Chess Room Newsletter #664 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #664

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #664
April 11, 2014

On not having an idol:

“I really liked the games of [Vladimir] Kramnik when I was young. I got a book of his games when I was about 11, and I really learned a lot from those games. And I learned from many others as well, but it was really not in my — it’s never really been my style, according to my philosophy, to idolize players, to try to copy them. I just try to learn and get the best from the great masters, contemporary and from the past. It’s like that for me in everything. I don’t really idolize people too much, but I try to learn from what they do.”

—Magnus Carlsen, Jan. 16, 2014, during a Churchill Club talk
with Peter Thiel at the Computer History Museum
in Mountain View, California

The 14th Imre Konig Memorial G/45 will be held at the MI this Saturday.

1) Mechanics’s Institute Chess Club News

Five players remain with perfect score after three rounds of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon. Heading the 85-player field are IM Elliott Winslow, FM Frank Thornally, NMs Hayk Manvelyan and Natalya Tsodikova and expert Uyanga Byambaa. It is still possible to enter the eight-round event with half point byes for rounds 1–3.

From round 4 of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Winslow–Byambaa after 19 Qd3)White to move (Winslow–Byambaa after 21...Nf5)
Black to move (Winslow–Byambaa after 28 Ncd1)Black to move (Winslow–Byambaa after 30 Nge3)
White to move (Potharum–Fuentes after 12...e6)Black to move (Hakobyan–Ostrovsky after 34 Kc2)
White to move (Allen–Sherwood after 27...Qe7)White to move (Allen–Sherwood after 34...Nf6)
White to move (Krasnov–Bertot after 22...Ne7)White to move (Askin–Vichik after 19...Rd8)
Black to move (McKellar–Furukawa after 35 Nxd5)White to move (Gandhi–Otterbach after 16...Rd8)
White to move (Gandhi–Otterbach after 37...Kg7)For solutions, see the game scores for round 4.

Former US Champion Alex Onischuk will be giving a free lecture at the Mechanics’ on Tuesday, April 15 from 5:15 to 6:15 pm.

Onischuk will be playing in the Larry Evans Memorial (April 18-20) in Reno, which looks to be especially strong this year with GM Timur Gareev also competing. This will be the final tune-up for the number third- and fourth-rated players in the US, who will be competing in the US Championship from May 8 to 20. This will be the sixth consecutive year the event will be held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

The US Chess School will be holding a session for top-rated juniors at the Mechanics’ Institute starting next Monday and running through Thursday. Among those attending the camp, which is being organized by US Chess School head honcho Greg Shahade and taught by fellow IM John Bartholomew, are Bay Area youngsters Cameron Wheeler, Kesav Vishwanadha and Vignesh Panchanatham—all of whom are under 16 and rated over 2300.

Thanks to Arthur Dembling for his generous donation of over 200 chess books to the Mechanics’ Institute.

Book and equipment donations to the Mechanics’ Institute are always welcome. All donations to the Mechanics’ are tax deductible, due to the M.I.’s 501(c)(3) non-profit status. If you have any chess books or equipment that have been lying around unused for some time, consider donating to the Mechanics’. You will not only get a tax write-off, but also the satisfaction of seeing things put to good use.

Jules Jelinek, Wednesday Night Blitz Director reports that the event on April 2 was small but strong, with 2 IMs among the players competing.

1st/2nd - IM Ray Kaufman and Arthur Ismakov 10/14

3rd - IM Vladimir Mezentsev 9.5

2) Emanuel Lasker at the M.I.

In Newsletter #650 we covered World Champion Emanuel Lasker’s visit to San Francisco. Here are two more games played by the great champion.

Giuoco Piano C54
Emanuel Lasker–A.J. Kuh
San Francisco (simul), December 28, 1902

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.b4 Bb6 7.a4 a6 8.Qb3 0–0 9.Bg5 Qe7 10.Nbd2 Nd8 11.Nf1 Be6 12.Ng3 h6 13.Bh4? g5 14.Nxg5 Bxf2+ 15.Kxf2 Ng4+?

15...hxg5 is stronger.


16.Kf3 hxg5 17.Nf5 kept White in the game.

16...hxg5 17.Bxe6 fxe6 18.Nf5 Rxf5 19.exf5 gxh4 20.fxe6 Qxe6



21.Qxe6+ Nxe6 22.Kd2


21...Qf5 22.Qe2 Ne6

22.h3 Qg6 23.Qe2 Qg3+ 24.Kd2 Nd5 25.Kc2 Nf4 26.Qd2 Nde6 27.Raf1 Ng5

27...a5 28.b5 Qg6 29.Rf3 Nc5 30.Rd1 Rf8 followed by ...Qxg2 is decisive.

28.Rhg1 Rf8 29.a5 Nfe6 30.Rxf8+ Nxf8 31.d4 Nfe6


32.Qe2 Nf4 33.Qc4+ Nge6 34.d5 Qf2+ 35.Kb3 Nc5+ 36.bxc5 Qxg1 37.cxd6 Qb1+ 38.Ka3 Qa1+ 39.Kb3 Qd1+ 40.Ka3 cxd6 41.Qc8+ Kg7 42.Qd7+ Kh6 43.Qxd6+ Ng6 44.Qe6 Qa1+ 45.Kb3 Qxa5 46.d6 Qb6+ 47.Kc2 a5 48.Qd5 a4? 49.d7 Qb3+?? 50.Qxb3 1–0

Source - San Francisco Chronicle January 11, 1903.

King’s Gambit C30
Emmanuel Lasker–G.P. Woodward
San Francisco (simul), December 12, 1902

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5 3.Nf3 Nc6?


4.fxe5 a6? 5.d4?


5...Nxd4! 6.Nxd4?


6...Qh4+ 7.Ke2 Qxe4+

7...Qg4+! wins back the piece, as 8.Nf3 Qxe4+ leads to mate.

8.Be3 d6 9.Qd3 Qxe5 10.Nc3 Nf6 11.Kd2 0–0 12.Be2 Bd7 13.Nf3 Qe6 14.Bxc5 dxc5 15.Rae1 Qb6 16.Kc1 Be6 17.Ng5 c6 18.Rd1 Qa7 19.Bf3 Bd5 20.Kb1 Rad8 21.Bxd5 cxd5 22.Qf3 d4 23.Ne2 b6 24.Ng3 h6 25.N5e4 Nd5 26.Rhf1 Ne3 27.Ne2 f5 28.N4g3 Qf7 29.Rc1 g5 30.Rfe1 Rde8 31.Nf1 f4 32.Nxe3 dxe3 33.Qh3 h5 34.Rcd1 g4 35.Qh4 Qc4 36.Ka1 Re4 37.Ng3 1–0

Source - San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 1903.

3) The Enigma of Chess Intuition by Valeri Beim
      reviewed by IM John Donaldson

One example from The Enigma of Chess Intuition that attracted this reviewer’s eye was the following classic in which the patriarch of the Soviet school of chess gave a lesson in the finer points of chess strategy to his opponent. This game has often been given as an example of positional understanding trumping the brute-force style of calculating play so popular today. One gains the impression reading Botvinnik’s notes that he did little calculating at the board, that the major deciders in the game were his decisions to trade certain pieces and keep others on the board—things that would have been very difficult to figure out by calculation.

Beim quotes Botvinnik’s most instructive comments and agrees with his evaluations of the key positions, but this reviewer has often wondered if the game was actually a little more complicated than presented. That Botvinnik outplayed Donner and had an advantage is without question, but a small edge and winning are two different things.

Michael Stean, in his classic little book Positional Chess, hinted that things might not be so simple, and that at move 20 Black had a substantial way to improve his play. Stean ends his impressive, pre-computer, analysis with the conclusion that White can maintain his initiative with precise play. This might be true, but converting this into something more substantial is not easy and in fact might not be possible.

None of this takes anything away from this game or Beim’s instructive notes (his suggestion to study Botvinnik’s annotations to his games might strike some as old-fashioned, but they would be wrong. The comments he makes are gold, and the fact that Botvinnik was much stronger than most of his opponents enabled him to realize his plans in a clear fashion that is seldom seen these days at the top level).

Notes by Beim are without quotation marks.

Reti A14
Mikhail Botvinnik–Jan Hein Donner
Amsterdam 1963

Annotations by Botvinnik, Beim, Stean and Houdini 4

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0–0 0–0 6.b3 b6 7.Bb2 Bb7 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.d4 c5 10.dxc5 Bxc5 11.Nbd2 Nd7 12.a3 N5f6 13.b4 Be7

The further course of this game involves looking at a relatively small number of simple variations. The main difficulty in the search for the right continuation is understanding the characteristics of the position and its requirements. In other words, here we are dealing with a situation in which judgment factors will for some time be more important than the calculation of variations.

One of the strongest aspects of the sixth world champion, Mikhail Moiseevich Botvinnik, was his colossal depth of positional understanding, which he willingly shared with others, through his annotations of his games. I will make full use of these, quoting his notes (in inverted commas) to those moments of the game that are most important for us.


‘The exchange of light-squared bishops ....turns out in White’s favor, since the square c6 is weakened and will be more easily seized’.

14...Bxg2 15.Kxg2 Qc7 16.Qb3! Rfc8 17.Rfc1 Qb7+ 18.Qf3 Nd5

In the event of the queen exchange Botvinnik gives the variation 18...Qxf3+ 19.N2xf3 Kf8 20.Nc6 Rc7 21.Rc2 Rac8 22.Rac1 with strong pressure.

Even so, it was wrong to avoid the exchange of queens. The middlegame turns out to be lost, principally because of the highly unfortunate position of the black queen.

Interestingly Michael Stean in his outstanding little book Simple Chess gives 18...Nd5! “A clever defensive maneuver designed to defend the c6 square by blocking the long diagonal”.

19.e4 N5f6 20.b5!

White gives his opponent the c5-square, in order to seize the square c6, assessing this as a more important factor, and in the following he will be proved correct.

Stean writes: The struggle is reaching a critical point. Botvinnik has completed his preparations for Nc6, so the question arises: Can Black engineer enough exchanges to nullify the smothering effect of Nc6? Let us look at some tries:


(1) 20...Rxc1 21.Rxc1 Rc8 22.Nc6 Bc5 or (22...Bf8 is precisely the kind of thing Black is trying to avoid. White can follow-up with 23.Nc4 and 24.Rd1, the advanced knight rendering Black helpless against the build-up on the d-file.

(2) 20...Ne5! 21.Qe2 Rxc1 22.Rxc1 Rc8 23.Rxc8+ Qxc8 24.f4 Ned7 25.Nc6 Bf8 , when grabbing a pawn with 26.Nxa7 would be reckless on account of 26...Qc2! Instead 27.Nc4 maintains White’s initiative, but the total exchange of rooks has eased the defense a little.

(Reviewer) - This begs the question how much is White’s initiative worth after 26.Nc4:

Analyzing with Houdini 4 the answer is not much. For example 26...a6 (getting rid of a potential target on a7) 27.a4 Qc7 (stopping the space gaining g3-g4-g5) and it’s not readily apparent how to proceed. If 26.g4 Black has 26...Nb8 27.g5 Nfd7 and White’s knight on c6 is forced out while Black is looking to make use of the c5 square.

Maybe there is a way to keep a small edge for White but Black has no easy targets and the many exchanges of pieces and pawns have diminished White’s space advantage.

In the game Donner tries a different approach which involves exchanging all the rooks on the a-file, but is surprised by White’s 25th move.

21.Nc6 Bf8 22.a4 axb5 23.axb5 Rxa1 24.Rxa1 Ra8 25.Rd1!

‘The decisive move of the game. The lone rook on the a-file is not dangerous, whilst on the d-file, the white rook, in contact with his other pieces, will play the main role.’

Here, I want to make a small digression, and advise all those who wish to improve their positional play to work more with Botvinnik’s games, with his own notes. The small extract just quoted excellently illustrates the correctness of this advice. In two short sentences, the whole essence of the position is summarized. True, just one reading of his comments is not enough. One must read very attentively, sometimes several times, and think very deeply about it. But the benefits of such work can be enormous.

25...Ne8 26.Nc4 Nc5 27.e5 Rc8

27...Nc7? loses at once: 28.Rd7 Nxd7 29.Ne7+; 27...h6 28.Ba3 Kh8 (28...Qc7 29.Ne7+) 29.Bxc5 Bxc5 30.Nd6 Bxd6 31.exd6 Qd7 32.Ne5

28.Ra1! Rc7

Black is killed by the opposition of the queens: 28...Ra8 29.Rxa8 Qxa8 30.Ne7+. 28...Ra8 29.Rxa8 Qxa8 30.Ne7+

30.Nxa7 Rxa7 31.Nxb6 1-0

There is no hope.

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