The Perfect Tournament

Below, please find Sahan Karunaratne‘s report on the tournaments which took place on September 25th that he organized!

We can be very happy to put this on page, as we had a wonderful blitz tournament this week. The stars aligned as a crop of players with a rating range from 1000-2300 took stage. Yet this group of people, who would usually huddle in different corners of the reading room, found themselves having a competition that everyone could enjoy.

Each player had at least a couple of players that posed a genuine threat to them. Jonathan Hay and Handknit, two people who typically can dominate a tournament like this, provided the other is not present, found themselves in one hair raising position after another. Both were put under significant pressure by Ethan M’s Berserking which brought him a clear win. Henry Vu, who I might remind you has won a number of tournaments was not only challenged by the 2000+ players, but also players at his own rating. He just about managed to snare fourth place, from what I see now is clearly his sworn enemy Daniel Glasroth. A shoutout is in order for Edmund Chan who managed to play their usual unfazed chess, this time with some results to be proud of! For the bullet tournament, there are two items of interest.

The winner: Ethan M. and the last comment Daniel wrote which is that chess is not necessarily restricted to Fridays. Perhaps our next report shall include challenges made right throughout the week!

NM Chris Knox the Ruthless

National Master Chris Knox dropped into our weekly blitz tournament. The skill disparity among players has always been a feature and problem at the chess club. However, despite the fact that Chris was at times a thousand rating points over his opponents, there were no signs of fatigue or discouragement from the opposition. Rather they were eager for experience.

It seemed as though nobody could so much as conceive of defeating Knox. Then out of the shadows sprang HandKnit. With a rating close to 2300 could they add a blemish to Chris’s spotless tournament record?

The aspiring challenger played careful games one after another. No messing around, the berserk button gathering dust. Then in the final quarter their chance arose. What followed was a memorable game. Chris played the most passive sacrifice I have personally seen. Moments later my jaw dropped as a jam-packed middle game had converted into a stage for three black pieces to dance around a terrified white king. The game like a magic trick has no spectacle being described. I have enclosed my own rough analysis of it here. [LINK]

The two foes did have the final face off to finish the tournament with a flourish. Beginning in the dying moments of the tournament, it would not count towards the final score. However, the stakes were high still. Bragging rights are essential for a healthy kibitzer.

For Handknit however, it was not to be. Chris played a series of “conventional” sacrifices to fin a winning position. Whereas the previous game had Chris initially looking fatigued, here he looked downright careless. The computer may agree with the moves, but that does not change the look and tone of the game. I have not analyzed this game. However, I definitely encourage you to see it. [LINK]

There were certainly other interesting games in the tournament. Henry Vu and Daniel Glasroth fought a bitter endgame at the very beginning. Harthausian never could find the initiative against Chris. Inadvertently you spent every game cheering for them. Hoping that the underdog would find some defence for the artillery trained on them.

The bullet tournament, while having a disappointing turnout, was a chance for Jonathan Hay to run circles around people, with some nauseatingly solid chess. Finally, I goaded him into playing the bongcloud, an opening akin to shooting yourself in the foot. It took everything in him to ignore the self imposed destruction and find some way to repair the situation. Incredibly, his sheer skill was able to produce a win. Certainly a memorable match, where the tournament favourite suddenly became the underdog after a few opening moves.

Shoutout to Wilson Sy and Edmund Chan for playing ambitiously and with care, even against
opponents much stronger than them!

Finally, thank you to everyone who participated. It’s great to see people using Discord and the chat to connect with one another!

August 21 Update

Below, please find a weekly update report written by Coach and former Events Coordinator Sahan:

This week the chess club, having had some community input on Discord, is switching back to Arena tournaments. In addition, we will be hosting the tournaments on chess.com. The move to chess.com will not be permanent. We intend to foster a similar player base to our lichess page, so as to give our club access to variants that are only available on chess.com.


The main variant that came to define the late nights spent at the Hart House Chess Club was certainly bughouse. A variant only available on chess.com, so in our quest to capture some essence of the atmosphere in the reading room, we are aiming at broadening our online platform.


In addition, we have variants that are new to the club. Many members are no doubt unfamiliar with four player chess. No doubt it seems impossible to keep people invested in a game so seemingly opposed to chess, but I hope that you will keep an open mind and feel a sense of adventure as we try out new ideas at the club!

Finally, congratulations are in order for Henry Vu for winning the Hart House Blitz.

Recap of the Week

Below, please find a report written by Sahan on last week’s tournaments and on all of the exciting things happening at HHCC:

Last week the Hart House Chess Club expanded on their latest initiatives. Mark Plotkin provided yet another puzzle and video, and our discord became more active, and is hopefully on its way to become a kibitzer’s paradise.

Congratulations are in order for Chris Knox who had a perfect score in the blitz tournament securing a well earned first place. We hope as many people will join the bullet tournaments as did the blitz!


Yet on another front, we would like to thank everyone posting and responding to Mark’s puzzles on Facebook. It is great to see people coming together and taking the time to figure out the solution to each puzzle. You can find this week’s puzzle at the following [LINK] — be sure to give it a try before the solution comes out next week!

Push towards Discord

Below, please find a weekly update from Sahan, including some details about a new way to stay connected with old friends…

Last week was the beginning of a movement at the Hart House Chess Club towards greater communication between members. We may not fully recreate the warmth of the Reading Room will over a chat room in an online tournament, but we think we could come close! You can find our Discord server at this [LINK].

With our move towards a Swiss tournament for the Blitz, players have more time in between
games, and are able to kibitz more freely. Trying to stay true to our slogan, ‘The Kibitzer is King’,
we hope to have more communication between groups of players on discord, especially for the
blitz.

Sahan Karunaratne will be on Discord for the duration of the blitz tournament. Many of you
know him personally, and we hope that may encourage you to join us!

A discussion of the previous week would not be complete without mentioning Mark Plotkin and
his puzzles. Expect puzzles and solutions to be posted on Facebook, with the links available with the Friday email!

Congratulations are in order for ‘ChessMaster’ for winning the blitz, and ‘Itsjustahobby’ for
winning the bullet!

First-Ever Hart House Online Swiss Tournament!

Below is a report written by the club’s very own Sahan Karunaratne on the first tournament of this kind, along with some exciting news about … online Bughouse Chess!

Hart House Chess Club’s blitz Swiss tournament went off to a flying start surrounded by the excitement of a new tournament format. Then immediately everyone felt the meditative calm of having a long wait in-between games. Feeling for the first time in an online tournament the ability to spectate was refreshing, and had more in common with an in-person tournament. While no one tried it out, this week we are certainly encouraging the use of the Discord for chatting amongst members in between games! After all, we are a club where the Kibitzer is King.

Our Discord can be found [HERE]

Congratulations are in order for the SeriouslyDoubtful with an assured win! [LINK]

Hart House Bullet remained the same, with no new additions. However, the consecutive game format of a standard Lichess tournament does seem to complement the bullet tourney. SeriouslyDoubtful again dominated this format this week. [LINK]

Starting from the following week, we’re replacing the Rapid events with Bughouse tournaments to try something new! Here’s a link to the first one taking place on July 31st: [LINK].

New Additions to HHCC Online

Below, please find an update from Sahan about a wonderful new feature of HHCC Online and some news about tournaments!

There are exciting news at the Hart House Chess Club this week!

First we shall have Mark Plotkin going over our first weekly puzzle at the end of the week. The puzzle shall be sent out to all of you with our Friday email, and subsequently Mark will go over it on Sunday. You can find the puzzles and Mark’s video solution on the HHCC Facebook page — here’s a [LINK] to the first video!

In addition, this Friday we shall be having our very first Swiss blitz tournament. The tournament
will be 7 rounds, with a 3+1 time control. Bullet will undergo no changes, but rapid will be in the
evening. (We’ll host the rapids later in the evening than last week so that more people can attend!)

This week we had Mark win the bullet, and Henry Vu win both the rapid and the blitz!

An Update to the Rules for Online Tournaments

Below, please find a report on the July 10th tournaments and rules update written up by the event organizer Sahan Karunaratne:

We have had another incident of sandbagging and, therefore, I am sorry to say we have
increased the restrictions to join tournaments.


From now on you will require to be approved before joining the team. This is so that we can
examine your profile (make sure you’re not a sandbagger, etc.). In addition, our tournaments will
be restricted to those who have an ‘official’ Lichess rating. That is to say, you won’t be able to
join a tournament if your rating for that particular variant or time-control is still provisional.
More generally, if you have any suggestions for how the tournaments should be run please do
reach out to us either on Lichess (message user GodardGodard) or on Facebook.


I would like to congratulate the wonderful ‘Mango’ for yet another blitz tournament win. This
reminds me of how ‘Mango’ used to have a type of blitz tournament named after him. He
demonstrated his usual dominating presence with a 94% berserk rate. ThePlotThickens and
Rowaanb clinched the second and third place. Shoutout to Rowaanb, in his first Hart House
Tournament, hopefully we will get to meet in person someday! Alas some incredibly competitive
players such as BarryAllenFlash and Jadanac were late to join the party.


You can see the tournament leaderboard at the following [link].

In addition, the bullet tournament had a bit of an upset, with Mark Plotkin frying his laptop. Being
out of the picture after six games, he still clinched third place! Apologies to anyone looking forward to his stream. Rowaanb with his second tournament produced an improvement scoring second. But ThePlotThickens (with an apt name) came first robbing him of his first win! The tournament leaderboard for the bullet can be found at this [link].

Jimmy Bartha – Treasurer

Jimmy is entering his final year of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto with a focus in business and project management. Chess has been a part of his life since fifth grade when he began playing competitively in scholastic tournaments. While his rating may not show it, he has had some success representing Saskatchewan at seven consecutive national championships. Jimmy had the privilege of playing for U of T Team B in the 2016 Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championship where he grew his passion for the Hart House Chess Club; a passion which kindled long before he began university when he discovered the club online.

Jimmy will be serving his third term on the Executive as the Treasurer of the club; a position he both enjoys and is very familiar with. He is delighted to have another opportunity to continue investing in the immediate and long-term advancement of the club and looks forward to meeting this year’s members and shaking off some rust over the board.

A Tale of Two Tournaments

The following is an amazing report of the July 3 tournament written by the event organizer, Sahan Karunaratne! You can also watch FM Mark Plotkin’s livestream of the bullet tournament here!

Two mysterious characters descended on Hart House’s online tournaments this week. During the blitz tournament, upon asking for “Mr. Plotkin” and claiming to be children the two players wreaked havoc over the board. What was terrible was that they were somehow rated below 1200, with one of them being rated 900. There were some cries in the chat that the players were underrated. However, being a welcoming and positive club, it was naturally assumed that the two were merely using old accounts. Accounts which were reflective of their blitz rating in the past. Perhaps FM Plotkin had been teaching them in his spare time?

Then the bullet tournament started and the situation became suspicious. Mark Plotkin was edged out and trailing in the first part of the tourney. Then he fell, well behind. Not too mention both players were rated in their 700’s in bullet. 1900 points under Plotkin. Checking their accounts revealed that they had created the accounts on the day of the tournament, and had subsequently lost all of their games to get their ratings as low as possible. A quick check of their games revealed early resignations.

It became a story of Mark Plotkin triumphing against two unknown entities. Eventually when he found his rhythm he crushed all competition with berserking blows. At the end of the tournament he had a berserk rate of 100% with 148 points to show for it. The two individuals with their vain attempt at humour trailing in a distant second and third.

What these individuals don’t seem to realize is that many members of the club look at their online rating to gauge improvement. This can play a pivotal role to keep them motivated to play chess. Their sole target, Mark Plotkin, was the only person who didn’t stand to lose much.

Everyone else particularly the weaker players were obviously disheartened. That is not to say
that Plotkin was entirely happy, as can be seen on his stream. We take this behaviour very seriously. Multiple members have reported these two to lichess. However, it has made us question the value of hosting rated tournaments. That being said, for now I can see that rated tournaments add an additional layer of competition and so we shall continue our trend of having rated tournaments. I hope to see you all (with your proper ratings) next week!