Chess Room Newsletter #608 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #608

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #608
November 21, 2012

The appearance of computers has dramatically altered the situation. Now you can make progress quite quickly: on account of talent and constant study. But, after rising to a certain level, it becomes very, very hard to become stronger.

—Italian-American GM Fabiano Caruana, rated number 5 in the world at 2787
(interviewed by Evgeny Atarov at Why Chess).

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

Tournament leaders IM Elliott Winslow and Expert Todd Rumph drew in round 6, enabling NM Romy Fuentes and Expert Uyanga Byambaa to join them in the lead with 5-1 scores in the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon. FMs Andy Lee and Frank Thornally are among those a half a point back in the 70-player field.

Here is short and sharp battle from last night between two lovers of attacking play.
James Jones defeated IM Elliott Winslow just last month on the White side of a Smith-Morra but here he is the one on the receiving end of a sacrificial attack.

Sicilian Najdorf B99
Romy Fuentes (2217) – James Jones (2042)
Mechanics’ Fall TNM (6) 2012

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nbd7 8.Qf3 Be7 9.0–0–0 Qc7 10.Be2 b5 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.e5 Bb7 13.exf6 Bxf3 14.Bxf3 gxf6?

14...Rc8 15.Bc6+ (15.fxe7 has been played here, meeting 15...Qxe7 (15...d5; 15...b4) with 16.Nf5) 15...Kf8 16.fxe7+ Kxe7 17.Rhe1 Kf8 18.Rxe6 and 1–0 shortly Fuentes-Byambaa, Carroll Capps Memorial 2012.

The normal move is 14...Bxf6, which should be fine for Black. It would be interesting to know what theoretical improvement NM Fuentes has in mind.

15.Bxa8 d5 16.Bxd5 0–0?

16...b4 was the last chance.

17.Bxe6! Qxf4+ 18.Kb1 Bc5 19.Nd5 Qe5 20.Rhe1 Qg5 21.h4 Qxh4 22.Re4 Qh6 23.Nf5 Qh2 24.Nxf6+ Kh8 25.Rh4 Qxh4 26.Nxh4 fxe6 27.Ne4 1–0

The 12th Annual Pierre Saint Amant Memorial G/45, held November 17th, was won by Arthur Ismakov with a score of 4.5 from 5. Better known for his blitz prowess, Ismakov used his fast-twitch muscle fiber to good effect in the last round to defeat fellow Expert Jeff McCann in a time pressure battle royal. McCann, Alexander Ivanov, Ashik Uzzaman, Hemang Jangle and William Li Jr. tied for second in the 37-player field.  The next G/45, the last of the year, the Guthrie McClain Memorial, will be held December 8th.

Mechanics’ US Chess League team members Samuel Sevian and Cameron Wheeler (coached during the event by Mechanics’ Grandmaster-in–Residence Nick de Firmian) had terrific results in the 2012 World Youth Championships held in Maribor, Slovenia. The two teammates finished 1-2 in the Under 12 championship with scores of 9-2. They join the following Bay Area stars that have been mainstays of the Mechanics’ team and also starred in the World Youth.

Steven Zierk (2010 Under 18 1st place)
Sam Shankland (2008 Under 18 Champion = 1st) 
Daniel Naroditsky (2007 Under 12 1st place)
Vinay Bhat (1995 Under 12 =2nd, 1996 Under 12 3rd place and 1998 Under 14 =3rd)

Current Tuesday Night Marathon participant
Ben Rood finished an excellent 9th place in the Under 8 in Slovenia, scoring 8-3. Another TNM regular, Siddarth Bannik, also did well, scoring 7 from 11 in the Under 12.

Henry J. “Bip” Ralston (1906-1993) was not only a prominent physiologist whose research on the physiology and the mechanics of human walking led to major improvements in artificial limbs for amputees, he was also a good chess player who had a strong interest in the early history of the game in California. Ralston’s research extended back to the 1850s, and one of his discoveries was just how active chess was in San Francisco in 1858-59 as consequence of Morphy’s great success in the 1st American Chess Congress in 1857.

This event spurred interest across the country, and San Francisco was no exception, as John Hilbert’s fine article at Chess Dryad ( shows. One interesting development Hilbert points out is that after the California Chess Congress, the three largest clubs in the city—the Mechanics’ Institute, German and Pioneer Chess Clubs—all joined together, under the name of the Cosmopolitan Chess Club. The clubs kept their individual affiliations while banding together to hold special events like Zukertort’s visit to San Francisco in 1884.

The San Francisco Directory for 1859 on page 393 reports that the Cosmopolitan Chess had 150 (!) members. This information comes from a card, dated June 25, 1964, that was sent to Mr. Ralston by James de T. Abajian, a librarian at the California Historical Society. That membership figure is one many clubs would love to have today, but particularly impressive when one takes into account that San Francisco only had a population of 56,802 in 1860.

2) Walter Romaine Lovegrove (1869-1956)

There are still Mechanics’ veterans like
Neil Falconer and Bob Burger who remember the great problemist A. J. Fink, who died in 1956, but seemingly no one still living who recalls the other early San Francisco master, Walter Lovegrove. This is a shame, as Lovegrove was one of the strongest amateur players in the world from the 1890s until the early 1920s.

An obituary of Lovegrove by H.J. Ralston can be found on the M.I. chess club’s website at Much of the background material for this came from a letter that Lovegrove wrote to Ralston six years before his death. Neil Falconer, who first visited the Mechanics’ in 1939, doesn’t recall seeing Lovegrove in the Chess Room, so it may well be that the latter suffered from ill health near the end of his life.

A scan of this letter can be found at

We are indebted to the Ralston family for their generosity in donating their father’s chess archives.

Those interested in learning more about Lovegrove’s early career might wish to read Neil Brennen’s account of the
1894-95 Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Championship at

June 27, 1950

Friend Ralston:

You must excuse the way I am arranging the information you asked for but I am not well. I may have to go into the hospital next week.

WR Lovegrove

I learned the chess moves in 1886. In the early nineties I won three Mechanics’ tournaments. In the first one of which I gave odds to all the other contestants. In the last tournament I had a clean score winning all my games. I played in the first Pillsbury National Correspondence Tournament winning the same. The final game was with Mordecai Morgan. Prize $75.

Played a match with Joseph Redding who claimed to be champion of the Coast in 1891 or 2. The  score was seven to one in my favor. Stake $75. Mr. Redding was a prominent attorney, musical composer and clubman.

Max Judd who had been prominent in national chess circles visited S.F. about that time. I won six games out of seven from him in off-hand play. Showalter also visited us and I was able to win twelve games out of a great many played.

In 1893 visited Los Angeles and played Lipchutz. The score was 3 wins to 1 draw in my favor. These were all offhand games.

Visited Europe in 1912. Played Van Vliet in London for a schilling and won the only game. In Paris the same year I played Taubenhaus for a dollar a game, the score 10 to 1 in my favor. He did not pay up.

In Vienna 1922 I played a number of games with Wolf, a second class master for a dollar a game and the score was 3 to 1 in his favor.

Kostic visited San Francisco about 1913 and one day I played him for one dollar a game and won four straight. He did not pay up. The next day he got it and more back.

The following obituary appeared in the Marin Independent Journal for Thursday, July 19, 1956 on Page 4.

Walter Lovegrove, S. F. Dentist, Dies

Private funeral services have been arranged for Dr. Walter Romaine Lovegrove, San Francisco dentist, who died yesterday at his home. A native of California, he was 86.
Lovegrove was the father of Mrs. Dohrmann K. Pischel of Ross and grandfather of Dohrmann K. Pischel Jr. of San Anselmo.

Lovegrove, a top ranking international chess player, is also survived by his wife, Elsie Zeile Lovegrove, and two other grandchildren, Mrs. William P. McAndrew and Mrs. Ivan Heisler.

The funeral and interment are under the direction of N. Gray and Co. of San Francisco.

3) Bob Ferguson Elected Washington State Attorney General

Bob Ferguson
, former Washington State Champion (1984 and 1987), was recently elected Attorney General of Washington, very possibly the highest publicly elected position a United States Chess Federation rated master has ever attained.

Unfortunately the USCF online ratings (MSA) only go back to 1991 and Ferguson’s best and most active years were in the 1980s. He was rated 2315 on the 1987 annual rating list (published in CL January 1987) and his peak might have a bit higher.

The A.G. position is typically the stepping stone to Governor, so Ferguson may yet have higher steps to climb.

Here is a pretty miniature he played against a Danish IM.

QGD Tarrasch D32
Klaus Berg (2375) – Bob Ferguson (2220)
Berlin (7), 1984

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.d4 d5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Be2 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.b3 Be6 11.Bb2 a6 12.Rc1 Ba7 13.Na4 Ne4 14.Nd4 Qh4 15.g3 Qh6 16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.Bd4 Bh3 18.Re1 f5 19.f3?? Qxe3+ 0-1

4) Here and There

The World Youth Championships having just concluded, now is a good time to go back to 1993 and remember the sterling performance by
Jordy Mont-Reynaud, who tied for second in the Boys under 10 section 7.5 from 10. The winner of the event was Etienne Bacrot with the tremendous score of 9-1. His only missing point came in round 3 where Jordy beat him in a very nice game.

Alexander Grischuk, Sekhar Ganguly, Chanda Sandipan, Varuzhan Akobian, Sergei Azarov, Mark Paragua were just a few of the many future GMs that Jordy finished ahead of.

QGD Noteboom D31
Jordy Mont Reynaud –Etienne Bacrot
Bratislava (3) 1993

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 Bb4 6.e4 b5 7.Bg5 Qb6 8.Be2 Bb7 9.0-0 a6 10.Qc2 Nd7 11.Rfd1 Ngf6 12.e5 Nd5 13.Ne4 h6 14.Bh4 0-0 15.Qc1 c5 16.Nf6+! N5xf6 17.exf6 cxd4 18.fxg7 Kxg7 19.Nxd4 Ne5?

19...Rg8 was safer.

20.Qf4 Ng6?

Here 20...f6 was obligatory.

21.Qf6+ Kh7 22.Nf5! exf5

As 22...Rg8 is met by 23.Qxf7+ Kh8 24.Bf6+ mating.

23.Qxb6 Rab8 24.Qd4 Rg8 25.f3 Rbc8 26.Qf6 Be7 27.Qxf7+ Rg7 28.Qxf5 Bxh4 29.Rd7 Rc7 30.Rxc7 Rxc7 31.axb5 Bc8 32.Qd5 axb5 33.Qxb5 Be6 34.Qb6 Re7 35.Ra7 Bf7 36.Rxe7 Bxe7 37.Qc7 Kg7 38.Bxc4 Be8 39.Qc8 Bf7 40.Bxf7 Kxf7 41.Qb7 Ne5 42.b4 Kf6 43.b5 Nd3 44.Qc6+ 1-0

The Lone Pine tournaments of the 1970s and early 1980s were very special international events on American soil, eclipsing even future New York and World Opens in the number of participating Grandmasters. The strong fields were attracted by substantial financial rewards, which even today look very attractive.

Here is the prize fund for the 11th and final
Louis D. Statham International Chess Tournament (aka Lone Pine), held in 1981.

1st $15,000
2nd $10,000
3rd $7,000
4th $5,000
5th $3,500
6th $2,500
7th $1,700
8th $1,200
9th $800
10th $600

The total prize fund of $47,300 is more than any American tournament held in 2012 except the
US Championship—and that’s not even taking into account inflation ($15,000 in 1981 was equal to over $36,500 in 2011 dollars).

The inaugural
East Bay Open, organized by the Contra Costa Chess Club, was held November 9-11 in Concord and attracted 100 participants. GM Enrico Sevillano took first place in the open section, scoring 4.5 from 5. His only draw was in the last round to NM Hayk Manvelyan, who shared second place with IM Ray Kaufman with 4 points. Among those on 3.5 were IM Ricardo DeGuzman. The event was directed by Scott Mason, Peter Klein and John Harris. Go to for more information on this event.

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