Hart House Chess Club Returns!

Today, Friday, May 20th, 2022, marked the return of the Hart House Chess Club to the chess scene in Toronto. For over 2 years, UofT chess enthusiasts and the general HHCC community were left without a staple in the chess community. The strong showing from 40+ UofT students, chess enthusiasts, and community members showed that the HHCC was still alive and well.

Paul Keres simul at Hart House on May 7th, 1975. He scored 25 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses.
The Toronto chess community, of all ages, showed up to the meetup (May 20th, 2022)

The storied halls of the Hart House, which had once seen the likes of Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer, Paul Keres, and many more, were once again alive with the sounds of clocks banging and pieces dropping. Although masks were mandatory, as per UofT guidelines, you could tell that everyone was excited and happy to see the club return. New friends were made and connections rekindled. It felt like a return to normalcy.

As we slowly return from COVID-19, we hope you join us in our weekly hangouts happening Fridays 5 pm – 11 pm in the Hart House Reading Room. For those not local (or who can’t join us for our Friday hangouts), we hope to see you again in-person at our upcoming events and tournaments.

HHCC returned today to great fanfare. (May 20th, 2022)

Written by Victor Zheng, HHCC Communications Director

Return to In-Person Update

The Hart House Chess Club will be returning in-person Fridays in the Hart House Reading Room from 5 pm – 9 pm starting May 20th. We have finally confirmed with Hart House that we are allowed to use the space!

Please remember that in-person activities follow University of Toronto COVID-19 policies. Right now, masks are required if distancing is not possible. Please also follow any directions from the HHCC Executive Board who will be supervising the in-person activities.

Stay tuned for in-person lectures, tournaments, and more in the coming months! Lichess and Discord HHCC presences will remain active for the time being as students and the HHCC community gradually returns back in-person.

Stay safe, and we hope to see you back in-person,

HHCC Executive Board 2022-2023

List of Strongest Players

Top 20 HHCC Players Based on CFC Rating

  1. Trevor Vincent (2377)
  2. FM Nikita Gusev (2372)
  3. FM Mike Ivanov (2357)
  4. Geordie Derraugh (2354)
  5. Lloyd Mai (2353)
  6. CM Koosha Jaferian (2349)
  7. Christopher Knox (2340)
  8. Sergey Noritsyn (2332)
  9. Jim Zhao (2330)
  10. Haizhou Xu (2324)
  11. FM Qiyu Zhou (2313)
  12. Joseph Bellissimo (2276)
  13. Zehn Nasir (2277)
  14. WIM Yunshan Li (2262)
  15. James Fu (2230)
  16. Sean Lei (2159)
  17. Walter Chan (2138)
  18. Wenlu Yu (2121)
  19. Tanner McNamara (2099)
  20. Aidan Sowa (2077)

This list was created in 2017 and will be updated in Fall 2022 with a new list.

Support Hart House Chess Club

For over 125 years, Hart House Chess Club has been the University of Toronto’s leader in the game of chess. Students, alumni, and community members alike all benefit from the rich ambiance, the chess lessons, and the great tournaments happening at the centre of U of T. Your support will ensure that Hart House Chess Club can continue to offer vital opportunities for students to learn the Royal Game and put their chess skills into practice, developing their capacities and sharing new student-life experiences.

Call for Support:

During its history, Hart House Chess Club has benefited crucially from the number of its members who have chosen to maintain their association and support of the Club beyond their time as students. This has helped the Club to maintain continuity not only of its existence but also of its character. Anyone who has played at the Club will attest to the liveliness of its atmosphere and the enthusiasm of its members. The stream of students who have come through its doors over the years consists of the whole range of players, from complete beginners to ones with international titles.

As the Club moves into its 127th year of existence as U of T’s official Chess Club, its initiatives keep increasing, hitting record numbers of club members as well as internal and external events. More and more students get to enjoy the invaluable benefits of the game in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. However, these rich activities have also resulted in increased costs, costs that we need your support to sustain.

Thanks to donors like you, many generations of UofT students have understood the value of having a space outside of academia where they can explore and engage in a diverse number of co-curricular chess-related activities, which ultimately provide extraordinary lessons of their own. No matter how small, any donation can help us continue to make progress, accommodating an ever-increasing number of students.

Make a Donation:

This year we are focusing our fundraising efforts on our club’s efforts in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic while sustaining the costs for the preparation and participation of our Varsity Chess Team in numerous events throughout the year. Your financial support towards achieving these goals would be greatly appreciated.

If you wish to make a donation to the Chess Club:

– You may do so online at https://engage.utoronto.ca/site/SPageServer?pagename=donate#/fund/418. Once you finalize the process you will get a confirmation and you will be issued a tax receipt.

– You may also write Hart House Chess Club a cheque, made payable to Hart House, in which case you will also get a tax receipt.

Public recognition will be offered to all those people who decide to support but donors may also choose to retain their anonymity.

We hope that, with your precious support, the work done at Hart House Chess Club will gain momentum and help build an even better future for generations of students to come.

Ahmed Khalf — Co-Communications

Ahmed is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto pursuing a specialist in computer science. Motivated to beat his best friend, he started earnestly playing chess in high school. Aside from chess, Ahmed has various other hobbies, such as swimming and ice skating.

As a Communications Director for the Hart House Chess Club, he hopes to promote chess across campus and create a welcoming environment for all players. Being a new player himself, he expects to use his background to improve the experience of novice club members. Regardless of whether HHCC operates in-person or online, he hopes to make the best of it.

Vikram Rawal — Event Coordinator

Vikram is a second-year undergraduate student at UofT, studying Engineering Science. He’s currently serving as the external events’ coordinator at the HHCC.

A casual player since around eight years of age, Vikram began to take the game more seriously in high school, attending matches and tournaments with his school team in Toronto. He regards the game of chess as an ideal mélange of calculated, logical thinking and unbounded creative passion, and hopes to help facilitate the reinstitution of over-the-board events at Hart House and at UofT. Aside from playing chess, he loves reading mystery novels, playing sports, and biking around Toronto during his free time, and he’s excited to meet you and to get some games going.

Tanner McNamara – Secretary

Tanner is beginning his second year studying behavioural neuroscience at the Scarborough campus in the Psychology PhD program. He is focused on finding out what happens when we let rats drink alcohol, but he still finds time to enjoy chess. Tanner has played chess since the age of seven, after learning from his dad. Following mild success growing up in Maryland as a three-time state champion (Pre-Teen, Middle School, and High School), he went off to study at Carleton College. There he became President of the Chess Club and took a team to the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship for the first time in school history in 2014. Despite earning awards for Biggest Team Upset and Top Small School, as well as an individual prize for Top Alternate, that team lost badly to a team from the University of Toronto.

Four years later, Tanner moved up north and switched sides, and now has represented the UofT at PanAms twice, as well as in other competitions, memorably at the World Prestigious University Invitational held in Tianjin, China in 2019. He is excited now to be starting his second consecutive term on the Executive Board serving as Events Coordinator. He is happy to give back to the Club that has treated him so well and to continue working with the game that has brought him so much joy over the years.

Crystal Cao — Treasurer

Crystal is a second-year PhD student at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering studying the mechanism of cancer drug resistance. Before coming to U of T for an undergrad degree in Engineering Science, Crystal played competitively during middle school and high school (provincial and national tournaments). She also served as the VP of her school chess club and organized school-wide chess competitions and tournaments with neighbouring schools. Crystal has been a Hart House Chess Club member since undergrad time and now is excited to serve as Treasurer to support the club!

Having had the great opportunities to enjoy all the fun in-person activities and tournaments hosted by HHCC, Crystal understands the frustration new members have with online activities. She plans to dedicate herself to fully supporting online chess events and competitions, and hopefully also the smooth transition towards in-person events and over-the-board chess.

Victor Zheng — Co-Communications

Victor is a second-year undergraduate student at U of T pursuing a specialist in Computer Science. Currently, he is one of the Communications Directors for the Hart House Chess Club and is thrilled to be a part of the club’s amazing history.

At a young age, Victor began chess with his 2 older brothers. He went on to play regularly in chess tournaments in his hometown of Vancouver, and frequently played at chess tournaments in BC. He has volunteered, coached, and played in numerous chess tournaments and has experience working with students. His biggest chess achievement was beating FM Shawn Rodrigue-Lemieux at the Canadian Chess Challenge in St. John’s in 2018. Believing in expanding the reach of chess to students regardless of their background, Victor started a chess club at his high school in 2019. Victor believes that chess can be taught to anyone, and strives to promote an open and hospitable environment for everyone at the HHCC.

Being in the footsteps of giants of the club has only further driven him to share his love for chess with the HHCC community. He recognizes the incredible legacy and the unbelievable impact that the HHCC has made on chess in Canada and looks forward to bringing the chess club and the Canadian chess community to even greater heights.