Chess Room Newsletter #693 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #693

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #693
December 19, 2014

“It was Fischer’s tournament,” Spassky said generously. “He played better than anyone else, including myself.”

—Boris Spassky, as quoted by Robert Cantwell in
Sports Illustrated, September 5, 1966, page 27.

This is in reference to the Second Piatigorsky Cup, and is likely one of the few occasions when the tournament winner had such kind words to say about the runner-up.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

Hans Niemann became the youngest-ever winner of the Tuesday Night Marathon series on Tuesday, setting a record that will be hard to beat. The 11-year-old from Orinda drew with National Master Russell Wong in round 8 to finish with a score of 7½ from 8. This not only earned earned him a prize of $650 but also raised his rating to 2200, gaining him the USCF Master title. Well-done, Hans!

Tying for second in the 103-player (a record attendance for the TNM series which goes back to the early 1970s) were Wong, National Master Tenzing Shaw and Expert Josiah Stearman. Each scored 6½-1½. Hans was not the only player to earn his Master title. Pranav Nagarajan, a South Bay high school student, went from 2187 to 2202.

There were many outstanding performances in this TNM. Here is a list of those who gained 60 USCF rating points or more in the event.

Aaron Cheung 1597-1748 (+151)
Daniel McKellar 1502-1653 (+151)
Linmiao Xu 1424-1586 (+142)
Michael Askin 1977-2103 (+126)
James Paquette 1314-1438 (+124)
Bryan Hood 1521-1628 (+107)
Michael Hilliard 1400-1491 (+91)
Hans Niemann 2115-2200 (+85)
Zolboo Lkhagvasuren 1827-1892 (+65)
Shree Ayinala 1231-1294 (+63)

The Winter Tuesday Night Marathon, an 8-rounder, both USCF- and FIDE-rated, starts January 6.

From round 8 of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Winslow–Tsodikova after 25 Bc4)Black to move (Poling–Wang after 23 Bxc6)
White to move (Casares–Purland after 20...Bc6)White to move (Ross–Eastham after 17...Nb7)
Black to move (Borgo–Drane after 39 Bb6)White to move (Cole–Frank after 11...g5)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 8.

MI Tuesday night regular Ashik Uzzaman has a detailed report about his participation in the Millionaire Open, which you can find at My Chess Blog: Dragon Bishop.

Berkeley Grandmaster Jesse Kraai’s chess novel Lisa was recently reviewed at the ChessBase website,

One of Santa Rosa artist and chess teacher Keith Halonen’s paintings is on the cover of the December issue of Chess Life.

Orinda Grandmaster Sam Shankland starts play in the Al Ain Classic, in the United Arab Emirates, on December 19. The 9-round event, with 117 players registered, ends December 27. Sam is seeded number 7, and there are 29 players 2550 FIDE and above.

2) San Francisco versus Victoria

Go to the Mechanics’ Institute Chess history at and you will find a complete report on the first match between San Francisco and Victoria by Canadian chess historian Stephen Wright. Mr. Wright has come through again, with in-depth coverage of the rematch between the cities published in his excellent BCCF E-mail Bulletin, issue 287 We reproduce a condensed version here.

The rematch between Victoria and San Francisco took place on New Year’s Day 1897. It was agreed to play one game, beginning at 7 pm with a time limit of ten moves per hour. Each city had timekeepers who kept track of the elapsed time for both teams: C.A. Lombard and Thomas Lawrie for Victoria, Dr. Benjamin Marshall for San Francisco. Playing for Victoria were Thomas H. Piper, W.C. Chapman, Major B. Williams, and Dr. Griffith Hands. To facilitate transmission a direct cable was run into the Driard Hotel, the Victoria site of the match, where numerous spectators also gathered to follow the game on their own boards. The San Francisco players, Walter S. Franklin, Oscar Samuels, Rodney Kendricks, and Valentine Huber, were all members of the Mechanics’ Institute, and all except Kendricks were champions of the MI chess club in various years. The C.P.R. Telegraph Co. and the Pacific Postal Telegraph Co. gave the clubs free use of their wires for the occasion; the chief operators were W. Christie and Tom Martin respectively. The day before the match the Victoria Daily Colonist noted “In San Francisco the match is exciting especial interest, a young ‘prodigy’ having lately appeared in the Bay City, who it is predicted, will before many years eclipse Pillsbury himself. The California club is confident of success, and pins its faith on the youthful champion.” Presumably this reference is to Franklin, a medical student who when he won the MI club championship in May 1896 was “not yet 18 years of age.”

Ruy Lopez C67
San Francisco–Victoria
Telegraph Match - January 1, 1897

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.d5 Nd6 7.Be2 e4 8.dxc6 exf3 9.cxd7+ Bxd7 10.Bxf3 0–0 11.Bf4 Be6 12.Nc3 c6 13.Re1 Re8 14.Bg4 Nf5 15.Qf3 Nd4 16.Qh3 Bxg4 17.Qxg4 Qc8

“Victoria missed a good chance to secure an advantage at the seventeenth move, by not capturing White’s pawn with the knight. Victoria evidently scented a trap in this taking move, and such it was intended to be by White, but careful analysis has since shown that this would have been a sound move on the part of Black and given the Northerners a superior game.” [From the San Francisco Examiner, quoted in the Victoria Daily Colonist of January 7, 1897]

18.Qxc8 Raxc8 19.Rad1 Ne6 20.Bg3 Bb4 21.Re3 Rcd8 22.Kf1 Rxd1+ 23.Nxd1 Rd8 24.Rd3 Rxd3 25.cxd3 f6 26.f3 Kf7 27.a3 Bc5 28.Bf2 Ke7 29.Bxc5+ Nxc5 30.Ke2 Ke6 31.Ke3 ½–½

“Although they did not win the match and by it the championship of the Pacific Coast, on New Year’s Day, the Victoria Chess Club by that important contest supplied an advertisement of the city.”

3) Here and There

FIDE took a major step towards addressing the problem of under-rated juniors by changing the K-factor to 40 for those under the age of eighteen who have not yet reached 2300. This went into effect on July 1, 2014.

Mike Ladzinski of Maryland has an impressive collection of chess sets (including several by William Pinney) and historical material which can viewed at (google signin required).

Frank Berry writes that the site Memphis Chess History has an excellent account of the Western Chess Association Championship held in Memphis in 1914, which can be found at

First prize in the WCA Championship of 1914, which is now considered a U.S. Open by the USCF for historical purposes, was $150. That translates to $3,567.78 in 2014 dollars according to the inflation calculator—not a bad payday.

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