Princeton wins Ivy Chess Challenge

by Qiyu Zhou
11/30/2018 – The inaugural Ivy Chess Challenge was the one of the strongest collegiate tournament to be ever held in North America, after the Pan-American Collegiate Championships. Though the name is a bit misleading, as only three out of the six teams were Ivy Leagues, the tournament nevertheless boasted very strong chess-players, on both rating and academics. QIYU ZHOU was there representing the host University of Toronto and sends this report. | Photo: Changong Yu

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The Ivy League goes to Toronto

The students from Princeton, Yale, and Harvard University, as well as University of Michigan and Toronto played 5 rounds (90 min + 30 sec) during the three days. As the host, University of Toronto participated with two teams, named respectively University of Toronto A and B. The University of Toronto’s iconic Hart House [pictured], established in 1919, was one of the beautiful venues for the event.

Hart House

Perhaps what is most unique about the Ivy Chess Challenge is that all the players have incredible academic backgrounds, along with impressive chess strengths. Getting into any of the Ivy League universities, or the University of Michigan and the University of Toronto is difficult enough on its own, but these players achieved a high level of chess skill while maintaining top grades throughout high school and college.

As the tournament kicked off, University of Harvard were the rating favourites with an average of 2328, followed by the University of Michigan at 2264. The strong players in the pool included GM Darwin Yang (2488), IM Larson Matthew (2408), IM Shetty Atulya (2395), FM Chandran Kapil (2393), IM Bora Safal (2392), IM Richard Wang (2332) and myself, WGM Qiyu Zhou (2227) to name a few.

A note about the University of Toronto A and B teams: Toronto A is the “varsity team” which will be representing the university at Pan-Americans in December. As I, unfortunately, missed the qualifiers in October due to a timing conflict with the World Chess Olympiad, I played on Toronto B, which had a higher average rating.

Yale Toronto

Yale against Toronto B... (Photo taken by Changong Yu)

The best game award for the tournament was given to Chandran vs Shetty.

 
Results for Round 1

Princeton 1½ : 2½ Michigan

Harvard 3½ : ½ Toronto A

Toronto B 1½ : 2½ Yale 

Round 2

The students/players were evidently tired during the second round of the day, and the reason I discovered (and can relate to) was that they were staying up late to… work on assignments! Every undergraduate I talked to had some schoolwork to do, whether it was homework, midterms to study for or assignments to hand in. As Ethan Li said, he was trying to pretend he was playing blindfold chess but was in fact just falling asleep at the board!

Round 2

Board 2 for Princeton, FM Ethan Li (2248), doesn’t look too satisfied with his position…or maybe he is just tired! | Photo: Changong Yu

Results for round 2

Princeton 2½ : 1½ Harvard 

Michigan 2½ : 1½ Yale 

Toronto A 1½ : 2½ Toronto B 

Round 3

For a change in scenery, the third round was held on the 31st floor of the Manulife Centre in downtown Toronto, which is also where the teams were staying.

Darwin Yang

The highest rated player in the tournament, GM Darwin Yang, a fourth-year undergraduate in economics at Harvard | Photo: Changong Yu

Results for round 3

Toronto B ½ : Princeton

Harvard 2½ : Michigan 

Yale 3½ : ½ Toronto A

Round 4

This was the round I was looking forward to the most because I was playing against my friend of 11 years and my teammate on numerous occasions. Thus, a draw was agreed to due to the quiet nature of the Sicilian opening…

 

Afterwards, we decided to play blitz to determine the 'real' winner, which ended up in a 1-1 anyway.

Zhou vs Wang

Richard stays cool during the blitz games… | Photo: Leslie Tang

After the rounds, the more studious players chose to return to their rooms in order to catch up on schoolwork, while some opted to hang out in the skittles room.

Playing pool

The pool table was put to good use… | Photo: Changong Yu

billiard table chess

...it doubles as a table for chess analysis!

Results for round 4

Princeton 3½  : ½ Yale

Michigan 3½ : ½ Toronto A (3.5 – 0.5

Harvard 3 : 1 Toronto B 

Pub Night/Chess & Drinks

In true spirit of university life, a pub night is of course necessary. Unfortunately, since pubs in Ontario require patrons to be 19, and check IDs, the 18-year olds were unable to stay. As a result, the pub night was moved to the organizer’s personal apartment in the Manulife Center.   

pub night

'Pub' night | Photo: Qiyu Zhou

The tournament organizer Panagiotis Tsialas working hard during all stages of the tournament — tirelessly executing this 'challenge', which, despite the lack of funding and sponsorship, was a big success.   

What resulted was a fun night of drinks (for the 19+ year olds of course), lots of bughouse, slapjack and even pushups...the loser in slapjack was made to do pushups until they dropped!

pushups

Penalty pushups | Photo: Qiyu Zhou

The exasperation when you lose in bughouse is something I’m sure a lot of chess players can relate to…

Bughouse

Bughouse late into the night…or not so late because the decisive last round was at 9:30 am! | Photo: Qiyu Zhou

Round 5

The tournament was decided by Princeton’s win over the University of Toronto A. My own game against IM Safal Bora lasted more than four hours, in which white couldn’t quite find the win in the endgame:

 
Results for round 5

Toronto A 1 : 3 Princeton

Toronto B 1 : 3 Michigan

Yale 1½ : 2½ Harvard

Prize Giving

Interestingly enough, there was a three-way tie for first, as Princeton, Harvard and the University of Michigan all had 8 match points. However, the trophy went to Princeton on tiebreaks.

Princeton team

(Left to right) Princeton: FM Ethan Li (2248), Aaron Balleisen (2195), Isaac Martinez (2127), FM Chandran Kapil (2393) | Photo: Changong Yu

Blitz Tournament

The blitz tournament (time control of 3 min + 2 sec) was won by IM Atulya Shetty (2395) of University of Michigan, with second place going to FM Kapil Chandran (2393) of Princeton University.

blitz winner

Photo: Qiyu Zhou

Brett Sherman has taken excellent video footage of the event:

Impressions from Day 1

Impressions from Day 2

Final Results

1. Princeton University (RtgAvg:2241, TB1: 8 / TB2: 2)

Bo.

 

Name

Rtg

FED

1

2

3

4

5

Pts.

Games

RtgAvg

1

FM

Chandran Kapil

2393

USA

½

½

1

1

1

4

5

2333

2

FM

Li Ethan

2248

USA

0

0

½

1

½

2

5

2212

3

 

Balleisen Aaron

2195

USA

0

1

1

½

½

3

5

2101

4

 

Martinez Isaac

2127

USA

1

1

1

1

1

5

5

1645

2. Harvard University (RtgAvg:2328, TB1: 8 / TB2: 2)

Bo.

 

Name

Rtg

FED

1

2

3

4

5

Pts.

Games

RtgAvg

1

GM

Yang Darwin

2488

USA

1

½

½

½

½

3

5

2314

2

IM

Wang Richard

2332

USA

1

1

0

½

1

4

5

2195

3

FM

Krishnan Varun

2253

CAN

½

0

1

1

½

3

5

2083

4

 

Hu Bryan

2240

USA

1

0

1

1

½

4

5

1617

3. University of Michigan (RtgAvg:2264, TB1: 8 / TB2: 2)

Bo.

 

Name

Rtg

FED

1

2

3

4

5

Pts.

Games

RtgAvg

1

IM

Shetty Atulya

2395

USA

½

½

½

1

1

4

5

2333

2

IM

Bora Safal

2392

USA

1

1

1

½

½

4

5

2183

3

FM

Heimann Mark

2368

USA

1

1

0

1

1

4

5

2067

4

 

Webster Kyle

1902

USA

0

0

0

1

½

2

5

1690

4. Yale University (RtgAvg:1842, TB1: 4 / TB2: 0)

Bo.

 

Name

Rtg

FED

1

2

3

4

5

Pts.

Games

RtgAvg

1

IM

Larson Matthew

2408

USA

½

½

1

0

½

3

5

2330

2

 

Fabbri Alexander

2067

USA

0

0

1

0

0

1

5

2248

3

 

Vishwanathan Ram

1893

IND

1

0

½

½

½

3

5

2162

4

 

Vemuri Harish

0

USA

1

1

1

0

½

4

5

1870

5. University of Toronto B (RtgAvg:2164, TB1: 2 / TB2: 0)

Bo.

 

Name

Rtg

FED

1

2

3

4

5

Pts.

Games

RtgAvg

1

FM

Gusev Nikita

2253

CAN

½

0

0

½

0

1

5

2361

2

FM

Qiyu Zhou

2207

CAN

1

1

½

½

½

4

5

2220

3

 

Haizhou Xu

2116

CAN

0

 

0

 

0

0

3

2152

4

 

Zehn Nasir

2081

CAN

0

½

0

0

½

1

5

1832

5

 

Yu Jonathan

2057

CAN

 

1

 

0

 

1

2

1620

6. University of Toronto A (RtgAvg:1765, TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)

Bo.

 

Name

Rtg

FED

1

2

3

4

5

Pts.

Games

RtgAvg

1

 

Bellissimo  Joseph

2121

CAN

0

1

0

0

0

1

5

2387

2

 

Fu James

2061

CAN

0

0

0

½

½

1

5

2249

3

 

Lei Sean

1876

CAN

½

½

½

0

½

2

5

2158

4

 

Huang Xiaoshi

0

CAN

0

0

0

0

0

0

5

1865

Qiyu with trophies

Your author, Qiyu Zhou (University of Toronto), with the individual trophies | Photo: Changong Yu

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WGM Qiyu Zhou [pronounced Chee-you Jo], born in 2000, is a Canadian chess player who has competed for team Canada at the Women's Chess Olympiad since 2014 and who won the Canadian women's championship in 2016.
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Ryan Ortega Ryan Ortega 12/1/2018 03:53
Props from Penn!
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