On Friday, February 10th at 7:00PM, Grandmaster Razvan Preotu made a visit to the Hart House Chess Club to conduct a 15 board simul against U of T students and community members.
Members participated in the simul for FREE. Sign-up was first-come-first-serve and opened at 4:00 PM during Casual Play. Members of the public were asked to make a small donation in support of the club’s fundraising efforts.
Bio: GM Preotu, rated 2478, became Canada’s second youngest Canadian born Grandmaster in 2016 after achieving his norms at the 2014 World Open, 2014 SPICE Cup, and 2016 World Open. He achieved the minimum 2500 FIDE rating just before attending university at The University of Texas at Dallas to pursue an undergraduate degree in computer science on a chess scholarship. He is returning to Toronto after finishing a Master’s degree in Computer Science at the same university.
To learn more about Razvan Preotu, view his Wikipedia page and FIDE page.
Each player only needs to get their own eligibility (a just a letter confirming they are a current student/taking at least 1 class) before signing up. No entry fees are charged and all students are eligible. Universities send teams of 4 players and we can send a maximum of 4 teams (16 players).
First-come first-serve as we can only send one team per rating category and only up to 4 teams total. The rating categories are:
A student who is enrolled in at least one class in the January 2023 semester
An official letter must be submitted which proves every player’s active status in their academic institution. This letter must be signed/stamped by the registrar or similar office – this must be uploaded through the official website. (UofT students can upload a Proof of Enrolment found on Acorn.)
Academic faculty and staff (other than TAs and student workers) are not allowed to participate.
REGISTRATION: Register online via our Google Formbefore Feb. 1st at 11:59 pm. Please ensure that you either upload the official letter from your registrar via this form or via email before this deadline.
PRIZES: First place will receive an online team training session with Garry Kasparov. Plaques to top three teams in overall standings and to top teams in all divisional sections. Top Mixed Doubles team and top team per FIDE continent.
ORGANIZERS: US Chess, KCF, and IA Aris Marghetis as arbiter
All times are in Eastern Time.
Confirmed students will be contacted via email for further instructions. For reference, see FIDE’s post on the 2021 KCF Cup. We hope to see our members ready to showcase our skills and take on the world!
From January 5th – 9th, 2023, eight UofT students travelled over 3316 kilometers to Seattle, Washington, USA, for the annual Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship, the pinnacle of international collegiate chess. Dubbed the “World Series of College Chess”, the Club had fundraised and fielded teams to the tournament every year between 1965, the year the Club first won it all, and 2019. The storied championship pits the best collegiate chess teams against one another from the North and South Americas. The Hart House Chess Club, representing the University of Toronto, had won the championship 6 times, the most from any non-American school.
Here is Communications Representative and 2nd year CS undergrad Victor Zheng’s report on this year’s Pan Am competition!
For the PanAms this year, I wasn’t even supposed to go! After a gruelling Pan Am qualifier, we had selected a team of 8 students including FM Eilia Zomorrodian. However, visa troubles resulted in myself being invited as the 9th finisher at the qualifiers. As the organizer of our team, it was easy for me to quickly fill out all the waivers and forms before quickly pivoting to physically join the team in Seattle.
This year’s team consisted of 8 student members of the Club who had participating in the annual Pan Am Qualifier tournament in September. Our A team consisted of International Master Nicholas Vettese, followed by Women’s International Master Yunshan Li, and FIDE Master Tanraj Sohal. Wenzhi Dai rounded out UofT Team A. Team Captain was President of the Club, Tanner McNamara.
Team A: Nicholas Vettese, Yunshan Li, Tanraj Sohal, Wenzhi Dai
Team B: Matthew Shih, Derek Ma, Cindy Qiao, Victor Zheng
The trip actually was interesting because this year’s PanAms was in January 2023. Historically, the event was hosted in late December. Additionally, the tournament would be held in Seattle, almost the definition of being on the other side of the continent. Thus, a bunch of us were in Vancouver and simply took a short flight or train down.
As someone who had lived in Vancouver for much of my life, I hadn’t visited The Emerald City in a while – the last time was when I was a little kid. As customary, we arrived a day early to acclimate to the weather and the surroundings. I had some time to spare so I checked out Lumen Field and T-Mobile Park. As the Seahawks were in the playoff race, I saw a lot of people saying “Go Hawks” alongside many jerseys and Seahawks merchandise on my trip. I wound my way North through Seattle’s waterfront and eventually to Pike Place Market. I must say that this market is unlike anything I’ve every been to in Canada – the most similar place I can think of is Byward Market in Ottawa.
This year’s competition was held at The Westin Seattle, a quite large and beautiful hotel (let alone expensive!). I wonder what the other patrons were thinking as they saw some college kids wearing hoodies with chess?! By the time the rest of our team arrived, I had already walked much of the Seattle Downtown core and visited some of the biggest landmarks.
When the rest of the team finally arrived and we headed out to a local pub for some food. Tanner, somewhat familiar with Seattle, was our official food guide (alongside his other roles as coach, team captain, and “food deliverer”). He brought us to an Irish (or maybe English) pub that tried to have too much on their menu. Yunshan and Cindy both got a soup that tasted “disgusting” and “sour”?! While Derek got a soup that they explained “was our first time making it”. Thanks Tanner!
The next day, to adjust with the time difference, a lot of us woke up early. Tanner handed in our waivers/forms and we went out to get lunch at Pike Place Market. Tanraj, who is a diehard chess player, was already studying his openings and headed out to Subway instead. After circling the market and surrounding area, Tanner exclaimed “let’s get some food”! We eventually settled on the Pike Place Chowder, nicknamed the best chowder in America – this was much better than the night before.
We then headed down to the Seattle waterfront to check out the Ferris Wheel. As none of us were interested in doling out $12 for a ride, we found a much cheaper attraction – feeding seagulls. Yunshan, who had found some extra energy from her better tasting meal, brought some extra bread from the market and we all took turns feeding the birds. Eventually, we started to head back to prepare for Round 1 only to be stopped by a special little shop. As we took a shortcut through Westlake Mall, we found ourselves outside a candy store. Our entire Team A decided that it’d be a good idea to buy candy for the day – Nicholas and Yunshan filling up bagful’s of chocolate and candies before Nicholas explained to me that chocolate keeps him awake and makes him play better. The rest of us (the entire Team B) stood awkwardly as they purchased their candies.
As one of the leaders of our delegation, Tanner and I headed to the captain/coaches meeting to learn more about the rules of the competition. The rules for the tournament would be quite straightforward, nothing different than what I expected. However, I made sure to ask if players were allowed to eat snacks while playing since we had just visited the candy store! They said yes!
Right before Round 1, we did a little team pep talk inside Tanner’s room. For some reason, Nicholas, not realizing that Red Bull was sponsoring the event, had spent $4 on a Red Bull! There were caseloads and plenty of Red Bull everywhere for anyone interested. I actually found that it was easier to find RedBull than water inside the playing hall. Tanner, meanwhile, kept on telling everyone that he was on his “sixth cup of coffee”.
In Round 1, our A team played UC Santa Cruz – Team A. This round was closer than probably what we wanted, as it came down to Yunshan’s draw to pull off the 2.5-1.5 win. Nicholas lass was against a strong International Master, Jack Zhu, who finished an astonishing 5.5/6. Team B played against Texas Tech University Team A, who had 3 Grandmasters since their board 4 had visa problems and couldn’t make it. Matthew’s game against their top-GM turned out to be the closest of the GM games, as they traded off into an unbalanced middlegame with chances for both sides. An unbelievable Qh4 on move 40 would’ve held a draw. We ended up losing 1-3.
In Round 2, our A team was paired with University of Texas at Dallas – Team B. On paper, their team outranked us on every board, and had an average rating of 2520! However, spirited performances from Tanraj, Yunshan, and Nicholas resulted in draws. And in the decisive game, Wenzhi played amazing to win and give UofT the 2.5-1.5 win and a 2-0 start to the tournament. This win was really special because it was an upset against a scholarship chess school – something that rarely happens in today’s game.
Team B faced off against Baylor University’s Team A, a team that on paper, we should’ve beaten easily. However, after Derek and I won, we held our breath as Matthew faced an excruciating position. Completely lost at one point, his opponent had options to trade down and mate with a rook (there were literally no other pieces). However, he made a mistake and Matthew drew a rook vs queen endgame. This game, that lasted until nearly 3 pm (5 hours), was the last game of the round and gave UofT B an important, confidence boosting win.
Round 3 was the most interesting round of the tournament as it saw our A team take on the University of Missouri Team B. On paper, this scholarship-school outranked us again by a healthy margin, with an average rating of 2432! The round started out strong with Wenzhi continuing his unbeaten streak with a quick draw against Salah. Yunshan absolutely crushed her opponent, IM Josiah Stearman as well, after winning the e-pawn and simply pushing it down the board.
With two games to go, the live broadcast on Chess.com featuring GM Daniel Naroditsky panned to this match. Tanraj, who was under pressure the entire game (and possibly losing), pulled off the draw right as they showed the game. He was in fact winning a few moves before on move 43. In the game between IM Nicholas Vettese and GM Luka Budisavljevic, Naroditsky and GM Jeffery Xiong called it a draw before saying “Salah is Mizzou’s only hope“, even after their game had finished long ago. However, Nicholas, in the aforementioned drawn position, was unfortunately unable to hold the draw. The score ended drawn at 2-2. Once again, we showed how a Canadian school like ours still had the talent to go up against the likes of a world-renowned scholarship school.
Our Team B played against the University of Pennsylvania Team A and saw myself and Matthew pull off draws. Unfortunately that was all that we could muster as we succumbed 3-1.
Tanraj, who was somehow not tired from this long day of chess, decided to sign up with Cindy for the Seattle New Year’s Blitz. Cindy declared “I’ve gotten get some wins!”. Tanraj played amazingly and only lost to GM Andrew Tang, the winner, in the final round.
Round 4 saw UofT in the top-10, and facing off against another favourite, the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley Team B. Although this was their “B team”, they were still an average rating of 2436 (for context, our B team was average of 2058). These games didn’t go great for our team, and Wenzhi ended up as the only one to score a solid draw against IM Victor Rodriguez Garcia. Team B also didn’t fare excellently in this round, with a 3-1 defeat against the Georgia Institute of Technology Team A.
Round 5 saw UofT A take on a Princeton A team led by GM Andrew Tang. The Andrew Tang, who had participating in our 2019 Ivy League Challenge. Wenzhi and Nicholas both loss, but Yunshan’s win alongside Tanraj’s win against FM Aydin Turgut gave us the tie! Our B-team faced off against the University of Utah Team A and saw our close matches continue but still fall in a 2.5-1.5 loss.
Going into the final day of competition, we went in much relaxed, knowing that we had tried our best. We took this mindset against Yale University A, a team led by GM Nicholas Checa. As the second Ivy League team we had in a row, this final match turned out to be a slugfest with 3 draws and only the battle of the Nicholas’ finishing with a loss. The final score was a 1.5-2.5 loss. As for the B Team, we finally pulled of a second win against Texas Tech’s B Team – a full circle after losing in Round 1 to their A team.
The final score for UofT Team A was 3-points, finishing with 2 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses. As we had started out with 2.5/3, this obviously was a disappointing finish, but the A team should be proud to say that they went up against 3 scholarship schools and 2 Ivy League schools. UofT Team A was awarded the Best International Team prize for their efforts.
The final score for UofT Team B was 2.0 points, finishing with 2 wins and 4 losses. These losses were in very tight matches and not many blowouts, so we should be proud of our efforts.
Congratulations to the winners, in particular, Webster University A for taking home the top prize. Also big shoutout to Harvard, Yale, UChicago, and Princeton for finishing well – we look forward to hosting the Ivy League Challenge in March with you!
On behalf of the players and the Club, I would like to thank its many supporters for making this event possible this year and throughout the years. Since the beginning of the PanAms, we have been able to send a team of students to take on the world and represent Hart House, the University of Toronto, and Canada on the international stage. The Club’s hundreds of supporters are the attendees of our annual events – allowing us to fund and lower the cost of sending teams to these prestigious competitions.
As I look back on this trip, I only remember the good times that we had as a team. It goes without saying that these events create lasting memories for those who are privileged to represent the Hart House Chess Club on the international stage. As the youngest person on our team, I have learned a lot about others in the conversations that we’ve had over lunches and dinners. I know that all of us will look back fondly on this experience.
As always, thank you to Cynthia Nevins, Mauro Barillas, Jamie St Amand, and Sako Khederlarian at Hart House for their assistance in making arrangements. A very big shoutout goes to my colleagues on the Executive Board, led this year by Tanner McNamara. We initially only budgeted to send one team, but our enormous fundraising efforts have enabled us to send two teams across the continent. And finally, thank you to my teammates: Derek, Cindy, Matthew, Yunshan, Nicholas, Wenzhi, and Tanraj for making this such a fun trip!
It’s a new semester, which means lessons are starting up again! For 10-weeks, the Club is hosting free lessons for all members of the Club. Students can become members for free! Non-members are asked to provide a small donation for each lesson.
Winter semester lessons begin January 20th, 2023 and extend until March 31st, 2023! No classes scheduled during reading week. 10-weeks of free chess classes for all members! Students can get their free membership and show up day-of! No need to commit to all lessons – you can show up to one, some, or all of them!
Beginner Lessons: Fridays, 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM will be taught by Sahan Karunaratne (CFC: 1495). Sahan is an experienced coach with years of experience coaching beginners on playing chess! Come join Sahan and have fun learning chess!
Intermediates/Advanced Lessons: Fridays, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM will be taught by Matthew Shih (CFC: 2161). Matthew has coached numerous students and is now at UofT pursuing a PHD in Musicology. Rated 2161 CFC, he brings both Varsity Chess Team experience and over a decade of tournament experience to help you improve your game.
For all details on lessons, please visit our main Lessons page. See you there!
The Club invites new to tournament players, especially those playing at CUCC the opportunity to prepare for this tournament with an in-person tournament involving slower games and notation.
This tournament is intended to prepare HHCC members for the 2023 CUCC held from Jan. 27th – Jan. 29th at the University of Ottawa. Beginners are encouraged to also attend this tournament following our Beginner Lessons.
FORMAT AND EVENT DETAILS:
WHAT: 3 round swiss rapid tournament starting after Beginner Lessons. Those attending intermediate lessons can attend the 2nd round.
WHO: anyone interested in playing slower time games
The Hart House Spring Junior Open is back this year and is open to anyone born in 2005 or later! The tournament is an opportunity for up and coming juniors to play other juniors and utilize free onsite expert-analysis from some of UofT’s top chess players.
With three sections for all skill levels, this is the perfect opportunity to bring families and young children to their first chess tournament. It is also a great opportunity to meet some of UofT’s best chess players and explore Hart House and the University of Toronto. We look forward to welcoming families and young chess enthusiasts to the magnificent Debates Room on March 18th.
Where: Debates Room, Hart House, University of Toronto When: Saturday, March 18th, 2023 Rounds: 9:30 am, 11:30 am, (lunch), 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm (Game Analysis available 9:30 – 5:30) Award Ceremony: 6:00 pm or ASAP after round 4. Style: 4Round Swiss in 3 Rating Sections: Open, U1300, and U900. Time Control: 45 minutes plus 15 seconds per move from move 1, for all sections. Rating: Both sections will be CFC Classical Rated (Chess Federation of Canada). Byes: Maximum 1 half-point byes in rounds 1-3, if requested in advance before the start of Round 1. Prizes:Trophies for top three finishers and top female player of each section. Entry Fee: $40 for online registrations before midnight March 16th. Arbiters: Hart House Chess Club Organizer: Hart House Chess Club Game Analysis: Free expert-level analysis will be provided by UofT’s Varsity Chess Team (see below). DGT Boards: DGT boards will be used for top 12 boards to aid in game analysis. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Info: Chess sets and clocks will be provided
CFC Memberships: Registrants do not need CFC memberships as this is a juniors-only tournament with time controls. Rating fees will be covered by HHCC. Unrated players will get a CFC Regular Rating after this tournament and are welcome and encouraged to play!
Coffee, snacks, and light refreshments will be provided for parents and players.
Withdrawals: Full refund by March 10, Refunds from March 11to close of online registrations are charged $10 fee.
Registration: TOURNAMENT SOLD OUT – WAITLISTS ARE OPEN – see HHYCC for our next junior event
All players must have been born on or after year 2005. Tournament is for juniors 18 and under.
Online registration is recommended and available until March 16th at 11:59pm. Telephone and in-person registration also available through the Hart House HUB. You can join the waitlist to be informed of any openings.
Registrants after March 17th must pay on-site entry fee ($50). Extra $10 to play up a section. Playing up is allowed only for players within 100 rating points of the section’s minimum rating. The $10 added play up fee is charged in-person. For example: a player in the Under 900 section who wants to play up in the Under 1300 section must have a rating no lower than 800.
The tournament will admit up to ~70 participants.
HHCC will aim to provide an official photographer for this event. See HHCC Holidays Open for examples of our tournament photos.
Game analysis will be provided by UofT’s Varsity Chess Team and other strong players after each round in the Burwash Room and Committees Room. All players are encouraged to record their moves and show them to HHCC player’s for their feedback and learn from their games. The Club will also utilize its storage of DGT Boards with move tracking to aid in the Varsity Team’s analysis and provide real-time analysis immediately following games.
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! More details announced closer to the event.
FORMAT AND EVENT DETAILS
WHEN: Friday, April 7th (Good Friday), 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Rd #1 starts at 6:30 P.M.
WHERE: Hart House (7 Hart House Cir, Toronto) – East Common Room.
WHAT: 10-round double-round Bullet Event (Swiss), using a 1 minute + 1 second time control.
ENTRY FEE: Free for members, $10 for non-members, free for titled players. Pay onsite before 7 pm.
PRIZE FUND: Guaranteed $250. 1st: $100, 2nd: $50, 3rd: $25, top-unrated: $25, top-U1600: $25, top-woman: $25. Payable by cheque or gift cards.
SPECIAL PRIZES: All participants will be entered into a door prize for a HHCC t-shirt and toque.
Join us for the 2023 Ivy League Blitz during the Ivy League Challenge! Open to all, this 7-round unrated Swiss event features $400 in prizes and top-players from Ivy League schools are expected to play! Students and community members are welcome and encouraged to come!
WHAT: 7-round single-round Blitz Event (Swiss), using a 3 minute + 2 second time control.
ENTRY FEE: $5 for members, $10 for non-members, free for FMs at least 1 week before. Free for Ivy League Challenge participants. Pay online via registration page by midnight Mar. 23rd or onsite with cash before 7:45pm (if space permits).
PRIZE FUND: Minimum $400 as follows: 1st place – $115; 2nd place – $75; 3rd place – $50; Top Woman – $40; Top U1900 – $40; Top U1400 – $40.
SPECIAL PRIZES: All participants will be entered into a door prize for a HHCC hoodie, t-shirt, and toque.
PIZZA: FREE PIZZA for everyone served at ~7:15 PM
MAXIMUM CAPACITY: 60 players.
NOTE: chess sets and boards provided
ORGANIZER: Hart House Chess Club with Alex Ferreira as arbiter.
Come out of the cold and join us inside the Reading Room of Hart House on Friday, February 3rd from 7:10 pm – 9:00 pm for a bughouse tournament! You can sign up at the Hart House Reading Room anytime between 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm during Casual Play the day of. If you don’t have a team, you can register as a “solo,” and we will pair you up. This is the perfect way to meet new people and have a good time!
If you don’t know the rules of the game, come by and chat with an Exec before the tournament!
Free entries for all members and the prize will be two $25 gift cards for the two players of the winning team! (for non-members, a fee of $5)
Bughouse is a popular variant of chess that is played with teams of 2 players. The goal of this tournament is to get you to engage with others and have fun! It should be a fun night! We play bughouse with clock move and place-mates.
FORMAT AND EVENT DETAILS
WHEN: Friday, February 3rd, 7pm – 9pm. Rd #1 starts at 7:10 P.M.
WHERE: Hart House (7 Hart House Cir, Toronto) – Reading Room.
WHAT: 6-round single-round Blitz Event (Swiss), using a 5 minute time control.
ENTRY FEE: Free for members, $5 for non-members. Pay onsite with cash before 7:00pm. Free for titled players.
PRIZE FUND: $25 for each member of the winning team.
SPECIAL PRIZES: All participants will be entered into a door prize for a HHCC t-shirt and toque.
To officially welcome back everyone to the HHCC, we’ll be hosting our semi-annual Welcome Back Pizza Party! We hope you will join us on Friday, January 13th, 6-7pm 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! Free pizza for all!