Monday, January 30, 2012

2011 Elaine Howie Fund - The Big Announcement!

It's finally time to announce the prize order for the Elaine Howie Fund "Top 12" finalists!

This year's prizing was an extremely tough decision. All the players mentioned had a spectacular year, and deserve to be recognized for their achievements. However, there were two players who stood out the most. Both reminded me of all-around values this fund was set up to highlight, but in two very different ways. Therefore, I would like to award two “gold” placements (instead of one “gold” and one “silver star”), each which will receive a cheque for $100. There will still be three “silver” placements, displayed below, leaving three “bronze” awards, one Youth Girls Award, and the three special mentions (that were announced earlier). I want to stress that all placements are incredible achievements. Decisions often came down to very slight differences because everyone in the “Top 12” had a lot of positive aspects that set him/her apart. I believe you will all have bright futures.

Now for the big announcement...

The Gold Award, which consists of a "gold" certificate, 2011 Top 12 pin, and $100 prize money (each), goes to Olivier-Kenta Chiku-Ratte and Nicholas Lee!

Olivier-Kenta Chiku-Ratte (QC) demonstrated outstanding leadership in 2011, progressing with performances seldom seen for juniors his age. He also participated in a broad range of clubs/events, served as a role model for development in Quebec (and the rest of Canada), and set the stage for Canadian Team confidence at the international level. He is definitely one to watch as a forerunner in Canadian chess.

Nicholas Lee (AB) is the kind of player I had dreamed of awarding through this fund process. Others sometimes wonder why I don’t just pick the #1 players in each age category and make them the “Top 12”. Well, here’s my answer: although rating is a significant factor in decisions, it is just one number. It does not necessarily show who made progress during the year, who participated in a variety of events, who demonstrated commitment/consistency/spirit, or even how long a player has been playing (it takes time to build up a rating, so a newer player, or one from a particular region, could have a lot of potential but still not be at the very top of rating lists). I want to make sure players like Nicholas Lee receive recognition too. His performances have grown significantly throughout the year, with consistent progress in ALL fourteen events he participated in! Multiple times, he placed in the top three spots among players much higher in rating. He also seems very committed to chess in his home province of Alberta.

The Silver Award, which consists of a "silver" certificate and 2011 Top 12 pin, goes to Sergey Noritsyn (ON), Zong Yang Yu (QC), and John Doknjas (BC).

The Bronze Award, which consists of a "bronze" certificate and 2011 Top 12 pin, goes to Melissa Giblon (ON), Nicolas Robichaud (NB), and Nikola Isaev (QC).

The Youth Girls Award (Special Mention), which consists of a certificate, 2011 Top 12 pin, $100 prize money, and free entry into the 2012 Ontario Girls' Chess Championship (, entry courtesy of Corinna Wan), goes to Qiyu Zhou (ON).

Special Mention, which consists of a certificate and 2011 Top 12 pin, goes to Yuanchen Zhang (ON), Michael Song (ON), and Richard Wang (AB).

In early February, I will be posting a full set of 2011 highlight achievements for each member of this year’s “Top 12”. Please let me know if you would like to share a positive message for one or more of the recipients with that post!

Note: Award recipients may be eligible for future fund prizes (based on performance each year). However, those receiving $100 will not be eligible for further prize money unless the fund structure is changed to allow for a significant prize difference.

If you have been mentioned in the award lists above and have not contacted me yet, please do so to receive your prize. I would also appreciate if someone would spread the word, especially in French to the players in Quebec.

Good luck to everyone in 2012. Looking forward to seeing more great results from our youth players!