Chess Room Newsletter #606 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #606

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #606
November 7, 2012

The preparation for the next round is where you can see the role of a real team leader, Levon Aronian, who’s ready to share his vast knowledge with all the players. I don’t think that’s possible in all of the other teams. Secondly, a team which systematically wins ends up with a winning spirit. We almost always think we’ve got a chance, regardless of how a tournament’s going. A clear example of that is the European Championship last year, in which we shared 3rd-4th place and didn’t even claim medals. After losing in the second round we won the next five matches as if nothing had happened, and before the final round we were even in first place. What does team spirit mean? Here in Istanbul we lost to the Chinese team, and pretty quickly. It seemed as though we didn’t have any chance at all as the Russians could win all their remaining matches. However, we didn’t hold a post-mortem, and after a few introductory words we immediately split into groups and got down to preparing for the next encounter. We began to discuss who would help who with what—an absolutely working atmosphere. Perhaps those are the main components of success, although I’d once again emphasize our family atmosphere.

—Armenian team captain Arshak Petrosian, explaining what factors contribute to his team’s success besides its legendary team spirit (from a Why Chess interview with Vladislav Tkachiev)

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

International Master
Elliott Winslow and NM Romy Fuentes are tied for first with 4-0 scores in the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon. Five rounds remain for the 68 competitors.

The Mechanics’ entry in the US Chess League won its last round match against Miami 3-1, with FMs Yian Liou and Andy Lee winning. The team missed the playoffs (the top four teams advanced) in what was a long and frustrating season.

1.        Dallas (7.0 - 3.0)
2.        St. Louis (6.5 - 3.5)
3.        Arizona (5.5 - 4.5)
4.        Seattle (5.5 - 4.5)
5.        San Francisco (4.0 - 6.0)
6.        Los Angeles (3.5 - 6.5)
7.        Miami (3.5 - 6.5)
8.        Carolina (3.0 - 7.0)

NM Hayk Manvelyan and Expert Michael Lin shared top honors with 5-1 scores in the 42nd Carroll Capps Memorial, held last weekend at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club.
Uyanga Byambaa and Class A player Nils Delmonico tied for third with 4.5 points. This was the second fine result in a row for Nils who finished tied for second in the Class A section of the US Open G/60 in Pleasanton the week before.

Mechanics’ Grandmaster-in-Residence Nick deFirmian left yesterday for Slovenia where he will coach American youngsters in the World Youth Championship held in Maribor.

Mechanics’ USCL team members
Samuel Sevian and Cameron Wheeler are competing.

Jeremy Spinrad of Vanderbilt University has been doing remarkable work investigating 19th-century American chess through the newspapers of the day. Going through the Daily Alta California he has found definitive proof that Pierre St. Amant, who served as the French Consul during the Gold Rush, engaged in what must be some of the first documented chess activity in San Francisco (the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club was not founded until late 1854).

On Nov 26, 1851 the San Francisco Chess Club was formed. St Amant will start a 15 game match vs an amateur.

On Nov 29, 1851 the new Chess Club opened. St Amant vs amateur match began with St. Amant winning the 2 odds games but lost the even game. The match will continue each evening.

Mechanics’ Institute held a number of Industrial Fairs during the second half of the 19th century. Mr. Spinrad found that the famous chess automaton “Ajeeb” was in action at the Fair held in August-September 1890.

The following game is from the recent Galway International, where M.I. Chess Director John Donaldson tied for 4th place.

Nimzo-Indian E54
John Donaldson - David Fitzsimons(2272)
Galway International (5) 2012

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.e3 d5 5.d4 cxd4 6.exd4 Bb4 7.Bd3 dxc4 8.Bxc4 0–0 9.0–0 b6 10.Bg5 Bb7 11.Ne5 Nc6!?

Black has several choices here, including 11...Bxc3, 11...Be7 and 11...Nbd7.
The latter was played in Donaldson-Koepcke, Northern California State Championship 1989, where 12.Qe2 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Qc7 14.Nxd7 Nxd7 15.Rac1 Rfc8 16.Bb3 Qc6 17.f4 b5 18.f5 e5 19.f6 gxf6 20.d5 Qd6 21.Bh6 f5 22.Qh5 Qg6 23.Rxf5 was in White’s favor.


12.Ba6!? is flashy, but only leads to a draw after 12.. Bxa6 13.Nxc6 Qd6 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Qg4+ Kh8 16.Qf3 Bxf1 17.Qxf6+ Kg8 18.Rxf1 Qxc6 19.Qg5+.


Black should sacrifice the exchange, which offers good compensation in the form of the bishop pair and play against the d4 pawn after 12...Qxf6 13.Nd7 Qh4 14.Nxf8 Rxf8. Neither 15.Ne2 nor 15.a3 offers an advantage against best play. The text leads to a very difficult position.

13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.d5! Bxc3 15.dxc6 Bxb2 16.Qg4+ Kh8 17.Rad1 Qc7 18.Bxe6 Rg8 19.Qh3 Qxc6

Here 19...Raf8, 19...Rae8 and 19...Rg7 are also possible, but don’t change the result of the game.

20.Bd5 Qa4 21.Bxa8 Rxa8 22.Rd5 Be5 23.Rfd1 Qxa2 24.Qg4 Rf8 25.Rd8 Qa3 26.Qc8 Rxd8 27.Rxd8+ Kg7 28.Rg8+ Kh6 29.g3 1–0

2) A Chess Poem by Dennis Fritzinger

painted ladies

playing five-minute chess
at peter cleghorn’s house,
a “painted lady” victorian
in san francisco,
i get my usual
rotten position
straight out of the opening,
then the gears
begin to turn
and i build it into
a winning one,
and win.
at which point
peter sits down
at the piano
and plinks out
the stirring strains
of the marseilles.
“what do you think
would happen
if he got a good position
out of the opening?”
someone asks.
“he wouldn’t know how
to handle it”
was the reply,
the stirring strains of the marseilles
evaporating in the background.

3) Here and There

November FIDE Ratings
The November 2012 FIDE ratings are up. Magnus Carlsen is now very close to Garry Kasparov’s all-time rating record (2851).

Top 10:
1. Carlsen - 2848
2. Aronian - 2815
3. Kramnik - 2795
4. Radjabov - 2793
5. Caruana - 2786
6. Anand - 2775
7. Karjakin - 2775
8. Topalov - 2769
9. Grischuk - 2764
10. Mamedyarov – 2764

Top 10 Women:
1. Ju.Polgar - 2705
2. Koneru - 2610
3. Hou Yifan - 2606
4. A.Muzychuk - 2586
5. Zhao Xue - 2565
6. Dzagnidze - 2555
7. Lahno - 2553
8. N.Kosintseva - 2539
9. Cmilyte – 2524
10. Sebag – 2521

International Master Marc Esserman, in his Mayhem in the Morra, thanks his first professional chess coach Calvin Blocker for introducing him to the gambit.  Those who would like to learn more about the veteran Cleveland IM will enjoy an article on him at

Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan draws attention to the following brilliancy from the recent European Club Championship. The comments are his.

Kings Indian E90
Anton Korobovn (2705) – Ilia Smirin (2638)
Eilat 2012

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 e5 7.d5 a5 8.Bg5 Na6 9.g4 Qe8 10.Be2 Kh8 11.Be3 Ng8 12.g5 f5 13.h4 Ne7 14.h5 Kg8 15.h6 Bh8 16.Nh4 b6 17.f3 Nc5 18.Qd2 Bd7 19.0-0-0 a4 20.Ng2 Qf7 21.Ne1 Ra5 22.Nd3 Rfa8 23.Qc2 Qe8 24.Nxc5 bxc5 25.Nb5 Qd8 26.Bd2 R5a6 27.Bc3 f4 28.Bf1 Nc8 29.Bh3 Bxb5 30.cxb5 Rb6

This position represents a wonderful tactical exercise.  It should be presented not as “White to move and win”, as that would be unfair and encourage the reader, as White, to look for a sacrificial continuation. Rather, “How should White continue?”

31.Bf1, defending the b5-pawn? With the hope of establishing a passed a-pawn?

31.Be6+! Kf8 32.Rh4! Ke7 33.Rxf4!exf4 34.Bg7!!

A simply fantastic conception! The White player should earn very high marks for such creative, original play. Bravo!

34...Na7 35.Qc3! Qf8 36.Bxf8+ Rxf8 37.Qa5 Bxb2+ 38.Kc2 Ra8 39.Qxa4 Be5 40.Rb1

Black is in near-Zugzwang.


The Village Chess Shop, on Thompson Street in New York City, has closed after a forty-year run. Go to for more information.

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