Chess Room Newsletter #700 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #700

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #700
February 20, 2015

Chess is a scientific game and its literature ought to be placed on the basis of the strictest truthfulness, which is the foundation of all scientific research.

—Wilhelm Steinitz

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The winner of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon is very much undecided with one round remaining. FIDE Master Andy Lee looked to be the favorite before round seven with a half-point lead, but he had to take a zero-point bye, opening the door for International Master Elliott Winslow and National Master Tenzing Shaw. They both won, and now share the top spot, with six points from seven games, a half-point ahead of Lee and Oleg Shaknazarov. FIDE Master Paul Whitehead heads a large group on five points.

From round 7 of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Walder–Shaw after 15 Rxe6)Black to move (Gerwin–Tsodikova after 11 Bc4)
White to move (Maser–Nelson after 16...Rf7)White to move (Drane–Montoya after 25...Be4)
White to move (Poler–Reyes after 29...Rc6)Black to move (Lin–Eytan after 27 Kh1)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 7.

MICC Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator Jules Jelinek writes:

The Steve Brandwein Memorial Blitz Tournament (he will be attending) will be held at Mechanics’ Institute on Saturday, February 21. Prizes are $400-$250-$150-$100-$100, and every participant gets a free book prize.

Among those expected to play are Grandmasters Walter Browne, Ioan Christian Chirila, Daniel Naroditsky, Sam Shankland, James Tarjan and Batchuluun Tsegmed.

Last week there were nine players for the Wednesday Night Blitz, and the top finishers were

1st - David Flores
2nd – Jules Jelinek
3rd – Manuel Santos

The following article was published at US Chess Live with photos. It can be found at

Grandmaster Wesley So, currently rated number seven in the world, gave a well-received lecture to an audience of approximately 80 players at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club of San Francisco on February 10. Among those in the audience were USCF President Ruth Haring and Grandmasters Sam Shankland, Daniel Naroditsky and Nick de Firmian.

The topic of Wesley’s talk was his games with Black from the Tata Steel in which he faced 1.e4 and answered 1...e5. These included his victory over Vassily Ivanchuk and draw with Fabiano Caruana.

Following the lecture Grandmaster So took questions from the audience. Here are his answers to two of them.

Q: Do you believe the time control should be speeded up because well-prepared players today often blitz out the first 15-20 moves?

A: No. It’s true that sometimes your preparation appears on the board deep into the game (see for example Ding Liren - So, Tata Steel 2015), but that is not always the case. There is so much to remember these days that it can be difficult to recall the exact move order in a given variation. Just a slightly different sequence can make for big differences. Also you may face an opponent that just wants to play chess and opens 1.g3 or 1.b3 in which case you may need all your time.

Q: Can you give general advice how to improve?

A: Play over the games of the World Champion Magnus Carlsen. You can learn much from them. He has no real weaknesses. Imagine what it was like for Anand to play two matches with him!

So, who is the latest in a long list of top chess players who have lectured at the Mechanics’, including all World Champions from Lasker to Karpov, except Botvinnik, made a very favorable impression on members of the nation’s oldest chess club (founded in 1854) who liked his down-to-earth manner and sense of humor. American is lucky that it has such fine ambassadors for the game in its two world-top-ten players Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So.

2) Elmars Zemgalis 1923-2014

America’s oldest Grandmaster, Elmars Zemgalis, died on December 8 in Seattle at the age of 91.

The Latvian-born Zemgalis first gained the attention of the chess world by his second place finishes at Augsburg and Regensburg in 1946, but it was his tie for first with world championship contender Efim Bogoljubow at Oldenburg 1949 that really made him known. There he finished above such players as Unzicker, Rossolimo, Smisch, O’Kelly, Wade, Tautvaisas, Rellstab and Enevoldsen, scoring an undefeated 12 from 17. These results and other strong performances in Germany from 1946 to 1950 led to his receiving the Grandmaster title from FIDE in 2003.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports writer Royal Brougham had the foresight to include a chess master in his program to bring displaced sportsmen from Europe to Washington State. This made it possible for Elmars and his wife Cacilia to move from Germany and settle in Seattle in the spring of 1952. Their arrival was immediately celebrated with two special events. The first saw Elmars play 50 players simultaneously at the P.I. auditorium with hundreds of spectators watching. The second was a match against the leading Washington chess master, Olaf Ulvestad, who had competed in the 1946 USA–USSR match. Elmars won convincingly, 3–1. He would later win the Washington State Championship in 1953 and 1959, but his days as a chess professional had passed.

Queen’s Gambit Declined D46
Elmars Zemgalis–Ludwig Rellstab
Oldenburg (4), 1949

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bd3 Nbd7 6.0–0 dxc4 7.Bxc4 Bd6 8.Nc3 0–0 9.e4 e5

By transposition Black has arrived at one of the main positions of the Semi-Slav, which was a great favorite of Chigorin. He was the first to appreciate the solidity of Black’s position and that White’s threat of d5 wasn’t so terrible. That it could simply be ignored and when White exchanged on c6 Black could recapture with the b-pawn, willingly taking the isolated c-pawn in exchange for the control of d5 and possible use of the d4 square.

Modern-day theory holds this variation to be somewhat better for White, in part due to his superior center influence and also because Black must often concede the bishop pair to solve the problem of how to develop his queenside pieces.

10.Bg5 Qe7 11.Re1 Re8?!

Natural and seemingly consistent with the plan of holding e5; however after this move Black will have difficulty bringing out his queenside pieces without having to give up the center with ...exd4. The most popular moves here are 11...Rd8 and 11...Nb6 - planning ...Bg4. Anand was successful with 11...exd4 on two separate occasions.


Cutting across Black plans based on ...Nb6 and ...Bg4.

12...h6 13.Bh4 exd4

It’s easy to criticize this move giving up the center, but it is likely Black’s best try here. White can meet 13...b6, intending to complete development with ...Bb7 and ....Rad8, with 14.d5!, as Black can no longer answer dxc6 with ...bxc6 to maintain control of d5.

14.Nxd4 Nc5

15.e5! Bxe5 16.f4 Bxd4+

A better try was 16...Bg4 but after 17.Nf3 Bxf3 18.gxf3 Rad8 19.Nd5 Qd7 (19...cxd5 20.fxe5) 20.fxe5 Nxd5 21.Bxd8 Rxd8 22.Qd4 Qe7 23.Rad1 Nxb3 24.axb3 a6 25.f4 Qh4 26.Qe4 Black doesn’t have quite enough for the exchangem as White will soon play f5.

17.Qxd4 Nxb3 18.axb3 Qf8?

18...Rd8 was the only chance to put up stiff resistance. After 19.Qf2 Qf8 (19...Qd6 20.Rad1) 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.f5 intending Re3 and Ne4 Black would still face a difficult defense.

19.Bxf6 Rxe1+ 20.Rxe1 gxf6 21.Ne4

Effectively ending the game.

21...Be6 22.Nxf6+ Kh8 23.Nh5+ Kh7 24.Qe4+ Kh8 25.Qe5+ Kh7 26.Re3 Rd8 27.Rg3 f6 28.Nxf6+ 1–0

Queen’s Gambit Declined D63
Elmars Zemgalis–G. Baumanis
Germany (team tournament) 1946

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 0–0 7.Rc1 c5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Nxe7 10.Be2 cxd4?!

10...b6 11.0–0 Bb7 12.dxc5 Nxc5 13.b4 Ne4 14.Nxe4 Bxe4 15.Qa4 with a small advantage in Geller–Larsen, Copenhagen (m/8) 1966


11.Qxd4! was possibly stronger.

11...Nf6 12.Qc2 a6

12...Bd7 13.0–0 Rc8 14.Rfd1 Qa5 was a viable alternative scheme of development.

13.0–0 b5?!

Black starts to fall dangerously behind in development after this move. Instead 13...e5 14.Nf3 Qc7 15.Na4 Nc6 16.Nc5 Bg4 or 13...Bd7 14.Rfd1 Qb6 would have limited White’s advantage.

14.Bf3 Rb8 15.Rfd1 Qb6 16.Ne4! Ned5?

16...Nfd5 17.Nc5 Rd8 had to be played. Now White builds up a powerful attack that Black is powerless to stop.

17.Nxf6+ Nxf6 18.Nc6! Rb7 19.Rd6

19.Ne5 Rb8 20.Qc7 was equally strong.

19...Qc7 20.Qc5 g6 21.h4 Kg7 22.Qe5

With the idea of h5-h6.

22...h5 23.Rc5 Rb6 24.Bxh5! Kh7 25.Qxf6 Qxd6 26.Ne7! e5

26...Qxc5 27.Bxg6+ fxg6 28.Qxg6+ Kh8 29.Qh6 mate.

27.Bxg6+ Kh6

27...fxg6 28.Qxf8 Be6 29.Rc8! with mate soon to follow.

28.Qg5+ Kg7 29.Bf5+ Kh8 30.Rxc8 Rxc8 31.Nxc8 Qd1+ 32.Kh2 1–0

3) Zuckertort at the Mechanics’ in 1884

Johannes Zukertort’s visit to the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club in 1884 was the first by a world-class player. The following material adds to what has been previously published in M.I. Newsletters 34, 156, 610 and 620.

J. Fennimore Webb, who conducted Zukertort reception; collected $304.50, received $50 from exhibition, paid Zukertort $354.50, including $250 salary and the rest for expenses.

Editor – The $250 honorarium, for Zukertort’s stay from July 2–25, was a considerable sum. According to the information provided at, $250.00 in 1914 had the same buying power as $5,826.23 in 2014. The inflation calculator doesn’t go back to 1884, but one can only assume the $250 Zukertort received was even greater.

Sacramento Union July 2, 1884:

Zukertort Blindfold Simul

Against: JD Redding, E Yerworth, Dr Benjamin Marshall, JW Jefferson, JF Welsh, Jules Holstein, L. Van Vliet, Selim Franklin, Herman Heynemann, Theodore F Payne, Fritz Peipers and J. Critcher

Daily Alta California July 6, 1884:

Zukertort plays daily at the San Francisco Mechanics Institute

Zuckertort played versus J.W. Jefferson at N odds, Jefferson winning the majority of games.

A 12-player simul was played versus Mitchell, Kellogg, Gale, Jacoby, Baily, Lawton, Daniels, Sherbourne, Grant, Curtis, Perley and Gibson. Gale was the only winner.

Other simuls are planned for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (July 19th), which will close his San Francisco engagement. He plans to go on to China. Zukertort’s visit led to considerable discussion on the strength of local players which may lead to tournament to decide supremacy.

Editor – we believe Zuckertort extended his stay to July 25th.

4) This is the end

Here is an opposite-colored bishop position, taken from an actual game, not a study.

Black to move

For the moment, Black is up a pawn. Can he convert it to victory, or does White have chances of his own?

Show solution

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