Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Blokus

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.
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“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.

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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.

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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: yelizavetaorlovachess@gmail.com.

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…

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/snow-lake-1

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!

Chess.com group: http://www.chess.com/groups/home/pub-chess-toronto

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: https://www.facebook.com/PubChessToronto

Meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/Pub-Chess-Toronto

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 🙂