It was towards the end of Spring 2018 when the idea came to us and started getting a shape. We took some time to deliberate about it and to weigh its advantages against its potential difficulties and, in the end, we made our final decision! Hart House Chess Club would organize a series of Junior Chess Tournaments in 2018-2019, hosting its first pilot project in June 2018!
And so we did. The 2018 Hart House Summer Junior Open was a 5-round Swiss tournament, which was held in the Music and Debates rooms of Hart House on the 22nd and 23rd of June. But our goal was not to host just another junior tournament of which there are so many successful ones in Toronto. Rather, we focused on turning this tournament into a meaningful educational experience for the young chess players, that is a serious competition, which would really help the kids to improve their practical, tournament play. For this reason, we chose to set the time control at 55 min + 5”/move (long games) and to make this an officially CFC rated tournament.
Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the tournament, however, was introduction of a separate analysis room, with plenty of chess boards, as part of the larger tournament venue. After the end of their games, the kids would take heir scoresheets and go to the analysis room, where they were joined by some of Hart House Chess Club’s strongest players. These experienced players, some of whom are National Masters, reviewed the games with the kids and offered them helpful advice on how to improve their game. The parents were also allowed to attend the analysis room and ask questions about their children’s good and bad moments in the game.
Finally, since the games were long and the participants had to spend almost a full day at Hart House, we tried to make this a pleasant experience for the parents as well! A rich buffet with lots of coffee, tea, snacks and refreshments was offered in the analysis room and, during the morning/noon rounds, a big screen with a projector and loud speakers was set-up in the Hart House Reading Room, allowing the parents and kids to choose one of the comfortable couches and enjoy the World Cup Games.
As regards the competition itself, more than 30 kids took part in it, the tournament being split into two Sections: an Under 1300 section and an Under 800 section to encourage players of all skill levels and awards were given to the top three finishers of each section as well as the top female players.
The games were really close, especially in the U-1300 section, in which two players of Russian background, Mark Rozin and Alexander Fedyushchenenko finished first with 4 points out of 5 games. Since the two players had not played each other during the five rounds of the tournament there was no head-to-head tie-breaker and the winner would be decided in a 5′ + 2” play-off game.
The battle was indeed very close (Fedyushchenenko had White) and after 40 moves the game was led into a Rook endgame with each player also having 6 pawns. After a couple of inaccuracies by Fedyushchenenko, Rozin was able to activate his King and Rook, forcing his opponent to sacrifice his Rook to prevent the promotion and moving on to win the game. After that, Mark Rozin became the winner of the 2018 Summer Junior Open (U-1300) followed by the equally able Alexander Fedyushchenenko. The Bronze medal went to Sven Coat, who scored 3.5 points out of 5, whereas the top female award was won by the Isabelle Duanmu with 2 out of 5.
Though there were more participants in the U-800 Section there was also a clear winner. After a streak of three victories in the first three rounds, Ivan Huang and Owen Lee finally played each other on Round 4 of the Tournament. The game had its ups and downs with both players getting chances to strike but, in the end, the two young students of CCYC agreed to split the point. This result meant that, with just one round to go, each of them had 3.5 out of 4 . Right behind them in the standings were Carina D’Souza and Gunanming Yu with 3 points each. After two long games, Ivan Huang managed to break through Carina D’Souza’s resistance, whereas Owen Lee lost to Guanming Yu. On the bright side, all four players won awards for their splendid performance! Ivan Huang was clear first with 4.5/5 and won the prestigious Trophy!
Guanming Yu also finished undefeated, winning the second place with 4/5. Three players tied for first place with 3.5/5 but the bronze medal award went to Owen Lee thanks to his superior tie-breaking criteria. Of course, an honorable mention must be made of Jeffrey Zhuang and Jeremy Zhu who also scored 3.5 points, tying for third place. Finally, the top woman award went to the amazing Carina D’Souza, who, in her very first tournament, scored 3 out 5, consistently playing in the upper boards of her section!
Lots of people joined together to make this tournament happen. The very experienced Alex Ferreira served as the Chief Arbiter of the tournament and was also responsible for the registrations of the participants. Sahan Karunaratne was the main floor arbiter, but he also put an enormous amount of work into the preparation of the tournament. Alexandra Yao took the beautiful event pictures, which have been posted on our on-line library. Jimmy Bartha once again took up the difficult job of the financial accounting of the tournament and also helped with the logistics of the tournament.
Lots of credit is due to Mrs Zara Toyserkani, who labored very hard on the tournament “catering”, making sure that the buffet was always filled with plenty of treasures and open to the participants and their parents.
A heartfelt thank you must also be extended to National Masters Haizhou Xu (2324), Jonathan Yu (2225) and Zehn Nasir (2306) as well as to Panayoti Tsialas (2022) Leslie Tang (1756) and Sahan Karunaratne (1337), who generously volunteered their time and energy, analyzing the games of the kids! The tournament was directed by Panayoti Tsialas.
Finally, the warmest thanks of all is owed to the parents of the kids, who took the extra step and brought their kids to this long event. They deserve some high praise of the support they offer to their children in their meaningful engagement with the royal game.
In lieu of an epilogue, we would like to reiterate that this tournament was just a pilot project: an honest first attempt, aimed at helping us better understand the challenges of organizing a series of junior competitions in the next year. As organizers, we took detailed notes of a number of things, which the participants enjoyed and would like to see again in the future, as well as of certain improvements which need to be made (e.g. earlier advertising, computerized pairings, adding an open section etc).
For the complete List of Participants and for a a full record of the Pairings, Results and Final Standing in each Section of the Tournament, click on following links:
You can also check out the Photo Gallery of the Tournament!
We would like to thank everybody who participated in the tournament, we promise them that we will work hard to raise the level of the tournament even higher and we hope to see you all again in Fall!
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