Chess Room Newsletter #744 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #744

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Newsletter #744
April 15, 2016

In general I would like to say that I am a strong believer in the value of a chess education built on a thorough knowledge of the classics. Any attempt to emulate the engines and their 2,000,000 moves a second is doomed to fail. We need to supplement calculation with all other weapons available. And one of these is intuition, which is strongly rooted in pattern recognition. When you have “uploaded” a lot of chess patterns to your brain in your childhood, you will often have a very strong suspicion regarding what the right move is in a position, even though you have no idea why...

—GM Boris Gelfand, on p. 58 of his Positional Decision Making in Chess

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

Top seed James Critelli beat fellow National Master Natlalya Tsodikova, in round five and has the sole perfect score among the 126 contestants. Next with 4½ are IM Elliott Winslow, National Master Josiah Stearman and Experts Michael Walder and Steven Gaffagan. Three rounds remain to be played.

From round 5 of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Gaffagan–Shaw after 19...O-O-O)White to move (Traub–Walder after 20...h5)
Black to move (Traub–Walder after 37 Kf1)Black to move (Clemens–Doyle after 16 Bxe5)
Black to move (Kim–Shakhnazarov after 18 e5)Black to move (Montoya–Marcus after 12 Nf3)
White to move (Malykin–Porlares after 5...Bg6)White to move (Giridharan–Bekhtur after 27...d4)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 5.

The results from the MI Wednesday Blitz for April 6 had Jules Jelinek and Felix Rudyak sharing first and second, with David Flores taking third.

The 16th Imre Konig Memorial G/45 was won by National Master Ian Schoch with a 5–0 score, including a key win over National Master Paul Gallegos in round 4. Experts Joe Tracy and Brendyn Estolas tied for second with 4½ points in the the 63-player event. Gallegos, Hao Li and Nelson Sowell tied for fourth at 4–1. This was the third-largest turnout for a G/45 in over 15 years of holding this type of events. It was especially good if one considers that the record (74 players for the March 2003 Max Wilkerson), occurred when the Bay Area chess scene was nowhere near as vibrant as it is now, with a big tournament almost every week.

Bill Wall gives the following information about chess in San Francisco in the early 1850s at The material in the first paragraph is known to your editor, but the rest is new. Can any reader provide more information?

On July 21, 1851, chess master Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant (1800–1872) arrived in San Francisco. He was the French consul to California.

In November 1851, the San Francisco Chess Club was formed, meeting in a building at No. 32 Merchant Street. St. Amant gave a chess exhibition there.

2) Mr. Tuesday Night Marathon (Peter Grey 1935–2016)

The weekly Tuesday Night Marathon is the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club’s most successful tournament averaging, over 125 entries per event in 2016. Rapid growth the past few years has made it the largest week-night tournament in the country, with players of all ages (6 to 86) and backgrounds coming to the Mechanics’ each week. This is a dramatic transformation from the TNM’s humble beginnings in the early 1970s, and one player saw these changes close up.

Peter Grey (1935–2016), who died in early April, moved from the Midwest to San Francisco in the mid 1960s and quickly made the Mechanics’ his home. Well-liked for his pleasant personality and even temperament, Peter quickly made many friends and became a fixture at the Mechanics’—in both the chess club and library. He used thhe chess book and periodical collection of the latter to keep abreast of trends in opening theory.

Peter was not only ranked as a National Master by the U.S. Chess Federation, but was a keen student of the game, who loved its history. This combination of passion and knowledge helped when Peter assisted George Koltanowski in preparing his daily chess column, which ran for over 50 years in the San Francisco Chronicle. Peter was a key helper to George in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Peter played weekend tournaments at the Mechanics’, but his favorite event was unquestionably the TNM. You could count on both hands the number of games Peter missed in over 40 years of playing in these events. A conservative estimate has him playing over 1500 games in TNMs! The Tuesday Night Marathon series and the M.I. Chess Club will not be the same without him.

The following win over Texas Master Robert Atlas is evidence of Peter’s skill in conducting his beloved Grünfeld Defense (he liked to meet 1.e4 with 1...e5 and liked to meet the Ruy Lopez with the Open variation).

D89: Grünfeld, Spassky variation
Robert Atlas–Peter Grey
San Francisco San Francisco (4), 1976
Annotations by Donaldson

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 0–0 9.0–0 Nc6 10.Be3 cxd4 11.cxd4 Bg4 12.f3 Na5 13.Bd3 Be6 14.d5 Bxa1 15.Qxa1 f6


In this important tabiya for the Grünfeld many moves have been played, with 16.Bh6 and 16.Rfb1 the most common.

16...Bd7 17.Bh6 Rf7 18.f4?

18.e5 White prepares e4-e5, but doesn’t have the time to do so effectively. The immediate advance 18.e5 has been played by Gligoric and V. Milov, and offers chances for both players in a complicated fight.

18...Rc8 19.Nd4 Qc7!

Black grabs control of the c-file.



Black plays concretely, not minding the fact that he moved his queen the previous move. The text hits the now-unprotected knight on d4 and prepares ...Nc4.

21.Bb1 Nc4 22.Qd3 Qb2 23.Nb3 Na3!

White’s attack has been stopped before it ever began.

24.f5 g5

24...Bb5 25.Rc1 Rxc1+ 26.Bxc1 Qxb1 also wins.

25.Nd4 Rc1 0–1

Source: bulletin

3) Fischer–Seidler, Buenos Aires (simul) 1971

Bobby Fischer repeatedly mentioned in interviews how important his games played in a month-long simul tour of Argentina were. He stressed that the games were highly instructive, as Argentine amateurs, although not booked up, were tough practical players.

Fischer faced twenty players in each exhibition, ranging in strength from 1800 to near 2400. The following game is a good example of how tough the opposition was. Notes to the game come from John Donaldson and Eric Tangborn’s Bobby Fischer in Action, available on Amazon Kindle.

Fischer–Aldo Seidler
Buenos Aires (simul), November 14, 1971

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Na3 f5

This is the way the position was treated before the mid–1970s when Sveshnikov and Timoschenko’s 9...b5 took over.

The opening bears some resemblance with the first game of the Fischer–Petrosian match played roughly six weeks earlier. There Petrosian essayed a central break (...d5 instead of ...f5) under better terms, as White had to spend extra time with his queen bishop before doubling Black’s f-pawns: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.Bf4 e5 7.Be3 Nf6 8.Bg5 Be6 9.N1c3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Na3 d5.


10.exf5 and 10.Bd3 are more commonly seen here, while Nakamura used 10.Nc4 to defeat Shirov at Wijk aan Zee in 2010.


Black sharpens the struggle. The alternative is 10...b5.


On 11.Nxd5 Black has 11...Bxa3 12.bxa3 Qa5+ 13.c3 Be6 with queenside castling soon to follow.

11...Bxa3 12.bxa3 fxe4

The most commonly played move but 12...Qa5 might be better.


13.Nxd5, as in Treppner–Larry Christiansen, Germany 1973, and the untested computer move 13.Bc4!? are the alternatives.

13...Qe7 14.Nxe4 Qxa3+ 15.Kd1

15.Kb1?? drops a piece to 15...Qb4+.

15...Be6 16.Nd6+

16.Rd3 Rd8 favors Black.

16...Ke7 17.Qg5+ Kf8 18.Qh6+ Ke7

Ghinda and Pavlov agreed to a draw in the 1974 Romanian championship at this point. Did they know about this game?

19.Qg5+ Kf8 20.Qh6+ Ke7 21.Qg5+ ½–½

4) Magnus Carlsen Interview

A pair of 13-year-old reporters from Hamburg, Germany interviewed the World Champion prior to a celebrity simultaneous exhibition. The two youngsters asked several unusual questions, including whether he plays on Gameboy (no), dreams about chess (mostly important losses), or would skip a chess match to play a soccer game with Real Madrid (yes).

Many chess kids and their parents will smile at the following exchange.

Q: Magnus, when you were a child, did you cry after losing a chess game? And if yes: when did you stop doing so?

A: Who says that I am not crying today? ... Okay. I think, I was 16 when I last cried after losing a game. But you should not be ashamed of that. The tears only show that you are ambitious and that you want to achieve something.

Read more about this interview at the ChessBase news website.

5) Mechanics’ Commemorative Set by House of Staunton

The House of Staunton has made available a first class reproduction of the famous wooden chess set that graced the tables of the Mechanics’ Institute from 1910s to the early 1970s. The set is available in Boxwood and Golden Rosewood, Ebonized Boxwood, and Boxwood and Rosewood: at prices ranging from $199 to $219.

The House of Staunton, in conjunction with the legendary Mechanics Institute Chess Club, is proud to offer the Mechanics Institute Series Chess set. It features a 4.25” King with a 1.875” diameter base. The chess pieces are hand-carved by our master artisans and crafted out of the highest grade woods. The chess pieces are heavily weighted with luxurious billiard cloth base pads and a rich French polish finish. These chessmen are an exact reproduction of the chessmen that were produced by the Mechanics Institute in 1916 for a simultaneous exhibition by World Champion GM Jose Raul Capablanca. This very unique pattern of chessmen is as playable as it is durable. Here’s your chance to own a piece of chess history.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these chessmen will be donated to the Mechanics Institute.

Go to for more information.

6) This is the end

This position comes from a recent game. Those connected passed pawns look fearsome; can Black control them?

Black to move

Show solution

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