Chess Room Newsletter #556 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #556

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics� Institute Chess Club News #556

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News #556
October 19, 2011

In the match against Anand everything went wrong from the very beginning, just as it did for Kasparov in his match against me. I’m actually a fatalist to a degree, and feel that if that’s how something goes then that’s how it was fated to happen. Of course, Kasparov’s preparation couldn’t be compared to Anand’s—there’s no question Anand managed to do things much better, more intelligently and cunningly. Yes, he completely out-thought me.

Vladimir Kramnik     

1) Mechanic’s Institute Chess Club News

There were upsets galore in the first round of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon. Mechanics’ Trustee Michael Hilliard was joined by David Rakonitz and Patrick Donnelly in defeating opponents rated 400-500 points above them, while Carl Woebcke (rated 1832) drew IM Elliot Winslow, who was playing in his first USCF-rated game since 1995. It’s still possible to enter the 54-player event with a half point bye for round one. The nine-round event, which ends December 13, is a bargain with an entry fee of $40.

Hello everyone, it’s Wednesday! Time for the weekly blitz chess tournament at Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club. As always, it starts no later than 6:40 pm, with sign-up beginning at 6:20 pm. Entry is $10 with clock; $11 without clock. Prizes are 50%, 30%, 20% of entry fees. Time control preferably is 3 minute, increment 2 seconds; otherwise 5 minutes, no increment.

Last week’s winners where:
1st -
Carlos D’Avila $35
2nd/3rd -
IM Ray Kaufman and Jules Jelinek $17.50 each
Look forward to seeing you tonight.
Jules Jelinek
Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator

2) Mechanics’ draw with Arizona in USCL

The Mechanics’ drew with Arizona 2-2 last Monday night in a tense match that pitted two teams battling for playoffs spots in the Western Division of the US Chess League.

IM David Pruess and NM Yian Liou, the winners for the Mechanics’, were each fighting an uphill battle most of the night.

The result leaves the Mechanics’ at 4-4 after 8 of 10 matches, and occupying fourth (the last playoff spot) in the West.

The team faces Dallas, currently in third place, next week in a battle which will have major implications for which teams advance to the post-season. The Mechanics’ close the regular season with St. Louis on Halloween.

3) Here and There

Yasser Seirawan is tied for first with Kevin Spraggett and Ivan Saldago Lopez with one round to go in the Magistral Casino event in Barcelona. The three leaders have 4.5 from 7 in the category 14 (2578 average rating) 9-player round robin.

English GM Matthew Sadler has returned to the arena big time with back to back wins at Barcelona and now the Oslo International, where he clinched first place with a round to go and scored an outstanding 8 from 9. Should he play in next year’s Olympiad in Istanbul, the prospects for the English, with a top four of Adams, Short and McShane (in addition to Sadler), look greatly improved.

Games selected for publication typically are played by the top finishers, or are short and sweet. The following meets none of these criteria, but is much more reflective of the qualities needed in most games, where things don’t quite as planned. For most players this is the norm and not the exception, and it is interesting to see how former US Champion Nick deFirmian deals with adversity in his last round game in Oslo.

Nick started out the event well and was among the leaders at the mid-way point, but consecutive losses in the second half of the tournament (the first a loss as Black to Sergei Tiviakov) left him playing for nothing but pride in the last round.
His opponent, a FM from the Netherlands, tried a promising, seldom-tried idea in the opening and Nick was soon on the defensive. Not far into the middle game Black had to enter an exchange-down ending in which he had a couple of pawns for compensation, but with the caveat that they are quite vulnerable. The position looks like it could be easily lost, so it is quite instructive to observe the way that GM de Firmian utilizes all his opportunities to put up maximum resistance.

Sander Van Eijk - Nick de Firmian  
Oslo (9) 2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nge2 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qb6 6.Nxc6

This seemingly “anti-positional” move, strengthening Black’s center, is seldom seen, compared to the almost universal 6.Nb3, and the sidelines 6.Be3 and 6.Ndb5, but it has more sting than might be thought at first glance.

6...dxc6 7.e5

This is the move that makes sense of 6.Nxc6. The knight will lose time finding a good home.


Black has also tried 7...Nd7 but after 8.e6 White’s position looks more pleasant to play.

8.Qe2 g6

The immediate 8...Nh6!? was tried in Sulskis-Butnoris, Lithuanian (ch) 1994, and looks critical, as exchanging on h6 doesn’t look dangerous, and the knight will not be cut off with g4 and may find a decent home on f5. After the text Black never seems to obtain equal play.

9.h3 Nh6 10.g4 Bg7 11.Bg2 0-0 12.Bd2 Qxb2

Nick is up for the challenge, as 12...f6 13.0-0-0 would be most unpleasant. 12...f5 13.g5 Nf7 14.f4 Qxb2 was also possible, but would give White excellent long-term compensation, as Black would be left with solving the problem of having to activate the bishop on g7.

13.Rb1 Qa3 14.0-0 f5 15.exf6 exf6 16.Qc4+ Nf7 17.Ne4

White has a strong initiative that more than compensates for the sacrificed pawn. The threat of Bb4 is annoying, and the knight may be heading to c5.

17...a5 18.Be3 Re8

The following exchange sacrifice seems to be compulsory.

19.Bc5 Rxe4 20.Bxe4 Qxh3 21.Bg2 Qxg4 22.Qxg4 Bxg4 23.Rxb7 Nd8

23...Rd8 24.Rfb1 leads to similar play to the game.

24.Rb6 Bf5

24...Ne6 trying for activity fares no better:  25.Bxc6 Rd8 26.Be7 Rd2 27.c4 Rxa2 28.Re1 Kf7 29.Rb7 winning (Houdini).


White follows the time-honored strategy of trading a pair of rooks to break Black’s resistance, but is in too much of a hurry. Instead, 25.Re1! (Houdini), followed by Re7 was very strong and likely immediately decisive.

25...Bf8 26.Bxf8 Kxf8 27.Rb8 Rxb8 28.Rxb8 Ke7 29.c3 Bc2 30.Kf1

White could have gone for the other rook pawn with 30.Ra8 a4 31.Ra7+ Kd6 32.Rxh7, but after 32...Ne6 Black has reasonable chances to hold, as his pieces are active, both defending his weak points, while offering possibilities to attack the pawns on a2 and c3.


The experienced GM finds his counter-chances in activating his passed-pawn.

31.Ke2 g5! 32.Ra8 h4 33.Rxa5 g4 34.Ke3 f5 35.a4 Kd6 36.Kd2 h3 37.Bh1 Bb1 38.Ra8 Kc7?

This is one small error in in an otherwise heroic defense. Necessary was 38...Ne6 39.a5 Ba2 40.Rc8 Nc7, with good chances to resist.

Missing the beautiful win 39.a5! f4 40.Ra7+ Kb8 41.Rg7 Bf5 42.Rg8 Kc7 43.a6 g3 44.fxg3 fxg3 45.a7 Kb7 46.Bxc6+ (Houdini). After this opportunity passes the game returns to its previous course.

39...Bd3 40.Ra7+ Nb7 41.Ra8 Nd8 42.a5 Ne6 43.a6 Nc5 44.a7 Kb6 45.f3 Ba6 46.Kd2 gxf3 47.Bxf3 Ne4+ 48.Kc2 Nf2 49.Rc8 Kxa7 50.Rxc6 Bf1 51.Rg6 Bd3+ 52.Kd2 Be4 53.Bxe4 Nxe4+ 54.Kc2 Nf2 55.Rh6 f4 56.c4 f3 57.Kd2 Ne4+ 58.Ke3 f2 59.Ke2 Nd2 60.Kxf2 Nxc4 61.Rxh3 Kb6 62.Rh5 Kc6 63.Ke2 Kd6 64.Kd3 Ne5+ 65.Ke4 Nc6 66.Rd5+ Ke6 67.Rc5 Ne7 68.Ra5 Nc6 69.Rh5 Kd6 70.Rh1 �-�

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