Chess Room Newsletter #727 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #727

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #727
November 20, 2015

Chess wise I would say don’t use computers, use your brain! On a general note my advice would be that in the race to be more successful we tend to forget what is more important in life—human relations. That’s why life has become so fast. It’s like a race, some sort of global hypnotization. We should slow down and understand that loving each other is the right way to live life.

—Baadur Jobava, interviewed by Sagar Shah at

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

FIDE Master James Critelli and Experts Josiah Stearman, Natalya Tsodikova and Igor Traub are tied for first in the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon with 4½ points from 5. Four rounds remain to be played.

From round 5 of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Byambaa–Stearman after 24...f2)Black to move (Ortega–Tracy after 23 Qh5)
White to move (Marcus–Alvarez after 24...Kf7)Black to move (Manvelyan–Casares after 21 a3)
Black to move (Kim–Alzhin after 16 Qd4)White to move (Gomboluudev–Lagrotta after 17...f4)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 5.

Batchuluun Tsegmed was the winner of the 15th Pierre St. Amant Memorial, held November 14. The Mongolian Grandmaster scored 4½ out of 5 to top the 21-player field. Tying for second at 4–1 were National Master Josiah Stearman and Venkatagiri Acharya. Tergelsar Enkh won a copy of Walter Browne’s The Stress of Chess for turning in the biggest upset. Attendance was significantly lower than usual for this event, in part due to its being held on the same weekend as the Emory Tate Memorial in Fremont. Normally the CalChess Clearing House prevents double bookings, but here it was unavoidable as Bay Area Chess wanted to honor the late International Master in a timely fashion.

MI Chess Club Coordinator Paul Whitehead writes:

Hey folks, we just have been written up by the San Francisco Chronicle.

It stars Peter Grey, an 80-year-old MI member since the mid-1960s who played in the inaugural Tuesday Night Marathon in 1973 (and has played in almost every one since!) and Enkhjin Gombuldeev, a 14-year-old female player from Mongolia (now living in El Cerrito) who has played in TNMs with her mom for a couple of years.

Check it out here:

Please share with friends (on Facebook or Twitter or word of mouth). Thanks.

TNM regular Ashik Uzzaman writes about the upcoming match at the MI between tech titans TubeMogul and DropBox on his blog at

The Tuesday Night Marathon schedule for 2016 is now available:

EventRoundsStartsLast round
Winter TNM8January 5February 23
Spring TNM8March 15May 3
Summer TNM8May 24July 12
Alan Benson Memorial TNM9August 2September 27
Fall TNM9October 18December 13

All events are both USCF and FIDE rated.

We wrote about the late Emory Tate in Newsletter #724, but neglected to mention that last April–June he not only took part in tournaments in the Netherlands, but also several events in Bulgaria, Italy and Spain. Chess and travel were two of Emory’s favorite things to do in life, and we are glad he was able to make one last European road trip before his passing.

International Master Elliott Winslow won the La Vieve Hines Marathon held at the Berkeley Chess Club from September 18 to October 23, 2015. Winslow scored 5½ from 6, followed by National Master Roger Poehlmann at 5. Kerry Lawless directed for the BCC.

2) Sharma-Saidy, U.S. Game/30 Championship 2015

Boris Spassky, Val Zemitis (standing) and Anthony Saidy (right) at the Western States Open in Reno 2005 (Photo: John Donaldson)

The following game was played in the U.S. Game/30, held September 27 in Santa Clara. Notes to the game are by the winner Arun Sharma, a math professor at UC Berkeley. Sharma is best known to American chess players for his selfless promotion of the game, which includes organizing international tournaments and serving as the technical director of the US Chess League. If not for these duties he would have become an International Master several years ago.

Nimzo-Indian E39
Arun Sharma (2442)–Anthony Saidy (2252)
U.S. G/30 (3) 2015

This was definitely not a perfect game. But certainly it was interesting and exciting, worthy of a bit of analysis. I found it somewhat amusing that after the game my opponent asked me if playing in this way was my “usual style”—when in some sense this game was as far from my usual style as it could have been. I’ve often been criticized for being too reliant on calculation—refusing to sacrifice material in a speculative fashion, only if I’m able to see a firm conclusion. Well that’s exactly what I did to an extreme degree in this game, though I will admit it certainly wasn’t the original plan!

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5 0–0 6.a3 Bxc5 7.Nf3 b6 8.Bg5 Bb7 9.e4 h6 10.Bh4 g5

A surprise. I do not recall ever seeing Black play an early g5 in this particular line/setup, as retreating with Be7 is pretty much universal. The computer seems to think that g5 is fine, but it feels somewhat suspicious to me.

11.Bg3 Nh5 12.b4

I was calculating a lot of lines here, in several of which Black would follow his aggressive g5 with f5. With the possibility of the f-file opening and g4 occurring, f2 becoming a target did seem entirely possible. As such I decided to be “safe” and force the bishop back to an “inferior” square. Hard to know how the game might have progressed had I not thrown this in, but it likely would have taken a completely different route as the change in position of the bishop ending up having a much bigger impact than I expected!

12...Be7 13.Bd3?

It really did not feel right to play this move during the game, as Be2 is almost always played in this setup, and surely with Black’s knight on h5, Be2 becomes even more natural. But somehow I was having trouble finding a good way to play after 13. Be2 f5 However the engine points out 13.Be2 f5 14.exf5 exf5 15.Nd5 f4? 16.Qg6+ Ng7 17.Bd3+-.

13...Nc6 14.Rd1 Nxg3

A surprise, as I did not expect Black to so readily open the h-file with my rook stationed on h1, figuring he would wait until I committed to castling, or simply not capturing if I did not castle.

15.hxg3 g4 16.Qd2 Bf6!

A move I completely overlooked as I expected 16...Bg5 17.Nxg5 Qxg5 18.Rxh6, where White should be winning in the ending without too much difficulty.


I was proud of how clever I was, allowing my opponent to take a free piece with check here without any anxiety. Of course it’s much easier to not have anxiety when you are actually winning by force if they take the bait, as after 17.Qxh6 Bxc3+ 18.Kf1 Re8 19.e5! Black can’t avoid mate. Unfortunately I didn’t realize how strong the e5 idea was in general, as instead of 17.Qxh6, much better is 17.e5! Bg7 18.Ne4!! gxf3 19.Nf6+, simply winning for White.

I sort of wrote this off as a “computer line”, but when I showed the game to GM Zherebukh, he felt this was something that was quite seeable. While of course Black doesn’t have to take on f3, if he does not White will not be in danger of losing material and should have a large advantage.


The only move.


Not necessarily the objectively best move (though close), but certainly the move which puts the most pressure on Black. I kind of wonder if I would have had the guts to play like this in a normal time control game, as definitely the fact that we were playing G/30, with my opponent already somewhat low on the clock, was motivation to go for the line which might be hardest for him to meet practically. A good decision, it turns out, as the other line I was mostly considering is simply bad for White: 18.e5 Bg7 19.Qh7+ Kf8 20.Nh4 Nxe5.


Again the only move, as if Black gets greedy with 18...Bxc3+ 19.Kf1 f5 20.e5 he must give up his queen to avoid mate, leading to a hopeless position.


Of course the move I had planned to play on Bxh4. Once again objectively perhaps not best, as the computer wants the strange looking 19.gxh4 gxf3 20.e5 Nxe5 21.Bh7+ Kh8 22.Be4+=, but once again 19. gxh4 did not even cross my mind. The main alternative I had considered here was 19.Nxh4, which is also close to equal as White certainly has some compensation for his slight material disadvantage. But this not seeming especially good, I went for the gusto!

19...f5 20.exf6!?

It might have been time to congratulate Black on defending appropriately the last few moves and earning a well-deserved perpetual. But given the general factors: tournament standing, having White, and my opponent having only a couple minutes on his clock, I again went for the throat!

20...Qxf6 21.Bh7+?!

Once again, objectively might have been best to just go with 21.Qh7+ Kf8 22.Ne4 Qg7 23.Qxg7+ Kxg7 24.Nxh4 with an endgame that should probably be OK for White, but certainly if anyone is on the worse end it is him. And after declining a perpetual the move before, rather hard psychologically to go for that!

21...Kf7 22.Qh5+ Kg7 23.Ne4 Qh6 24.Qxg4+ Kxh7 25.gxh4 Qg7?

After a fantastic defensive effort, especially considering his super-low clock, my opponent finally goes astray. Given more time I’m sure he probably would have found 25...Re7!–+, the move I was most concerned about during the game, and indeed the computer gives Black a big advantage there. Granted, I think it’s still far from easy practically, particularly with a low clock, but at that point White’s attack is mostly beaten back. My plan was 26.Nfg5+, where Black must find the cold-blooded 26...Kg8! walking right into a discovery; instead the more natural 25...Re7 26.Nfg5+ Kh8 27.Nd6 leaves things much more in doubt.

26.Nfg5+ Kg8 27.Rxd7! Re7 28.Rxe7 Nxe7?

Unfortunately losing, but to find the insane draw here with 28...Qa1+ 29.Ke2 Qb2+ 30.Nd2 Nd4+ 31.Ke1 Qc1+ 32.Qd1 Nc2+ 33.Ke2 Nd4+ 34.Ke1= would have been hard even in a slow game, especially since if one were inclined to play Qa1+, they would likely do it prior to playing Re7. But there it fails due to White’s playing his king to f1, then interposing with Rd1 after the back-rank check.

29.Qxe6+ Kf8

29...Kh8 30.Nf7+ Kg8 31.Nf6+ Kf8 32.Ng5 allows White to transpose to the same position if he wishes to.

30.Nf6 1–0

Here my opponent’s flag fell, but the position is now lost, as 30.Nf6 Qg6 31.Ngh7+ Kg7 32.Qxe7+ Qf7 33.Nh5+ Kg6 34.Qg5+! wins the queen and the game. And if instead 30.Nf6 Qg6 31.Ngh7+ Kg7 32.Qxe7+ Kh8, White can follow with 33.Kd2 and win without much trouble (or 33.Qxb7).

3) Here and There

Today San Diego chess is more vibrant than ever, with International Masters John Watson, Cyrus Lakdawala and Keaton Kiewra all calling the nation’s eighth-largest city home. The San Diego Chess Club has a permanent home in Balboa Park and the SD Surfers made their debut in the US Chess League this season.

San Diego chess has deep roots as evidenced by the following game unearthed by National Master John Blackstone. It was published by E.H. Bryant in his chess column in the Sunday Oregonian on November 20, 1921.

Vienna Game C29
E. Schrader–J. Gibbs
Cabrillo Club Tour San Diego, CA, 1921

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.fxe5 Nxe4 5.Qf3 f5 6.Nge2 Nc6 7.d4 Bb4 8.Be3 0-0 9.g3 Na5 10.Rd1 Nc4 11.Bc1 c5 12.a3 cxd4 13.axb4 Nxe5 14.Qg2 dxc3 15.bxc3 Ng4 16.Rd4 Re8 17.c4 Qf6 18.h3 Ngf2 19.Rh2 dxc4 20.Be3 Qb6 21.c3 Nd3+ 22.Rxd3 cxd3 23.Bxb6 axb6 24.Nc1 d2+ 25.Kd1 Ra1 0-1

The US Chess Federation membership in 2015, at over 80,000, is higher than it was in the Fischer boom years in the early 1970s, but here is one record that will be hard to beat. According to the Christian Science Monitor for October 11, 1972, over 20 million dollars of chess supplies had been purchased by Americans since the beginning of the year!

National Master James McCormick, who will turn 80 next year, has won the Washington State Championship seven times, second only to J.L. (Jacob Leonard) Sheets’ eight titles. That said, a strong argument can be made that McCormick played his best chess during prolonged stays in Northern California in the early 1970s and 1990s. Here is a sharp battle against Walter Browne, who had received the Grandmaster title earlier in the year.

Sicilian Taimanov B82
Walter Browne–James McCormick
American Open Santa Monica (5) 1970

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.Be3 Qc7 7.Bd3 Nf6 8.f4 b5 9.a3 Bb7 10.Qf3 Nbd7 11.0–0 e5 12.Nf5 g6 13.fxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxd6+ Qxd6 15.Qxf6 Qxf6 16.Rxf6 Ng4 17.Bd4 Nxf6 18.Bxf6 Bc5+ 19.Kf1 0–0 20.b4 Ba7 21.a4 bxa4 22.Rxa4 Bb6 23.Nd5 Bd8 24.Bd4 f6 25.c4 Kg7 26.Kf2 Re8 27.c5 Re6 28.Kf3 Kf8 29.Bc4 Re8 30.Ra1 f5 31.Re1 Bg5 32.Nc7 Rxe4 33.Rxe4 Bxe4+ 34.Kf2 Rb8 35.Nxa6 Rd8 36.Nc7 Ke7 37.Ne6 Rb8 38.b5 Bf6 39.Be3 Ra8 40.c6 Be5 41.Bc5+ Ke8 42.Bb3 Ra1 43.c7 Kd7 44.b6 Ra8 45.Be3 Bd6 46.Nd4 Bb7 47.Nb5 Ra5 48.Nd4 Ra8 49.Nb5 Ra5 50.Nd4 Ra8 ½–½

Mechanics’ Chess Coordinator Paul Whitehead tied for first in the 1978 US Junior Closed along with Yasser Seirawan and John Fedorowicz. Paul, who turned 18 during the event, used his favorite Rossolimo Attack to win a nice game against one of the pre-tournament favorites.

Sicilian Rossolimo Attack B30
Paul Whitehead–Michael Rohde
US Jr Invitational ch Memphis 1978

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nd4 5.e5 Nxb5 6.Nxb5 Nd5 7.0-0 a6 8.c4 Nb4 9.Nc3 d6 10.d4 cxd4 11.Qa4+ Nc6 12.Nd5 dxe5 13.Nxe5 Bd7 14.Nxd7 Kxd7 15.c5 Ke8 16.Nb6 Ra7 17.Bf4 e5 18.Bxe5 f6 19.Rfe1 fxe5 20.Rxe5+ Be7 21.Rae1 Kf8 22.Rd5 Qc7 23.Rd7 Qf4 24.g3 Qf5 25.Rexe7 Nxe7 26.Rd8+ Kf7 27.Qc4+ Kg6 28.Rxh8 Qb1+ 29.Kg2 Qe4+ 30.f3 Qe3 31.Rf8 Qd2+ 32.Kf1 d3 33.Qe6+ Kh5 34.Qxe7 Qd1+ 35.Kg2 Qd2+ 36.Kh3 Qf2 37.Rf5+ 1-0

Go to to see two very nice photos of Fabiano Caruana and Bruce Pandolfini separated by over a decade. Both were taken in Washington Square Park at the chess tables when it was raining. The first is from the early 2000s and the second from November 2015.

4) This is the end

Bishop-and-pawn endings can be tricky. Try this study:

White to move

Show solution

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