Ivy League Chess Challenge (8-10 November 2019)

We are thrilled to share with you an opportunity to attend an international chess competition hosted by the Hart House Chess Club. The 2nd Ivy League Chess Challenge is to be held 8-10 November 2019 at the Hart House Building.

Our beloved club will take on four reputable U.S. Universities of the North East (Michigan, Harvard, Yale and Princeton) and we are looking for eight players to represent University of Toronto in this team competition! Each of the 5 rounds will be played with 90′ + 30″ time control and the games will be FIDE rated. All current UofT students who purchase an annual HHCC membership for the 2019-2020 academic year will be eligible to participate in the tournament for a discounted entry fee of $30 per player.

If this is an event that interests you, we encourage you to please let us know by sending an email to hhchess@utoronto.ca by no later than Friday, September 20th, 10 pm. In your e-mail please include:

– Your CFC/FIDE/other rating.
– The level of your commitment for the three days of the tournament.

The selections will be made over the weekend based on these two selection criteria and announced on Monday, September 23rd.

This is a fantastic opportunity to represent UofT and we hope you will consider joining our team! Of course, should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

We look forward to hearing back from you soon!

Middlegame Seminar (Intermediate-Advanced)

Lead by National Master and ex-Varsity player Jonathan Yu (CFC 2225), this is a more rigorous seminar, targeted at intermediate-advanced chess players, ranging from 1300 to 1700 CFC rating. This semester’s lessons will focus on middlegame chess strategy with a special emphasis on how the pieces normally develop during a game. The Workshop will run every Friday from September 20, 6-7 PM, and the lessons will be taking place at the Hart House Reading Room.

Jon's Lessons

Some prior experience and time commitment is required of the participants: if you wish to participate, on one of the weeks, you will present your favourite game, annotated, and explain one critical moment where calculation was important. Try to find at least one move in the game where you made an interesting move based on general middlegame principles (refer to checklist below). Please prepare your presentation to be about 30 minutes, and be ready for a 30 minute Q&A session where we will all discuss these ideas together.

The purpose of this exercise is to offer a personal perspective on the game and share your own ideas and thoughts!

Checklist of skills and concepts to be discussed throughout the workshop:

  • Development: try to improve and/or develop your worst piece
  • Knights: finding weak squares, knight trades, restriction of knights
  • Bishops: weak diagonals, unopposed bishops, bad vs good, bishop trades
  • Bishop vs Knight: bishop pair, comparative value, practical considerations
  • Rooks: open files and ranks, 7th rank trades
  • Queen: balancing safety and influence, joining the battle at a moment’s notice
  • Pawn structure: weak pawns, passed pawns, static vs dynamic pawn structure,
    the relationship between pawn structure and the mobility of your and your opponent’s pieces
  • Space: restriction of your opponent’s pieces and the increased mobility of your own, corresponding square control
  • Initiative: making your opponents react to your moves
  • Material vs Position: poisoned pawns, sacrifice for positional compensation or King safety, exchange sacrifices (B v R, R + B v Q, B + N v R + 2P)
  • Endgame considerations: how pawn structure affects the endgame and determines which pieces you would like to exchange

Instructor: Jonathan Yu
E-mail: yujonat2@gmail.com

Please send Jonathan an e-mail to let him know that you would like to join the workshop and/or to sign up for a week to give your presentation!

Where: Hart House Reading Room
When: Friday evenings, 6:00 – 7:00 PM

Free entry for Hart House Chess Club Members!*

*An annual student membership costs only $25 and it is valid for the entire year.

My Life with HHCC in the 70’s: A lecture by FM Stephen Boyd

HHCC is pleased to announce that FM and IA Stephen Boyd will be hosting a lecture in the evening of October 4th on games from the Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship Tournaments where he participated in the 70’s. He will also talk about his experiences at the Hart House Chess Club and share some anecdotes about his life in chess.  We hope you will join us to hear Mr. Boyd discuss the evolution and history of our beloved chess club, offer some spectacular game analysis, and lead a Q&A session.


Event details
Date: 4 October 2019
Location: Hart House Debates Room
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 pm

About the Speaker
Stephen Boyd started playing chess seriously at the age of 15. He passed his last high school and university years playing chess. He is well-known as an organiser, arbiter and committee member in Canada. He played on two Pan-Am Championship teams in 1973 and 1974. He became an International Arbiter in 1987 and FIDE Master in 1993. In 1991 he left Canada to live in France and he became a full-time chess professional as a technical person, teacher, trainer, arbiter and organiser. Every year he is one of the principal arbiters at the Gibraltar Chess Festival.

Stephen is also a French/Canadian International Arbiter (1989), FIDE Master (1993), ICCF IM (2009). He studied Philosophy and Mathematics at the University of Toronto and also studied printing. He worked as a typographer during the 1980-90s. He started directing tournaments at the age of 16 during the Fischer boom and was on the staff of Chess Canada. An active organizer in Canada until 1991 he then moved to France. He co-founded the Club d’Echecs International de Toulouse and later worked for the French Chess Federation. He was the rating officer of the French Chess Federation from 2005-2010. He is presently a member of the FIDE arbiters’ commission. He is also involved in the training of arbiters and chess teachers.

He was chief arbiter of the World Youth Championship (1997, Cannes), the World Cup of Rapid Chess (1998, Cap d’Agde and 2001, Cannes) and the European Blitz Championship (2006, Cannes). He regularly directs Open tournaments in the south of France (St. Affrique, Cannes, Toulouse, Cap d’Agde and Montpellier). Over-the-board, he represented Canada in the student Olympiads in Mexico City in 1980 and France in the Mitropa Cup in 1999 in Baden, Switzerland. In postal chess, he was two-time Canadian Champion and was 2nd in the North American Championship of 1989-1992 (World Chpt. ¼ final).

Stephen Boyd Lecture.png

“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.

Pizza Party

Our first official meeting of the year is coming up next week — and, as always, we’ll be hosting a pizza party! We hope you will join us on Friday, September 13th, 6-8pm in the Hart House Reading Room as we celebrate the start of another chess-filled year.

This is a wonderful opportunity to see your old chess friends and to meet new ones. We’ll also be sharing lots of exciting news and would love to answer any questions you might have about HHCC, so please do come by!

Poster for Pizza Party.png

Learn to Play Chess Workshop — Fall 2019

Starting September 20th, Sahan Karunaratne, who was the External Events Coordinator in 2018-2019, will be hosting a 8-lesson workshop to introduce beginners totally new to the game or with very little training to the wonderful world of chess! Join Sahan and your fellow chess club members on Friday evenings, 5-6 pm in the Reading Room (please see below for details and a tentative syllabus) as you explore the rules, and learn about chess notation, game analysis, strategy and tactics!


Tentative Syllabus

September 20th – The Rules of the Game

September 27th – Foreshadowing Tactics: Board Vision and Blunder Capitalization

October 4th – Chess Notation Key Squares and Move by Move Positional Changes

October 11th – Foreshadowing Strategy: Checkmating Patterns

October 25th – Introduction to Tactics: The Double Attack and the Skewer

November 1st – Pins

November 8th – Introduction to Strategic Thinking – Opening, Middlegame and Endgame

November 15th – Combining Tactics and Strategy

(NB: There will be no lesson on October 18th)

Where: Hart House Reading Room
When: Friday evenings, 5:00 – 6:00 PM

Free entry for Hart House Chess Club Members!*

*A student membership costs only $25 and is valid for the entire year.

For whom is the Beginners Workshop intended?
The Beginners Workshop is for players who are either new to the game or else have
little to no training game.

What will you be able to do after completing all the workshops?

At the end of the workshop, you will be able to employ simple methods of evaluating positions; you will be able to apply common tactics such as forks, skewers and pins while thinking multiple moves ahead. Most importantly, you will drastically reduce the number of blunders you make (which will take your game to a new level!) and be able to defend against a considerable number of dubious traps. On the strategic side, you will be able to utilize opening principles to further strengthen both your attacks and defenses. You will also have developed the basic skills necessary in pawn endgames at their disposal and have knowledge of other key endgames.

What can you expect from each workshop?

The lessons are designed to train students in using multiple different recurring themes in chess to their advantage. This workshops are structured in such a way that reinforces past material and foreshadows upcoming topics. Each workshop will be mostly comprised of puzzles that are designed so as to allow the instructor to highlight the key patterns and ideas. Most lessons will incorporate a discussion of a real game to illustrate concepts in action.

Finally, please note that the motivation for providing these chess lessons is not just to make you better chess players but also to give you a sense of community at the Hart House Chess Club. We intend to make you confident in saying that you are a part of the chess community at large! We are trying our best to ensure that after these workshops are over, you will be able to read chess books, ask specific questions of your peers and thus rapidly improve. You can expect, if nothing else, that the workshops will demystify a lot of what is going on in the club, and any trepidation you feel will disappear!


Sahan Karunaratne

Sahan Karunaratne
Current CFC rating: 1495

SahanSahan has employed a vast number of strategies when teaching chess in the past as the president of his high school chess club. Some, such as exhaustively and exclusively reviewing an extremely complicated game, proved not to be beneficial or enjoyable. Others, such as starting of with the examination of simple positions and then turning to differing positions with the same underlying ideas but with increasing complexity have met with great success.

In particular, Sahan has discovered this use of puzzles to be an effective tool to train one of the skills most crucial to chess improvement: pattern recognition. In his lessons, he hopes to preserve the same joy that comes from playing chess, which, unfortunately, is often missing in chess instruction. Thus, he likes to place as much emphasis on solving puzzles as is reasonable, and he especially enjoys displaying beautiful games of chess.

Sahan would also like to add that he would not have been an active member of the Hart House Chess Club if it had not been for Panayioti Tsialas, who was an executive at the time. He constantly encouraged Sahan to take part in chess club events, participate in tournaments and spent a considerable amount of time when giving me thorough advice on how to improve his game. Sahan hopes to be able to replicate at least some of what Panayoti was able to do for his experience at the Hart House Chess Club in his capacity as a coach.

Chess Bio
Events Coordinator at HHCC 2018-19
– 2nd year studying for an Applied Mathematics with Statistics Specialist
– Learnt chess at the age of 5
– Began playing rated tournaments after joining the Hart House Chess Club