Chess Room Newsletter #636 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #636

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #636
July 10, 2013

In chess I am also a staunch supporter of classical clarity of thought. The content of a game should be a search for truth, and victory a demonstration of its rightness. No fantasy, however rich, no technique, however masterly. no penetration into the psychology of the opponent, however deep, can make a chess game a work of art, if these qualities do not lead to the main goal - the search for the truth.

—Vassily Smyslov, on page 5 of his 125 Selected Games

The 13th Annual Charles Bagby Memorial will be held at the MICC this Saturday starting at 10:00 AM.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

NM Hayk Manvelyan has won the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon with a round to spare with a score of 7 from 7. The 19-year-old college student from Fremont should see his rating raise to the mid-2300s with this result.

Tied for second at 5½ with one round to go are NM Romy Fuentes and Experts Bryon Doyle, Art Zhao and Farid  Mark Watson.

17-year-old Daniel Naroditsky is in a strong position to make his third and final GM norm with three rounds remaining in the Benasque Open in Spain. The Foster City International Master, who will be a senior in high school this fall, has 5½ from 7, including a win over GM Arizmendi and draws with 2600 + GMs Kiril Georgiev and Miguel Illescas. His FIDE performance rating to date is 2652.

There is a recent article on Daniel in the San Francisco Chronicle, at

Mechanics’ members did well in the recent World Open. Nils Delmonico had an excellent performance in the Under 2000 section. Rated 1878 going into the event, Delmonico scored 5½ from 9 against higher-rated opposition, to pick up a whopping 78 points. Nils attributes his recent improvement to taking MI GM-in-Residence Nick Defirmian’s Thursday Night Class.

Willie Campers, like Nils a Tuesday Night Marathon regular, also had a fine performance, scoring 5 from 9 in the Under 1800 section to raise his rating from 1648 to 1708. Hans Niemann also scored 5 points in the Under 1800, while Steven Gaffagan had 5 from 9 in the Under 2200 section.

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 9 players in the Blitz. The winners were

1st - Jules Jelinek
2nd - Ted Castro
3rd - Per Shzoldager (visiting from Norway)

See you tonight!

Jules Jelinek
Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator

2) Mechanics’ Chess Club Master Camp Starts Next Monday

The Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club’s annual Master Camp starts next Monday with Grandmasters Nick de firmian and John Fedorowicz as the lead instructors.  Despite the title, class players are welcome at this camp, which features almost one-on-one teaching, due to the large number of instructors and limited number of students. A few spots are still open.

Below is the curriculum for the camp as designed by former US Champion (multiple times) Nick de Firmian.

This small camp is structured for individual attention and questions. Main topics of the day are listed below:

Monday July 15Magnus MagicEndgames! Endgames! Endgames!
Instructor(GM de Firmian)(GM de Firmian)
Tuesday July 16Attacking ChessHow to study with your  Database
Instructor(GM de Firmian)(IM Donaldson)
Wednesday July 17Chess PsychologyOpening Preparation
Instructor(IM Winslow)(IM Winslow + GM de Firmian)
Thursday July 18Classic SiciliansSpace = Torture
Instructor(GM Fedorowicz)(GM Fedorowicz)
Friday July 19(A) Nimzo Blockade (B) Isolated pawns
(C) Taking advantage of light squares
Instructor(GM Fedorowicz)

3) Upcoming Exhibit on Jacqueline Piatigorsky at the World Chess Hall of Fame

The following article can be found on the website of the WCHOF at

Assistant Curator and Collections Manager Emily Allred discusses the upcoming exhibition on chess patron Jacqueline Piatigorsky, which will appear in the WCHOF’s third floor gallery October 25, 2013 - April 18, 2014

Jacqueline Piatigorsky’s position as one of the best female chess players of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as her support of the game as a patron, has cemented her reputation as one of the most important women in the American chess world in the twentieth century. Born in Paris to the Rothschild banking family, she learned chess at an early age while recovering from an illness. Though she had many interests, which included art, music, and tennis, chess was one of her main passions, described in her memoir Jump in the Waves as “part of her blood.”

In 1937, Jacqueline married Gregor Piatigorsky, a cellist born in the present-day Ukraine who studied at the Moscow Academy of Music. Gregor was an accomplished musician who had been the principal cellist for the Warsaw Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic. He also had an impressive solo career, and many composers including Sergei Profokiev and Igor Stravinsky created music for him to play. Gregor Piatigorsky would later teach at UCLA and the University of Southern California.

Jacqueline and Gregor fled Europe with their daughter Jephta in 1939 at the outset of the Second World War. After settling with her family in Elizabethtown, Connecticut, Jacqueline Piatigorsky began participating in correspondence chess tournaments, playing six opponents at a time. The Piatigorskys later moved to Los Angeles, California. There Jacqueline met Herman Steiner, a chess player and founder of the Hollywood Chess Group. Steiner encouraged her to begin playing chess competitively, and she began participating in tournaments over the board. She would later run his chess club after his death, renaming it the Herman Steiner Chess Club in his honor.

Jacqueline’s skill quickly led her to the top of the field of women’s chess, both in California and the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. She competed many times in the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, earning second place in 1965. In 1957, Piatigorsky also won a bronze medal in the Women’s Chess Olympiad in Emmen, Netherlands.

Jacqueline’s generosity as a philanthropist also increased her standing in the world of chess. She formed the Piatigorsky Foundation in the 1960s. The organization supported chess at both an elite level and in underserved communities. The Foundation was known for its sponsorship of the 1961 match between Bobby Fischer and Samuel Reshevsky, but became most famous for the Piatigorsky Cup Tournaments of 1963 and 1966, which attracted top players from the United States and around the world, including Tigran Petrosian, Paul Keres, Boris Spassky, and Bobby Fischer. The Piatigorsky Foundation also sent chess players to teach the game in schools in underserved communities, supported chess teams composed of players who were visually impaired, and provided financial assistance to high school chess teams. The Foundation also supported the U.S. Junior Invitational Tournament.

This fall, the World Chess Hall of Fame will present an exhibition about the fascinating life of Jacqueline Piatigorsky, featuring artifacts from her personal archive. Highlights include the Piatigorsky Cup, photos from the 1963 and 1966 Piatigorsky Cup tournaments, and artifacts and photos related to Jacqueline’s impressive career in women’s chess. These artifacts are part of the permanent collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, and are part of a generous and important donation by the Piatigorsky family.

4) Here and There

Bobby Fischer and Edward Snowden

The following is from an article on Snowden by State Dept. whistleblower Peter Van Buren, published in The Nation magazine at

If he knew his extradition history, Snowden might also have thought about another time when Washington squirmed as a man it wanted left a friendly country for asylum. In 2004, the U.S. had chess great Bobby Fischer detained in Japan on charges that he had attended a 1992 match in Yugoslavia in violation of a U.S. trade ban. Others suggested that the real reason Washington was after him may have been Fischer’s post 9/11 statement: "It’s time to finish off the U.S. once and for all. This just shows what comes around, goes around."

Fischer’s American passport was revoked just like Snowden’s. In the fashion of Hong Kong more recently, the Japanese released Fischer on an immigration technicality, and he flew to Iceland where he was granted citizenship. I was a diplomat in Japan at the time, and had a ringside seat for the negotiations. They must have paralleled what went on in Hong Kong: the appeals to treaty and international law; U.S. diplomats sounding like so many disappointed parents scolding a child; the pale hopes expressed for future good relations; the search for a sympathetic ear among local law enforcement agencies, immigration, and the foreign ministry—anybody, in fact—and finally, the desperate attempt to call in personal favors to buy more time for whatever Plan B might be. As with Snowden, in the end the U.S. stood by helplessly as its prey flew off.

Today chess players in many ways live in a golden time. Virtually non-stop top-level tournaments are free to watch, often with commmentary. Incredibly powerful and inexpensive chess engines are available to all, as are huge databases, with an ever-increasing number of games. The latter are now considered to be an unalienable right by many, but the day may come when that is no longer the case.

Mark Crowther has made the latest games available for free for nearly twenty years at The Week in Chess, but after he lost a sponsor last year chess players almost found themselves without their weekly supply of games.  GM Lubomir Ftacnik has been the chief gardener for Chess Base for even longer, but the days when people will continue to pay for data are rapidly diminishing. It’s not surprising that the German company is focusing its attention on things that pay the bills—instructional DVDs and Playchess, its commercial Internet chess server.

All of the above makes the work of private individuals especially important, particularly in preserving games from the past and especially so for incomplete events. When dealing with older games Chess Base gives a high degree of preference for complete events, not ones with missing games, let alone orphans. That work is left to dedicated volunteers. One of the more prolific is former Mechanics’ Chess Club member Andy Ansel, who has entered tens of thousands of games. His work has been especially important in that it has focused on American tournaments, which are not well represented in Mega Database, in part because so many events in this country are Swisses, which rarely have bulletins.

Here is one small gem he recently unearthed.

Curdo,J - Schroer,J [B51]
US op Alexandria, 1996

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.0–0 Ngf6 5.Re1 a6 6.Bf1 b6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bb7 9.Nc3 e6 10.f4 Qc7 11.Kh1 Nc5 12.Bd3 g6 13.f5 gxf5 14.Nd5?!

14.exf5 Rg8 15.Nf3 0–0–0

14...Nxd5 15.exd5 Bxd5 16.Nxf5 0–0–0 17.Ne3 Bb7 18.b4 Nxd3 19.cxd3 Bg7 20.Rb1 Kb8 21.b5 axb5 22.Re2 Rhg8 23.Rxb5 Qc6 24.Rb4 Bh6?!

24...Qc5! 25.Rc4 Qh5



25...Bxe3? 26.Rxc6 Bxc6 27.Re4 Bc5 28.Rg4

28.Qf1 Bxe4 29.dxe4 f5 30.exf5 Rdf8


28...h5 29.Rg3 (29.Rg5 f6) 29...h4



29...h5! 30.Rg3 h4 31.Rf3 h3! 32.d4 hxg2+ 33.Kg1 Bxf3 34.Qxf3 exd4 35.Qd5 Rde8 0–1

Source: Maryland Chess Newsletter, Winter 1997, page 19.

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