Concordia on 64 squares

Learning about life through chess.

Among all the comings and goings to the Hall building’s seventh floor is a group of students all connected by the same passion for chess. Twice a week, a little over a dozen students from the Concordia Chess Club get together to play games, socialize, and get away from the stresses of university life.

Monday and Thursday afternoons are chess time for regular and the less regular chess players of all levels. Even I, with my (very) little experience in chess, was welcomed with open arms, and offered to play with other beginner players. 

Shoshana Wasserma is an executive committee member of the Concordia Chess Club. For her, chess is not only a game, but also a place to relax and forget about the stresses of life. “One of the biggest reasons I started playing chess was because I wanted a distraction from interpersonal struggles,” Wasserman said. “And I was like, man, chess is the perfect thing to throw myself into, because it can be very consuming and it can take up a lot of your mental energy.” 

Calculations, thinking and creating plans in chess are all transferable skills, according to Wasserman. And this, she noted, “helps just keep [her] life a little more organized.”

Sara Salehi is a member who joined the club last fall, and she likes how it gives her the opportunity to meet with friends and catch a break. “We’re fun. We make the environment fun,” she said. 

Whether you are a complete beginner (like me), or a very experienced player ready to take on Dario Martinez, the captain of Concordia’s team at the 2024 Canadian University Chess Championships, you can find someone at your level to play and have fun with. 

“I think it’s a really good opportunity to practise failure in a safe space,” Wasserman said. “Because with chess, there is so much responsibility and accountability put on you as a player that, like when you blunder a piece, when something goes wrong, you know that’s on you, but you are doing it in a contained environment. So you have the opportunity to practice failure and do that in a way where you can still learn from your mistakes.”

The Concordia Chess Club regularly posts information on their Instagram and Facebook pages. However, they also welcome people who simply want to come and play chess, no matter their level.

“Come join, tell us you’re a beginner and that you haven’t played that much,” Wasserman said. “And usually what we can do is we can pair you up with other people who are also just starting out.”


Colour Commentary: Worlds 2021 is here

The League of Legends World Championship in Reykjavík, Iceland is underway

For the past few years, I’ve fallen out of touch with playing League of Legends. But right around this time of the year, when the world championships begin, I constantly find myself catching the action, entranced in the esports competition that never fails to impress. 

When my high school friends and I discovered the game in 2010, we had synchronized schedules which enabled us to indulge in our near-nightly tradition for most of my teenage years. 

Since then, League of Legends has grown exponentially both in-game and externally from a competitive perspective. While esports and other titles in the gaming industry have subsequently evolved in turn, many gamers credit the early days of League as the birth of the thriving community of gamers we see today. 

I’ll load into Summoner’s Rift, the classic and most commonly played map in League of Legends, from time to time nowadays, but my days of grinding solo queue and teaming up with four of my best friends with the far-fetched hopes of going professional are long gone. Definitely for the better.

But I can’t lie; seeing some of the familiar and legendary faces I grew up watching in the League of Legends scene battle it out against the budding young players that are on the cusp of greatness reinvigorates my itch to play the game. 

Last year, the World Championship was held in Shanghai, China, in front of a whopping crowd of zero for all the games except for the finals amid the pandemic. I still had a good time watching the tournament but admittedly, the experience with no fans left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, this year’s edition of the tournament in Reykjavík, Iceland, will not have a live audience as well.

As is the case every year, teams gather from a number of different regions to compete for the chance to hoist the Summoner’s Cup and earn the title of World Champion. And as usual, the teams from Korea and China are slated as betting favourites to win it all, with teams from Europe lurking close behind and capable of the dramatic upset on occasion. 

North America will once again try to put an end to their everlasting disappointment in international play. I’m rooting for them, but I’ve honestly grown numb to the annual heartbreak and I’ve learned to not take it personally. 

Now please excuse me as I shamelessly reacquaint myself with the game and load into Champion Select. 


What’s next for the UFC’s lightweight division?

The future of the UFC’s lightweight division following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement

When the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defended his title against a hungry and reformed Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October, the Russian superstar established himself as the promotion’s pound-for-pound king whilst cementing his place in the UFC record books.

The euphoria of the moment was short lived, however, as Nurmagomedov announced his retirement following a bittersweet victory in the octagon, having lost his father and life-long coach who died of COVID-19 complications at the age of 57 last July. At 32 years old and seemingly in his athletic prime, Nurmagomedov’s retirement would be questioned among fans and media for months.

Nurmagomedov and the UFC’s president Dana White finally took to social media nearly five months later on March 18, where they officially declared the lightweight king retired for good.

In the blink of an eye, the UFC’s destined 155-pound champion for years to come was abruptly out of the picture, transforming the entire UFC lightweight landscape as a result.

The lightweight show must go on

Shortly after the news broke, the UFC made headlines by booking a title bout for the newly-vacated lightweight belt between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira. The matchup will serve as UFC 262’s main event, scheduled for May 15.

Chandler is currently ranked number four in the lightweight division, boasting a record of 22-5. He signed with the UFC in September 2020 after spending most of the decade in Bellator MMA as the promotion’s lightweight champion. Chandler made his anticipated promotional debut against Dan Hooker at UFC 257, where he would win decisively by technical knockout in the opening round, firmly establishing his name in the 155-pound title conversation.

Meanwhile, Oliveira signed with the UFC in 2010 at 20-years-old and was widely regarded as a developing and promising star. Over a decade later, the Brazilian mixed martial artist has seemingly put everything together and ridden the success of a monumental eight-fight winning streak into his first UFC title shot.

Notable future UFC lightweight matchups

Dustin Poirier (1) vs. Conor McGregor (6) trilogy: Following their rematch on Jan. 24 that saw Poirier shock the world by brutally stopping McGregor in the second-round by technical knockout, Poirier was the clear-cut number one contender in the division. He eventually opted towards the trilogy bout with McGregor that will surely captivate the masses and garner all parties a hefty pay cheque.

It’s worth noting that while the fight is not yet officially booked, with the drama and hype built up around the two rivals, it’s only a matter of time until the final negotiations are set in stone.

Tony Ferguson (5) vs. Beneil Dariush (9): At 37-years-old, Ferguson has been among the top of the UFC’s lightweight division for over half a decade. Due to inconvenient circumstances, he never got the chance to fight for the undisputed lightweight title and has recently been on the receiving end of ruthless, drawn-out losses to Gaethje and Oliveira.

He will need to slow down a surging Dariush who has finished four of his last five opponents in the opening two rounds. Another loss to Ferguson’s resume would irrefutably spell the end of an era in the division.

Nurmagomedov’s retirement is disappointing to see for MMA fans, but one of the UFC’s most competitive divisions will endure and continue to produce outstanding fights with marketable stars headlining its bright future.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion


March Madness update

March Madness has already brought surprises to the table

One of the best sporting events of the year has finally arrived. Fans of college basketball have been waiting over 700 days for the next March Madness, as the tournament was cancelled last year due to COVID-19.

What a tournament it’s been so far. Let’s dive right in.

West Region

Let’s start off with the best team in the country. Before the tournament, there were many expectations for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They went undefeated in the regular season, going 26-0 in the process. Needless to say they made it to the round of 16, also known as the Sweet 16.

The Creighton Blue Jays will play in the Sweet 16 after beating the 13th seed Ohio Bobcats 72-58, ending junior standout Jason Preston’s season. This will be Creighton’s first time in the Sweet 16 since 1974. Their leader, Marcus Zegarowski, led the way with 20 points in the second round matchup. A date with juggernaut Gonzaga awaits.

One first round matchup was cancelled due to the pandemic. The game between the Oregon Ducks and the VCU Rams was ruled a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols on the VCU end. This gave Oregon an automatic win, which saw them advance to the round of 32.

The Iowa Hawkeyes, number two seed in the west, were hoping to give their star player Luka Garza, College Player of the Year favourite, one final shot at a championship. They won their first-round matchup against Grand Canyon Antelopes handily, 86-74, but the second round told a different story. They lost to Oregon by a whopping 15 points, 95-80. It will be interesting to see where Garza lands in the 2021 NBA draft.

The sixth seed in the west region, the USC Trojans, have looked phenomenal so far, and hardly anyone has been talking about them. They beat down the Drake Bulldogs in the first round 72-56 and beat an injured Kansas Jayhawks team 85-51 in the round of 32. We’ll see if they can keep it up. They match up against Oregon in the Sweet 16.

Midwest Region

All of the one seeds won their first round matchups rather comfortably. Number one seeds now own a 143-1 record against 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament. That sole win came in 2018, when the UMBC Retrievers defeated the Virginia Cavaliers 74-54.

Not all of the one seeds lasted very long though. The number one seed in the Midwest region, the Illinois Fighting Illini, lost in the second round to the Loyola Chicago Ramblers. Illinois came into this tournament as one of the favourites to win it all. The Ramblers proved they should not be taken lightly, as Cameron Krutwig showed that he is one of the most dominant big men in the country.

The Ramblers will play the Oregon State Beavers, who just beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys and top NBA recruit Cade Cunningham, 80-70. Oregon State was projected to finish last in their conference, the Pac-12. They now find themselves in the Sweet 16.

The Syracuse Orange has always been a fan favourite, but they have not garnered much attention after a slow start to the season. Everything changed for them once the calendar switched to March. They won against the sixth seed San Diego State Aztecs in the first round, and squeezed out a win versus the heavily favoured third seed West Virginia Mountaineers in the round of 32. Next up, a date with the powerhouse second seed, the Houston Cougars in the Sweet 16 of the Midwest region.

South Region

Upsets were bound to happen. But who would have expected them to be of this magnitude? This is the first time in NCAA tournament history that four teams seeded 13 or higher have reached the round of 32.

The most shocking upset of the tournament happened early on in the South region in the round of 64. The 15th seed Oral Roberts Golden Eagles defeated the number two seed Ohio State Buckeyes 75-72 in overtime. Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas led the way for Oral Roberts, scoring an outstanding 59 points combined. It’s going to be a long off-season for an Ohio State group that had championship aspirations.

Oral Roberts wasn’t done there. They came into the round of 32 with as much confidence as anyone. They shocked the basketball world once again, defeating the Florida Gators 81-78. They are the second 15th seed to ever make the Sweet 16. Could they be the first 15th seed to ever make the Elite Eight? They will be facing off against the heavily favoured third seed Arkansas Razorbacks.

Number one seed in the South region, the Baylor Bears will take on the fifth seed Villanova Wildcats in the Sweet 16 after both teams won their second-round matchups easily.

East Region

One 14th seed made it out of the first round of the tournament this year, and that team was the Abilene Christian Wildcats. It was a complete team effort, as the defence stepped up and no player scored more than 11 points in the victory. Sadly, that’s as far as they would go, as another underdog, the UCLA Bruins, defeated them in the second round. Alabama Crimson Tide and their high-flying offence is next on the agenda for UCLA.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the number four seed in the East region, the Florida State Seminoles. They survived a small scare in the first round against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, but bounced back in a big way, blowing out the Colorado Buffaloes 71-53. They face the first seed Michigan Wolverines in the Sweet 16 after they beat the LSU Tigers 86-78. Eli Brooks was clutch down the stretch when LSU made it a close game. He poured in 21 points and seven assists.

There you have it, everything to get you up to date and ready for the next round. Buckle up for the Sweet 16, because the madness is just beginning.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion


A bright flame on the glistening ice

Student-athlete Kalena Korbiak is a three-time vice Canadian figure skating champion

Did you know that Concordia University’s psychology program holds a second-year student who is also a figure skating sensation?

At just 21-years-old, Kalena Korbiak is a three-time vice Canadian figure skating champion with her Montreal-based synchronized skating team, Les Suprêmes. In this context, “vice” means that the team stood second on the podium at the national level.

Korbiak has been an avid skater since she was four, when she was introduced to the sport by a family friend at the Aréna de Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts in the Laurentians.

“We were just sitting there at the arena, watching, and she said ‘Oh mommy, mommy! I wanna go shkate too. I wanna go shkate,’” said Vera Korbiak, humoristically imitating her then-four-year-old daughter.

“It’s something I connected with. It automatically became part of my identity since I was placed in it at such a young age,” said Korbiak.

From that day on, Korbiak joined the Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts skating club as a freestyle skater, and competed regionally in that category from the age of nine until she joined her elite synchronised skating team at 17.

Her loyalty to the sport was tested numerous times as she enrolled in other disciplines throughout the years, like downhill skiing, horseback riding, and even Ukrainian dancing. However, none could compete with the feeling she got once strapped in those skates.

“I was always placed into something else in order to help me with figure skating, particularly ballet,” said Korbiak . “Me and my mom decided that I was going to be doing ballet and I did so for six years until the end of high school to improve my core and skating skills.”

As a child, Korbiak would head to skating practice right after school. Korbiak and her mom would then drive from their hometown of Sainte-Adèle to Montreal for karate lessons; a Ukrainian dance class followed. If that isn’t exhausting enough, she would sleep at her grandmother’s in the east end of Montreal so that she could attend Ukrainian school on Saturday mornings, and Girl Guides later.

That lasted for three years until ballet replaced karate. Two years later, she stopped Ukrainian dancing.

During her last year of high school, in 2016, her devotion to figure skating finally paid off. After obtaining the highest regional score in her different freestyle elements, she earned an eight-minute solo at the Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts 2016 Fantaisie sur Glace Gala.

“The people there were saying ‘Oh my god she’s such a beautiful skater,’” said Vera. “I always told them the secret is ballet because that really brings out the beauty in a skater.”

This was Korbiak’s first year with Les Suprêmes.

“I found out about Les Suprêmes when I was about to go to Dawson and was staying with my grandparents in the east end,” Korbiak said. “So, I did my research and found out they were doing synchro in Saint-Leonard, and that the team was looking for skaters, so I tried it out.”

At that point, Korbiak had only been doing freestyle and was completely new to synchro. The audition period had already ended, but the team had still not found the number of skaters they required. When Korbiak showed up, she was thrown right into a practice to see if she could keep up with the choreography.

“We were and are always looking for skaters that can show different technical skills and are well rounded,” said Geneviève Rougeau, the team’s head coach for the last two years. “I think Korbiak fit in that category perfectly.”

Rougeau explained that right out of the gate, Korbiak demonstrated exemplary skills, executional versatility, and quick adaptation, which is exactly what they were looking for.

Not only was she quick to adjust, but she was quick to make new friends.

“I am actually pretty shy, so I don’t usually talk much to new people, but I noticed right away that [Korbiak] was super bubbly. She came up and started talking to me right away. I learned very quickly that she is a really nice and friendly person,” said Aly Bernardo, a fellow Les Suprêmes skater who has been on the team for 15 years.

Ultimately, Korbiak aspires to become a renowned national figure skating freestyle coach. As for synchro, she wants to take it up a notch and enter the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships (WSSC) in the senior division and become an international Canadian champion.


Photos courtesy of Kalena Korbiak


Stingers to Host Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship

The Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team have reached the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship for the last two years with back-to-back undefeated seasons in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) conference. This year will mark a third appearance in as many years for them at the Championship, as the Concordia University department of recreation and athletics has been selected to host the tournament this year.

The 2019 Championship will be played at Concordia Stadium, from Nov. 20-24. It will be the third edition of the tournament, with the University of Guelph and the University of Victoria hosting the first two, respectively.

With this year’s tournament played at Concordia, the Stingers are guaranteed a berth as hosts of the event. However, Stingers players like Stephen Martinez think this secured spot won’t affect their approach this season.

“The boys still want to earn their spot in the tournament, which means finishing in first place again, even if we’re guaranteed a spot as hosts,” Martinez said. “Second place isn’t in our vocabulary. We need to work to prove that we belong there, regardless if we’re hosting or not.”

Martinez adds that having the tournament at Concordia is a great opportunity to develop Quebec’s interest in the sport.

“Having this tournament here will hopefully show some higher level teams that Quebec teams can compete and that there are a lot of talented players here,” Martinez said. “With more interest, it might spark the start of a Major League Rugby team in Montreal.”

Stingers veteran Lucas Hotton says the difference of having the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship at Concordia might be more emotional than about the game itself, as players will play in front of family and friends.

“I think that’s a huge advantage because [rugby’s] not just a physical sport, but also a very mental one,” Hotton said. “Each little play makes a big difference, and that will be the difference as you’ll see more heart and more emotion on the field.”

Martinez also sees the home crowd as a factor in such a big tournament. The Stingers are undefeated at home since 2016 and he says the plan is to keep it that way this year, including at the Championship.

“Playing in front of a home crowd can encourage us a bit more to perform once we are there. A lot of us will have family and friends there. Our club teams will be there to support us, so it will be a really good environment.”

While hosting the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship won’t change their season approach, Hotton says it can be harder for a team to focus on its season first, knowing what’s coming for them in November.

“I know a lot of the players are really excited to host the Championship, but it’s important to make sure they keep their feet on the ground and focus on one game at a time,” Hotton said. “I think that will be the approach this season, just like it’s been the last one. One game at a time, and just make sure everyone works each week as we progress through the season.”


Feature photo by Hannah Ewen


Men’s rugby team crowned RSEQ champions after beating ETS 35-7

Perfect season continues as Stingers head to nationals

The Concordia Stingers men’s rugby team won the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) championship on Nov. 12 at Concordia Stadium. They beat the École de technologie supérieure (ETS) Piranhas in the final, by a score of 35-7.

Centre Samuel Montminy led the Stingers with two tries in the game. Fly-half Moritz Wittmann and hooker Nicholas Smith both added a try, and fly-half Jonathan Banks scored two penalty kicks.

The Stingers entered the final undefeated, winning all seven of their regular season games as well as their semifinal match against the McGill Redmen. The Piranhas stayed just above a .500 record on the year, finishing 3-3-1 before winning their semifinal against the Bishop’s Gaiters. The Stingers beat the Piranhas 36-12 during the last matchup between the two teams on Sept. 17.

Stingers head coach Craig Beemer had nothing but praise for the Piranhas squad that continued to battle for the entire game.

“I thought that [ETS] would have trouble handling our skill and our use of the width of the field,” he said. “I knew that they would tackle really well and they did. The score was really close for 25-30 minutes, and that’s because ETS is a heck of a team, a really well-coached team by Rudy Escoffier. It was a bit surprising.”

According to Beemer, the Stingers’ 21-0 lead after the first half didn’t reflect how good of a team the Piranhas were. “That [first half] was probably our toughest 40 minutes we’ve had all year.”

Beemer added that the Stingers were motivated to cap off a perfect season with this championship after the disappointment of last season, when the Stingers finished 1-6.

The men’s rugby team will now play in the national championship in Guelph, Ont., from Nov. 16 to 19. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“It was pretty easy to stay humble,” Beemer said. “Our theme was: good is the enemy of great. Despite our winning streak, the guys were hungry and wanted to win every week. It comes down to the fact that we had really great players this year, and I was fortunate enough to have a great coaching staff.”

“I’m one of 67 guys,” Beemer added. “Every person that’s on this team puts something forth. It’s easy to keep guys motivated when you have everyone holding each other accountable.”

Centre Charles Debove, who was named the most outstanding player in the RSEQ this season, echoed his coach’s message.

“We came into the game ready to go to war,” Debove said. “[After] all the work we did during the season, it feels amazing to finally win a championship with the boys. We’re such a tight-knit group.”

Debove added that the team’s mindset this season was completely different from last year’s. “Compared to last year, we knew we were never going to feel that way again. 1-6 was not acceptable,” he said. “We succeeded as a team.”

After this championship win, the Stingers will head to Guelph, Ont., for the men’s rugby nationals. Beemer said the team will have to improve their discipline to be successful against the other top-ranked teams in the country.

“We’ve got a lot of skill,” the coach said. “The teams are going to be really good. Not to take anything away from our league, but it’s going to be the best from every province. I don’t know if we’ve been tested well enough this season so far.”

Debove added: “We need to be more resilient. We need to get ready for better competition.”

The Canadian university men’s rugby championship will kick off on Nov. 16.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins.

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