Chisholm’s Chess Club

During the month of May, Chisholm Academy hosted a chess tournament with 16 players participating in a double-elimination bracket format.* We also used a time control of 10-15 minutes without any increment. If players ran out of time and they faced possible checkmate, then they would lose their match, and this played a key role in many of the matches of the tournament.

With a couple of disqualifications along the way, most matches were played before our May 26 finals as part of the school’s Sports Day event. We had a total of 8 students and 8 teachers who competed in the chess tournament.

Mr. Fillion has enjoyed running the dynamic Chisholm Chess Club this year and, based on his experience and observations, believed the following players had the best chance at winning the tournament: David M. (Gr. 8), Max P. (Gr. 7), Liam T. (Gr. 11), Findlay F. (Gr. 10), Mr. Katsouras (teacher), Mr. Fillion (teacher) and Ms. Edmonds (CYW). 

Early on in the tournament, we had several heartbreaker losses due to time expiration, including Mr. Katsouras’s loss to Liam in his first match of the tournament. Mr. Katsouras was down about 6 mins compared to Liam, and although he had a huge lead in terms of material (threatening checkmate), he didn’t quite pull through!

Findlay vs Ciaran was one of the first tense matches of the tournament, with Findlay taking victory but later losing to Liam.

Max won his first match with the first checkmate of the tournament! It was an unusual mate using the king, a knight and a pawn! In their second round matches, Max and David faced off in a game that went down to the wire, with David taking the victory. Afterwards, Max won his first loser’s match but had to DQ due to vacation absence! Lucky him?

After defeating Holden and Mr. Tollefsrud, Ms. Edmonds moved on to the winner’s semifinals against Mr. Fillion. In this contest, Mr. Fillion won, guaranteeing a top-3 placement (waiting in the winner’s finals).

On the other side of the bracket, we had David face Liam in our first (and only) DRAW of the tournament, with both players stuck with a meagre king-knight combo. In this position, it is only possible to lose if you deliberately put yourself in that position. If one of the 2 knights is captured, it automatically becomes a draw as well! Their later scheduled rematch resulted in a DQ of Liam due to a no-show, but he still had a chance in the loser’s bracket.

Sports Day (Finals)

Mr. Fillion vs David in the winners finals was a closely-fought match, with each player making a few blunders and positional mistakes. The match almost ended in a stalemate but Mr. Fillion secured a checkmate through careful play.

Following this match, Mr. Katsouras had quite the bracket run. He won match after match, defeating Holden (checkmate), Ms. Curic (close timeout), Ms. Edmonds (DQ) and Liam (checkmate) before finally crumbling to David after blundering his queen early in the match. 

Mr. Katsouras vs Holden was a very fast checkmate.

Mr. Katsouras vs Ms. Curic was an incredibly slow and careful match, with no pieces captured until halfway through the timer! Ms. Curic had the lead but also had a small time deficit for most of the match and eventually lost on time. 

Mr. Katsouras vs Liam, despite playing only 5 minutes later than the previous game, had a completely different vibe, with both players making moves about 4 times faster than the previous game. Somehow, Mr. Katsouras adapted well to this and played even better than usual. Perhaps he remembered the timeout he ‘should’ have won against Liam in his very first match.

Finally, Mr. Katsouras lost to David, securing him a 3rd-place finish. It was an impressive and exhausting run!

This left David vs Mr. Fillion (a rematch) for the grand finals. Unlike in the winner’s-side match, Mr. Fillion played much stronger from the beginning, with a slight lead and placing David’s king in danger. David was also threatening checkmate at the same time, so both players had to be very careful not to lose tempo. Mr. Fillion had made a huge blunder, that David *almost* capitalized on with an immediate capture using his own queen, but he second-guessed himself or miscalculated and decided not to do so. A few moves later, David was checkmated and both players failed to notice that an illegal move had been made. After backtracking, we realized the match was already over and Mr. Fillion won the tournament without dropping a match.

Despite the occasional illegal move or rematch or DQ, players had a lot of fun and a lot of other students watched the matches live, whether they were in the tournament or not. Mr. Fillion plans to run at least one more tournament next year, possibly using online chess software to simplify the timer, minimize the risk of illegal moves and also allow for post-match analysis!

*In a double elimination tournament, there is a “winner’s bracket” and a “loser’s bracket”. After someone has lost their first match, they fall into the loser’s bracket where they will continue to play until they’ve lost an additional match or they’ve made it all the way to the grand finals and have double-eliminated the player who won all of the matches on the winner’s side of the bracket. In short, you’re still in the tournament until you’ve lost 2 matches total!

Mr. T. Fillion
Chisholm Academy Teacher and Chess Club Facilitator