“From Chess to Success”: Workshop at Woodsworth College

On Tuesday, September 3rd, club Secretary/president Elly Chen and Treasurer Sean Lei conducted a workshop at Woodsworth College for incoming first-year students. The room was packed! You can read Elly’s report on the successful event below.

Woodsworth HHCC Collaboration 

“From Chess to Success” workshop is an initiative proposed by Hart House Chess Club (HHCC) and warmed welcomed by the Co-Coordinator Andrew Fernandes of the orientation at Woodsworth College. It is an initiative of HHCC that intends to provide knowledge of on-campus resources as well as transferable skills from playing chess to university life and beyond for the first year students. Although Woodsworth College is the largest college within the faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto, St. George campus, it is the first time for them to collaborate with Hart House, and specifically HHCC, to bring out this wonderful event.

HHCC is the home to many chess enthusiasts, including both students and community members. Members and visitors may come from different background, but many of them embrace the same ideology that, like Bobby Fischer said, “Chess is life”. Indeed, many skills learnt in chess can help greatly with a person’s life as well as academics. HHCC Event Coordinator Tanner McNamara had shared with the executives prior to the workshop that playing chess has allowed him to believe in himself, face failures and become patient to improve. It was so inspiring that HHCC secretary/president Elly Chen had included this story of his to share with the Woodsworth students during the workshop in hopes of assisting first year students to better prepare for their university life.

Other than Sean and Elly, HHCC had also invited Adam Devine-Turriff from RBC On-campus Outreach as a special guest to present to students about how playing chess has helped with his professional life as a digital banking advisor. Even with short notice, Elly and Adam decided to focus on the holistic wellness for students in line with what Hart House focuses, and therefore, Adam and his team were able to provide extensive information on on-campus resources other than what Elly had covered about Hart House UTSU, and Sean about Woodsworth College.

The workshop had run for about 90 minutes, and consisted of 3 main parts with a touch of human chess game in the end. None of the speakers had a chance to rehearse beforehand due to the aforementioned communication problem, but everyone managed to bring their best for students. Indeed, before the workshop, Andrew had kindly dropped by to say hi, and even brought snacks of chips and crackers for the workshop; and the Vice-President of WCSA Social Affairs Joyce Fung had generously assisted the workshop by presenting on the WCSA resources as well as providing printing materials. The attendance was also exciting. As first told by Joyce, HHCC should expect about only 20 students. However, more than 30 students showed up, and some of them had to stand for the first half of the session before more chairs were supplied.

Everyone who entered the room was warmly greeted by HHCC and asked to take a random piece from the chess set without looking to prepare for the human chess game in the end. Adam and his team had assisted the process by generously providing Kind bars to students as well. After the first part of the workshop conducted by Sean on what resources Woodsworth has to offer, Elly introduced other wonderful on-campus resources for students to allow them to understand why it’s important to get involved, how they can get involved and what are the things that they can get involved such as Hart House and UTSU clubs. Adam and his colleague Kai followed up to provide even more information to encourage students take care of their wellness. Finally, all students were asked to group themselves as black and white, and played a human chess game based on the number of moves that match the number of players on each side to foster an understanding of how important organizational skills, time management skills and problem solving skills are in university and beyond. 16 feedback sheets were collected in the end, and 14/16 rated this session as the highest score possible on the Likert scale.