Chess Room Newsletter #801 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #801

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #801
September 22, 2017

Keres was not as merciless towards himself, or to others, either, as Botvinnik was.

—Maria Keres, quoted in Keres: Move by Move (p. 11) by Zenon Franco

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

Chess is not only for the young. Veterans International Master Elliott Winslow and Expert Joe Tracy lead the 121-player Peter Gray Tuesday Night Marathon with 6–1 scores with two rounds remaining. A half-point behind are FIDE Master Josiah Stearman, National Masters Conrado Diaz and Derek O’Connor and Experts Igor Traub and Aleksandr Ivanov.

From round 7 of the Peter Grey Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Goins–Tracy after 25...h6)White to move (Jones–Poling after 15...Qxd4)
White to move (Lum–Kuczek after 9...Qxb8)White to move (Argo–Melville after 11...Qf7)
White to move (Mays–Greene after 21...Bxe4)White to move (Abraham–Beatty after 11...b5)
Black to move (Erdenebileg–Chen after 8 Qd2)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 7.

The September 13th edition of the weekly Mechanics’ Wednesday Night Blitz attracted 18 participants, with National Master Derek O’Connor taking home the $63 first prize with a score of 9½ from 12. Right behind him at 9 were noted blitz aficionado Carlos D’Avila and National Master Ezra Chambers, who represents Burundi.

Grandmaster William Lombardy is visiting San Francisco and gave a well-received lecture this past Tuesday night. He is available for lectures and lessons and has signed copies of his book Understanding chess: My System, My Games, My Life for sale. Contact the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club at [email protected] for more information.

The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club of San Francisco, the oldest in the United States (founded 1854), held the 4th Imre Konig Memorial on September 16 and 17. The four-player double round robin rapid chess tournament (G/25 plus 15-second increment) was won by Indian Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi, who is studying at Stanford.

Most of the event Sam Shankland was chasing Negi, who started with 2½ from 3. Sam caught up with Pari when he defeated him in the fifth round, but fell to second when he drew with Conrad Holt in the last round, while Negi was defeating Daniel Naroditsky.

The final results were

1. Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi (2656 FIDE) 4/6 $1700
2. Grandmaster Sam Shankland (2662 FIDE) 3.5 $1300
3. Grandmaster Conrad Holt (2565 FIDE) 3 $1000
4. Daniel Naroditsky (2626 FIDE) 1.5 $500

Participants in the 4th Imre Konig Memorial. L-R Parimarjan Negi, Conrad Holt, Daniel Naroditsky and Sam Shankland (Photo: Elliott Winslow)

The event was held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of International Master Imre Konig (1901–1992), the first internationally-titled player to reside in San Francisco. Perhaps best known for his classic book Chess from Morphy to Botvinnik: A Century of Chess Evolution, Konig was a true cosmopolitan. Born in the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Kula, in today’s Serbia, he represented Yugoslavia in three Olympiads before emigrating to England in 1938. Konig played board three for his new country in its radio match against the Soviet Union in 1946 and was second at Hastings 1948–49 behind Rossolimo.

Konig moved to California in 1953, first settling in San Francisco and later moving to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. A modest and cultured man, he made friends wherever he went.

This event, like the other three in the series (2002, 2007 and 2012) was sponsored by FIDE Master and several-time California state champion Tibor Weinberger, who was a close friend of Konig.

It’s sometimes said White is allowed the luxury of making one mistake in the opening with the penalty being an equal position. That’s not always true, as this game shows. One mistake by White immediately seals his doom.

Conrad Holt (2565)–Parimarjan Negi (2656)
Imre Konig Invitational San Francisco (1), September 16, 2017

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 c5 7.Nf3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 0–0 11.Bc4 b6

11...Nc6 and 11...Nd7 are more commonly-seen variations in the Queen’s Gambit Decline Semi-Tarrasch, but the flexible text, deferring the development of Black’s queen knight, is starting to gain favor.


Conrad tries to take advantage of Black’s last move. 12.0–0 was the main line.

12...Ba6 13.Bxa6 Nxa6 14.dxe6

14.d6 was Korchnoi-Mecking, Hastings 1971/72.

14...fxe6 15.Qe3??

15.Qe2 would have offered equal chances.


After this move, threatening both. ..Nc2+ and ...Nd3+, the game is effectively over.

16.Qd2 Nd3+ 17.Kf1 Qf6! 18.Rb1 Rad8 19.Qc2 Qg6 20.Qc4 Nf4 21.Rg1 b5! 22.Qxb5 Qxe4 23.Re1 Qc2 24.Qb3 Qc6 25.Ne5 Qa6+ 26.Qc4


26...Qxc4+ 27.Nxc4 Nd3 28.Re2 Rc8 is another way to reach the same end, but is not as dramatic a move.

27.Re2 Qxc4 28.Nxc4 Rc8 0–1

Conrad recovered well from this disaster, scoring 3 from 5 the rest of the event.

Shankland and Negi in round 5, watched closely by Assistant Tournament Director Paul Whitehead. (Photo: Kerry Lawless)

The following game between the top two finishers sees a delicate balance between attack and counter-attack.

Parimarjan Negi (2656) – Sam Shankland (2662)
Imre Konig Invitational San Francisco (2), September 16, 2017

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nc6 7.Qe3 Ng4 8.Qd2 h6 9.Bh4 g6 10.h3 Nge5 11.Nxe5 Nxe5 12.f4 Nc6 13.0–0–0 Bg7 14.Nd5 Be6 15.g4 0–0 16.Kb1 Rc8 17.Bf2 b5 18.Be2 Bxd5 19.exd5 Na5 20.Bd4

It looks at first glance like White is getting the better of it, but Sam shows the chances are balanced with a series of precise moves

20...Nc4 21.Bxc4 Bxd4! 22.Qxd4 Rxc4 23.Qe3 Qc7 24.f5

24.Rd2 Rc8 with ...Qc5 to follow holds no fears for Black, but after Pari’s last move how does Sam defend?


He doesn’t. This counterattack ensures one of the two players will end the game with perpetual check.

25.fxg6 fxg6 26.Rhf1

26.Qxh6 Rff2 draws.

26...Rc8 27.Qd3

27.Qxh6 Rxb2+ draws again.

27...Kg7 28.Qd4+ Kg8 29.Qe4 Kh8 30.Qd4+ Kg8 31.Qe4 Kh8 32.a3 Qc4 33.Qxg6

Accepting the inevitable.

33...Rxb2+ ½–½

Grandmaster William Lombardy, a legendary figure in American chess, was among those who followed the tournament. He is pictured here with Assistant Tournament Director Paul Whitehead. (Photo: Elliott Winslow)

2) A Review of Keres: Move by Move

Every year the Mechanics’ Institute orders several dozen new chess books and DVDs to add to its collection of over 2000 chess-related items. It also subscribes to New in Chess, Chess and the British Chess Magazine. Here is a review of one noteworthy new addition.

A volume dedicated to the games of Paul Keres, one of the strongest players never to become World Champion, is the latest in the Everyman Chess Move by Move series. The 464-page book by Grandmaster Zenon Franco analyzes 38 of Keres’ games, using a question and answer format to actively engage the reader.

This approach, aimed at the club player, works well, as Keres’ play was particularly instructive. Franco adds and expands the commentary where needed, making it more accessible to those in the rating range 1600–2200. He also updates Keres’ annotations in the opening phase. A case in point is Keres–Ivkov, USSR vs. The World, Belgrade 1970 (game 38).

After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Bg4?!

Keres and Ivkov were both critical of this move, but in fact we know today it is well-motivated. Black surrenders the bishop pair for a grip on d4 and harmonious piece play—his king knight will not fight with his light-squared bishop for the d7 square.

4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 Nc6 6.g3!!

Keres’ giving this move two exclamation marks seems quite strange to modern eyes. It’s certainly better than the previous try 6.Bb5, but transposing into a well-known position from the Closed Sicilian and English hardly merits special attention.

6…g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.0-0 h5?!

This is the cause of Black’s future troubles. Either 8…Nf6 or 8…e6 with …Nge7 to follow were quite playable and would have offered Black equal chances.

The only case where the plan of g3 and Qxf3 really works is if Black wastes a move early on. For example 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 a6 (to avoid 3…Nf6 4.e5) 4.g3 Nc6 5.Bg2 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 g6 8.e5! dxe5? (8…Bg7)


9…bxc6 10.Bxc6+ Qd7 11.Bxd7+ Kxd7 12.Na4 and White has an advantage in the endgame which wase exploited in fine style in the game Biyiasas–Timman, Wijk aan Zee 1980.

One player who was aware of 8.e5 and 9.Qxc6+ long before it was played was Bobby Fischer. When Biyiasas, who hosted Bobby in 1981, showed Fischer this game and was in the process of playing 7…g6 when R.J.F. immediately mentioned 8.e5 was a strong move. Fischer said he analyzed the position during his game with Vlastimil Hort (1970 Palma de Mallorca Interzonal) while the latter was deciding whether to recapture with the queen or bishop (Hort ultimately chose 7.Bxf3).

Kasparov, in an analogous position in his match with Psakhis in 1990 (game 5), chose to sidestep Bg5 by playing …h6 before castling. Maybe White could have pinned the knight on move eight or even earlier. Psakhis later carried out the plan of Bg5xf6 followed by light-squared domination to perfection against Wang Zili in the 1996 Erevan Olympiad.

Besides doing an excellent job engaging and teaching the reader through Keres’ games, Franco also provides a thoughtful overview of his career, and asks the question why the Estonian never became World Champion and in fact didn’t even play a match for the title. A World Championship contender for over thirty years, from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s, Keres finished second in four (!) Candidates’ cycles (1953, 1956, 1959 and 1962). Seeing his country forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union could not have helped Keres peace of mind, but we think his wife, quoted by Franco, was right when she said; “Keres was not as merciless towards himself, or to others, either, as Botvinnik was.”

Franco’s introduction, where he covers the Estonian’s contributions to opening theory, defense/counter-attack and endgames, is particularly well-done. This book is a fitting tribute to one of the strongest players and greatest gentlemen to ever play the game.

3) Browne–Acers, National Open 1970

Walter Browne and Jude Acers played two matches, one in Baton Rouge in 1967 (reported in Newsletter #722) and another in Berkeley in 1971. Here we offer their one tournament game from the 1970 National Open in Sparks, Nevada.

4) Bermuda 1995

During most of the 1990s Bermuda hosted GM and IM norm tournaments. Here is a group photo of the 1995 Grandmaster round robin where Mechanics’ Grandmaster-in-Residence Nick de Firmian took second behind Alexandre Lesiege of Canada.

Bermuda 1995: (L-R) Victor Frias, Lesiege, David Norwood, Giovanni Vescovi, de Firmian, Josh Waitzkin, Sofia Polgar, Maurice Ashley and Malcom Pein. Missing: Alexander Ivanov (Photo: John Donaldson)

5) This is the end

This study has plenty of twists and turns.

White to move

Show solution

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