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Annual Chess Tournament Showcases Local Talent

On March 5, 2024, students from elementary schools around the city assembled at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) for the sixth annual SMCS Open Secondary School Team Chess Tournament, hosted by our Blue Knights Chess Club.

A total of 14 schools were represented in the full-day tournament that took place in the SMCS gymnasium.

SMCS students participating in the annual chess tournament.

“The tournament is an opportunity to showcase our best chess talent,” says Dr. Robert Fantilli ’94, Christian and Community Service Lead, teacher, and chess club moderator. “To prepare, we joined the Toronto South League in two tournaments in February. Since September, students have dedicated themselves every Tuesday for one hour or more to learn new strategies and increase their skill and competitive level of play.”

The annual chess tournament’s format follows the Swiss system and runs for four rounds.

“It is a team tournament, which allowed five players from each school to face off each round,” says Fantilli. “Each player plays all rounds, and the team with the highest number of points at the end of four rounds wins.”

Attendees of the SMCS Open Secondary School Team Chess Tournament.

When the final scores were tallied, University of Toronto Schools (UTS) Team A placed first overall in the senior division and received gold medals, while Upper Canada College and UTS Team B received silver and bronze, respectively. In the junior division, A.Y. Jackson Secondary School placed first, with UTS taking second place, and Zion Heights Middle School in third.

“Our goals for the tournament were to provide an enriching opportunity for the chess communities in the north, south, east, and west ends of Toronto to gather and have friendly competition in a game they love and enjoy,” adds Fantilli. “Moreover, this tournament aims to showcase SMCS and what we offer our students. Blue Knights Chess Club members learn strategy and hone their skills at chess. This tournament provides an ideal environment to put what they’ve learned to work, to challenge themselves, and to meet students from diverse backgrounds and communities across the city who share a similar love of chess.”

In addition to the SMCS and Toronto South League tournaments, the Blue Knights Chess Club also regularly hosts a final in-house competition to end the year.

SMCS Blue Knights Chess Club students playing chess in the gym.

“The Blue Knights Chess Club has resurged over the last 10 years,” says Fantilli. “We were dormant for a number of years prior. The pandemic and some interesting movies based on chess themes have increased interest in chess, which has certainly trickled down to the school level.”

Thanks to the generosity of the Basilian Fathers and the SMCS Parents’ Association, the club has been able to work regularly with Natalia Khoudgarian, a national chess champion, and gather the necessary equipment to host the annual tournament for visiting schools.

“As a host school, it is a pleasure to welcome community members to visit, see what we have to offer, and put into action the virtues we aim to instill in our young men, especially hospitality.”

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