Chess Room Newsletter #685 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #685

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanic’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #685
October 3, 2014

By creating an illusion of action and struggle, chess reduces the professional player’s mind to an uncritical, unvaluing passivity toward life. Chess removes the motor of intellectual effort—the question “What for?”—and leaves a somewhat frightening phenomenon: intellectual effort devoid of purpose.

—Ayn Rand, in “An Open Letter to Boris Spassky, 1974”,
from Philosophy: Who Needs It?, 1984

The Mechanics’ will be hosting the J.J. Dolan G/45 this Saturday starting at 10 am.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

FIDE Master Andy Lee made it three TNM wins in a row, as he won the Jay Whitehead Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon Tuesday evening. The Berkeley resident, who teaches at Alameda High School, defeated Expert Pranav Nagarajan to finish with a score of 8–1, good for $600. Lee took two half-point byes, and the seven games he won raised his USCF rating to 2386.

Tying for second at 7–2 in the 90-player event were International Master Elliott Winslow and Expert Steven Gaffagan, who took home $300 apiece. National Master Romy Fuentes and Nagarajan shared 4th and 5th at 6½.

The top rating point gainer in the event was Bryan Hood, who picked up a whopping 152 points, almost moving up an entire rating class. Other fine performances were turned in by Tom Allen (+108), Sebastian Poler (+95), James Paquette (+80), David Eytan (+69) and Shree Ayinala (+57).

The eight-round Fall Tuesday Night Marathon begins on October 16, and runs to December 16, with a break on November 11 to observe Veterans Day. The event will be both USCF- and FIDE-rated. You can register on-line.

From round 9 of the Whitehead Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Nagarajan–Lee after 31 Kf1)Black to move (Newey–Allen after 6 Nxe5)
White to move (Lamstein–Yamamoto after 24...Bb3)For the solutions, see the game scores (when available) for round 9.

The Mechanics’ Institute entry in the US Chess League continued its winning ways last night, defeating the Arizona Scorpions 3–1. The team is now a half a game out of first place in the Western Division.

All-time series record: (San Francisco leads 4½–3½)

Time Control: Game in 75 with 30-second increment

San Francisco Mechanics (3–2) vs Arizona Scorpions (2½–2½)
San Francisco Mechanics           Arizona Scorpions
GM Jesse Kraai: 2589 ½ ½ GM Mackenzie Molner: 2581
FM Yian Liou: 2475 1 0 FM Joel Banawa: 2454
FM Cameron Wheeler: 2368 ½ ½ IM Mark Ginsburg: 2397
NM Siddharth Banik: 2236 1 0 WFM Amanda Mateer: 2113
Average Rating: 2417 Average Rating: 2386
San Francisco Total 3 1 Arizona Total

Western Division

Team W       L       Game Points           Opps Avg Rating
Dallas 16/24 (66%) 2400
Rio Grande 13½/24 (56%) 2389
San Francisco     4 2 13½/24 (56%) 2382
Seattle 12/24 (50%) 2388
Arizona 10½/24 (43%) 2418
Los Angeles 2 4 10/24 (41%) 2404

Congratulations to Rayan Tagizadeh and Vignesh Panchanatham for their outstanding performances in the 2014 World Youth Championships, held September 20–29 in Durban, South Africa. Rayan finished in a four-way tie for first place in the Boys under 12 section with 8½ points from 11, taking the bronze medal on tiebreak, as well as 111 FIDE rating points.

Vignesh tied for fourth (fifth on tiebreak) in the Boys under 14, scoring eight out of eleven, including five points in his last six games. This result raises his FIDE rating from 2276 to 2299.

11-year-old Hans Niemann, competing in his first international event, scored a respectable 6 from 11 in the Boys under 12.

Mechanics’ Grandmaster-in-Residence Nick de Firmian was one of the American coaches for the event.

Grandmaster Vinay Bhat returned to the tournament arena after a break of several years, and tied for fourth in the Durban Open held concurrently with the World Youth. The 30-year-old Bhat of San Francisco, long a mainstay for the Mechanics’ entry in the US Chess League, scored an undefeated 7½ from 11 to tie for fourth in the event (won by Italian GM Sabino Brunello) and picked up eight FIDE rating points.

Santa Cruz Grandmaster James Tarjan will be competing in the PokerStars Isle of Man International Chess Tournament which starts Saturday, October 4. The nine-round event is exceptionally strong, with three players +2700 (Vachier-Lagrave, Adams and Fressinet) and another eight players over 2600. Tarjan, who recently returned to the tournament arena after a 30-year break to tie for seventh in the 2014 US Open, is seeded 17th in the 78-player field at 2525 FIDE.

The US G/60 and G/60 Championships were held by Bay Area Chess last weekend in Santa Clara. The 32-player top section of the G/60 on Saturday was exceptionally strong, with Grandmasters Ioan Christain Chirila, Andrey Goreovets and Enrico Sevillano taking top honors with 3½/4. Just behind them with three points was Parmarjan Negi, first board of the Indian team that won the bronze medals in the 2014 Chess Olympiad, and 14-yearold Siddarth Banik, who has played exceptionally well for the Mechanics’ in the US Chess League.

Gorovets won the G/30 the next day with impressive 5-0 score defeating Chirila, Sevillano and IM John Bryant to win the 32-player top section. International Master Faik Aleskerov and Senior Master Arun Sharma shared second and third with four points.

The two events, directed by John McCumiskey and Tom Langland, drew well, with 230 participants for the G/60 and another 185 for the G/30.

MI Blitz News

Hi everyone,

It’s Wednesday, and that means blitz chess; the Wednesday Night Blitz at Mechanics’ Institute at 6:40 pm. Signup starts at 6:20 pm.

At the Wednesday night blitz last week, we had seven players; the results were

1st – Jules Jelinek
2nd–4th – IM Elliott Winslow, Jack Zhu and Tenzing Shaw

Jules Jelinek
Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator

English chess columnist Leonard Barden, writing in the Financial Times shortly after the Tromso Olympiad (August 16–17, 2014) had the following to say about the event:

China has been the main positive story, as its bold policy to include players aged 20 and 15 paid off with a string of victories.”….

“The Western challenge in the rest of this decade will almost certainly be headed by the United States, which won most Olympiads until the USSR came along.
The US has successfully developed young talent, and its reserve player Samuel Shankland, 22, won seven games in a row.”

2) Mystery Solved - Alekhine-Rubinstein, San Remo 1930

International Master Nikolay Minev and I asked in The Life and Games of Akiva Rubinstein: The Later Years (v. 2) if a game score inaccuracy was responsible for the opening double blunder in the following famous game.

Queen’s Gambit Declined D65
Alexander Alekhine–Akiva Rubinstein
San Remo 1930

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 Be7 6.Nc3 0–0 7.Rc1 Re8

Rubinstein had fallen into a slightly different version of the trap two years before: 7...c6 8.Bd3 a6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.0–0 Re8 11.Qb3 h6?! 12.Bf4 Nh5? 13.Nxd5 and …1-0 in Euwe-Rubinstein, Bad Kissingen 1928.

8.Qc2 a6 9.cxd5 exd5 10.Bd3 c6 11.0–0 Ne4?

11...Nf8 was required


12.Bxe4 won a pawn.

12...f5? 13.Nxd5 and later 1–0.

International Master Bernard Zuckerman points out the answer is to be found in Alexander Alekhine’s annotations to the following game, number 91 in My Best Games of Chess 1924–1937.

Ruy Lopez C86
Alexander Alekhine–Theodore Tylor
Margate 1937

Notes by Alekhine

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Qe2 0–0?

A rather common error: White does not threaten anything at this moment (for instance 7. Bxc6 dxc6 8.Nxe5 Qd4 9.Nf3 Qxe4, etc. equalizing easily) so Black thinks he has time to castle—and forgets that precisely after this move White can win a pawn, the Bishop at e7 no longer being protected by the King! The correct move, of course, is 6...d6.


An exaggerated faith in the knowledge of my opponents was always the vulnerable point of my opening play: for instance, at San Remo, 1930, I did not take a Pawn on the tenth move which my opponent, Rubinstein, left en prise in an even more obvious way than in this game! It is quite obvious that 7.Bxc6 dxc6 8.Nxe5 could and should have been played since 8...Qd4. 9.Nf3 Qxe4? costs a piece after 10.Qxe4 followed by 11. Re1. The slight lead in development that Black would have obtained after, for instance, 8...Re8 9.d3 Bc5 10.Nf3 Bg4, would by no means compensate for the material loss. After the tame text-move well known positions will be reached.

Mystery solved!

3) A review of Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 1: 1949-1959 – The Magic of Youth

The late Val Zemitis was a great friend of the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club for over 50 years. His first book, The Unknown Tal, written with the assistance of Bob Burger and published by the California Chess Reporter, was the first work on the Wizard of Riga. It can be found in the Mechanics’ library, as can Mr. Zemitis’ magnum opus, a massive two-volume encyclopedia of Latvian chess players which proves its worth in adding important information to the following review.

Bobby Fischer is the most written-about world champion, with over a hundred titles devoted to his games, not to mention dozens of books on the 1972 match. Not surprisingly Garry Kasparov is a strong second, but number three might raise some eyebrows. It’s not Anatoly Karpov, but instead Mikhail Tal, with over two dozen titles to his name. This might make one question the need for more on the Wizard of Riga, but Hungarian International Master Tibor Karolyi’s new trilogy on the eighth world champion has been worth the wait.

Karolyi rightfully considers Tal’s classic The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal one of the greatest chess books ever written (his account of his first match with Botvinnik also ranks highly). That work takes Tal’s career to 1975, when the English-Swiss Grandmaster Joseph Gallagher takes over with The Magic of Mikhail Tal (Everyman Chess 2000), which does a fine job of covering the remaining years (1975-1992). So why another 1200 pages on a man who has been dead for 23 years?

Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 1: 1949-1959 – The Magic of Youth (Quality Chess 2014, 447 pages, figurine algebraic, paperback, $29.95 - this book is also available in hardback for about $8 more) provides the answer. This first volume of the trilogy traces the rise of Tal from a young junior player to his victory in the 1959 Candidates tournament. The 69 heavily annotated games starts with a simul win in 1949 over the legendary “central defender” of Soviet Chess (Grandmaster Ratmir Kholmov) and ends with a victory over Bobby Fischer in the penultimate round of the 1959 Candidates. Each game offers a nice mix of explanatory prose and key variations as needed. Karolyi uses strong modern engines to analyze the games, but stays in control and doesn’t let them take over. Two to three diagrams per page enable stronger and more ambitious readers to follow the action without a board.

Karolyi, who has made a name for himself with similar works on Kasparov, Karpov and Polgar, has not confined himself to annotating Tal’s games. He presents considerable biographical material, much of it new and made available thanks to his efforts in tracking down Tal’s opponents and asking them to share their memories.

One revelation is the emergence of Janis Kruzkops as Tal’s first trainer; previously Alexander Koblencs was the only coach associated with him. Karolyi goes so far as to track down a game of Kruzkops’ and speculate whether the aggressive intentions he showed in it are evidence that he might have helped influence the style of the young Tal.

These insights, though not directly connected to the games Tal played, help provide a more complete picture of the Wizard of Riga, who was one of the most popular world champions—not only for the liveliness of his play but also for his down-to-earth personality.

The next volume in the series will examine his short reign as World Champion and the third finishes with Tal’s death in 1992 shortly before the Manila Olympiad he was scheduled to play in. It will be interesting to see how Karolyi covers the gradual change in Tal’s style from carefree mad attacker to a more all-around player. The average fan remembers Tal for his sacrifices but as Karolyi points in his introduction to The Magic of Youth in 1972-73 the eighth world champion set a record for the longest unbeaten streak among top players in modern chess history, playing 86 games without a loss. Even more amazingly in 1973-74 he broke his own record, extending his mark to 95 games. Both streaks have yet to be broken.

Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 1 - The Magic of Youth, by Tibor Karolyi has many indexes for Tal’s opponents (both by game and page number), classification by theme, name and more. There is also a summary of Tal’s results and a record of his tournament successes. There is a striking photo of the young Tal on the cover, but otherwise no photos.

I give Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 1 - The Magic of Youth a strong positive recommendation. This is a book that can be enjoyed by readers over a wide rating spectrum and deserves a large audience.

A sample chapter from Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 1 - The Magic of Youth can be found at:

Karolyi understandably did not have access to the massive two-volume self-published Encyclopedia of Latvian Chessplayers, complied by the late Val Zemitis, which was never commercially available, although it can be found in the John G. White collection in Cleveland, the Royal Dutch Library in The Hague and the MV Anderson Chess Collection at the State Library of Victoria in Australia. Zemitis utilized not only the Latvian magazine Sahs, which started in 1959 and was later edited by Tal, but also its predecessor Sacha Turnira un Maci, which De Felice, in his book Chess Periodicals (McFarland 2010) lists as being published from 1951-1957 and available in Cleveland. This might possibly have more material on the young Tal.

The information on Tal’s first trainer, Janis Kruzkops, provided by Alberts Cimins, is similar to that found in Zemitis’ work and looks to have been published in an obituary for Kruzkops in the Latvian magazine Sahs in 1960. Zemitis provides the full game score.

Janis Kruzkops–Reinholds Balins
Riga 1945

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.h3 0–0 6.Be3 Nbd7 7.e5 Ne8 8.Bc4 Nb6 9.Bb3 d5 10.Qd2 c6 11.Bh6 f5 12.h4 Be6 13.h5 g5 14.Bxg5 Nc7 15.Qf4 Kf7 16.Bh6 Rg8 17.Ng5+ Ke8 18.Bxg7 Rxg7 19.Ne2 Bg8 20.h6 Rg6 21.Qxf5 e6

This is as far as the game goes in Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 1 - The Magic of Youth.


As predicted by Karolyi.

22…hxg6 23.h7 Bxh7 24.Nxh7 Kf7 25.f4 Qe7 26.Ng5+ Kg8 27.0–0–0 Re8 28.Rh6 Qg7 29.Rdh1 Re7 30.c3 Nd7 31.Bc2 Nf8 32.Ng3 Ne8 33.Nf1 Nc7 34.Ne3 Ne8 35.Ng4 b5 36.R6h3 Nh7 37.Rxh7 Qxh7 38.Nxh7 Rxh7 39.Rxh7 Kxh7 40.Nf6+ 1–0

Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 1 - The Magic of Youth tries to provide the first names of all Tal’s opponents, which is no easy task for the early years, where many of his opponents are complete unknowns. Karolyi does an excellent job in most instances, but here are a few that are missing in the book:

Miglan (Latvian Youth Championship 1950) Game 8 - this may be Imants Miglans (born in 1932) or conceivably M. Miglins

L. Liepins (Riga Team Championship 1950) Game 9 – this may be Leonids Liepins born in 1929

Jullik (Riga 1950) Game 11 – this could be Edgars Juliks (born 1910) or M. Juliks (born 1910)

Bergs (Riga 1951) Game 13 is Teodors Bergs

Zwaigzne (Latvian Youth Championship 1952) Game 21 – this is likely Gunars Zvaigzne

Mieses/Miezis (Latvian Championship 1958) Game 55 – this is likely Andrejs Miezis

A notebook of Tal’s early games can be found at

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