William Li wins Hart House’s Fischer Random Tournament!

Fischer chess (Chess 960), invented by Bobby Fischer is a variant of chess designed to remove any opening theory advantages. The tournament like all 960 games was very frustrating for the seasoned club player who can talk at length on a number of opening lines. Featuring the very strange sight of extensive thinking on the very first move, the tournament was a challenge even for the most seasoned players.

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Arthur Terra was the youngest participants in the tournament

As the games progressed into bizarre middlegames with multiple pieces lying on awkward squares, the players found themselves straining past their normal strategic thinking to unlock their forces. Numerous upsets occured as players were caught in the swirl of a game that was both familiar to and starkly different to the game that they loved. This was particularly true for the endgame which should have been the most familiar, but instead wound up being a complicated mess with no side being familiar at all with the position that was presented.

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The decisive last-round match between William Li and Leslie Tang ended in a 1-1 tie!

In terms of individual results, William Li demonstrated a cool calculating mind, avoiding the usual pitfalls and blunders that are encouraged by such a challenging variant. Constantly placed on the first board, Li was able to demonstrate a competency that resulted in no match losses. Comfortably cruising with 8 points total, he dominated the field to receive first place.

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8 out of 10 and first place without any defeats for William Li!

In second place was Edward Chan with 6.5 points, a veteran at the club he demonstrated keen positional understanding.

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Edward Chan’s solid tactical play gave him the deserved second place!

Third place was won by Kevin Li with 6 points who once again reinforced his honorary title as “mini-stockfish”.

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Kevin Li scored 6 out of 10 and finished in the bronze-medal position!

An honorable mention should go to Leslie Tang, our president who in his role as a floater racked up 7 points. Further, a big shout out goes out to Panayioti Tsialas, who was the tournament arbiter but also the photographer for the event and thus ensured the tournament ran smoothly and could be an enjoyable experience.

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Hart House Fischer Random Tournament – Final Crosstable

Finally, we would like to thank all the participants who defied the cold weather and came out to play in the tournament! We are looking forward to seeing you all again in our upcoming events too!

2019 Hart House Reading Week Open: Early Bird Registration by February 14th!

Where: Great Hall, Hart House, University of Toronto.
When: February 16th, 17th, 18th.
Round Times: 10am & 4pm Saturday, 10am & 4pm Sunday, 10am & 4pm Monday.
Style: 6 Round Swiss in 6 Rating Sections: Crown, U2200, U1900, U1600, U1300 & U1000
Time Control: 90 minutes + 30 seconds increment from move 1, for all sections.
Rating: All sections will be CFC rated. Crown, Under 2200 & Under 1900 sections will also be FIDE rated.
Byes: Maximum 2 half-point byes in rounds 1-4, if requested in advance before the start of Round 1.
Prize Fund: $5000 based on 120 entries!

Entry Fee: $60 in advance for all players. $80 only on site.
Discounts: $20 less for University of Toronto students. Free for IMs & WIMs if registered by February 9th.Playing up is allowed only for players within 100 rating points of the section’s minimum rating. For example: a player in the Under 1600 section who wants to play up in the Under 1900 section must have a rating no lower than 1500.
Special Discount: Free entry for players who have never played in any CFC or FIDE rated tournament. Chess Federation of Canada (CFC) membership purchase still required for $48, and entrants will not be eligible for prize money.

Organizer: Hart House Chess Club
E-mail: hhtournaments@gmail.com

Other Info: Please bring sets & clocks. Registrants must be current CFC members or bring payment prior to playing – http://chess.ca/membership-rates.

Registration:

• Email registrations must be completed by February 14th, or else considered late.
• After pre-registering by email, please bring cash payment to the playing site before 9:15am on February 16th, or mail a cheque which arrives by February 14th. If online registrants paying in cash arrive after 9:15am on February 16th, they cannot be guaranteed a pairing in Round 1. No cheques on site.
• To register in advance by mailing a cheque (arrival by February 14th, 2019), make cheque payable to Hart House Chess Club, at 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto ON, M5S 3H3. No postdated cheques.
• Registrants after February 14th, 2019 are not guaranteed to be paired in Round 1, and must pay onsite entry fee ($80).
• Players taking a bye in Round 1 can pay the entry fee twenty minutes before the start of Round 2.

Join the Weekly Seminars on Chess Strategy!

This is a more rigorous workshop, targeted at advanced chess players, ranging from 1300 to 1700 CFC rating. Some prior experience and time commitment is required of the participants. This semester’s lessons will focus on chess strategy with special emphasis on how the pieces normally develop during a game, in order to reach their full potential. The Workshop will run every Friday, from January 25th until March 29th, 6-7 PM, and the lessons will be taking place at the Hart House Reading Room. National Master and ex-Varsity player Jonathan Yu is the instructor in this workshop.

The lessons will be presented in the format of a seminar. The Instructor will conduct the first seminar then every student who expresses an interest will do one as well. Students will be encouraged to bring in a game,  do analysis on it beforehand with the guidance of the coach and present it to the class. Questions and comments will be fielded afterwards. In this way students will benefit from the Instructor’s guidance but also work at home and learn from each other, really scrutinizing their play.  The coach will provide every student with a framework about how to do this in the first class based on the following tentative template:

#1 Jan. 25th: Develop your Pieces: Improve your Worst Piece

#2 Feb. 1st: Knights: Control of a Hole or Weak Square

#3 Feb. 8th: Bishops : Good or Bad – Active or Inactive – The Bishop Pair

#4 Feb. 15th: Superior Minor Piece: Bishops vs. Knights

#5 Feb. 22nd: Rooks: Open Files & Ranks – Which Rook to Move or to Trade?

#6 Mar. 1st: Pawn Structure: Weak Pawns, Passed Pawns, etc.

#7 Mar. 8th: Space: Are we Alone in the Universe?

#8 Mar. 15th: Maintaining an Initiative

#9 Mar. 22nd: Material: To Take or not to Take?

#10 Mar. 29th: Sacrifice for Positional Compensation or King Safety

Optional Readings:

Teaching material and certain ideas will be taken from Jeremy Silman’s, How to Reassess Your Chess: Chess Mastery Through Chess Imbalances but the tentative Syllabus is, in great part, the original creation of the Instructor. Silman’s book can be found at HHCC’s lending library. No reading is expected before class but attendees will be assigned optional homework to practice at home.

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

Where: Hart House Reading Room
When: Friday evenings, 6:00 – 7:00 PM

Free entry for Hart House Chess Club Members!*

*A student membership costs only $25 and it is valid for the entire year.

Join the Weekly Lessons on Chess Tactics!

Starting on Friday, February 15th, Hart House Chess Club will be running a series of workshops on chess tactics directed mainly towards Upper Beginner and Intermediate chess players. These lessons will be taught by ex-Varsity Chess player, Panayoti Tsialas, and everybody is welcome to attend! The seminar is recommended for chess enthusiasts who have learnt the movements of the pieces and the rudiments of chess and wish to step-up their game and reach a rating of around 1000-1300.

The Workshops will go on for 8 weeks and the tentative Syllabus is posted below:

#1 Feb. 15th: Attack and Defense: What are Chess Tactics?

#2 Feb. 22nd: Double Attack I: The Queen Attack

#3 Mar. 1st: Double Attack II: The Knight Fork

#4 Mar. 8th: Defending Against the Double Attack

#5 Mar. 15th:  The Pin I: Direct Attack

#6 Mar. 22nd: The Pin II: A Pinned Piece is a Bad Defender

#7 Mar. 29th: Defending Against the Pin

#8 Apr. 5th: The Preparatory Move: Luring

Optional Readings:

Teaching material and ideas will be taken from Learning Chess (Steps 1, 2 and 3), by Rob Brunia and For van Wijgerden. No reading is expected before class but attendees will be assigned optional homework to practice at home.

Instructor: Panayoti Tsialas
E-mail: tsialaspan@gmail.com

Where: Hart House Reading Room
When: Friday evenings, 5:00 – 6:00 PM

Free entry for Hart House Chess Club Members!*

*A student membership costs only $25 and it is valid for the entire year.

University of Toronto reclaims the crown in the 2019 Canadian University Chess Champion!

Just several days have passed since the closing of the Canadian University Chess Championship. It was a riveting competition that took place in McMaster University this year. Twenty-three teams of chess players competed in two divisions: the Championship League and the Reserves section. Both sections had intense competition. Our club sent in four teams in an attempt to claim victory to both sections and show everyone what U of T students are! University of Toronto A and B competed in the upper section, whereas University of Toronto C and D played in the Reserves Division (< CFC 1800). It is with honor, that the Hart House Chess Club may exclaim that we have brought home the Grand Cup!

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Left to Right: Joseph Bellisimo, Qiyu Zhou, Mark Plotkin, James Fu (missing from the photo is Zehn Nasir!)

Of course, the road to success was full of challenges as there were another five teams fighting for the big trophy. Our University of Toronto Team A consisted of Mark Plotkin, Qiyu Zhou, Joseph Bellissimo, James Fu and Zehn Nasir averaging CFC 2293. However, it was the defending champions, Waterloo University, who were the top seeds of the tournament with an average rating of 2364. There followed, at a very close distance, the very capable teams of Ottawa University (2266), Western University (2002), McGill University (1936) and University of Toronto B (1804).

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University of Toronto A smiling at the camera!

But let’s start from the beginning. The games took place January 12 to 13 at the elegant Convocation Hall of McMaster University and 23 teams took part in the tournament (6 played in the upper section and 17 competed in the lower division). Unfortunately, Ontario was once again over-represented, with 22 teams coming from this province and only one team coming from Quebec, while the Western Provinces were not able to participate. Hopefully, this imbalance will be adequately addressed in the future.

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The games were hosted at McMaster University’s biggest and most beautiful Hall!

After the first two rounds of the tournament, University of Toronto A and Western University A were the only teams with 2 match points. Both of them had beaten McGill but, while UofT had won a convincing match against the mighty Ottawa University, Western impressed even more by beating the mightier (at least in rating) Waterloo University.

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In Round 3 Western University faced the rival University of Toronto A.

Round 3 could be the moment of truth for the two leading teams, which were facing each other in a very tough battle. This big match ended in a 2-2 tie with the top board game between FM Mark Plotkin and FM Terry Song really standing out. The former chose to open with the peculiar 1.a3!? but, nevertheless, went on to win his game. 🙂

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The Round-3 battle between Waterloo’s and Ottawa’s A Teams has just begun!

In the other important match of the third round, Waterloo University suffered a second defeat by Ottawa’s Team A, which managed to climb up to 2 match points, just half a point behind Western A and UofT A. It was now UofT’s turn to prove that they could take the heat of a match against the defending champions, who really needed a victory to make their big comeback.

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The critical Round-4 game between the defending Champions and our own UofT A has started.

This critical match started out rather quietly but it quickly became extremely suspenseful. It seemed that UofT had built a small edge over the course of the match but that advantage was not converted into solid full game-points. To the contrary, things became quite rough for UofT when Boards 2, 3 and 4 drew their games, leaving Mark Plotkin fight against International Master Michael Song in a very challenging endgame.

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The fate of UofT’s match against Waterloo was placed in the experienced hands of the Team Captain, FM Mark Plotkin.

The position was extremely asymmetrical in terms of material: Michael Song had a Queen, whereas Mark Plotkin had two somewhat uncoordinated minor pieces, three pawns and a fairly exposed King. Could Mark hold the draw against a stronger opponent? The answer is, he did! He defended brilliantly and he scored a draw, amid a big crowd of spectators who were holding their breaths throughout the endgame! This match proved that chess can, indeed, be an impressive game full of strong emotions and excitement. This one truly  was an exciting moment! In last year’s match against Waterloo, Mark played Zi Yi Quin on board 2 and, due to an unfortunate miscalculation, his advantage evaporated and he even lost his game, allowing Waterloo to tie the match 2-2 and win the tournament. This time, however, it was the other way around!

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A swarm of enthralled spectators are watching the last and most exciting game of Round 4!

But the tournament was far from over yet as both Western and Ottawa duly won their respective matches against UofT B and McGill. This meant that Western entered the last round of the tournament as the sole leader with 3.5 out of 4 match points, while Ottawa and UofT A were tied for second place with 3 out of 4 and within striking distance.

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In Round 4, University of Toronto B fought to the best of its abilities, but in the end, Western’s A team proved too strong and won the match convincingly.

Thus, everything would be decided in the 5th and last round of the tournament. UofT A defeated UofT B with relative comfort and finished the tournament with 4 out of 5. But the final ranking turned on the result in the match between Western and Ottawa, the other two big rivals for the medals. In the end, the match was a draw, which meant that University of Ottawa was third with 3.5 out of 5.

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Amazing performance, 4 out of 5 match points and silver-medal position for Western University A!

As for the big winner of the tournament, the tie-breaking criteria provided the unequivocal answer: University of Toronto was the 2019 Canadian Universities Chess Champion!!

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A (litteral) taste of victory?

For a third time in a row, Toronto’s A team went undefeated with a score of 4.0/5.0! Formidable performances warrant warm congratulations to each and every one of our great players.

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Joseph Bellissimo played on the third board of UofT’s A Team!

However, a special shoutout is called for for the Team Captain who, not only held the draw in the most critical match against Waterloo, but also contributed 4.5 points in 5 games!

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FM Mark Plotkin: His 4.5/5 points were a major contribution to the Team’s success.

It was an extremely close tournament and, in the end, it was thanks to the tiebreakers that our team managed to pull ahead and reclaim the most precious trophy in Canadian University Chess!

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James Fu, who has represented UofT in all the major 2018-19 tournaments, shared board four with Zen Nasir.

Quite naturally, things were a bit harder for University of Toronto B, as they were the underdog team of the upper division based on their starting rating (Avg. Rtng: 1804). However, the players enjoyed their matches and used this opportunity to compete at the highest level and gain as much experience as they could for the future. In fact, some of them managed to get some rating points!

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Tanner McNamara was the Captain of UofT’s B Team. It’s been a very active chess year for Tanner!

A most delightful surprise, which is worth noting, was the presence of the Club Secretary, Leslie Tang (CFC 1756), on Team B! Leslie played on board 4 of the team providing a lot of inspiration as well as encouragement to the Team!

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This was the first time that Mahip Singh represented UofT in a chess competition, since he joined the club in December 2018. He gained 59 rating points!

Finally, an honorable mention is owed to Jurgen Aliaj (CFC 1570), who bravely joined a Division 1 team as an alternate and even managed to score a draw against a stronger opponent winning some rating points!

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Jurgen Aliaj, currently captaining the UofT’s Student Team in the Greater Toronto Chess League, has demonstrated rapid progress in his chess skills!

But the fun does not stop at the upper division, of course! In the reserves section two of our teams competed really hard to bring back a second big award to the club! University of Toronto C included Jimmy Bartha, Sahan Karunaratne, Jonathan Moore and Alyssa Rusonik, who averaged a solid CFC 1454!

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UofT C boasted not one but two Club Execs among its ranks!

These players put up a really hard fight to help UofT achieve the double triumph but, in the end, the victory went to the truly deserving Team A of Queens University, who scored a breathtaking 5 match points out of 5 matches.

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With 4 out of 5 match points, Ryerson University’s Team A clinched second place and a silver-medal position!

Following Queens’ perfect team score, the second place went to Ryerson University’s Team A with 4/5 and the bronze-medal position was won by Western University’s team B with 3.5/5 (Western saw its teams win an award in both divisions, even though on neither of the two occasions was it the gold medal).

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Alyssa Rusonik (CFC 1305), a new member of Hart House Chess Club and one of the few women in the CUCC, played on board 4 of Team C!

Finally, University of Toronto D consisted of Henry Vu, BenJohn Libardo, Blake Jones and Jeremy Downey, who joined the competition, looking to gain more chess experience!

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Led by freshman Henry Vu, University of Toronto D took advantage of the opportunity to participate in the 2019 CUCC and gain considerable experience from the competition!

For some of them, it was their first-ever chess tournament! Thus, it is to be hoped that this competition will serve as the beginning of an even more exciting journey in chess and that it will only enhance their appetite for more games and further improvement!

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Jonathan Moore played on the third board of UofT’s Team C! He’s clearly one of the most active UofT players!

Our club is ecstatic to thank each and every player who competed on behalf of the club. There were many impressive games from our members that made us really proud. Hart House Chess Club defines winning as the enjoyment and satisfaction of competing in a tournament. Awards such as trophies and the alike may be fantastic but our greatest pride is to say that the all of our players have won something from the tournament.

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Jimmy Bartha was another Club exec who delightfully took part in the tournament. For Jimmy, this must me the fourth CUCC!

With that said, a special thanks is owed to Sahan Karunaratne, the External Events Coordinator of our club, who was the chief organizer of the logistics regarding UofT’s participation, including the trip, the registration and the accommodation of 20 people! His job was excellent.

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Sahan Karunaratne, the Events Coordinator of the Club, was once again the key person in organizing UofT’s 20-person delegation. His devotion to the club is worthy of high praise.

A special shout-out goes out to FM/WGM Qiyu Zhou and her mother Penny Zhou. The former, played on board 2 of UofT’s Team A and wrote a beautiful blog post about the 2019 CUCC on chessbase.com which can be accessed here (it is a really good read coupled with a few annotated games as well as insights from within the tournament so we highly recommend it). The latter, covered the entire event for the popular Facebook page “Chess Tournaments in Canada” and provided most of the photos that we included in the present article.

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WGM/FM Qiyu Zhou played on board 3 of UofT’s Team A and she covered the event in a very handsome blog post for chessbase.com (here)

Finally, Hart House Chess Club would like to thank the organizers of the tournament for all their hard work. Especially McMaster Chess Club’s Co-Presidents Alvin Leenus and Andrew Leber handled all the logistical pre-tournament questions very professionally. Of course, they were not alone in this. A team of tireless volunteers, including Selvin Leenus, Jacob Cianci, Harold Hunter, Kyrie Xu, Nikhil Patel and Vincent Hou contributed to the great success of the tournament. Given their devotion, it is small surprise that every complication that occurred during the tournament was dealt with swiftly and efficiently.

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The hosts of the 2019 CUCC, McMaster University, worked as a team and did a wonderful job organizing the games!

The bar is now set very high for future organizers and we are already looking forward to next year’s CUCC, which will be hosted by Laurier University! Until then, the precious Queen’s Cup for chess will be safely kept in the display case of University of Toronto’s Hart House!

*               *               *

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University of Toronto wins top International Team Award in the 2018 PanAms!

The Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, the crown jewel of college chess in the USA, is historically played in the days between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, December 27th to 30th. The competition is open to chess teams from post-secondary schools in North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. This year’s Pan-Am featured 230 players competing on 53 teams, a slight decrease from last year’s 58 teams. Each Pan-Am team had four players (called “four boards”) and up to two alternates. At the end of six rounds in San Francisco, four of the U.S. schools qualified for the President’s Cup, to be held April 6th-7th, 2019, at the Marshall Chess Club in New York City: Webster University – the winner of the 2018 PanAms – The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and – surprise surprise! –  Harvard University!

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Webster University’s Super Team was once again the Winner of the PanAms

University of Toronto was represented by our Varsity Chess Team, including Joseph Bellissimo, James Fu, Tanner McNamara and Gary Huang (Average Rating: 2184). The team managed to score 2.5 match points in 6 rounds, winning the distinction of the top International Team of the Tournament! At an individual level, Joseph Bellissimo, the top board of the team, impressed everyone by scoring a splendid 5/6, not losing a single game, and therefore becoming the second best performer of the entire tournament on Board 1. Team Captain and experienced PanAm player, Tanner McNamara, has the report from the games!

Team Results for University of Toronto (Average Rating: 2184 – Placed 33rd)

Round 1: UofT Won 3.5 – 0.5 against University of Utah (Avg Rtng: 1315)
Round 2: UofT Lost 3 – 1 to University of Maryland Baltimore (Avg. Rtng: 2484)
Round 3: UofT Won 2.5 – 1.5 against The Ohio State University (Avg Rtng: 1784)
Round 4: UofT Lost 3 – 1 to University of Texas Dallas D (Avg Rtng: 2385)
Round 5: UofT Drew 2 – 2 against Arizona State University (Avg Rtng: 1835)
Round 6: UofT Lost 3.5 – 0.5 against University College of Los Angeles (Avg Rtng: 2373)

*               *               *

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53 Teams competed in the 2018 PanAms and, as you can see, the playing hall was very accommodating!

First off, I can’t write anything about this trip without saying a big thank you to Hart House, the chess club, all the executives, and everyone who helped and supported us from the qualifier through the event. It’s a huge honour to represent the University of Toronto at such a special event as Pan Ams.

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GM Anton Kovalyov was the strongest Canadian chess player in the games, representing UT Dallas A

As for the trip itself, things got off to a fun start when we had to move hotel rooms on the first day because the temperature was stuck at 24.5°C. But we did move rooms, we got more comfortable, and the tournament started well with a convincing victory over the University of Utah.

Regarding the venue, it was easy to tell we weren’t in San Francisco proper. Sure, the weather was beautiful and we had some nice views of the bay. But going out to look for food, we quickly discovered that Subway, by virtue of being basically the only restaurant not to close between lunch and dinner, would be our lunch spot every single day. Of course it didn’t help that Joseph is addicted to Subway, and then he started playing well and we couldn’t break his routine. And dinner would have to be in the hotel, because the night games ended after every restaurant closed. Seriously, you can’t even get late night pizza in Burlingame.

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Joe Bellissimo has been coming to Hart House Chess Club since he was around 11 years old! As a first-year student, now, he displayed amazing skill scoring 5 out of 6 on Board 1!

The chess got much tougher starting in round 2. We played reasonably well, but lost to a strong UMBC team 3-1. I grew up 15 minutes from UMBC, and I started playing chess the same year they won their first (of six!) Final Four. Growing up so close to the college chess scene, it was a dream come true when I was able to compete in Pan Ams for the first time.

But that was actually in 2014, for Carleton College. We had a great event, winning top small school and picking up top team upset for our win over NYU. We had a tough round four, though, paired against University of Toronto. I lost to an on-fire Nikita Gusev (who scored 5.5/6!). Four years later, now I’m in grad school at UofT, and I feel so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to go back to Pan Ams, now representing this school with such chess history, culture, and support.

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It’s the second PanAm competition for Jonathon Singler, Captain of the Alaska Pacific University. The entire team once again wore their lumberjack uniforms with the eye-catching furs!

Getting back to the chess, we had an easier matchup on paper against Ohio State in round 3, but we only barely managed to squeak by with a 2.5-1.5 victory. At times we were in danger of doing worse, but a win is a win, and this set us up for another tough matchup in the next round with the D team from University of Texas Dallas. Despite being a D team, they outrated us by a healthy margin on every board, and we ultimately lost 3-1.

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In terms of rating, UT Dallas’s Team D overpowered UofT in each individual board

In the fifth round we ended up in the top half of our score group again, and we were rewarded with another matchup favourable on paper against the C team from Arizona State. We just didn’t play well enough to win. After getting three good positions, we spoiled two of them and had to sweat out a saving swindle from Joseph on board one. But, as always in this event, he was up to the challenge. Although we couldn’t win the match, we pulled ahead of our international competition from Mexico with this draw.

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In the last round, University of Toronto faced University College of Los Angeles

With tied matches being uncommon in team competitions, we actually ended up underdogs in our final round against UCLA. For the first time, I saw my preparation still on the board after move three (this time to move 13!), but I rather quickly and recklessly spoiled what was a good position. We put up a decent fight but fell by a wide margin in the end. It must be noted that Joseph went into the final round with a chance for individual gold on board one. His hopes were dashed when Illia Nyzhnyk won for Webster-A, but a draw put him on 5/6 and in second place on board one. Mexico lost in the last round, and we clinched Top International, meeting one of our goals for the event.

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Dr. Judit Sztaray, the Executive Director of BayAreaChess, was the Chief Organizer of the 2018 Pan-Am

We also thought before the start that we should have good chances to win our 2000-2199 rating division. At the awards ceremony, though, we saw a deserving Michigan team walk away with that hardware.

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Cheese! Some familiar faces from Michigan University won the award for the 2000-2199 rating division!

Another participant from the Ivy League Challenge, Harvard, went home with an even bigger prize – a trip to the Final Four in April courtesy of their fourth place finishing following a last round win over SLU-B. It was cool to see them do well, leaving two of the big schools – SLU and Texas Tech – on the outside looking in. Joining Harvard at the Final Four will be Pan Am winners Webster, UTD, and reigning champions UTRGV.

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4th Place and qualification to the President’s Cup for Harvard University, the only non-chess-scholarship University to score such an achievement!

Personally, I failed to meet my standard of chess playing. I played a good warm up event earlier in December at the Hart House Holiday Open, picking up about 30 CFC rating points. I felt good going into Pan Ams, and then I promptly donated about 30 USCF rating points. Despite personal frustrations over the board, it was a fun event, and we stayed upbeat as we had our chances as a team, with the division and top international prizes still in play heading into the last round. Joseph, James, and Gary, thank you all for being such great teammates. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

Sign up for the 2019 Greater Toronto Chess League Championship!

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 Championship is a round-robin team competition with a time control of 60 mins + 10 sec increment. Games will be played at the Willowdale Chess Club on consecutive Tuesdays, at 7 PM, starting on Tuesday, January 15th.

Hart House Chess Club is the back to back GTCL champion and this year it will be fighting for the three-peat, participating with two teams: a team of current students and a team of Alumni. The event is CFC rated: CFC membership as well as Hart House Chess Club membership is required.

If you are interested in joining our student team send us an e-mail at hhchess@utoronto.ca by Friday December 28th. You need not be available for all rounds (likely 9-11 rounds), however, we do ask you to include in your registration e-mail a few words, which will give us a concrete sense of what your availability is.

Here’s the list of teams so far:

1) Chess Stars (Rating average – 2307)

Captain: Michael Barron
1st Board: WGM Anna Burtasova (2257 FIDE)
2nd Board: Viatcheslav [Slava] Rek (2327)
3rd Board: IM Michael Barron (2298)
4th Board: NM Michael Kimelman (2244)
1st Substitute: NM Ilia Bluvshtein (2227)
2nd Substitute: Sasha Starr (2144)
3rd Substitute :WIM Nava Starr (2112)

2) Pinoy Chess Club: (Rating average – 2233)

Captain: Jelvis Calvelo
1st Board: FM Eduardo D. Teodoro IV (2334)
2nd Board: Ryan Franco (2272)
3rd Board: Merlin Nazareno (2233)
4th Board: Ranel Lauron (2094)
1st Substitute: Andrew Picana (2044)
2nd Substitute: Jelvis Calvelo (1924)
3rd Substitute: Armand Jess Mendoza (1898)
4th Substitute: Joey Orozco (1834)
5th Substitute: Trifelino Miaco (1819)

3) Scarborough Chess Club A (Rating average – 2209)

Captain: William Li
1st Board: NM William Li (2269)
2nd Board: NM Jeffrey Xu (2244)
3rd Board: NM Sean Lei (2166)
4th Board: NM Harry Zhao (2158)
1st Substitute: Brian Jiang (2099)
2nd Substitute: Benjamin Lin (2079)
3rd Substitute: Wing Li (1616)
4th Substitute: Henry Xianrui Zhang (1517)

4) Covfefe (Rating average – 2178)

Team Captain: Victor Plotkin
1st Board: FM Victor Plotkin (2391)
2nd Board: FM Mark Plotkin (2404)
3rd Board: Max Rusonik (2046)
4th Board: Greg Rusonik (1870)

5) Willowdale Chess Club (Rating average – 2161)

Captain: Dmitry Chernik
1st Board: WFM Oksana Golubeva (2201)
2nd Board: NM Vladimir Birarov (2182)
3rd Board: Alexander Strugach (2145)
4th Board: Dmitry Chernik (1997)
1st Substitute: Denis Ryadnov (2114)
2nd Substitute: Isai Berengolts (2099)
3rd Substitute: Benjamin Fradkin (2045)
4th Substitute: Stephan Tonakanian (2054)
5th Substitute: Vadim Khachaturov (1956)

6) Scarborough Chess Club B (Rating average – 2026)

1st Board: Raymond Gao (2059)
2nd Board: Eric Ning (2056)
3rd Board: Jeffrey R. Zhao (2027)
4th Board: Youhe Huang (1960)
1st Substitute: William [Zhimao] Gao (1654)
2nd Substitute: Toy Chack Kwan (1604)

7) Manila Chess Club (Rating average – 1995)

Team Captain: Erwin Casareno
1st Board: NM Erwin Casareno (2073)
2nd Board: NM Ruperto Frilles (2041)
3rd Board: Glenda Baylon (1871)
4th Board: Boris Iriarrtv (UNR)
1st Substitute: Ernesto Sarabia (UNR)
2nd Substitute: Ferdinand Tecson (UNR)
3rd Substitute: James Casareno (UNR)

8) North York Beavers (Rating average – 1753)

Team Captain: Oswald Barmasch
1st Board: Yury Cheryachukin (2006)
2nd Board: Chris Udrea (1871)
3rd Board: Hooshang Ab-barin (1762)
4th Board: Oswald Barmasch (1373)
1st Substitute: M. Hassan Pishdad (1032)

Date: First Round starts on January 15th, 2019

Venue: 4169 Bathurst Street (Earl Bales Community Centre), near the Sheppard and Bathurst intersection

Format: Teams from different clubs or organizations will compete against each other in a Round Robin. Each team shall consist of 4 players with an unlimited number of reserve players.

Rounds: Rounds are played on consecutive Tuesdays at 19:00 sharp.

Time Control: 60 minutes for the game and a 10 second increment each move from move one (G/60+10)