Chess Room Newsletter #688 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #688

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #688
November 7, 2014

Fischer performed excellently ... Fischer’s moves are rational and constantly pursue concrete aims. Even if the opponent is considerably weaker and it would appear that he can have a bit of “fun”, the American operates like a splendidly programmed calculating machine, which is indifferent to who is sitting opposite.

—Efim Geller, in reference to Bobby Fischer’s play at Monaco 1967,
where he finished first, ½ point ahead of Smyslov,
who was ½ point ahead of Geller and Larsen.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The Tuesday Night Marathon will take a one-week break for the observation of Veterans’ Day on November 11. Following tradition, the Newsletter will also take a one-week break, resuming November 14.

Seven players lead the 98-player Fall Tuesday Night Marathon after three rounds. IM Elliot Winslow and National Masters Tenzing Shaw and Uyanga Byambaa head the pack, but among the other players on three points is 11-year-old Hans Niemann. Currently rated 2166, Hans plays every chance he gets, on both weekdays and weekends. We like his chances of becoming a U.S.C.F.-rated Master before the end of the year.

From round 3 of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Gaffagan–Winslow after 18...Bb5)White to move (Doyle–Vickers after 12...Be7)
Black to move (Lamstein–Sahin after 23 Rb5)White to move (Borgo–Krasnov after 35...Rd7)
White to move (Newey–Hood after 23...f6)White to move (Andries–Rakonitz after 23...Nxa3)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 3.

Orinda Grandmaster Sam Shankland will give a free lecture at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club on Tuesday, November 18, from 5:15 to 6:15 pm. All are welcome. Sam won the gold medal as the top-scoring reserve player in the Tromso Olympiad and recently shared first in the 2014 Pan American Continental, qualifying for the 2015 FIDE World Cup.

Attendance at the Tuesday Night Marathon, the largest open weeknight tournament in the United States and possibly the world, continues to increase. Here are the figures for the last three years.

Winter 67
Spring 72
Summer 69
Henry Mar 76
Fall 70

Winter 88
Spring 93
Summer 90
Neil Falconer 82
Fall 85

Winter 100
Spring 89
Summer 91
Jay Whitehead 90

The current Marathon has 98 participants, and, with five rounds to go, still has a chance to break the all-time record set last January–February.

It’s commonly held that the first Northern California chess player with a national reputation was Walter Romaine Lovegrove, but he was hardly the only one in the early twentieth century, as the following obituary makes clear.

Hermann Helms’ chess column in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (p.23) reported the death of Joseph Redding, one of the best California players of the nineteenth century, on November 23, 1932. Redding’s father was Benjamin Barnard Redding, for whom the Northern California town is named. Helms writes:

Dispatches from San Francisco announces the death on Monday (November 21) of Joseph D. Redding, prominent attorney and composer of operas. Chess players will recall Mr. Reading as a one-time member of the Manhattan Chess Club during the years that he resided in New York and practiced there. In 1904 he served as referee in conjunction with the international tournament held at Cambridge Springs, PA. One of the officials of that Congress, Prof. Isaac L. Rice, Herman Ridder and Hartwig Cassel have passed on.

Mr. Redding, a native of Sacramento and educated at Harvard Law School, was 73 years of age. He was commissioner from California to the Paris Exposition in 1889, and six years later received the decoration of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor from the French Government.

Those looking to play chess outdoors in San Francisco will find a bunch of chess tables at “Foley’s Gazebo” in Golden Gate Park near the corner of Fulton and 4th Avenue.

Mechanics’ Grandmasters Sam Shankland and Daniel Naroditsky will play in the super-strong Qatar Masters Open from November 26 to December 14. The 9-round Swiss, headed by super-GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, has 14 players rated over 2700 and 60 over 2600. Go to for more information.

The Mechanics’s entry in the U.S. Chess League finished off the regular season on a high note, defeating the Los Angeles Vibe 4–0. The Mechanics’ also won in the wildcard round of the playoffs, defeating Connecticut 2.5–1.5 to advance to the quarter-finals, where they will face top-seeded Dallas next Wednesday night starting at 5:30 p.m. All are welcome to watch the match in person at the M.I.C.C. The competition will also be broadcast on the Internet Chess Club. For more information go to

2) Jose Capablanca at the Mechanics’ Institute (Part One)

Unlike Emmanuel Lasker and Alexander Alekhine who paid multiple visits to the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club, Jose Raul Capablanca only visited once. A photograph of Capa with A. J. Fink has hung on the walls of the Chess Room for many years, but it was only when Steve Brandwein found the following article in the American Chess Bulletin (May-June 1916, page 101–102) that we had a detailed record of the visit by the future World Champion. Steve found this article about a dozen years ago, plus two games. More recently several others have been discovered.

Capablanca at the Golden Gate, by E.J. Clarke

When Jose R. Capablanca stepped off the Shasta Limited at Oakland on Monday evening, April 10, and boarded the ferry for the city by the Golden Gate, he made history personally, as it was his first visit to the Golden Gate. It may have been a matter of clairvoyant knowledge that he was soon to make chess history in San Francisco, but of course, that was hidden from the sight of the normal-visioned committee of chess players from the Mechanics’Institute who met the world famous Cuban and escorted him across the bay and to his hotel in San Francisco. The following evening the youthful master made his bow at the Institute, when he faced thirty-two opponents, among whom were the best players of the bay cities (and, of course, some who just moved the pieces around with their hands). When Capablanca vanquished his final opponent shortly after midnight, the score stood: Capablanca, won 29, drawn 3. Messrs. Hallwegen, Chilton and Fink were the three who saved the Institute from a whitewash. Chilton, perhaps, had a win, but he thought any old thing would do. It didn’t and the Cuban got away with a draw.

Wednesday afternoon Capablanca and Dr. Lovegrove sat down to an exhibition game, the latter offered his favorite Ruy Lopez, with which he defeated World Champion Lasker several years ago. But the skill of the Pan-American champion was too much for the local expert, and the latter resigned after forty-eight moves. In the evening Capablanca showed his skill at ten-second chess, playing two games apiece with the following and winning every game: Messrs. Stamer, Fink, W.Smith, De Long, Professor Ryder, Hallwegen and Gruer. Thus he played fourteen games in forty-five minutes, an average of about game in three minutes, not counting delay in putting in a fresh opponent. This was probably Capablanca’s most impressive exhibition, and providing the liveliest entertainment for the spectators. It was a matter of observation that the master never faltered, never was at a loss for a plausible continuation, and never, so far as could be noticed, made a move solely because of call of time. His play apparently was the result of a plan and possessed coherence and objectivity. Neither were the Institute players on wholly unfamiliar ground, as the lightening game is quite a favorite here. A.B. Stamer defeated Marshall at five-second chess on the occasion of his last visit to the coast.

At the conclusion of play the international master played against two teams in consultation at thirty moves an hour. Thus, Capablanca in reality made his moves at the rate of sixty moves an hour. At board No.1, E.J. Clarke, A.J. Fink and Bernardo Smith had charge of the White pieces, assisted by Dr. Haber, Judge De Long, W. Smith and others. Capablanca defended with the French and turned it into a McCutcheon. The allies resigned on their thirty-eighth move. At Board No. 2, the master was pitted against Club Champion E.W. Gruer, B. Forsberg, the young Finnish expert, recently from the Czar’s domain, where he was secretary of the Abo Chess Club, Professor A.W. Ryder, a former Harvard University star, now at the University of California, and several other lesser stars also threw the weight of their advice in the White side of the balance, all, however, to no purpose, as Capablanca forced their surrender in thirty-seven moves of a Queen’s Pawn opening.

That concluded Capablanca’s engagement in San Francisco. Thus he played all told, 49 games, winning 46, while 3 were drawn. Except for the charm of Capablanca’s personality, his entire lack of the “swelled head,” and his gentlemanly, courteous bearing, it would have been a far more bitter pill for the Institute players to swallow. During the history of the Mechanics’ Institute it has entertained Zukertort, Lasker, Pillsbury, Marshall and several lesser lights of the chess world, but never before has a master been able to get away without the loss of several games during blindfold, simultaneous exhibitions or rapid chess.

3) Sam Shankland Interviews

Grandmaster Sam Shankland was the one of the great revelations of the 2014 Chess Olympiad, where he scored an outstanding 9 out 10 to take home the gold medal as the best reserve player in the event.

You can listen to an interesting interview concerning Sam’s game in Tromso after round eight at:

You can also find an interview he gave to the Brandeis University campus newspaper last December at

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