WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola wins with a perfect score in Toronto Chess Festival For Women & Girls

WGM Dana is giving a talk. (Photo: Anna Burtasova)

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.

WGM Dana in Simul.
WFM Cindy in Simul.
WGM Anna in Simul.
Simul in the Debates Room (Photo: Bowen Zhang)

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.

Before the match (Photo: Michael Reyes)

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.

Dana vs. Anna (Photo: Michael Reyes)

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.

Trophies! (Photo: Michael Reyes)

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.

Tanner McNamara (Right) and Victor Zheng(Left) recording the scores (Photo: Michael Reyes)

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
Capacity: 120
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
Capacity: 120
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)

Entry Fees: 
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

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.

Action in the Donald Burwash Room of Hart House on April 29, 2023 during the 2023 HHYCC

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:

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.

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Hart House Summer Rapid and Blitz – July 15
  6. Summer Junior Open – Sat. August 25th
    • Free analysis will be provided to participants by UofT students.

All4chess & Chess4All: Toronto Chess Festival For Women & Girls

The Hart House Chess Club is proud to announce an upcoming event for Women and Girls! The All4chess & Chess4All: Toronto Chess Festival For Women & Girls will be hosted at Hart House on Sunday, May 14th. The event is supported by the Canadian Chess Federation, Ontario Chess Association, and the FIDE Commission for Women’s Chess. event flyerEVENT REPORT


Where: Debates Room, Hart House, University of Toronto. 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H3
When: Sunday, May 14, 2023 from 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Format: 3 events: Lectures, Simultaneous Exhibition, Rapid Tournament
Lunch: provided for all attendees
Cost: free (event is fully financial supported)
Eligibility: only open to Women and Girls
Registration: via email with: name of attendee, dietary restrictions (lunch provided), note if any events will be skipped (lectures, simul, rapid tournament), CFC ID, email address
Organizer: Hart House Chess Club, Tanner McNamara
CFC: unrated
Equipment: Chess sets and clocks supplied


  1. Lectures: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
    • Speakers: WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola, WGM Anna Burtasova, WFM Oksana Golubeva
  2. Lunch: 12:00 pm – 1 pm
    • Lunch provided for all guests
  3. Simultaneous Exhibition: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
    • Simul with clocks against speakers
  4. Rapid Tournament: 5 round, 10 minute + 2 seconds. $1250 in prizes and trophies for 4 age groups (see flyer for breakdown)

Participants are requested to check-in outside the Debates Room for all events.


Live DGT boards: https://lichess.org/broadcast/toronto-chess-festival-for-women–girls/round-2/zlF39sSv

Tournament format: 5 round swiss system at a time control of 10+2. The tournament is played as one big group, but you will be paired against others with the same score as you (if you win a lot of games, you will play opponents who are winning a lot; if you lose games, you will play opponents who are also losing). Each player has 10 minutes to complete each game, and 2 seconds are added with every move made.

The tournament is unrated. CFC regular ratings used for pairings and prize eligibility. Quick, FIDE, or other national ratings can be used in the absence of CFC regular or at the discretion of the arbiter.

Players may take up to one half point bye in rounds 1-4 if requested before the start. Byes requested late or for round 5 will be worth 0 points. Forced byes are worth 1 point.

Cash prizes will be shared in case of a tie. Trophies will be awarded according to tiebreaks: Buchholz (lowest opponent dropped), Buchholz (no exclusions), Sonneborn-Berger, direct encounter, number of blacks.

Players do not need to keep score. The touch move rule applies – if a player touches a piece of their own and is able to move it, they must do so. If they touch an opponent’s piece and are able to capture it, they must move so. Players should pause the clock and call an arbiter in case of any claim or dispute. An illegal move results in 2 minutes added to the opponent’s clock for the first offense, and in loss of game for the second offense.

Make sure the result of your game is reported correctly, and notify the arbiter of any mistake as soon as you notice.


FirstLastTitleRatingCFC/FIDE ID
3AdelinaNicu991 (Q)173958
14MariaPolyanska506 (Q)178767
19Yunxi (Juliana)Chenunr181804
24SerenaWilson1121 (Q)176965
27PurviGadde834 (Q)176158
38ElhamBanazadeh1257 (B)36794619
63Yingying (Coco)Chen

This event is supported by the following organizations:

End of Year Bullet Championship

On April 28, 2023, the Hart House Chess Club hosted its annual Bullet Championship to crown the best player at 1+1 bullet at the Club.

CM Koosha Jaferian and WIM Yunshan Li went 17/20. Koosha perhaps is the most well known bullet player with a lichess bullet rating of 2801! Yunshan, at the time of the event, was the highest rated active U of T chess player.

Juniors Isaak Huh and Ande Li took tied third with 12/20.

IM Nicholas Vettese, NM Jim Zhao, and WFM Cindy Qiao rounded out the top-6.

Thanks for coming, and congrats to all winners!


For pairings and standings after 10 double-rounds, see here: https://chess-results.com/tnr760546.aspx?lan=1&art=1

See below for the original event post…

Celebrate the end of the year with the Hart House Chess Club’s Bullet Championship tournament! 1+1 time control with 10 double rounds makes this an unmissable event! The event was originally scheduled for April 7th, however, Hart House closes early on Good Friday so the event will be held after exams, on April 28th.


  • WHEN: Friday, April 28th, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm.
  • WHEREHart House (7 Hart House Cir, Toronto) – Reading Room.
  • WHAT: 10-round double-round Bullet Event (Swiss), with a 1 minute + 1 second time control.
  • RATED: Unrated
  • ENTRY FEE: Free for members, $10 for non-members, free for titled players. Register onsite before 6:15 pm.
  • PRIZE FUND: Guaranteed $100. Paid via gift cards.
  • SPECIAL PRIZES: All participants will be entered into a door prize.
  • MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 50 players.
  • NOTE: chess sets and boards provided


Any questions can be sent to: hhchess@studentorg.utoronto.ca

UChicago Chess Team Wins the 5th Ivy League Challenge

Ethan Moon a long-time member of the Hart House Chess Club shares his point of view of playing for UofT’s Team B at the 5th Ivy League Challenge.  

This year marks my 6th year at UofT, and my 6th year at the Hart House Chess Club. I still remember walking into the reading room for the first time in September of 2017, a space that was filled with a very different crowd of people compared to now. From that day on I made new friends, and watched novices to masters come and go. Since 2017, I wanted to represent UofT at a team event and I have gotten to do that multiple times, but one that I really wanted to take part in was the “Ivy league Challenge”, where I can play some of the strongest schools in North America.

Ethan Moon in 2017 vs Ethan Moon in 2023, how times have changed!

The Ivy League Challenge was founded in 2018 by Panos Tsialas, a former executive of the club, and a person that spreads positivity and good vibes in general. In his words:

 “As many innovative projects, the inaugural Ivy League Challenge was born out of economic necessity. In 2018, the PanAms had been scheduled to take place in San Francisco, which made the cost for the participation of a second UofT team prohibitive. In an attempt to think creatively, the club executives came up with the idea to host an international, intercollegiate chess tournament in Toronto. We extended invitations to four Universities of the North East, whose teams were stacked with strong players. The geographic proximity made travel arrangements economical and convenient. It was a unique opportunity for competitive team chess practice in anticipation of the PanAms. In the end, the event left us all so pleased, that we decided to continue it in the following year. If I could share one hope for the future, that would be to see the event become more universal; this will happen when the role of the host starts rotating among various Universities.”

Since then there have been 4 Ivy League Challenges, and the for the last 2 years the tournament had been held online. There have been really strong players that have taken part in this event, and this year did not disappoint. Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, Waterloo, and UofT brought some notable names in the field, including Grandmasters, Awonder Liang (Chicago), Praveen Balakrishnan (Chicago), and Andrew Tang (Princeton). The other team compositions can be found here.

GM Awonder Liang
GM Praveen Balakrishnan
GM Andrew Tang

“UofT A” featured varsity players identical to their winning GTCL lineup, along with WFM Cindy Qiao as an alternate.

From left to right: Derek Ma, IM Nicholas Vettese, WIM Yunshan Li, Dai Wenzhi, and WFM Cindy Qiao

Meanwhile, UofT B was formed due to Yale pulling out, and a mixed bag of undergraduates, graduates, and alumni were recruited.

Seven players in different levels in academia would piece together Team B!

Round 1

The first round was delayed due to a late opening ceremony. The players shook hands and started their clocks. Our team, UofT B, was against a very strong Princeton. 

I managed to win against my opponent Kyle Li (FIDE 1777) with not much difficulty. despite the engine indicating I played anything but a smooth game. However, Mark lost to GM Andrew Tang and Matthew had lost to FM Aydin Turgut. Despite being a pawn down in the endgame, Mike held a very comfortable draw with IM Daniel Gurvich.

Although we lost to Princeton 2.5-1.5 I thought that we made the match competitive despite our first 3 boards being completely outmatched on paper.

UofT A faired a bit better in round one drawing the top seed in the event, University of Chicago, with Derek Ma (2200 CFC) managing to beat FM Kapil Chandran and Nicholas Vettesse beating GM Praveen Balakrishan with black!

Derek Ma (left) and IM Nicholas Vetesse (right) managed to beat their respective opponents securing a draw against Chicago.

Round 2

After lunch, Round 2 featured an in-house UofT match, with teams A and B battling it out. This round featured weakest possible iteration of Team B (Elia, Matthew, Me, and Victor) meaning we were outmatched on all boards. However despite this, Victor defeated WFM Cindy Qiao and Matthew managed to draw. My opponent Dai Wenzhi, a very strong player (CFC 2224), beat me at the Pan-Am qualifiers last year, so it was a joy to even out the score. The match ended in favor of us 2.5-1.5.

Ethan Moon vs Dai Wenzhi (Photo: Bowen Zhang)
There are 2 winning moves for white that I missed after 25. ..Bxf5, can you spot both? 

The game of the tournament was also played during this round between FM Aydin Turgot and FM Wesley Wang , which I have lightly annotated here.

After the really stressful match against UofT A, despite my better judgment I decided to play in the blitz tournament. With many of the masters from the Ivy league challenge playing, It was going to be a difficult field. In round 2 I faced off against GM Andrew Tang, who I defeated in a clinical endgame grind.

Ethan, in fact did not beat Andrew and went on to get dismantled in the opening and resigned before move 20

The full recap of the blitz can be found here

Since many strong players were recruited for Team B, I was to be subbed out for the rest of the tournament, and I planned to play in the Aurora Open. However, a poor performance of 0/3 in the first 3 rounds prompted me to withdraw. I would later replace Victor on Sunday

Round 3

On Saturday, the UofT B was matched up with the University of Chicago, and unfortunately despite having a very strong lineup (FM Mike Ivanov, CM Koosha Jaferian, FM Eilia Zomorrodian, and Matthew Shih) they lost 3 to 1.

CM Koosha Jafaerian vs GM Praveen Balakrishnan (foreground) and FM Mike Ivanov vs GM Awonder Liang (background). Unfortunately, they would both lose their games. (Photo: Michael Hsu)

This round also featured UofT A vs Waterloo. This was nearly the identical to their match at CUCC with Dai Wenzhi replacing FM Eilia Zomorrodian. UofT A also played some switcheroo with Yunshan and Nicholas flipping board orders! This time around, UofT A managed to get the better of Waterloo 2.5-1.5, with IM Nicholas Vettesse giving the only decisive result against FM Ian Zhao.

UofT A gets revenge on Waterloo after their loss at the Canadian University Chess Championships (Photo: Michael Hsu)

Round 4

This was a very unfortunate round for both UofT teams.

UofT A vs Princeton was the only match in the tournament that resulted in a clean sweep (Princeton won 4-0). UofT B was paired against Harvard and almost met the same fate, however Matthew Shih again saved the B team from getting swept for the second time that day.

Matthew Shih was the hero of Team B saving them from getting swept twice on Saturday! (Photo: Michael Hsu)

Round 5

I returned on Sunday to play the last round of the Ivy League challenge, against my good friend CM William Li.

Me and William have known each other for 5 years, meeting for the first time at a Hart House Tournament. Since then we have played thousands of games online and over the board, but never a classical game. To my surprise, in this game he decided to deviate from opening theory very quickly.

William Li (White) vs Ethan Moon (Black)
In this position I missed Nc5! which would trap the queen after Qxa8 Nb6!

Unfortunately, after a series of miscalculations I lost, despite holding for most of the game. CM Koosha Jafarian took a quick draw is IM Yuanchen Zhang, and FM Eilia Zomorrodian drew with Ian Zhao. This resulted in our team losing the match 3-1. This result would propel Waterloo to a 3rd place finish over Harvard.

The final round also determined which team would win the tournament with both Princeton (3.5/4) and Chicago (3/4) facing off.

The match that determined who won the Ivy League Challenge! (Photo: Bowen Zhang)

In the end it was University of Chicago that would prevail beating Princeton 2.5-1.5. GM Awonder Liang (FIDE 2643), outclassed GM Andrew Tang (FIDE 2522). Awonder would finish with the only perfect score of 5/5 and enter the FIDE top-100 rating list for the very first time following the tournament.

Closing Ceremony

After round 5, awards were handed out beginning with the best individual performance on each board. Congratulations to these players! A GM-IM-FM-CM parade on the top boards!

Board 1:
GM Awonder Liang
Board 2:
IM Daniel Gurevich
Board 3:
FM Wesley Wang
Board 4:
 CM William Li

Then, the top 3 teams were called on. Waterloo finished 3rd, Princeton 2nd, and Chicago finished first. Although it wasn’t too surprising as they were the top seed, I think any team could have held that trophy.

Coming in third place was the University of Waterloo! FLTR: Ian Zhao, Richard Chen, William Li, Yuanchen Zhang (Photo: Michael Hsu)
Princeton University took second! FLTR: Tanner McNamara (TD), Aydin Turgut, Sam Massick, Andrew Tang, Daniel Gurevich (Photo: Michael Hsu)
Finally, in first place, the University of Chicago! FLTR: Tanner McNamara (TD), Kapil Chandran, Kole Moses, Praveen Balakrishnan, Awonder Liang,. Victor Zheng (TD) (Photo: Michael Hsu)

Closing Thoughts

First off, I would like to thank Tanner McMamara, Victor Zheng, and Alex Ferreira for organizing the event. It takes a lot of effort to keep the tournament running smoothly and they did a terrific job! Also a props goes out to the rest of the 2023/24 Executive Board consisting of Crystal Cao, Bowen Zhang, and Ahmed Khalf. I would also like to thank Hart House for their sustained support of the Chess Club throughout my time at UofT.

Victor Zheng (Left) and Tanner McNamara (Right)
Alex Ferreira

Overall, I had a lot of fun playing and getting to be a part of a tournament with such strong players. I hope to be back next year and help our team place higher.

I look back when I took my first steps in the Reading Room, and see how chess has changed my life. As I start my four more years at UofT, I look forward to see where it takes me!

Click on the following links to view:

Ethan Moon (me), Derek Ma, Cindy Qiao before Round 1.

GM Gergely Szabo Master Lecture on Calculation

Join the Hart House Chess Club on Friday, June 2nd from 6 pm – 7 pm in the Hart House Debates Room for a Master Lecture hosted by Grandmaster Gergely Szabo. The lecture will be on the topic of Calculation. Students and members can join for free, non-members are asked to provide a small donation to the Club onsite. We hope to see you there!

Bio: Grandmaster Gergely Szabo is a FIDE Trainer from Romania and has coached Canadian teams at the World stage, including the 2018 Canadian Women’s Olympiad Team, as the Head Coach of the Canadian delegation at the 2015 World Youth Chess Championship in Greece, and as the Trainer and Captain of Team Canada at the 2014 U16 Olympiad, which won 5th place. As a player, GM Szabo has won several strong tournaments, including the Memorial “Victor Ciocâltea” GM group, Bucharest in 2009 and again in 2011. He is a co-founder of the JtM Chess Academy, the provider of the National Training Program for Canadian Youths, as sanctioned by the CFC.

Gergely will be in Toronto playing at the Canadian Transnational Chess Championship, hosted by our neighbours, Annex Chess Club, expected to be the Premier event for Canadian chess in 2023.

Another Successful Spring Junior Open

On March 18th, 67-players competed in Hart House Chess Club’s annual junior tournament. It was the first junior event held at Hart House and UofT since the 2019 event, and what a great sight it was! The tournament consisted of 3-sections, U900, U1300, and Open and was sold out from early on. This year’s tournament, like initially envisioned, featured free game analysis from UofT’s Varsity Chess Team. It allowed players to review and learn from their games with some of UofT’s top players.

The tournament was a 4-round, 45 minute plus 15 second increment, CFC-rated event, with snacks, coffee, and a great playing environment thanks to the historic and beautiful Debates Room. Around 30 players, 50% of the field, attended the event as their first ever CFC-rated event, which is a great sign for the future of chess in Toronto. With only 4 rounds, those vying for first all needed to stay sharp and not make any mistakes.

IM Nicholas Vettese providing game analysis
Victor Zheng, Tournament Director

Pulling out first place in U900 Section (28 players) was Ethan Guo with 4/4. Luba Shtepa edged out Gabriel Bai on tiebreaks for second with 3.5/4 and also the top-female prize. This section featured the most unrated players , with 75% of the field (21 players), playing in their first ever tournament!

In the U1300 Section (29 players), Brandon Ling placed first with another perfect score of 4/4. Bhargav Ram Gummadi placed clear second with 3.5/4, which meant that a boatload of players would be tied at 3/4. Andrew Song beat out 6 other players on tiebreakers to claim 3rd place at this year’s tournament. Top-female in this section was Isabelle Guan with 3/4.

In the Open Section (10 players), Max England pulled out to an early lead and never looked away, finishing 3.5/4 for first. Nolan Wu beat out highest seed Isaak Huh (2274 CFC) with 3/4 to finish in 2nd. Kailey Liu finished as top-female.

Bryan Liang and Lucas Zhang
Quentin Ma vs Bhargav Ram Bummadi

The Donald Burwash Room, the analysis room, was busy throughout! Our top players had a really fun time analysing and talking with students about their games. It was a great learning opportunity, and we’ve compiled a set of thoughts on the event from our players.

I found it quite enjoyable analyzing the games from the junior players—some games reminded me of the way I used to play as a kid, and others made me fascinated to see the ideas they came up with. The players were all quite involved in the analysis and I hope they were able to take something away from it. From analyzing their games, I realized I still had more to learn from the players in terms of their excitement to show off and learn from their own games.

WFM Cindy Qiao

I had doubts whether it would be worth it to analyze kids’ chess games for the whole day but those faded quickly. It was refreshing teaching and just talking to young chess players who still had so much youthful passion and energy. While there’s only so much you can teach in one game, I’d always ask: “so what did you learn from this game?”. It might not amount to much, but just maybe, that tiny bit of knowledge will help them win someday.

The whole team had so much fun analyzing and giving advice! Some teammates said they did it for the pizza but we all know deep down it was for the kids.

Derek Ma (UofT student and Varsity Chess Team 2022-2023)

It was a nice experience analyzing other players’ games. I had the chance to see many positions from openings I may or may not have been so familiar with. However as an intermediate-strength player, I definitely lacked confidence when it came to less tactical and more positional positions. From this event, I came to realize how difficult it is to teach chess.

Eric Wan (UofT student and game analyzer)
Eric Wan (UofT student and CUCC player), analyzes games
Ethan Moon, UofT student and CUCC player, helps analyzes games.
WIM Yunshan Li helps analyze games with players at Hart House
The trophies

The Club would like to thank an extensive list of people who helped with the execution and operation of this year’s event possible. Firstly, a big thank-you goes to the Club’s Executive and visionaries for the event: Tanner McNamara (lead game analyst) and Victor Zheng (Tournament Director and Arbiter). Their work, alongside Crystal Cao (treasurer) and Bowen Zhang (fundraiser) helped add to the Club’s extensive list of successful events this year. As students, their commitment and dedication to the Club’s efforts while maintaining their academic journeys cannot be understated. They are unpaid, get little sleep, and push themselves and the Club to newer limits every day. We would like to thank them for their contributions.

As a student club, there are many unpaid student volunteers who take time out of their busy academic studies to create spaces for chess to grow. Their contribution was an invaluable asset to this event, and in particular, we would like to thank the following student analyzers: Derek Ma, Yunshan Li, Matthew Shih, Nicholas Vettese, Cindy Qiao, Ethan Moon, and Eric Wan.

On the side of Hart House, the Club would like to thank its supporters at the Hart House HUB, Events, Communications, and Finances Departments for supporting the Club’s efforts this year. As the 2022-2023 year rounds to an end, their help and coordination are looked upon gratefully.

Finally, we would like to thank student photographer Michael Hsu, who provided yet another array of amazing event photos. For Michael’s work, see the links below.

It’s been a great pleasure for our club to organize its first Junior Tournament in over three years. We are grateful for our many supporters,and, more than anyone else, we wish to thank all the participants and their parents for taking part in our tournament and supporting the official chess club of the students of UofT. The sold-out event is only a good sign for the state of chess in Toronto and at UofT. We hope you will join us for our first Youth Chess Championship next month. Until then!

Click on the following links to view:

5th Ivy League Challenge

The “Ivy League Challenge” was an invitational Team Chess Tournament which took place at Hart House at the University of Toronto from March 24th to March 26th, 2023.

The tournament was organized for a 5th time (3rd time in-person) and the University of Toronto was the host. The teams playing in the tournament were: University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Harvard University, University of Chicago, and Princeton University.

The “Ivy League Challenge” is one of the strongest University Team Competitions in North America. The rules for the “2023 Ivy League Challenge” can be accessed here. All rounds were held at the Hart House East Common Room and all games were broadcast live on the Hart House Chess Club website. A blitz tournament, the Ivy League Blitz, open to both players and non-players, happened after Round 2 on Friday, March 24th with a 3-way tie for first split between GM Andrew Tang, CM Koosha Jaferian, and FM Eilia Zomorrodian.

A full event report is published here, written by UofT B player Ethan Moon.

First Place: University of Chicago
Second Place: Princeton University
Third Place: University of Waterloo

Board 1: GM Awonder Liang
Board 2: IM Daniel Gurevich
Board 3: FM Wesley Wang
Board 4: CM William Li

Top Game: Round 2, FM Aydin Turgut (Princeton) vs FM Wesley Wang (Harvard) (game)

The schedule for the tournament was as follows.

Thursday March 23rd – Arrival Day

Teams arrive to Toronto.

Friday, March 24th – Hart House East Common Room

Opening Ceremony: 9:45 AM

Round 1: 10:00 AM

Round 2: 3:30 PM

Ivy League Blitz: 8:00 PM or as soon as round 2 finishes (free entry and free pizza)

Saturday, March 25th – Hart House East Common Room

Round 3: 10:00 AM

Round 4: 3:30 PM

Sunday, March 26th – Hart House East Common Room

Round 5: 9:30 AM

Closing Ceremony: 2:00 PM


The 2023 Ivy League Challenge featured the following teams. In total, there were: 3 GMs, 3 IMs, 1 WIM, 1 WFM, 9 FMs, and 2 CMs.

Chicago: GM Awonder Liang, GM Praveen Balakrishnan, FM Kapil Chandran, Kole Moses
Princeton: GM Andrew Tang, IM Daniel Gurevich, FM Aydin Turgut, Sam Massick, Kyle Li
Harvard: FM Christopher Shen, FM Akira Nakada, FM Wesley Wang, James Toliver
Waterloo: IM Yuanchen Zhang, FM Ian Zhao, FM Richard Chen, CM William Li
UofT A: WIM Yunshan Li, IM Nicholas Vettese, Wenzhi Dai, Derek Ma, WFM Cindy Qiao
UofT B: IM Mark Plotkin, FM Mike Ivanov, CM Koosha Jaferian, FM Eilia Zomorrodian, Matthew Shih, Ethan Moon, Victor Zheng

Note: UofT-B replaces Yale University


View the pairings and standings on chess-results: view the results

Live Games: view the games

Photos: view the photos (credits to Michael Hsu, Bowen Zhang)

Event video: view the video credits to Michael Hsu

From the 2019 Ivy League Challenge