Chess Room Newsletter #647 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #647

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #647
October 16, 2013

For me, chess is a fight, sixty four squares where you lay out everything you have, and I believe in my ability to fight, because it’s really just a function of your ability to give everything you have, to put it banally, to do your best.’ I want to make the maximum effort, whether that means pushing myself to find the best moves, being resilient in defense, or overcoming any psychological weakness that can come up during a game: inclinations towards cowardice, towards giving up in difficult positions, or slacking off in better ones. So while I just can’t see myself to be very good in the actual playing of chess, I do come into every game with the belief that I can give it 100%, and that is probably not a lot less than what my opponents can bring. That’s where my confidence comes from.

—Irina Krush, Chess Life Online blog from Baku, October 4, 2013

The Fall Tuesday Night Marathon starts on October 22.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The Mechanics’ Institute entry in the US Chess League won their seventh-round match against Boston 2½-1½, and now lead their division by a point and a half with three rounds left to go in the regular season.

Pacific DivisionWLGame PointsOpps Avg Rating
San Francisco16/28 (57%)2398
Seattle3413½/28 (48%)2396
Los Angeles12/28 (42%)2399
Arizona2511/28 (39%)2397

The Mechanics’ are led by top board GM Vinay Bhat, who has played like a rock this season, scoring an undefeated 3/5 against GMs and IMs, including a draw with Black against the league’s highest-rated player, GM Timur Gareev. Other top scorers for the MI include GM Daniel Naroditsky (4-1 on board 2) and 12-year-old Siddarth Bannik (3-0 on board 4).

The Mechanics’ face division rival Arizona this Wednesday night.

From rounds 3 and 4 of the Neil Falconer Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Hovik Manvelyan–Maser, after 15...Qg4)Black to move (Alzhin–Rich, after 18. Qb4)
Black to move (Doyle–Hayk Manvelyan, after 38. Bf1)Black to move (Traub–Lee, after 26. Qc7)
 For the solutions, see the game scores for rounds 3 and 4.

GM Jesse Kraai will be giving a reading from his new chess novel Lisa on Tuesday, October 22, from 5:15 to 6:15 pm, and will have copies of his book for sale. All are welcome to attend. To learn more about Jesse go to

Wednesday Night Blitz—Jules Jelinek writes:

Hi everyone,

The $70 (minimum) guaranteed prize fund for October  (9, 16, 23, and 30) continues tonight at the Mechanics Institute Wednesday Night Blitz Tournaments, in memory of Jay Whitehead.  That’s right, a prize fund guarantee of $70 ($35-$21-$14) no matter how many players show up every week. If there are more than 10 players the prize fund will be increased by $7 for each additional player.

If those are not good reasons to make sure that you and your friends come to play in the Wednesday Night Blitz, Kaimi Niemann has graciously donated an incredible 96"x96" quilt reproduction of a signed 1972 Fisher-Spassky World Championship Poster (picture attached) valued at $280! This will be awarded to the player who achieves the highest overall cumulative score during the entire month of October at the Wednesday Night Blitz Tournament.

Every Wednesday evening is the time for the weekly round robin blitz tournament at Mechanics Institute Chess Club. As always, sign-up begins at 6:20 pm; playing starts by 6:40 pm and last entry accepted at 7 pm. 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. The week’s winners were

1st Jules Jelinek 8½/9
2nd FM Charles de Villers (visiting from South Africa!) 7
3rd Arthur Ismakov 6½  

2) Dana Brannan—New York Times chess correspondent in the 1940s

The John G. White Collection, which is part of the Cleveland Public Library, is an unequaled source of historical material on the royal game. Cases in point are the letters from Dana Brannan, a New York newspaper man and chess correspondent of the New York Times, to Mary Bain. A top American women player from the 1930s to early 1960s, Bain is addressed as Mariska—the Hungarian diminutive of Mary.

Brannan’s letters paint a colorful, even gossipy, portrait of the New York chess scene of the 1940s. Here he discusses Herman Helms, editor of the American Chess Bulletin from 1904 to his death in early 1963. One of the giants of American chess journalism, Helms had columns in many New York newspapers, often several simultaneously.

January 17, 1944

Every fortnight or so Hermann Helms drops in for supper with me. I cannot say the Dean looks well. He seems to grow thinner and thinner and to have parted with all his teeth, or nearly all. He lives with his brother in Brooklyn’s Deep South, and the nightly journey home must be very wearing for him. He retains his passion for chess, however, and likes to tell me of positions and moves in the most important games. I doubt if anyone ever lived who was so fond of chess, except of course, a few semi-lunatics, such as Steinitz.

June 21, 1944

The other day I stopped in at the office of Herman Helms, Dean of American Chess, 150 Nassau Street. He was absent. Miss Sullivan was present. Where she sits when he is there, I can’t imagine. Her entire desk was covered by books and papers and magazines and overshoes and God-knows-what-else to a height of two feet above the surface, and on top of the whole thing was an ancient Helms overcoat spread out like a quilt. Only a snake can move around in the office now. I feel almost suffocated and got out fast.

Brannan writes that during World War 2 Chess Review had a circulation that stayed steady at 7,000 subscribers. This is an impressive figure, considering the US Chess Federation had less than 5,000 members at the time.

3) Here and There

The 76th Tata Steel Tournament will take place in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, from January 20th to 26th January, 2014.

Not all rounds will be played in Wijk aan Zee, contrary to regular practice. Play will be held on the High Tech Campus Eindhoven (round 9 Jan 23rd) and in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (round 4 Jan 15th).

There will be two top groups: the A of 12 players and 11 rounds, and the B of 14 players and 13 rounds. A-Group players include Aronian, Nakamura, Caruana, Gelfand, Karjakin, Dominguez, Giri, Naiditsch, So, Van Wely, Rapport with one more place to be decided.

The organizers approached Anand and Carlsen, but they both indicated it was too close to the end of the World Championship and would be resting. If Carlsen does indeed miss the event it will end an unbroken run since winning the C Group in 2004. Perhaps the undecided 12th participant means organizers hope Carlsen will change his mind.

The October 5 edition of the Economist (page 63) offers this surprising fact: chess is by far most popular in India(!) where nearly half of adults play at least once a month. Russia, 30%; USA 6%; and UK 4%.

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