Chess Room Newsletter #690 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #690

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #690
November 28, 2014

Since 1990 everything has changed in chess except the rules!

—James Schroeder

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The Fall Tuesday Night Marathon has already set one record (attendance with 101 players) and another is in jeopardy. 11-year-old Expert Hans Niemann of Orinda is leading the event with 5–0 with three rounds to go. The TNM goes back to the early 1970s, and no definitive records have been kept, but the youngest winner might well be Sam Shankland, who won the event in 2007 shortly after turning 15.

A half point behind Hans are National Master Tenzing Shaw and Experts Bryon Doyle and Ashik Uzzaman.

From round 5 of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Niemann–Askin after 21...Nc6)White to move (Gaffagan–Byambaa after 29...Nd3)
White to move (Tsodikova–Steger after 29...Kh8)White to move (Andries–Poling after 19...Nc3)
Black to move (Hood–Sherwood after 12 Rd1)Black to move (Simpkins–Donnelly after 23 Rc1)
White to move (Paquette–Morgan after 15...Bd7)For the solutions, see the game scores (when available) for round 5.

Here is Hans’ round five victory, where he shows a mature understanding of how to play the White side of the Closed Catalan.

Catalan E08
Hans Niemann–Michael Askin
Mechanics' Fall TNM (5) 2014

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qc2 e6 5.g3 Be7 6.Bg2 0–0 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.b3 b6 9.Rd1 Bb7 10.Bb2 Rc8 11.Nc3 Qc7 12.e4 Rfd8

The alternative is 12...dxe4 when White has a choice between 13.Nxe4 and 13.Ng5.

13.e5 Ne8 14.cxd5 cxd5 15.Qe2 Nb8 16.Rac1 Qd7 17.h4 Ba6 18.Qe3 h5?

18...b5 intending ...b4 grabbing space on the queenside.

19.Ng5 g6 20.Qf4 Bf8 21.Bh3 Nc6?

21...Bh6 was necessary.

22.Nxd5! Bh6 23.Ne3 Nb4 24.Rxc8 Rxc8 25.d5! Bxg5

If 25...Nd3 then 26.dxe6 fxe6 27.Qe4!

26.hxg5 Nd3 27.Qd4 Nxb2 28.Qxb2 Qe7 29.dxe6 fxe6 30.Qd4 Ng7 31.Qa4 Be2 32.Rd7 Qf8 33.f4 Qc5 34.Qd4 Qc1+ 35.Kf2 Bg4 36.Bxg4 hxg4 37.Qd2 Qb1 38.Rxg7+ Kh8 39.Rh7+ Kg8 40.Rc7 1–0

Grandmasters Sam Shankland and Daniel Naroditsky both won their first round games in the Qatar Masters. Go to to follow this super-strong open.

The Mechanics’ Institute would like to thank Leighton Allen for his huge donation of chess books. Thanks to Leighton’s generosity, which filled in big gaps, the M.I. library now has complete runs of Chess Informant, New in Chess Yearbook, the S.O.S. Opening series and New in Chess magazine. All Gambit, Everyman Chess, New in Chess and Quality Chess books from the last dozen years are now in the collection, as is Chess Results by Di Felice from 1747 to 1960 (previously the Mechanics’ Library had none of this publication)—and these are only the highlights!

The Mechanics’ has received significant donations in the past from the likes of Norman Reider, Max Burkett, John Alexander and Irving Chernev (the latter two by their sons), but nothing like Leighton’s. We are extremely grateful, and as a measure of our appreciation will be naming the fourth Tuesday Night Marathon of 2015 after him. There are also plans to name a big blitz tournament in 2015 after Leighton.

Few chess players have a longer association with the Mechanics’ Institute than Leighton Allen, who joined in the mid-1950s. A few years later he played in the 1957 U.S. Junior Open held in San Francisco at the Spreckels Russell Dairy in the Mission District (1717 Mission). According to Leighton he wasn’t a strong player at the time, but that didn’t stop him from making an even score and finishing in the middle of the field in the event, won by 14-year-old Bobby Fischer. The latter spent the next week in San Francisco, staying at the home of Gil Ramirez, who placed second in the U.S. Junior.

Leighton remembers the two visited the Mechanics’ Chess Club every day during Bobby’s stay and solved many endgame studies presented to them by William Addison. They also challenged Leighton and his friend Ivan Vegvary to a series of tandem move-on-move matches. Leighton recalls he and Ivan, who were much weaker than Bobby and Gil, got crushed in every game, in what was the equivalent of today’s one-second blitz. Leighton remembers being puzzled at that the time that Bobby and Gil would consider it interesting to face significantly weaker opposition. Even more surprising to him was that afterwards Bobby wanted to analyze the games! Leighton was in Cleveland to see Bobby win the U.S. Open less than a month later.

The highlight of Leighton’s chess career was representing the Navy in the 1964 Armed Forces Championship held in Washington D.C. and getting one of his games published in Horowitz’s column in the New York Times. He had to win his base tournament at Bainbridge, Maryland (4–0) and then tie for first in the 5th Navel District (4–0) to qualify for the big event, which was to be the last tournament he played.

While Leighton never competed competitively again he has avidly followed the game the last 50 years and has an excellent knowledge of current events in the chess world. Though living in the South Bay, he continues to visit the Mechanics’ at least once a month and makes it a point to visit the Chess Club.

Thank you Leighton!

MI Blitz results

Jules Jelinek writes:

Hi everyone,

There will be Wednesday Night Blitz Tournaments at the Mechanics’ Institute on December 3, 10 and 17, before taking a break for the holidays. The series will resume on January 21.

Winners of the last two blitz events are

1st - IM Elliott Winslow
2nd – Arthur Ismakov
3rd – Jules Jelinek

1st - IM Ray Kaufman
2nd - Hans Neimann

Long-time Mechanics’ Chess Club regular Mike Anderson passes on the following announcement of a new chess club in Pinole and remarks that Greg Lopes (2100+ USCF) and Will Clipson (1900+ USCF) are two of the stronger players.

To All,

Looking for a causal game of chess and some good coffee?  You are invited to join us on Wednesday evenings at the Eastbay Coffee House, 2529 San Pablo Ave, Pinole, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.  Please bring chess set and clock if you have them—let’s have some competitive fun.  Thank you,

TC Ball aka the Black Knight
West Coast Chess Alliance
(510) 439-6311

A record nine American players are rated over 2600 on the November FIDE rating list, headed by Hikaru Nakamura, number nine in the world, and Wesley So, number ten. Gata Kamsky at #68 (2676) and Alex Onischuk #80 (2665) round out the Americans rated in the top 100. Ray Robson at 2651 is only three rating points from making it into that select group.

Other U.S. players rated over 2600 include Sam Shankland 2642 (Mechanics’ Chess Club), Varuzhan Akobian 2637, Timur Gareev 2621 and Daniel Naroditsky 2620 (Mechanics’ Chess Club).

2) A letter from Regina Fischer

The following letter from Bobby’s mother is interesting for two reasons. The first is the attempt to organize a simul tour in the spring of 1958. The motivation is clearly to raise money for Fischer’s participation in the upcoming Interzonal in Yugoslavia that summer.

The second is that as late as the end of March the contract with Simon and Schuster for what would become Bobby Fischer’s Games of Chess had still not yet been signed.

March 21, 1958

Dear Friends,

This is to inquire whether there would be any interest in having Bobby Fischer play one or more exhibitions games in your city (Cleveland – editor) during Easter vacation. He can leave here after school Thursday, April 3rd and is due back on April 9 or 10. The fee would be $100 per exhibition of 20 or 25 games, plus plane fare and expenses. If Bobby visits other cities en route your share of the plane fare would be prorated.

Also, Bobby hopes to complete by the end of the month his first attempt at writing. It is a booklet of full annotations of his 13 games played in the Rosenwald—U.S. Championship of December, 1957. It will probably be mimeographed without illustrations, and will probably cost about $2. Could you advise whether there would be any interest in individual or bulk purchases of this booklet among your chess players or clubs?

Trusting to hear from you as soon as possible, I am,

Sincerely yours,

Mrs. Regina Fischer

Published in the Cleveland Chess Bulletin in the spring of 1958.

3) National Master Michael Aigner, on the Bay Area’s Young Talent

The go-to site for learning about the large number of promising young Bay Area chess players is National Master Michael Aigner’s blog -

His post on September 17 was particularly germane, as it provides a quick summary of the upcoming talent that seeks to rise to the level of older Bay Area stars Sam Shankland (22) and Daniel Naroditsky (18), who are among the top ten players in the United States, and rated over 2600 FIDE.

The Bay Area has built the reputation for supporting the growth of talented young chess stars.  Over a few short years, many of these juniors improve to Expert, Master and beyond!  Incredibly, 11 now hold a USCF rating above 2200 on the October supplement.  Another five earned their National Master certificate previously, but have since dropped a few points.  That's a total of 16 CalChess young masters!

To put these numbers in perspective, consider that zero masters played at the CalChess Scholastics in 2003, while 2006 was the first year to see more than two masters participate.

Top CalChess Juniors (rated above 2150 on October supplement)

1. IM-elect Yian Liou (age 17) 2502 USCF rating
2. FM Kesav Viswanadha (15) 2429
3. FM Cameron Wheeler (14) 2382
4. NM Vignesh Panchanatham (14) 2356
5. NM Colin Chow (14) 2282
6. NM Paul Richter (16) 2271
7. NM Michael Wang (12) 2240
8. NM Allan Beilin (15) 2221
9. NM Siddharth Banik (14) 2215
10. NM Rayan Taghizadeh (12) 2212
11. FM Tanuj Vasudeva (13) 2209
12. nm Josiah Stearman (11) 2185
13. Teemu Virtanen (15) 2184
14. Neel Apte (16) 2180
15. nm Jack Zhu (15) 2174
16. Ladia Jirasek (14) 2174
17. Pranav Nagarajan (14) 2172
18. nm Ashritha Eswaran (13) 2171
19. nm Daniel Liu (16) 2165
20. nm Udit Iyengar (14) 2165
21. Jerome Sun (17) 2165
22. Hunter Klotz-Burwell (16) 2164
23. Joshua Cao (17) 2164
24. Kevin Moy (14) 2155

* nm = NM but currently rated under 2200

The top two players on this list both have a trio of IM norms to their credit. Yian also achieved the required 2400 FIDE rating, while Kesav must pick up another 18 FIDE points. We should have two new International Masters among our midst soon.

Watch out for Josiah! The young lad spent the last month of summer on a quest for 2200. He reached his goal in San Diego, peaking at 2215 before slipping back down.  Officially, Josiah gained 133 rating points in one month, from the August rating list to September (2066 to 2199)!

Who will be next to make master? Certainly anyone rated above 2150 could crack 2200 after one or two good weekends. In addition, a pair of even younger stars, Hans Niemann (11) and Andrew Hong (9), already sport competitive ratings above 2100.

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