Jim Zhao clear first in Hart House Rapid Chess Tournament!


It started as yet another casual, student chess tournament but it quickly became clear that, this time, it would be much more than that! This year’s Hart House Winter Rapid Tournament attracted almost 30 students of all skills and ages, offering a unique opportunity to compete and have fun in a five-round swiss tournament of rapid chess!

The competition in the top boards was pretty fierce and some of the participants were really strong player. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was super friendly and truly recreational, with lots of giggling, post mortem analysis and friendly teasing! Besides, the club held its regular open chess play on top of the Rapid Chess Tournament!

Two familiar faces locked in an epic battle till judgment day!

The time control in the tournament was 15′ + 3″ for each player and gift-prizes were awarded to the top three finishers and the top woman in the final ranking. One of the most remarkable aspects of the games was the real-tournament conditions – especially the quiet that all participants duly kept throughout the five rounds. It felt as though the games were official!

After four exciting rounds, with some beautiful games and a few surprising upsets, the two leaders in the tournament, Jonathan Yu and Jim Zhao, were ready to cross their blades in a thrilling death-match!

The last-round match between Jon and Jim would determine the tournament winner!

After some piece trades, the position in the game was simplified into a fairly draw-ish knight endgame. At that moment Jonathan decided to push for a victory but a couple of inaccuracies handed the initiative and, eventually, the full point over to Jim, who became the sole winner of the 2018 HH Winter Rapid Tournament, with a perfect score of 5 out of 5!

Another chess distinction for our Great Jim!

Four more players had a very good tournament and managed to score 4 points out of 5 games but, in the end, the silver-medal award went to UTM’s Seiji Nakagawa!

Seiji Nakagawa continued his streak of great chess results!

The big surprise of the games, however, was the splendid performance of the, yet unrated, Aliaj Jurgen! Aliaj, who was 25th in the starting list of players, managed to climb all the way up to tying for second, beating the top seed of the tournament and losing only to Seiji!

Aliaj Jurgen was the pleasant surprise of the tournament!

Finally, the award for the top woman was deservedly won by Isabelle Xu! The winner in this category was practically decided in the 4th round when the two contenders for the prize, Isabelle and Alexandra Yao played each other in a very interesting game, in which Isabelle managed to prevail!

A very good performance for Isabelle Xu, who won the top woman award!

Our wonderful alumni, Kit Ng and Jonathan Yu deserve an honorable mention for scoring a convincing 4 out of 5, placing them among the contenders for 2nd place! That said, we would like to congratulate all 29 players for their participation and their fighting spirit!

Final Tournament Cross-table

The tournament was run by Alex Ferreira and Panayoti Tsialas, who were assisted in their job by Haizhou Xu. Panayoti also thanked the participants in the tournament and awarded the prizes to the four winners!

We are looking forward to seeing you again for classical chess at the HH Reading Week Open (Feb. 17-19) or for some fast games at the HH Spring Blitz Tournament (Mar. 9th)!

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Rhys Rustad-Elliot introduces “Shallow Blue” and reflects on “Alpha Go”, Computers and AI!


We first met him at the Hart House Reading Room, during our club’s open chess play, when he walked through the main door and challenged one of the strongest players in of our team, Chris Knox! His name is Rhys Rustad-Elliott and he is the creator of a chess engine called “Shallow Blue”. He is also a second-year UofT student, don his major in Computer Science.

Chris’s chess skills proved too much for “Shallow Blue” but Rhys did not give up. He worked hard to improve the ability of his little beastie and, two months later, here he comes again for another challenge, this time against Andy Liao, one of our club’s execs. After an exciting rapid battle in a Slav-defense, Andy’s position started getting worse and, around move 50, our club’s fundraiser threw in the towel. It was now Panayoti Tsialas’s turn to sit down and play “Shallow Blue”. The engine conducted the opening very accurately but its middle-game strategy was not as good, resulting in a long term disadvantage, which Panayoti duly converted into a full point.

Our own Andy Liao (Black) facing Shallow Blue (White)

It was after we witnessed “Shallow Blue’s” terrific progress that we decided to invite its intelligent and very engaging creator for a lecture at Hart House Chess Club.

But what would the topic be?

Well. Our creative idea was to first watch a documentary on AI, humans and board games and then ask our guest lecturer to reflect on the subject of the film and provide his unique insights as creator of a brute force engine! And what better movies could we have found than the 2017 documentary “AlphaGo”!

Directed by Greg Kohs with an original score by Academy Award nominee, Hauschka, “AlphaGo” chronicles a journey from the halls of Oxford, through the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of Google DeepMind in London, and ultimately, to a seven-day challenge match in Seoul between “Alpha Go” and Lee Sedol!

Shallow Blue (1).jpg

After the movie, Rhys Rustad-Elliott, gave us a thrilling lecture on Computers, Chess and AI! Should the evolution of AI make us nervous? How do you teach a brute force engine how to play chess and beat a Grandmaster? Are engines capable of generating original ideas? Those were only some of the interesting questions addressed by Rhys!

Rhys, who is originally from Vancouver, had an interest in Computer Science and Software Engineering since elementary school, when he started toying around with simple programs in Python. Nowadays, he’s interested in a wide variety of Computer Science related topics and recently finished work on his chess engine, Shallow Blue (a play on words of Deep Blue).

It was a privilege to have hosted Rhys for an elite lecture and an even greater honor to have interviewed him after his lecture!

2018 CUCC: A Tournament for 5 U of T Teams!


Earlier this month Hart House Chess Club continued its long-held tradition of representing the University of Toronto at the annual Canadian University Chess Championship. This year’s tournament, which was held at the University of Ottawa on January 13-14, featured five Hart House teams which courageously battled against schools from across Canada in an attempt to win the prestigious title of Canadian Champion for a third consecutive year.

CUCC 2018: A Memoir

The competition was challenging even for the club’s most experienced players. Jimmy Bartha, the Chess Club’s treasurer, offers a brief summary of the year’s most exciting weekend of chess:

“The members of Hart House Chess Club who travelled to Ottawa for the weekend displayed a tremendous amount of sportsmanship and performed exceptionally well. Our A team consisting of Christopher Knox (President), Mark Plotkin, Jim Zhao, and Zehn Nasir finished tied for second place with long-time rivals McGill. They narrowly missed a chance to defeat the eventual first place finishers from Waterloo. In the Reserves section, our C and D teams finished tied for fourth place. While we were unable to defend our title as Canadian Champions, our team is determined and already making plans to reclaim the throne at next year’s championship in Hamilton!”

Jimmy Bartha played Board 3 on Univ. of Toronto “C”

The Chess Club executive this year has placed a strong emphasis on expanding its membership and encouraging participation by both new and experienced players alike. For Alexandra Yao, this year’s championship was an opportunity to showcase and improve her chess while enjoying the camaraderie displayed amongst our players and visiting some of the sites our national capital has to offer.

“In order to visit Parliament Hill and roam downtown Ottawa the day before the tournament, I took the earlier bus apart from my UofT teammates. To my surprise, on that very bus I met teams from other universities who were also participating in the CUCC, and the long road trip quickly flew by as we developed a friendship over our love of the game.

Despite the snowstorm on Friday evening, 30 participants made it to the blitz tournament. We relaxed and got to know one another over a few games of bughouse before diving into 10 rounds of 5.0 blitz.

CUCC provides a chance for competition but also for social interaction and team bonding!

During the tournament proper, I was surprised to find each of my opponents happy to analyze our games afterwards. They patiently demonstrated key moments of the game with me and we discussed stronger lines that could have played. I had analyzed games with my own teammates before, but I had not expected the same practice from unfamiliar opponents, especially after spending hours trying to trap and attack each others’ pieces across the board. Instead, my opponents were encouraging and insightful, and I was struck by their sportsmanship. I learned that many of the higher rated players knew one another well, and had grown up attending the same weekly chess tournaments together.

UofT boasted the most attending players, with a total of 5 teams. Teams played side-by-side and we wished each other good luck, occasionally glancing over at one another’s boards mid-game to take note and analyze afterwards. Eating and laughing together in the lounge, we enjoyed great camaraderie. At the end of the day, chess is a game of war, and it was assuring to have my teammates by my side both in battle and in post-game analysis.

Alexandra Yao: “For the entire weekend, we did nothing but live and breathe chess!”

When players weren’t competing, we were analyzing, spectating, watching GM 1.0 blitz live streams, and even joking about wild chess openings. For the entire weekend, we did nothing but live and breathe chess. It was an honor to represent UofT at the CUCC and a truly unforgettable experience.”

The Competition

The Canadian University Chess Championship is traditionally split into two Divisions: the Competitive Section (Group A) and the Reserves Section (Group B). University of Toronto registered two teams in Group A and three teams in Group B! Team “A”, which was led by National Master and Hart House Chess Club Secretary/President, Chris Knox, finished the tournament undefeated, tying for second place!

National Master, Chris Knox, led U of T’s Team “A”

The competition on Group A was really fierce and Team “A”, seeded #2 in the starting list, was paired against all the favorites (Teams #1, #3, #4, #5 and #6), drawing its matches against #1, #3 and #6 and winning against #4 and #5.

The critical match took place on Round 3, when UofT “A” was facing Waterloo “A”, the tournament’s top seed. Things started out pretty well for U of T, with Chris Knox defeating IM Michael Song on board 1 and Jim Zhao and Zehn Nasir drawing their games on boards 3 and 4 against Diwen Si and Toni Lin respectively. A draw on board 2, in the game of Mark Plotkin against Zi Yi Quin would have been enough for U of T to clinch the match! Mark had the better chances and so he decided to play for the full point but a couple of inaccuracies allowed his opponent to escape and to even seize the initiative, scoring a decisive victory and drawing the match for his team.

“Oopsie!” Mark Plotkin realizes he should have picked the other plan

Three teams, Waterloo “A”, UofT “A” and McGill “A” entered the last round with 3 points. Waterloo defeated U of Ottawa pretty convincingly, whereas UofT was paired against McGill. The match between the two old rivals ended in a draw cancelling both teams chances for winning the precious trophy. As a result, Waterloo finished clear first, dethroning UofT and becoming the new 2018 Canadian University Chess Champion!

“Nasty little thieves, they stole our precious”

For University of Toronto “B”, participation in the Competitive League would have seemed like an uphill struggle as the team was the bottom seed in the competition. However, the four players on Team A really rose to the challenge, scoring 1.5 points in 5 games, climbing one rank up their starting rank and overtaking Waterloo “B” in the final standings (not against our Team “B” too Waterloo 🙂 )!

UofT “B” had a challenging tournament but the players rose to the occasion

2018 Canadian University Chess Championship – Group A / Final Team Standings 

1. University of Waterloo A (2400) – 4.0pt
2-3. University of Toronto A (2292) – 3.5pt
2-3. McGill University A (2201) – 3.5pt
4. Queens University (1943) – 3pt
5-6. University of Ottawa (2242) – 2.5pt
5-6. Carleton University A (2122) – 2.5pt
7. University of Western Ontario A (2097) – 2pt
8-9. McGill University B (1928) – 1.5pt
8-9. University of Toronto B (1811) – 1.5pt
10. University of Waterloo B (1881) – 1pt

University of Toronto A: “We’ll be back and we’ll beat Wat!”

In the Reserves Section the competition between the 18 contestants, representing 10 Universities, was also quite strong! With 5 wins in 5 games, University of Western Ontario C (1596) was the sole and uncontested winner of the League! Interestingly enough, the champions did not get to face McGill C (1495), the runner-up team, which scored 4 out of 5 without suffering any defeats.

UofT “C” started-out with 2.5/3 but in the last two rounds the advance of the UofTears was painfully repelled…

In the same division, UofT’s Teams “C” (1490) and “D” (1258) scored 3 points in 5 games and tied for places 3-7. Based on the tournament tie-breaking criteria, Team “C” was 4th and Team “D” placed 7th.

Three points out of five games and a tie for 3rd place in Group B! A remarkable success for UofT “D”!

Finally, U of T’s Team “E” (843) made an amazing effort and played some tough games against more experienced opponents, gaining substantial experience for the future!

Leah Yapp and Asmir Abihi – First time playing in a big chess tournament!

Unfortunately, Team “E” had to start each round with a handicap, playing with only 3 players, that is with an empty board, as Team A’s Loyd Mai (2353), did not make it to Ottawa, resulting in a change in the line-ups of all the teams and leaving Team “E” with one player short. Still, the team scored one point, tying for places 17th-18th but beating University of Ottawa “D” in the tiebreakers, as UofT players had scored more individual victories!

Playing with an empty board did not prevent Team “E”‘s players from enjoying the tournament!

Setting a new CUCC Record

This years’ CUCC was hosted by the University of Ottawa. Chief Organizer of this very successful tournament was the incredible Vice President of Ottawa Chess Club, Zach Dukic, who also played on Board 3 for U of Ottawa’s Team “A”.

Lots of extra work and distraction for Tournament Organizer, Zach Dukic, yet he still came within one move of beating Waterloo Board 2 Joey Qin in the last round!

The tournament was held in the hospitable and fairly spacious Desmarais building. According to Dukic, with a total number of 114 participants, this year’s event “set a record for the largest participation in CUCC history!” Indeed, the playing hall was packed with dozens of players, proudly representing their respective Universities! As previously mentioned, U of T was the top chess-player sponsor, by sending out the greatest number of teams and the biggest delegation of players!

The Desmarais Hall proved very accommodating

Out of the 114 players, who signed up for the CUCC 2018, 30 brave ones made the treacherous journey through the snowstorm to participate in a 5.0, 10-round blitz tournament on Friday night (Jan. 12th)! The 150 dollar prize fund, which was generously provided by an anonymous donor, was split 3 ways due to a 3-way tie for first between Tony Bao, Terry Song, and Maroun Tomb, each of whom scored 7.5 points in 10 games.

2018 CUCC Blitz Tourney / Final Standings

Στιγμιότυπο 2018-01-24, 10.08.21 μμ

Of course, this success wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and passion of a team of dedicated organizers and volunteers. The RA and Hull Chess Clubs, generously lent chess sets and clocks so that this event could be a success. The very organized and responsible Halldor Palsson, served us the Tournament Director, making sure that everything would go according to plan. John Upper, was present at the event on both days to take many pictures of the playing hall and the players so that the amazing action that took place in the playing could be communicated beyond the four walls of the Desmarais building. Finally, a triad of co-organizers, Misha Voloaca, Sebastian Tansil and Maged Kadri, helped Dukic make the website, reserve the venue and prepare lunch on Saturday.

“You guys did it – you set a record for the largest participation in CUCC history at 114 players”

Next year, the CUCC will be hosted in Hamilton by McMaster University! In his closing statement, Dukic wished good luck to next year’s organizers and thanked all his colleagues – and especially the participants – for the success of the 2018 CUCC. “It warms my heart to see that even as we grow into adults, peer off into separate directions and pursue careers, there will always be a time where we can put our personal lives on hold and meet back at square one, the starting point where we first crossed paths. The chess community among universities is clearly alive and well, and I speak on behalf of the University of Ottawa when I say we can’t wait to see you all next year at McMaster. Until then, I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors.”

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University of Toronto wins top International Team Award at the 2017 PanAm!



The 2017 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships (Pan-Am) was held in Columbus, Ohio December 27-30. It was the 64th time this tournament was being held and someone said this would make the event memorable, for 64 are the squares of the chess board!

“The Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships (Pan-Am) is open to chess teams from post-secondary schools in North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean”, says WIM Alexey Root, former US Women’s Champion and Senior Lecturer at UT Dallas. “At the end of six rounds, four of the U.S. schools qualify for the President’s Cup, to be held March 30th to April 1, 2018. If two teams from the same school (college or university) finish in the top four, then another school high in the standings qualifies. Therefore, some contenders enter multiple teams to increase their chances for the President’s Cup.”

The 2017 PanAm was held at Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio!

Indeed, to give just two examples, four teams from Webster University and five teams from the University of Texas at Dallas  flew to Columbus this year. Each Pan-Am team has four players (called “four boards”) and may have up to two alternates.

The Tournament

Hosted by Ohio State University and the amazing Kelly Bloomfield – organizer, tournament director, DGT broadcaster and advisor – this year’s event was a very competitive one as it hosted 58 teams (but not as many schools since some universities fielded multiple squads), featuring 28 Grand Masters and 16 International Masters! Everything from Ivy League schools to community colleges participated. They came from as far north as Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage to as far south as the National Technical University of Mexico, based in the capital. As always, University of Toronto was represented by two teams and eight players, with Hart House Chess Club’s Coach and Director of Communications, Panayoti Tsialas, as captain of the delegation.

After six exciting rounds, Webster University’s Team A became the clear winner of the 2017 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships (Pan-Am)! For the past five years, the dawning new year has brought Webster at least a share of first place at the end of the premier open college team tournament. This year, their top team made it six, a remarkable streak which eclipses the previous record of five in a row, set from 1998-2002 by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. However, UMBC and the University of Texas at Dallas are still tied for most all-time wins (10 apiece) but Webster is now six-for-six since their inception in 2012.

Nine GMs, 11 titles: Webster’s top two teams and coach GM Susan Polgar gather in front of their six Pan-Am and five “President’s Cup” (Final Four) titles

In round 5, Webster’s A team tied its match with the UTD B team. Since Webster A had been the only team going into the round with a perfect 5 out of 5 match wins (UTD B had 4½ of 5 going into the last round), a tied match was sufficient for Webster to win the tournament. All the games in the UTD B vs. Webster A match were draws.

However, the tournament winner title was not all that was at stake in the last round, as the top four U.S. schools (colleges or universities) qualify for the President’s Cup, also known as the “Final Four of College Chess,” to be held March 30-April 1, 2018 in New York City. Since Webster “A” won the Pan-Am, Webster University became one of the “Final Four” schools. However, as the last round began, many other teams could finish tied with each other with five out of six match wins. When it tied its last round match with Webster “A,” UTD “B” went from 4.5 to 5 match wins. On the second table, SLU was playing Harvard Crimson, which was led by GM Darwin Yang. Both teams had four match wins going into the round. Playing Black, Yang drew against SLU’s first board, GM Ipatov. However, SLU clinched the match by a 3 to 1 score by drawing on Board 2 and winning on Boards 3 and 4.

St. Louis (left) vs. Webster A-team (right) in the critical round five. Webster Coach Susan Polgar observes. 

Our own U of T Team A finished with 3.5 points out of 6 games, losing only to UTD’s Team A and Webster’s Team B, both of which are made-up exclusively of Grandmasters. This performance earned our University the precious trophy of Top International Team, despite the tough competition with other International Teams (e.g. from Canada, Mexico etc).

Univ. of Toronto A was the proud winner of the Top International Team Award!

Also good was the result for the Team B, which scored 2 out 6, missing at least two opportunities to score even more but still climbing higher than its starting rank in the final standings!

“Cheese!” UofT B’s players are smiling at the camera!

2017 Pan-Am Intercollegiate Team Championship | Final Standings (Top 15)

Στιγμιότυπο 2018-01-23, 4.45.53 μμ

All of the top nine teams are “scholarship schools” and invest heavily in hiring renowned coaches and in recruiting and training student athletes from all over the world. In fact, some of Canada’s strongest players, such as Grandmasters Anton Kovalyov and Razvan Preotu as well as Edward Song,  have joined the chess teams of these well-endowed American Chess Universities.  “My concern for our team is being able to keep someone once they reach GM status”, wrote Steve Wolk, Chess Manager for Lindenwood University.  “Other schools can offer huge scholarships that I cannot do.” Lindenwood’s Board 1 used to be GM Priyadharshan Kannappan, back when he was an IM. Now, however, Kannappan plays for Webster University. The highest-finishing schools that do not offer robust chess scholarships all tied with 4.0/6 and finished from 10th place onward: University of Michigan, Harvard University, University of Chicago (two teams with 4.0/6), Arizona State University, and the University of Illinois.

Canadian GMs Anton Kovalyov and Razvan Preotu are both playing for UT Dallas!

What about the others?

During the early rounds, two teams new to the Pan-Am caught our eye, literally. Alaska Pacific University (Anchorage, AK) intended to have a four-person team but one player could not make the trip due to a family emergency. Participating were Board 1 Jonathon Singler, Board 2 Carson Kent, and Board 3 Emily Smith. The team had a rugged outdoor look suitable for representing a university from “the last frontier” state. For round 1, each player wore a gray long-sleeved shirt with the school logo and the men wore suspenders. For round 2, the players had furs around their necks and the men had plaid, flannel, lumberjack-style shirts. After their games, all three players would lose their fancy outfit, replace it with their bathing suits and go straight to the hotel swimming pool!

Stylistically speaking, Alaska Pacific really set itself apart from any competition!

In contrast, players from Northwest University (Kirkland, WA) wore blazers and dress shoes. The Northwest University chess club president is Phiona Mutesi. Her life story was told in a book that then became the basis for the Disney movie “Queen of Katwe”. Mutesi plays second board behind chess expert Benjamin Mukumbya, who also has a counterpart in the Disney film. Rounding out the team is third board Walter Borbridge, who is from Sitka, Alaska, and is one of a few hundred Tlingit speakers in the world. The fourth board is Andrew Uptain, who is a community college transfer to Northwest University and the only non-freshman member of the team. Northwest University paid for the team’s travel, hotel, entry fees, food, and uniforms, according to Northwest University President Joseph L. Castleberry, Ed.D. “In the Pan-Am, Northwest University students have the opportunity to play superior players and grow in their chess skills”, said Castleberry, who is looking forward to the chess club and chess team expanding in the coming years!

The Queen of Katwe (Phiona Mutesi) played on board 2 of  Northwest University

Finally, aside from University of Toronto, this year’s PanAm saw two more Canadian Universities participating, Queen’s University and Western University! Led by the always friendly Simon Gladstone, Queen’s even managed to win one of the tournament’s team awards!

Queen’s University won the award for Top V Team (U1600)

Just as – if not even more – impressive was the participation of Universidad Tecnologico Nacional de Mexico with three (!) teams, whose Team A put up a strong fight against but ended up losing to our own Team B for round 5 of the tournament.

The three teams of Tecnologico Nacional de Mexico

The Event

The hospitable organizer of the 2017 PanAm, on behalf of Ohio State, was Kelly Bloomfield. In a phone interview he gave before the Pan-Am, Bloomfield said that the two largest Pan-Ams in history (108 teams in 1972 and 123 teams in 1975) were in Columbus. While the Pan-Am is not as popular now as it was during that “Fischer Boom,” Bloomfield was hoping for a turnout as big as the 60 teams at the 2016 New Orleans Pan-Am and indeed he made it!  As the Chess Advisor for Ohio State, Bloomfield assembled two teams for the 2017 Pan-Am. Bloomfield’s multiple Pan-Am roles (organiser, tournament director, DGT broadcaster, advisor) convinced him to take the week of December 25th to January 1st off from his full-time job as building automation manager. His dedication to the organization of the tournament really paid off!

The amazing organizer of the 2017 PanAm, Kelly Bloomfield

Indeed, everything was wonderfully organized! The teams were accommodated at Hyatt Regency, a beautiful and fully accessible luxury hotel, conveniently located just a 10-minute drive from Columbus International Airport. The hotel had indoor access to the playing hall and offered a wide choice of food places, where the players could take their breakfast and lunch. This amenity proved very convenient, given the Narnian December temperatures in Columbus.

Despite the cold weather, our Team did not miss the chance to visit the local pubs for dinner

The most impressive thing about the tournament organization, however, was the breathtaking playing hall. The incredibly spacious and bright Greater Columbus Convention Center is an architectonic wonder of modern design. It featured more than 10 rooms – one for the games, one for live broadcasting, one for analysis, another one was reserved for the Webster Teams to Practice etc – and ample space for the players to feel more than comfortable during the competition. We were really impressed when we first saw the playing venue during registration and the Opening Reception. Bloomfield spent $5,000 on a menu that included hors d’oeuvres and pulled pork sliders.

Could the playing hall get any better than the Greater Columbus Convention Center?

All games started exactly on time and the organizers generously introduced new categories of outstanding team and individual performance, for which they awarded prizes! At the end of the tournament, in lieu of a souvenir, each participant received a vinyl, 2017 PanAm chess board with the scarlet and gray Buckeye logo! Scarlet and gray are the official colors of Ohio State and its residents are known as Buckeyes (as are the sports teams at Ohio State).

This year’s Award Ceremony was pretty shiny!

Of course, the tournament would not have been such a great success without the work of a group of people, including – first and foremost – Kelly Bloomfield but also College Chess Committee Chair Al Lawrence, Chief Floor Tournament Director Kathy Lin and Chief Tournament Director Grant Perks. The Executive Board of University of Toronto’s official Chess Team would like to pass their warm and grateful thanks to the team of hosts for their hospitality, hard work and exemplary organization.

Chief Floor TD Kathy Lin with a bunch of Buckeye Chess Boards

Our small suggestions for making the tournament even better in the future would be to improve the official website of the tournament. For example, the presentation of the results/pairings could look better and be more user-friendly, a photo gallery could be added etc. Other than that, the tournament was perfect and our University’s Chess Club is looking forward to visiting Columbus again in the future!

And the Oscar goes to….!

On our way back to Toronto, a chess civil war broke out at Columbus International Airport between the players of our team but as you can see here, despite the gory violence everybody survived and returned home safe! 🙂

Next year’s PanAm will be held in San-Francisco, California, Dec. 27-30! Need I say that we can’t wait to participate?


The Greater Toronto Chess League 2018


The Greater Toronto Chess League runs chess matches between clubs in the Toronto region. Matches are four-on-four, featuring some of the strongest players in each GTA club.

This year’s GTCL is a round-robin team tournament with nine participating teams. Each team consists of 4 players with any number of reserve players. The event is CFC rated and, CFC membership is required. The time Control is 60 mins with a 10 second increment.

Games will be played at The Willowdale Chess Club (Edithvale Community Centre) on consecutive Tuesdays, at 7PM, starting on Tuesday, January 16th.

Hart House Chess Club is last year’s GTCL Champion and this year it is participating in the League with a team of 7 players (RtgAvg:2226)!

To view the rankings in the tournament click here.

Chess Lessons for Intermediate Players


Join our classes for intermediate players and improve your level in the game! Activities include practice games, problem solving tactics, endgame theory, middlegame strategy, and master game analysis with our experienced coach and ex-Varsity player Jonathan Yu.

Improve focus, gain discipline, learn strategy and have fun with some of the coolest people on campus!

Course Description:

This is a course for beginner to intermediate players (CFC 1200-1750). It builds on what we learned last year from Panayoti and attempts will be made to cover different topics. It emphasizes practical play (80% Practical, 20% Theory) and the main topic is exchanging pieces. To accommodate the potentially diverse skill level of the class, starting from lecture 2, two examples will be given at once to illustrate important concepts. One will be “interesting” and the other more “complex”. We will first study fundamental positions and try to understand the result of them. Then we will try to reach these positions in our games through exchanges.

The primary objectives of the course are to have fun learning chess and hopefully we become stronger players; including myself!

Tentative Syllabus:

#1 Jan. 26th: Attacking the castled king, focal points and “the Greek Gift”
#2 Feb. 2nd: Intro to Chess – An overview of the Course
#3 Feb. 16th: Mating Nets
#4 Feb: 23rd: Won Endgames
#5 Mar. 2nd: Middlegame – Isolated Queen Pawn
#6 Mar. 9th: Introduction to Exchanges
#7 Mar. 16th: Middlegame – Exchanges of uneven material (sacrifices), trading bad pieces for good pieces
#8 Mar. 23rd: Endgame – Exchanges of even material

Optional Readings:

Teaching material and ideas will be taken from The Art of Attack In Chess, by Vladimir Vukovic and Reassess your Chess, by Jeremy Silman. No reading is expected before class as many examples and ideas will be taken from other sources.

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

Where: Hart House Reading Room
When: Friday evenings, 6-7 PM, starting on January 26th

Free entry for Hart House Chess Club Members!

Chess Cartoon Exhibition

An exhibition of original chess cartoons by an anonymous cartoonist will be displayed at the Hart House building from February 16th through February 19th. Visit us to see 20 pieces of original chess cartoon artwork!
The collection will be on display:

  • At the Hart House Reading Room, Feb. 16th, 4-10 pm
  • At the Great Hall, Feb. 17-19, 10 am – 10 pm

We can’t wait to see you!