The 2019 Hart House Reading Week Open took place in Toronto, Ontario, from February 16th to February 18th. It’s been roughly a decade since the first very successful Reading Week Open and this year’s was no less exciting! A remarkable 188 participants from various chess clubs in Ontario and Quebec came out to play and fought for the big prize pool, totaling $7,400.
As per tradition, participants were split into six different sections, based on rating, and the started! In this Swiss-style tournament of classical chess, the top three winners in each section would be determined after six competitive rounds. There were plenty of talented participants in the tournament and, among them, four International Masters who joined the Crown Section, 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:
Four very worthy contenders tied for first place in the Crown Section with 4.5 points out of 6 games (22 participants): IM Nikolay Noritsyn, FM Rohan Talukdar, FM Kenta Olivier Chiku-Ratte and CM Nameer Issani. It was a very pleasant surprise from Issani, who started on position 20th in the initial rank (FIDE 1952) and slowly climbed up to the top.
In the Under 2200 Section (27 participants) Brian Jiang was in great shape, scoring an almost perfect 5.5 points out of 6 games. Eric Ning and Henry Liu also had a wonderful tournament, scoring 5 out of 6 and sharing second place.
In the Under 1900 Section (52 participants) Ibrahim Syed Ahmed was the undisputed winner with a formidable 5.5 out of 6 games. There followed a tie between 7 (seven!) players for the silver medal position: Matthew Bergeron, Jordi Profits Fortuny, Trfelino Miaco, Joseph Liao, Dennis Tran, Boris Iriarte and Seiji Nakagawa.
In the Under 1600 Section (37 participants) Johannes Kirk Dickson finished the tournament undefeated with 5.5 out of 6 points and deservedly became the section winner. Hart House’s own Jonathan Moore also had a great tournament, scoring 5 out 6 and clinching second place. There followed, at a very close distance, Gary Hua, with 4.5 out of 6, winning third place.
In the Under 1300 Section (35 participants) Sophia Wang and Ivan John Deal Torre were the co-winners, as each dropped only one point in six rounds. Christopher Charles, Lefan Yang and our very own Ethan Moon also had a very good performance, scoring of 4.5 out of 6 and sharing the bronze-medal position.
Finally, in the Under 1000 Section (15 participants) Noah Velasquez had a great tournament and won the section with 5 points out of 6 games. There followed, just one point behind him, UofT student Iudin Fraim and CCYC’s Lily Liu, sharing second place. A very honorable mention goes out to Steven Shi, who just arrived in Canada and, in his very first tournament ever, he scored a breathtaking 6 out 6.
Hart House Chess Club would like to publicly thank a number individuals for their precious assistance towards organizing this event. As always, most of the credit goes out to the Director and Chief Arbiter of the tournament, the amazing Alex Ferreira. The tireless Portuguese is not only the person who first envisioned and gave life to this open tournament several years ago, but he is the one who has kept it going for about one decade, breathing new life to it over the course of the years! Hart House Chess Club is delighted and honored to be supported by one of Ontario’s and Canada’s most successful chess organizers.
Next we would like to recognize the indispensable assistance of Tyler Longo, the Deputy Chief-arbiter who, once again did a fast and very professional job entering the results of 6 rounds and running the pairings for more than 185 players in 6 simultaneous sub-sections. Alyssa Rusonik, performed exquisitely the hard task of receiving on-site payments by dozens of participants and impressed us all with the level of her commitment and her remarkable work ethic. Ben Hahn, Hart House Chess Club’s Alumni Chair, took on the demanding mission of doing the financial accounting of the tournament, making sure that everything had been kept in order, once the event was over. For yet another tournament, Andrew McMillan’s silent but manifold contributions cannot be emphasized enough: behind the well-functioning chess equipment, the clean tables, the unstained chess boards, the uncreased scoresheets there lied Andrew’s helping hand. Sahan Karunaratne, the club’s Event Coordinator, was on the playing site from the very start to the very end of the tournament, contributing tirelessly in all sorts of ways: from doing on-site registrations and setting-up the play hall – including the water station and the skittles room – to being a floater in certain sections with odd number of players and taking down all the equipment at the end of the tournament. Finally, aided by Sahan, Panayoti Tsialas, the club fundraiser, created the nice photo gallery of the tournament and made himself available for answering any general inquiries that the participants and spectators might have.
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 Reading Week 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. We also incurred a big debt to Annex Chess Club, which generously lent us 15 of their digital chess clocks.
Finally, the most heartfelt “thank you” goes out to the 188 people, who defied the freezing cold and came out to play in the tournament as well as 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 Spring Junior Open in mid-March!
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