Chess Room Newsletter #1005 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #1005

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #1005

February 5, 2022


Table of Contents


The Show Must Go On

by FM Paul Whitehead, GM Nick de Firmian and Dr. Judit Sztaray

Change is never easy, and while we miss our recently-departed chess director, inevitably we need to look forward. The fabulous three - Paul, Nick and Judit - are working together, with the Institute leadership's support, to ensure Mechanics' Institute can continue to offer high-quality customer service, host a variety of tournaments and classes, and make sure all players continue to feel welcomed in the robust Mechanics' Institute chess community.

Starting February 1st FM Paul Whitehead will be serving as our in-person Chess Room Coordinator five days a week during weekdays, welcoming visitors into the chess room, answering the phone, and responding to general e-mail enquiries.  We encourage everyone to stop by at the club during open hours (currently 12PM-5PM) and chat with Paul about the history of the club and bring forward any chess questions you might have.  Paul will continue to coach the Introduction to Chess class for our Mechanics' members on Wednesdays and will help in making daily Facebook posts. GM Nick de Firmian will continue to hold his special classes on Mondays, occasionally hold the pre-TNM lectures on Tuesdays, and of course provide the high-level annotations to the TNM games. Judit will continue to make sure the event logistics are in place, oversee the Institute's chess enrichment programs, and serve as the tournament director of most tournaments the Chess Club offers.

The most important thing for our players to know is that they can expect little to no change in the offerings and services, and, as they say, the show must go on! From all three of us, enjoy the classic song from Queen live from Budapest:


 2022 IM Walter Shipman TNM Round 5 Report

by FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]


International Master Elliot Winslow tops the top section, winning a sharply played game against the ever-dangerous Expert Edward Lewis, and with 4.5 points has opened up a ½ - point lead over fast-rising scholastic star Jayden Xu (rated only 1765!), who took down National Master Michael Walder in a tough battle.  Trailing Xu with 3.5 are both Lewis and Expert Christophe Bambou, who felled Kayven Riese quite easily after the latter allowed two of his pieces to become imprisoned on the Queenside.  

Top Boards during the 5th round of the current Tuesday Night Marathon: Edward Louis, Elliott Winslow,
Jayden Xu, Christoph Bambou, Kayven Riese, Kristian Clemens and Luke Widjaja.


Leading the under 1800 section – at least for the moment - is Ashwin Vaidyanathan with an impressive Winslow-ish 4.5 points.  It really should have been a perfect 5 – 0, but in a see-saw fight with Romeo Barreyro, Ashwin missed a forced win (or two) in the endgame.  Despite holding a ½- point lead over Barreyro, Stephen Parson and Sebastian Suarez (all with 4 points), Ashwin is unlikely to take First Place as he’s taking byes in the last two rounds.  

Sebby Suarez is facing Anton Mailev and Benjamin Anderson playing white against Matt Long during Round 5.

Although our live commentary and broadcast on Twitch is on hiatus, you can still follow the DGT action on the Internet:

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 W24 (b) W9 (w) D2 (b) W10 (w) W4 (b)     4.5
2 Jayden Xu 15918365 1765 W8 (w) W15 (b) D1 (w) D7 (b) W6 (w) H---   4.0
3 Christophe Bambou 12734479 2106 D17 (w) L6 (b) W21 (w) W22 (b) W12 (w)     3.5
4 Edward Lewis 12601629 2017 W18 (w) W16 (b) W12 (w) D6 (b) L1 (w)     3.5
5 Yusheng Xia 13471910 2294 H--- F17 H--- W13 (b) W15 (w)     3.0
6 Michael Walder 10345120 2085 D10 (b) W3 (w) W17 (b) D4 (w) L2 (b)     3.0
7 David Askin 13776967 2035 W21 (w) L12 (b) W20 (w) D2 (w) H---     3.0
8 Lucas Lesniewski 17039584 2025 L2 (b) W23 (w) L10 (b) W21 (w) W19 (b)     3.0
9 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1934 W19 (w) L1 (b) W14 (w) D12 (b) D10 (w)   H--- 3.0
10 Luke Widjaja 16010621 1792 D6 (w) W13 (b) W8 (w) L1 (b) D9 (b)     3.0
11 Jim Ratliff 11163831 1719 H--- H--- H--- D19 (w) W17 (b)     3.0
12 Kayven Riese 12572270 1906 W14 (b) W7 (w) L4 (b) D9 (w) L3 (b)     2.5
13 Guy Argo 12517167 1856 H--- L10 (w) W18 (b) L5 (w) W23 (b)     2.5
14 Joshua Lamstein 15487526 1605 L12 (w) X25 L9 (b) W24 (w) H---     2.5
15 William Gray 13217831 1971 W23 (b) L2 (w) D19 (b) D17 (w) L5 (b)     2.0
16 James J Mahooti 12621393 1867 W25 (w) L4 (w) H--- H--- U---     2.0
17 Ranen Lardent 12614986 1827 D3 (b) X5 L6 (w) D15 (b) L11 (w)     2.0
18 Glenn Kaplan 12680193 1740 L4 (b) H--- L13 (w) H--- X22     2.0
19 Joel Carron 16600505 1671 L9 (b) B--- D15 (w) D11 (b) L8 (w)     2.0
20 Abel Talamantez 12465386 1804 H--- H--- L7 (b) H--- U---     1.5
21 Adam Mercado 16571026 1774 L7 (b) D24 (w) L3 (b) L8 (b) B---     1.5
22 Daniel Austi Wang 15361305 1737 H--- H--- H--- L3 (w) F18     1.5
23 Charles Faulkner 12559529 1720 L15 (w) L8 (b) D24 (b) B--- L13 (w)     1.5
24 Fredrick Dutter 12343420 1900 L1 (w) D21 (b) D23 (w) L14 (b) U---     1.0
25 Gaziz Makhanov 16828914 1917 L16 (b) F14 U--- U--- U---     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 Ashwin Vaidyanathan 30205719 1444 W18 (w) W8 (b) W19 (w) W4 (w) D2 (b) H--- H--- 4.5
2 Romeo Barreyro 17018168 1631 W16 (w) D11 (b) W3 (w) W8 (b) D1 (w)     4.0
3 Stephen Parsons 16566932 1629 W21 (b) W6 (w) L2 (b) W10 (w) W9 (b)     4.0
4 Sebastian Suarez 16875347 1565 W24 (w) W28 (b) W5 (w) L1 (b) W12 (w)     4.0
5 Nursultan Uzakbaev 17137317 1521 X26 W31 (w) L4 (b) W18 (b) H---     3.5
6 Matt Long 13377410 1519 W29 (w) L3 (b) W24 (b) D20 (w) W13 (b)     3.5
7 Thomas Gu 17005685 958 H--- F12 W17 (b) W16 (b) W19 (w)     3.5
8 Adam Ginzberg 30268083 1576 W13 (b) L1 (w) W22 (b) L2 (w) W21 (b)     3.0
9 Dean Guo 30257083 1554 W14 (b) H--- W11 (w) D12 (b) L3 (w)     3.0
10 Yorgos Tsolias 17266862 1512 H--- H--- X26 L3 (b) X23     3.0
11 Paul Reed 13373197 1474 W17 (b) D2 (w) L9 (b) D21 (w) W22 (b)     3.0
12 Anton Maliev 30250562 1429 H--- X7 W20 (b) D9 (w) L4 (b)     3.0
13 Benjamin Anderson 30235937 1172 L8 (w) X30 W27 (b) W19 (b) L6 (w)     3.0
14 Pratyush Hule 16317000 1104 L9 (w) H--- H--- X--- W20 (b)     3.0
15 David R Olson 13913131 1400 L31 (b) L26 (w) X32 W24 (b) D18 (w)     2.5
16 Deandre Stallworth 30255378 1294 L2 (b) D17 (w) W31 (b) L7 (w) W27 (b)     2.5
17 David Nichol 12934283 982 L11 (w) D16 (b) L7 (w) X32 W28 (b) U---   2.5
18 Ambrogino Giusti 30223021 unr. L1 (b) X23 X28 L5 (w) D15 (b)     2.5
19 Albert Starr 12844781 1522 W25 (w) X22 L1 (b) L13 (w) L7 (b)     2.0
20 Richard Hack 12796129 1500 W23 (b) H--- L12 (w) D6 (b) L14 (w)     2.0
21 Jp Fairchild 30150098 1229 L3 (w) W29 (b) H--- D11 (b) L8 (w)     2.0
22 Vittorio Banfi 30308530 1227 W27 (b) F19 L8 (w) W26 (b) L11 (w)     2.0
23 Timothy Bayaraa 15616166 1149 L20 (w) F18 W25 (b) W31 (w) F10     2.0
24 Danny Cao 16939797 1142 L4 (b) X32 L6 (w) L15 (w) X32   H--- 2.0
25 Richard Ahrens 16953298 1091 L19 (b) L27 (w) L23 (w) B--- W31 (b)     2.0
26 Prasanna Chandramouli 30279272 1002 F5 W15 (b) F10 L22 (w) W30 (w)     2.0
27 Nick Casares Jr 10424364 1600 L22 (w) W25 (b) L13 (w) D30 (b) L16 (w)     1.5
28 Simone Pagan Griso 17322263 1329 W32 (b) L4 (w) F18 H--- L17 (w)     1.5
29 Eli Chanoff 12898987 993 L6 (b) L21 (w) B--- U--- U---     1.0
30 Christian Brickhouse 30261226 452 U--- F13 H--- D27 (w) L26 (b)     1.0
31 Matthew Grange 30403587 unr. W15 (w) L5 (b) L16 (w) L23 (b) L25 (w)     1.0
32 Marcus Casaes 30290420 unr. L28 (w) F24 F15 F17 F24     0.0


Annotated games by GM Nick de Firmian

Casares Jr,Nick (1600) - Stallworth,Deandre (1294) [B00]
MI 2nd Shipman mem: u1800 San Francisco (5.20), 01.02.2022

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Nc3 e6 4.a3!? An interesting idea against Owen's Defense. Black likes to play ...Bb4, so Nick's move has merit. 4...c5 5.Nf3 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Nc6 7.Be3 Nf6 8.f4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bc5 10.Qd3 Qc8 11.Be2

The game is now like a Sicilian Defense. Black could just castle with an even position, but Deandre decides to start the action with his king in the middle. 11...Ba6?! [11...0-0 12.Bxc5 bxc5 13.e5 Nd5<=>] 12.Qd2! [12.Qxa6 Bxe3 is just equal] 12...Bxe2 13.Qxe2 Bxe3 [13...0-0] 14.Qxe3 Qc6 15.0-0-0 White has a slight edge now. 15...0-0 16.Qe2 [16.e5! Ne8 17.g4 leaves White in control] 16...a6 [16...d5] 17.g4 [17.e5!] 17...Rfd8 [17...Rfc8] 18.g5 Ne8 19.h4 Nc7 20.h5 d5 A good move. Black needs to start action in the center with White's big kingside buildup. 21.e5?! [21.h6! Starts to get mating threats around the black king.] 21...b5?!

22.g6! Now Nick starts the breakthrough. 22...fxg6 23.hxg6 h6

24.Rxh6!? Wonderful action! Objectively not best though. White would keep a clear edge with the safer [24.Qd3!?] 24...gxh6 25.Qh5 Kg7

26.Rh1? [with 26.Ne2! Rh8 27.Nd4 Qd7 28.f5 exf5 29.Nxf5+ Kg8 30.g7 Rh7 31.Rg1 Black must be very careful to hold on - 31...Qe6! 32.Rg6 Qxe5[] 33.Nxh6+ Rxh6 34.Qxe5 Rxg6 35.Qxc7 Re8+/= should be a draw, even if a bit easier for White] 26...Rh8-/+ now White is struggling to find compensation for the rook 27.Qh4 Qd7! 28.Qf6+?! [28.Ne2 Raf8 29.Ng3 Ne8 30.Rg1 Rf5!] 28...Kg8 It still looks tricky but Black can defend in any case. 29.Rg1?! Rf8 30.Qh4 Ne8-+ now Black holds the g7 square and will just win with the extra material. 31.Rd1 Qa7 32.Qh3 Ng7 33.Ne2 Nf5 34.Ng3? Qe3+ 35.Kb1 Qxg3 36.Qh1 Qxf4 37.Rf1 Qxe5 38.Qg2 Kg7 39.Qg1 Ne3 40.Re1 Rf3 Well done by Deandre, but Nick deserves a lot of credit for such interesting play! 0-1

Bambou,Christophe (2106) - Riese,Kayven (1906) [E21]
MI 2nd Shipman mem TNM; 1800+ San Francisco (5.3), 01.02.2022

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd2 b6 5.e3 Bxc3 6.Bxc3 Bb7 7.Nf3 d6 Kayven should consider ...Ne4 now or earlier to have the option of trading White's dark-squared bishop. 8.Bd3 0-0 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.b4 Ne4 11.Bb2

Now this bishop retreats and White has a slight edge from the opening. 11...f5 12.Nd2 d5?! This is not the right strategy. The black pawn goes to a square the same color as the bishop and so restricts that piece. [12...Qg5 would be reasonable] 13.c5! Rf6 14.Rc1 Nf8 15.c6 Bc8 16.f3 Nd6 17.Qe2 a6 18.a4 Ng6 19.Ra1 Ne7 20.b5 a5? Now the black bishop and rook on the queenside are locked in 21.e4! Rh6?! 22.e5!

Black is strategically lost since the bishop on c8 and the rook on a8 can't get into the game. Kayven tries his best to lock up the entire board, but can't achieve that. 22...Ne8 23.f4 Ng6 24.Qf2 Qh4 25.Qxh4 Nxh4 26.Nf3 Nxf3+ 27.Rxf3 g6 28.Ba3 Kf7 29.Raf1 Ng7 30.h3 Rh4 31.Kh2 Rh6 32.g3 Nh5 33.Kg2 Ng7 34.g4

34...fxg4? giving up the last chance. Black could just sit there hoping for 35. g5? Rh5 with a locked game. Of course Christophe would prepare a good time to capture on f5 and it would still take work to win the game. 35.hxg4 Ne8 36.Bc1 Kg7 37.f5 Now its hopeless for Black. 37...exf5 38.Bxh6+ Kxh6 39.gxf5 gxf5 40.Rg3 1-0

Pagan Griso,Simone (1329) - Nichol,David (982) [A70]
MI 2nd Shipman mem: u1800 San Francisco (5.21), 01.02.2022

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Bd3 [8.Be2 or; 8.h3 are more usual] 8...0-0 9.0-0 [9.h3] 9...Bg4! A good plan to get more control of the e5 square, which is very important in Benoni games. 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 Nbd7 12.Qe2 Re8

Black has good active play from the opening. 13.Re1 a6 14.a4 Ne5 15.Bc2 b6 [15...Rc8] 16.Rb1 Qc7 17.b3 Reb8

18.Bb2 Ned7 19.Nd1?! Re8 [19...b5!<=> would get Black the classic Benoni queenside play.] 20.f3?

[20.Nc3=] 20...Nxd5! stealing a pawn 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.Qd2 Nb4 23.Ne3 Ne5 24.Nd5?! Nxd5 25.Qxd5 Qc6?! [25...Nc6! would allow the black knight to come to a great square on d4 or b4] 26.Qd2 b5?! 27.f4! Nd7 28.e5!

28...dxe5? [28...d5=/+ was needed. White now wins the exchange.] 29.Be4 Qe6 30.Bxa8 Rxa8 31.Rbd1! Material is even again and the white pieces are well placed in the center. White has a clear edge. 31...Ra7 32.Qb2?! [32.fxe5] 32...f6! 33.fxe5?! Nxe5 The black knight has come to a strong central square. 34.Qc3 Qf5?! [34...Rc7] 35.Rf1 [35.Rd6!] 35...Qg5 36.Kh1 c4!? 37.axb5 [37.bxc4 immediatedly keeps the black rook without the open a-file] 37...axb5 38.Rd5 Ra2 39.g4 [39.Rg1 0.00/0 ] 39...Qh4? 40.Qe3?

[40.Rxe5!+- fxe5 41.Qxe5+ Kh6 42.Qf4+ Qg5 43.Qf8#] 40...Rh2+!! 41.Kg1 [41.Kxh2 Nxg4+ wins the queen and the game] 41...Rxh3-+ 42.Rd7+ not good, but there is nothing else that helps 42...Nxd7 43.Qe7+ Kh6 White resigns. A fine battle and nice finish by David. 0-1

Lewis,Edward (2017) - Winslow,Elliott (2251) [A48]
MI 2nd Shipman mem TNM; 1800+ San Francisco (5.1), 01.02.2022

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.e3 Until fairly recently thought to be quirky, this is now a Big Thing -- with books, 2700 players, etc. [Just for a bit further down, the move order in the 1995 game was 2.c4 g6 3.b4 Bg7 4.Bb2 0-0 5.e3 d6 6.d4] 2...g6 When in doubt, play the King's Indian 3.b4 White wants to get in the counter-fianchetto while he can. 3...Bg7 4.Bb2 0-0 5.d4 Another plan is just Be2 and 0-0, meeting ...d6 and ...e5 with d2-d3. But why waste all that firepower just to let Black hit in the center. 5...d6 6.Nbd2 This does make sense -- both c4 and b3 could be great squares for the knight. [6.c4 c5! has been known for a while, whether from a King's Indian with a "skittish" e-pawn, or a Santasiere's Folly or Polish or Orangutan, whatever you want to call b2-b4 on move one or two or three -- or this new e2-e2 thing. Some day the pandemic will be over and the Wednesday Night Blitz Tournament will be reinstated, and Jules will be back to his 1.b4 tricks -- which better include an answer to this ...c5! 7.a3 (Fifteen years later this game: 7.bxc5 dxc5 8.Be2 Qb6 (8...Ne4 has been the most annoying in practice,; while SF14.1 already gives Black a plus (not big, but something) after 8...cxd4) 9.Qb3?! (9.Qc1 cxd4 10.Bxd4) 9...Nfd7? (9...Ne4!=/+ even better than last move) 10.Nc3 and now it's White on top, 0.50 or so (damned computers!). And it's Korchnoi, a mere 79 or so at the time. 10...Nc6 11.Nd5 (11.d5!+/-) 11...Qa5+ 12.Bc3 Qd8 13.Rd1 1-0 (37) Kortschnoj,V (2548)-Sepp,O (2490) Harjumaa 2010. White's advantage is nonexistant and irrelevant; Terrible Vik in the end.) 7...cxd4 8.exd4 e5! 9.dxe5?! (9.Be2 e4 10.Nfd2 d5-/+ is solidly in Black's favor; this was the last round and Korchnoi was half a point ahead of Nunn so a win by Black would have reversed their 1st-2nd places. Somehow Nunn just wasn't up for it that final day. 11.0-0 Nc6 12.b5?! (12.cxd5 Qxd5 13.Nc3 Qf5) 12...Ne7 13.Nc3 Re8! (13...Nf5!? 14.Nxd5 (14.cxd5 Re8) 14...Nxd5 15.cxd5 e3!? isn't quite a win yet) 14.Re1 Nf5 (14...e3!?) 15.Nf1 dxc4 16.Bxc4 Nxd4 Black is indeed winning... 17.Ng3?! (17.Rc1 Be6! 18.Nxe4 Nxe4 19.Bxd4 Bxd4 20.Rxe4 Bb2-+ picks off a new pawn) 17...Bg4 (17...Be6!) 18.Nce2 Nxe2+ 19.Bxe2 Qxd1?! (19...Qb6! 20.Qd4 (20.a4 e3!) 20...Qxd4 21.Bxd4 Bxe2 22.Rxe2 Rad8 is very good for Black, winning if you're a computer (!)) 20.Raxd1 Bxe2 21.Rxe2 Rad8 22.Rxd8 Rxd8 23.Bxf6 Bxf6 24.Rxe4 Rd2? (24...Rd1+ 25.Nf1 Rd4-/+) 25.Nf1 (25.Kf1!=/+) 25...Ra2?! (25...Rd4! 26.Rxd4 Bxd4 27.Nd2 Kg7) 26.a4 Bc3 27.g4 Ba5 ½-½ Kortschnoj,V (2635)-Nunn,J (2630) Pan Pacific International (11), San Francisco 1995) 9...dxe5 10.Qxd8 Rxd8 Uh-oh! No, Magnus don't do it! 11.Nxe5?? To be fair, it had already moved into -+ territory as far as Stockfish is concerned. 11...Ng4 (11...Re8! 12.f4 Nh5 13.Kd2 Nxf4 14.g3 Nh3 is even better) 12.Nd3 Re8+ 13.Be2? (13.Kd2 Bxb2 14.Nxb2 Nxf2 15.Rg1 Nc6 and to those who think mating attacks need queens on the board: think again!) 13...Bf5! on the one hand, the only winning move; on the other, Game Over. 14.Kd2 Bxd3 15.Bxg4 Bxb2 16.Ra2 Rd8 He wants the bishop -- that is just not nice. 17.Rxb2 Bf5+ 18.Kc3 Bxg4 19.Nd2 Bf5 0-1 (19) Carlsen,M (2847)-Dubov,D (2710) (blitz) 22.04/0 ; 6.Be2 is Stockfish's "best move," the only one to show any sign of advantage. It's funny that it looks like White is at least ready to castle, and then resolve the queenside expansion, but after 6...c5 often White doesn't get around to it (castling) for quite a few moves. Better late than never.] 6...c5 7.bxc5 [Relevant: 7.a3 cxd4 8.exd4 d5 (8...Nc6; 8...a5 9.b5 Nbd7) 9.Bd3 Bg4 10.0-0 Nbd7 Black develops harmoniously and can still pick on White's pawns with ...a5 or such; ½-½ (36) Nepomniachtchi,I (2784)-Aronian,L (2781) (blitz) 11.11/0 ] 7...dxc5 8.Nb3

[8.c3!? is the computer best, and quite sensible; White just gives up on the long diagonal, gets castled, plays Ba3 with or without a2-a4. It's turned into some sort of exchange Gruenfeld structure with all the knights still on the board. 8...Nc6 9.Be2 Bf5 10.0-0 Qc7 is the computer's suggestion, and after some thinking time it thinks 11.Ba3 b6 12.Re1 still on the high (that is, White) side of equal.] 8...cxd4N [Predecessor: 8...Nbd7 9.dxc5 Qc7 10.Bb5 Rd8 11.Qe2 Ne4 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.Bxd7 Bxd7 14.Qc4 Bc6 15.0-0 Bd5 16.Qb4 a5 17.Qa4 e5 18.Qb5 a4 19.Nbd2 Nxd2 20.Nxd2 Ra5 21.Qb6 Rxc5 22.Qxc7 Rxc7 23.Nf3 Bxf3 24.gxf3 Rxc2 25.Rfc1 Rb2 26.Rcb1 a3 27.Kg2 Rdd2 28.Rxb2 axb2 29.Rb1 Kf6 0-1 (29) Ellemann,S (1845)-Kovalev,A (2475) Chemnitz 2014] 9.exd4 Nc6 There's no question that Black is doing fine; tighter pawn structure, good squares for the minors, and you never know that White king in the center still could be a problem yet. 10.Bb5?! [10.Be2] 10...Qb6 11.Be2? Rd8 [11...a5; 11...Bf5!] 12.Qc1?! Natural, but more than White's position can stand. [12.0-0; or 12.a4 and then castle; Black is clearly better though.] 12...a5! 13.0-0 [13.a4?! Bf5 threatens ...Nb4, and of course 14.c3 is impossible.] 13...a4 14.Nbd2 a3!? Sending them both down the rabbit-hole (i.e. calculations). [14...Nd5!? when a knight on f4 will be uncomfortable for White] 15.Bxa3 [15.Bc3?? Nd5 16.Nb1 (16.Qb1 Qa7! 17.Qb3 Nxc3 18.Qxc3 Nxd4) 16...Bf5 17.Bd2 Qb2] 15...Nxd4 16.Nxd4 Qxd4?! [Better was 16...Rxd4 17.Bxe7 Nd5 (the "missed move") 18.Bg5 (18.Ba3 Rxa3) 18...h6-+] 17.Nb3?! [17.Nf3! Qa4 18.Bb2 (18.Bxe7? Re8 bishop-to-bishop skewer!) 18...Bf5 19.c4 Qc2!? 20.Qxc2 Bxc2 21.Rfc1 Ba4-/+ Whites pawns are more targetable than Black's.] 17...Qe5?! [17...Qh4! 18.Bxe7 Re8 19.Qe3 Qa4! 20.Rad1 Bf8 21.Rd8 Bf5-+] 18.Bf3?! [18.Re1 Qc7 19.Bb2 Be6-/+] 18...Qc7?! [18...Ng4! 19.Bxg4 Bxg4 20.Rb1 Qc7-+ is solidly better than the game continuation (at least on first computer inspection).] 19.Bb2 e5 [19...Ra4! is a nice idea, which Black only noticed from a bit of desperation a few moves later.] 20.Re1?! [20.c4!] 20...Re8?! [20...Nd5!] 21.Qg5?! [21.c4; 21.Nd2] 21...Bf5! 22.g4? Looks strong but Black had seen it coming.

[22.h3 Ra4] 22...h6!-+ 23.Qh4 Ra4! All sorts of other moves cross over into "-+" but this is the strongest. 24.Nd4?! Bd7! White comes unglued. 25.Qg3 Qb6 [25...Rc4!] 26.Nb3 e4 A sort of echo of ...a5-a4-a3 27.Be2 The other retreats are pretty much the same 27...e3 28.Bxf6 [28.f3 Ne4! 29.fxe4 Bxb2 30.Rab1 Be5 31.Qg2 Rxe4! hurts the most] 28...Bxf6 29.Rad1 exf2+ The most straightforward and best. 30.Qxf2 Qxf2+ 31.Kxf2 Bh4+ White saved himself the trouble of picking a square and resigned, laying his king on its side a la "Queen's Gambit" actors. 0-1

Xu,Jayden (1765) - Walder,Michael (2085) [A61]
MI 2nd Shipman mem TNM; 1800+ San Francisco (5.2), 01.02.2022

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Bf4 Bg7 is now the more promising move, with some recent sharp lines. [7...a6 8.e4!? b5 9.Qe2 might be okay for Black, but it will require ...Be7, and no Benoni player wants to do that.] 8.h3 White wastes no time worrying about a retreat for the bishop after ...Nh5. 8...0-0 9.e3 This line goes back to Keres-Tal and then Tal-Spassky in 1954, but has become quite the rage in the last few years. For a Benoni player it's slightly exasperating to not have a target on e4! There is still the square though... 9...Na6 Now the most popular, keeping options for the rook and other knight. [9...a6 10.a4 Nh5 used to be the big line, including two rounds ago in Xu-Winslow (½-½ 57); White had nothing out of the opening but after a typical Benoni run of tactics was doing quite well, before it slipped back to even.; 9...Ne8!? has done well as well, including back in Tal-Spassky! 10.Be2 Nd7 11.0-0 Ne5 (11...a6 12.a4 Rb8 13.Nd2 Ne5 14.Bh2 f5 15.Nc4 Nxc4 16.Bxc4 b6 17.Qe2 Nc7 18.Rfd1 Qd7 19.Bb3 b5 20.axb5 axb5 21.Ra7 c4 22.Bc2 Rb7 23.Ra5 Qd8 24.Qd2 b4 25.Na4 Nb5 26.Ra6 c3 27.bxc3 bxc3 28.Qe2 Bd7 29.Bxd6 Nxd6 30.Rxd6 Qb8 31.Rc6 Bxc6 32.dxc6 Rc7 33.Qc4+ Kh8 34.Nxc3 Rcc8 35.Ba4 f4 36.Nd5 fxe3 37.Nxe3 Qb2 38.Qc2 Qxc2 39.Nxc2 Rf4 40.Bb5 Rf5 41.Ba4 Ra5 42.Bb3 Rc5 43.Be6 Rf8 44.Nb4 Bc3 45.Rd5 Bxb4 46.Rxc5 Bxc5 47.c7 Bxf2+ 48.Kh2 h5 49.c8Q Rxc8 50.Bxc8 1/2-1/2 (50) Kavutskiy,K (2315)-Sevillano,E (2490) Los Angeles 2012) 12.Bxe5 dxe5 13.Nd2 f5 14.Qb3 Nd6 15.Nc4 e4 16.Nb5 Nxb5 17.Qxb5 b6 18.d6 Bd7 19.Qb3 b5 20.Nb6+ c4 21.Bxc4+ bxc4 22.Qxc4+ Rf7 23.Nxa8 Qxa8 24.Qb3 Be5 25.Rac1 Kg7 26.Rfd1 a5 27.Rc7 Qe8 28.Qd5 a4 29.b4 axb3 30.axb3 Bf6 31.Rb7 Qe5 32.Qc4 f4 33.exf4 Qxf4 34.g3 Qf3 35.Qd5 Bc3 36.Rf1 Kh6 37.Qc4 Qf6 38.Qe2 Bd4 39.Rb4 e3 40.Qd3 Qxf2+ 41.Rxf2 exf2+ 42.Kh2 f1N+ 43.Qxf1 Rxf1 44.Rxd4 Rf2+ 45.Kg1 Rf3 0-1 (45) Tal,M-Spassky,B Leningrad 1954 EXT 2000 [ChessBase II]] 10.Be2 [10.Bxa6!? bxa6 11.Rc1! (11.0-0 Rb8) 11...Rb8 12.b3 Nh5 13.Bh2 f5 14.0-0 is tricky] 10...Nc7 11.0-0 Re8 12.a3!?

Very anticipatory! 12...a6!?N [Black could go ahead and play 12...Ne4 anyway: 13.Nxe4 Rxe4 Probably Jayden's idea was 14.Nd2?! as Black doesn't have 14...Rb4, (14.Bg5!?; 14.Rb1!?) but 14...Rxf4! 15.exf4 Nxd5 16.Bc4 Nxf4 (The surprising 16...Nb6! 17.Ba2 d5! is even better!) 17.Qf3 Ne6 18.Rab1 Rb8 0-1 (35) Perez Leiva,J (2384)-Fier, A (2553) INT 2021] 13.a4 So much for 12.a3! 13...Rb8! [13...b6 is fine as well] 14.a5 b5 15.axb6 Rxb6 16.Nd2 [16.b3 might be a tiny bit better] 16...Ncxd5 Wrong knight!? [16...Nfxd5! 17.Nc4 Nxf4! 18.Nxb6

was Mike's concern, but he overlooked 18...Nxh3+!! 19.gxh3 Bxh3 20.Ra4! Bxc3! 21.bxc3 Qg5+ 22.Bg4 h5 23.Qxd6 Ne6! 24.Nd7 Bxf1! (only move for any advantage) 25.Kxf1 hxg4 with a meaningful plus -- 26.Rxg4 Qf5!-/+ /=/+] 17.Nc4! Nxf4 18.exf4

18...Be6? [18...Rb4 19.Nxd6 Rd4 20.Nxe8 Rxd1 21.Nxf6+ Qxf6 22.Raxd1 h5! Black has some slight plus. (22...Qb6!? 23.Nd5! Qd6 24.Nb4!) ; 18...d5! 19.Nxb6 Qxb6 20.Bf3 d4 is dynamically balanced.] 19.Nxb6 Qxb6 20.Rxa6 Qxb2 21.Na4?! [21.Qc1!? Qb8!=] 21...Qb4 22.Qxd6 Bb3? [22...Ne4! 23.Qc6 Rf8! , staying out of trouble, and Black is at least equal] 23.Qxc5+- Qxf4 24.Bb5?! [24.Qb5! when 24...Rxe2 25.Qxe2 Bxa4 is the unusual material imabalance of two rooks vs. three minors, but here the rooks are just too much: 26.Ra1 Bd7 (26...Be8 27.Rxf6) 27.Ra8+ Bf8 28.Qe7] 24...Rd8 [%wdl 774, 205,21] 2.16/15 3:44 [24...Ne4! 25.Qe3! (25.Qc1 Nd2! 26.Bxe8 Bd4!=) 25...Qxe3 26.fxe3+/=] 25.Qe7 [%wdl 635,334,31] 1.24/19 2:25 [25.Nc3+- [%wdl 774,205,21] 2.16/15 ; 25.Qc1!] 25...Qd4? [%wdl 937,56,7] 7.72/15 8:16 [25...Rb8+/- [%wdl 635,334,31] 1.24/19 ] 26.Nc5+- White is clearly winning. 26...Bc2

27.Nd7! Nxd7 28.Qxd8+ Nf8 29.Qxd4 Bxd4 30.Rc1 Bb3 31.Ra8 Kg7 32.Bc4 Bxc4 33.Rxc4 Ne6 34.Raa4 Bf6 35.Kf1 h5 36.Ke2 Be5 37.Ra5 Bf6 38.Ra7 Nd4+ 39.Kd3 Nf5 40.Rcc7 Nh6 Against g4 41.f4 g3 is the strong threat. 41...h4 42.Rd7 Bb2 43.Ke4 Bc3 44.Kf3 Be1 45.Re7 Bg3 46.Ke4 Kf6 47.Re8 Kg7 48.Rc8 Nf5 49.Rd8 Nh6 50.Raa8 Bh2 51.Rh8 Bg3 52.Rhd8 Bh2 53.Rd3 Nf5 54.Kf3 Nh6 55.Ra4 Nf5 56.Kg4 Bg3

57.Rxg3! hxg3 58.Ra5 1-0


GM Andrew Hong Recipient of Mechanics' Institute Neil Falconer Award

Award Ceremony: February 12  2:30PM

Please join us to celebrate GM Andrew Hong (17) as he receives this year's Neil Falconer Award on Saturday, February 12 at 2:30PM. Every year the Falconer Award is given to the highest rated player (by USCF rating) under the age of 18 residing in Northern California. He will receive a cash prize equal to his end of year USCF rating, which for him is $2603. Special guests will include Mechanics' Institute trustees and former chess directors.

Report on the 2022 US National Online Scholastic Quick Championship

Dr. Judit Sztaray


I was honored to be invited to be on the staff of the 2022 US National Online Scholastic Quick Championship held over last weekend, January 29-30 2022. This was an inaugural event of it's kind as this was the very first event US Chess established as an online-only scholastic national event. US Chess awarded Charlotte Chess Center to organize and execute the event and they partnered with LiChess and ChessStream to deliver a high-quality event for players, parents and coaches across the nation. 

The tournament format was set by the US Chess Scholastic Council per the following: players could play in four different sections (K-3, K-6, K-8 and K-12) during this seven-round, G/20+5 time control tournament, affecting USCF Online quick ratings. Over 1250 players participated in this very enjoyable event that went without any flaw. Internet graces were kind to Charlotte organizers, and no glitches or system failure happened. Pairings were posted promptly, games started on time, and Top 20 boards, total 40 players were monitored on zoom in each section.

I was assigned to the K-8 section working as a Zoom TD along with NTD Anand Dommalapati, whom I worked with just a few weeks ago at the 2022 Pan American Intercollegiate Championship in Washington DC. I very much enjoyed interacting with the middle schoolers, and seeing their excited faces as they prepared to start their games. The San Francisco Bay Area was well represented throughout the four sections, but I was particularly happy to see Luke Widjaja in my section being on Zoom for the rounds. The fact that I kept seeing him back round after round meant that he played well, as well as other players of course. Lichess proved to be an excellent platform for this event, and the robust automated system that chess stream provided was key for a smooth event that concluded without any problem.

Luke Widjaja playing Round 5 at our Tuesday Night Marathon

Congratulations to all the Mechanics' players who participated and fought hard in this incredibly strong field!
K-3 Section (out of 391 players): 5th place -- Yuvraj Sawhney,  6th place -- Ethan Guo, 26th place -- Dominic Matar and many others.
K-6 Section (out of 459 players): 7th place -- Jashith Karthi, 21st place -- Jayden Wu and many others.
K-8 Section (out of 256 players): 12th place -- Luke Widjaja, 19th place -- Ethan Mei, 26th place -- Ikshit Gupta, 67th place -- Andrew Ballantyne and many others.
K-12 Section (out of 177 players):  10th place -- Austin Mei, 14th place -- Evan Ai, 42th place -- Nicholas Weng and many others.

Standings are still tentative pending fair play review:

Annotated game of Austin Mei against Kyle Cheng by GM Nick de Firmian

DarkensTein (Kyle Cheng) - Dungeonmeister (Austin Mei) [C80] 01.29.2022 - Round 3.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 The Open Ruy Lopez. Not as common these days but sitll as good as the days when Korchnoi used it all the time. 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.Nxe5 [8.dxe5 is the usual move here] 8...Nxe5 9.dxe5 Be6 10.Nd2 Nxd2 11.Qxd2 c5 12.c3 The game is even here. 12...Qb6?! [12...Be7] 13.Kh1?! [White could have given Black trouble for delaying development with 13.a4!] 13...c4?! [13...Be7] 14.Bc2 Bc5 15.Qg5 [15.f4! g6 16.f5 gxf5 17.Bxf5 is a nice edge for White] 15...Bxf2 16.Qxg7 0-0-0

17.Bxh7?! The position is getting sharp! Safer and good was [17.Bg5 Rdg8 18.Qh6 Kb8 19.b4 with a clear positional edge for White] 17...Bc5 18.Bg5 Rde8 19.Bf6 d4 20.Qh6 [20.cxd4 trades off that powerful d-pawn] 20...Bd5 21.Qh4?! Reg8! 22.Rg1?! [22.Rf3] 22...Rxh7?! [22...Qc6! would give the advantage to Black. The long light-squared diagonal is very important.] 23.Qxh7 Rg6 24.Qh3+ Kb8

25.Qh8+? [25.e6! is a big edge for White as Qh8+ is coming to add power to the long dark diagonal] 25...Kb7 26.Qh3 Qc6 27.Rad1?! [27.cxd4] 27...d3! Black is winning now with the powerful bishops on important diagonals 28.Bh4 Bxg1 29.Rxg1

29...Rxg2! 30.Rxg2 Bxg2+ 31.Qxg2 Qxg2+ 32.Kxg2 d2 Dungeonmeister has traded all his pieces away but gets a pawn to the finish line. White has no hope against the new queen. 33.e6 fxe6 White resigns. An entertaining game! *


Tony's Teasers

White to move and mate-in-2 provided by Tony Lama.

Mechanics' Institute Chess Events Schedule

February - March 2022 

Henry Gross Memorial Championship
February 5, 2022, 10AM
4SS G/45;d5 -- USCF Rated

Mechanics' February Championship Quads
February 12, 2022, 3PM
3RR G/30;d5 -- USCF Rated

Next Tuesday Night Marathon:
Falconer Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon, 
March 1 - April 122022, 6:30PM
7SS G/120;d5 -- USCF & FIDE Rated


Chess is Everywhere

by FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]


Despite our pessimistic predictions, GM Magnus Carlsen scored a fantastic 8.5 from 12 at the Tata Steel Masters (with a forfeit win over GM Danil Dubov who tested positive for Covid-19) and gained a whopping 3.1 rating points!  Can he break the 2900 barrier?  You can always tune in here to see his progress, along with all the other big dogs:


GM Sergey Karjakin is not happy with Carlsen’s quest, and throws down the hashtags #drawmagnus and #saynoto2900 in this funny article:

GM Nona Gaprindashvilli sues Netflix to the tune of $5 million for defamation over her depiction in the Queen’s Gambit:

Close to home, chess is alive on the streets of Berkeley, California:

Classic Ice Cream hosts a chess tournament in Carthage, Texas:

We find out that the winter sport of Curling is known as “Chess on Ice”:

The debate over chess being ruined by computers continues:

Chess is empowering girls in Barbados:

The Governor of Arkansas is accused of playing chess against Covid-19:

The World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis celebrates 10 years in business with an exhibit featuring the works of Keith Haring, M.C. Escher and others:

GM Magnus Carlsen digs Queen Elizabeth and the Bishop:

For those who like a mixture of brain and brawn, there’s a chess club in London where punching your opponent is just fine:

Finally, GM Garry Kasparov says Vladimir Putin is playing not chess – but poker:



GM Nick de Firmian's Column

The Champ Shows his Dominance


The year’s first big tournament at Wijk aan Zee was a tour de force for World Champion Magnus Carlsen. He distanced himself from the rest of the world, as if he is in a different category than the other players. The victory margin of 1.5 points in the 13 round event is a clear gap in the field of elite players. It comes soon after the thumping he gave Ian Nepomniachtchi in the World Championship match – winning 7.5-3.5.  Who can challenge Carlsen now? Nobody it seems, except perhaps himself. Carlen has stated that his goal is to reach the sky high rating of 2900, a distant goal never remotely approached by any other player. The one player who had battled closely battled with Carlsen in the last years is the American Fabiano Caruana. Yet in Wijk aan Zee Carlsen dismantled Caruana with Black in a positional masterpiece, highlighting the difference in strength. That game is quickly becoming famous as an all time classic, so we include it below.

Also in the fourteen play field at Wijk aan Zee was Sam Shankland, who considers the Mechanics’ Institute his home club. Sam is a super-grandmaster though not quite a world championship contender yet. He had a decent performance in the tournament but had the satisfaction of playing a brilliant game against former world championship challenger Sergey Karjakin. We hope you enjoy it. Perhaps Sam will comment further on this game when he next visits the club.


(1) Shankland,Sam (2708) - Karjakin,Sergey (2743) [E20]
Tata Steel Chess Masters 2022 (12), 29.01.2022

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 An aggressive variation popular about 30 years ago. White tries to take control of the center by preparing 5. e4 4...c5 The usual recipe for Black was [4...d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5] 5.d5 b5 sharp play from Karjakin 6.e4 d6 7.Bd2 Sam avoids the risky play of [7.cxb5 exd5 8.exd5 0-0 and plays to keep central control] 7...a6 8.a4 bxc4 9.Bxc4 Nbd7!?

10.dxe6 fxe6 11.Bxe6 Ne5 A nice pawn sac from Karjakin to make trouble against White's slow development. 12.Bxc8 Qxc8 13.Bf4 c4 14.Bxe5 White doesn't want to allow ...Nd3+ 14...dxe5 15.Nh3 Bc5 casuing Sam some trouble with castling 16.Qe2 Rb8 17.Nf2 Qb7

18.0-0! Starting some very interesting complications. 18...Qxb2 19.Qxc4! sacrificing a piece, at least temporarily. Not so good is [19.Rab1?! Qxe2 20.Rxb8+ Kd7 21.Rb7+ Kc6 22.Nxe2 Kxb7 23.Rc1 Rc8 with a nice ending for Black] 19...Bxf2+ Black is a piece ahead but cannot castle. 21.Rab1 is a threat 20.Kh1 Qb3 21.Qc7! Qb6 22.Qxe5+ Kf7 23.Nd5

White has two pawns for the piece and threatens the black queen which must defend the bishop on f2. Also 24. Qe7+ is threatened. This is the critical point of the game. 23...Nxd5? This natural move loses. Karakin had to play [23...Rhe8! 24.Qxe8+ Rxe8 25.Nxb6 Bxb6 26.Rab1 when White has a rook and two pawns for the bishop and knight so a slight plus in the endgame.] 24.Qxd5+ Ke7 25.Qe5+ Kf7 26.Rac1!

A quiet but crushing move! The threat of 27. Rc7+ is devastating. 26...Rc8 27. Rxc8 Rxc8 28. Qf5+ wins the rook on c8. Any other defense of the black king loses the bishop on f7. Karjakin resigned. 1-0
(2) Caruana,Fabiano (2792) - Carlsen,Magnus (2865) [B31]
Tata Steel Chess Masters 2022 (12), 29.01.2022

This game will join the anthologies as a classic. It will be part of Magnus' best game collection. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 Both players are very familiar with this Rossolimo Variation of the Sicilian. 4.0-0 Bg7 5.c3 Nf6 6.Re1 0-0 7.d4 d5!

[7...cxd4 8.cxd4 d5 9.e5 Ne4 10.Nc3 is a bit better for White] Fine opening play by Magnus to equalize chances. 8.e5 [8.exd5 Qxd5 is ok for Black; 8.b3 Nxd4] 8...Ne4 9.Be3 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qb6 The black queen is eyeing b2, so Caruana needs to defend it. 11.Qe2 Bd7 Threatening 12...Nxe5! 12.Ba4 Rac8 13.Nc3 Nxc3 14.bxc3 Qd8 A fine retreating move so the black queen will not be attacked on the b-file and the black bishop on d7 is defended. 15.Bb3 Na5! Now the game is equal, but one of those position where Black has the more pleasant equality. 16.Rac1 [16.Bxd5 Bf5 17.Bb3 Rxc3] 16...Nxb3 17.axb3 Qb6 18.Qa2

18...a5! This doesn't gain an advantage but it takes territory on the queenside and the pawn works well with the d7 bishop. 19.Qa3 Rfe8 20.c4 dxc4 21.bxc4 Qa6 22.c5 The computers don't mind this move by Caruana, but as a human I must complain. The light square control in the center goes over to Black now. 22...Bc6 23.Rb1 a4 24.Rec1 Rcd8 [White would love for Black to double the f-pawns with 24...Bxf3 25.gxf3 when Black loses all the strong light square control and the a4 and b7 pawns become weak] 25.Nd2 Qe2! The black queen is ready to cause trouble and Caruana must be very careful here. He should drive it away with 26. Re1 even though it reaches the kingside. 26.f3?!

26...Rxd4! A great exchange sacrifice! Magnus gets only one pawn right now for the exchange. He sees the great long term compensation that follows. 27.Bxd4 Qxd2 28.Rd1 Qf4 29.Qb4 [29.Qb2 Rd8 30.Bc3 Ra8 is great for Black] 29...e6 30.Bc3 Qxb4! Trading into an endgame with just one pawn for the exchange! The positonal factors though are tremendous for Black. 31.Bxb4 [31.Rxb4 Bf8 32.Bd4 Rd8 33.Rc1 Bh6 34.Rd1 f6! is also dire for White. The black bishops are as good as the white rooks.] 31...Bxe5 32.Ba3 Bf6 Material is even but the white rooks are passive. The black bishop on c6 holds everything. 33.Kf2 Be7 34.Rb6 Rc8 35.Rd2 f6 36.f4 e5 37.fxe5 fxe5 38.Re2 Rf8+ 39.Ke1 Rf5 40.Rb1 e4 slowly going forward. There is not much White can do. 41.Rc1 Bh4+! gaining the f3 square for use of the black rook 42.g3 Bg5 43.Rb1 Rf3 44.Bc1 Bf6 45.Rb6 Rf5 46.Ba3 Kf7 White is tied up and the black king slowly advances 47.Rf2

47...Rf3! moving one square forward is all it takes. The white defense cannot hold anymore. 48.Rxf3 exf3 49.Kf1 Bd4 Caruana resigned. There is no stopping both a check from the light-squared bishop to advance the pawn or the infiltration of the black king. This is one of Carlsen's best games ever. 0-1


Solution to Tony's Teaser

if 1....Nf5 2. Ne4 mate
if 1....Rb2 2. Nh7 mate
if 1...f6 2. d4 mate 
if 1..f5 2. Ne6 mate

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