Chess Room Newsletter #792 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #792

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #792
June 30, 2017

Style can be a limiting factor. When you say Frank Marshall is an attacking player, by implication you are saying he is not quite at home on the defense. Fischer, unlike any player I have known, seems at home in all phases of the game. He was so complete a player it was as if chess itself was playing against you.

—Walter Shipman, The Newsday Magazine, April 14, 1985, p.14

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

National Masters Tenzing Shaw and Derek O’Connor, who drew with each other in round four, share the lead after six rounds of the 126-player Summer Tuesday Night Marathon with scores of 5½ from 6. National Masters Conrado Diaz is alone at 5–1 and International Master Elliott Winslow, FIDE Master Josiah Stearman and National Masters Bryon Doyle, Russell Wong and Romy Fuentes are among those at 4½, in one of the strongest TNMs in history. With 126 players, the event has an outside chance of breaking the all-time M.I. Chess Club attendance record of 132 participants. Note there will be no TNM on July 4. Rounds 7 and 8 will be played July 11 and 18 respectively.

From round 6 of the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Abraham–Poling after 11...Ne4)White to move (Dupree–Hilliard after 31...Ra7)
White to move (Garfield–Sachs-Weintraub after 9...h6)White to move (Marquez–Erdenebileg after 19...Rb8)
White to move (Marquez–Erdenebileg after 38...Qc5)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 6.

Grandmaster Sam Shankland will give a free lecture on the 2017 World Team Championship, where he was the U.S. first board, on July 11 from 5:15 to 6:15 pm. All are welcome to attend.

Carlos D’Avila won the June 21 Wednesday Night Blitz, with Bacus Dharim and Jules Jelinek sharing second. The event will take a break in July and most of August, resuming the 30th of that month.

The Mechanics’ Institute has always had a chess club, going back to its founding in late 1854. The M. I. moved into its current building in 1909, but the chess club has not always been located in its current home on the fourth floor. As the picture below shows, it was on the third floor from 1909 until the early 1920s. The library during that time had a much different look than it does today, not dissimilar to how the chess room appears now. The chess tables pictured are in use today, and the chairs were until a year ago. Note the bowls on the floor. No, dogs were not allowed, but chewing tobacco was.

We assume from the caption that this is a picture of the chess room as it looked in 1910, as published in a newspaper circa 1912.

2) Missing Duncan Suttles games

Do you know who the strongest player born in San Francisco is? Count yourself well-informed if you suggested Walter Lovegrove or A.J.Fink. These native San Franciscans, and stalwarts of Mechanic’s chess the first half of the 20th century, were indeed the club’s best players for several decades. Neither, however, is the correct answer.

Count yourself even more well-informed if you came up with the name of Duncan Suttles. One of the few people to hold the Grandmaster title for both over-the-board and correspondence chess, Suttles was born in San Francisco on December 21, 1945. His parents, Wayne and Shirley Suttles, grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington, but found themselves in the Bay Area when Wayne went to UC Berkeley to study Japanese in preparation for his service in the Navy during World War II. The family moved to Seattle after World War II, and not long after moved to British Columbia, where Wayne became an internationally-recognized anthropologist and Shirley a respected writer who raised seven children.

According to Chess on the Edge, the definitive three-volume (990 pages) work on Suttles’ career, he was a latecomer to chess, only starting to play at the age of 15, but that didn’t stop him from making rapid progress. He played primarily in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1960s, but when his family moved to Reno (his father taught at the University of Nevada at Reno) from 1963–1965, the young Duncan used the opportunity to play in several California tournaments. Many games from these events can be found in the trilogy by Bruce Harper and Yasser Seirawan, but recently the editor of the Newsletter came across two new discoveries purely by chance. They come from an event, the 1964 Monterey International, that was not reported on in the normally reliable California Chess Reporter, but instead in a publication to the north.

Duncan Suttles writes in the April 1964 issue of the Washington Chess Letter (now Northwest Chess), “Here are three of my most recent games from the 71-player Monterey Open. Going into the last round, three of us had perfect 4–0 scores. I was dropped down, and played E. Osbun, who was the only one with 3½ points. As you can see it was a nightmare for me a and only at the end did I squirm out, and actually could have won with 38…Qb8, but did not see it as I had 12 more moves to make in less than a minute and snapped up the chance to draw, thereby finishing clear second with 4½–½.”

Blazo Sredanovic, an unrated Yugoslav master, defeated Tibor Weinberger to take first with a score of 5–0.

Here is the exciting last-round battle between Osbun and Suttles. This event was played in March 1964, but the ratings given are from May.

Pirc B09
Erik Osbun (2203)–Duncan Suttles (2346)
Monterey Open March 15, 1964

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.Bd3 Qxc5 8.Qe2 Nc6 9.Be3 Qa5 10.0–0 0–0 11.Kh1 Ng4

11...Bg4 is the more standard way to handle this type of position.

12.Bd2 Qh5 13.h3 a6 14.Rae1 b5 15.Nd1


15...Rd8 16.Bc3 e5 17.Kg1 Nf6 18.fxe5 dxe5


19.Qf2 Bb7 20.Qg3 Nd7?!


21.Ng5 Bf6 22.Nf3


22...Nc5 23.Nh2?!


23...Bh4 24.Qe3 Nxd3 25.cxd3 Bxe1 26.Bxe1 Qxd1 27.Ng4 Qxd3 28.Qh6 Rd6 29.Bh4


29...f5 30.Nf6+ Rxf6 31.Bxf6 Qd7 defends. The text exposes Black’s king to a vicious attack.

30.Rxf7! Nf3+ 31.Rxf3 Qd4+ 32.Kh2 Bxe4 33.Bf6?

33.Qg5!! Bxf3 34.Nh6+ Kf8 (34...Kh8 35.Qf6+ Rxf6 36.Bxf6#; 34...Kg7 35.Nf5+ Kg8 36.Nxd4 Rxd4 37.gxf3 winning) 35.Qe7 mate.

33...Qa7 34.Bxe5 Bxf3 35.gxf3 Re6 36.Qf4 Rxe5 37.Nf6+ Kh8 38.Qxe5 Qf2+ ½–½

Black is still winning after 38…Qf2+, but it is tricky. Having failed to spot the easy win with 38…Qb8, and with no time on the clock, anyone would take the draw here.

The player of the Black pieces, Vitaly Radaikin (b. 1933), came to the attention of the chess world in the 1950s when his victories against Arthur Bisguier and Charles Bagby were published in prominent chess magazines … the only thing was he composed rather than played the games!

Scandinavian B01
Duncan Suttles (2346)–Vitaly Radaikin (2069)
Monterrey International 1964

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Nxd5 4.c4 Nf6?!


5.Nc3 e6 6.Be3 b6 7.Qf3 c6 8.0–0–0 Be7 9.g4 h5 10.h3


10...hxg4 11.hxg4 Rxh1 12.Qxh1 Nxg4 13.d5! Nxe3 14.fxe3 Qc7 15.d6 Bxd6 16.Ne4 Bc5 17.Qh8+ Ke7 18.Qh4+ Ke8 19.Qh8+ Ke7 20.Nf3 Nd7 21.Nxc5 bxc5 22.Qxg7 Bb7 23.Bh3 Rf8 24.Nh4 Ne5?

On 24...Ke8 White has 25.Ng6 fxg6 26.Qxg6+ Kd8 27.Bxe6 Bc8 28.Qg5+ Ke8 29.Qg7 (intending Bg4–h5) winning.

25.Bxe6! Rd8 26.Rxd8 Qxd8 27.Qxe5 fxe6 28.Nf5+ Kd7 29.Qd6+ 1–0

The third win Suttles wrote of, against the late John Blackstone, is given in Chess on the Edge, but only to move 22. Here is the game in full.

Modern Defense A42
John Blackstone (2175)–Duncan Suttles (2346)
Monterey International 1964

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Be3 e5 6.d5 Nce7 7.Bd3 Nh6 8.f3 f5 9.Qd2 Nf7 10.0–0–0 0–0 11.Kb1 c5 12.dxc6 bxc6 13.c5 d5 14.Bf2 Be6 15.exd5 cxd5 16.Nge2 Rb8 17.f4 d4 18.Na4 e4 19.Bxe4 fxe4 20.Bxd4 Bc4 21.Bxg7 Qxd2 22.Rxd2 Kxg7

Chess on the Edge stops here.

23.Nac3 Rfd8 24.Rhd1 Nc6 25.Kc1 Bd3 26.Ng3 Rb4 27.Re1 Rdd4 28.b3 Nh6 29.Ngxe4 Rxe4 30.Nxe4 Rxe4 31.Red1 Be2 32.Rd7+ Nf7 33.R1d6 Ne7 34.Rxa7 Nc8 35.Rdd7 Nxa7 36.Rxa7 Rxf4 37.Kd2 Rf2 38.Ke3 Rxg2 39.c6 Rxh2 40.c7 Bg4 41.b4 Rb2 42.a3 Bc8 43.Kd4 h5 44.Ra8 Nd6 45.Kc5 Rd2 46.b5 h4 47.b6 h3 48.Rxc8 h2 49.Rd8 Nb7+ 50.Kb5 Rxd8 0–1

When writing close to a thousand pages a few gremlins are likely to slip in. Volume 3, pages 814–816, gives the game Suttles–Cleghorn 1964 as being from a match played in Seattle. It was actually played in the 1964 San Francisco-East Bay Match held at the Mechanics’ Institute on May 23. Peter Cleghorn played for San Francisco and Suttles for the East Bay, according to the California Chess Reporter (May 1964, page 104).

Go to for more about Suttles and the trilogy Chess on the Edge, which is available for sale on Amazon. The Mechanics’ Institute Library has all three books in its collection.

3) The young Joel Benjamin

Grandmaster Joel Benjamin has been one of America’s top players for over three decades, and in his early 50s still maintains a FIDE rating close to 2550. The three-time U.S. champion has established one record that will be very hard to beat—playing in a record 22 consecutive U.S. Championships.

Benjamin started playing in tournaments when he was quite young; your editor recently came across two articles at the Cleveland Public Library (John G. White collection) that offer a glimpse of what his early development was like. Both were published in the Indiana Chess Quarterly in 1976.

The first, by Joel’s father, the late Alan Benjamin, offers many biographical details. Note that National Master George Kane, who grew up in the Bay Area, is mentioned as Joel’s teacher. I believe International Master Sal Matera later assumed that role.

Chicago Master Steve Tennant annotated a game of Joel’s played at the 1975 U.S. Open, held in Lincoln, Nebraska. This was the second U.S. Open held in the Nebraska state capital in six years, and is best remembered as a breakthrough event for 15-year-old Yasser Seirawan, who was leading the event before the penultimate round. Long-time Mechanics’ member FIDE Master Frank Thornally was fourth on tiebreak.

4) This is the end

This position occurred in a game. What is the expected result?

White to move

Show solution

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