Chess Room Newsletter #746 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #746

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Newsletter #746
April 29, 2016

“Chess helps you think better, like, which move should I do?” Reid said. “If you’re in a losing position, then you have to make your brain think really hard, because if your opponent makes a mistake, you can come back. Also, if you’re in a winning position, you just can’t make mistakes, so your brain has to think really, really, really hard so you don’t make a mistake, or he could come back if you do. And if it’s an even position, you have to get your brain to think really, really hard, harder than a winning position or a losing position, because you want to get in a winning position.”

—Kindergartner Reid Segarra, as quoted in

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

A tough draw between veteran International Master Elliott Winslow and 12-year-old Master Josiah Stearman and wins by FIDE Master James Critelli and National Master Bryon Doyle leaves the four players tied for first with 6–1 scores going into the final round of the 126-player Spring Tuesday Night Marathon. Right behind them with 5½ points are Experts Michael Walder, Steven Gallagan and Yuan Wang.

Top FIDE-rated players in the Spring TNM are:

1. FM James Critelli 2292
2. NM Tenzing Shaw 2241
3. IM Elliott Winslow 2222
4. NM Josiah Stearman 2204

From round 7 of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Walters–Kumar after 9...Ne5)Black to move (Giridharan–Marcus after 18 Re2)
White to move (Clemens–Moren after 28...Rc8)White to move (Brown–Babayan after 39...Ne5)
Black to move (Sachs-Weintraub–Cohee after 25 Qg4)White to move (Erickson–Aafjes after 7...O-O-O)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 7.

The Summer Tuesday Night Marathon, an eight-round USCF- and FIDE-rated event, starts on May 24. A special memorial event, honoring the later Peter Grey, will be held before the start of round 2 on May 31. It will run from 4:30 pm to 6:15 pm and feature light refreshments and testimonials by Peter’s long-time friends Peter Stevens and Tom Stevens.

2) Bobby Fischer on Tour with the Log Cabin Chess Club

Shortly before his 13th birthday Bobby Fischer joined the Log Cabin Chess Of West Orange, New Jersey, in a barnstorming tour that stopped in Florida (multiple locations), Cuba and North Carolina. Fischer’s activities in Cuba and North Carolina have been previously documented, but the following material, first published in Bobby Fischer in Action (John Donaldson and Eric Tangborn, Kindle 2016,, is new.

Hollywood, Florida—March 1, 1956 - 8 (+7, -1, =0)

R. E. Burry’s chess column in the Ft. Lauderdale Sunday News for March 4, 1956, ends with: Bob Fischer, the 15-year-old (sic) whiz of the Log Cabin Chess Club, played some eight or more of our players simultaneously, winning all but one game, which was a draw. Some additional games were not completed.

The authors were prompted to try to find out information about this exhibition after seeing a photo in the April 1956 issue of Chess Review which showed Fischer standing with four players seated in front of him, all with the black pieces. One of them was R.E. Burry. Regrettably no games appear to have been published from this impromptu exhibition.

Frank Brady’s Endgame devotes four pages to this barnstorming adventure and has much inside information. It’s particularly strong in explaining the many contradictory views held by the tour’s organizer and sponsor, E. Forry Laucks. The visit to Havana receives an in-depth look, but the other stops are not specifically covered.

We were able to find out a fair amount about the Florida stops in R.E. Burry’s chess column in the Ft. Lauderdale Sunday News for March 4, 1956.

Burry writes:

On Thursday [editors: March 1] we were pleased to have a visit from the Log Cabin Chess Club of New Jersey. Here is the result of a match we played with this well known and much traveled team.

Log Cabin Broward Co.
Bob Fischer1Frank Rose0
Norm Whitaker1Jim Hundley0
E.R. Glover1John Roman0
R. Houghton0John Harvey1
Wm. Walbrecht0P. DeNoel1
Forry Laucks½R.E. Burry½
Ted Miller1Rudy Brunner0

The match was played in Hollywood, Florida, and the chess columnist R.E. Burry wrote for the Fort Lauderdale newspaper. The two towns are next door to each other in Broward County hence the name for the team the Log Cabineers faced. We have never seen Fischer referred to as Bob, nor Whitaker as Norm.

Burry continues:

What happened to the Greater Miami Club earlier in the week?

Log Cabin Miami

Fred Borges1Aron Goldman0
Norm Whitaker½Marvin Sills½
Bob Fischer1Chas. Shaw0
Wm. Walbrecht1John Fulop0
E.R. Glover0Murray Cohen1
Forry Laucks1Arne Pedersen0
R. Houghton1Norman Church0
Tedd Miller0Jose Simonet1

What is Fred Borges (U.S.C.F. 2000) doing playing above Whitaker and Fischer? Burry explains he played for the Log Cabin in the past when he lived up North and is still a member in good standing despite now living in Miami.

What happened to the Log Cabin Club in St. Petersburg on February 21st? You can’t win them all!

Log Cabin St. Petersburg
Norm Whitaker0R. G. Carlyle1
Bob Fischer1Col. F. Lynch0
E.R. Glover½C. Spicehandler½
R. Houghton0C.L. Clarks1
Forry Laucks0Sam Tilles1
Wm. Walbrecht0Dan Bryant1
Ted Miller0E.M. Weeks1

This match demonstrates the lack of depth on the Log Cabin team; after Whitaker and Fischer there was a big drop to Glover, rated 1976 on the May 20, 1956 U.S.C.F. rating list. Then came Walbrecht at 1736, Laucks 1726 and Houghton at 1524. Miller didn’t even have a rating.

The brief New York Times recap of the tour mentions Whitaker and Bobby both finished the tour with identical scores of 5½-1½. If this is indeed the case then all of Fischer’s wins are accounted for.

He beat Rose (2030), Shaw (1858), Lynch (1922), Jenkins (1962) and Florido which means that he scored a loss and a draw in his two remaining matches—Tampa and another match with St. Petersburg mentioned by Chess Review. This performance also emphasizes that Bobby was seriously underrated—he would appear on the annual USCF rating list in May 1956 at 1726!

Note that in those days the USCF rating list appeared annually and could be seriously out-of-date—Bobby would win his first US Junior in Philadelphia in the summer of 1956. What makes Fischer the prodigy such a special case to this day is not how strong he was at 12 or 13, but the incredible leap in strength he made from the beginning of 1956 to the start of 1957—from expert strength player to U.S. Champion. This has never been matched.

Burry concludes his report with

...The Log Cabin Chess Club has had quite a tour, coming to us from Fairbanks, Alaska. They report that the Alaska Highway is dusty with lots of gravel and sharp stones. They played teams in California and Montana and Tijuana, Mexico and from Ft. Lauderdale went on to Cuba.

Bob Fischer, the 15-year-old (sic) whiz of the Log Cabin Chess Club, played some eight or more of our players simultaneously, winning all but one game, which was a draw. Some additional games were not completed.

The first paragraph requires some correction. The Log Cabin Chess Club went on the West Coast odyssey described above after the 1955 U.S. Open in Long Beach, not as part of this 3500-mile adventure along the Atlantic seaboard in early 1956. More worrying for those trying to match the cities the Log Cabin visited with dates is the last part of the sentence ...and from Ft. Lauderdale went on to Cuba. This directly contradicts Burry’s first sentence:

On Thursday we were pleased to have a visit from the Log Cabin Chess Club of New Jersey. Here is the result of a match we played with this well known and much traveled team.

Since the Log Cabin was definitely in Havana on February 25th and 26th there is a problem here.

The order given by Chess Review (April 1956, page 101), where the caption for the photo showing Bobby playing Laucks in Havana reads: Philadelphia, Hollywood, St. Petersburg, Miami, Tampa, Havana and Clinton. This doesn’t make things very clear, as traveling from New York to Miami, then back north to Tampa, then south again to Havana is not the most efficient itinerary.

Based on the information available we think one way the tour might have gone is as follows:

February 18 Leave Philadelphia
February 20 Tampa
February 21 St. Petersburg
February 22 St. Petersburg
February 25 and 26 Havana
February 28 Miami
March 1 Hollywood
March 3 Clinton
March 5 back in Philadelphia

Note it is six hours from Tampa to Key West, which is closer to Havana than Miami. There was regular car ferry service between Key West and Havana in 1956 and Frank Brady in Endgame notes it took six hours.

This tour, which Bobby made accompanied by his mother Regina, was his first visit to the southern United States and a foreign country (Cuba).

3) Ashritha Eswaran Shines in 2016 US Women’s Championship

15-year-old Ashritha Eswaran shone in the recently-concluded US Women’s Championship held in St. Louis, scoring 5½ from 11, including a last-round victory over Tatev Abrahamyan which knocked the latter out of first place. The San Jose High School student is nearing 2300 USCF (currently 2287) after this fine result and a victory in the Pan Am Continental Championship in April. She is coached by Bulgarian Grandmaster Dejan Bojkov.

Abrahamyan had been having an excellent tournament up to this point (8/10) so the way the Asritha outplays her more experienced opponent with first-rate positional play is particularly impressive.

B92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opovcensky variation
Ashritha Eswaran (2225)–Tatev Abrahamyan (2342)
2016 U.S. Women’s Championship (11.12) 2016-4-5

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cd4 4. Nd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. Bg5 Nbd7 9. a4 b6 10. Nd2 Bb7 11. Nc4 Qc7 12. Ne3 O-O 13. O-O Rfe8 14. Bc4 Rac8 15. Bf6 Nf6 16. Qd3 Ra8 17. Rfd1 Red8 18. Bd5 Rac8 19. Ra3 Rd7 20. Rb3 Bd8 21. Bc4 Ra8 22. Ncd5 Nd5 23. Bd5 Bd5 24. Qd5 Rc8 25. Rc3 Qb8 26. Rc8 Qc8 27. Nc4 h6 28. Ne5 Rc7 29. Qd6 Bf6 30. c3 Be5 31. Qe5 Rd7 32. Rd5 b5 33. Qf5 1-0

Irina Krush and Ashritha Eswaran during their round-seven game from the 2016 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship.
(Photo: Michael Klein for Chess.Com and the Chess Club and Scholastic Chess Center of St. Louis)

4) 10th Ray Schutt Memorial Blitz

Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky will play.

10th Annual Ray Schutt Memorial Blitz Tournament
Held at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club
Come and pay tribute to an old friend!
Sunday May 15th, 2016
12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

There will be a chance to reminiscence about Ray over light refreshments both before and after the event.

6 Double Round Swiss
Time control:
Game in 4 minutes with a 2 second increment per move.
Prizes: 1st $400, 2nd $250, 3rd $120, 4th $100, 5th $75, 6th $50. All participants will win a book prize!
Entry fee: $10. Free to GMs, IMs, WGMs and WIMs.
Registration: 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. No phone entries.
Rounds: 1 pm, 1:30 pm, 2 pm, 2:30 pm, 3 pm and 3:30 pm.
Prize ceremony: 4:00 pm.

Honor Ray’s memory and make this a great tournament!

The Mechanics’ Institute is the oldest chess club in the United States. The Institute can be reached via BART. Exit Montgomery Street BART station.
The chess room is on the fourth floor of 57 Post Street, San Francisco.

Questions? For more information, call 415-393-0110 or email [email protected].

5) This is the end

Magnus Carlsen was White in this recent game, but it’s Black to move. Can he survive?

Black to move

Show solution

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