Tag Archives: chess


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

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 🙂



Here are just some basic questions that people ask me in the chess world.

Where are you from?

I was born in Odessa, Ukraine. When I just turned three years old, my parents decided to move to Canada to start a new life. I am currently eighteen years old, I have lived in Canada fifteen years now.

What age did you start playing chess?

At the age of four, I already knew how to move the pieces and even played many games with my father. That same year, I lost interest. Age nine, I started up again.

How did you start playing chess?

I started playing chess because of my father (Sergiy Orlov), he was once a chess player and coach himself back when he lived in Odessa, Ukraine. The reason why I got back into chess at the age of nine was thanks to my father, who offered me to play against an IM at a Simultaneous exhibition. The simul was a success, I ended up drawing my first real game against this player! I was excited to carry on playing.

What attracted you to the game?

I would say I have chess in my blood, My father and Grandfather played chess very competitively. My grandfather was even an IM when he was living in San Francisco, USA. Sadly he passed away in 2009.

Who taught you chess?

My father taught me chess for most of my chess career, this was during the years of 2004-2008. Sadly, after 2008 I decided to quit chess all together for about one and a half years. I ended up coming back into the chess world during the early 2010 year, but did not study nor improve because I was a high school student.

When did you begin playing tournaments and how did you do?

When I was nine years old, I went to my first national tournament – Canadian Youth Chess Championship 2004. I played in the Under 10 Category and got second place! My old friend WCM Alexandra Botez was the one who was undefeated and got first!

Who was your coach?

My father was mostly my coach. IM Yuri Ochkoos as well, for a short period of time.

What is your study routine now?

I have to admit, I have not studied for almost four and a half years. I had high school, and now currently college on my mind. I am trying to change my ways for next year though (2013). I would like to play a chess tournament in Iceland this upcoming February so I will most definitely start studying before that!

What is your greatest achievement?

Other than representing the Canadian Women’s Team at the World Chess Olympiad in 2010 (Board 4) and 2012 (Board 3).

World Youth Chess Championship 2008 in Vietnam. My result was 7/11 – 5 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses. I was tied for 9th place!

If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me or write a comment below! Check the ‘contact’ page to send me an email!  I will reply as soon as possible!

Female UNAM International 2012 & UNAM 2nd International Open 2012 – Section I

I arrived one week ago from two amazing chess tournaments in Mexico City, Mexico. With a great two week adventure with my fellow Canadian friends (WCM Alexandra Botez, GM Eric Hansen, and Now IM Aman Hambleton), this period of time will be always treasured in my mind 🙂

Female UNAM International 2012


This is the official poster for the Female UNAM tournament. As you can see, here are all the players within this tournament. 18 players were invited to this event. The players were divided into three sections: A, B, C. I played in Section A, and WCM Alexandra Botez in Section C.

This tournament was simply a great experience for me, especially because I am not a huge fan of rapid tournaments (15m +3s per player) and also, I was the lowest rated in my section, by atleast 100 fide. I managed to win one match against Marina Rizzo WFM 2054 ARG. The tournament was 5 days, and each day you played four games against your opponent. Out of my five matches I still ended up getting 3.5/20, which I believe was a great result for me, personally. Here is the results of every section of the female tournament.

Section A

Rk. Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 TB1 TB2 TB3
1 Olga Alexandrova IM 2409 ESP * 3½ 1½ 3½ 4 3½ 8 16.0 0
2 Sulennis Pina Vega WGM 2332 CUB ½ * 2½ 2½ 4 3½ 8 13.0 0
3 Guliskhan Nakhbayeba WGM 2334 KAZ 2½ 1½ * 3 4 2 7 13.0 0
4 Arlette Van Weersel WIM 2168 NED ½ 1½ 1 * 3 4 4 10.0 0
5 Yelizaveta Orlova WCM 1961 CAN 0 0 0 1 * 2½ 2 3.5 0
6 Marina Rizzo WFM 2054 ARG ½ ½ 2 0 1½ * 1 4.5 0

Section B

Rk. Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 TB1 TB2 TB3
1 Sopiko Guramishvili IM 2403 GEO * 3 2 3 2 4 8 14.0 0
2 Nafisa Muminova WIM 2349 UZB 1 * 2 2½ 3½ 4 7 13.0 0
3 Nargiz Umodova WIM 2220 AZE 2 2 * 0 2½ 4 6 10.5 0
4 Iva VIdenova WGM 2318 BUL 1 1½ 4 * 2 4 5 12.5 0
5 Elena Partac WGM 2086 MDA 2 ½ 1½ 2 * 4 4 10.0 0
6 Aurora Esquivel De Leon WIM 1965 MEX 0 0 0 0 0 * 0 0.0 0

Section C

Rk. Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 TB1 TB2 TB3
1 Lisandra Teresa Ordaz Valdes WGM 2350 * 2½ 2½ 2 4 4 9 15.0 0
2 Ticia Gara WGM 2377 HUN 1½ * 3 2 2 4 6 12.5 0
3 Nino Maisuradze WGM 2315 FRA 1½ 1 * 2½ 3 4 6 12.0 0
4 Irina Andrenko WIM 2233 UKR 2 2 1½ * 2 3 5 10.5 0
5 Alexandra Botez WCM 2015 CAN 0 2 1 2 * 2 3 7.0 0
6 Maria Jose Toro Pradenas WFM 2009 CHI 0 0 0 1 2 * 1 3.0 0

You can find some news about this tournament in ChessBase, see the links below!


The Tournament turned out to be a success! I got to know all of the participants, and found out that 14/18 of the women knew Russian! Sucks to be the other 4! I met a lot of interesting people these 5 days, and am greatful for that! After the tournament finished, WCM Alexandra Botez and I realized we would not make it to the next level of the Female Tournament so we got to play in the UNAM 2nd International Open 2012 with our two friends GM Eric Hansen, and before the tournament FM Aman Hambleton.




UNAM 2nd International Open 2012 – Section I


This tournament was my very first OPEN international tournament, and even though I did not have the result I wanted, it was still a very great experience for me!

My very first game was an upset, I played against a Mexican IM Garmendez Gonzalez Florentino (Elo: 2298), and lost a winning position. Being low on time for most of the game, and having a huge audience watching, I slowly changed a winning position to a drawn position, finally to a losing position.

This is a photo being taken of myself playing an IM, round 1.


My Second and Third games were well played! I won against a 2120 mexican player, and drew WIM Van Weersel Arlette (Elo: 2168).

Fourth and Fifth round were played badly because of personal reasons, but the 4 remaining rounds I managed to draw all of them.

Every single person I played in this tournament were above me in rating. I am proud of myself either way:)!

Results for Myself

Name Orlova Yelizaveta
Title WCM
Starting rank 126
Rating 1961
Rating national 0
Rating international 1961
Ratingperformance 2038
FIDE rtg +/- 12.3
Points 3.5
Rank 116
Federation CAN
Ident-Number 0
Fide-ID 2601826

Rd. Bo. SNo Name Rtg FED Club/City Pts. Res.
1 41 40 IM Garmendez Gonzalez Florentino 2293 MEX PUE 5.0 w 0
2 45 67 Vega Castaneda Ulises Antonio 2120 MEX D F 5.0 s 1
3 39 58 WIM Van Weersel Arlette 2168 NED 6.5 w ½
4 36 51 IM Navarro Segura Roberto 2198 MEX D F 3.5 s 0
5 54 97 Casillas Pellat Jose De Jesus 2047 MEX D F 3.5 w 0
6 63 113 Waldo Zalapa Alejandro 2004 MEX MCH 3.5 s ½
7 59 89 Ramirez Osio Julio Adrian 2068 MEX QRO 4.0 w ½
8 59 84 Rivera Rodriguez Jesus Camilo 2082 MEX SIN 4.0 s ½
9 52 82 Martinez Sasso Alvaro Antonio 2086 MEX IPN 3.5 w ½

Results for WCM Alexandra Botez

Name Botez Alexandra
Title WCM
Starting rank 105
Rating 2015
Rating national 0
Rating international 2015
Ratingperformance 2032
FIDE rtg +/- 8.7
Points 4
Rank 82
Federation CAN
Ident-Number 0
Fide-ID 2603365

Rd. Bo. SNo Name Rtg FED Club/City Pts. Res.
1 20 18 GM De La Paz Perdomo Frank 2436 CUB 6.5 w 0
2 60 149 Rios Lopez Raul Alfredo 1231 MEX DGO 2.0 s 1
3 31 42 IM Gongora Montes Benjamin 2253 MEX AGS 5.5 w 0
4 63 109 Martinez Rodriguez Miguel 2010 MEX D F 4.0 w 1
5 39 64 Magana Cazares Jesus Cuau 2129 MEX SIN 4.0 s 1
6 34 97 Casillas Pellat Jose De Jesus 2047 MEX D F 3.5 s 1
7 21 37 FM Della Morte Pablo 2308 ARG 6.5 w 0
8 29 56 WFM Forgas Moreno Yaniela 2173 CUB 5.5 s 0
9 38 79 Tello Urquiza Guillermo 2092 MEX D F 5.0 w 0

Results for GM Eric Hansen

Name Hansen Eric
Title IM
Starting rank 8
Rating 2539
Rating national 0
Rating international 2539
Ratingperformance 2459
FIDE rtg +/- -3.5
Points 7
Rank 6
Federation CAN
Ident-Number 0
Fide-ID 2606771

Rd. Bo. SNo Name Rtg FED Club/City Pts. Res.
1 10 94 Beltran Medina Jorge 2057 MEX JAL 4.0 s 1
2 7 64 Magana Cazares Jesus Cuau 2129 MEX SIN 4.0 w 1
3 7 29 WIM Muminova Nafisa 2349 UZB 5.5 s ½
4 7 33 IM Capo Vidal Uriel 2319 MEX HGO 4.5 w 0
5 20 59 Contreras Medina Ruben Dario 2167 MEX TLX 5.0 s ½
6 19 102 Arellano Ramirez Luis Rod 2032 MEX UNM 5.0 w 1
7 12 39 IM Estrada Nieto Julian 2295 MEX MOR 5.5 s 1
8 7 27 FM Dominguez Aguilar Guillermo 2363 MEX IMS 6.0 w 1
9 6 17 IM Otero Acosta Diasmany 2443 CUB 6.0 s 1

Congratulations to Eric for an outstanding comeback! Managed to get tied for 3rd place!

Results for FM Aman Hambleton

Name Hambleton Aman
Title FM
Starting rank 20
Rating 2404
Rating national 0
Rating international 2404
Ratingperformance 2596
FIDE rtg +/- 35.7
Points 7
Rank 3
Federation CAN
Ident-Number 0
Fide-ID 2606577

Rd. Bo. SNo Name Rtg FED Club/City Pts. Res.
1 22 116 Lopez Raygoza Luis Albert 2000 MEX AGS 4.0 s 1
2 17 76 Garduno Vidal Omar 2098 MEX 5.0 w 1
3 1 2 GM Macieja Bartlomiej 2609 POL 8.5 w ½
4 12 69 FM Schaffenburg Ruiz Federico 2116 MEX D F 3.0 s 1
5 4 7 GM Gonzalez Zamora Juan Carlos 2542 MEX D F 6.5 w 1
6 2 6 GM Hernandez Carmenate Holden 2562 CUB 6.5 s ½
7 4 14 GM Martinez Duany Lelys Stanley 2463 CUB 6.5 w 1
8 2 11 GM Dobrov Vladimir 2496 RUS 7.5 s ½
9 2 10 GM Gonzalez Garcia Jose 2497 MEX YUC 7.0 w ½

Congratulations to Aman Hambleton for not only being tied for 3rd place, but also getting his last IM norm and first GM norm! Now Aman is officially an International Master!!