Toronto is king of the CUCC

by Qiyu Zhou
1/16/2019 – We recently covered the larger Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship, now our Canadian contributor QIYU ZHOU reports on the Canadian University Chess Championship (CUCC) which was won by the University of Toronto last weekend. | Pictured: Toronto A team: Joseph Bellissimo, Qiyu Zhou, Mark Plotkin, James Fu (not pictured: Zehn Nasir) | Photo: Adrian Santhakumar

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Held in the beautiful Convocation Hall at McMasters University in Hamilton, the 2019 Canadian University Chess Championships provided a fun weekend of chess. The university itself is famous for studies in engineering and life sciences, and participating universities included favourites such as the University of Toronto, Waterloo University and McGill University. 

A short note on the participants: though called the “Canadian University Championships”, of the 23 teams, 22 were from Ontario and one was from Quebec. As explained by the organizer and co-president of the McMaster chess club, Andrew Leber, an attempt was made to promote chess among Canadian universities by inviting teams from different provinces, but due to the lack of funding, many universities couldn’t send a team.

playing hall

The lovely playing hall | Photo: Changrong Yu

Female players

The three young women: Qiyu Zhou (Toronto A), Rymn Wadhwa (Ryerson University, board 3), Alyssa Rusonik (University of Toronto, team C, board 3) | Photos: Changrong Yu

trophyThis annual event has become a Canadian university chess tradition since the first trophy was awarded in 2003. The universities dream of engraving their names onto the Queen’s Cup for Chess'

The tournament favourites were the teams from the University of Toronto (team A) and Waterloo University, with the latter also the defending champions. There was some fierce competition among the players, as proven by titled ones such as IM Michael Song (FIDE: 2437), FM Mark Plotkin (FIDE: 2326), myself (WGM Qiyu Zhou [FIDE: 2246]) and FM Terry Song (FIDE: 2124).

Apart from the “Champions” section, which was a round-robin between the best six teams by rating, there was also a “Reserve” section, which hosted the other 27 teams.

A considerably more “fun” tournament than “serious”, many players spent a lot of time catching up with old friends rather than playing long chess. For instance, the first round, which was supposed to start at 9 AM, didn’t actually kick off until 10:40! 

first round

Joey Qin and I used to play in the same chess club in Ottawa before going to different universities | Photo: Changrong Yu


With the stress about university assignments, it is only natural some would start doing schoolwork | Photo: Changrong Yu

The best part about the Canadian University Championships is that it is not restricted to just undergraduates! Graduate students can also compete.

Board one from University of Toronto Team B, Tanner McNamara, is a physics graduate | Photo: Leslie Tang


Not all fun and sunshine after realizing I was about to draw what was a completely winning endgame in round 2 | Photo: Changrong Yu

Many interesting games were played over the board, which tended to include Mark Plotkin of University Toronto (team A), who started his round three game in style with 1.a3! (third game below). The round one win by Terry Song was particularly beautiful (first game below).


Click or tap a game in the list to switch


Round 3: FM Mark Plotkin – FM Terry Song, with Mark pondering 1. a3 | Photo: Changrong Yu

The showdown for the Queen’s Cup going into the last round was dramatic. A win from either team in the match between Western and Ottawa University would mean their team wins first place. However, the result between the two teams was a draw, leaving the door open for my team.


Despite this terrible loss on board 2, University of Toronto (team A) won 3-1 against University of Toronto (team B). The top board win by Ottawa's Zachary Dukic over Western's Terry Song was a key result in the match draw that allowed us to narrowly clinch the championship title.

Final Standings







UTOR-A W5 W3 D2 D4 W6




















UTOR-B L3 L4 D5 L2 L1


Personally, I want to thank everyone on the University of Toronto chess team for making it possible.

Toronto Teams

Team University of Toronto! A mix of most of the people from the four teams

Also, a huge round of applause to the runner-ups, Western University, as well as everyone else who participated!

Western University

(L to R) Tony Huang, FM Terry Song, Brendan Adamo, Adam Cormier, who scored a perfect 5/5 in this tournament! | Photo: Adrian Santhakumar

The “Reserve” section was won by Queens University (team A) with a perfect team score of 5/5. Second place went to Ryerson University (team A) with 4/5 and third to Western University (team B) with 3½/5.

Ryerson University

The second place winners in the reserve section: Ryerson University | Photo: Adrian Santhakumar


A final thank you to the organizers for hosting the tournament! | Photo: Adrian Santhakumar


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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ChessSpawn49 ChessSpawn49 1/18/2019 09:34
Thank you for the information. I, too, checked and could not find a site that had full listings of the teams. Perhaps next year.
macauley macauley 1/17/2019 10:02
@ChessSpawn49 - Added the names of the two women. Searching around, I don't find an official site with comprehensive info, sorry.
ChessSpawn49 ChessSpawn49 1/16/2019 03:48
Nice report! What are the names of the other two women pictured from Ryerson, bd3 and UT bd3? Also, is there a listing anywhere of all the teams that participated with their rosters?
Krishna Mohan Krishna Mohan 1/16/2019 01:55
I only wish these events were announced in advance - not after the fact. Here I was sitting on a weekend at home when a tournament was going on a short distance from where I live. Not sure where I can get a calendar so I don't miss these things.
- a chess super fan