Chess Room Newsletter #1001 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #1001

Gens Una Sumus!



Newsletter #1001

January 8, 2022


Table of Contents

2022 IM Walter Shipman TNM Round 1 Report

by Abel Talamantez

The 50th anniversary of the TNM has begun, with the IM Walter Shipman Memorial TNM! We have limited capacity for this 1st edition of the year to 50 players in order to space players comfortably, but there was no shortage of action and drama, with a good balance of players between the two sections.

In the top section, IM Elliott Winslow grinded out a rook and pawn endgame against Fredrick Dutter to get the win. Overall top seed NM Yusheng Xia took a half point bye for the 1st round and will be ready to jump in the pool next week. Luke Widjaja held NM Mike Walder to a draw in an exciting game, but perhaps the most captivating game of the round was between Lucas Lesniewski and Jayden Xu. In a complex position with Xu having just 2 seconds on his clock and losing compared to Lesniewski's 20 seconds, Xu made a move and offered a draw. As time kept ticking, it appeared as Lesniewski in trying to consider the offer and make sense of the position, lost track of time in the game and I watched is clock slowly count down to 3...2..1.. and flag. It was a tough moment for Lesniewski, and as chess players we all understand the feeling. It seems trivial that one should never run out of time with a delay time control, because making a move is always better than losing on time. But as chess players we can sometimes lose ourselves in the madness of analysis and it separates players from the live action on the board. 

In the under 1800 section, top seed Romeo Barreyro survived a scare from DeAndre Stallworth. Stallworth had a winning position in a rook, knight, and pawns endgame up 2 pawns, but with only a second on his clock, was put under enough pressure where Barreyro induced a blunder of a piece, and with plenty of time left on Barreyro's clock, was able to finish the victory. Tough game for Stallworth, but his chess is improving with each week, and once experience with clock management kicks in, he will no doubt hurdle over the next wall in development. The under 1800 section looks to be a very competitive section, but with 7 rounds, it will be exciting to see the climb to the top.

Jayden Xu (red) complicated the position just enough to flag Lucas Lesniewski and save his game. JP Fairchild and Stephen Parsons also went late into the night in their game where it seemed  time also played a factor in the game.

Watch the broadcast from the 1st round by following this link:

Here are some games from the round, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian.

(1) Xu,Jayden - Lesniewski,Lucas [D12]
TNM, 04.01.2022

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 8.Bd2 Bd6 9.g3 Nbd7 10.Rc1 Qe7 11.Bg2!? dxc4! Why not grab this pawn? It gives White some freedom in the center yet a pawn is a pawn. 12.0-0 0-0 13.Ne2 Nb6 14.Ba5 Nfd7 15.a3 Qg5 16.Qd2 Qb5 17.e4 [17.Bxb6 axb6 (17...Nxb6 18.Nc3 Qh5 19.Ne4 Be7 is about equal17...Na4 [17...Rad8] 18.Bc3?! rather passive. Preferable would be [18.Rc2] 18...Rfd8 19.Rfd1 Rac8 20.Qc2 Qa6 21.Bd2 b5 22.e5 Be7 23.Nf4 Nf8 24.Be3 Nb6 25.Qe2 Nd5 26.h4! This little pawn can at least open up a line on the kingside. 26...Nxf4 27.Bxf4 c5?! 28.d5! exd5 29.Bxd5 Now the white bishop comes to life and White has fine compensation for the pawn. 29...Ne6 30.Qe4 Qa4?! This eyes the white rook on d1 yet otherwise it's a poor place for the black queen. 31.Be3 Rc7 32.Rd2 Qa6 33.Rcd1 Rcd7 34.f4 Nd4 35.Bxd4 cxd4 36.Bc6 Rc7 37.Bd5 d3 38.e6 Qb6+ 39.Kg2 f5 40.Qf3 Qd4 41.Bc6 Rd6 42.Bd7 a6 43.h5 g5 44.Rh1 g4 45.Qa8+ Kh7 46.Qe8 *

(2) Askin,David - Mecado,Adam [E97]
TNM, 04.01.2022

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4


This immediate advance of the b-pawn is the Bayonette Attack, which came to prominence when Kramnik took it up and won many great games with it. 9...Nh5 10.c5 Nf4 11.Bc4 Bg4 12.h3 Bh5 13.Bxf4 [13.Re1 may be a better choice] 13...exf4 14.Rc1 f5?! This weakens the light squares. Black would be safer playing on the other side of the board with 14...a5. 15.Qd3! fxe4 16.Nxe4 Nf5?! [16...Bxf3] 17.Nfg5!


The white knights are siezing important squares. e6 is particularly weak and should cost the exchange. 17...Be5 I like this about Adam's style. He has decided he can lose the exchange and builds up a kingside advance of pieces. 18.Ne6 Qh4 19.N4g5 Excellent. David doesn't grab the exchange yet and defends the f3 square. No use giving your opponent attacking chances. 19...h6 20.Nf3 Bxf3 21.Qxf3 Rf7 22.Bd3! Well played! White wants to trade off the active black knight and leave the position with the powerful e6 knight against the less effective black bishop. 22...Nd4?! [22...Qf6 23.Bxf5 Qxf5 24.Rfe1 is clearly better for White but at least material is even] 23.Nxd4 Bxd4 24.Bxg6 White has a pawn to the good and control of the kingside light squares to stop the black attack. Objectively it's very good for White yet one slip can let the black pieces in. 24...Rg7 25.Bf5 Rf8 26.Be6+ Kh8 27.cxd6 cxd6 28.Rc8? It is natural to want to trade off pieces to lessen the attack. Black can get back in the game now. 28. Rc4! keeps a big edge. 28...Rxc8 29.Bxc8


29...h5? [29...Qg3! reaches an equal ending. White dare not trade queens and bring a black pawn to g3. After 30.Bg4 Qxf3 31.Bxf3 Rc7 White is still a pawn ahead in the bishops of oppostite color ending, but Black's control of the c-file make the game even.] 30.Be6 Qg3? Too late! Also this just loses the h-pawn with check. 31.Qxh5+ Rh7 32.Qe8+ Kg7 33.Qe7+ Kh6


34.Qxd6! greedy and good! Black can't play f4-f3 due to the pin. White now has 3 extra pawns and the better attack. 34...Rg7 35.Bg4+ Rg6 36.Qf8+ Kh7 37.d6 f3 38.Qxf3 safest 38...Qxd6 39.Bf5 Black resigns. Fine anti-King's Indian play by Askin. *

(3) Dutter,Fredrick (1900) - Winslow,Elliott (2251) [B52]
MI 2nd Shipman mem TNM: 1800+ San Francisco (1.1), 04.01.2022

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.Qe2 [5.0-0 Nc6 6.c3 Nf6 7.Re1 e6 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 d5 10.e5 Ne4 11.Nbd2] 5...Nc6 6.c3


6...d5N In the Alapin Sicilian, 1.e4 c5 2.c3, Black's two main moves 2...Nf6 and 2... d5 take advantage of c3 no longer available for the knight. But maybe this is not the best moment to try this. [With White's queen no longer supporting d2-d4, it makes sense to play 6...e5 , for example 7.d3 Be7 8.0-0 Nf6 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Na3 0-0 12.Nc2 g6 0-1 (41) Schneider,C (1811) -Castro,C (2187) INT 2020] 7.exd5 Qxd5 8.d4 The position is equal. 8...cxd4 9.cxd4 e6?! [9...Nf6=] 10.Nc3+/- Bb4


11.0-0!|^ Bxc3 12.bxc3 Nge7! Black is behind in development and needs to get his king quickly out of the center before the game opens up. 13.c4!? [13.Rd1] 13...Nxd4! grabbing the pawn so White doesn't get to play d4-d5 14.Nxd4 Qxd4 15.Bb2 Qc5 16.Bxg7 The game has opened up and the white bishop is active, yet Black is fairly solid if he can get saftey for the king. 16...Rg8 17.Bh6 [White could keep an edge with 17.Bb2+/-] 17...Nf5 18.Be3 Qc6 19.f3 Rc8?!


A bit of a bluff -- what about that pawn? 20.Rac1?! [20.Bxa7!+/- Qxc4 21.Qxc4 Rxc4 22.Rab1] 20...Nxe3=/+ Black heads for some vague endgame advantage. 21.Qxe3 Qc5 The endgame is nicer for Black because of the split white queenside pawns. 22.Rfe1 Rg5!? hoping to pile up on the c-pawn: ... Rgc5, ...b5. 23.a4 At least discouraging ...b5, and surely Black won't be able to muster much of an attack on this pawn? 23...b6 24.Qxc5 Rgxc5 Double Rook endgames are a world of their own. 25.Re4 Ke7 26.Kf2 Ra5 27.Ra1 Rcc5 Black has a curious plan... 28.g4


28...Ra6! A powerful move! Doubling on the a-file is a potent plan. 29.f4? Missing the idea? Not aware of the maxim "In rook endings, counterplay is the name of the game"? [The computer doesn't believe it: 29.Rd4!=/+ Rca5?! 30.Rad1 Rxa4 31.Rd7+ Kf6 32.R1d4 starts double-rook counterplay. And Black's rook on a6 is not pulling its weight at all.] 29...Kf6 Black could play it right away, but tries to get a leg up on White's play. 30.Ke3 [>=30.Rd4] 30...Rca5!?


Well that was Black's Big Idea anyway. [30...h5! first (that pawn could be a liability) is a finesse. Stockfish puts it over the "win line."] 31.Rf1? [Again 31.Rd4-/+ put up the best resistance.] 31...Rxa4-+ 32.f5 This would be pretty good except for Black's reply. [>=32.h4 and now any sensible rook move on the a-file is a winning advantage 32...R6a5 (32...Ra1; 32...Ra3+; even 32...R4a5!?) 33.h5] 32...e5!-+ 33.g5+ [33.h4 Ra3+ 34.Kd2 h6] 33...Kxg5 34.Rxe5 Kf6 [If you're a machine you play 34...Rxc4!] 35.Re4 R6a5 Black couldn't wait to get that rook out of its rabbithole; [35...Ra3+ 36.Kd4 Rh3 was more solid.] 36.Rh4


36...Rxf5?! Having the computer evaluation but still "in the zone." [36...Rc5! 37.Kd3 h5!; Or even 36...h5 straight away] 37.Rxf5+ Kxf5 38.Rxh7 Kg6! A good guess, according to the computer. 39.Rh4


39...Kg5? A not-so-good guess. [39...f5-+ is best, and Black stays clearly on top. aiming for ... b5! (and also) 40.Rd4 Kf6] 40.Rd4! Ra3+! 41.Kf2! f5?! It's perilously close to drawable now. [But 41...Rc3! hangs on to something. Note that 42.Rd7 (42.h4+ Kg6 43.Rd6+ f6 is still in question though -- at least until the 9-piece tablebases appear!42...a5 43.Rxf7 Rxc4 is a tablebase win for Black.] 42.h4+!= Kf6 43.Rd7! Ke6 44.Rh7 Ke5 45.h5 [45.Kg2!?] 45...Kf4 46.Rg7 Dutter is confronted with too many knotty endgame problems, as his time runs down to just a few minutes. [He had to consider 46.h6; and 46.Rf7] 46...Rh3!? Before the dash to h7 guarantees counterchances if Black tries too hard 47.Rxa7 Rxh5 Stepping into Tablebase World sees a draw here, but not after one more move. 48.Ra6?? There's something poignant about the losing move being a rook to a6... [48.Ra4! with c5+ is very annoying for Black's trying to win.; And 48.Kg2! holds as well.] 48...Rh2+-+ 49.Kg1 Rb2 It's over -- Black avoids the White rook causing trouble. 50.Ra4 intending c5+ but that was last move's news. 50...Kg3 51.Ra3+ Kg4 52.Ra4?! [>=52.Rc3 f4 53.Rd3] 52...f4 Strongly threatening ...Kg3. 53.Ra3 f3-+


[53...Kf5-+ and to e4 right away wins; Lc0 on its own very much prefers 53...Rb4!-+ 54.Rc3 f3 when there is no Philidor Drawing Technique.] 54.Rd3?!


[54.Ra8!? is a real practical try. 54...Rc2!! (54...Kg3? is too naive: 55.Rg8+! is just barely a draw.55.Rg8+ (55.Rc8 Kg3 56.Rg8+ Kf4 57.Rc8 Ke3 58.Re8+ Kd4!! (58...Kd3 59.Re6!!=) 59.Re6! Kc5!! and ...Rxc4 slips into a won rook and b-pawn vs. rook ending.) 55...Kf4 56.Rf8+ Ke3 57.Re8+ Kd4 58.Rb8] 54...Kg3 That's it. 55.Rd1 Rg2+ 56.Kf1 Rh2 57.Kg1 f2+ 58.Kf1 Rh1+ 59.Ke2 Rxd1 0-1

(4) Widjaja,Luke (1792) - Walder,Michael (2085) [B21]
MI 2nd Shipman mem TNM: 1800+ San Francisco (1.3), 04.01.2022

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 The famed Smith-Morra Gambit, which is always fun to play if you don't worry about a little pawn. 4...Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 a6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qe2 The oldest move, a sort of standard deployment. [8.Bf4!? is probably better, as given by Esserman in his 2012 "Mayhem in the Morra." It somewhat sidesteps or at least picks up a tempo, on what happens in this game. Losing tempos against a gambit is not a good idea. The point is 8...Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 from d1.] 8...Bg4! The move that has put the "Classical" Morra Gambit line into disarray. Black develops, more or less, and quickly finds b8 for his queen. 9.Rd1 e6 10.Bf4?!


A further passé move now. If White wants to avoid the second game below he should play 10.h3 first. It so happens that the position after 10.Bf4 has occured in two TNM games. 10...Be7 [10...Qb8 This key idea is given a "!" in Ftacnik's landmark 2010 Grandmaster Repertoire book on the Sicilian, with a few game references. Black does fine there. And at the Mechanics': Steven Gaffagan won a miniature against Morra stalwart Mike Andersson: 11.h3 Bxf3 12.gxf3?! (12.Qxf3 Be7 stalls White's initiative.12...Be7 13.Bh2 0-0 14.f4 b5 15.Bd5?? exd5 16.exd5 Na5 0-1 Anderson,M (1937)-Gaffagan,S (2073) Mechanics' Summer TNM (6.8), San Francisco 28.06.2016 [Donaldson]; Two years later for whatever reason, Anderson played to the same position against Michael Walder, and shouldn't have been surprised to run into a prepared novelty, endorsed by the computers of the time and still a major bestie: 10...Nh5! 11.Qe3 (Note the computer line 11.Bg3 Nxg3 12.hxg3 h5! Whoa!11...Nxf4 12.Qxf4 Bxf3 13.gxf3 h6 (13...g5!) 14.Qg3 Qg5 15.f4 Qxg3+ 16.fxg3 Be7 17.f5 b5 18.Nxb5 axb5 19.Bxb5 Kd7 20.Rac1 Rhc8 21.Rxc6 Rxc6 22.Rc1 Rac8 23.b4 exf5 24.a4 fxe4 25.a5 d5 26.a6 Kd6 27.Bxc6 Rxc6 28.Ra1 Rc8 29.b5 Bd8 30.Kf1 Bb6 31.a7 Ra8 32.Ra6 Kc5 0-1 Anderson,M (1905)-Walder,M (2064) Mechanics' Summer TNM (5.9), San Francisco 26.06.2018 [Winslow,Elliott]] BUT: Mike forgot all this, except he remembered ...Qb8 "somewhere in there," so it went 10...Be7 and on: 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Qb8 13.a4!? Shutting down ...b5 makes a lot of sense, so that Black might not get quite the easy initiative there. 13...0-0 14.g4


Rambunctious! 14...Ne5!N [Previously seen was 14...Rc8 15.Ba2 Nd7 16.Qg3 Nce5 17.h4 Bxh4 18.Qg2 Nf6 19.g5 Nfg4 20.f3 Qa7+ 21.Kf1 Ne3+ 22.Bxe3 Qxe3 0-1 Guevara Sanchez,E (2173)-Dovbnia,N (1916) Titled Tuesday 27.07/0 ] 15.Bxe5 dxe5


This pawn structure seems to come about often in the Morra Gambit (and other Sicilians, although with a White c-pawn still on the board): The doubled pawns are definitely more good than bad, safe as they stand and controlling many center squares. In fact, Stockfish makes Black a win, as soon as Black gets the rooks going and the minors to better squares. 16.g5 Ne8 17.Qg4 g6?!


Planning ...Ng7-h5-f4 (!). White decides to roll the dice: [17...Qc7 "just says no" to threats, illusory or otherwise.] 18.Bxe6!? Objectively worse but not much worse than just improving pieces (doubling for example), and there is a psychological value, which shouldn't be underestimated. [18.Rd7 h5! drives the white queen to a bad square since capturing en passent allows the knight fork] 18...fxe6 19.Qxe6+ Rf7 20.Nd5


20...Bc5? This certainly looks sensible but leaves the f6 square as a problem. [In fact Black could make 20...Bxg5! work: 21.Nb6 Ng7! 22.Qg4 Qa7!? (22...h6!? 23.Nxa8 Qxa8 24.Rd7 (24.h4? Rf4 xh424...h5 25.Qd1 Qe8-+ and Black's bishop and knight will be too much for White's rook.) 23.Nxa8 Qxf2+ 24.Kh1 Nh5 25.Rg1 Bf4 26.Rg2 Ng3+ 27.Qxg3 Bxg3 28.Rxf2 Bxf2-+] 21.Rac1 and Black has lost any significant advantage. But the next move is even worse: 21...Bd4??


[21...Qa7! 22.a5! Bd4 23.Nf6+! lands a draw.] 22.Rc8!+- Young Luke sees the winning shot! Or at least the tactical part... 22...Qxc8 23.Ne7+ Kg7 24.Nxc8 Nc7 25.Qg4 Rf4 26.Qd7+ Rf7


27.Ne7? but it turns out he didn't quite see far enough! [27.Rxd4! was the "Columbus' Egg" solution to the slight tangle White's queen and knight are in. 27...exd4 28.Qxd4+ Kg8 29.Nd6 Rd8 30.Qb4 a5 31.Qa3+- takes some looking at to realize that it's White by a mile.] 27...Re8! 28.Qxc7 Rexe7 29.Qb8 Bxf2+ 30.Kg2 Bh4 Black finally gets around to eliminate this annoying pawn. 31.Rf1


An appropriate result, and an exciting game! Credit to Luke for walking on the coals, and Mike? Better refresh that Morra Gambit defence... [31.Rd8 Bxg5 32.Rg8+ Kh6 33.Rf8 Rg7 it's zero dot zero everywhere. Or in traditional human speak: dead drawn. Surprising?; 31.Rf1 Rxf1 32.Kxf1 Bxg5 is looking like a fortress: the rook has lots of squares on the 2nd rank, and the bishop has squares as well if the queen wanders from threatening e5.] 1/2-1/2

SwissSys Standings. 2nd Shipman Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon: 1800+

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Total
1 Elliott Winslow 10363365 2251 W18 (b)             1.0
2 David Askin 13776967 2035 W19 (w)       H---     1.0
3 Edward Lewis 12601629 2017 W20 (w)             1.0
4 William Gray 13217831 1971 W21 (b)             1.0
5 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1934 W22 (w)           H--- 1.0
6 Kayven Riese 12572270 1906 W23 (b)             1.0
7 James J Mahooti 12621393 1867 W17 (w)             1.0
8 Jayden Xu 15918365 1765 W16 (w)         H---   1.0
9 Yusheng Xia 13471910 2294 H---             0.5
10 Christophe Bambou 12734479 2106 D12 (w)             0.5
11 Michael Walder 10345120 2085 D14 (b)             0.5
12 Ranen Lardent 12614986 1827 D10 (b)             0.5
13 Abel Talamantez 12465386 1804 H--- H---           0.5
14 Luke Widjaja 16010621 1792 D11 (w)             0.5
15 Jim Ratliff 11163831 1719 H---   H---         0.5
16 Lucas Lesniewski 17039584 2025 L8 (b)             0.0
17 Gaziz Makhanov 16828914 1917 L7 (b)             0.0
18 Fredrick Dutter 12343420 1900 L1 (w)             0.0
19 Adam Mercado 16571026 1774 L2 (b)             0.0
20 Glenn Kaplan 12680193 1740 L3 (b)             0.0
21 Charles Faulkner 12559529 1720 L4 (w)             0.0
22 Joel Carron 16600505 1671 L5 (b)             0.0
23 Joshua Lamstein 15487526 1605 L6 (w)             0.0

SwissSys Standings. 2nd Shipman Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon: u1800

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Total
1 Romeo Barreyro 17018168 1631 W20 (w)             1.0
2 Stephen Parsons 16566932 1629 W21 (b)             1.0
3 Adam Ginzberg 30268083 1576 W22 (b)             1.0
4 Sebastian Suarez 16875347 1565 W24 (w)             1.0
5 Dean Guo 30257083 1554 W25 (b)             1.0
6 Albert Starr 12844781 1522 W26 (w)             1.0
7 Nursultan Uzakbaev 17137317 1521 X27             1.0
8 Matt Long 13377410 1519 W28 (w)     H---       1.0
9 Richard Hack 12796129 1500 W23 (b)             1.0
10 Paul Reed 13373197 1474 W29 (b)             1.0
11 Ashwin Vaidyanathan 30205719 1444 W31 (w)         H--- H--- 1.0
12 Simone Pagan Griso 17322263 1329 W32 (b)             1.0
13 Vittorio Banfi 30308530 1227 W19 (b)             1.0
14 Matthew Grange 30403587 unr. W18 (w)             1.0
15 Georgios Tsolias 17266862 1512 H---             0.5
16 Anton Maliev 30250562 1429 H---             0.5
17 Thomas Gu 17005685 958 H---             0.5
18 David Eric Olson 12510070 1637 L14 (b)             0.0
19 Nick Casares Jr 10424364 1600 L13 (w)             0.0
20 Deandre Stallworth 30255378 1294 L1 (b)             0.0
21 Jp Fairchild 30150098 1229 L2 (w)   H---         0.0
22 Benjamin Anderson 30235937 1172 L3 (w)             0.0
23 Timothy Bayaraa 15616166 1149 L9 (w)             0.0
24 Danny Cao 16939797 1142 L4 (b)         H--- H--- 0.0
25 Pratyush Hule 16317000 1104 L5 (w) H--- H---         0.0
26 Richard Ahrens 16953298 1091 L6 (b)             0.0
27 Prasanna Chandramouli 30279272 1002 F7             0.0
28 Eli Chanoff 12898987 993 L8 (b)             0.0
29 David Nichol 12934283 982 L10 (w)             0.0
30 Christian Brickhouse 30261226 452 U---             0.0
31 Ambrogino Giusti 30223021 unr. L11 (b)             0.0
32 Marcus Casaes 30290420 unr. L12 (w)             0.0

SwissSys Standings. 2nd Shipman Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon: Extra Games Shipman

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Total
1 Abel Talamantez 12465386 1804 W2 (b)             1.0
2 Nursultan Uzakbaev 17137317 1521 L1 (w)             0.0

MI Member Spotlight: JP Fairchild

The Mechanics' Institute values the power of bringing communities together through chess. Here is MI member and club player JP Fairchild sharing how playing at the club connects with community.


I got into chess later than most. I only started to play more seriously during the pandemic, after watching "The Queen's Gambit." Chess can be a lonely passion, solitary by nature. The dedication to improvement almost requires an introverted mind. In strange times, where a pandemic further isolated us, playing faceless usernames on the internet isn't enough. Being able to go to the Mechanics Institute, to meet and play with real people, has been a dramatic improvement in my life. I've made new friends—Deandre, Ben, and Ako—which are slowly becoming serious friendships. I think I say this from all of us who compete: thank you Abel, Judit, and everyone involved in keeping the Mechanics Institute up and running. It means a lot to all of us.

Jyn Penelope Fairchild

WIM Dr. Alexey Root

WIM Dr. Alexey Root has written a soon to be released book on the U.S. Women's Champions, covering from 1937-2020! We have already pre-ordered a copy for the MI library, but this is surely a must have for any chess historian and enthusiast. Pre-order your copy by following this link:

Additionally, she has written an article published in Sparkchess titled Chess, the Number 1000, and Carlsen's Social Media where she mentions the 1000th issue of the Mechanics' Institute Newsletter, released last week HERE. Thanks to Alexey for that mention, and you can read her article by following this link:

2022 Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship in Pictures

by Abel Talamantez

The Mechanics' Institute was honored to organize last year's 2020-2021 Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship online. This event is for collegiate chess teams of four players in a team format. The 2022 event has just begun, and it is being held in Washington, D.C. Our very own Judit Sztaray is on site as she was selected to help TD the event, and she sends these pictures from day 1, which includes a pic of the UC Berkeley team led by IM Josiah Stearman. Look for a Pan-Am update in the next newsletter, as Webster University looks to defend its title. Thanks, Judit!

To watch the Twitch Stream of the Pan Am with IM Kostya Kavutskiy, follow this link:

Follow the action and results here:

An all-star cast of directors and organizers for the 2022 Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship. Left to right: FM Peter Giannatos, NTD Dr. Martha Underwood, NTD Anand Dommalapati, STD Dr. Judit Sztaray, USCF President NTD Mike Hoffpauir.

Tony's Teasers

Tony is back and ready to challenge you to solve this problem: white to move and mate in 3

Mechanics' Institute Events Schedule

Don't Miss our Exciting Upcoming Events!!

The Mechanics' Institute will continue to hold regular and online events. Here is our upcoming schedule for players:

IM Walter Shipman Tuesday Night Marathon. January 4 - February 15, 2022, 6:30PM FIDE Rated. 7SS G/120;d5:

Bob Burger Memorial Championship. January 8, 2022, 10AM USCF Rated. 4SS G/45;d5:

Mechanics' Institute January Championship Quads. January 22, 2022, 3PM USCF Rated. 3RR G/30;d5:

Scholastic Chess Bulletin

The scholastic news is covered in a dedicated publication:
Mechanics' Institute Scholastic Chess Bulletin

Fresh New 
Scholastic Chess Bulletin #8 is out!

In this issue:

  •  2021 National K-12 Grades Championships

  • Monthly Scholastic In-Person Tournament - 2021 December Report

  • Enrichment Highlight: Hoover Elementary

  • December Chess Camps

  • Understanding Tournaments: Colors

  • Upcoming Tournament Schedule

  • Tournament Results & Featured Games analyzed by GM Nick de Firmian

Please click the following LINK to read our latest edition.
Interested in reading the past issues? Click here to see the list of all issues.

All of us at Mechanics' Institute would like to thank you for your support of our scholastic chess programming.

FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

I read the news today

Following the success of the Queens Gambit on Netflix and the explosion of on-line tournaments with colorful Twitch streamers such as the charming Botez sisters and GM Hikaru Nakamura – chess is seemingly everywhere these days.

Personally I quite enjoy looking at all of this chess-in-the-culture stuff: the 64 squares by themselves cannot hold me.  Busting out of the confines of the game itself, seeing the way it influences and is shaped by the rest of the world has helped me see chess (and myself) in different contexts, and perhaps I can even say it’s “rounded” me out a bit as a person.

And so this humble column will henceforth act as a sort of digest of the state of chess in the world from week to week.  From the artistic to the political, from the hilarious to the somber: let me be your guide.


Incredibly, as I write these words, Nakamura is still stuck in Poland after the World Rapid and Blitz Championships, and after a positive covid-19 test.  His plight is detailed in the Wall Street Journal:


“One player’s pawn is another’s farmer.” How chess pieces got their names:


Garry Kasparov on crypto, non-fungible-tokens, and of course his own bad-ass self:


The chess world mourns the passing of organizer Myron Lieberman:


Get aboard the Moscow chess train:


I had absolutely no idea there was a Hip-Hop artist called Big Chess.  Now I know:


A father and son bond over chess:


“Weak, checkers-playing Biden faces emboldened chess master Putin” is an altogether too common (and funny!) type of political headline.  The comparison between chess and checkers never gets old:


This new AI chess board lights the way - making sure you don’t have to think for yourself!


Yet another “feel-good” article on the health aspects of chess.  Speaking from experience, I do feel rather good when I’m giving my opponent a sound thrashing.  So yes, this is spot on:


Finally, for all of you literary types out there (count me in) here is The Romance of Chess from the Los Angeles Review of Books:


Next week: more of the same!

Nick de Firmian’s Column

Good Grefe

John Grefe was a special character in the world of the Bay Area chess scene. His heyday as a player was in the 1970’s and 80’s, but his influence as a chess teacher and guru lasted all his life. We are reminded now of his influence by the success of his  pupil, Hans Niemann. Hans showed his mettle this year end at the World Rapid Championship in Warsaw, and had a great victory at the World Open 6 months ago.  Credit to Hans’ early teacher for his extreme calm when dealing with Hans’ exuberance. John Grefe had a mild yet still pointed way of expressing himself. Grefe’s blend of humor and irony was a pleasure to his friends and pupils. Those receiving a criticism from him would even enjoy it because of the manner it was delivered. We remember John mostly as the long haired, spiritual player who was at home in the Berkeley tournaments with the bongo drums banging away outside the tournament hall. He could focus his energy and avoid disturbances by outside distractions.

His greatest chess achievement was the tie for first in the 1973 US Championship with Kavalek. His immortal game came from this tournament – the slashing victory over Walter Browne (6 time US Champion).  We give also his complex battle with Najdorf from Lone Pine a few years after this.  Grefe, Browne and Tarjan were the great players which made the Bay Area a chess mecca in the 70’s and 80’s. Tarjan is of course still going strong as a player after coming back from retirement six years ago, yet the legacy of John Grefe lives on.

(1) John Alan Grefe - Walter Shawn Browne (2530) [B99]
US Championship El Paso, TX USA (7), 17.09.1973

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Browne was always a sharp theoretical Najdorf player. It is bold of Grefe to venture into the sharpest line against this opening. 6...e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 h6 A Walter Browne specialty. It kicks the white bishop yet it also weakens the black kingside slightly. It is this slight weakeness Grefe now focuses on. 9.Bh4 Qc7 10.0-0-0 Nbd7 11.Be2

11...Rb8 This uses a tempo in getting the queenside counterplay going but [11...b5 12.Bxf6 Nxf6 13.e5 Bb7 14.Qg3 dxe5 15.fxe5 Nd7 16.Nxe6! fxe6 17.Qg6+ Kd8 18.Qxe6 is very good for White.] 12.Qg3 Rg8 13.Rhf1 John's improvement over the natural 13. Rhe1 which had been played earlier. It will become evident why the rook is better on the f-file. 13...g5 active play on the kingside is better than [13...b5 14.Bxf6 Nxf6 (14...Bxf6 15.f5 b4 16.fxe6 bxc3 17.exd7+ Bxd7 18.Rxf6) 15.e5 Nd7 16.Nxe6! fxe6 17.Qg6+ Kd8 18.Qxe6 Re8 (18...Nf6 19.Qb3) 19.Nd5 Qc6 20.Qf7 is a winning attack] 14.fxg5 Ne5 15.Nf3 It is important to get rid of Black's best piece - the knight on e5. 15...b5?! [It is hard to give good advice to Black as his position is under heavy pressure, but 15...Nfd7 may hold the storm back for a while] 16.Nxe5 b4!?
[16...dxe5 17.gxf6! Rxg3 18.fxe7 threatening 19. Rd8+ 18...Rg5 19.Bxg5 hxg5 20.Bh5 wins] 17.Nxf7! bxc3
[17...Kxf7 18.Bh5+ Kf8 19.gxf6] It looked as though Black was getting a counterattack. This wonderful queen sacrifice though makes the kingside action too fast. 18.gxf6! Rxg3 19.fxe7
The black king is a goner.The white minor pieces with the super pawn on e7 are far too much to handle. 19...Rg5 20.Bxg5 hxg5 21.Nxd6+ Black resigns. A masterpiece from Grefe. 1-0

(2) John Alan Grefe - Miguel Najdorf [C41]

Lone Pine Lone Pine, CA USA (5), 11.03.1976

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Qe2 c6 8.a4 Qc7 9.h3 exd4 10.Nxd4 Re8 11.Bf4 Ne5 12.Bb3

White has a an opening edge with somewhat more space and mobility. 12...Nfd7 13.Rad1 Bf8 14.Bc1 Nc5 15.Ba2 d5?! Najdorf feels compelled to make a central break, but White can push forward now. 16.f4 Ned7 17.e5 Nb6 18.a5 Nbd7 19.Qh5 Starting the buildup on the kingside. 19...Ne6 20.Nf5 Qxa5 [20...g6 21.Nh6+ Kg7 22.Qf3 Kxh6 23.f5+] 21.Rf3 Nb6 22.Rg3 g6 23.Qh4 Na4
24.Rxd5!! Qb6+ [24...cxd5 25.Nxd5 Bg7 26.Nxg7 Kxg7 27.Kh2! is a winning attack e.g. 27...Qd8 28.Nf6 Rh8 29.f5 h6 30.fxe6 Bxe6 31.Bxe6 fxe6 32.Qe4 g5 33.Nh5+ Kf7 34.Rf3+ Ke7 35.Qb4+ Kd7 36.Qxb7+ Qc7 37.Rf7+] 25.Be3 Qb4
26.Rb5! Nxc3 The black queen is trapped unless Black capures the rook and allows [26...cxb5 27.Nd5 which is even worse] 27.Rxb4 Ne2+ 28.Kh2 Nxg3 29.Qxg3 Bxb4 30.Nh6+ Kh8 31.f5! material is still about even but the White attack rages on 31...Nd8 32.fxg6 fxg6 33.Qf4 Bf8

34.Nf7+ Nxf7 35.Qxf7 Be6 Black needed to defend the rook on e8 and stop mate on g8. White wins a piece and the rest is easy. 36.Bxe6 Bg7 37.Bd4 Rad8 38.Bc3 b5 39.Bd7 Rf8 40.Qe7 Najdorf resigned 1-0

Solution to Tony's Teaser

1. Be2!! Kb7 2. Qc8 Kxc8 3. Ba6#

If 1...Kb6 2. Qa5! Kxa5 3. Bc7#

If 1...b3 2. Qf1 Kb6 3. Qc7#

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