but four pre-registered online. That allowed your Tournament Director to start play well on time, since the last minute entries had to settle for inferior pairings amongst themselves. Next time, perhaps, they too will take advantage of online registration!
The 2019 Banff Open had an exciting finish. On top board Leduc's WIM Agnieszka Matras Clement battled defending champion IM Mark Ginsburg from Arizona. If Agnieszka could win, she would not only claim the event outright but also collect a $1,000 Fischer Prize for a perfect score! On the other hand, Mark Ginsburg looked poised to win his third Banff Open in a row, no doubt aided by the organizer's promise to supply the winner with a bobble head, inspired by the Society of Chess Aficionados two bobble heads that went viral last year.
Junior Battle of Alberta
The more than two hundred point Elo rating difference should be easily decisive, with only the actual margin of victory for Team South in question.
The annual Junior Battle of Alberta took place in Red Deer on September 28, 2019 with defending champions Team South once again the favourites to win. They had prevailed 17-7 in 2018, and were this year even stronger. The entire roster on all twelve boards was composed of Calgary Chess Club members! Aditya Raninga wasn't available, but a strong contingent averaging Elo 1779 faced a Team North with an average Elo of just 1555.
From Amateur to Master
The first From Amateur to Master class, sponsored for free by the Calgary Chess Club, took place on Sunday September 8, 2019 and attracted 13 students. The instructor Knut Neven is an experienced National Master who has been a three time Correspondence World Championship finalist, top 10 finisher at multiple national championships, and the author of numerous instructional DVDs and articles for ChessBase of Germany. He was also the editor of Canada's national chess magazine En Passant for five years between 1998 and 2003.
In the course, the instructor lectured about the epistemology of improving rating and becoming a Master. The class featured analysis of several positions and games on a demonstration board with an emphasis on learning methodology rather than the specifics, i.e. tactics, openings, etc...
Neven also offered advice about valuable resources, books and otherwise, as well as the types to avoid. A major focus of the session was on what material to study and how to work most effectively. The course provided an invaluable resource for anyone who wishes to rapidly improve their chess and learn how to teach themselves.
Reports on recently finished events at the club and elsewhere. We try to cover major tournaments with participants from the Calgary Chess Club.
I was pretty excited about the tournament, but not expecting our team to win a prize. Our average rating was after all relatively low, as the young and inexperienced team members consisted of Anand Rishi Chandra, Hemant Srinivasan and Jerry Ming. We were underdogs for sure!
Grand Tour Leg #3
Old and New
As predicted yesterday, the 2019 Grand Tour came to a close with FM Dale Haessel claiming another crown. Behrooz Ebrahim Shirazi came second, followed by Roham Eslahpazir in third, and then Andrew Chen and Roy Yearwood in fourth and fifth, respectively. Top U2000 went to Brian Miller and the U1750 prize to Nerio Sibulo. Avery Li claimed the U1500 prize, while the Unrated trophy went to Rex Yumen.
Grand Tour Leg #2
The event featured a total of 22 players, notably missing FM Dale Haessel who is presently away and competing at the World Seniors Championship. He played only three of the five games. Instead FM Fred South joined the Grand Tour and thus became the highest rated player in the competition. With Behrooz Ebrahim Shirazi also joining, the overall Grand Tour title this year looks up for grabs!
Grand Tour Leg #1
The Finish Line
FM Dale Haessel defeated Anand Rishi Chandra in the last round to secure victory. Meanwhile Fred South, one of Calgary's all-time top players, drew his game against Behrooz Ebrahim Shirazi. The remaining legs of the Grand Tour promise to be competitive, with no less than seven players rated over 2000 joining the chase for the overall top prize of $450. In total, $1200 are up for grabs. The Grand Tour Leg #2 starts October 22, 2019.
Battle of Alberta
For me the Battle of Alberta started sometime in May when I offered Omid Malek help with the organization of the tournament. Gathering historical results going back to 1996 uncovered that North and South each won nine events until 2013, followed by a run of five consecutive wins by team North. Team North, in fact, has utterly dominated the entire last decade.
My lofty if not impossible goal was to bring the Cup back to Calgary. Step one was to sign up two of our strongest players and Battle of Alberta faithfuls FM Gary Ng and FM Ian Findlay. Unfortunately neither was available due to prior commitments. FM Alex Yam on the other hand, in spite of a long period of inactivity, agreed to join the team over a cup of coffee.
It is possible to trace by way of last winter's Tournament of Legends Blitz event and the Kings vs Princes competition that followed it, the return of several very strong Masters to active play. Some have done so after decades of inactivity, and their success at the Battle of Alberta provides ample proof that new programs at the Calgary Chess Club are paying dividends.
Canadian Seniors Championship
The 2019 Canadian Seniors Championship took place August 2-5, in Kitchener Waterloo, at City Hall. Two sections of 50+ and 65+ were joined by a sectioned tournament going on at the same time.
After winning in 2018 with a perfect 7/7 I knew I had my work cut out for me, given this year's 4th seed ranking compared to 1st seed at last year's tournament. The event gets stronger every year, marking this year the strongest field in the history of the 50+ section.
Kings vs Princes
Saturday brings the long awaited Battle of Alberta, followed by the Calgary Chess Club Annual General Meeting on September 24, 2019.
Aditya finally put an end to Fred's winning streak by converting a favourable rook and pawn ending where his two advanced pawns were stronger than Fred's three pawns. Anand won the rubber match against Roy, closing out their games with 3/5, and giving the Princes a rare victory over the Kings this week.
Calgary International IM
After much drama and adventure, young Ian Zhao finally landed in second place with 7/10 and a 2538 performance! Along the way he collected a FIDE FM title, and a first IM norm on his path towards the International Master title. A fantastic performance at any age, and one that we most heartily congratulate him for!
Canadian Youth Championship
Ian Zhao for example remained unbeaten, won first place in the U14 Section with 6/7, and showed great maturity in dominating tough opposition.
The Canadian Youth Championship has always been a very challenging event, and this time was no different. The tournament took place in Regina, Saskatchewan from July 7-10, 2019. One thing we definitely noticed was that players from Alberta are now competing on at least equal footing with their counterparts from the larger and formerly dominant centers of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver etc.
Omid Malek persevered with an impressive 4/5 total to convincingly win the 2019 Alberta Closed! Along the way, Omid defeated top seeds Gary Ng and Rafael Arruebarrena as well as recent World Seniors Championship participant Dale Haessel. Alberta Junior and Alberta Open Champion Ian Zhao, who is just 14 years of age, came in second with 3.5/5 followed by Edmonton's Rafael Arruebarrena at 2.5/5 in third.
Tournament of Legends Blitz
Ted won the Best Hair contest hands down, while Rob Hawkes won Best Tie with Steve Sklenka offering the only competition. Probably Steve's decision to purchase this accessory at Woolworths had something to do with the outcome!
The South brothers offered a suspicious sibling draw in the last round that is currently being investigated by a hastily established ethics committee. Meanwhile the Deep Rust Award remains up for grabs, with Gordon Campbell claiming the inside lane after the first of two sessions.
Anything goes! We are looking for contributions with an instructional angle. Played a nice game lately? Travelled to an interesting event out of town? Read a good book on the Catalan? Let the rest of the members know about it. And you don't have to be a top player either to publish something worthwhile. Even better if you include an annotated ChessBase file with your article. Got an idea?
Attacking the Scheveningen
Many players focus almost exclusively on opening preparation in their chess studies. The idea of catching an opponent in a prepared line and scoring an easy point is an appealing one, even if reality isn't quite so accommodating. That opening advantage and the final result are usually separated by several hours and dozens of moves where anything can happen...
Maybe you have an idea for a regular column? Let's talk!
Diary of a Woodpusher
I have decided to change my approach to chess studies a bit. An experiment if you will. To put it bluntly, and kindly, in the past my efforts were rather scattered. I would look at a little of this and a little of that, but bouncing from idea to idea does not allow the targeted concepts to take root. Which, perhaps, has resulted in the broken expert player you see before you today!
And so I am resetting the table. Instead of flitting from topic to topic, it is time to immerse myself in one aspect of the game for a prolonged period of time and really understand the concept in full. The topic in question is pawn structures.
I have confessed before to having holes in my chess education and, frankly, the biggest gaps involve my understanding of pawn structures. The whole game revolves around whatever skeleton of pawns we dangle out there, and the more familiar you are with them the better.
Diary of a Woodpusher
Pins and Kisses
Greetings fellow chess players! First and foremost I'd like to extend a massive thank you to Calgary Chess Club President Steve Sklenka and our webmaster Neven ... for this opportunity to contribute to the site. Steve, you have been exceedingly gracious and accommodating. Neven, thank you for all the help and advice, for proofing the articles and publishing my drivel for all the world to see!
The crux of everything I want to discuss boils down to how we can improve? I would like to visit the topic of plateaus and how to push beyond them. From time to time I will wax philosophic about fantastic books I think the world should read, DVDs you should consider, chess software and setups, using tech in your preparation, reviewing games that made an impression, and so on.
Early History 1930 to 1971
Looking for a chess club in Calgary, some fifty years ago, was an adventure! There was enough interest in playing chess with friends or family at home, but to play in a club, that was something different. Somehow, around fifteen brave players found each other and gathered every Monday night in Maccabees Hall on Fifth Avenue between 9th and 10th Street SW. This was the year 1968.