Bughouse Tournament (October 11)

October 10th, 2019 was a very special day for our beloved Chess Club: exactly 100 years before, in 1919, the Chess Club met at Hart House for the first time. A month later, on November 11th, Hart House would officially open its doors, and soon enough, the building would become our permanent home!

Check out this issue from The Varsity in 1919 advertising the event!

So, to celebrate, on October 11th, 2019 HHCC hosted a Bughouse Tournament in the Reading Room! Fast-paced and spirited, this was not a competition to be missed.

Sean Lei and Tanner McNamara, who generously gave their time to put together pairings for the tournament, were also both playing! In the end, the team of Edward/Mahip finished first on 8/10 ahead of Jurgen/Tanner by virtue of winning the direct encounter 2-0. A point behind in 3rd was Alexandra/Joseph on 7/10. Those three teams won prizes!

Very close behind were Dylan/Leslie (6/10), Jon/Kim (5), Jasper/Sean (4), Shawn/Asha (2), and Campbell/Batuhan (0). And it was very competitive–no team ever assured of a victory–with no one ever having more than a 1-point lead in the standings.

What a way to celebrate 100 years of joint history between Chess and Hart House! Here’s to 100 more!


Pan Am Qualifier 2019

The Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship is the largest chess competition in the Americas on the collegiate level, and will take place this year December 27-30 in Charlotte, NC.

On September 28-29th, fourteen club members convened in the beautiful Hart House South Dining Room to compete for a spot on the team!

The tournament ended with a 7 way tie for first at three points each! In the last round, there was a particularly decisive match between Sahan Karanuratne and Jonathan Moore — the winner would have reached 3 points to join the tie (and force a playoff), but this game ended in a draw, leaving both players at 2.5.

We want to extend our warm and sincere gratitude to Alex Ferreira and Sean Lei for volunteering their time to put together the pairings for the tournament and to ensure it ran smoothly, as well as to Panayoti Tsialas for creating the photo gallery of the event, which may be found below. A huge thank-you also goes to all the players who came out and participated in the event!

We wish the very best of luck to this year’s Pan Am teams who will be representing UofT in North Carolina come December!

Team A
Mark Plotkin
Joseph Bellissimo
Dai Wenzhi
Tanner McNamara (captain)

Team B
Juntong Lin
Mahip Singh
Jack Moore
Sahan Karunaratne (captain)

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 fun series of interactive workshops for beginner to intermediate players (1200-1750). We will design each workshop to be as unconnected as possible so there will be benefit and enjoyment regardless of your ability to attend consecutive classes.

A message from Jonathan:

It is highly beneficial and recommended to play some games and socialize after the workshop. Honestly, my ability to teach you chess is extremely limited compared to the vast potential of you learning chess from your peers.

The purpose of this exercise is to offer a personal perspective on the game and share your own ideas and thoughts! If you have questions or comments about anything (not necessarily chess) during workshops, please ask!

Tentative Syllabus (by week):

  1. Logical Opening Play:
    How can we play sensible moves in the earliest phase of the game by developing our own opening axioms?
  2. Valuing exchanges:
    What pieces are we looking to exchange? The relative value of pieces based on their positioning and type and their relation to pawn structure.
  3. Calculating:
    Train your calculating and tactical ability together on chesstempo.
  4. Chess MMI stations:
    5 stations at 5 minute/station. Experience what it’s like to be a serious chess player.
  5. Exchanges for dynamic and static purposes:
    Exchanging to change pawn structure, improve mobility of pieces and other practical purposes.
  6. Rook Endgames:
    Introduction to a family of precise endgames where it is useful to memorize edge case positions (the tipping point between a draw and a win). Special ideas and techniques will also receive appropriate elucidation (e.g., Lucena, Philidor position, shouldering, umbrella, etc).
  7. Student Presentation
  8. Student Presentation

Recommended chess resources:

  • Lichess.org
  • Chesstempo.com
  • Hart House Chess Club and its Library!
  • Chess Fundamentals by Capablanca

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!

Where: Hart House Reading Room
When: Friday evenings, 6:00 – 7:00 PM
(Please note that there will be no class on October 18th.)

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. Over the course of the talk, he will discuss some 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 comment on 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
This event is free for Hart House Chess Club members to attend; we hope to see you there! 

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).

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“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