Chess Room Newsletter #652 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #652

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #652
December 19, 2013

Well, I’m probably biased, but I think we have seen the best already. The time controls and emphasis on the sporting element are lowering the quality. The sport element now dominates the art and science elements of chess. I think we saw the best quality of chess in the 80’s and 90’s.

Garry Kasparov, interviewed in 2005

The Newsletter will take a break for the Christmas Holidays and resume on January 8.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

NM Natalya Tsodikova became only the third woman to win a Tuesday Night Marathon in the 40+ year history of the event, scoring 7½ from 9 to take top honors in the 85-player Fall TNM. Batchimeg Tuvshintugs tied for first in the 2006 Fall TNM (with Sam Shankland) and tied for first again in the 2007 Winter TNM (with Frank Thornally). Egle Morkunaite shared top honors with Thornally and Alexander Setzepfandt in the 2004 Spring TNM.

Tsodikova, who is married to IM Rost Tsodikov, played in the 1995 and 1996 U.S. Women’s Championship, but then took a 17-year break from the game, before returning to action in the TNM series earlier this year. In her first events the rust showed, but now she is starting to show some of her old form

To win the event Tsodikova needed help as she entered the last round half a point out of first, and she got it, as Class A player Ashik Uzzaman upset tournament leader Oleg Shaknazarov. The two tied for second with scores of 7-2, with Uzzaman getting the added bonus of picking up 108 rating points.

Sharing fourth place at 6½ were IM Elliott Winslow and Class A players Lazar Shnaiderman and Victor Todortsev. The 61-year-old Winslow would be considered a chess veteran in most circles, but here he was the youngster in the group. Shnaiderman, who won his last four games and picked up 101 rating points, is 85 years old, while Todortsev recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

Top rating gainers for the event were Nicholas Weiss (+227 points!), Samuel Agdamag (+197), Albert Starr (+152), David Flores (+107), Max Schlossberg (+101), Adam Vichik (+67) and Brendan LaCounte (+57).

The Fall TNM attracted nine female participants, over ten percent of the field, which might be a record for the event, which goes back to the early 1970s.

Final standings and a list of prize winners for this event can be found at

From round 9 of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Winslow–Ivanov after 22...Qd7)White to move (Winslow–Ivanov after 34...Nc5)
White to move (Casares–Chernobilskiy after 18...h4)Black to move (Morgan–Chea after 15 Ng5)
Black to move (Malykin–Cheung after 24 Rd1)For the solutions, see the game scores (when available) for round 9.

The Winter TNM starts on Tuesday, January 7, and will feature a special guest lecturer. Women’s Grandmaster Lufei Ruan of China, currently tied for the 17th spot on the list of FIDE’s top-rated women at 2501, will give a talk from 5:15 pm to 6:15 pm that is free to all. The subject will be her 2010 World Championship match with Yifan Hou.

The entry fee for the eight- or nine-round TNM, which is both USCF- and FIDE-rated, has been raised from $40 to $50, the first increase in seven years. The prize fund will also be raised accordingly.

Attendance for the Tuesday Night Marathon was excellent in 2013, and the last two might have even been higher if not for a BART strike or threat to strike.

Winter 88 entries
Spring 93
Summer 90
Falconer 82
Fall 85

Mechanics’ Chess Grandmaster-in-Residence Nick de Firmian is one of the coaches for the 94 American youngsters who are competing in the World Youth Championships being held in Dubai. Mechanics’ US Chess League team members GM Daniel Naroditsky, NMs Kesav Viswanadha, Vignesh Panchanatham and Siddarth Banik and TNM regulars Chinguun Bayaraa and Callaghan McCarty-Snead.

Congratulations to 10-year-old Hans Niemann of Orinda, who first joined the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club at the beginning of 2013. Hans has raised his rating over 1000 points, going over 2000. Dr. Renate Otterbach also deserves kudos for raising her rating over 300 points to 1132 the past year.

Hans won the last session of the Wednesday Night Blitz for 2013, held December 18, with the outstanding score of 12½ from 14. The noted chess problemist Gady Costeff was second with 11½, followed by Felix Rudyak in third with 10 points.

Many thanks go to Jules Jelinek, the Wednesday Night Blitz Chess Coordinator, who ran the tournament the entire year. Thanks, Jules!

2) The USA team at the 2013 World Team Championship in Antalya, Turkey
by Captain John Donaldson

The recently-concluded World Team Championship saw the U.S. entry exceed expectations, but, as in last year’s Olympiad in Istanbul, fall just short of the podium.

Seeded just above the middle of the field in the ten-team round robin with an average rating of around 2700 (for the first four boards), we started the tournament with high hopes to medal. Russia was the top seed at 2764, with Ukraine on 2718 and defending champion Armenia at 2717. The depth of the field can be seen in eight-seeded Azerbaijan’s top four averaging 2630 FIDE.

The team’s finishing place of fourth (on tiebreak for Armenia, thanks to superior game points) was a modest success, and individually the team performed above its rating.

2China97 214220114,00
3Ukraine97 214210119,00
4United States of America94231020½082,00
7Germany94 5817059,50
10Egypt9  9000,00
Bo. NameRtgFEDFide-No.WnWeW-WeRtg+/-RaRp
1GMNakamura Hikaru2786USA20161924,574,190,31327152817
2GMKamsky Gata2721USA20000244,095,23-1,23-1226572614
3GMOnischuk Alexander2672USA141010255,084,300,70726432738
4GMRobson Ray2613USA20239703,062,600,40426632663
5GMAkobian Varuzhan2625USA133005804,063,260,74725912716

Collectively the US team picked up 9 rating points.

Varuzhan Akobian won gold as the best reserve player of the competition and Hikaru Nakamura and Alex Onischuk won silver medals on their respective boards. Gata Kamsky was the ironman of the team, playing all nine matches, including six times as Black.

While this was all positive, one cannot avoid pointing out the missed opportunities. All three of our losses to China, Armenia and Ukraine were by the minimum amount (1½-2½) and in each match taking back one or two moves could have led to a won or drawn match. In particular one cannot help but believe that if the match with Ukraine had been played any round but the first we would have won, as Varuzhan was easily beating his opponent and Gata had a simple draw. The team arrived two full days before the event, but with an eight- to ten-hour time difference this was not enough to completely adjust.

This match also witnessed an incident on board one, as Ukrainian first board Vassily Ivanchuk quit keeping score around move 30 with two minutes on his clock. This was a no-no, as the time control was 40 moves in 100 minutes with a 30-second increment per move. A condition of this time control is the players must keep score at all times.  The arbiter for each match is supposed to immediately ask a player to write their moves if they fall behind. Failure to comply can result in penalties, leading up to forfeiting the game. Unfortunately the game Ivanchuk–Nakamura led to an awkward situation as the arbiter was observing other games when Ivanchuk stopped recording, and by the time he was asked to update his score he refused—understandable, as being forced to enter eight move pairs with two minutes on his clock was not where he wanted to focus his attention.

The incident was resolved when the players made the time control and agreed to a draw, but a similar situation occurred in round two in the game Li Chao–Ivanchuk, when the latter again failed to keep his scoresheet up to date. This time the arbiter was quicker to take action, but the the only response he got from Vassily was an outburst which showed what a rich language Russian is for conveying strong feelings. The situation was only resolved when the Ukrainian team captain Alexander Sulypa stepped in and had Ivanchuk update his score to avert a possible forfeit.

Needless to say the arbiter’s job in this situation was not an easy one. Like everyone else, they would much prefer that issues be settled over the board. It doesn’t make things any easier that the eccentric Ivanchuk is one of the great players of our time, with many fans who appreciate his amazing understanding of the game. There is absolutely no indication that his behavior was intentionally aimed at distracting his opponent, but clearly both players have to compete on a level playing field.

Ray Robson, the youngest member of the team, provided much of the excitement, both good and bad. He started with a bang, beating Nikita Vitiugov (2740) of Russia with Black in a very sharp game. This was the highlight of the event for Ray, and for us as a team, as we beat Russia 3-1. This was the biggest score the US has beaten Russia by in a rivalry in team competitions going back to 1952. The U.S. team was out-rated by over 100 points on the two bottom boards, but they both came through big-time.

The last five games Ray played were impacted by serious time pressure, where he was playing on the increment by move 25 (i.e., he had 30 seconds per move). Sometimes he was able to battle his way through (a key win over Azerbaijan) but in other matches (against China and Turkey) he self-destructed.  Time pressure is often a result of recent practice, and this fall Ray did not play much because of his studies at Webster University. When he is on, Ray can beat very strong players (i.e. Volokitin in the first round of the 2013 World Cup and his victory over Vitiugov). Expect a big rating jump for Ray when he gets this problem under control.

The team was strengthened by the addition of Wesley So as team coach. Having the 2700-rated So, also a student at Webster University, as an opening specialist was a real help. The U.S. was not the only team to have well-known names as coaches or captains as Azerbaijan had former FIDE world champion Alexander Khalifman, Germany employed both Konstantin Sakaev and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, while Russia took no shortcuts, bringing along Yury Dokhoian, Alexander Motylev and Vladimir Potkin.

The win by Russia ended a drought going back to January 2010 when they won the World Team Championship. Since then they had fallen short in two Olympiads, two European team championships and one World team—this despite being the top-rated team in each competition. Needless to say they were extremely happy to win, and during the closing ceremony they tossed captain Dokhoian repeatedly into the air. It probably didn’t hurt that the entire team, including coaches and captain, received $50,000 apiece.

It was a pleasure to once again have Tony Rich of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis onsite. He not only assisted Jennifer Shahade in keeping USCF members up to date with photos and color, but also served as a helpful assistant to the players on several occasions. The U.S. team was sponsored by the U.S. Chess Federation and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. The team is very grateful for their support.

3) 6-time U.S. Champion Walter Browne versus the Scandinavian/Center Counter

All annotations by GM Walter Browne

Scandinavian/Center Counter B01
Walter Browne (2501)–Cyrus Lakdawala (2497)
US G/30 ch. Pleasanton 2012

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bc4 c6

5...Nc6 6.Nge2 Bf5 7.Bf4 e5 8.dxe5 Nxe5 9.Bb5+ c6 10.Qxd6 Bxd6 11.0–0–0 Bc7 12.Nd4 Nd3+ 13.Bxd3 Bxf4+ 14.Kb1=

6.Nge2 Bf5 7.Bf4 Qb4 8.Bb3 e6 9.0–0 Be7 10.Ng3

10.Bc7 Bd8 11.Bxd8 Kxd8 12.Qd2 Nbd7 13.a4 a5 14.Qf4 h6 15.Ng3, with a slight edge for White.

10...Bg6 11.Re1 0–0 12.Nce4 Nxe4 13.Nxe4 Nd7 14.c3 Qa5 15.Qf3

15.Nd6 Qc7 16.Nf5 Qxf4 17.Nxe7+ Kh8 18.g3 Qd6 19.Nxg6+ hxg6 20.Re4 is slightly better for White.

15...Nf6 16.Nd6 Qb6 17.Nc4

Here I offered a draw with the better position, due to non-stop noise outside the hall.

17...Qd8 18.Ne5 Nd5 19.Bd2 Bg5 20.Bxg5 Qxg5 21.g3 ½–½

Supplemental Games

(1) Walter Browne–Larry Evans
Las Vegas, 1974

I missed many wins after refusing a peace offer early. Nevertheless, a quick draw with GM Peter Biyiasas in the last round gave me 5–1 and clear first, good for $1,111.11.

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Nxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 e6 6.0–0 Nc6 7.c4 Nf6 8.Be3 Be7 9.Nc3 0–0 10.h3 Bh5 11.Rc1 a6 12.a3 Qd6 13.b4

Preferable was 13.Qd2! Rfd8 14.Rfd1 Qd7 15.b4 Qe8 16.Qb2 with a big edge.

13...Rfd8 14.Qb3 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 Nxd4 16.Bxd4 Qxd4 17.Bxb7 Ra7

Better was 17...Rab8 18.Bxa6 Qf4 19.Rfd1 Bd6 20.g3 Qf3 with counterplay.

18.Rcd1 Qe5 19.Rxd8+ Bxd8 20.Bc6

20.Rd1 Be7 21.Bf3 c5 22.b5 axb5 23.cxb5 would have given White a clear advantage.

20...g5 21.Ne4 Nxe4 22.Qe3 Be7

22...Qd6 23.Bxe4 Qb6 (23...c5 24.bxc5 Qf4 25.Qd3 winning) 24.Bxh7+! Kg7 25.c5 winning.

23.Bxe4 Bd6 24.f4

24.Rd1 c5 25.bxc5 Bc7 (25...Qxc5 26.Rxd6 winning) 26.g3 h6 27.Rd8+! Kg7 28.Re8 winning.

24...gxf4 25.Bxh7+ Kxh7 26.Qxa7 Qe4 27.Rd1?!

27.c5! Qe3+ 28.Kh1 Qe2 29.Rg1 Be5 30.Qb7 Bd4 31.Qxc7 Bxg1 32.Qxf7+ Kh8 33.Qf6+ Kh7 34.Qh4+ wins.

27...Qxc4 28.Qd4 Qa2 29.Qd3+ Kg7 30.Rd2 Qa1+ 31.Rd1

31.Kf2 e5 32.Re2 was clearly better for me. A draw gave me a clear lead going into 6th and last round and I may have let up a bit.

31...Qa2 32.h4 e5 33.Qf5?!

33.Rc1 f5 34.Qh3 was still better for me.

33...Qxa3 34.Qg5+ Kf8 35.Qd8+ Kg7 36.Qg5+ Kf8 ½–½

(2) Walter Browne–Korchner (2150)
National Open, 1975

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Nxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 Nc6 6.c4 Nb6 7.Be3 Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Nxc4 9.Qa4 Nb6 10.Bxc6+ bxc6 11.Qxc6+ Qd7 12.Qc2 e6 13.0–0 Bd6 14.Nc3 0–0 15.Rac1 Rfc8 16.Rfd1 Rab8 17.Rd3 Qe7 18.d5 Nc4 19.Nd1 Ne5 20.Rd4 c5 21.dxe6 Qxe6 22.Rh4 h6 23.Ra4 c4 24.Qe2 Nd3 25.Rc2 Qe5 26.g3 Qd5 27.Bxa7 Ne5 28.f4 Nf3+ 29.Kf2 Bc5+ 30.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 31.Qe3 Qb5 32.Nc3 Nxh2 33.Nxb5 Ng4+ 34.Kf3 Nxe3 35.Kxe3 Rxb5 36.Kd4 Rcb8 37.Kc3 Rh5 38.Rxc4 Rh3 39.Rg2 h5 40.Kc2 Ra8 41.a4 Rh1 42.b3 Re8 43.Kb2 Ree1 44.Ka3 Re3 45.Kb4 Rh3 46.a5 h4 47.a6 Rhxg3 48.Rxg3 hxg3 49.a7 Re8 50.Ka5 Kh7 51.Rc2 f5 52.Rg2 g5 53.Rxg3 gxf4 54.Rf3 Re5+ 55.Ka4 Re8 56.Kb5 Re5+ 57.Kb6 Re6+ 58.Kb7 Re7+ 59.Kb8 Re8+ 60.Kb7 Re7+ 61.Kb8 Re8+ 62.Kc7 Re7+ 63.Kb6 Re6+ 64.Kb5 Re5+ 65.Ka4 Re8 66.Rxf4 Ra8 67.Rxf5 Rxa7+ 68.Kb5 Rb7+ 69.Kc4 Kg6 70.Rf3 Rb8 71.b4 Rc8+ 72.Kd5 Rc1 73.b5 Rb1 74.Kc6 Rc1+ 75.Kb7 Kg5 76.b6 Rb1 77.Kc7 Rc1+ 78.Kb8 Kg4 79.Rf8 Rb1 80.b7 Rb2 81.Kc7 Rc2+ 82.Kd6 Rd2+ 83.Kc5 Rc2+ 84.Kd4 1–0

(3) Browne–R.T.Bacon
Mansfield State College (simul) 1975

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Nxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 e6 6.0–0 Nd7 7.c4 N5f6 8.Nc3 c5 9.Be3 a6 10.h3 Bh5 11.Qb3 Qc7 12.d5 exd5 13.cxd5 Bd6 14.Rad1 0–0 15.Nh4 Bxe2 16.Nxe2 b5 17.Nf5 c4 18.Qc2 Bc5 19.d6 Qb6 20.Nf4 Rad8 21.Qc3 Rfe8 22.Nd5 Qa7 23.Bh6 Ne5 24.Nde7+ Rxe7 25.dxe7 Rxd1 26.Rxd1 Bxe7 27.Qxe5 gxh6 28.Nxe7+ Kg7 29.Rd6 1–0

(4) Walter Browne (2550)–Roman Dzindzichashvili(2555)
US Open 1991

A ultra-sharp game where Dzinzi gets the Guinness world record for queen moves.

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Be2 Nxd5 5.d4 Bf5 6.Nf3 e6 7.0–0 Be7 8.a3 0–0 9.c4 Nb6 10.Nc3 Bg4 11.Ne5 Bxe2 12.Qxe2 Qxd4 13.Rd1 Qh4 14.Nb5

14.Rd3 Nc6 15.Rh3 Qf6 16.Nxc6 bxc6 was slightly better for Black.

14...Nc6 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Rd4 Qf6 17.Rf4 Qg6 18.Rg4 Qf5 19.Nd4 Qc5 20.Be3 Qd6

20...Qxc4 21.Qxc4 Nxc4 22.Nxc6 winning.

21.c5 Qd5 22.Nf3

22.cxb6 cxb6 23.Rc1 c5 24.Nb5 winning.

22...Nc8 23.Rd1 Qh5 24.h3 Bf6 25.Bg5 Bxg5 26.Rxg5 Qh6 27.Rd7 Qf6 28.Qe5 Kh8 29.Rxc7 a5 30.Rg4 a4 31.Rf4 Qg6 32.Qc3 Ra7 33.Rfxf7! Qxf7 34.Rxf7 Raxf7 35.Ng5 Rxf2 36.Nxe6 Rf1+ 37.Kh2 Rg8 38.Qd3 Rf6 39.Ng5 g6 40.Qd4 1–0

4) 3D Chess

My name’s Wes, and I’m a writer for a site called Tested based here in San Francisco. We cover technology, science, and maker culture, and occasionally I branch out and write a feature on games. That’s where I’m hoping the MI chess club can help out.

I’m currently working on a feature article about the history of 3D chess, mostly focused around the evolution of rules based on Star Trek’s Tri-D chess, but also touching on Raumschach chess and Millennium 3D chess. My editor and I are hoping that a couple members of the club would be interested in participating in my feature story by playing a couple games of 3D chess while we talk to them and take photos. We’ll supply the board and detailed rules--they don’t have to have any familiarity with 3D chess going in. We just think it would add a great angle to the story to have “expert” or at least experienced players talk about the game as they play it. In total, it shouldn’t take more than two hours.

If you or anyone else in the club knows anything about the history of 3D chess variants and would be up for an interview, that would also be a great addition to the story. Sometime in the next couple weeks, either during the week or the weekend, would be great for us. Do you think a couple members would be willing to play along? Should be fun! Hope we can set something up.

[email protected]

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