Chess Room Newsletter #778 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #778

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #778
February 24, 2017

Q: Nevertheless, the Russian team is always the Elo favorite, but always loses. Perhaps something’s not right with the approach?

No. We’ve all become a little tired of answering that question. They all stare us in the eyes: “No doubt you all hate each other?” No, we’re on excellent terms within the team—sometimes friendly, sometimes simply neutral, but never worse than that. There are other reasons. Firstly, although Russia remains the rating favorite that leadership is already open to question. At the last Olympiad the gap between us and the US team was purely symbolic.  The ball is becoming rounder and rounder, and soon it’ll be completely round. That doesn’t change the fact that once or twice the favorite might also win. It’s clear that it’s already become some kind of curse that weighs on us. With each new Olympiad we want to win more and more, and that leads to people becoming tense and fearing doing something wrong. I know from myself that the necessity to play my best chess has a counterproductive influence on me. It goes better for me when I play as freely as possible, while that internal pressure on Russian players is getting greater and greater. There’s only one recipe. To nevertheless win one of them—and relax.

—Peter Svidler, discussing the failure of Russian teams in Chess Olympiads since 2002

See the entire interview with Svidler.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

National Master Conrado Diaz scored 7 out of 8 to win the 112 player Winter Tuesday Night Marathon which ended February 21. International Master Elliott Winslow was second with 6½, the sixth TNM in a row in which he has finished in the top three places. There was a six-way tie for third at 6, with FIDE Master Josiah Stearman, National Masters Natalya Tsodikova and Romy Fuentes plus Experts Derek O’Conner, Arthur Ismakov and Chinguun Bayaraa all finishing in the money. See the complete standings. The Spring TNM starts March 14.

From round 8 of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Krasnov–Stearman after 14...Ng4)White to move (McKellar–Sadowsky after 20...Qc7)
White to move (Cunningham–Casares after 16...Bd7)White to move (Morgan–Baer after 26...Qxe5)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 8.

Jules Jelinek reports on the closely contested 14-player Wednesday Night Blitz held February 15.

1st / 2nd Jan Jettel and Jules Jelinek – 8½ pts/13
3rd – 6th Carlos D’Avila, Felix Rudiyak, Manuel Santos, Romulo Syvestri - 7½ pts

The Wednesday Night Blitz is a weekly event. Come on by and pick up some quick games. Signup starts around 6:30 pm, with round 1 starting at 6:45.

A new chess club has been formed near Sacramento. The Woodland Library Chess Club meets from 6 to 9 pm on Tuesdays at 250 First St. in Woodland. Local players Michael Laffin and Milo Nelson are in charge.

Congratulations to US Amateur Team Championship winners XcellChessClub. You can read Mechanics’ member Ashik Uzzaman’s account of what it was like to be on the winning team in his blog. Ashik played an important role in his team’s success, scoring 4–1 to raise his USCF rating almost 100 points.

The Mechanics’ entry (IM Steven Zierk, IM-elect Cameron Wheeler, National Master Siddarth Banik and Sindhuja Dasari) also did well in the event, held at the Santa Clara Convention Center February 18–20, scoring 4½ from 6. Cameron scored 6–0, as did other MI members Isaiah Kim and Ganesh Viswanath Natraj.

L-R: Sindhuja Dasari, Siddarth Banik, Cameron Wheeler and Steven Zierk (Photo: Rob Wheeler)

2) Remembering Marcel Sisniega

Grandmaster Marcel Sisniega (1959-2013) is one of the greatest players Mexico has ever produced. A 9-time national champion, with victories over Viswanathan Anand and Artur Yusupov, Sisniega was also a well-known and respected film writer and director who died much too young. Your editor had the privilege of getting to know Marcel at the 1978 World Junior in Graz, Austria, and has fond memories of that time.

What many may not know is that Sisniega played many tournaments in Northern California during his early career. The following pictures were taken around 1974–75.

3) Watson-Grefe, 1972 American Open

John Grefe would surprise the chess world in 1973 when he would tie for first in the U.S. Championship with Lubos Kavalek, but he was already playing excellent chess the year before. The following game, newly rediscovered by Andy Ansel, who entered the score from the original tournament bulletin, offers evidence Grefe was already a strong player in 1972. We have included some light notes to this instructive victory on the black side of the Taimanov Sicilian.

Sicilian Taimanov B43
John Watson–John Grefe
American Open 1972

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Qc7 7.f4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.Qf3 Nf6 10.g4

10.0–0–0 the most popular choice here, and 10.0–0 and 10.Nb3 have also been played.


10...d6 and 10...h6 are the alternatives.



11...Ng4 12.Bg1

12.Nxc6 Nxe3 13.Qxe3 Qxc6 favors Black with his bishop pair.

12...Nxd4 13.Bxd4 e5

13...Bc5!? is an untried alternative that might be worth trying.

14.fxe5 Bc5 15.e6?

15.Bxc5 Qxc5 16.0–0–0 Nxe5 17.Qg3 0–0 18.Nd5 Rfe8 with equal chances.


15...dxe6 16.Bxg7 Rg8, as played by Eingorn, is a good alternative.


16.Bxc5 is better and limits Black's advantage after 16...Qxc5 17.exd7 Qxg5.


16...Rfe8 was good, but the exchange sacrifice is even stronger.

17.exf8Q+ Rxf8 18.h3?

18.0–0–0 Bxc3 19.bxc3 Qxc3 20.Qf4 had to be tried.

18...f5! 19.hxg4

19.0–0–0 fxe4 20.Qe2 Qf4+ 21.Kb1 exd3 winning.

19...fxe4 20.Qxf8+ Kxf8 21.Rf1+ Kg8 22.0–0–0 Be3+ 23.Kb1 exd3 and Black later won 0–1

Source: tournament bulletin

4) Signatures of World Champions—Tigran Petrosian

Former World Champion Tigran Petrosian visited San Francisco with his wife, Rona, as honored guests of famous chess writer Irving Chernev, and past editor of the California Chess Reporter Guthrie McClain, following the prestigious Louis D. Staham tournament in Lone Pine on April 16, 1978.

During his brief stay Petrosian faced 22 opponents in a simultaneous exhibition at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, winning 16 games, losing two (to Neil Falconer and Leon Miller) and drawing four with Gary Berry, Michael Gonsalves, Roger Hoffman and Edward Syrett.

Chess Voice 1978 (page 56)

5) This is the end

Black is up a pawn. Can he convert his advantage, or does White have some defense?

Black to move

Show solution

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