Chess Room Newsletter #627 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #627

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News #627
May 8, 2013

Of course one shouldn’t forget that the game of chess, for all its radiance, artistry and deep fascination, is essentially a trivial pursuit. It is without content. Thus the history of chess is of no more intrinsic interest than the history of punting or thumb twiddling or nose picking. But it does have a history, and so books about it will continue to appear. The subject already has the peaceful glow of scholastic futility. One of the great things about chess is its refusal, not its readiness, to serve as a paradigm for anything else, as Freudians, Marxists et al., have frustratingly found. Chess is what it is and not another thing. It is only a game.

—Martin Amis, in an interview with the Observer, December 12, 1984

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

International Master Elliott Winslow defeated Oleg Shakhnazarov last night to win the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon. Winslow’s 7-1 score was good for $500.

Tying for second in the 93-player field (an attendance record for the over 40-year TNM series) were Shaknazarov and fellow Expert Alex Ivanov at 6.5-1.5. The Summer TNM starts on May 28.

Michael Aigner was the winner of the 13th Charles Powell Memorial, held last Saturday. The popular National Master and noted teacher scored 4.5 -.5, including a win over NM Romy Fuentes. The event attracted 49 players.

The 7th Ray Schutt Memorial, held on Sunday, was the strongest and best-attended of the series. The 63-player field included 2 Grandmasters and 6 International Masters, but the winner was FM Yian Liou. The 16-year-old high school sophomore from Walnut Creek scored 9-1 in the five double-round Swiss to take home the $300 first prize.

Mechanics’ Institute Grandmaster-in-Residence Nick de Firmian and last year’s winner, International Master Daniel Naroditsky, tied for second at 9-1, after leading for most of the tournament. They drew 1-1 in the last round while Liou beat International Master Ricardo DeGuzman 2-0.

The Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club would like to thank the Schutt family, Chris Mavraedis, Richard Shorman and Kerry Lawless for helping to make this event possible.

Andy Lee annotates his tough loss to Oleg Shakhnazarov from round 7 of the Spring TNM.

C78 Ruy Lopez, 5.O-O
Oleg Shakhnazarov (2184)– Andy Lee (2306)
Mechanics’ Spring TNM (7) 2013

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 00 b5 6 Bb3 Bc5 7 Bd5

This is certainly an odd way of meeting this opening, and has only been played once before in my database.

7 … Bb7

Perhaps even simpler is 7… 0-0.

8 c3

If 8 Nxe5 Nxd5 9 exd5 Nxe5 10 d4 Bb6 11 dxe5 00 12 Nc3 d6 and Black quickly regains his pawn.

8 … 0-0 9 d4 exd4 10 cxd4 Be7

Taking the bite out of a potential 11 Bg5. Now White’s center is rather shaky.

11 Nc3 b4 12 e5

Already White must fight for equality.

12 … bxc3 13 exf6 c2!?

An interesting way of trying to maintain the initiative. 13… Bxf6 14 bxc3 is somewhat better for White, who has greater control of the center and a target on the b-file. 13… cxb2 14 Bxb2 (if 14 fxe7 Nxe7!, not 14… bxa1=Q 15 exd8=Q Raxd8 16 Ng5 with a promising attack) Bxf6 wins a pawn, but White’s initiative gives him full compensation, with ideas of Ba3, Rb1, Ne5, and Qb3 available.

14 Qxc2 Bxf6 15 Qd1

My opponent blitzed this move out immediately, but I thought that 15 Be4 was more critical. Then 15… g6 16 d5 Nd4 17 Nxd4 Bxd4 is equal, and 15… Nb4!? 16 Bxh7+ Kh8 17 Qc5 Kxh7 18 Qxb4 Bxf3 19 gxf3 is rather unbalanced.

15… Rb8 16 Be3 Ne7 17 Bxb7 Rxb7 18 b3 Rb5!?

Trying to activate the rook along the fifth rank.

19 Rc1 Rd5 20 Qc2?!

White begins to drift. It was better to either play 20 Rc5, or keep it as a possibility with 20 Qd3. In just a few moves the Rd5 will become a major annoyance for White.

20… c6

Much better than 20… Nc6 21 Qc4.

21 Rfd1 Nf5 22 Qc4 a5 23 Re1?!

This, like the last few moves, doesn’t do much to activate White’s pieces. It was still possible to play Bf4-e5 to break free of the bind.

23 … h6 24 h3 Re8 25 Rcd1 Re6

Black is very close to breaking through.

26 Kf1 Qe7 27 Rd3 Qd6 28 Red1 Re4!

I wanted to avoid 28… Nh4 29 Ne5, when I was less sure that I had White completely tied up. This also sets a nice little trap.

29 a4

White avoids the trap: 29 Nd2? Rxe3! 30 fxe3 Qh2 with a devastating attack.

29… Nh4

Since 29… Qe6 30 Re1 c5 31 Nd2 goes nowhere. I did not want to trade the knights, but it was hard to find another way to increase the pressure.

30 Nd2

White wants to avoid 30 Nxh4 Rxh4, when his kingside is a bit vulnerable and the d-pawn remains under severe pressure, but the text is very risky.

30 … Re6

Eschewing the chance for 30… Qh2 31 Nxe4 Qxg2+ 32 Ke2 Qxe4. That said, once White’s king escapes to the queenside, White can try to defend for a long time, so I went for what looked to be a faster win. A tough move to make with 2 minutes left before time control.

31 Kg1 Bd8 32 g3

Really the only move—if 32 Nf1 Rg6 33 Ng3 Rxg3! 34 fxg3 Qxg3 35 Qc2 Bc7 and wins rather trivially.

32 … Rg6 33 Kf1!

An inspired defensive idea. 33 Kh2 Bc7! 34 Bf4 Qf6 is just crushing. White has to get his king out to the queenside ASAP.

33 … Qe6

I was unwilling to give up the ghost of the initiative, although 33… Nf5 34 Bf4 Qe7 might be more sensible now.

34 gxh4 Qxh3+ 35 Ke2 Rg2?

Now White has enough time craft a suitable defense. 35… Qg4+ was stronger, with the following variations: 36 Ke1 f5 (I missed this key idea) 37 Nf1 f4 38 Bc1 Re6+ 39 Kd2 Qe2+ 40 Kc3 Qxf2 with an interesting struggle ahead, or 36 f3 Qg2+ 37 Bf2 Re6+ 38 Re3 Bxh4 39 Rf1 Rxe3+ 40 Kxe3 Bg5+ 41 Ke2 Bxd2 42 Kxd2 Rf5. In both cases Black is pressing, but there is no forced win in sight.

36 Nf1 Bxh4 37 Kd2 Rf5?

I completely lose my objectivity and go chasing a win that is no longer present. Instead 37… Bxf2 38 Bxf2 Rxf2+ 39 Kc1 Qh4 leaves Black on the better side of what my computer promises is an equal position.

38 Kc3 Be7 39 Kc2

And now White’s advantage is very clear. I have no idea why I chose my next move, other than to get off the third rank.

39… Qg4 40 Nd2 h5

Still operating under the delusion that I’m winning.

41 d5!

If 41… Qg6 42 Qe4, so I allowed the trade of queens.

41… cxd5 42 Qxg4 Rxg4 43 Nf1

But now it’s clear that Black’s pawns are all going to fall. Normally I’d resign around here, but given the time on the clocks, I struggled on for a while longer before giving in.

Hi everyone,

Last Sunday, the Schutt Memorial blitz tournament was quite a successful event. Well over 60 players showed up to play. If you missed this great annual event, try to come next year.

Every Wednesday evening is the time for the weekly round-robin blitz tournament at Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club. As always, the last entry is accepted at 6:40 pm with sign-up beginning at 6:20 pm and games starting soon after. Entry is $7 with clock; $8 without clock. Non-member entry is $9 with clock; $10 without clock. Prizes are 50%, 30%, 20% of base entry fees ($7 per player) collected. Time control preferably is 3 minute, increment 2 seconds; otherwise 5 minutes, no increment.

Last week we had 10 players in the Blitz. The winners were

1st - Jules Jelinek $35
2nd – IM Ray Kaufman $21
3rd - Carlos D’Avila $14

Look forward to seeing you tonight.

Jules Jelinek
Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator

2) May FIDE Top Rated Players

1. Carlsen 2868
2. Aronian 2814.2
3. Kramnik 2803.2
4. Topalov 2793
5. Anand 2782.9
6. Grischuk 2779
7. Nakamura 2775
8. Caruana 2774
9. Karjakin 2767
10. Morozevich 2760

Kramnik lost 7.8 points in the same tournament and the gap between him and Aronian has widened. Peter Svidler lost 15.2 points in the Alekhine Memorial and left the top-10 list again. Gelfand won 10.9 points and moved closer to the top-10. He is now in the 12th place with 2755 points.

3) Bobby Fischer in Los Angeles, January 1970

Bobby Fischer made Los Angeles his home for roughly twenty years, from the early 1970s to the early 1990s, but his history with the city goes back much earlier. His first visit to the Golden State was in 1957 for the US Junior in San Francisco but he also managed to see Los Angeles on the same trip. Later he would play a match with Reshevsky, give a couple of simuls and take second in the Second Piatigorsky Cup. This is all well-known. One event that isn’t is Bobby’s January 1970 visit to the Student Chess Club of Los Angeles.

Jacqueline Piatigorsky is best remembered for the two famous tournaments that she and her husband Gregor organized, and for the Fischer–Reshevsky match. These are highlights, but she did much more, so much that it is not easy to recount, but we will try, with events listed in no particular order of importance:

• 1968 3-player Interzonal playoff match (Reshevsky, Stein and Hort—Reshevsky advanced).
• 1963 US Championship Playoff for the 1964 Interzonal (Reshevsky, Addison and Evans—Reshevsky advanced).
• Ran the Steiner Chess Club from 1955 to the early 1970s.
• Major sponsor for the US Championship, US Women’s Championship and Olympiads, from roughly 1963 to 1985.
• Organized a major program for disadvantaged school children in Los Angeles in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s.
• Originated and sponsored the US Junior Closed tournament from 1963–1985.
• Sponsored Sammy Reshevsky for many international competitions, culminating in his participation in the 1968 Candidates’ Match against Kortchnoi.
• Played a major role in sponsoring Bobby Fischer’s World Championship push in 1969–1972.
• Supported countless high school and college teams over a twenty-year period, helping them with travel stipends to attend regional and national competitions.

One other of Mrs. Piatigorsky’s special projects was the Student Chess Club, founded in 1965. Based at the Steiner Chess in a Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright and a famous architect in his own right) designed building, this club was only open to juniors. Among its early members were such well-known names as James Tarjan, Allan Pollard and Andy Sacks. It was this club that provided the wall boys for events like the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup and the 1968 Interzonal Playoff and which was the host for a one-of-a-kind event for Bobby.

Art Drucker, who served as the right hand man for the Piatigorsky Foundation for over twenty years, recorded the following in his January 1970 notes for the organization:

Grandmaster Robert J. Fischer gave a 2½ hour lecture to the Student Chess Club. Nearly forty youngsters filled the room to participate in this lively lecture/discussion. Mr. Fischer didn’t work from a prepared text but spent the entire time answering questions about current chess theory. This is the only such lecture Mr. Fischer intends to give during his stay in California. Our sponsorship of the event gave these youngsters a unique opportunity to see the greatest American chessplayer.

We would love to hear from anyone who attended this event, for which Fischer received a fee of $50. The club’s first president, James Tarjan, was living in Berkeley at the time of the Fischer lecture and was not able to attend. We have no doubt this was a most memorable event.

Bobby gave lectures before most of his simuls during his 1964 tour, but we are only aware of one other public talk by Bobby post 1965, albeit of a slightly different nature. This was during the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup. The 13th round edition of the bulletin, edited by Isaac Kashdan, reported that “when Fischer decided to go over one of his victories, word spread immediately and half the audience tried to move into the much smaller analysis room.”

4) Here and There

This summer will be the 40th anniversary of IM John Grefe’s tying for first with Lubosh Kavalek in the 1973 US Championship. Grefe, who lives in the East Bay and still follows the game closely, was always known for his imaginative middlegame play, but he could also play endings creatively.

The following game sees him sacrifice a pawn (12…Kh8) for positional pressure, but careful defense by IM Commons neutralizes Black’s initiative, and soon Grefe is fighting to hang on. Around move 50 a White victory seems almost certain, but when the rooks are traded Black comes up with the tremendous shot 62…f4!, followed by 65…b5! to force a drawn ending.

A81 Dutch Leningrad
Kim Commons–John Grefe
Houston, 1974

1.Nf3 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.g3 f5 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.0–0 0–0 6.Re1 Ne4 7.Nbd2 d5 8.Ne5 c5 9.e3 Nc6 10.Ndf3 Qb6 11.c3 Be6 12.Nd3 Kh8 13.dxc5 Nxc5 14.Nf4 Bg8 15.Nxd5 Bxd5 16.Qxd5 Rad8 17.Qc4 Nd3 18.Re2 Nde5 19.Qa4 Nxf3+ 20.Bxf3 Ne5 21.Bg2 Nd3 22.Qb3 Qxb3 23.axb3 Nxc1 24.Rxc1 Rd7 25.Ra1 a6 26.Kf1 Kg8 27.Ke1 Rfd8 28.Rc2 e5 29.Bf3 e4 30.Be2 Bf8 31.b4 Kg7 32.b5 axb5 33.Bxb5 Rd5 34.Bc4 R5d7 35.Be2 Kf6 36.Rcc1 Bc5 37.Ra5 Rc8 38.Rd1 Rxd1+ 39.Kxd1 Bd6 40.Ra7 Rc7 41.Ra8 g5 42.Kd2 Bc5 43.Ra5 Bd6 44.Rb5 Rd7 45.Ke1 Bb8 46.Bc4 Ba7 47.Bd5 b6 48.Bb3 Rd6 49.Ke2 Bb8 50.h3 h5 51.Bd5 g4 52.h4 Bc7 53.Bb7 Rd8 54.Bc6 Rd6 55.Bd5 Rd8 56.Bb3 Ra8 57.Rd5 Ra1 58.Rd1 Ra5 59.Kd2 Ra8 60.Kc2 Rd8 61.Rxd8 Bxd8 62.Bc4 f4 63.exf4 b5 64.Bxb5 Bb6 65.Be8 Bxf2 66.Bxh5 Bxg3 67.Be8 Kf5 68.h5 Bxf4 69.Bd7+ Kg5 70.h6 Kxh6 71.Bxg4 Kg5 72.Be2 Kf5 73.b4 Ke5 74.Kb3 Bd2 75.Bf1 Be1 76.c4 Kd4 77.Ka4 Bh4 78.Kb5 Kc3 79.Ka5 Bd8+ 80.Ka4 e3 81.Kb5 Be7 82.c5 Kb3 83.Be2 Kc3 84.Bc4 Kd4 85.c6 Bd6 86.Be2 Kc3 87.Bd1 Kd2 88.Bf3 Kc3 89.Bg4 Kb3 90.Be6+ Kc3 91.Bg4 ½–½

The prize fund for 1966 Piatigorsky Cup was $20,000 (or about $140,000 today adjusted for inflation).

1. Spassky $5000
2. Fischer $3000
3. Larsen $2,250
4-5. Portisch and Unzicker $1,875
6-7. Petrosian and Reshevsky $1,400
8. Najdorf $1,150
9. Ivkov $1,050
10. Donner $1,000

By comparison the 2013 Alekhine Memorial is quite comparable with a prize fund of €100,000 (about $130,000), with €30,000 (just under $40,000 for first place).

Issue 2 of 2013 of New in Chess has an article on Harry Pillsbury which includes a game with the longtime Brooklyn chess player and organizer Harry Zirn, then at the beginning of his career. Bay Area players may be interested to know that Zirn was the grandfather of the late Jim Buff of San Francisco, who was a lifelong friend of Bobby Fischer.

International Master Anthony Saidy has a new book out, but it’s not about chess. 1983 combines Saidy’s interests in the Soviet Union and politics. The publisher’s blurb reads:

Out of the ferments of the final decades of the Soviet Union, when no spy agency foresaw major change in that totalitarian state, the author projects an alternative reality. Instead of the pseudo-liberation that would come, what if change had issued from two vital groups in society: dissident intellectuals, from whom the West heard much, and the working class—correspondingly little? Could the two groups, who appeared alienated from each other, somehow mesh, and bring about a new society? The State has ordained that head and sinew shall remain sundered. The debating intellectuals try to master history, personifying the trends of elitism, anarchism and reformism. Only one of them, Valya, has gone deeper, to identify how radical change will come. Meanwhile Ivan the well-trained Soviet worker strives to master daily life. Then a war in Asia destabilizes everything. 1983 limns the Russian revolution that might have been.

For more information on this book, due out this summer, go to

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