Chess Room Newsletter #793 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #793

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #793
July 14, 2017

The word draw was not in Fischer’s vocabulary. He played every game as if it was the last thing he was going to do on earth. When you played Fischer, you knew you were playing until you dropped off your feet. Chess to him was total war.

—Arthur Bisguier, The Newsday Magazine, April 14, 1985, p.14

The 2017 People’s Open will be held July 14–16 on the U.C. Berkeley campus.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

National Master Derek O’Connor leads the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon with one round remaining. His score of 6 from 7 puts him half a point ahead of a six-man group (IM Elliott Winslow, National Masters Tenzing Shaw, Conrado Diaz, Josiah Stearman and Romy Fuentes plus Expert Ashik Uzzaman) and sets the stage for an exciting finish.

The Summer Tuesday Night Marathon has broken the all-time MI Chess Club tournament attendance record with 134 players, eclipsing the previous record of 132 set in the 2016 Winter TNM. This is the fourteenth consecutive TNM (eight consecutive Tuesday nights) with triple-digit attendance. We believe it is by far the largest weeknight tournament in the United States, if not the world, and would welcome evidence to the contrary.

This is not only the largest-ever TNM, but the strongest, with 11 Masters competing, including one International Master (Elliott Winslow), plus 13 Experts. There are only 19 players under age 18, but 33 over 60, including several over 70 and a few in their early 80s, making this event very much the exception for American chess, where youth reigns supreme. The one-game-a-week schedule helps older players. Skill and experience are key and endurance is not as big a factor.

From round 7 of the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Shaw–Winslow after 36 d6)Black to move (Diaz–O'Connor after 44 Kf2)
Black to move (Erickson–Riese after 29 c6)Black to move (Babayan–Davila after 14 c5)
White to move (Mays–Krasnov after 50...Kg4)White to move (Newey–Drane after 18...Ra6)
White to move (Than–Clemens after 55...Bc5)White to move (Melville–McEnroe after 19...Qb4)
White to move (Gurovich–White after 36...Kg5)White to move (King–Cowgill after 10...Ne7)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 7.

Arthur Ismakov won the 17th Annual Charles Bagby Memorial G/45 held July 8 with a score of 4½ from 5. Tying for second a half-point back in the 44-player field were National Master Romy Fuentes, Experts Robert Heaton and Michael Wang, plus rapidly improving Class A player Arul Viswanathan.

The next two MI weekend tournaments are the Vladimir Pafnutieff Memorial on August 5 and the Bernardo Smith Memorial on August 19–20.

National Master James Schroeder, a hard-worker for American chess for over 70 years, died on July 8, 2017, in Vancouver, Washington. Newsletter 794 will feature an extensive tribute.

Charles Legare Bagby (1903–1975) was born in South Carolina and graduated from the University of Washington, but lived almost his entire adult life in San Francisco. Few individuals have had a larger impact on the Mechanics’ Institute than Bagby, who served as a Trustee from 1940 until his death—a record of service only recently broken by his good friend Neil Falconer.

Chess Life (8/5/1959) ran an article on Bagby that mentions he ran a bridge club in San Francisco during the depression before going to law school. Bagby put his legal expertise to good use in the late 1940s when a hoity-toity element at the Mechanics’ tried to evict the chess players, who they saw as poorly-dressed riff-raff. The so-called “Hart Schaffner & Marx Revolt,” as dubbed by the San Francisco Chronicle, after the proprietors of fancy men’s wear, was put down by a group of chess players led by Charles Bagby and the young Neil Falconer. Had it not been for their efforts to rouse the 300 or so Chess Room members to action, much of the fourth floor would now be rented out as office space.

Bagby was a 2300-rated master who was one of the best players in California for almost four decades. His victories included the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club championship in 1923, the Northern California championship in 1949 and 1950, and the California championship in 1958. A good positional player who was strong in rook-and-pawn endgames, Bagby had an exceptionally fine memory and used it when playing blindfold chess. Unlike most players who visualize the position when playing sans voir, Bagby remembered the moves, a most unusual approach noted by Reuben Fine in his book Lessons from My Games (p. 31). Bagby played ten games at a time using this approach.

A.J. Fink was one of the strongest players in California in the 1920s and 1930s, winning the state championship and playing in the famous Pasadena 1932 tournament. By the late 1930s his supremacy at the MI was being challenged by Charles Bagby and a match was arranged, but it proved to be inconclusive.

As the May 1939 issue of Chess Review reported, Charles Bagby and A.J. Fink drew a ten-game match 5–5. Neither player was ever ahead by more than a game, and Fink won the last one to force the tie.

Here is one of the games from the match

Queen’s Gambit D57
Charles Bagby–A.J. Fink
San Francisco April 26, 1939

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Be7 5.Nc3 d5 6.Bg5 0-0 7.e3 h6 8.Bh4 Ne4 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.cxd5 Nxc3 11.bxc3 exd5 12.Qb3 c6 13.Bd3 Nd7 14.0-0 Re8 15.c4 dxc4 16.Bxc4 Nb6 17.Bd3 Be6 18.Qb2 Bd5 19.a4 Nc4 20.Qc2 Bxf3 21.gxf3 Nd6 22.Kh1 Qf6 23.Be2 Nf5 24.Rab1 Re7 25.Rg1 Rae8 26.Rg4 Nh4 27.Rbg1 g6 28.f4 Qf5 29.Qxf5 Nxf5 30.Bd3 Kh7 31.h4 Ng7 32.h5 Nxh5 33.f5 gxf5 34.Bxf5+ Kh8 35.Rh4 Ng7 36.Rxh6+ Kg8 37.Bd3 Rd7 38.Rh7 f6 39.Rh6 1-0

Charles Bagby at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club in the 1950s. (Photo: MI CC Archives)

Bagby’s performance against World Champion Alexander Alekhine, during the latter’s visit to the Mechanics’ in 1929, was most impressive.

First he draw him in a consultation game, teaming up with fellow master and lawyer Henry Gross and Ernest Clarke. The latter for a time edited a chess column in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Larsen A06
Alekhine–Gross, Bagby and Clarke
San Francisco (clock simul) May 10, 1929

1. Nf3 d5 2. b3 Nf6 3. c4 d4 4. Ba3 g6 5. g3 Bg7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Re8 8. d3 e5 9. Nbd2 a5 10. Ng5 Na6 11. Nge4 Ne4 12. Ne4 Nb4 13. Qd2 Qe7 14. f4 Bh6 15. e3 f5 16. Bb4 ab4 17. Ng5 Bg5 18. fg5 Qg5 19. Rfe1 c5 20. Qf2 e4 21. ed4 e3 22. Qf3 cd4 23. Qd5 Be6 24. Qd4 Bf7 25. Bb7 Rad8 26. Bd5 Bd5 27. cd5 f4 28. Qf4 Qf4 29. gf4 Rd5 30. Kg2 Rd3 31. Re2 Kf7 32. Rc1 Rd2 33. Kf3 Kf6 34. Rc6 Re6 35. Re6 Ke6 36. Ke3 Rd7 37. Rc2 Kf5 38. h3 Re7 39. Kf3 Re1 40. Rc5 Kf6 41. Rb5 Ra1 42. Ra5 Rf1 43. Kg3 Rg1 44. Kf2 Rh1 45. Kg2 Rd1 46. Ra7 h6 47. Ra5 Rd4 48. Kf3 Rd3 49. Ke4 Rh3 50. Ra6 Kf7 51. Ra4 Rh2 52. Rb4 Ra2 53. Rb7 Ke6 54. Rb6 Kf7 55. b4 h5 56. b5 h4 57. Rb7 Kf6 58. b6 Rb2 59. Kd4 Kf5 60. Rf7 Ke6 61. Rg7 Kf6 62. Rb7 Kf5 63. Kc3 Rb1 64. Rf7 Ke6 65. Rh7 Rb6 66. Rh4 Rd6 67. Rh1 Kf5 68. Rf1 ½ - ½

Alekhine scored +2 =1 –0 in the clock simul. Source: San Francisco Chronicle June 2, 1929.

The next day Bagby beat the champ in a most unusual game in a simul—he outplayed Alekhine positionally.

QGD Semi-Slav D52
San Francisco (simul) May 11, 1929

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. e3 Be7 7. Qc2 O-O 8. O-O-O Re8 9. cd5 ed5 10. Bd3 Nf8 11. Ne5 Ng4 12. Bf4 Bd6 13. Ng4 Bg4 14. f3 Bf4 15. ef4 Bd7 16. f5 Qf6 17. g4 Re3 18. Be2 Qg5 19. Kb1 Rae8 20. Rd3 h5 21. h3 Nh7 22. Re3 Qe3 23. Qd3 Qd3 24. Bd3 Re3 25. Be2 Ng5 26. Rf1 Nh3 27. Kc2 Nf4 28. Kd2 Re8 29. Bd3 f6 30. Rh1 Kf7 31. Ne2 Ne2 32. Be2 Rh8 33. Bf1 h4 34. Bh3 Ke7 35. Ke3 Kd6 36. Kf4 c5 37. dc5 Kc5 38. Rc1 Kd6 39. g5 Rc8 40. Rc3 Rc3 41. bc3 Kc5 42. Bf1 Bb5 43. Bg2 Bd3 44. Kg4 Kc4 45. Kh4 Kc3 46. Kg4 Kd4 47. f4 b5 0-1

Alekhine scored +27 =8 –8 in the simul. Source: San Francisco Chronicle, June 9, 1929.

Jules Jelinek, Wednesday Night Blitz Chess Coordinator writes:

Hi everyone,

Just a reminder—the Wednesday Night Blitz is now on summer break. Mark your calendars for August 30, when the weekly blitz resumes.

June 27 we had 13 players competing and Arthur Ismakov, Carlos D’Avila and Jules Jelinek tied for first.

MI Newsletter reader Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan, who lives in the Netherlands, is still a very strong blitz player.

He writes:

June 5th I played a blitz tournament at the in-laws with a field that included Grandmaster John Van Der Wiel, International Masters Gert Ligterink and Hans Bohm and 13 other players. I gave up only one draw to John in the double-round robin—that is 33½–½. I was clear second. Smile. It was a “handicap” tournament and John started with three points.

Grandmaster Enrico Sevillano won the 94-player Sacramento Championship tournament held July 1–3 with a score of 5–1. National Master Bryon Doyle, finishing second at 4½, was one of several Mechanics’ regulars who played. National Masters Josiah Stearman and Baran Eren were among those who finished with four points. John McCumiskey organized and directed the event.

The Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club will host a session of the U.S. Chess School from August 8–11. Taught by IM Greg Shahade, this session will feature some of the best players from the Bay Area and around the country.

2) Behavior at the Chess Board

Yasser Seirawan, in his excellent games collection/memoir Chess Duels, writes about his game with Garry Kasparov from the Thessaloniki Olympiad, after the move 26.Rb8! (pages 272-273).

With this move Garry lashed out and smashed the clock with a closed first. Unfortunately, the table happened to have a little give to it and the end result was that all the pieces jumped off their squares. I was furious. Indeed, Garry had been so violent that on the adjacent board the game between Karpov and Gulko was also disturbed by Garry’s outburst as their pieces jumped as well. So here I was, pieces spewed about, my clock running and now this. For the last few moves Garry had been doing his “piece screwing” business and I had enough.

I decided right there and then that a solid right punch to the jaw was the required response, and I clinched my fist. Garry’s sense of self-preservation kicked into high gear faster than I could “make my move.” Garry put his hands in the air and kept saying, “Sorry, Sorry, Sorry!” Repeatedly. All the while readjusting the pieces and putting them on their proper squares. Garry’s sudden change to a fawning apology disarmed me. The rush of adrenalin that wanted me to put Kasparov in a different time-zone had nowhere to go, and I found that it took me many minutes to restore my concentration.

While not in time-trouble, I was beginning to drift in that direction and the whole incident had a completely unnerving effect upon me. In my whole career I had never been in such a situation, although some opponents had been well and truly rude. But this? Talk about enfant terrible behavior. What had caused Garry to behave so badly? I have no idea of the pressures that he was under (or those expectations he placed on himself), but there was simply no excuse. It was a really unpleasant business and put me off the great respect I had, and have, for him as a player. A great player, but in this instance a terrible sportsman.

Yasser Seirawan with the 2016 U.S. Women’s Olympiad team at the Baku Olympiad. L–R Katerina Nemcova, Nazi Paikidze, team captain Seirawan, Sabina Foisor, Anna Zatonskih and Irina Krush (Photo: Mike Klein )

Contrast Kasparov’s behavior with that of the 13-year-old Bobby Fischer and Larry Evans during the 1956 Canadian Open in Montreal.

“Almost all the players have little, strange habits when engrossed in a position. All over the tournament hall, one can observe feet tapping, knees jiggling, lips being chewed heads being scratched, and pencils being ground into pulp. Fuster rumples his hair when he is losing, until, by the end of the game, it is hanging down over his eyes. Lombardy paces up and down with a vacant, lost-in-thought look. Frank Anderson makes a small frown when the going gets tough. R.F. Rodgers rubs his nose, just before he makes a move. The most interesting “quirk” belongs to J. Engel. He sniffs. The more complicated a position becomes, the louder and more often he sniffs. As the complications subside, so does Engel’s sniffing. When the game is over, Engel leaves the board without the slightest sign of a cold.

A player lacking in these idiosyncrasies is, surprisingly enough, Bobby Fischer, who sits through his games like a miniature Brutus. Unlike most players, he does not even break into a sweat, despite the 90-degree temperature.

Evans, although friendly and smiling before and after each game, is like a man of stone while playing. His countenance is like that of a perfect poker player, and unlike most of the contestants, he rarely rises from his table while the game is in progress.”

Seirawan references Kasparov’s “piece screwing”, a crime Garry was guilty of and worse on numerous occasions. However G.K. was not the only World Champion to commit this offense, as evidenced by the following information, which was published in the Rocky Mountain News sometime after the 1971 Fischer–Larsen match. Even Fischer, who had much better “table manners” than Garry Kimovich, was not perfect. However, we doubt Garry ever felt bad about his behavior as Bobby did.

“As the official scorekeeper for the first two games of the Fischer–Larsen match, Traibush (Ed: three-time Colorado state champion Eugene Victor Traibush) observed that whenever Fischer moved, he very carefully and politely slid the piece to the center of the square he was moving it to. (It is considered poor sportsmanship when a player slams a piece or screws it into the board.) In the diagrammed position with today’s column,

when Fischer played the aggressive and decisive 19.f5!, Traibush observed that Fischer actually picked up the pawn and tilted it slightly toward Larsen as he moved it forward. On the drive from Denver to Traibush’s house in Boulder for dinner, Traibush asked Fischer if he was aware of how he moved the pawn. Traibush says Fischer didn’t realize that he had done it and was mortified. Noticeably disturbed by his action, Fischer said, ‘That was very unprofessional.’”

3) Marshall Chess Club

The famous Marshall Chess Club, founded in 1915, is located on one of the most beautiful blocks in Manhattan. Nine-time U.S. Women’s Champion Gisela Gresser, the first American women to achieve the title of master (2200 rating) is in the center of the brochure, which we believe may be from the mid to late 1950s.

4) Norman Whitaker on Bobby Fischer

Norman Whitaker wrote an article entitled “Sixty-Five Years an American” which appeared in the December 1969 issue of Chess Life & Review. Among his remembrances were those of a 13-year-old Bobby Fischer.

Often I am asked about Bobby Fischer. I know him better than most others. We spent three weeks on a chess tour through many southern states and Cuba. The team of eight voted that I play Board 1, Fischer on Board 2. Naturally I had stronger opposition but in the end our scores were the same—each won five, lost one and drew one. I urged Fischer to play 1. P–K4. In the dozen years since, as I recall, Bobby has never played any other opening move!

5) This is the end

In this study, how can White avoid a queen-vs-queen draw? Is it even possible?

White to move

Show solution

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