Chess Room Newsletter #669 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #669

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #669
May 30, 2014

On continuing to learn: I still feel that I’m picking up little things all the time. I’m learning how to evaluate positions differently from what I used to—different material imbalances and so on. For me, it really comes with the experience of playing, of training. I don’t know. I never really know exactly what’s going to come of it. But something good usually happens.

—Magnus Carlsen

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

Congratulations to Grandmasters Daniel Naroditsky and Sam Shankland and National Master Ashritha Eswaran, who played well in the US Championship and US Womens Championship this May. Daniel and Sam shared fourth place in the 12-player US Championship with scores of 6–5, while 13-year-old Ashritha scored a very respectable 3½ from 9 in her US Womens Championship debut.

The Summer Tuesday Night Marathon started on May 27th. It is still possible to enter the eight-round event with a half-point bye for round one.

Sadly, Tom Allen, who has played 15 consecutive years of Tuesday Night Marathons (75 tournaments and over 600 games!), will miss this one.

From round 1 of the SummerTNM Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Lee–Cohee after 16...Rg8)White to move (Fomin–McKellar after 24...Rd7)
White to move (Reyes–Maser after 13...Ng6)White to move (Reyes–Maser after 14...Bb6)
White to move (Reyes–Maser after 16...h6)White to move (Schlosberg–Nyangar after 16...dxe5)
White to move (Otterbach–Yamamoto after 11...c5)White to move (Otterbach–Yamamoto after 28...Rxe6)
White to move (Uzzaman–Oyuntseren after 11...Ne7)For the solutions, see the game scores (when available) for round 1.

Jules Jelinek, Wednesday Night Blitz Director, reports on events held May 7, 14 and 21.

These were the last Wednesday Night Blitz tournaments before summer break. Then the Wednesday Night Blitz will resume on September 3.

May 7 (12 players)
1st  – Hans Niemann 10 pts
2nd – Arthur Ismakov 9 pts
3rd - Jules Jelinek 8-1/2 pts

May 14 (8 players)
1st  – IM Ray Kaufman 10½ pts
2nd – Hans Niemann 8½ pts
3rd - Jules Jelinek 8 pts

May 21 (10 players)

1st Jules Jelinek
2nd IM Elliott Winslow
=3rd David Flores and Hans Niemann

2) Kamsky, Krush Repeat as U.S. Chess Champions, by Brian Jerauld

You were expecting someone else?

The tight drama of the 2014 U.S. Championships turned out to be all for show. Several of the nation’s top 22 players took turns stealing headlines and taking their shots at the top, but when the dust of the near two-week long fight cleared, the two champions left standing were the same two champions as before.

Grandmaster Gata Kamsky has repeated as the U.S. Chess Champion, his fifth time holding the title, after defeating GM Varuzhan Akobian 1½-½ in a playoff on Tuesday evening. As well, GM Irina Krush turned in a three-peat as the U.S. Women’s Champion, her sixth year as title holder, after knocking out WGM Tatev Abrahamyan 1½-½ in their own playoff on Tuesday. Though both champions admit struggling with the 2014 fields, Kamsky and Krush were the only players to finish undefeated.

“It has been a tough tournament for me, I can feel all these guys: They have been preparing and playing really well,” Kamsky said of his 11 challengers. ”Of course, there were a lot of blunders because they wanted to win, but that made everything very competitive. It was nice to win this event

Kamsky was fortunate to even be playing chess in Tuesday’s playoff, after struggling to tally decisions for the entire tournament. With only three wins across 11 rounds, a scattering of uninspired draws left even Kamsky himself predicting a new national champion in the tournament’s early going.

But Akobian and GM Aleksandr Lenderman, tied in first place entering the final round, fought each other to a draw, when a win would have earned the title outright. It opened up the extra playoff day, which turned out to be a three-way playoff, as Kamsky finally caught pace with a final-round win over Josh Friedel on Monday. It was the first time all tournament Kamsky had appeared on the top of the leaderboard.

“I felt (the three-way playoff) was really exciting, it was really good for me,” Kamsky said. “Considering the game (Monday) that they played where Akobian could have won, I feel very lucky.”

Krush also left her sixth title in doubt, falling sick mid-event and suffering through a stretch of draws that left her a full point behind the leader with two rounds to go. But she caught pace with a win over rival IM Anna Zatonskih in round 8, then was fortunate that another draw in the final round was good enough to keep her up top—though not alone. The women’s competition also featured a three-way playoff.

Krush admitted the national championship is never easy, despite her consistent results.

“All of these championships are hard—it’s not like what people think ‘oh, she wins every year’,” Krush said. “But the thing is, they are always difficult. Maybe last year was my smoothest victory, but a year before that I had a playoff with Anna (Zatonskih), and now I had a playoff with Tatev.

“But this one was definitely hard; I felt like I had one obstacle after another. The fact that I had a mild fever in the middle of the tournament, and then I was drawing these games and found myself so far behind Anna—it just felt like so many obstacles. It’s like: Where is the sun? Where is it? I couldn’t see it.”

Tuesday’s three-way playoff first began with a single Armageddon match designed to knock one player from each race. Kamsky and Krush had earned advantage due to tiebreaks, setting up Akobian and Lenderman, as well as Abrahamyan and Zatonskih, to square off in an Armageddon game. In the specialized match, the player with the black pieces receives draw-odds and only has to avoid losing to advance. Abrahamyan had black and knocked out Zatonskih with a perpetual check; Akobian passed over his draw odds and just brought Lenderman down by checkmate.

It set up the finals, which was two rapid games—25 minutes with a 5-second-per-move increment—to declare the champion. Akobian drew the first game with the white pieces, while Kamsky won in the second game as white. In the women’s final, Krush took the full point in her first game as white, then played Abrahamyan to a draw in the second game.

“One thing I know is that in a rapid game you need good nerves and a fresh mind,” Krush said. “It’s not really decided by opening preparation.”

3) Linkletter-Falconer, San Francisco 1941

Here is an event-filled encounter played by the 18-year-old Neil Falconer only a few years after learning the game.

Ruy Lopez C71
Charles Linkletter–Neil Falconer
Mechanics’ Institute–UC Berkeley 1941

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.d4 b5 6.Bb3 Nxd4 7.Nxd4 exd4 8.Bd5 Rb8 9.Qxd4 Nf6 10.Bg5 Be7 11.0–0?

White had to play 11.Bc6+ Bd7 12.Bxd7+ Qxd7 13.0–0 with equal chances.

11...Nxd5 12.Qxg7 Rf8

12...Kd7! would have cast doubt on White’s sacrifice.

13.exd5 Bxg5 14.Re1+ Be7 15.Nc3 Bf5 16.Qg5 Bg6 17.h4 Kd7 18.Qg4+ f5 19.Qe2 Qe8 20.Qf3 Qf7 21.Qf4 Bh5 22.Re6 Rg8 23.Rae1 Rbe8 24.a4 Rg4 25.Qh2 b4 26.Na2 Rxh4 27.Qg3 f4??

Black has played well to this point but here he misses the pretty 27...Be2! 28.R1xe2 Qh5 29.f3 Rh1+ 30.Kf2 Bh4 or the prosaic 27...Rd4. Black should win in both cases.

28.Qd3! Qg7 29.Qxa6??

29.Qf5! Kd8 30.Nxb4 Qxg2+ 31.Kxg2 Rg8+ 32.Rg6 Rxg6+ 33.Qxg6 Bxg6 34.Nc6+ and White recovers his material and remains with a small advantage.

29...Qxg2+! 0–1

4) Queens Chess Club turns 100

The Queens Chess Club, and not the Marshall, is the oldest in New York City. The latter celebrates its 100-year anniversary in 2015, but the Queens CC has it centenary this year. You can learn about the QCC’s history at

The Queens Chess Club, with Edward Frumkin as club president, is still quite active, as can be seen at

The oldest continuously-active chess clubs in the United States are

1. Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club of San Francisco (1855 to present)
2. Franklin-Mercantile Chess Club of Philadelphia (1885 to present) The Franklin Club started in 1885 and the Mercantile in 1896. The two clubs merged in 1955.
3. Portland (Oregon) Chess Club (1911 to present)
4. Queen’s Chess Club (NYC) (1914 to present)
5. Marshall Chess Club (NYC) (1915 to present)

“Continuously active” can be a tricky term. The Mechanics’ and Marshall have been very fortunate to own their meeting places (witness the Manhattan). The Seattle Chess Club was founded in 1879, but it is difficult to track its activities. It has moved over a dozen times in its existence, and there are questions of whether its operations have been continuous. The SCC played a cable match with San Francisco in 1899.

There are possibly other clubs that go back 100 years and we would be interested in hearing about them.

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