Chess in Toronto

Chess in Toronto

Chess in Toronto is one of those fabulous levelling forces wherein 10-year-olds can battle the likes of octogenarian legends. Yes, chess is a game where liberals and conservatives finally agree on a unified definition of a "pawn," and monarchists and anti-monarchists alike share in their pledges to protect the royalty. Isn't it beautiful? There are plenty of options for new players looking to get into the game in Toronto, as well as seasoned experts willing to test their skills against equally confident chess masters. Here are a few options in Toronto:


Annex Chess Club
Players of all skill levels meet Monday evenings to play for fun or train (Rocky style?) for regular tournaments. The club also offers chess classes for both kids and adults from its location on Bathurst just north of Bloor.

Hart House Chess Club
The rest of the campus might have keggers and debauchery on the mind come Friday afternoon, but a select few are hoping for that Friday night checkmate. And not in the drunk-girl-at-a-frat-party type way. The Hart House Chess Club meets every Friday at 4p.m. in the Reading Room at Hart House, with players of all skill levels invited and annual memberships at an easy $17.

Willowdale Chess Club
Willowdale Chess Club has literally been around for decades, enticing friendly play chess advocates every Tuesday night. The group gathers at Earl Bales Park & Community Centre, and annual memberships are $10.

Chess in Toronto Meetup
Strangers connect online and arrange regular meetups at pubs around Toronto to play chess. Sounds like the foundation for an awesome feel-good rom/com, no? Players of all levels are welcome to attend, and there is usually no charge for the event. Most meetups are scheduled midtown or downtown.

Canadian Girls Chess Club
A chess club exclusively for women and girls in the GTA. Lessons are offered from its facility at Bayview and Finch, with the option of private instruction and participation in regular (including weekly) tournaments. No boys allowed.

Informal and public play:

Park at Metropolitan United Church, corner of Church and Queen
Call it the informal meeting place for chess aficionados in the downtown core. Here you'll find suits leaving their Beemers to play the, uh, slightly less coiffed who roam around the area. The tables are outdoors and available for anyone to play, though you do have to make sure you bring your own pieces.

Atrium on Bay food court, Bay and Dundas
While you're out gallivanting around Saturday nights, a group of devoted chess players are sipping their McDonald's coffees and planning their next moves. I don't think you have to be over 55 or male to play with the fellas occupying the Atrium on Bay food court, but it would sure help you blend in.

Chess in the Library
Chess in the Library (CITL) is a student-run, volunteer program offering just what it sounds — chess in the library. Started back in 2009, the program has expanded to 15 libraries across Toronto (and more in other cities), with play schedules usually set for weekend afternoons. Check out the CITL website for specific information.

Where to buy:

Little Chess Mates
Little Chess Mates is both a school for players aged four to 13, as well as a wholesale supplier of chess boards and materials. When just one board won't cut it, I suppose.

Strategy Games
A shop on Mount Pleasant run by the Chess'n Math Association, a group devoted to promoting chess in schools. Because strategy can be fun, kids. The shop has books on chess, boards, pieces, and even Bluetooth-enabled e-boards.

Cool Chess Canada
Cool Chess Canada is a online shop (so, unfortunately, you won't be able to feel that shiny knight in your hands), though its corporate office is just north of Toronto in Aurora. The shop sells plastic, wood, and travel chess sets, along with clocks and timers for speed chess players.

Photo by wmcphail on Flickr

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