Chess Room Newsletter #720 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #720

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #720
September 18, 2015

With all due respect, he is not a young man. He is the oldest player in the Grand Prix and he is 46. He was a World Champion in his forties, while the competition is much younger, I think that tells a lot about his chess ability, his strength. Even with his composure, and his ability to deflect the tension, it’s tough, it’s very tough. He’s competing with young boys who are twenty or more years younger than he is, and there are also all the expectations… it’s tough. We have to give him credit, but 46 is a tough age.

—Garry Kasparov, taking about Viswanathan Anand
during the 2015 Sinquefield Cup.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

National Uyanga Byambaa is a full point ahead of the field at 6½ from 7 (first-round bye) in the Leighton Allen Tuesday Night Marathon. International Master Elliott Winslow (who beat top-seeded James Critelli—2376 USCF—in round 7) and Expert Natalya Tsodikova are tied for second at 5½. Two rounds remain for the 99-player field.

From round 7 of the Leighton Allen Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Winslow–Critelli after 42...Qb8)Black to move (Clemens–Wong after 28 Kg1)
White to move (Andries–Pan after 23...Nxf4)Black to move (Anderson–Marcus after 32 Nc3)
White to move (Sherwood–Macintyre after 25...b6)White to move (Babayan–Furukawa after 9...cxd4)
White to move (Rothman–Gupta after 34...fxg5)For the solutions, see the game scores (when available) for round 7.

The Mechanics’ lost to Las Vegas 3–1 in round 4 of the US Chess League, with the only point scored by Grandmaster Vinay Bhat on board one with Black. The games were much closer than the final score indicates.

Sam Shankland had an excellent run in the FIDE World Cup, beating Grandmaster Ivan Popov (2662 FIDE) in round one 1½–½ and losing to Hikaru Nakamura in round two only in a rapid-chess playoff, after going 1–1 in classical games.

Romy Fuentes defeated fellow National Master Ian Schoch to take first in the 15th Annual Howard Donnelly Memorial, held to honor the former Mechanics’ Chess Director. Tying for second in the 35-player field, a half-point behind Fuentes’ 4½-½ score (he took a first-round bye) were Schoch, Experts Derek Slater and Kerry Xing and Class C player Kristan Nathan, who gained over a hundred rating points. Ethan Boldi and Wesley Chen won copies of Walter Browne’s book The Stress of Chess for turning in the biggest upsets.

Jules Jelinek runs the Wednesday Night Blitz each week at the Mechanics’. Signup starts at 6:30 p.m. and round one begins at 6:40. Late entries are accepted. It will be every Wednesday night (no interruptions) from here on out until Thanksgiving.

Results for September 9:
1st - Jules Jelinek
2nd – National Master Tensing Shaw
3rd – Frank Bannan

National Master Uyanga Byambaa took first place in the Alan Benson Memorial, held August 7 to September 11 at the Berkeley Chess Club. Her score of 5½ from 6, which included wins over International Master Elliott Winslow and National Master Roger Poehlmann, earned her $200. International Master Winslow was second with 4½. Elizabeth Shaughnessy organized and Kerry Lawless directed the 30-player event. The La Vieve Hines Marathon, named after the first women champion of California, starts September 18. Details for the event can be found at

Book and equipment donations to the Mechanics’ are always welcome. All donations to the Mechanics’ are tax deductible, due to the M.I.’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. If you have any chess books or equipment that have been lying around unused for some time consider donating to the Mechanics’. You will not only get a tax write-off, but also the satisfaction of seeing things put to good use.

2) Double Take My Rooks! by Erik Osbun

The late Charles Powell won a record seven Virginia State Championship titles between 1964 and 1976 and was a member of the Washington Plumbers that won the US Chess League in 1976. In the late 1970s Charles moved to San Francisco and played in many events at the Mechanics’ Institute, including several Northern California State Championships. He died in 1991 at the age of only 46 and every May the Mechanics’ holds a tournament to remember him.

National Master Erik Osbun pays his respects to Senior Master Powell by annotating his victory over Bobby Fischer in a simul during Fischer’s 1964 tour. Osbun, who played Fischer that same year in a clock simul, also shares his memories of Bobby.

French Defense
Robert J. Fischer – Charles Powell
Simultaneous Exhibition, Richmond, Virginia, March 5, 1964

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4

Fischer is known for his unstable performances against the Winawer French, so Powell adopts it. The evidence is booked in How To Beat Bobby Fischer, by Edmar Mednis.

4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Qa5

An unusual variation pioneered by William Hook of the Virgin Islands.

7. Bd2

Smyslov’s approach is 7.Qd2 Nc6 8.Nf3 Qa4 9.dxc5 ( Smyslov - Hollis, Hastings, 1962/63). It may appeal to those preferring an open game.

7….Qa4 8. Rb1

Threatening mayhem at b5, which forces Black to close out his attack on the d-pawn. Another way to do this is 8.Qb1 c4 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.g3 Nge7 11.Bg2 Bd7 12.0-0 0-0-0 ( Dely–Portisch, Balatonfured, 1959 ).

If White wants to play Qg4, now is the best moment: 1) 8.Qg4 g6 9.Qd1 b6 ( 9…cxd4? 10.Rb1! d3 11.Bxd3 Qxa3 12.Nf3 Qc5 13.h4! favors White, Anand-Nikolic, Groningen, 1997.)) 10.h4 h5 11.Nf3 Ba6 with about equal chances, and 2) 8.Qg4 Kf8 9.Qd1 b6 10.h4 Ne7?! ( 10…Ba6!? ) 11.h5 h6 12.Rh4 Ba6 13.Bxa6 Nxa6 14.Rf4 Qd7? ( 14…cxd4 is critical. ) 15.Qf3 Nc6 16.Nh3 Rc8 17.g4 gives White all he needs to prosecute the attack ( Fischer–Hook, Siegen, 1970 ).

8….c4 9. Qg4?!

This is badly timed, possibly the decisive mistake. Better is 9.Qc1 Nc6 10.Nf3, as in the games DeFirmian–Rustemov, Copenhagen, 2001, and DeFirmian–Ward, Copenhagen, 2002.


A new theme emerges: you take my rook and I’ll take yours. I wonder how much of it Charlie had calculated?

10. Qxg7 Qxb1+ 11. Ke2 Bd7!

Powell rejects the perpetual check to be had by 11…Qd3+. It looks as if he intends to castle.

12. f3?!

Fischer prevents perpetual check, but he should take the rook now. That way he has at least a threat to take the knight, with check in his pocket. It allows perpetual check, but he might have been afraid of 12.Qxh8 Qd3+ 13.Ke1 Qg6 14.h4 ( or 14.Nh3 Nc6 15.Nf4 Qb1+ 16.Ke2 0-0-0 ) Nc6 15.h5 Qb1+ 16.Ke2 0-0-0.

12….Ba4! 13. Qxh8 Qd1+ 14. Ke3 Qxf1 15. Qxg8+ Ke7 16. Kf4

What has transpired is the mutual capture of a piece, except that Black has the threat to take one more by 16…Qd3+. Thus, the white king flees.


Take my last rook, Bobby.

17. Qxa8?

Fatal, White should consider 17.Qg5+ Kf8 18.Kg3 Bc2 19.Qe3 Bg6 20.Qe1 Qd3, which seems thoroughly awkward. But he survives to continue the fight.

Editor – The text may not be that bad (see note at the end of the game).

17….Qxg2 18. Be1 Qxh1

What has transpired is the mutual capture of a rook, except that White’s two remaining pieces are awkwardly employed. This factor decides for Black.

19. Bh4+ f6 20. exf6+

If 20.Bxf6+ Nxf6 21.exf6+ Kf7! 22.Qxb7+ Kxf6 23.Ne2 Qxh2+ 24.Ke3 Bd1 25.Nf4 Qc2 26.Qb4 Qc1+ 27.Kf2 Qxf4, and Black wins.

20….Kf7! 21. Qh8 Qxh2+ 0-1

A not so simple game of “Double Take My Rooks!”

Editor’s note: after 21.Nh3 Qxh2+ 22.Ke3 Qb8 23.Qxb8 Nxb8 24.Ng5+ Kxf6 25.Ne4+ Kf5 26.Nd6+ Kg6 27.Nxb7 Bd7 Black is a pawn up in the ending, but the presence of opposite-colored bishops suggests a draw is the most likely result. White’s twenty-first move appears to be the losing blunder.

Additional commentary on the simultaneous exhibition, the theme, the characters, and chess professionalism:

The story of Fischer’s Richmond simultaneous exhibition is spread over three books: Legend On the Road, 1st and 2nd editions, by John Donaldson; and The Unknown Bobby Fischer by Donaldson and Tangborn. Our subject game was discovered too late for inclusion in any of these books.

Two queens capturing all four rooks is an unusual occurrence. The game might make a good addition to a second edition of Take My Rooks I, by Seirawan and Minev.

The late Charles Powell, with whom I was acquainted, contrived the victory over the U.S. Champion. Charlie was a lawyer often assigned to defend unsavory bad guys in court, which Charlie did not like. Chess must have afforded great relief from those stressful tasks.

The late Robert J. Fischer, World Chess Champion 1972–1975, met the U.S. chess public at many simultaneous exhibitions in 1964. I saw him in person only two times in my life, a day at the U.S. Junior in 1957 and taking a board at Davis on April 16, 1964. He was very popular. To the best of my knowledge he did not do anything like that after winning the world title. Instead, after an amusing skit with Bob Hope, he retreated to Garner Ted Armstrong’s religious establishment and its girls. Outside of any gratification that path may have provided, it became a financial disaster for Fischer.

In my opinion, he should have done a tour of simultaneous exhibitions across the U.S.A. in 1973. Greater popularity, higher fees, and continuing solvency would have been his just for the taking. It appears to me that he did not realize fully that he was a professional personality in the entertainment business. In that regard, the late Walter Browne was far more professional.

3) Here and There

The September Top Ten Women’s list has Hou Yifan almost one hundred points ahead of her nearest competitor.

Top-10 women:
1. Hou Yifan 1994 CHN 2671
2. Koneru 1987 IND 2578
3. Dzagnidze 1987 GEO 2573
4. A. Muzychuk 1990 UKR 2549
5. Ju Wenjun 1991 CHN 2542
6. Cmilyte 1983 LTU 2534
7. Kosteniuk 1984 RUS 2530
8. Gunina 1989 RUS 2529
9. M. Muzychuk 1992 UKR 2528
10. Zhao Xue 1985 CHN 2524

National Master John Blackstone of Las Vegas sends the following article on A.J. Fink, which appeared in the July 15, 1950, issue of the Christian Science Monitor.

A. J. Fink – Expert Problemist and Player

A. J. Fink, whose problems have graced this column from time to time for many years, celebrates his 60th birthday July 19. A San Francisco resident, he first took up chess in the days following the earthquake of 1906. Except for service in World War I, his adult years have been spent in government service (Editor—Fink worked for the US Postal Service), and much of his free time has been devoted to problem composition and local competitions.

He won the California state title in 1922, 1928, 1945 and 1946, receiving 74 awards in problem contests. He is now conducting the problem section of Chess Digest, a California monthly issued by George Koltanowski.

4) Norm Opportunities in Michigan

You are invited to compete in The Friendship Games!

The Friendship Games is a norm-possible nine-round FIDE-rated chess tournament, October 28–November 1, organized by Michigan Chess Festival LLC. IA Hal Bond, a widely and richly experienced arbiter who served as Deputy Arbiter for the Anand–Kramnik World Championship Match in 2008, will be the Chief Arbiter.

Tourney Details : The Friendship Games. October 28–November 1. Acknowledging and celebrating the improved relations between the USA and Cuba, several leading Cuban players are expected to compete. Nine-round Swiss, FIDE-rated, norms possible. Organized by Michigan Chess Festival LLC. Boards, clocks and sets will be provided by Michigan Chess Festival LLC.

Royal Dearborn Hotel & Convention Center 600 Town Center Drive, Dearborn, MI 48126 Rates: $109 (Group Code: 3887. Call: 313-592-3622 to reserve room; make sure to use the group code.)

Time Control: G/90, inc. 30. Rounds: Wednesday 7 pm, Thursday through Sunday, 1 pm, 7 pm.

Registration Fees : $240 until end of September 22 (this date has been extended; register early to take advantage of this outstanding price), $260.00 until end of October 27, 2015, $300.00 thereafter.

Prizes : 1st: $4,000, 2d: 2,000, 3rd: 1,100, 4th: 900, 5th: 750, 6th: 500, 7th: 250, 8th: 100. U2400 (FIDE): 1st: 600, 2d: 300; U2200 (FIDE): 1st: 500, 2d: 250.

All prizes guaranteed. Online registration:

Players already committed to compete in the Friendship Games include (partial list): GM Fidel Corrales, GM Roberto Mogranzini (Italy), IM Martha Fierro (Ecuador), WGM Lisandra Ordaz Valdez (Cuba). We expect additional Cuban players to compete, including members (note the plural) of the Cuban Olympic team. Also expected to compete are titled players from Canada, India, numerous titled players from the USA, and many other strong players. Updates on the players who have committed to compete can be found on the tourney website, , or interested persons may inquire at [email protected]. The Friendship Games builds on the success of prior Fall Festivals organized by MCFLLC.

On-site registration begins at the hotel at 4:30 pm, and ends at 6:30 pm on Wednesday.

Trophies Plus Grand Prix 200 ( Enhanced) , US Chess Junior Grand Prix. Tourney Website:

The tourney is organized with an eye towards being a super-swiss under FIDE rules. Some conditions are available for GMs, and a few internationals who are not GMs. For details, and other questions, contact Alan Kaufman at [email protected].

About Michigan Chess Festival LLC: Michigan Chess Festival LLC has been organizing outstanding tournaments since 2011. Titled players from Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, England, India, Israel, Macedonia, Peru, Poland, Spain, Turkey, Turkmenistan, as well as numerous other international players, and many USA GMs, IMs, WGMs, and so on, have competed in past tourneys.

5) This is the end

Rook-and-pawn endgames are tricky, so we have simplified by giving White the rook and Black the pawns. What is the result of best play on both sides?

Black to move

Show solution

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