Chess Room Newsletter #628 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #628

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #628
May 15, 2013

Whilst it’s obviously undesirable to play 2 games in a day the ordeal could be minimized if some sensible rules regarding time controls were applied to this situation. I would think 90 mins +30 secs for the whole game should be a maximum time limit allowed for a double header.

Michael Adams, writing on his website—
on July 29, 2012

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The Spring Tuesday Night Marathon finished close to what the players’ pre-event ratings predicted, but there could have been a huge upset. Mike Anderson, rated 25th in the 93-player field at 1953, defeated two National Masters and almost tied for second place. All he had to do was find a two-move sequence at the critical moment in his last-round game.

Michael Anderson (1953) – Alexander Ivanov (2079)

Mechanics’ Spring TNM (8) 2013

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4 4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Nd7 6.c3 Ngf6 7.Bd3 Bd6 8.0–0 0–0 9.Nbd2 b5 10.a4 Rb8 11.axb5 cxb5 12.Nh4 Nc5!? 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Ncxe4


15.Nxe4 Nxe4 16.Qh5 g6 17.Qh6 Be7 18.Nf3 Bb7 19.Bf4 Rc8 20.Be5 Nf6

White to play and win.


21.Ng5! Rxc2 22.Rf2! leaves Black helpless.

21...Nh5 22.Rxa7 Bxf3 23.Rxf3 Bg5 24.Qxh5 gxh5 25.Rg3 h4 26.Rf3 Qb6 27.Rd7 Qc6 28.Rd6 Qc1+ 29.Rf1 Qe3+ 30.Kh1 Qxd3 0–1

This was still a great result for Mike, as it was for Oleg Shakhnazarov, who led the Spring TNM for most of the event before being knocked out of first place in the last round by IM Elliott Winslow. The winner of the most rating points gained was Jerry Morgan, who picked up an even 100 to bring his rating near Class B. A latecomer to the game, Jerry, who was is one of many regulars age 65+ participating in the TNM, only started playing USCF tournaments in 2005. His new rating of 1589 is by far his highest to date.

Hi everyone,

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 / 3rd - Joe Urquhart and Merim Mesic $17.50 each

Jules Jelinek
Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator

The Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club will be holding three chess camps this summer with the first, free one, restricted to youth.

Mechanics’ Grandmaster-in-Residence Nick de Firmian will be the lead instructor for all three camps, assisted in the last two by Grandmaster John Fedorowicz.

MI Chess Camps this summer:

June 10-14 Beginners’ Camp
July 15-19 Master Class
July 22-26 Main Camp

Go to for more information.

Thursday Evening Class With Former U. S. Champion Nick de Firmian

Starting Thursday May 30th, 2013
7 weeks (May 30 and June 6, 13, 20, 27 and July 11 and 18) 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

This class, limited to a maximum of 8 students, is aimed at players below 2000 and is a perfect fit for the Tuesday Night regular who has been stuck for a long time at the same rating. Three-time U.S. Champion de Firmian will offer hands-on instruction, including an in-depth analysis of the students’ games.

The cost for the seven classes is $210 for Mechanics’ Institute members and $240 for non-members.

Note: This class is normally 8 weeks with a cost of $240 (members) and $280 (non-members), but because July 4th falls on a Thursday, this session will instead be 7 weeks, with the MI member tuition lowered from $240 to $210.

2) Public Places to Play Chess in the Bay Area

Coffee houses and chess are a natural combination, and the number of such institutions in the Bay Area that have encouraged the Royal Game the past 50 years must number in the dozens, if not more. Add the Blue Danube in Alameda to the list. Chess players can be found most of the time at this establishment, located at 3750 Alameda Ave. (at Park Ave.), but the biggest crowd gathers on Sunday afternoons. International Masters John Grefe and Elliott Winslow, FIDE Masters Frank Thornally and Craig Mar are regulars, and National Master David Blohm (the number-two-rated junior in the US in 1966, behind only Walter Browne) recently paid a visit.

Speaking of public places to play, the Crocker Galleria, right across the street from the Mechanics’ Institute, recently put out a large outdoor chess set for the public to use. We encourage MICC members to make use of the set and let the public know about the oldest continuously-operated chess club in the United States.

We are familiar with similar such sets at Santana Row in San Jose , the Depot in Mill Valley and at the Yerba Buena center in San Francisco, and would be interested to learn about more.

3) Economists, Chess and Gligoric

Grandmaster Ken Rogoff is not the only economist who is a strong chess player. Tyler Cowen, who was New Jersey state champion at 15, and rated 2350 a year later, just before giving up the game, occupies the Holbert C. Harris Chair of economics as a professor of economics at George Mason University and writes for the New York Times, The New Republic, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. Cowen has a regular column (“Economic Scene”) in the Times, but chess players may appreciate more his short but thoughtful piece on the late Svetozar Gligoric. The tribute appeared in the December 30, 2012, issue of the famous newspaper in its special feature “The Lives They Led”. The article can be found at:

For more on Professor Cowen check out the interview by Michael Goeller at

Incidentally Cowen is not the only professor with strong chess bona fides on the faculty of George Mason University. International Master Walter Morris, who teaches in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, still plays regularly in the D.C. Chess League.

4) Here and There

Gata Kamsky won the 2013 US Championship the hard way by eliminating GM Alejandro Ramirez in an Armageddon playoff. This was Kamsky’s fourth title.

The Bay Area had two participants competing in St. Louis. 12-year-old Samuel Sevian of Santa Clara had an impressive debut, turning in a 2474 performance, while scoring 4 points from 9. Orinda GM Sam Shankland was undoubtedly dissatisfied with his 4.5-4.5 (2521 performance). A junior at Brandeis, Shankland finished his college finals just a few days before the tournament started, which was definitely not optimal preparation. We expect him to bounce back this summer with some excellent performances.

IM Irina Krush won the concurrent US Women’s Championship in impressive fashion with 8 from 9, with Anna Zatonskih second at 7.5. Tatev Abrahamyan of Los Angeles also played very well, finishing third with 6.5 points. There was a gap of two points between third and fourth places, as the top finishers dominated the competition.

The 2013 US Championship doubled as a zonal. Qualifying for the 2013 World Cup, to be held in August in Norway, are Gata Kamsky (by rating), Alejandro Ramirez and Alex Onischuk, Timur Gareev, Conrad Holt and Larry Christiansen, who takes the final spot on tiebreaks over Alex Shabalov, Ray Robson, Kayden Troff, Joel Benjamin, and Varuzhan Akobian. Shabalov was already qualified for the World from the 2012 Continental Championships, as is Gregory Kaidanov, which means these eight, plus Hikaru Nakamura, will be playing in the knockout event in Tromso.

Elliott Winslow, who teaches the Saturday Chess for Children class at the Mechanics’, is a master of two games. Besides holding the International Master title he is also a world-class backgammon player, and it was in that capacity that he was quoted in the May 13, 2013 issue of The New Yorker in an article about Falafel. The piece was not on the tasty Middle-Eastern sandwich, but on one of the strongest backgammon players in the world, whose real name is Matvey Natanzon. Like Winslow, Falafel also played chess, albeit not with the level of success of the IM, but also not so badly. If you look up Mike Natanzon in the US Chess Federation’s MSA you will find he held a solid Expert’s rating throughout the 1990s despite playing infrequently.

Newsletter reader and noted chess historian and collector Robert Moore was reading Max Boot’s Invisible Armies (New York, Liveright, 2013, 750 pages), when he noticed on page 491 a reference to the chess-playing ability of Ahmad Shah Massoud (1953-2001), aka the Lion of Panjshir. (Massoud) “was an excellent chess player’, and like all great chess players he learned to analyze a situation dispassionately.”

Comparing great chess players from different eras, like great boxers, is an impossible task, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. Since the introduction of FIDE ratings in 1970 chess fans have had a four-digit number to compare the kings of different decades, even if Professor Elo’s invention was never intended for such a task.

Predictably and understandably much ado was made when Magnus Carlsen shattered Gary Kasparov’s all-time high of 2851. However, some experts point out that with inflation the actual rating is not as important as the differential between number one and two, a record still held by Bobby Fischer, who was 2785 on the July 1972 FIDE rating list—a staggering 125 points ahead of Boris Spassky.

There is much food for thought at the English-language Russian chess website Crestbook where the post-tournament analysis of the London Candidates ( makes for interesting reading, particularly the comments of GM Vladimir Tkachiev.

Six-time US Champion Walter Browne will be playing in the Best of the West Class Championship in Santa Clara May 25-27, and will also have a table set up Sunday night (the 26th) where he will offer signed copies of his book The Stress of Chess: My Life, Career and 101 Best Games. Go to for a flyer on the event.

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