Monday, October 15, 2012

Not-So Fair Weather

Well, it's certainly a busy time for CITL. Unfortunately, though, the fair has been cancelled. We spent long hours during weekends and after other responsibilities on weekends working the details out, but the one big factor that prevented the fair from happening was the venue - or lack thereof. We needed an arena or large gymnasium for our event, which was originally to be supplied by an (unnamed) community centre in Scarborough that backed out. Other locations were simply unavailable on such short notice.

CITL has a LOT planned out for the next while, though. Our next tournament will be in early December, in the West region of Toronto and our branches. Keep an eye out for tournament postings on our website, and flyers in your neighborhood program!

We are also in the process of updating our website to make it easier to maintain and read. Our scheduled launch date is early to mid-November. Now, the website isn't too shabby as of now, but be prepared for something even better. Jesse Wang, our webmaster, and Zelin Liu, his Junior executive, are hard at work preparing the site.

Additionally, we've received a HUGE donation in the past while - 6 boxes chock full of sets, clocks and books! It's donations like these that keep this wonderful program chugging along. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Roaming About and Getting Ready for the Fair

Over the summer, I had an amazing chess-related experience - I went to Greece to play in the World Junior Chess Championships! I roomed with one of my good friends, and a former CITL executive, Michael Kleinman. We played good chess and had a blast touring the area.

In recent weeks, Vivek (CITL president) and I (Vice President) have been busy with planning out the Chess fair we plan to have in October. We're still in the early stages. Activities have been decided - we will have the big chess set out, simul games, book sales, chess cookies (!) and many other fun stations. The venue, however, has not been set yet. There have been a few problems finding a suitable, affordable venue.

That's all for now, folks! 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Third Annual CITL Festival!

So. Today was a big day for Chess In the Library. Today was our Third Annual Festival - can you believe it? It's been three years from the time that Yuanling started this amazing program, it's been almost three years since I started volunteering, three unforgettable years.

In preparation for the tournament, my personal roles were to purchase trophies and certificates. It sounds easy. It isn't. Ordering trophies and staying under a budget is nearly an exercise in futility if you want the best of everything. Eventually, we couldn't buy exactly the things we wanted, but it all worked out in the end.

During the tournament, I was tasked with the role of TD, the Tournament Director. The TD organizes the players, the pairings, and wallcharts - essentially the main person behind the logistics of a tournament.

We had 82 pre-registrations. How many showed up? Just around 70. It's always hard to prepare for situations such as this but thankfully the pairings software I was using had an easy option to withdraw or delete players from a tournament. From start to finish the pairings went relatively smoothly after that - one or two snags caused by players from the same library not being able to play each other, but those were resolved by only pairing non medal-contenders.

Photos and results will be coming soon - it's been a very long day and I'm headed off to UBC tomorrow. Ratings will be uploaded as well!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Exploring new possibilities!

Burrows Hall and Agincourt are the libraries that I've been corresponding with for a while. But there are others!

Currently, CITL has locations all across the TPL system...or does it?

Looking at the map of our Toronto locations, however, there does seem to be a gap - a sort of unfilled space in the South-east region of the city. Why, you might ask? Well I've struggled to find any good reason why CITL hasn't expanded to that area yet. Down in the heart of Scarborough, there are quite a few low-income neighbourhoods and plenty of libraries that could play host to our great program!

So, this past weekend I looked around the TPL website and researched the program room sizes for various libraries in the area. Victoria Village, Cedarbrae, and Albert Campbell branches were prime locations - large program rooms and in highly populated areas. I prepared a few materials and contact information...

...and today I was on my way. The librarians at each location were extremely pleasant to talk to, not that there are many librarians at all who are unpleasant to talk to. I suppose an advantage of working with a library system is that almost everybody is nice by default! I'd like to extend special thanks to Beverly at Cedarbrae, Winona at Victoria Village, and Susan at Albert Campbell for making my efforts just a little bit easier.

It'll be a long wait seeing which libraries will confirm!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CITL 2012 East Region Swiss - Part Two

This is Part Two of a two-part post. Part one is the previous entry.

On the day of the tournament, I arrived at Fairview Library at 11:45 with my mom - car loaded with chess sets, clocks, forms, and all the other materials we'd need throughout the day. I walked in, and soon our team started showing up. The first ones who arrived were Stefan and Vivek, and they helped me unload everything and get it up to the fourth floor.

Eventually, after dropping everything off, we found Paula, who opened the 4th floor door for us. We poured into the room (by then, Yuanling, and later Yang and Yolanda) and started placing the tables. Everybody helped, and I was busy setting up the computer and printer.

It was after we had started the check-in, and finished getting all the names down, that we hit a snag - the only big setback of the day, but it was enormous. It was 12:30 and we should have been starting the tournament. However, some of the registration forms - those that had been dropped off at Fairview - weren't there! Of the 34 kids who showed up, we had only 28 forms!

We (I!) had forgotten to ask for them from Paula earlier! I scrambled frantically downstairs and looked for her. Eventually, I hit upon a librarian who helped me get her location - alas, she was on her lunch break. That meant that were running a tournament without the information of 6 kids - kids whose parents might have left. Without those forms, we couldn't get started.

That was when the team spirit of CITL showed its face. I called back to the volunteers to tell them the bad news, but Vivek told me to get up there as soon as possible. There was an idea. When I got upstairs, Yuanling and Vivek told me that we should ask every kid who sat down so that we could find the kids whom we didn't have forms for and see if their parents were still present.

Luckily, of the 6 missing-paperwork-casualties all 6 had parents who were still present. We were able to get their names, grades, and ratings down, and the tournament could finally begin, thanks to some quick thinking from my fellow volunteers. I had been truly scared for a moment about the tournament even going on, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Bravo!

The info went in, the pairings were made and printed. With a quick intro from myself (we were rather pressed for time by this point), the tournament began!

Myself, working out the pairings. We used a Swiss pairing system to maximize fairness and make sure all the kids could play 4 rounds, intead of a knockout format where some would have to leave early.

A young boy, deeply concentrated on his game

A young girl. Evidently deeply concentrated as well!

Yuanling and Yang helped to set up most of the Puzzles Section on the wall outside our playing room. Kids were very, very eager to compete for a chance to win one of the three book prizes we had for this competition!

The first round in progress, with our tall, tall volunteer Stefan in the middle of the photo. The rounds progressed smoothly enough, but by the end of the tournament we had a 2-way tie for 2nd/3rd in all three sections of the tournament!

CITL director of communications Vivek presides over the Grade 7 and up playoff, consisting of Joshua Pavusthy (left) and Cassidy Wang. Cassidy eventually won.

CITL president Yuanling stares intently at the Grade 3 and under playoff, consisting of Mia Dong (left) and Wing Li. Wing eventually won. In the background, the grade 4-6 playoff is being played between Pirathapan Ahilan (left) and Richard Zhang. Richard eventually won.

At the end of a long 4 1/2 hours, 4 rounds and playoff, the results were announced.

In the Grade 3 and under section, left to right - 2nd Wing Li, 1st Hazel Guo, 3rd Mia Dong!
Volunteers from left to right: Yolanda, Vivek, Yuanling, Stefan, and myself.

In the Grade 4 to 6 section, left to right - 2nd Richard Zhang, 1st Erkhes Bayan-Altai, 3rd Pirathapan Ahilan!
Back row, second from right: volunteer Yang.

In the Grade 7 and up section, left to right - 3rd Joshua Pavusthy, 2nd Cassidy Wang, 1st Jonathan Chan.

Our gold medal winners, together along with their book prizes! As well, book prizes were awarded to the kids in each section who did the most puzzles correctly in our puzzle competition.

All through the tournament, we had a donations box sitting out on the main table. Our CITL president, Yuanling, took the effort to bring the box around and make some personal appeals. In the end, we raised nearly $140 - That's more than our annual festival! About $45 of that is going to rating fees and medals. That means we've put almost $100 into our fund for future tournaments and materials.

At the end of the day, all this wouldn't have been possible without the help of all the volunteers and Paula, our resident benevolent Librarian. A big shout out to all those who helped! Even the CITL volunteers who couldn't make it, this tournament was for them too. Together, we're united towards a common goal - the furthering of chess and fun across Canada. I believe that we've certainly inched a bit further in pursuit of that goal, and I'm proud to have contributed as a tournament organizer.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

CITL 2012 East Region Swiss - Part One

This is Part One of a two-part post. Pictures are coming in soon, and the second post will be up by the end of this week.

Almost three years ago, my good friend Yuanling started Chess In the Library. I was asked to join soon after it started,in the summer of 2009. We didn't have too many volunteers at first - perhaps a dozen kids working towards a common goal.

Eventually, though, CITL became something big - something huge. Locations sprung up all across Toronto, then all across Ontario, then all across Canada. There is even a branch in Washington, DC!

For the past two years, CITL has run an annual Festival at North York Central branch, and a winter tournament at Humberwood branch. This year, however, the executive asked me, in my capacity as the current Scarborough director of expansion, to run a tournament in the East region. Naturally, I had to accept. Here was a chance to do something new, something innovative! I had been part of the tournaments at Humberwood and NYCL, helping to organize them. Now it was time to take charge of fun-having and chess-playing among the kids of the area.

I met with the CITL executive (Yuanling, Gal, Vivek, Aaron, and Linda) during the weekend of Feb 25. Together we discussed the location, time, size, and general scope of the tournament. What we walked away with was a tournament at Fairview Library, during one of the weekends in the March break.

The next weekend consisted of running around to Fairview, Brookbanks, and Malvern, dropping off forms and confirming the time and date. (Fairview Branch, 12-4PM on March 10) The weekdays of March 5-9 were hectic too - medals to buy, forms to pick up, registrations to confirm.

A special thanks here must go to Paula Costa, Youth Services Librarian at Fairview. She has been overseeing CITL at Fairview for years now, and she was also the librarian who was able to find a room for us. A tournament isn't a tournament without a place to run it, and Paula is the one who made this possible.

On the day leading up to the tournament, Friday March 9, I loaded pairings software onto my laptop, looked over my whiteboard checklist one last time, and went to sleep at 12. It was going to be a long day, and I looked forward to seeing both my fellow volunteers and all the kids who would come.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Upcoming East Region Tournament!

As you might now, CITL has a Regional tournament every now and then. This year, next week in fact, there will be a regional tournament at Fairview Library!

It's a great honour that the executive has allowed me to organize this event. The invited libraries: Brookbanks, Malvern, Bridlewood, and (obviously) Fairview. We expect an attendance of more than 40 kids, and come out next week if you'd like to join in!

The tournament will be held in Room A, on the fourth floor of Fairview Library from 12-4 PM on Saturday, March 10.