Chess Room Newsletter #760 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #760

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Newsletter #760
September 23, 2016

Openings are just your ticket to the game. If you have lousy openings you won’t even get to play a good game. Openings are the minimal requirement that everybody should have, but it does not make the difference. Your strength in the other parts of the game does. For example the superiority in the endgame play is a clear example of why Carlsen is dominating the chess world. And this was also the strong point of many famous players like Shirov, Karpov, Kramnik. Hence I think endings are a very important area to work on.

—Joel Lautier, interviewed by Sagar Shah

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

International Elliott Winslow, National Master Bryon Doyle, Expert Ganesh Viswanath and visiting Polish player Aleksander Lukasiewicz (1982 FIDE) are tied for first with 6½ from 8 with one round remaining in the 106-player Alan Benson Tuesday Night Marathon.

From round 8 of the Alan Benson Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Smith–Maser after 9 Qh4)Black to move (Chen–Askin after 18 Rh3)
White to move (Gaines–Walters after 34...Nf8)Black to move (Porlares–Weingarten after 11 Bxe6)
Black to move (Hakobyan–Morgan after 37 Kh2)White to move (Andries–Eastham after 26...Qxg4)
White to move (James–Donnelly after 22...Qxc4)White to move (Boldi–Donaldson after 22...Rfe8)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 8.

The United States, for the first time in 40 years, won the Chess Olympiad held September 2–13 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Two of the members of the team are from the Mechanics’ Institute. Grandmaster Sam Shankland, who developed into a world-class player at the Mechanics’ Chess Club, anchored the team on fourth board, winning several key games. Mechanics’ Institute Chess Director John Donaldson served as team captain.

The Hamilton-Russell Cup, awarded to the winning team since 1927, is on display on the second floor of the Mechanics’ Institute Library until next next Wednesday when it will travel to St. Louis. You can find images online of Frank Marshall holding this almost 90-year-old trophy, which is is a real piece of chess history.

You can read the team captain’s report at There will be more on the Olympiad in Newsletter #761.

Conrado Diaz won the 16th Annual Howard Donnelly G/45 on September 10 with a score of 4½ from 5. His most important win was in round five against fellow National Master Jack Zhu. Tying for second with 4 points were Zhu, National Master Josiah Stearman and Expert Derek O’Connor.

The resumption of the Wednesday Night Blitz on September 7 under the direction of Jules Jelinek saw 16 players competing. Prize winners for the weekly event, which runs from 6:40 pm to just before 9 pm, were

September 7
1st- Derek O’Connor
2nd - Jules Jelinek
3rd - Jacob Sevall and David Flores

September 14
1st- Jacob Sevall
2nd – Jules Jelinek
3rd – Joe Urquhart

The 2016 Cal State Championship held over Labor Day weekend attracted a large and strong field. The 280-player event was won by Grandmasters Parimarjan Negi and Zviad Izoria with scores of 5½ from 6. The former numbered IM Ricardo DeGuzman and Senior Masters Kostya Kavutsky and Arun Sharma among his victims, while Izoria defeated Sharma, IM-elect Vignesh Panchanatham and Tatev Abrahamyan.

De Guzman and National Master Michael Wang shared third at 4½ in the event, which was organized by Judit Sztaray, and directed by Richard Koepcke and John McCumiskey for Bay Area Chess.

National Master Ladia Jirasek won a memorial tournament for former Chess Voice editor John Larkins held at the Berkeley Chess Club. The Marin County high school student scored 5/6 to finish ahead of several 2200+ players in the weekly event, which finished in late August. National Master Josiah Stearman and Experts Derek O’Connor and Ganesh Viswanath tied for second. Elizabeth Shaughnessy organized and Bryon Doyle directed for the BCC.

The 2016 Oregon Open, held over Labor Day weekend in Portland, attracted a field of 179 players. Visiting Massachusetts Senior Master Chris Chase won with a score of 5½ from 6 with National Master Jason Cigan second with 5. There was a tie for third at 4½, led by Grandmaster James Tarjan (two half-point byes) and International Master Justin Sarkar. Former Mechanics’ member Michael Morris headed the organizing committee.

National Master Ladia Jirasek concluded a successful month of tournament play in August by winning the 2016 Exchange Bank Open held August 27–28 in Santa Rosa with a 4–0 score. National Master Paul Gallegos was second at 3–1 in the 31-player event organized and directed by Paul Stagnoli.

2) September FIDE Ratings

The September FIDE rating list has a record 13 Americans rated over 2600, including three in the top ten in the world and three more in the top 100. 15-year-old Jeffrey Xiong is the top-rated player in the world under 16.

Top Americans

1. Fabiano Caruana 2808
2. Hikaru Nakamura 2789
3. Wesley So 2782
4. Sam Shankland 2679 (MICC member)
5. Ray Robson 2674
6. Alex Onischuk 2668
7. Jeffrey Xiong 2647
8. Daniel Naroditsky 2646 (MICC member)
9. Gata Kamsky 2637
10. Varuzhan Akobian 2625
11.Timur Gareev 2619
12. Yaroslav Zherebukh 2613
13. Alex Lenderman 2600

3) Grandmaster Simuls at the Mechanics’

The Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club has hosted many simultaneous exhibitions in its over 150 year history including ones by World Champions Emanuel Lasker, Jose Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Max Euwe, Vassily Smyslov, Tigran Petrosian, Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer (Mikhail Tal played a tournament game at the MI in 1991 and Anatoly Karpov visited the club in 1999. Mikhail Botvinnik and Garry Kasparov are missing from the list of 20th-century titleholders). It has also hosted many other strong Grandmasters.

These have almost always been after the Grandmasters played a tournament in California. The late Guthrie McClain was very good at recruiting players at Lone Pine (Smyslov and Petrosian being the most prominent) and we suspect that he was in charge of bringing Bent Larsen to the Mechanics’ after the second Piatigorsky Cup in the summer of 1966.

What makes this simul a little unusual is that Larsen gave his opponents their choice of color and most took White, making his final score of 32 wins, 6 losses, and 5 draws against 43 opponents better than it looks at first glance.

The following fragment, from the archives of the late Peter Grey, comes from this exhibition. White, who spent most of his life in California, was Washington state champion in 1935, 1937, 1938 and 1941 while studying at the University of Washington. Jim Hurt was recognized by the US Chess Federation for his long-time working teaching chess to children at the 1999 US Open in Reno, but is best remembered by Bay Area players for the many L.E.R.A. tournaments he organized in Sunnyvale.

Bent Larsen (L) with USCF President Jerry Spann, circa early 1960s (Photo: unknown)

French/Sicilian C01
James Hurt–Bent Larsen
San Francisco (simul), August 20, 1966

1. e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 d5

This old Frank Marshall favorite is seldom seen in modern chess as White obtains an advantage without too much trouble. Black often obtains an isolated d-pawn but without the advantage of White’s knight being committed to d2 as in the French Tarrasch line 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 exd5.

4.exd5 exd5 5.Bb5+ Nc6 6.Ne5 Qb6 7.Nc3 Be6 8.Be3 c4?!


9.Nxc4! dxc4?

9...Qd8 10.Ne5 Nge7 is not pleasant but was the best Black had.

10.d5 Bc5


11.dxe6! gives White a winning position.

11...bxc6= 12.Bxc5 Qxc5 13.Ne4 Qd5 14.Qxd5 Bxd5 15.Nc3 Bxg2 16.Rg1 cxb5 17.Rxg2 g6

17...b4 18.Nb5 Kf8

18.Nxb5 0–0–0



19...Kb7 20.Nb5 Nf6 21.f3 Nh5 22.Re2 Nf4 23.Re7+ Kb6 24.Nc3 Rhe8 25.Rxe8 Rxe8+ 26.Kf2 Kc5 27.Re1 Rxe1 28.Kxe1 ½–½

White stopped keeping score at this point, no doubt as the Great Dane was starting to come around faster and faster, as most of the games had already finished. Hurt noted on his scoresheet the game was later drawn.

The Romanian Grandmaster Florin Gheorghiu paid a visit to the MI after the 1971 US Open in Ventura and was rudely treated by Expert Gene Lee. Again, we are indebted to the late Peter Grey for preserving this game score.

Sicilian Dragon B78
Florin Gheorghiu–Gene Lee
San Francisco (simul) August 25, 1971

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Bc4 0–0 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Rc8 11.0–0–0 Ne5 12.h4 h5


13.Kb1 Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Nb3 a5 16.e5 Ne8 (16...Ne8 17.Bh6 Bxe5=) 17.Bh6 Gheorghiu-Sawyer, San Francisco (simul) 1971.

13...Bxh6 14.Qxh6 Rxc3 15.bxc3 Qa5 16.Kb2 Rc8 17.Qd2 Qc5



18...b5 19.a3 d5 20.exd5 Nxd5 21.Rhe1 Nxc3 22.Re3 Na4+ 23.Kc1 Nc4 24.Bxc4 bxc4 25.Ne2 Bf5 26.Qd4?


26...Qa5! 27.Nc3?

27...Rd8–+ 28.Qxc4 Qb6 0–1

4) This is the end

This position was reached in a championship game after White had traded rooks on d5. Black is poised to win a pawn. How should White defend?

White to move

Show solution

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