Chess Room Newsletter #799 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #799

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #799
September 8, 2017

I get over losses more easily than wins (smiles). When you win you reluctantly start to think (especially if it’s a memorable win) about how to continue the “series”, while when you lose you’ve been shown your place and you need to focus all your efforts in order to get out of there. Therefore I treat losses as part of my path in chess, as an essential test.

—Levon Aronian, interviewed here.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The nine-round Peter Grey Tuesday Night Marathon has passed the half-way mark, but the field is still closely bunched together. National Masters Josiah Stearman, Derek O’Connor and Conrado Diaz are joined by Expert Alexander Ivanov at 4½ out of 5, a half-point ahead of a large group on 4, lead by International Master Elliott Winslow.

From round 5 of the Peter Grey Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Ivanov–Fuentes after 27...Rag8)White to move (Sherwood–Askin after 15...Ne5)
White to move (Gray–Eastham after 7...Bd7)Black to move (Enkh–Babayan after 41 Bb5)
White to move (Simpkins–Krasnov after 17...Kh8)White to move (Newey–Greene after 22...Bf7)
White to move (Kondakova–Starr after 31...Nxg5)White to move (Chan–Poblete after 38...exf5)
White to move (James–Carrel after 19...Qc7)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 5.

The M.I. Wednesday Night Blitz resumed on Wednesday August 30 after taking a summer hiatus. 15 players showed up for the six double-round-robin Swiss, won by National Master Derek O’Connor and Francisco Sanchez, who scored 9 out of 12. Carlos D’Avila was right behind at 8, followed by tournament director Jules Jelinek at 7½.

Grandmasters Conrad Holt and Zviad Izoria tied for first in the 2017 CalChess States Championship held September 2–4 in Santa Clara, California. Senior Master Jack Zhu was third at 4½, followed by International Master Vince McCambridge and National Master Hunter Klotz-Burwell on 4.

MI Tuesday Night regulars did well in the lower sections of this event. Cailen Melville was second in the under-1800 and Tergelsar Enkh placed fifth in the under-1400 section. A total of 308 players competed in the annual event, which was directed by Richard Koepcke and John McCumiskey for Bay Area Chess.

This Saturday the Mechanics’ Institute will host the 17th annual Howard Donnelly G/30, which offers 6 rounds of USCF-rated chess for only $30 ($35 for non-members in advance). Full details are available at

Former Mechanics’ member Grandmaster James Tarjan, who tied for third in the 2017 Canadian Open, continued his strong play this summer by winning the Oregon Open, held in Portland over Labor Day weekend. Tarjan’s 5–1 score (4 wins and two half-point byes) earned him $2000, and raised his USCF rating to 2493, making him the highest-rated player age 65 or older in the United States and = 83rd in the USCF overall top-100 list.

Here are three quick victories by Tarjan from the event.

English A22
Jim Tarjan–Eric Zhang
Portland (1) 2017

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nc3 Nb6 6.b3 Be7 7.Bb2 0-0 8.Rc1 c6 9.Nf3 N8d7 10.0-0 a5 11.Qc2 Qc7 12.Rfd1 f5 13.e4 fxe4 14.Nxe4 Nd5 15.Nfg5 Qb6 16.d4 Rf5 17.h4 h6 18.Nd6 1-0

James Tarjan playing at the 2016 Gibraltar Open (Photo: Jim Tarjan)

Queen Pawn A46
Tres Roring–Jim Tarjan
Portland (2) 2017

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.b3 d6 3.d4 Bg4 4.e3 Nbd7 5.Be2 e6 6.Bb2 d5 7.0-0 Bd6 8.Nbd2 0-0 9.Ne5 Bxe2 10.Qxe2 c6 11.f4 Qe7 12.g4 Rad8 13.g5 Ne8 14.Rf3 f6 15.Nxd7 Rxd7 16.Rg3 g6 17.Nf3 Ng7 18.Rh3 Nh5 19.Bc1 fxg5 20.Nxg5 e5 21.dxe5 Bxe5 22.Ba3 Nxf4 23.Qg4 Qxg5 0-1

English Defense A40
Jim Tarjan–Matt Zavortink
Portland (4) 2017

1.c4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Nc3 e6 4.e4 Bb4 5.f3 Ne7 6.Nge2 0-0 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 f5 9.Be3 fxe4 10.fxe4 e5 11.d5 Ng6 12.h4 d6 13.h5 Nh8 14.h6 g6 15.Be2 Nd7 16.Bg4 Bc8 17.Be6+ Nf7 18.b4 Nb8 19.0-0 Qe7 20.Qg4 Na6 21.Rxf7 Rxf7 22.Bxc8 1-0

2) 2017 Imre Konig Memorial Rapid

Grandmaster Conrad Holt has replaced Vinay Bhat, and will join Sam Shankland, Parimarjan Negi and Daniel Naroditsky in the Imre Konig Memorial Rapid September 16 and 17 at the Mechanics’. The double-round-robin rapid tournament, with a FIDE rating average of 2628, will honor the late Imre Konig (1899–1992), who made San Francisco his home from the early 1950s to the early 1970s.

Imre Konig at the Mechanics’ Institute in the 1950s (Photo: Mechanics’ Chess Club Archives)

Konig was the first International Master to live in the Bay Area and is remembered for his classic work Chess from Morphy to Botvinnik: A Century of Chess Evolution.

Imre Konig Memorial
September 16–17, 2017
Site: Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club         Map.
Format: 4 player double-round-robin (six rounds)
Players: Grandmaster Sam Shankland 2662 FIDE (#86 in the world)
Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi 2656 (# 96 in the world)
Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky 2626 (#160 in the world)
Grandmaster Conrad Holt 2565 (#369 in the world)

Time Control: Game in 25 minutes with 15-second increment from move one.
Saturday (September 16) 11 am, 1 pm and 2:30 pm
Sunday (September 16) 11 am, 1 pm and 2:30 pm

Spectators are most welcome and admission is free.

2) People’s Tournament: a chess poem by Dennis Fritzinger

people’s tournament

the people’s tournament got the name
back when there were still memories
of the people’s park riots
and tear gas and the blue meanies
busting heads.
also, the berkeley team
in the national phone league
was named the berkeley riots.
the best players always showed up
and played, and took away prizes,
which usually was a little money,
though maybe not enough
to pay for a motel room and meals
with much left over,
so the players were usually locals.
if someone came down a distance
it was usually from seattle
or maybe los angeles,
twin poles on the chess hiway.
the same pattern operates today,
though the local players are much stronger,
with names i don’t even recognize
half of the time.
overall, the people’s tournament
has been a success, lasting
as long as it has, with new players
of strength showing up each year
to display their skills or try
their luck. it shows no signs
of fading.
in this regard it resembles
berkeley itself, a small town
named for a philosopher
with an eye to establishing an intellectual
outpost of enlightenment
on the wild california coast.

3) Fischer–Moore, Los Angeles 1961

Fischer visited Los Angeles in the winter of 1961 to negotiate the conditions for the LA leg of the match with Reshevsky, to be played that summer. During his visit Bobby found time to give a 50-board simul at the Ambassador Hotel, where he scored +40, =7, -3. One of his losses was to Robert W. Moore of Red Bluff, California, who was rated 1797 on the April 20, 1961 USCF rating list.

Sicilian B95
Fischer–Robert W. Moore
Los Angeles (simul) February 1, 1961

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qf3

White forgoes the normal 7.f4 in favor of quick development. Nigel Short and Alexander Morozevich are among several top grandmasters who have experimented with this move on more than one occasion.


Lubomir Ftacnik, in his book The Sicilian Defense (Quality Chess, 2010), recommends 7...h6!?, not fearing 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.Qxf6, as after 9...gxf6 Black is fine with his two bishops compensating for the doubled pawns. This evaluation was confirmed in Short–Kasparov, Sarajevo 2000. If 8.Be3 or 8.Bh4 Black follows up with 8...Bd7 and ...Nc6.

8.0–0–0 Nbd7 9.Rg1

Fischer prepares the advance of his g-pawn. 9.Be2, 9.Qh3, 9.Kb1, 9.h4 and even the immediate 9.g4 have all been tried here.

9...0–0 10.g4 Qc7 11.Be3 b5

11...Nc5 12.g5 Nfd7 is an important alternative as Black’s king knight is not forced to the back rank.


12.e5?! Bb7 13.exf6 Bxf3 14.fxe7 Bxd1 15.exf8Q+ Nxf8 16.Nxd1 e5 17.Nb3 d5 and Black’s queen and pawn are better than White’s three minor pieces.

12...Ne5 13.Qh3 Ne8

13...Nfd7 runs into the almost-forced sequence 14.f4 Nc6 15.Nxc6 Qxc6 16.f5 b4 17.g6 hxg6 18.fxg6 Nf6 19.e5 dxe5 20.Bg2 Qc4 21.Ne4 winning.

14.f4 Nc4 15.Bxc4 Qxc4


The more direct advance of White’s f-pawn is hard to calculate, particularly when playing 49 other players at the same time, but was a serious alternative. All of the following lines favor White. 16.f5 b4 17.Na4 Qxa2 (17...Bd8 18.b3 Qc7 19.fxe6; 17...Qc7 18.g6) 18.Nb6 Qa1+ (18...Rb8 19.Nc6) 19.Kd2 Qxb2 20.Nxa8.


16...d5 17.Qf1 Nd6 18.exd5 exd5 19.f5 Re8 leaves White with a small but clear advantage, but is preferable to what happens.

17.f5! exf5


18.Nd5! Bd8 19.Nxf5! and the threat of Nf6+ is decisive.

18...Ng7 19.Qf3 Bxf5 20.Nd5 Rae8

20...Bd8 21.Nf6+ Bxf6 22.gxf6 Rfe8 had to be tried with practical chances for the piece based on ...Be4 and ...Qa2.


21.b3 Qc8 22.Bf4 and White is dominating.

21...Bxf6 22.gxf6 Be4 23.Qf2 Nf5 24.Nxf5

24.b3 Qc3 25.Nxf5 Bxf5 26.Bd4 had to be played.

24...Bxf5 25.Bh6??

25.Bd4 Re4 and Black is starting to take over the game.

25...Re2 26.Qxf5 Qa2 0–1

Source: Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA), July 9, 1961, page 6E (syndicated column by G. Koltanowski) and Chess Notes #10474.

4) This is the end

This study features pawns on the brink, and several surprising moves. See how you do.

White to move

Show solution

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