The 2018 Hart House Holidays Open took place in Toronto, Ontario, from December 14th to December 16th, marking a huge and exciting end-of-year chess event. Situated at the heart of University of Toronto’s campus, the Gothic Revival-style building of Hart House opened the doors of its elegant Great Hall to chess players from all over the Greater Toronto Area. A diverse group of 193 participants representing all ages and skill levels, came out to play in the tournament and took a shot at the $7,800 prize funds.
Participants were divided into six different sections based on their rating and the games began! The winner in each section would be decided after five rounds of Swiss-style, classical chess, the top three sections being both CFC and FIDE rated. Many talented players, among them five International Masters, joined the event and displayed a rare level of enthusiasm and fighting spirit, to the delight of the many spectators.
As expected, the competition was fierce and the final standings saw many ties for the prizes in each section:
The big winner in the Crown Section (18 participants) was IM Nikolay Noritsyn with 4.5 points out of 5 games. Fourteen year-old FM Nicholas Vettese came second with 4 points, and three players, IM Tomas Krnan, IM Artiom Samsonkin and William Li.
In the Under 2200 Section (34 participants) Merlin Nazarenko was in great shape winning all five games for a perfect 5 out of 5 score. Egis Zeromskis, the experienced chess player from Aurora Chess Club, claimed second place with 4.5 out of 5 and the bronze medal position was split between Benito Surya, Eric Ning and Jabrayil Asadov.
In the Under 1900 Section (46 participants) Greg Rusonik and Austin Xie shared first place with 4.5 out of 5 games, while Dennis Tran, Kole Robertson and Map Singh tied for third.
In the Under 1600 Section (43 participants) Victor Stroganov finished the tournament undefeated with 4.5 out of 5 points and deservedly became the section winner. Jose Cabioc and Ben Smolkin scored 4 points each and shared the second place.
In the Under 1300 Section (40 participants) Ambarish Chandra and William Xu were the co-winners, as each dropped only half a point by drawing in their round three game. Daniel Zhang, Christopher Charles and Arthur Wang also had a splendid performance of 4 out of 5 and so they shared third place.
Finally, in the Under 1000 Section (22 participants) Zixuan Zhou was the sole and undisputed winner with 4.5 points in 5 games. Eric Zhang and Carina D’souza followed very closely with 4 out of 5, a really high score that earned them a shared second place.
Before the start of the last round a presentation ceremony took place, as David Cohen and Ian Findley, members of the Canadian Chess Hall of Fame Committee, inducted WIM Smilja Vujosevic to the Canadian Chess Hall of Fame, in recognition for her lifetime chess achievements and contributions to Canadian chess (a list of her remarkable achievements can be found here). In presenting the award, Ian Findley spoke eloquently about Smilja’s incredible accomplishments, emphasizing her unique contribution as a role model for female chess players, at a time when women’s chess was strikingly underdeveloped in Canada. In an emotional moment, Vojin Vujosevic, Smilja’s partner in life and in chess, was handed the recognition award by David Cohen amid an enthusiastic audience clapping in appreciation and gratitude.
Hart House Chess Club would like to express its thanks to certain individuals for their indispensable assistance towards hosting the event. To begin with, the grand vision, the hard labor and the tireless efforts of the Tournament Director and Chief Arbiter Alex Ferreira have been fueling this event for years and can hardly be overstated. It has been almost ten years since the first Hart House Open Chess Tournament took place and since that first initiative, Alex has been the tour de force of these big tournaments driving each of those to success and nation-wide acclaim.
Next we would like to recognize the generous contribution of Weiwen Leung, the Deputy Chief-arbiter who, with the support of UofT’s first year Sean Lei, did an amazing job transferring the results and doing the pairings for more than 190 players in 6 simultaneous sub-tournaments in a precise and timely manner. Jimmy Bartha, the club treasurer, performed exquisitely the very demanding task of doing the on-site registrations and the even harder mission of keeping in oder the financial accounts of the tournament. Sahan Karunaratne and Leslie Tang, the club’s Event Coordinator and Treasurer respectively, offered a really generous helping hand in setting-up the playing hall as well as in taking down after the end of the event; their presence in the venue throughout the tournament was very precious. Andrew McMillan was once again extremely helpful and massively productive, always arriving first and leaving last from the playing hall, taking care of the club equipment and laboring tirelessly to make the event a success. Brett Sherman, from Ryerson Film School, spent endless hours with the players and the organizers at the Great Hall, trying to capture in his video the most beautiful moments of the event. Finally, Panayoti Tsialas, the club fundraiser, created the nice photo gallery of the tournament and did a remarkable job in providing answers to the general inquiries of the participants and spectators.
On top of these volunteers, we would like to thank University of Toronto as well as Hart House for their steady support to our chess initiatives, including our Holidays Open tournament. The Hart House Information Hub, the Meetings and Events Office, the Staging Personnel, the Department of Communications as well as the Financial Accounting Office coordinated their efforts amazingly to help us in our event. We wish to kindly acknowledge their assistance.
Finally, the most heartfelt “thank you” goes out to the 193 people, who came out to play in the tournament, and to their parents and friends who attended the event as spectators. We are very thankful for your participation and we are looking forward to seeing you again in our upcoming Hart House Reading Week Open, in mid-February!
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