Chess Room Newsletter #777 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #777

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #777
February 17, 2017

Q: You’re a five-time Olympiad winner as part of the Russian team, but all the victories were gained up to 2002, when Kasparov was in the line-up. Then it all stopped. Why?

It’s not directly connected with Garry Kimovich. Those were victories for the USSR chess school, but it was already clear that the process that began with the break-up of the country would make the Chess Olympiad incomparably tougher, that sooner or later the republics which previously provided talent for the USSR team would become serious rivals—as happened, for instance, with Armenia.

—Peter Svidler, discussing the failure of Russian teams in Chess Olympiads this century.

See interview with Svidler.

1) Mechanics’ Chess Room News

National Master Conrado Diaz and 11-year-old Expert Chinguun Bayaraa are tied for first with 6 from 7 in the 112-player Winter Tuesday Night Marathon, and will meet in the last round. International Master Elliot Winslow, National Master Romy Fuentes, and Experts Arthur Ismakov, Igor Traub and Steven Krasnov are a half-point behind. The latter has raised his rating over 100 points the past year. If Steven were a kid this would be commendable if not unusual, but he is 74.

From round 7 of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Bayaraa–Viswanath-Natraj after 34...Rxg3+)White to move (Rakonitz–Moor after 36...Nc6)
White to move (Lesquillier–Crofts after 45...Kg8)Black to move (White–Casares after 21 Bf4)
White to move (Allen–MacIntyre after 23...f6)White to move (Baer–Hilliard after 26...Rxa2)
White to move (Otterbach–Valente after 20...Qd8)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 7.

The San Francisco Mechanics’ entry in the Professional Chess League lost to the Dallas Destiny 6½-9½. Bright spots for the Mechanics’ were Sam Shankland (2½/4) and reserves IM-elect Cameron Wheeler (1½/2) and FIDE Master Rayan Tagizahdeh (1½/2). The Mechanics’ finish their season next Wednesday evening against Portland. Go to for more information.

Wednesday Night Blitz results for February 8 with 10 players competing.

1st – Jules Jelinek – 9½ pts
2nd – Carlos D’Avila – 9 pts
3rd- Jacob Sevall – 7½pts

One of the great bargains in American chess has to be a membership in the Mechanics’ Instititute. Where else can you find a chess club open 10 hours a day, seven days a week, plus access to a general-interest library that includes over 2000 chess books, magazines and chess videos, for only $95 a year ($35 for juniors)?

The Fox reality series Kicking and Screaming debuts on March 9 at 9 pm (8 pm CT), and among those on the show are Grandmaster Sam Shankland, who can be seen near the end of a short clip (requires Flash). Give Sam some distance when he has an axe in his hand!

FIDE Master Roger Poehlmann and National Master Ladia Jirasek tied for first in the Berkeley Chess Club championship, held from November 20, 2016, to January 20, 2017. The winners’ 6–1 scores (Poehlmann beat Jirasek in their individual game) put them a point ahead of the rest of the 38-player field. International Master Elliott Winslow and Experts Derek O’Connor and Steven Gaffagan shared third place with 5 points. Elizabeth Shaughnessy organized and Bryon Doyle directed for the Berkeley Chess Club.

The player who travelled the furthest won the 2017 Cal Chess Senior State Championship, as Tim Taylor of Southern California took top honors with a 4–0 score. Fellow International Master Elliott Winslow took second with 3½ points (half-point bye in round 2) and took home the title of top Northern California senior.

The 35-player event held February 10-12 at the Berkeley Marina attracted 35 players 50 and older. Elizabeth Shaughnessy organized and Bryon Doyle directed for the Berkeley Chess Club.

2) James Sherwin: Unsung Hero of American Chess

Few American players have as distinguished a record in U.S. Championships as James Sherwin (born 1933). Among non-Grandmasters only Sherwin and fellow International Master William Addison have achieved lifetime plus scores (five events or more) in the most prestigious annual competition in the United States. Addison did it in five tournaments in the 1960s, while Sherwin achieved his record in eight tournaments during the 1950s and 1960s.

James Sherwin (Black) and Arthur Bisguier get ready to face off in a game played at the Marshall Chess Club in the mid-1960s. Paul Brandts (glasses) and a young Andy Soltis are on an adjacent board. (Photo: Beth Cassidy).

A close look at Sherwin’s consistent performance, all the more remarkable in that he was never a professional player, shows that only Bobby Fischer, Sammy Reshevsky, Larry Evans and Robert Byrne had better records in the U.S. Championships held in the 1950s and 1960s.

1954 (14 players) 1. Bisguier 10; 2. Evans 9; 3. Seidman 8; 4. Sherwin and Pavey 7½
1957–58 (14 players) 1. Fischer 10½; 2. Reshevsky 9½; 3. Sherwin 9
1958–59 (12 players) 1. Fischer 8½; 2. Reshevsky 7½; 3. Sherwin 6½
1959–60 (12 players) 1. Fischer; 8. Sherwin 5
1960–61 (12 players) 1. Fischer 9; 2. Lombardy 7; 3. R. Weinstein 6½; 4–6. Sherwin, Bisguier and Reshevsky 6
1961–62 (12 players) 1. Evans 7½; 2. R. Byrne 7; 3–6. Sherwin, Benko, Mednis, Seidman 6½
1962–63 (12 players) 1. Fischer 8; 12. Sherwin 2½
1963–64 (12 players) did not play
1965 (12 players) did not play
1966 (12 players) 1. Fischer 8; 2. Evans 7½; 3–4. Sherwin and Benko 6

8 U.S. Championships
3rd - 4 times
4th - 2 times

Sherwin’s overall score is 48½ from 92 games (53%). Remove the one bad result (1962–63) and it’s 46/81—close to 57%.

James Sherwin analyzing a position intently during the 1990 World Championship in New York City. (Photo: unknown)

The highlight of Sherwin’s career was finishing third in the 1957–58 U.S. Championship behind Bobby Fischer and Samuel Reshevsky. This qualified him to play in the 1958 Interzonal, where he scored 50 percent against the six qualifiers for the Candidates’ Tournament, beating Gligoric and Olafsson.

Sherwin first attracted widespread attention when he won the 1951 New York State Championship at the age of 17. Two years later he qualified for the A group of the World Junior Championship, where he defeated Boris Ivkov and Bent Larsen. Sherwin’s first major national success was tying for first with Arthur Bisguier in the 1956 U.S. Open in Oklahoma City.

While Sherwin will be remembered as a strong player he also made a very important contribution as the president of the American Chess Foundation from 1979–1990. This was during its golden period, when it offered strong support to top American players.

3) Here and There

John Henderson, who writes an excellent column for the Seattle-based First Move organization (, draws attention to the first episode of series 4 of Endeavour, the Inspector Morse prequel. Entitled ‘Game’, it has a big chess subplot, with some wonderful chess imagery, even some cryptic chess clues, such as lockers belonging to dead people numbered ‘E4’ ‘E5’ and ‘F4’. Learn more (as of the date of this Newsletter, the episode is no longer available on the site).

National Master John Blackstone of Las Vegas has discovered the following games, among the earliest played in Los Angeles.

Vienna Gambit C25
C.W. Waterman–W. Bennett
Southern California Championship 1894

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.Nf3 g5 5.h4 g4 6.Ng5 h6 7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.d4 d6 9.Bxf4 Nf6 10.Bc4+ Kg7 11.0-0 Be7 12.Qd2 Bd7 13.e5 dxe5 14.dxe5 Ng8 15.Be3 Be8 16.Qf2 h5 17.Rad1 Qc8 18.Nd5 g3 19.Qxg3+ Qg4 20.Qxg4+ hxg4 21.Nxc7 Rd8 22.Ne6+ Kh7 23.Nxd8 Bxd8 24.Rf4 Nh6 25.Rd6 Kg7 26.Rff6 Nf7 27.Rg6+ Kh7 28.Bxf7 Be7 White announced mate in seven moves. 1-0

H. Jones-Bateman–C. Pierce
Los Angeles Athletic Club Handicap Championship 1894
Odds of Black’s f-pawn and two moves

2.d4 Nc6 3.c3 e5 4.d5 Nce7 5.Qh5+ Ng6 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.Qd1 Bc5 8.Nf3 d6 9.Bg5 0-0 10.Nbd2 c6 11.dxc6 bxc6 12.Qb3+ Kh8 13.Qa4 Qb6 14.Nc4 Qc7 15.b4 Bb6 16.Qc2 h6 17.Bh4 Nf4 18.0-0 N6h5 19.Nxb6 axb6 20.Bg3 Nxg3 21.fxg3 Nxd3 22.Qxd3 Ba6 23.c4 d5 24.exd5 cxd5 25.b5 dxc4 26.Qc3 Bxb5 27.Nxe5 Qc5+ 28.Kh1 Rxf1+ 29.Rxf1 Rxa2 30.Rf7 Qd6 31.Nf3 Qg6 32.Rf8+ Kh7 33.h4 Qb1+ 34.Kh2 Ra1 35.g4 Qh1+ 36.Kg3 Ra2 37.g5 Qxg2+ 38.Kf4 Bc6 39.g6+ Qxg6 40.Ne5

Black announced the following mate

40...Qe4+ 41.Kg3 Rg2+ 42.Kh3 Rh2+ 43.Kg3 Qxh4 0-1

Those looking to play chess in Contra Costa County should check out the Contra Costa Chess Club, which meets on Wednesday evenings, at the Starbucks located at 1536 Kirker Pass Rd., Clayton, Calif., from 5:30–9:00 pm. For more information go to

4) This is the end

See how you do with this study.

White to move

Show solution

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