For Alan (Yi-Lun), chess was initially as unremarkable as an unnoticed pebble on a bustling street. His journey with chess began unexpectedly in high school when he discovered the “Chess Titans” app on a computer within the quiet serenity of the top floor of his father’s clinic. This sparked a curiosity that soon evolved into a deep interest in the game. Since then, his passion for chess has propelled him to significant achievements, including becoming the gold medalist of the 2016 Prince Edward Island YCA Chess Tournament and the 2017 Prince Edward Island Provincial Chess Challenge. In addition to chess, Alan has developed a strong passion for the French language. He’s specializing in French, a language for which he harbors deep love. Beyond academics, he puts his French skills into practice, serving as a translator for a food company and a French teacher at an educational center. When he’s not playing chess or working on French, Alan can also be found obsessively playing Chopin’s ballades. As the Fundraiser, Alan aims to utilize his passions to expand the influence of HHCC. He is committed to securing the resources necessary to create a more inclusive chess community, ensuring that the beauty of the game is accessible to all.
WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola wins with a perfect score in Toronto Chess Festival For Women & Girls
On May 14th a special Mother’s Day was celebrated in Toronto as 60 women and girls came together at Hart House for a Chess Festival. Dana Reizniece-Ozola, managing director of FIDE (the international chess federation), spent the whole day with these women and girls, some of whom traveled from Waterloo or even as far away as Thunder Bay. A strong woman grandmaster herself who has made a successful career in politics in her home country of Latvia, Dana was joined by well-known titled women from the Toronto area, Anna Burtasova and Oksana Golubeva, in giving talks during the morning. Alla Mischanka spoke briefly as well, on FIDE’s INFINITE Chess Project, an initiative to engage children with autism spectrum disorder with chess.
Following the morning talks, the participants went upstairs for a pizza lunch while the volunteers worked hard to reset the room for a simul. Dana and Anna gave large simuls in the Debates Room while several participants spilled over into the Committees Room where Cindy Qiao, UofT’s strongest woman in attendance, gave a third simul. To ensure the subsequent rapid tournament could start on time, a clock was put on each board, giving 45 minutes to the simul giver and 15 minutes to the participants. With the number of games to be played, that edge on the clock was not enough to give Dana, Anna, and Cindy an easy time, and many games came down to the wire in serious time pressure. It was a great experience for the participants to play these games, and some of them even scored memorable points.
After the simul, the volunteers reset the room slightly for the rapid tournament as we finalized the starting list for that event. Pairings were up to start the first round at 2:45pm, and that kicked off a 6-round tournament with 54 participants, surely the largest tournament for women and girls to be held at Hart House, and one of the biggest such events in Canada. Players had 10 minutes per game, gaining 2 seconds on the clock with each move they made. The first 6 boards were DGT boards with moves relayed live and broadcast on lichess. The tournament was so strong that each of these boards featured a titled player in round 1: WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola, WFM Oksana Golubeva, WGM Anna Burtasova, WCM Olena Kucherenko, WFM Cindy Qiao, and WIM Gabriella Johnson were the top six seeds. At the other end, we saw a lot of new faces in chess with 17 unrated players starting the tournament.
Players were fighting for a generous prize fund, with the Chess Federation of Canada and Ontario Chess Association sponsoring the event with prize fund contributions, while FIDE’s support included contributions to trophies. Prizes were available to the top three finishers, as well as top finishers by rating category (U2000, U1600, U1200, U800 and unrated). Trophies went to the top three and then by age category (U18, U15, U12, U9) with prizes as well for the top UofT student and youngest participant.
The top seeds made it unscathed through three rounds, with the exception of Gabriella’s defeat to Ingrid Wu in round 3. Round 4 saw the start of titled players being matched against each other, with Dana getting the best of Olena on board 1 and Cindy defeating Oksana on board 2. Such fighting chess characterized the tournament across all boards – after 4 rounds of play and over 100 games of chess, still, no draws had been made. Three undefeated players started round 5 – Dana gave up her queen in a nice fashion to defeat Anna while Cindy matched Dana’s 5/5 when she delivered a checkmate against Olena after breaking through with a rook sacrifice.
In round 6, the board one clash featured the two remaining undefeated players. In a long game with some ups and downs, but one that was roughly balanced throughout, Dana emerged victorious against Cindy with the clock playing a big role. Several players took the opportunity to catch Cindy in second place, as the tournament finished without a single draw occurring on the top 6 DGT boards.
Dana took clear first place for her efforts, recording the only perfect score. Joining Cindy in a tie for second place were Oksana, Anna, Lucy Gao, and April Zhong. The five players shared the prizes for 2nd and 3rd place while each was awarded their own trophy: Anna took 2nd place on tiebreaks, Oksana took 3rd, Cindy (4th) was awarded Top UofT Student, Lucy (5th) won Top U15 and April (6th) won Top U18. Lucy and April also shared the top U2000 prize.
Top U1600 was split 5 ways among players finishing at 4/6: Ingrid Wu, Chloe Duong, Shabnam Abbarin, Adie Todd, and Anna Gavrileva. Top U1200 was shared by 2 players finishing at 4/6: Emily Robinson and Chloe Huang. Four players at 3/6 shared Top U800: Victoria Lai, Katherine Leung, Angela Wang, and Tiffany Chen. Liza Augistin took top unrated alone, scoring 3.5/6 (after making one of just 3 draws in the whole tournament).
The final trophies were awarded to Laksshana Deepak (Top U12 at 4/6) and Chloe Huang (Top U9 at 4/6). Carter Payne was recognized as the youngest participant, at just 6 years old. All attendees were awarded certificates recognizing their participation.
At the end of the awards ceremony, Dana presented certificates recognizing the efforts of Anna, Oksana, and the Hart House Chess Club in making this event possible.
Special thank you again to the generous sponsors, to FIDE and the Commission for Women’s Chess, the Chess Federation of Canada, and the Ontario Chess Association. To Hart House for hosting and to the volunteers from the club who helped arrange everything on the day – Victor, Bowen, Ahmed, and Alex. Thanks to the participants as well who took time to help set up boards and clocks. Thank you to all the special guests Dana, Anna, Oksana, and Alla. Thank you to Sahan, who recorded all the morning lectures. Thank you to all the mothers who spent their day with us. The feedback received from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, and we can only hope that there can be more such events to promote the participation of women and girls in chess.
The above report was written by Tanner McNamara, outgoing Secretary of the Hart House Chess Club and the lead organizer! A big shoutout should go to Tanner for his vision and expertise running the event.
Hart House Chess Club Summer Rapid & Blitz Festival
The Hart House Chess Club (HHCC) is hosting a Summer Rapid and Blitz Festival at the Hart House Debates Room on Saturday, July 15th. Come join the Hart House Chess Club this summer for some fun!
Format: 5-round CFC-Active, FIDE Rapid Rated, Swiss Tournament
Location: Hart House Debates and Committees Rooms, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H3
Time Control: 15 mins + 10 secs/move increment
Rounds: 10 am, 11:15 am, 1:00 pm, 2:15 pm, 3:30 pm
Sections: Premier, U1600, U1000
Equipment: HHCC will supply all chess equipment
Prizes: $2000 based on 100 players
- Premier: $600-$300-$150, top-U2000: $100, top-U1800: $100. ($1250)
- U1600: $250-$150-$75, top-U1300: $50 ($525)
- U1000: $100-$75-$50 ($225)
Format: 7 double-round CFC-Active, FIDE Blitz Rapid, Swiss Tournament
Location: Hart House Debates and Committees Rooms, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H3
Time Control: 3 minutes + 2 seconds per move from move 1
Rounds: 6 pm and ASAP
Sections: OPEN, U1500
Equipment: HHCC will supply all chess equipment
Prizes: $1000 based on 100 players
- Premier: $500-$200-$100 ($800)
- U1500: $125-$50-$25 ($200)
ENTRY FEES & REGISTRATION (link to registrations to be added by end of May)
Rapid and Blitz: $40 by June 15th, $50 by July 14. $20 discount for students.
Rapid only: $35 by June 15th, $40 by July 14. $20 discount for students.
Blitz only: $15 by June 15th, $20 by July 14. $10 discount for students.
Free entries for IM/WIM by June 30.
Registration: via the Club website by midnight Fri. July 14th at noon. No onsite registration.
Organizers: Hart House Chess Club
Eric Wan – Treasurer
Eric is a third-year student pursuing a double major in computer science and mathematics. He learned the rules of chess at the age of 5, but only played casually for many years. In high school, he became one of the leaders of his school’s chess club and organized club events for his fellow students. Eric found out about the Hart House Chess Club in his first year via the club’s Discord server. Thanks to the club’s events, he played his first classical tournament and made many new friends. As the club’s treasurer, Eric is responsible for managing the club’s revenue and expenses, as well as the club’s budget. With this role, he hopes to make future events enjoyable to help new members make the same great memories he did. In his free time when not playing chess, Eric can also be found watching YouTube, browsing Reddit, or playing piano pieces by Frédéric Chopin.
Bowen Zhang – Events-Coordinator
Bowen is a 4th year Medical Biophysics PhD candidate studying human mammary metabolism using organoid models. He initially started learning chess in grade 6 with the goal of defeating a rival at the school chess club. However, over time he was captivated by how the game blurs the boundaries between strategic problem solving and artistic creativity as well as the game’s rich history. In high school, he served as the president of the school chess club where he not only led the competitive chess team in inter-school tournaments, but also focused on promoting the game to the greater student body. Despite a hiatus from competing in tournaments during his undergraduate studies at Western University, Bowen continued to spread his passion for the game as the volunteer coordinator of the London branch of Chess in the Library, which aims to allow more people, particularly kids, to learn and enjoy chess.
Bowen has joined the Hart House Chess Club (HHCC) executive team with the overarching goal of generating a vibrant, inclusive environment where the beautiful game may be shared with the U of T community and beyond. As the Events Director, Bowen is in charge of running chess events and organizing important tournaments.
Yixiao Wang – Communication Representative
Yixiao(Isabelle) is in her third year specializing in neuroscience at UofT St. George campus. She started to play chess at the age of seven, along with various other hobbies like piano and swimming.
Before Yixiao came to Toronto for her post-secondary studies, she was a chess player in China actively participating in competitive chess tournaments until the pandemic. Yixiao is excited to return to chess again after several chess events in Canada, and she is looking forward to generating a welcoming environment in Hart House Chess Club to endeavor to make chess accessible to everyone. As a co-communication representative, she is primarily responsible for updating the Club’s website and managing emails.
Grace Miao – Communication Representative
Grace is a third year specializing in Environment & Toxicology and minoring in Statistics. She believes that the true beauty of chess is not only in the game, but in the connections we form as a community.
Falling into the chess vortex during the pandemic, Grace experienced first-hand how chess builds a web of unorthodox friendships and is forever grateful to have blundered those first pieces. Her current responsibilities include managing the club Instagram and Facebook, as well as helping out with Discord and other ad hoc graphics work. As a relatively new player, she hopes to emphasize inclusivity for novice players, women, and those in the BIPOC community to build a welcoming and safe environment, just as she has experienced at HHCC.
Victor Zheng – Secretary & President
Victor is a third-year undergraduate student at U of T pursuing a specialist in Computer Science. Currently, he is the Secretary & President of 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.
He is the Club’s main tournament director and is the lead organizer of the Club’s many weekly events. He serves as the Chief Organizer for the Club’s Holidays Open and Reading Week events.
A Special End To A Successful Year: The First Hart House Youth Chess Championship
On April 29th, 2023, 152 junior players and their families travelled to Hart House for the Club’s first ever Youth Chess Championship. The tournament was sold-out early, a reflection of the historic year of chess in Canada and at the Club. The players came to compete not only qualification to the 2023 CYCC but also 12 coveted bursaries for the top-overall and top-girl in each of the 6 sections.
Due to the stakes, parents were restricted from entering the playing hall and photos were only taken by the Club’s photographer. The Debates Room and Committees Room were open to parents and supporters while the Club utilized the Music Room and Donald Burwash Room for the chess competition.
The qualification number was 2.5/5, with those qualifying eligible to play in the CYCC this summer. A 2-game blitz playoff was held for sections with ties for bursaries. For ties after the blitz, a deciding Armageddon match would be held to determine the winner. This led to some very exciting finishes.
In the U8 Section (26 players), Kola Karthi finished a perfect tournament with 5/5, beating out 2nd place finisher Jasper Jia in the final round. Darren Chen finished third in their first ever CFC rated tournament. A playoff match was held between Luba Shtepa and Valeria Kit Lin Ho for the U8 top-girl bursary to the CYCC. Luba edged out Valeria and took home the trophy and bursary.
In the U10 Section (25 players), Ashley Qian entered as the top-seed with a rating of 1761, leading over the second highest rated player by over 500 CFC points! Ashley capitalized on the rating advantage and went on to take home both the top-girl and first-overall trophy. Deliberations by the organizers concluded that there would be a 4-way playoff to determine the 2nd bursary winner for the U10 section. Therefore, Diganth Anish, Yihang Wu, Caleb Langridge, and Siddharth Surendran played 3-rounds of round-robin chess to determine the winner. Coming out on top (2nd overall) and with the bursary to the 2023 CYCC was Yihang, followed by 3rd place finisher Caleb.
Ashley Qian was awarded the first place trophy by her personal coach and U of T’s highest rated player, Yunshan Li.
In the U12 Section (38 players), Isaak Huh came in with the highest rating of all players with a 2162 CFC rating! Just the evening before, he had finished 3rd at the Hart House Bullet Championship and he proved that he was up to the task yet again. Isaak finished the tournament undefeated alongside Jifan Zhao, and in the playoffs, defeated Jifan without dropping a game. Ping Yao Li finished 3rd after tiebreakers and Angela Wang picked up the top-girl prize and bursary.
The U14 Section (48 players) was the largest section, taking up nearly a third of the entire tournament field. Tony Lu came into the tournament with the first seed and went 5/5. However, Nicholas Ossine, who had played over 20 CFC Quick Rated events and not one classical event, also finished with 5/5. The playoff for first went to Nicholas where in Calgary, he may just play in his first CFC classical event! Eric Qian finished 3rd after a last-round loss to Tony. Top Girl was won by Irene Xie 3.5/5.
In the U16 Section (10 players), Ajith Aayush was the top seed followed closely behind by Saarthak Malakar. The two would face each other in round 3 and draw, leading to a playoff with 4.5/5 apiece. Ajith would pull through and finish the tournament with first and the bursary to the CYCC. Third place was won by Andrew Song and top-girl was won by Alexa Ksenych.
In the U18 Section (8 players), Hwang Jeong, playing in their first ever CFC rated tournament, went on to finish 4/5, enough for clear first. A 4-way tie was seen between Ingrid Wu, Pio Nicdao, Roger Guo, and Bek Khamidov. After computer tiebreaks, second went to Pio and third to Bek. Ingrid would receive the top-girl prize. The section was the only section to see no playoffs needed!
The tournament was an undertaking overseen by Hart House Chess Club’s new Secretary, Victor Zheng, the winner of the 2023 GTCL Organizer of the Year. In addition, the Club would like to thank a number of volunteers for the execution of a smooth event. Alex Ferreira provided very helpful expertise as a seasoned arbiter. Crystal Cao, Ahmed Khalf, and Bowen Zhang (photographer too), provided very helpful oversight alongside incoming Executives Grace Miao, Eric Wan, and Isabelle Wang. Finally, a number of volunteer students from U of T also came out to help and we are thankful for their service: Koosha Jaferian, Yunshan Li, Cindy Qiao, Ethan Moon, Derek Ma, Yein Chung, and Ray Wu who provided helpful score collection throughout.
A thank you as always goes to the Hart House staff for their assistance with registration, finances, room bookings, and guidance. Special thank-yous go to Jamie and Naseha at the HUB, Stan at Finance, and Meghan at Events for their event support.
Finally, the Club would like to thank the help of the Calgary Chess Club, organizers of this year’s CYCC, for their special help and guidance in distributing bursaries. We would also like to thank the organizers of the 2023 BCYCC and the Chess Federation of Canada for their support as well.
The 2023 Canadian Youth Chess Championship will be held this Summer from July 19 – 22 in Calgary, Alberta by the Calgary Chess Club. The 2023 Canadian Open will follow from July 22 – 30. We wish all participants attending the best of luck and look forward to hosting the HHYCC event again next year.
Click on the following links to view:
- Tournament Photos by Bowen Zhang
- Final crosstables for the U8 Section
- Final crosstables for the U10 Section
- Final crosstables for the U12 Section
- Final crosstables for the U14 Section
- Final crosstables for the U16 Section
- Final crosstables for the U18 Section
- The event posting with pre-registered and event info
Summer 2023 Update
From May 1st – August 31st, the Hart House Chess Club is open this Summer semester with adjusted hours. The Club will be open every Friday from 6 pm – 11 pm and will host a few events. See the following schedule for notable events planned this upcoming Summer.
Additional events and details will be added in due course.
- Casual Play
- 6 pm – 11 pm every Friday at the Hart House Reading Room. However, starting from June 2nd, the locations will change due to the renovations by Hart House. The scheduled location is listed here: June 2: ECR June 9: Debates June 16: ECR June 23: Debates June 30: ECR July 7: ECR July 14: ECR July 21: Debates July 28: ECR August 4: Debates August 11: Debates August 18: Debates August 25: Debates
- Free for all students and community members
- Chess boards and sets will be set out for everyone interested in playing the Royal Game
- Toronto Chess Festival for Women & Girls– Sunday, May 14th, 2023
- The Club will host the first chess festival for women and girls in Toronto. The event is supported by the Ontario Chess Association, Canadian Chess Federation, and the FIDE Commission for Women’s Chess.
- Free entry for all events
- Lectures, Simuls, and a Rapid Tournament with $1250 in prizes.
- More info here.
- GM Lecture with Gergely Szabo – Friday, June 2nd, 2023
- Grandmaster Gergely Szabo will make a visit to Hart House to conduct a lecture on Calculation.
- More info here
- Beginner Lessons – Fridays for 8-weeks starting June 9 (6 pm – 7:30 pm)
- Group lessons taught by Bowen Zhang
- Room Bickersteth Room, Hart House
- Hart House Summer Rapid and Blitz – July 15
- Summer Junior Open – Sat. August 25th
- Free analysis will be provided to participants by UofT students.