Day 4-Final

The last day is always  the most exciting one at the CYCC. Most sections are decided on this day. Playoffs occur in some to determine the winners. Pressure is at its highest. A lot of kids don’t handle the pressure all that well. Champions are made. Whoever doesn’t believe nerves are running high have never competed at the highest level at anything. It gets intense. Some people can’t sleep. I was relaxed though and slept like a baby!

My day was a pretty short one work-wise. I was analyzing games with kids in the morning and then needed to make myself available for the Closing Ceremonies (CC). It seemed a bit strange to me at first that the CC was not a combined one, and was instead taking place for each section after its games ended. The reasoning behind my original skepticism was that a combined CC would be a good finishing touch on a very well run event. On a flip side, everybody needed to go home. With most people living in Ontario, they wanted to drive home ASAP after their stay in Windsor. Very understandable. The CC did not suffer from this but was a bit disorganized having so many separate components to it. Everybody was tired and everybody wanted to go home. This format achieved this the fastest.

John (Coleman) decided on an unprecedented idea. Why do we have 2 year sections instead of 1 year sections? John got double the number of trophies and gave out not only the usual under 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 but also prizes for the Junior year. Somebody in their junior year was eligible for 6 trophies! The final standings can be found at to show the final standings in more detail. I will mainly talk about the winners.

The under 8 boys section was decided before the last round. Usually with a guaranteed win before the last round, people let up a bit and relax. Apparently, not everybody does. Joshua “The Crusher” Doknjas surely does not. Do not be fooled as to how adorable Joshua is, he will crush you at the chess board. Joshua scored a win in the last round to finish off at a perfect 7/7 and won the section by a full 2 points!!! Below is a picture of Joshua and me. The trophy is about Joshua’s size but he may have deserved an even bigger one!

The Cinderella story occurred in the girls under 8 section. Andrea Botez scored a phenomenal 6.5/7 in the section and was a point and the half ahead of the field. Congrats Andrea! Andrea’s father, Andrei, told me that he was not sure about taking Andrea to Windsor and that it was a last minute decision. Nobody ever says anything about father’s intuition, but I think Andrei has it;). Andrea’s photo below is taken from Zeljka’s site

The boys under 10 section was a competitive one with three kids who finished tied for first at 5.5/7. After the playoffs, Yuan Chen Zhang clinched first place, Jason Cao clinched second and Daniel Zotkin got third. In the end of the day, anything can happen in rapid time control playoffs. It takes strong nerves to win a long and grueling playoff.

The under 10 girls section was the most lopsided section at the CYCC. Kelly Wang took the clear lead after the 2nd round and never looked back to finish at a perfect 7/7 which was 2.5 points ahead of second place! Congratulations Kelly for a very dominant performance!

The under 12 boys section was the biggest and most competitive section throughout the event, drawing 40 players. After 7 rounds, 4 players were tied for first place. Before the last round, Richard Wang was half a point behind the three leaders. The three leaders all settled for draws and so Richard had a chance to catch up and did just that. The four player playoff that ensued was a long one. I saw both Richard Wang and Guannan Terry Song winning their first games in style. In the following game which they played against each other, Richard sacrificed two pieces for a rook and a pawn which showed the potential of an attack. They soon agreed to a draw. That is when I had to make my way back to Toronto.

Yesterday, I saw Richard at the Canadian Open. Richard told me that he lost the playoff while playing a further playoff one-on-one with Terry. Richard forgot about the time and lost on time. In the end of the day, Terry got first place, Richard got second, Edward Song third and Michael Song got fourth. The Song’s are unrelated. Congratulations Terry for the great win! This experience of a tough playoff and section will make everybody in the section better, and I look forward to seeing Richard get back and be stronger than ever. Everybody has a hiccup here and there. Richard displayed great sportsmanship while talking about the event to me yesterday. Terry and Richard are the two most nicest and most mature under 12 boys I have ever met!

The girls under 12 section showed a dominant performance by Jackie Peng with a perfect score of 6/6. There were only 7 players in the section and so every player got a bye. Zhanna Sametova got second place with 5/6. I analyzed a game with Zhanna and she showed great potential. I look forward to seeing her play more events. Zhanna’s dad plays soccer with my dad in Toronto. Small world! Melissa Giblon got third place in the section with 4/6. She will be hungrier than ever at the next CYCC. Melissa was the last remaining player at my Windsor simul. Below is a picture of Jackie as she was on her way to beating me at the simul!

In the boys under 14 section, Tanraj S Sohal won outright with 6/7. This could be considered a big surprise as Joey Qin, rated 2340 was in the section but finished 3rd after losing a playoff to Konstantin Semianiuk for second place. The two were tied at 5.5/7.

The girls under 14 section showed a lot of drama. Going into the last round, Rebecca Gilbon was leading with 5/6 and Regina-Veronicka Kalaydina (the top seed) was tied for second at 4.5 points. In the last round, Rebecca lost to Chang Yun who played the role of spoiler, allowing Regina-Veronicka to win first place with 5.5/7. Yan Wang then beat Rebecca in a playoff for second place. Dissapointing day for Rebecca, but I know that she is a fighter and she will come back stronger than ever next year.

The boys under 16 section was won convincingly by Roman Sapozhnikov who slowed down towards the end and drew his last two rounds but still finished clear first at 5.5/7. This was a tough section but Roman built a solid lead in the beginning of the event and then held on. Photo is taken from

The girls under 16 and 18 sections were combined, but for the purposes of this report I fully separate them. Alexandra Botez won the girls under 16 section with a strong 6/7 score. What’s impressive is that Alexandra is 14 years old and she competed with girls in the under 18 section as well. Below is a picture of the under 16 prize winners and me. I ran into Alexandra at the Canadian Open yesterday, where she was waiting for her opponent but was patient about it. I believe (no hard evidence) that her opponent left his home very late after deciding to watch the World Cup Final (Go Spain!).

The under 18 girls section was taken convincingly by Sonja Xiong with 6/7. Marguerite Yang got second place with 4 points, and Marina Roussel was 3rd. Sarah Campeau finished fourth and was the cheeriest person in the older groups, while most of them were all too serious… You may (should!) remember Marina from the portrait of me which she drew in an earlier post (shown again below). A photo of the prize winners (missing 1) and me is below.

The boys under 18 section went down to the wire. Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton were tied for first place at 5/6 going into the last round. Eric found out how hard it is to win in the last round with black, and was held to a draw by Brendan Fan. Aman on the other hand, was able to win his game and with it clinch first place. Congratulations Aman!

There were a lot of upsets at the CYCC this year, most notable the winners in the boys under 12, 14 and 18 sections. It really showed how competitive and talented those kids are.

I hope that everybody who came to Windsor had fun, I know I did. The event was very professionally organized and I hope to be back to Windsor soon. Thank you to John Coleman, Patrick, and all of the volunteers for making it all possible. Zeljka did a great job providing live coverage of the games and great pictures!

Below is a picture of two proud fathers, Andrew Giblon and Andrei Botez. Andrei’s two daughters won both of their sections this year. Andrew’s two daughters won their two sections last year, but had a tougher going this time around. These two men might have a monopoly on Canadian Women’s chess in 5-10 years. They are also two of the nicest parents in Canadian chess.  Photo taken from


Day 3

My last full day in Windsor. As a neutral party who is not stressing too much about anybody’s results I might be the most relaxed person at the CYCC. I see how nervous the parents are.  The idea of not being able to control anything is scary. At least the kids are having fun while playing chess. The parents just wait patiently. It’s like sitting on “chess row”. It’s tough. Today, I told Jackie Peng’s mother that her daughter’s position seemed somewhat worse in an endgame where she had a piece for 3 pawns. When I later told her Jackie was completely winning, she could not have been happier and she showed it. This is just one of the examples…

On the flip side, I am seeing a very positive light to chess. Why do we all get into chess? Well, to put it simply, it’s REALLY fun in the beginning. All of the kids at the CYCC appear to be having tons of fun. I can see the joy in their eyes when they are playing chess. There is no suffering. This is often missing in top level chess. We forget what its all about. These kids have such passion for the game that is simply great to see. Analyzing games with the kids is a lot of fun, I can see (I think I can and am not just seeing what I want to see!) that they really enjoy it. They are much more sportsmanlike than most adults and have no egos!

Down to business. My day started with the usual game analysis at around 11am. It continued until about 7pm with a short lunch break somewhere in between. After a short break, Gary Gladstone and I decided to go to the Caesars Casino for a bit of blackjack. Yep, it’s not a game you are supposed to win in. We both came out on top;). Poker is a lot of fun, but it goes pretty slow in live after multi-tabling online. After the casino, decided to just have a relaxing time and rotated between the sauna and jacuzzi. It was good to see some of the chess players in the area. I definitely reached full relaxation there, which was needed after being around some very loud noises in the parents room the whole day.

I know you don’t care about my day, so I will go to the chess side of things now. So far, the CYCC is looking like a shocker. In fact, there are only two sections that have been decided before the last round. In the girls under 12 section, Kelly Wang has clinched first place with a perfect 6/6. At 1299, Kelly is the third rated player in her section. Congrats Kelly! In the under 8 boys section, Joshua Doknjas has clinched first place with a perfect 6/6. Joshua is the 5th rated player in his section with a rating of 1204. Congrats Joshua! The Doknjas family is very nice and is from BC! Below is a photo of the Doknjas brothers and me. Joshua is the second one from the left, and John is on the right. John has a strong 4/6 so far in the under 12 section. I embarrassingly don’t know the youngest one’s name but will find out. For clarification, I am the tall guy!

UPDATE-The youngest member of the Doknjas family is Neil who is currently 5 years old. Future of Canadian chess?!

Now to the exciting sections where nobody is dominant. In the under 18 section, Eric drew Paul Gelis in an interesting Sveshnikov. This allowed Aman to catch up to him with his win and now both players are tied for first with 5/6. Kevin Chung is sitting alone in third with 4.5 points.

I apologize for writing that Alexandra Botez is in the under 18 section yesterday. Alexandra is actually in the under 16 section. In my defense, she acts and looks more mature that she is. So the under 16 and 18 girls sections are combined. In the under 18 girls section Sonja Xiong has clinched first with 5/6. In the under 16 girls section, Alexandra is a point ahead of Samantha Powell. The final standings will decide which section gets more funding (I may be mistaken).

The under 14 boys section showed some more shockers today. Joey Qin drew both of his games today and now sits tied for third place with Konstantin Semianiuk behind the leaders, Tanraj S Sohal and David Itkin. Should make for an exciting finish.

The under 12 boys section is probably the most entertaining one of them all. This morning, Richard Wang lost to Michael Song. Currently, Richard is tied for fourth behind Terry Song, Michael Song and Edward Song (I am unsure about family relations). Richard joined in on some of the game analysis I have been doing in the last few days. I know from experience that it is hard to be the overwhelming favourite. The pressure is all on you and it often feels like it’s you against everybody else. Pressure is the highest. Worst of all, the tournament might not be as stimulating while playing lower rated players. I am not trying to make excuses, but Richard is a great player and so far he’s just having a tough tournament. This stuff happens.

I had the pleasure of analyzing a lot of games with Terry Song (rated 1915). Yesterday we looked at 2 games and today we also looked at 2. I was overly impressed with his play yesterday. In the 3rd round game Terry got into trouble in the opening with black because his opponent knew it better. After that, Terry fought hard and made a lot of the best moves to hold onto the draw. Very mature effort to save half a point and a sign of a great player. In the 4th round game, Terry out-calculated his opponent in an unfamiliar to him opening. I was very impressed. What was impressive about the game was that his calculations appeared flawless from what i briefly saw. In the round 5 game Terry again got into a bit of trouble in the opening but then saved himself with some precise calculation and mature liquidation into the endgame. In the 6th round, Terry calculated to perfection but then seemed to relax a bit and let his opponent back into the game. The game was a hard fought draw. I see a lot of potential in Terry and it has been a pleasure analyzing games with him. Good luck to Terry in the final game! Here is a picture of Terry and me.

Andrea Botez is still leading the girls under 8 section strongly with 5.5/6 and has created a half point cushion ahead of Catherine Gao. The last round should be an exciting one for all those involved and a very nerve racking one for all the parents!

On a side note, I was able to catch a photo of Zeljka from Monroi and of Patrick at their working station. As the arbiter, Patrick can’t smile too often in the playing hall but I was able to catch him this time! I wouldn’t smile either. These kids smell niceness and will try to take advantage of the arbiter for it. Patrick has been doing a great job throughout the event, as he always does. Zeljka has been updating everything to be up to date on the CYCC website at . I have seen Zeljka at many tournaments. She is always very cheery and hardworking. The photos she takes are always great and you should definitely check those out!

Below are a few photos taken just outside of the hotel overlooking the Detroit River and Detroit.

Here’s is the Hilton where the tournament takes place.

I am staying on the 21st floor (out of 22) of the hotel, with a beautiful view.

Comments are always appreciated. Let me know what there is too much/little of.

Day 2

A lot more draws have been occurring as the playing strength of opponents are evening out. Only four players remain with a perfect 4/4 in all of the events combined. They are: Joshua Doknjas (boys under 8), Yuan Chen Zhang (boys under 10), Kelly Wang (girls under 10) and Jackie Peng (girls under 12). This really shows as to how even the play at the higher sections is. The under 12 boys section might be the most competitive of them all, where Richard Wang drew Tony Lin, rated 1882 in the 4th round. Currently, there is a 5 way tie for first in the section.

In the under 18 section, Eric has himself a half point cushion ahead of Aman Hambleton, after beating him in the 3rd round. Aman then beat Kevin Chung in the 4th round.

The story of the tournament so far could be the Botez sisters. Alexandra is leading the girls under 16 section with 3.5/4. I am not sure as to which of the other girls are in the under 16 or 18, since the two are combined. So I’m not sure how big her lead is over the other under 16 girls. Alexandra is doing what is expected of her and is leading her section as the top seed. Analyzing a game with her showed that she has a very mature style. Olympic team in a few years?! Then in the under 8 section is her younger sister, Andrea Botez, rated 571. Aside from the two unrated players in the section, Andrea is the lowest rated player in the section. She is tied for the lead in the group with 3.5/4! Their father, the always nice and cheery Andrei, is also here at the CYCC. I am not sure what Andrei is feeding his daughters to achieve the great results but I want some of it!

My day started at about 11am, analyzing games with some of the players. I was able to catch the goal and the end of the Spain-Germany game during my lunch break. I was very happy to see Spain win! Go Spain!

Came back after lunch to analyze some more games. I was doing a bit less analysis today in comparison to yesterday. I was completely worn out last night and knew I would have to save up a bit of energy for my simul later. A lot of interesting games were analyzed, including the Qin-Zhao draw from round one written about yesterday. Donovan Zhao came to analyze the game, and it looked like he was on the verge of winning for quite some time there.

After a 40min break, it was time for the simul at 7pm. How do I prepare for a simul? Much like any other chess game, clear my mind and try to rest up. I set the maximum number of boards for the simul at 20. Approximately 15 people showed up. I felt a bit strange at first due to the fact that the last time that I played a long and serious chess game was in September. The simul lasted about 2 hours. Everybody was a joy to play against, with mainly kids and a few adults. I scored approximately 14-1 (assuming 15 people). The game that I lost was to Jackie Peng, who continued her perfect score from the event. She played well. I felt like I had a bit of an advantage in the opening but it was hard to capitalize. She kept fighting hard and at some point I was realizing that it would be very hard to do anything more than liquidate to a draw. Anyways, she kept playing well and was balancing my initiative. Then all of a sudden my queen was trapped on a7, and my passed a-pawn was useless on a6. Well played by Jackie. Below are some pictures from the simul.

I was hoping to finish at a reasonable time, so I had to move fast as you can see below.

Melissa Giblon was the last and most stubborn (in a good way) player to finish in the simul. Melissa is playing in the under 12 section, while her older sister, Rebecca, is in the under 14. Their father, Andrew, is always pleasant to be around. Thanks Andrew for taking all the simul pictures! Picture below is with Melissa.

Also playing in the CYCC are Thomas RR’s two younger sisters, Marina and Lauriane. The family is continuing the chess tradition Thomas has started. Right before the simul, Marina gave me a portrait of me that she drew. The portrait is AMAZING. Thanks Marina!

Below is a photo of it.

I finally got a chance to go to the gym just before it closed at 11 to do some jogging. A great way to stay sane and fit during an event. I try to go to the gym every day while at tournaments and I feel much better during games since I started this tradition. Could be a piece of advice for anybody looking for new routines…

Day 1

Day 1 is always the hardest (I hope).  It might also be the most fun. The festivities started off with registrations, which ended at 11am. My task was very simple, to “roam around” and so I did. Everything was running smooth. Here are a few pictures of the registration table, which was located just inside of the playing hall.


After the registration ended came the opening ceremonies. Once again, the organizers showed how great of a job they did. The first person to make a speech was the Mayor of Windsor, Eddie Francis. Eddie is a nice young politician who became mayor in 2003, the youngest ever in Windsor’s history. John Coleman was responsible for getting him to the CYCC, providing a great welcome to all the participants. It was very nice to have the mayor around. Here is a picture of me with him.

The mayor was followed by short speeches by me, John Coleman, and Patrick McDonald. For those of you that have never been to the CYCC, it is the loudest event held in Canada. This is especially true before the first round when everybody is excited and in the same room. Patrick, as the arbiter, is in charge of taming them while in the playing hall and resolving any conflict. This means that he has to put up a tough image, starting with the speeches. Arbiters are rarely liked by young players, since they implement discipline. But Patrick is very hard to dislike! Below is a picture of John Coleman at the opening ceremonies.

The playing venue is beautiful and spacious. Best of all, it overlooks the river. No spectators allowed, unless they are Grandmasters. Just more motivation for people to become GMs really. Some of the games are broadcast by Monroi on their website, if the players decide to use the device. I am just a superstitious guy, so I stick to the old pen and paper. I used the device a few times, but I kept reaching over instinctively to find a pen. The process of recording moves manually helps me focus. In reality, there is nothing at all wrong with the Monroi devices and they are the most modern mobile chess board available and can record many of your games. Here are a couple of pictures with the view from the playing hall.

The CYCC has some of the best youth players in Canada. On the top of the list, there is IM Eric Hansen (2550 CFC). Eric is one of the rising stars in Canada, and currently lives in Calgary. Realistically, Eric had a pretty good case to make it onto this year’s Olympic team. I am sure we will see Eric on the Olympic team in the near future, as he appears serious about chess and plays lots! He is in the under 18 section.

The player who would appear to be Eric’s strongest opponent is Aman Hambleton (2315 CFC). I used to coach Aman a few years ago. He is a talented player who is not scared of the higher rated guys. Confidence is definitely not an issue for Aman.

Somebody who everybody should watch out for in the near future is Richard Wang (2318 CFC). Richard is the top player in the under 12 section. Richard got 3rd place at the World Youth Chess Championship last year, under 12. That is a huge accomplishment, and it hasn’t been done by a Canadian in years! I had the chance to meet Richard today and he looks like a great kid. He admitted that he was a bit lucky in converting thin air into a win in the first round. But you know what? Good players grind out tough points!

The CYCC always has upsets. The first two rounds were not to disappoint. In the first round, Richard Wang, got into a lot of difficulties in the opening against Bryant Yang (1500). Slowly, Richard got out of it. In an equal rook endgame, Richard’s experience and resourcefulness cashed in the full point. His opponent is certainly underrated. A scare, but such is life sometimes.

The shocker of the 2nd round can be seen as Eric Hansen drawing Kevin Chung (2280). Not that big of a shocker really. All these juniors are pretty good. Aman is the only player in the boys under 18 with 2/2 so far.

The under 16 section is showing how balanced it is. There are no players with 2/2! 7 players are tied for first with 1.5 points.

In the under 14 boys section, Joey Qin (2340) drew his first round game against Donovan Zhao, rated 1656. That’s right, a rating difference of over 600 points. Underrated juniors are great, unless you are playing them!

The under 10 girls section is showing to be the most unpredictable one of them all. The two top players dropped a game each, and only Kelly Wang has been able to keep a perfect score so far.

More to come…

Day of Arrival

The Peng family was nice enough to give me a ride to Windsor. They have two daughters competing at the CYCC. Janet is playing in the under 10 girls section, and Jackie will be the favourite in the under 12 section. Happy birthday Janet! It is great to see such a nice family being involved in Canadian chess.

The tournament is taking place at the luxurious Hilton in Windsor. Upon arriving to Windsor, I went to check out the Arbiters meeting, led by International Arbiter Patrick McDonald. The main organizer of the event is John Coleman who is doing a terrific job all around. A lot of volunteer arbiters are present, as well as Zeljka from Monroi. I quickly escaped after the talk got into technicalities involving the clocks. The hotel is located directly on the river front, across from Detroit. A really beautiful location for the event. I assume that it is in the heart of downtown Windsor.

The competition begins tomorrow following the opening ceremony, which will have the mayor of Windsor. The star of the field is IM Eric Hansen in the under 18 section. With two rounds a day, anything can happen. The CYCC will decide on who qualifies to go to the WYCC in Greece later this year. The tournament website is and you can follow the games at .

I will be posting more throughout the event, including pictures (which have really been lacking on my blog!). Comments are always appreciated.