Category Archives: Miscellaneous


Disclaimer: This blog post was sponsored by Mattel Canada. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. 

Hey guys! 🙂

I’ve started playing a boardgame called Blokus and I’m addicted!!

Blokus is strategic game which involves 2-4 players. It’s a great game to play for couples but also at social events with friends and family. What’s really cool about Blokus is there is only ONE rule, but it’s more complex than one would think. In the game, the way to win is to cover the most squares on the board – seems simple right?

There is a lot to consider with every move: positionally and tactically. The game ends when no players can place anymore pieces on the board.

“There’s just ONE rule to remember – every piece you play must touch another piece of your colour, but only at the corners!”

Depending on the number of players — will influence how the game is played and the strategy behind it.

Earlier this year, when I was teaching chess to kids during spring camp we would have time to play other board games and Blokus was a favourite! I lost a few times against the kids in the beginning but I feel like I have always been a fast learner so eventually wasn’t finishing in last place! The kids at the camp loved the game because they knew they can put what they’ve learned from chess PLUS the game pieces look really cool.  The game itself isn’t very big nor heavy to bring around to parties and other events, very easily was I able to put it into my backpack and take it to my events. I’ve recently been playing Blokus with boyfriend and my friends on our terrace or people from my chess club at a board game cafe.


I still have a lot to learn about Blokus, but everything requires practice; the more I play the better I will become. I definitely know there are certain pieces in Blokus that should not be played first, like the ones that consist of 1-3 blocks. I have tried this strategy and it has lead me to lose the game quickly! Instead I use a 4+ block piece that will be able to look closest to the center. The small pieces (that consist of 1-3) should be placed at the end, when you are close to running out of moves. As I mentioned before, depending how many people play the game, different strategies can be used. I’ve played the two-player, three-player and four-player version – all super fun!!!!

Q: There are many strategy games out there – but how can people of all ages benefit from them?

A: I would definitely agree that playing chess at a professional level has helped me in every aspect of my life and personality. People develop problem-solving skills, enhance creativity, and have been shown to improve skills in reading, mathematics and other academic subjects.

I think strategy games (including chess and Blokus) can improve one’s ability to concentrate. If you move too quickly and without thinking there will most likely be bad consequences – just like in real life: if you don’t think of your words or actions you can hurt someone or yourself. Chess has helped me to think for long periods of time, since the game is complicated and every position has thousands of possibilities.

Strategic games have also helped my short and long-term thinking – it’s important to be very sharp in calculation (up to 7 moves ahead) but also try to see and imagine what the end of the game could look or be like. In life, everyone has short or long-term goals they’d like to achieve – but people must think about both consistently if they’d like to succeed.

Creativity is another factor that is linked with strategy games. Instead of beating your opponents in a boring way – beautiful sacrifices can be done to make it more interesting or to even challenge yourself. I definitely love games that can be interesting and dangerous for my opponent or myself – instead of just winning in 10 moves or less.

For my experience, strategy games improve skills in reading, math and other academic courses/subjects because they use similar parts of the brain. If I was to recommend what age to start playing any strategic games it’d be around five or six years old. All skills being taught can be used to help with school studies. If the child is too young to play (especially since everyone is different) – I would suggest to take a break and re-introduce the games a little bit later. Which is actually what happened with me and chess. At age four it was too complicated for me to play so I lost interest but four years later I saw my dad playing again and took it up again!

Chess, Blokus and any other board games can also be played until very old age! Strategy games can be played forever and will never go out of style!

Strategy games can have a really positive impact on an individual! The more games you play, the smarter that person will become.


What do other chess players/people say about Blokus?

Blokus is a highly strategic yet surprisingly social board game. – Justin McDonald, 2000

Blokus is a complex and positional game with astounding depth and richness.
Matthew Coopersmith, 1600 chess player

I like the pieces. – Jordan Starbuck, beginner kid chess player

I appreciated the positional aspect of the game despite the apparent simplicity of it. – Hugh Siddeley, 2100 rated chess player

Easy to learn, competitive game that stays interesting and non-repetitive. – Raja Abdo, BA in political science

Snow Lake Hiking Trail – North Bend, Washington

Over the weekend I went on this gorgeous hike called Snow Lake. To those of you who do not know, I am on a very long vacation out in the west coast. Currently staying around Seattle. It’s very beautiful here – there are many hikes to choose from.

A few weeks ago, I got to visit Victoria, British Columbia. The last time I was there – 2005 for the Canadian Youth Chess Championship where I placed 1st. I am hoping to see Vancouver very soon because it’s less than 3 hour drive from me!

If any of you have any suggestions on what I can see in the Washington/British Columbia area, comment below or send me a private message:

Here a few pictures from the Snow Lake Hike! The hike was about 7 miles….but we actually got lost at one point and might have done more. The one negative about the hike was once we got lost we had to go up this really rocky steep hill…

How has chess helped you in real life? – Answered by Chess Players all around the World!

Chess is a beautiful old game which requires a lot of calculation, theory, and strategy.. Whether we are looking at short or long calculations, it improves our mind in different ways to help us in our everyday lives. Thinking before you moves goes with thinking before making certain actions. Tactics goes hand in hand with creating short term plans/goals, while Strategy goes with long term plans/goals. Openings helps you improve your memorization skills which could help a lot in school.

Here is what some chess players around the world say about chess and how it will help in life:

It kept me from doing bad things to myself after my divorce. Chess is the reason I’m still alive today. And now I can proudly say….. Chess is Life! – Raymond Kline

Humans majority of time think with in a specific level(say box).Chess helps to think out of the box by showing the possibilities which we strongly believe impossible earlier.We avoid thinking because we think that it is impossible.Chess helped me to look for possibilities around.Earlier if a Chess Problem is posted and if the solution looks impossible for me I put a comment that the Problem is with error.After that when I see the solution I came to know the possibility of solving which I strongly felt impossible earlier.Look around for Possibility which I learned from Chess. – Vital Pratap Varma Indukuri

Chess is life and vice verza Life is Chess. It helps me to improve logical cognition with tactics and strategies. –Jhun Cris

The more I play chess the more I enjoy it. Chess is all about calculations and math is my life. – Madukaku Clement Mark

Chess has helped me keep my mind sharp. It also helps me make the right decisions in my life by helping me consider the consequences of my actions. Chess can also be a great stress reliever. – Ted Rochon

I started finding that the same fails I make in the board, I make them un real life: making bad sacrifices, losing hope before the game ends, etc. I found that my style was a reflect of my attitude about common life. So I started working on it, on the board and on the real life. – Edgar Márquez

You are responsible for your actions, like in chess also in life there are no “takebacks”! – Νικόλας Σκέττος

Chess is very good for people who have depression, I can say that chess saved my life, I would like to have contributed much more with this noble art. – Marcio Ab

Some people turn to drugs, alcoholic, or prostitute, but me playing chess makes me feel much better! – Mohd Noh Mohd Ali

Chess taught me that no move is perfect. Your aim behind it should be clear. Do nothing without purpose. –Hammad Dar

It helps me to respect any person, people who seems have no idea about the game has kicked my ass really hard so I learned to respect allí people it doesn’t matters how they look like. – Edgar Márquez

As a very “general” thing, it can serve as a nice reminder that sometimes it’s better to think logically, and not let emotions such as frustration, anxiety etc. cloud one’s thinking. And I think it can help with learning to plan ahead several steps, instead of just one. – Timothy Rigney

There is always a best move there. Analysing the situation is what needed. – Payal Mittal

Determination, and flexibility – if one idea does not work, try another. – Fraser Musson

Keeping me away from negatives & fears of this world. – Devansh

Pub Chess Toronto


Hi everyone, My name is Yelizaveta Orlova – I am a WCM and WNM. I used to play competitively but now I’ve taken up teaching mostly.

My friend and I love chess so we have started our own business in Toronto, Canada! If you know anyone who lives here – please let them know about us! group:

About Pub Chess Toronto

Learn and play chess in a social atmosphere. Pub Chess Toronto’s founders are top players in the country.

We hold teaching sessions/lectures + casual/competitive play. Currently, we are re-located at “The Madison”, which is in the heart of Annex and 2 mins walk from Spadina station. Our past location was “The Central”, Markham & Bloor.

The point of our meet up is to popularize chess. Chess is known to be a very sophisticated game but we want to show the social and fun aspect of it! Come out, drink/eat, meet new people over the chess board!

Every wednesday there will be a lecture/blitz tournament/casual play.

Want to see more pictures? Like our FB page:

Meetup group:

Info about our Wednesday’s events:

Casual players:

Entry fee: 10$ (+free drink)

– Lectures

– Casual games (with/without the clock)

– Taught/play against Woman National Master Yelizaveta Orlova

Competitive players:

Entry fee: 20$ (+free drink)

– Lecture

– Blitz tournament

– Casual games (with/without the clock)

Blitz tournament:

Time: 7-10pm

Registration: Pre-register to pubchesstoronto@hotmail (.com) or go to our events page on FB

Location: Madison Ave Pub, 14 Madison Ave, Toronto (2 min NE of Spadina station) – 2nd floor

Time control: 5 min 2 sec inc, 5 double rounds (Play opponent white & black)

Sections: Players divided into 2 to 4 sections depending on turnout, may “play up”

Prizes: Based on entries, overall prizes & class prizes awarded

The Madison specials on Wednesdays: 

– 50% off appetizers from 5-8PM

– Wings 5$ per 1lb

– 2oz. mixed rail drinks

Hope to see you guys there 🙂


Couple of days ago, I asked my fan these questions: “How does chess make you feel? What exactly goes through your thoughts when playing a game? Why has chess become one of your passions?” for a chance to get a signed business card by one and only, Yelizaveta Orlova. The reason why I’ve decided to post their answer is because I found it interesting that every one of them was different, yet inspiring in every way. It’s great to see each and every one of you has your very own opinion – and this is not only about chess but everything in life! Especially, all of you are from different country which might make answers different because of lifestyle, culture, beliefs etc. If you’d like to see answers, please do not stop reading! There is more yet to come. But firstly, I’ll tell you my answers to the questions.

“Chess is a game that has been apart of me for more than half of my life. My father, my grandfather, and most likely my ancestors passed it down through my family. It’s practically in my blood. In the beginning, I didn’t find chess that fun (child age) but when I started to grow up, I realized that I could never actually let go of Chess. During a game, I try to only focus on the board. At times it can be hard because of my own psychological state during that specific time. My favorite part of the game is the middle game, that’s where I find the game is most interesting, and a lot of strategy and tactics come to play. When I lose a game, most of the time I take it hardly – but I always try to learn from my mistakes. It’s extremely important! Since I was 9 I’ve been playing this dangerous mind game and I have never gotten bored of it. Every game is different, I’m sure we have yet to find a chess player who has played to of the same exact games! In chess, as in other games and sports, you learn the more you play. In Chess you can only grow, I am not talking about rating but by knowledge. Yes, sometimes we might forget but it is usually always with us in our minds. Chess will always be apart of my life. Till death do we part.” – WCM Yelizaveta Orlova 

Two people I know personally answered my question:

“I have been playing chess on and off for many years, was even president of a chess club. I don’t really know why I love chess so much, I just do! Even though I don’t have much visual intelligence… I agree with many things others have posted, improved concentration and such. And if anyone is wondering what kind of teacher Yelízaveta is, I have been taking lessons from her since last September. Bottom line, she’s a great coach, patient and of course super bright! She really understands the game and has improved mine substantially. Thanks Liza!” – Gilles Dumouchel (My online student)

“I love chess because of your beauty. When I go to tournaments and see you, I feel inspired; I reach into my inner soul and allow it to break free and express itself over the board.” – WFM Alexandra Botez (My closest and oldest Chess friend)

Here are answers made by my fans!

“When I play Chess I am participating in a tradition which dates back centuries. I am taking part in a contest of wit, will and strategy. It is an invigorating mental battle. However, it is just as much a social occasion between competitors or friends. You can enjoy a conversation as much as the competition. I have been playing since I was eight years old with my Father and uncles as tutors. Being taught Chess at that age the game really had an impact on my formative years. I developed passions for history and legend directly because of my exposure to Chess and I am very glad for it. I am a strong supporter of the instititution and am heartened when I see young grandmasters such as you being tremendous examples for your generation.” – Eric M Baker

“Each game is different, so I have a new challenge each Time I play to find the best move, plan or combination. We can play during our entire life without playing the same game. So many variations.” – Stephane Trassaert 

“Chess is my passion, my outlet from the doldrums of life, when I play I get lost in the complexity which the position brings, I even try to play the sharpest lines, most attacking lines. I’m not a quiet player, I enjoy invoking my will on my opponent forcing he, or she to make moves uncomfortable for them, my favorite phase of the game is the middle game when I upset the position and low and behold they find themselves totally and completely lost!” – Bob Byers

“I love so many sports and games since I was young. Soccer, billiard, swimming, etc… The only game I feel sad when I lose is Chess .. I believe I love chess more than any other game or sport.” – Ayman Soliman

“When I’m playing chess, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space.” – Sid Gandhi

“I consider myself to be an average player. I have been playing for nearly 30 years now.I was taught chess at school when I was 6 and it was something me and my best friend just took too, within 6 months we were both in the under 9’s county team and later joined a local club team were it just became a chance to play stronger players and keep testing myself, a game that when you lose you can learn and comeback stronger and wiser next time, a strange game you can win and not be happy, you can lose and be pleased. Having said that to play well and win in style gives you the biggest rush ever. I recently played a gentleman he is a very respected local chess player 7 times county champion although not for a while , I was fortunate to beat him but after the game he said “It was a honour to play in that game, I haven’t been so savagely attacked and beaten like that in years” How could anyone not feel amazing!” – William Bates

“This game relaxes me and takes my mind off other things.” – Bob Joks

“I love chess a lot because it is like my second mom. I can give up home, office, gf , etc for chess.. but chess is my life. I will manage life without wife but without chess life is unimaginable.” – Chinmay Josh

“The most enjoyable moments I had at chess were those when I took great risks. I believe in my opponent’s ability to beat me, but I also believe in my opponent’s ability to make mistakes. When I take great risks and win, the victory is much sweeter. This is why I stopped playing defensive and started to develop more aggressive tactics. When I started playing it I was four and most of my opponents were old men from my neighborhood obviously they had much more experience than me. It was quite frustrating to loose so often, and back then I didn’t know about studying my own games to become better, and I didn’t have access to chess books about openings , end-games etc. Beating a more experienced opponent was only about adapting to his game, it was the only thing I knew when I was young, adapting to different positions. It probably had some influence over my personality too, for I grew up with the ability to adapt to many different environments, people, or ways of life.” – Andrei Eleodor Toykhov 

“Chess is a silent way of getting adrenaline rush. And I love that feeling.” – Jason Egama

“My dad taught me to play chess when I was a kid, he always has some story to tell while playing. Later he took me to see the chess match between Fischer and Spassky in Belgrade. It was great. I like chess not so much to beat other players as much to see where do I stand and how can I cope with pressure, survive it, and go for attack (or go straight to attack from beginning and cope with pressure later:)). I can talk about chess for hours…” – Srdjan Olujic

“Chess makes me feel alive; I cannot go too long without a game. I travel all over Europe to play, make friends and socialize!” – Pat McGovern

“I love the combinations and tactics, I always love a good sacrifice. I try to find ways that exploit my opponent’s weakness and try to prevent my own. I love a game where I’m in a lost position and find a way to win. Its fun and challenging. It also helps me to look at life with a different perspective.” – Mike Wilson

“I love chess because it’s a game that is a part of my brain. I have been playing since 2007 but only played one official tournament and I lost – but i am not loser! I am confident one day I will win the chess champion in world. My aim is developing friendship between all people in the world! Chess is my life. My life is great. I have no more word for chess because it is amazing game. Chess is not only exercise of the brain but it’s all problems and solutions which is apart of my life. I want to meet you because I am interested to develop future brain and more and more development in chess.” – Neel Shah

“I grew up playing as a young boy, I won some school tournaments in a small town. Now like then I just play for fun. I like to follow some players. The game keeps my mind sharp, Life like chess, you better know some good moves” – Quarter Man

“The reason I like playing chess is because I can be one of the stars. You get to learn something new about your self every time you play. Did you have what it takes? How did you respond in the face of adversity? How do you face losing? You only get one chance and there are no take backs. Glory is all on you. sometimes your best just is not good enough. The people are also awesome.” – Michael Giglio 

“Chess makes me feel like I am at war. I love the game. Playing competitively feels amazing.” – Ryan Garza

“For me chess is art. You get the chance to create with an opponent. Its a dance, conversation and a conflict that can produce great beauty. Sure the tools are logical analysis and visualization, but the realized line and forgone lines are like a symphony or a complex painted picture. Most times the two playing the game only partially appreciate it. If, however, you just once contribute to a recorded masterpiece, then be very happy. Others just dream of the chance. ” – Greg Hough

“Chess makes me feel in love. When playing it opens a universe of possibilities and creative ideas. It’s amazing the sensation when you playing a very important game in tournament and you go for it! The art and beauty of the fluid thoughts in your mind that creates a connection between chess and you being one!” –  Alexandre Guerreiro 

“Because ironically, despite its being called a lengthy game, to me it looked liked a miniature and shorter version of life. You make decisions which rise you or kill you. In chess, it’s much more quicker than in real life.” – Kabir Invictus

“Personally I like to teach the game as well as play, I like some of the brilliant I come up with at times, and experimenting new ideas I play, I’ve been studying for over 20 years, and frankly still improving. but more importantly sharing the knowledge. The local Chess club see me as something special!!” – Howard E. Anderson III 

Thank you everyone who answered my question!

If you’d like to add on to anything – or answer these questions yourself, please write your answers in the comment below! I’d love to read your thoughts, and I’m sure others will as well! 🙂

Michigan Chess Festival

Hi everyone,

I’m terribly sorry I have not posted anything since now.


This post is about my first American tournament experience. I was invited to this tournament by the organizer, Alan Kaufman. Alan Kaufman is a great chess enthusiast. Not to the say the least, he’s a chess player himself! Alan, one day – about a little over a year ago messaged me about his tournament. Not only was I interested to play because it was close to home (I live in Toronto, the tournament was in a small city not far from Detroit) but because of the recommendations to play were very high!

Alan Kaufman and WCM Yelizaveta Orlova

The tournament ended up being much better than I expected. I was treated very well – someone picked me up from the bus terminal, and I had a nice stay at the hotel we were playing in! I got to meet many new people – chess players, parents, enthusiasts! I even got to see people in super hero costumes (there was another event being held in the same hotel). Now, about the chess! I helped Alan to try to get many international chess players to attend the tournament – and even succeeded! The tournament ended up being a greatly organized and strong event. My result: I am not exactly thrilled on the result I had at this tournament but I had to expect it because I was one of the lowest rated players! I did end up getting two draws, one win, and lost about 8 FIDE rating. My chess has been a little rusty, because I am a full-time chess teacher – it’s really hard to teach and study at the same time!

I can’t seem to find any results on this tournament – but the second I find it, I will update it to this page.

Please check out the website for this outstanding strong tournament:

During the tournament, I was the photographer for this event – please check out the photos I took! There were two tournaments through out the 5 day chess festival. The 9-round tournament which was 5 days (October 23-27) and the 5-round tournament which was 3 days (October 25-27).

9-Round Norm Tournament

5-Round Tournament

My Summer Adventure! Ukraine, England, Wales, and Netherlands. *Warning – Many Photos!

For those of you who did not know, I went on a 3.5 month trip to Europe.

I finished my first year of College at George Brown which ended April 19th, a month later I was already packing up my suitcase for my long getaway! I had a lot of experiences on my trip – good and bad, which I have to admit just made me into a stronger person. The idea of my trip? Why did I do it? Well, I go to Ukraine every summer, because that is originally where I was born. Since I had the money, I decided it was very convenient for me to travel around Europe. This year I decided to go to England, Wales, and Holland. For chess and travelling – but mostly travelling!


Crimea (May 25 – June 1)

My grandmother and I decided to go on a trip to a very nice part of Ukraine – Crimea. One of the historic and touristy places in probably all of Ukraine.

Kiev (June 2 – June 11)

My second time ever setting foot in Kiev! The previous time, I didn’t even get to see the City – I was just passing through. During my visit, I got to see a Stronger Super GM tournament: Sberbank Open. Here is the official results of the tournament.

Ranking of International chess tournament SBERBANK OPEN А

Rank Name, First Name Title Fed. Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Place
1 Anatoly Karpov GM RUS 2637 ½ ½ 1 2 2½ 2½ 2½ 3 3 9
2 Anton Korobov GM UKR 2719 0 1 1 1½ 2 2 3 4 4½ 7
3 Peter Leko GM HUN 2732 ½ 1 1½ 2 3 4 4½ 4½ 5 3
4 Pavel Elyanov GM UKR 2709 ½ ½ 1½ 1½ 2 2 2½ 3½ 4½ 5
5 Veselin Topalov GM BUL 2775 1 2 3 3 3½ 4½ 5 5 6 2
6 Arkady Naiditsch GM GER 2702 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 2 10
7 Alexander Areschenko GM UKR 2708 ½ ½ 1½ 2 2 2½ 3½ 3½ 4 8
8 Sergei Zhigalko GM BLR 2684 ½ 1½ 1½ 2½ 3½ 4 4 4½ 5 4
9 Sergey Karjakin GM RUS 2808 1 1½ 1½ 2½ 3½ 4 5 5½ 6½ 1
10 Eugene Tomaszewski GM RUS 2718 ½ 1½ 2½ 3 3 3½ 4 4½ 4½ 6



London (June 21 – 29, July 3 – 11)

It was also my second time visiting London, but I decided it was worth to see again because the last time I visited was when I was 11 years old! Saw some chess friends as well!