Chess Room Newsletter #657 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #657

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #657
February 5, 2014

Too many people in the investment world have bull-market mentalities. They do well when things are going well. In chess you are constantly facing setbacks, and the people who become great players learn to overcome them.

—Grandmaster David Norwood, who later became a multimillionaire as a financial trader.
Interviewed by Dylan McClain in the NY Times—September 29, 2011.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

This Saturday, February 8, the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club will host a memorial for IM John Grefe, from 1 pm to 5 pm, with complimentary food and drink.

IM Ganbold Odondoo is new leader of the 97-player Winter Tuesday Night Marathon after defeating Expert Steven Gaffagan last night. The former member of the Mongolian Olympiad team has 4½ points from 5 games with three rounds to go.

Eight players are a half point back, lead by NM Russell Wong.

From round 5 of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Poling–Weiss after 16...Bc5)White to move (Frank–Cowgill after 14...b5)
Black to move (Toziopolous–Simpkins after 7 fxe4)White to move (Ross–Cole after 32...Qc8)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 5.

Hi everyone,

If you have not yet done so, mark your calendars—The big annual Ray Schutz Memorial Blitz is scheduled for Sunday May 4, 2014.

The new Swiss format will now be made permanent in the Wednesday Night Blitz.

Last week, we had nine players, and the results were

1st - Arthur Ismakov
2nd - Jules Jelinek
3rd - Gady Costeff and Chinguun Bayaraa

Jules Jelinek
Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator

The 14th Henry Gross Memorial G/45 held on February 1 saw an excellent 60-player turnout for the five-round Swiss. Newcomer FM James Critelli, recently settled in San Francisco, had an outstanding debut, making a perfect score including this last round victory over IM Ricardo DeGuzman who was trailing by half a point, having been nicked for a draw in round four by NM Paul Gallegos.

Sicilian Paulsen B43
James Critelli (2354)–Ricardo De Guzman (2482)
Henry Gross Memorial (5) 2014

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6 3.Nc3 e6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qc7 6.Bd3 Bc5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0–0 Nf6 9.Qe2 d6 10.f4 Nbd7 11.Bd2 0–0 12.a4 b6 13.Rae1 e5 14.g4 exf4 15.g5 Ne8

15...f3 16.Qxf3 Ne5 17.Qg3 also favors White.

16.Bxf4 Ne5 17.Nd5 Qd8 18.h4 g6 19.Be3 Rb8 20.Bxa6 Bh3 21.Rf4 Nc7 22.Nxe7+

This takes some of the pressure off Black. 22.Bb5 looks more precise.

22...Qxe7 23.Nd4 Ne6? 24.Nxe6 fxe6 25.Kh1 Rxf4 26.Bxf4 Bg4 27.Qe3 Nf3 28.Rf1 e5 29.Bc4+ Kh8 30.Bg3 d5 31.exd5 Re8 32.Rxf3 Bxf3+ 33.Qxf3 h6 34.Qf6+ Kh7 35.Qxe7+ Rxe7 36.d6 1–0

Tying for second at 4½ points were FM Henning Silber (win over Gallegos in round 5) and 13-year-old Master Siddarth Banik (win over Expert Jamieson Pryor). Howard Shan, who tied for the under-1800 prize, had an excellent result, drawing FM Silber and defeating Expert Jerome Sun. The top rating-gainer was Aaron Thompson, who picked up roughly 80 rating points in winning the top under-1400 prize with a 3-2 score.

Wednesday Night Blitz winners:

January 8 - 1st Gady Costeff; 2nd IM Vladimir Mezentsev; 3rd Jules Jelinek
January 15 – 1st IM Odondoo Gandolo; 2nd Jules Jelinek; 3rd Hans Niemann and IM Elliott Winslow
January 22 – 1st Arthur Ismakov; 2nd Gady Costeff; 3rd Jules Jelinek
January 29 - 1st Arthur Ismakov; 2nd Jules Jelinek; 3rd Gady Costeff and Chinguun Bayaraa

2) John Grefe (1947-2013) Part 4

Grandmaster James Tarjan remembers John Grefe

In those early 1970s that Jeremy Silman recalls, Dennis Fritzinger and I had rooms in a house a few blocks from Dennis Waterman and Grefe. We were all part of a remarkable chess scene. This was long before the Internet and computers in chess, and it mattered a great deal to have other strong players around, at least if you wanted to get really good. Otherwise chess becomes just a fantasy game: you can play this way or that way, it doesn’t matter, unless you have an opponent who can show you otherwise.

Grefe and I spent a lot of time together studying chess and playing blitz. Of course there were quite a number of other strong players we sparred with as well, Julio Kaplan for one. Walter Browne moved to Berkeley around that time. I wouldn’t say Grefe and I were friends; more friendly rivals, and mutual training partners. We got along fine, and ran in some of the same crowds. He was unmistakably unique, Mr. Grefe.

Trevor Hay was a young Australian chess master whom Dennis Fritzinger and I met one night at the weekly Mechanics blitz tournament. Fritz and I invited him to stay with us, and he did. He was on the first leg of a planned world trip: from Australia to San Francisco, to New York, and then to Europe, I believe to play for Australia in the Chess Olympics. As I recall, one thing led to another, Berkeley and San Francisco had their charms then as they do now. And there was that great chess scene happening. Trevor never made it past California; eventually he turned around and headed back home to Australia.

But that’s another story, and Jeremy is so much better at telling stories. I bring up Trevor only because of something he said to me one day. I don’t remember the exact words, but I can readily paraphrase. The message was completely clear.

Trevor was similarly spending his time with the various chessmasters around town.  And one day, completely out of the blue, Trevor looked me dead in the eye and said:

“Jim, you are not bad.  But Grefe, he is a strong chessmaster.

My fellow chess players will understand that I was rather taken aback by this… after all, I was a talented young player, and had already by then quite a decent resume of chess accomplishments, though both Grefe and I were basically still young and untested.  But certainly I could not entirely agree with Trevor’s sentiments … and to think, he was crashing at my place, not at Grefe’s and Waterman’s!  Some kind of loyalty!  But, OK, everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Shortly thereafter, Grefe and I were both invited to the 1973 US Championship in El Paso, Texas, the strongest and most notable event for either of us up to then, though the Lone Pine events had just begun.  Except for Fischer, almost all the famous New Yorkers would participate, who had been at the top of US chess since the 1940s.  Trevor must have been one of the very few who was not astonished at the result:

1st-2nd Grefe and Kavalek
3rd Browne
4th Tarjan

Editor – Two of the famous chess hangouts of the Berkeley/Oakland chess scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s were Hardcastles (2516 Telegraph) and The Loft (5422 College). John Grefe lived at 2206 Haste (apt. 19) while working on the Lone Pine 1972 tournament book he wrote with Dennis Waterman, assisted by others, including Dennis Fritzinger.

The following game is a good example of John Grefe’s excellent tactical feel.

Philidor C41
Grefe,John A–Najdorf,Miguel
Lone Pine 1976 (5)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Qe2 c6 8.a4 Qc7 9.h3 exd4 0.Nxd4 Re8 11.Bf4 Ne5 12.Bb3 Nfd7 13.Rad1 Bf8 14.Bc1 Nc5 15.Ba2 d5?!

15...Bd7 was more solid.

16.f4 Ned7 17.e5 Nb6 18.a5 Nbd7

19.Qh5 Ne6 20.Nf5 Qxa5 21.Rf3 Nb6 22.Rg3 g6 23.Qh4 Na4?

24.Rxd5!! Qb6+

Accepting the gift is not advised. One main line is 24...cxd5 25.Nxd5 Bg7 26.Nf6+ Bxf6 27.Nh6+ Kf8 28.Qxf6 Qc7 29.Bd2 a5 30.f5 Ng7 31.fxg6 hxg6 32.Rxg6 Qb6+ 33.Qxb6 Nxb6 34.Rxb6 Ne6 35.Nf5 and White has a terrific bind on Black’s position.


25.Rd4 was correct as 25…Nxd4?? is met by 26.Bxf7+! mating.

25... Qb4?

Black had to sacrifice his queen but the compensation for it looks very good after 25…Nxc3 26.Bxb6 Ne2+ 27.Kh2 axb6 when White has two rooks and a knight hanging. Now White has a very strong blow that effectively ends the game.

26.Rb5!! Nxc3 27.Rxb4 Ne2+ 28.Kh2 Nxg3 29.Qxg3 Bxb4 30.Nh6+ Kh8 31.f5! Nd8 32.fxg6! fxg6 33.Qf4 Bf8 34.Nf7+ Nxf7 35.Qxf7 Be6 36.Bxe6 Bg7 37.Bd4 Rad8 38.Bc3 b5 39.Bd7 Rf8 40.Qe7 1-0

3) Marshall Chess Club celebrates 100th birthday in 1915

The venerable Marshall Chess Club will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2015 and its continued existence is testament to the importance of a chess club owning its own home if it wants to survive. Its sister club, the Manhattan, was founded much earlier back in 1879, but forced to close its doors in 2002 after endless moves during its existence.

Today the Marshall is pretty much the only chess club in Manhattan. Go back forty years and there were over a half dozen other choices including:

Chess Shop 230 Thompson St.
Rossolimo’s Chess Studio , 191 Sullivan St off Bleecher
Shelby Lyman Chess Institute 349 Ave. of the Americas
Chess and Checker Club of Manhattan (aka The Flea House) 212 W. 42nd St.
The Game Room 143 W. 72nd

Places to play were not the only favorite spots of chess players dying off in NYC the past forty years. Specialized places to buy chess books are almost extinct in 2014. Back in the golden days of 1972 there was Walter Goldwater’s store and the Four Continents Bookshop, where Bobby Fischer bought his Soviet chess literature. Then of course there was the legendary Albrecht Buschke’s shop in the St. Dennis building at 80 E.11th (also 799 Broadway).

Go back a few years and the U.S. Chess Federation had its offices not only in the same building but on the sixth floor next to Buschke. Go forward to the late 1970s and the St. Denis housed two of the finest places to buy chess books in the United States, as Fred Wilson opened for business in suite #334. Buschke would retire not long after, but Wilson is still open for business more than thirty years later! Pay him a visit the next time you are in New York—his store is but a short walk from the Marshall—or visit him online at

4) Dan Mayers (1922-2014) by IM Anthony Saidy

I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Mayers in 2004 at the World Sr. Championship in Halle, Germany, where he had traveled alone to compete at 82. A unique personality who defined his philosophy as “hedonism.” He gave me a free class in the math of the stock market. As a teenager in NYC chess became his refuge. I later saw him at National Opens; I think last year too. He was a successful businessman and traveled the world at will. He once played at master strength in romantic style and claimed at least one GM scalp.

General Information:

Full Name Daniel Eric “Dan” Mayers
Date of Birth: Tuesday, September 19th, 1922
Date of Death: Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

5) Here and There

Magnus Carlsen played against Bill Gates in London on January 24th. The world champion checkmated the Microsoft founder in 9 moves. The time control was two minutes for Gates and 30 seconds for Carlsen.

Bill Gates–Magnus Carlsen
London 2014

1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bd3 Nf6 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nc3 Qh5 6.O-O Bg4 7.h3 Ne5 8.hxg4 Nfxg4 9.Nxe5 Qh2# 0-1

Congratulations to Bryan Smith, who became Alaska’s first Grandmaster last November. The 33-year-old gives hope to those who were not junior stars in their youth. Smith was only rated 2334 FIDE/2326 USCF in 2004 at age 24, but through hard work and persistence he kept improving and finally reached his goal.

Live Chess Ratings – top twenty:

This is how things looked before the start of the Zurich tournament at

1. Carlsen Norway 2872 0
2. Aronian Armenia 2825.7 +13.7
3. Kramnik Russia 2787 0
4. Topalov Bulgaria 2785 0
5. Caruana Italy 2780.5 -1.5
6. Grischuk Russia 2777 0
7. Nakamura USA 2776.3 -12.7
8. Anand India 2773 0
9. Karjakin Russia 2766.3 +7.3
10. Gelfand Israel 2761.4 -15.6
11. Svidler Russia 2758 0
12. Dominguez Cuba 2757.1 +3.1
13. Mamedyarov Azerbaijan 2757 0
14. Adams England 2754 0
15. Giri Netherlands 2745.5 +11.5
16. Vachier-Lagrave France 2745 0
17. Ivanchuk Ukraine 2739 0
18. Bacrot France 2738 0
19. So Philippines 2737.7 +18.7
20. Vitiugov Russia 2737 0

On January 21 New York Times columnist Dylan Loeb McClain wrote an article called “Kasparov’s Moves in Run for Chess Office Raise Ethical Concerns”. It claims the following: “Kasparov and Leong negotiated a deal in which Ignatius Leong would help Kasparov’s presidential run in exchange for $500,000, according to a draft contract reviewed by The New York Times. Kasparov also agreed, after his election, to open a new federation office in Singapore, to be run by Leong, for which he would be paid an undisclosed amount.”

The following game, rediscovered in an old New York state federation magazine by Andy Ansel, features an interesting opening transposition.

French C06
Andrew Soltis–Michael Bradford
Bermuda op, 1983

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6

This starts out as the Guimard variation of Tarrasch French but soon transposes into a pet gambit line of Soltis that usually is arrived at via 3…Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 Qb6 8.0-0 cxd4 (or 8…Be7 9.Re1) 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Qxd4 11.Nf3.

4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.Bd3 Nb4 7.Be2 c5 8.c3 Nc6 9.0–0 Be7 10.Re1 Qb6 11.Bd3 cxd4 12.cxd4 Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.Nf3 Qg4 15.h3 Qh5 16.Kh2 f5 17.exf6 Bd6+ 18.Kg1 Nxf6 19.Qa4+ Bd7 20.Rxe6+ Kf7 21.Rxf6+ Kxf6 22.Qxd7 Rhd8 23.Qxb7 h6 24.Be3 Be5 25.Qc6+ Kf7 26.Bg6+ 1–0

source: Open Lines, Spring 1983, page 9.

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