Chess Room Newsletter #758 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #758

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Newsletter #758
August 19, 2016

You are playing chess because you sense something spiritual in it. You have tasted it, but are not really certain what it is. You keep coming back to the game to find it.

—Grandmaster Jesse Kraai

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

National Masters Josiah Stearman and Bryon Doyle and Experts Natalya Tsodikova and Igor Traub lead the 99-player Alan Benson Tuesday Night Marathon with perfect scores after three rounds.

Top seed International Master Elliott Winslow is half a point behind, after winning the game below, which features a beautiful finish.

From round 3 of the Alan Benson Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Doyle–O’Connor after 16...Bd7)White to move (Kondakov–Smith after 17...Qf4)
White to move (Pryor–Poling after 25...Qa4)White to move (Melville–Rakonitz after 56...g4)
White to move (Melville–Rakonitz after 57...Ke5)White to move (McKellar–Allen after 14...Qg6)
White to move (James–Arai after 17...Kf8)Black to move (Capdeville–Simpkins after 28 Rg1)
Black to move (Paquette–Bayaraa after 16 h3)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 3.

Queen’s Gambit Declined D36
Elliott Winslow–Kristain Clemens
Alan Benson TNM (3) 2016
Notes by Winslow

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 Nbd7 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Qc2 c6 8.Bd3 h6 9.Bf4 0–0 10.h3 Re8 11.0–0–0 Nf8 12.Nf3 Be6 13.Kb1 Rc8 14.g4 c5 15.dxc5

15.Bb5 Bd7 16.Bxd7 Qxd7 17.dxc5 Rxc5 18.Qb3 Ng6 19.Ne5 Qe6 20.Nxg6 fxg6 21.Rd4 g5 22.Bg3 b6 23.Rhd1 Rd8 24.f3?? (24.e4±) 24...Qxe3= Knaak-Kholmov, Halle 1978.

15...Bxc5 16.Be5?

16.g5 hxg5 17.Nxg5 Qe7; 16.Rhg1.

16...N8d7 17.Bd4 a6?



18.g5 hxg5 19.Nxg5 Bxd4 20.exd4 b5.


18...Ne4 19.Bxe4 dxe4 20.Bxc5 exf3.

19.a3 Bd6??

Black’s hesitancy finally catches up to him.

[19...Ne4!; 19...Bxd4 20.Nxd4 Ne5]

20.g5 hxg5 21.Rxg5!

Stockfish 7 says 21.Nxg5!+– but my little computer probably didn’t let it see what happened in the game in the time I allowed it to run.


21...Bf8 22.Rdg1 Nc5]

22.Rdg1 Bf8


“Can it really be that simple?” (Benjamin Gates—National Treasure).

23.Bh7+ Nxh7 (23...Kh8!? wasn’t so convincing as the game) 24.Rxg7+ Bxg7 25.Rxg7+ Kf8 26.Qxh7 Ke7 27.Qh6 Kd7 28.Ne5+ Kc7 29.Nxf7 Bxf7 30.Bxc5.

23...Qxf6 24.Bh7+ Kh8 25.Rh5 Qxf3

25...Bd6 26.Ng5 sets up 26...-- 27.Bg8+ Kxg8 (27...Qh6 28.Rxh6+ Kxg8 29.Rh8+) 28.Rh8+ Kxh8 29.Qh7#.


When the computer sees this, its evaluation jumps.


26...Qxg4 27.hxg4 Bd6 28.Bf5+ Kg8 29.Bxe6 fxe6 is more mundane, but +–.

27.Nd1 f5

27...Bd6 28.Be4+ Kg8 29.Bxh1.

28.Bg6+! Kg8 29.Rgh4


Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky ended a successful European summer by tying for sixth in the 2016 Riga Technical University Open, half a point out of first. Daniel ends the summer a few points shy of 2650 FIDE; just outside the top-100-rated players in the world.

Alex Shabalov won the U.S. Open held in Indianapolis from July 30 to August 7. The 48-year-old Latvian-born Grandmaster score 8 from 9 to tie for first with Israeli International Master Gil Popilski, whom he defeated in a playoff. Shabalov earned a spot in the 2017 US Championship.

Five players shared the highest score from Northern California at 6 out of 9. Congratulations to FIDE Master (and long-time Mechanics’ Trustee) Mark Pinto, National Master Michael Wang, National Master John Langreck, and two young experts: Balaji Daggupati and Christopher Yoo.

13-year-old Hans Niemann, who began his chess career at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club, just earned his first IM norm at the North American Chess Championship under 18 by tying for first. The event was held in Windsor, Canada.

Olimpiu G. Urcan of Singapore found the following game from a 32-board simultaneous display at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club.

José Raúl Capablanca–Frank Sternberg
San Francisco, 11 April 1916

1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bc4 d6 4 d3 Nc6 5 f4 Bg4 6 Nf3 Nd4 7 O-O Nxf3+ 8 gxf3 Be6 9 Kh1 Qd7 10 f5 Bxc4 11 dxc4 O-O-O 12 b4 Qc6 13 Qd3 g6 14 Bg5 Be7 15 Bxf6 Bxf6 16 Nd5 Bh4 17 f6 Qd7 18 b5 Qe6 19 a4 Bxf6 20 a5 Bg5 21 b6 axb6 22 axb6 c6 23 c5 Kd7 24 Ra7 Rb8 25 Nc7 Qe7 26 Rd1 Rhd8 27 cxd6 Qf6 28 Na6 Ke8 29 Nxb8 Rxb8 30 d7+ Kf8 31 Rda1 Kg7 32 Ra8 Qd8 33 Rxb8 Qxb8 34 c4 c5 35 Qd5 Be7 36 Ra7 1-0

Source: Page 4 of Section Two of the Sunday Oregonian, 13 May 1917 and .

2) Chess and the Preparedness Day Bombing by John Donaldson

This past July 22 the hundred year anniversary of the Preparedness Day bombing quietly came and went. The largest terrorist act in San Francisco the past century killed 10 people and wounded 40 others when a bomb placed in a suitcase exploded during a huge parade staged to show that the U.S. was prepared to enter World War I.

Juries quickly convicted labor union organizers Tom Mooney and Warren Billings of the crime, but soon after information emerged that they had been sent to prison on perjured testimony and doctored evidence. Despite the new facts Mooney and Billings spent 23 years in prison, only being released in 1939.

During the 1920s and 1930s many attempts were made to free the two men whose case had become a cause célbre. Among those offering legal assistance to the labor union organizers was the young San Francisco attorney and Mechanics’ member Henry Gross who tied for first in the 1928 California State Chess Championship.

The following letter from Warren Billings indicates that he and Gross had something in common besides a desire to see justice served. The first half concerns the legal proceedings of the case in the early 1930s, but the remainder deals exclusively with Billings’s chess activities, which were considerable. The tournaments he mentions participating in were played by mail.

3) Dr. Anthony Saidy annotates

The following game and notes come from the archive of the late Peter Grey.

Benoni A44
Anthony Saidy–Jerry Hanken
National Open Las Vegas (6) 1966
Notes by International Master Anthony Saidy.

1.d4 c5 2.d5 e5 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 f5?

Black’s defense is unsound. Now White must demonstrate control of the white squares.

5.e4 Nf6 6.exf5 Bxf5 7.Nge2 Be7 8.Ng3 Bg6 9.h4 h6 10.Bd3 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 0–0 12.Nf5! Kh8

Necessary to defend against Qg3 or Bxh6.



Best 13...Nbd7 14.g4 a6 15.Ne4.

14.Be3 a6 15.g4 b5 16.Ne4

16.cxb5 is objectively best, but White wants a quick finish.

16...bxc4 17.Qc2! Nd7 18.Ng5


A blunder due to the pressure of defending. Correct was 18...Ndf6 19.Ne6 (Editor—19.Nxg7! is also very strong.) 19...Qa5+ 20.Bd2 Qb5 21.Nxf8 Rxf8 22.Ne3 Qb7 with some compensation for the exchange.

19.Nxe7 1–0

4) Mark Dvoretsky: Players Could Benefit From Avoiding Studying Theory

I have heard an opinion that there is so much knowledge nowadays that committing it all to your memory is impossible, so grandmasters have started to turn away from home preparation. They are not exactly without an opening repertoire, but with some kind of a “lite” one.

This is not exactly the case. It is not so much about the opening theory, but simply that Carlsen has advanced to the forefront, and he is the trendsetter in chess at present with people imitating him. In Kasparov’s days, on the contrary, everyone tried to study openings as deeply as possible. Carlsen has demonstrated that you are able to play based on mastery, will to win and other qualities, without having any hardwired opening repertoire. But even now chess players still can’t afford to get by without getting along with openings. Perhaps they do not study a lot of forced variations, but opening preparation takes up a large chunk of their time.

Is it because of that that their performance in the middlegame and endgame suffers?

This is unquestionably so, but not only because there’s almost no time left to work on other stages, but also because of the advent of computers. Chess players receive ready-made answers, while in the past finding answers required having to switch on their brains to full capacity much more often, and thus they were constantly training different skills and decision-making habits. It goes without saying that it would be stupid nowadays not to exploit such a powerful tool as a computer, but you have to be able to combine working with it and training your mind. The most important task of coaches is to help their students come to terms with that process.

The entire interview by Vladimir Barsky can be found at

5) This is the end

This position is from a recent Grandmaster game. Black has just played 68 ... Ra8-a5, keeping the a-pawn under control. What happens now?

White to move

Show solution

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