Mechanics’ Chess Club Newsletter #568
January 25, 2012
At 43, Reshevsky, despite his smallness, is an imposing figure whose icy boardside manner is a weapon which powerfully complements his wits. Barely 5 feet 2 inches tall, with a wide, bulging brow and steely eyes, he sits un-movingly erect for hours on end, his head in his cupped hands, his mouth pursed in an expression of ineffable hauteur. Most players nibble and sip at something at intervals during a game; Reshevsky eats nothing and only seldom drinks a glass of water. He chain-smokes, but in him even this habit betrays no sign of nerves. “Sammy,” a colleague once observed, “plays chess like a man eating fish. First he removes the bones, then he swallows the fish.” His self-confidence is so boundless that in tournament play, where 40 moves must be made within two and a half hours, he will spend half that time pondering a single move, feeling sure of finding one that will make the next moves virtually automatic. On rare occasions only does he leave himself so little time that he blunders through sheer haste.
John Kobler, writing about Sammy Reshevsky, in his article “Icy Wizard of the Royal Game”, which appeared in the October 17th, 1955, issue of Sports Illustrated.
1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News
NM Russell Wong and Expert Todd Rumph are the only remaining perfect scores after four rounds of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon. International Master Elliott Winslow, who took a first-round half-point bye, is alone in third with 3 1/2 points. Four rounds remain for the 66 competitors.
The Mechanics’ Chess Club will be holding four chess camps this summer. The dates are
June 25-29 Beginners
July 9-13 Elite Advanced
July 30-August 3 Intermediate-Advanced
August 13-17 Beginners
Details will soon be forthcoming.
Jules Jelinek, Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator, writes:
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.
Look forward to seeing you tonight.
The San Rafael and Fairfax chess groups have joined forces to form a Marin County Chess Team, and have challenged the Mechanics’ Institute to a friendly, non-rated, two-game match this Saturday, January 28th. The event, played with a time control of G/60, starts at 9:30 am and finishes at 3 pm, with a one-hour lunch break. The event is planned as a ten-player-per-side affair, for players from roughly Class A to Class C. There is a sign-up sheet for MI members on the Chess Room bulletin board and still room for two or three players rated under 2000.
2) Nick deFirmian new Mechanics’ Institute Grandmaster in Residence
The Mechanics’ Chess Club welcomes Nick deFirmian as its Grandmaster-in-Residence. This will be a return home for the native Californian and UC Berkeley graduate. Grandmaster deFirmian has a long association with the Mechanics’, dating back to his days as an undergraduate, and served as a member of the organizing committee for the M.I.’s “Pan-Pacific” International Chess Tournaments in 1987 and 1991.
The past three decades Nick deFirmian has excelled in many areas of the chess world. A world-class player for many years, Grandmaster deFirmian is a three-time US Champion and a eight-time member of the US Olympiad team. He served as the Captain of the US team at the 2002 Chess Olympiad, held in Bled, Slovenia.
The author of several books on the games, including three editions of the well-received Modern Chess Openings, deFirmian has also written for such leading chess publications as New in Chess, Chess Life and Inside Chess.
He is well-known for his role in helping prepare openings for the IBM computer Deep Blue that defeated World Champion Garry Kasparov in a historic battle in 1997. This was the first time a computer had beaten a reigning human World Champion in a match.
The past decade Grandmaster deFirmian has concentrated his energy on teaching chess to children in New York City. This teaching included working with Public School 130 in Chinatown and Horace Mann, a private school, which won the 3rd- and 5th-grade national championships. He has also coached kids in such events as the World Youth Championships and taught at summer chess camps throughout the country.
Grandmaster deFirmian will focus his energy on the Mechanics’ Chess Club’s Scholastic Outreach program. He will also be the lead instructor at an expanded number of chess camps held at the Mechanics’, and will start a Thursday evening group class for enthusiastic amateur players.
3) Reshevsky–Fischer - Match 1961, Game 11, Revisited
What would turn out to be the last game of the Reshevsky-Fischer match was one of the most dramatic. Fischer, playing sharply from the beginning using his favorite King’s Indian, quickly obtained a highly advantageous position. Reshevsky defended tenaciously, but through excellent play Bobby increased his advantage until both sides started to bobble the ball after the adjournment, with Fischer missing some easy wins. The final critical moment was reached after 52...Ra2+
Fischer, in My 60 Memorable Games, points out “correct was 53.Kh3! in order to keep Black’s king out of g4 after the exchange of rooks: e.g., 53..Rxe3 54.Bxe3 h5 55.Bf4 Ra1 56.Bc7 Kf5 57.Bf4 Rb1 58.Bc7! Rh1+ 59.Kg2 Rc1 60.Bf4!(gaining a vital tempo by hitting the rook), rook-any; 61.Kh3! maintaining the blockade.”
“Returning the favor” says Fischer, who claims Black wins, giving the beautiful line 53...Rxe3+ 54.Bxe3 h5 55.Bf4 Kf5 56.Bd6 Rb2 57.Bf4 Rb3+ 58.Kg2 Kg4 59.Bd6 Rb2+ 60.Kg1 Kh3 61.Be5 Rb4! 62.Bc7 Rg4! 63.Kf2 Kh2 64.Be5 Kh1 65.Kf3 Rg8 66.Bf4 Rf8 67.Kf2 (67.Ke3 Kg2) 67...h4 68.Kf3 h3 69.Kf2 h2 70.Kf1 Ra8 71.Kf2 Ra2+ 72.Kf1 Ra3! 73.Kf2
73..Rf3+!! 74.Kxf3 Kg1 75.Be3+ Kf1 winning.
This looks very convincing and suggests that all Black needs to do is bring his king to h1 and he wins.
Unfortunately there is a flaw. Going back to the position reached after 66... Rf8?.
White does not have to retreat his king, but can draw with 67.g4 h4 68.g5 h3 69.Kg4 h2 70.g6 Kg2 71.Bxh2 Kxh2 72.Kg5.
Is the position reached after 54...h5 really a draw? No! It turns out Black made a mistake by moving his rook away from the g-file (allowing the possibility of g4) before his king reached f1. Substitute 66...Kg1! (for 66...Rf8?) and the win can be had after 67. Be3+ Kf1 68. Bf4 Ra8 (the rook activates itself but in such a way that g4 is not possible) 69.Be3 (threatening g4) 69...Rf8+ (only now when the Black king is on f1 freeing the way for h-pawn in the event of g4) 70.Bf4 Rf7 (zugzwang) 71.g4 (71. Ke4 Kg2) 71...h4 72.g5 h3 73.g6 (73.Kg3 Rxf4 74.Kxh3 Kf2) 73...h2 74.gxf7 h1 (Q) 75. Ke3 Qg1+ 76. Kf3 Qg7 wins.
This six-piece endgame has been worked out by computers. One wonders if Bobby ever consulted Nalimov’s child, and if so what he thought of it. Fischer Random Chess is all about forcing players to think from move one to avoid computer preparation in the opening, but here the silicon oracle is working from another direction. One wonders, would Fischer have loved the possibility to learn the absolute truth or been horrified by computers creeping deeper into his beloved game.