Another Successful Spring Junior Open

On March 18th, 67-players competed in Hart House Chess Club’s annual junior tournament. It was the first junior event held at Hart House and UofT since the 2019 event, and what a great sight it was! The tournament consisted of 3-sections, U900, U1300, and Open and was sold out from early on. This year’s tournament, like initially envisioned, featured free game analysis from UofT’s Varsity Chess Team. It allowed players to review and learn from their games with some of UofT’s top players.

The tournament was a 4-round, 45 minute plus 15 second increment, CFC-rated event, with snacks, coffee, and a great playing environment thanks to the historic and beautiful Debates Room. Around 30 players, 50% of the field, attended the event as their first ever CFC-rated event, which is a great sign for the future of chess in Toronto. With only 4 rounds, those vying for first all needed to stay sharp and not make any mistakes.

IM Nicholas Vettese providing game analysis
Victor Zheng, Tournament Director

Pulling out first place in U900 Section (28 players) was Ethan Guo with 4/4. Luba Shtepa edged out Gabriel Bai on tiebreaks for second with 3.5/4 and also the top-female prize. This section featured the most unrated players , with 75% of the field (21 players), playing in their first ever tournament!

In the U1300 Section (29 players), Brandon Ling placed first with another perfect score of 4/4. Bhargav Ram Gummadi placed clear second with 3.5/4, which meant that a boatload of players would be tied at 3/4. Andrew Song beat out 6 other players on tiebreakers to claim 3rd place at this year’s tournament. Top-female in this section was Isabelle Guan with 3/4.

In the Open Section (10 players), Max England pulled out to an early lead and never looked away, finishing 3.5/4 for first. Nolan Wu beat out highest seed Isaak Huh (2274 CFC) with 3/4 to finish in 2nd. Kailey Liu finished as top-female.

Bryan Liang and Lucas Zhang
Quentin Ma vs Bhargav Ram Bummadi

The Donald Burwash Room, the analysis room, was busy throughout! Our top players had a really fun time analysing and talking with students about their games. It was a great learning opportunity, and we’ve compiled a set of thoughts on the event from our players.

I found it quite enjoyable analyzing the games from the junior players—some games reminded me of the way I used to play as a kid, and others made me fascinated to see the ideas they came up with. The players were all quite involved in the analysis and I hope they were able to take something away from it. From analyzing their games, I realized I still had more to learn from the players in terms of their excitement to show off and learn from their own games.

WFM Cindy Qiao

I had doubts whether it would be worth it to analyze kids’ chess games for the whole day but those faded quickly. It was refreshing teaching and just talking to young chess players who still had so much youthful passion and energy. While there’s only so much you can teach in one game, I’d always ask: “so what did you learn from this game?”. It might not amount to much, but just maybe, that tiny bit of knowledge will help them win someday.

The whole team had so much fun analyzing and giving advice! Some teammates said they did it for the pizza but we all know deep down it was for the kids.

Derek Ma (UofT student and Varsity Chess Team 2022-2023)

It was a nice experience analyzing other players’ games. I had the chance to see many positions from openings I may or may not have been so familiar with. However as an intermediate-strength player, I definitely lacked confidence when it came to less tactical and more positional positions. From this event, I came to realize how difficult it is to teach chess.

Eric Wan (UofT student and game analyzer)
Eric Wan (UofT student and CUCC player), analyzes games
Ethan Moon, UofT student and CUCC player, helps analyzes games.
WIM Yunshan Li helps analyze games with players at Hart House
The trophies

The Club would like to thank an extensive list of people who helped with the execution and operation of this year’s event possible. Firstly, a big thank-you goes to the Club’s Executive and visionaries for the event: Tanner McNamara (lead game analyst) and Victor Zheng (Tournament Director and Arbiter). Their work, alongside Crystal Cao (treasurer) and Bowen Zhang (fundraiser) helped add to the Club’s extensive list of successful events this year. As students, their commitment and dedication to the Club’s efforts while maintaining their academic journeys cannot be understated. They are unpaid, get little sleep, and push themselves and the Club to newer limits every day. We would like to thank them for their contributions.

As a student club, there are many unpaid student volunteers who take time out of their busy academic studies to create spaces for chess to grow. Their contribution was an invaluable asset to this event, and in particular, we would like to thank the following student analyzers: Derek Ma, Yunshan Li, Matthew Shih, Nicholas Vettese, Cindy Qiao, Ethan Moon, and Eric Wan.

On the side of Hart House, the Club would like to thank its supporters at the Hart House HUB, Events, Communications, and Finances Departments for supporting the Club’s efforts this year. As the 2022-2023 year rounds to an end, their help and coordination are looked upon gratefully.

Finally, we would like to thank student photographer Michael Hsu, who provided yet another array of amazing event photos. For Michael’s work, see the links below.

It’s been a great pleasure for our club to organize its first Junior Tournament in over three years. We are grateful for our many supporters,and, more than anyone else, we wish to thank all the participants and their parents for taking part in our tournament and supporting the official chess club of the students of UofT. The sold-out event is only a good sign for the state of chess in Toronto and at UofT. We hope you will join us for our first Youth Chess Championship next month. Until then!

Click on the following links to view: