Chess Room Newsletter #804 | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

Chess Room Newsletter #804

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News #804
October 27, 2017

The way you spend your days at home, determines how well you do in tournaments!

—Grand Master Vidit Gujrathi, ChessBase India, on October 16, 2017

The Mechanics’ Chess Club will host the 46th Carroll Capps Memorial this weekend.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The William Lombardy Memorial: Fall Tuesday Night Marathon is off to a fast start with 103 participants after round one. There are currently nine players over 2200, headed by International Master Elliott Winslow and FIDE Masters Paul Whitehead, Josiah Stearman and Frank Thornally.

The first round didn’t have a single draw, which breaks a streak going back at least 19 years. Congratulations to Samuel Agdamag, who was the only lower-rated player to emerge victorious.

It’s still possible to enter the 9-round USCF- and FIDE-rated event with a half-point bye for round 1.

From round 1 of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Donnelly–Vickers after 14 O-O-O)Black to move (Chen–Thornally after 24 dxc5)
White to move (Davila–Touset after 21...exf4)White to move (Dougal–Perlov after 14...Bxe4)
Black to move (Dougal–Perlov after 17 Qh4)White to move (Ricard–Revi after 10...O-O)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 1.

National Master Paul Gallegos and Experts Rochelle Wu and Manas Paldhe tied for first in the 53-player J.J. Dolan Memorial G/45 held October 7 at the Mechanics’. Eleven-year-old Rochelle had a close call in round three, when she defeated Sos Hakobyan with rook and knight versus rook in the latter’s time pressure. She beat National Master Romy Fuentes in the last round to finish a few points below 2200. The following day Rochelle became a National Master in a one-day event held by Bay Area Chess.

Jules Jelinek, Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator, reports things have been busy the past month. Here are a few results:

October 4 (12 players)
1st – Carlos D’Avila – 10/12
2nd – NM Ezra Chambers - 8½
3rd – 5th Cailen Melville, Jeff Sinick and Jules Jelinek - 7½ pts

October 11 (12 players)
1st and 2nd – Adrian Kondakov, Carlos D’Avila – 10/12
3rd – Jules Jelinek - 8

October 18 (13 players)
1st – IM Elliott Winslow – 10½/12
2nd – Carlos D’Avila – 10
3rd – Jules Jelinek - 9

Jules writes: Come join us this evening for the Wednesday Night Blitz at Mechanics’ Institute. Sign-up starts around 6:30 pm, with round 1 starting at 6:45.

Many thanks to Gordon Brooks and Mary Shipman (for the late IM Walter Shipman) for their large book donations, and Jim Jones for purchasing 10 new clocks. Generosity like this has made the Mechanics’ Institute library the largest public repository of chess books west of the Mississippi and able provide not only boards and pieces, but also clocks to everyone that plays in M.I. tournaments.

2) William Lombardy (1937–2017)

Grandmaster William Lombardy, who living in the Bay Area the last two months of his life, died on October 13 in Martinez at the home of Mechanics’ member Ralph Martinez.

Lombardy was a guest of the U.S. Open in Norfolk, Virginia, this summer. When it ended in early August he traveled to Chicago and soon after to Burlington, Iowa, to teach at a chess camp. When the latter finished he decided on the spur of the moment to head west and hopped on the California Zephyr, riding the rails for two days before getting off near Oakland. It was his first time in the Bay Area since 1955.

Bill’s first stop was in Redwood City, where he spent time with his friend George Butler, who shares some memories with Newsletter readers.

We were from the same part of the Bronx and I was three years older. It can’t be proved, but I think I ran into him when I was six and he was three. I went to Catholic schools so we could talk about that, and though I was just an A-player I knew the names and some of the people from his era and so we had plenty to talk about. We liked the same songs.

Farewell, William!

Bill then headed north to a room at the Europa Hostel at 6th and Howard, booked for him by another good friend, Joe Shipman, son of the late International Master. This would have been near the end of August, around the first time Bill made an appearance at the Mechanics’ Chess Club which he last visited after the 1955 Long Beach US Open.

Bill was a regular fixture at the M.I. in September, and gave a well-received lecture before the Tuesday Night Marathon crowd. He could often be found kibitzing on games, playing blitz or just conversing on all matter of topics. He stayed with Richard Hack, who has very generously written a reminiscence.

I met the legendary and personable William Lombardy at the Wednesday night blitz on Sept. 13. I waited to introduce myself while he and Elliott Winslow talked about New York and other matters, and noticed a line forming behind me. I went back on Thursday, and he was there again. After the Chess Room closed, I was talking with him outside on Post St. and asked, “Where are you staying?” He said pleasantly, “Nowhere.” His two-night stay at the Europa Hotel and Hostel on 6th Street had ended, and he seemed perfectly satisfied with staying on the streets all night or in a coffee shop. “I’m used to the monastic life,” he later said cheerfully.

I don’t like to share my little studio downtown (400+ sq. ft.) with all-night guests I don’t know, but my principal thought now was, How can I let William Lombardy walk around homeless? I realized it was time to step up and do the right thing, even though part of me didn’t want to.

I suggested he walk with me toward my apartment, which is less than six blocks away. We talked some more across the street from my 89-year-old building, then I invited him to sleep in my chair because I had no extra bed or mattress. He declined politely, but showed up two hours later, and spent the next 14 nights with me. Every day after I made breakfast, he would go to the chess club, where people were a bit awed by his presence. Some took him out eating or drinking at night and walked him home to my place on Geary Street. It turned out he was poor with a few bucks in the bank and no steady income besides $500 a month in Social Security. After losing his longtime apartment on Stuyvesant Oval in New York City, he had been traveling the country, visiting some friends and doing some chess teaching.

He freely admitted he was a curmudgeon, but he was also very gentle and kind, a deep and clear thinker who spoke his mind and always displayed the courage of his convictions. I tried out some of my ideas on him and asked some of my questions; he was always attentive and responded thoughtfully and reasonably. He was a great conversant on many subjects, especially chess, how people treat each other, and spiritual and social matters. And he was so appreciative and generous, even with his own limited money. He acknowledged people for their good character and their kindness to him, and twice mentioned the young player Sam Greene (who incidentally increased his rating by some 120 points in our last tournament). He said my place was like a museum and that each of the books he pulled from my shelves was very special and even rare. I showed him some movies he had never seen, like Ray Milland as Lucifer in “Alias Nick Beal” (1949) and Jack Nicholson as “Hoffa”. I talked about a boxing novel called The Professional by W.C. Heinz, in which a veteran fight manager is training his guy for a title fight. At one point, he stops a sparring match to tell the fighter he was off-balance after throwing the right:

“I told you about that. What happened?”
“I got excited,” the boxer admitted.
“Excitement is for amateurs,” said the manager.
“That’s right,” said William in firm agreement.

He grew up in what was then a Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx, and lived most of his life in that borough and in Manhattan. He believed he was an orphan, given that his baptismal certificate was available only from the New York Foundling Hospital, not from the church where he was baptized, but his parents never spoke about him being adopted. His father, Raymond (also the name of William’s son), changed the family name from Lombardi to Lombardy because he resented his own father for putting him and his brother in an orphanage. There is more information on this in William’s 2011 book, Understanding Chess, which is in the MI Library.

After he left my place, he was offered a room at the house of another of our players, Ralph Palmeri, in Martinez. Again he humbly declined the offer at first, but after spending a couple nights on the street, he accepted the invitation. His host got him a couple of one-time chess gigs and was planning to take him on as a permanent, rent-paying tenant. Among other things, Ralph told me the following:

“He was really people-friendly. We worked on chess early in the morning and then late at night. He loved playing chess and had a deep knowledge of all variations. He took on all comers, never refusing anybody. When he knew you were in trouble, he would start singing.

“It was his time to do something different. He was mystified by how friendly everybody was out here. He never talked about going back to live in New York.”

Ralph and William were planning to meet me in San Francisco on October 13, but he died that morning, exactly a month after I’d met him.

He never saw the movie “Pawn Sacrifice”, but knew it was a crock full of errors. When I told him about the Lombardy character, who was often holding a glass from which he would sip and then gulp several fingers of whiskey, he said he was never that kind of drinker. But I hope he was pleased when I told him that the Lombardy character had one of the best minds and biggest hearts in the movie.

He defended Bobby Fischer to the end, saying he was not an anti-Semite. This seemed to disappoint some players who attended his lecture before a late round of the last Tuesday Night Marathon. When I asked him about it later, he was adamant and had good arguments I couldn’t beat, and I certainly couldn’t argue that Zionism wasn’t a bad deal for the Arabs in Palestine. He cast doubt on some of the people who’ve told us that Bobby was often running down the Jews and pointed out that some of Fischer’s memorabilia was stolen by certain people very close to him. William stayed loyal to his old friend and colleague, despite the fact that Bobby would never talk to him again after a magazine printed some critical words attributed to William, who insisted they were made up by the writer or editor. I believe that both he and Fischer experienced great psychological pressure as well as a sense of being abandoned. They were both tremendous competitors with a great chess talent that is God-given. Whatever anybody says, and whatever either of them may have said, they were still our guys.

A lot of people were pleased to have William Lombardy out here with us, and I want to thank each of you for making this a new center of chess for him. Overall, as Ralph Palmeri said, he died with a smile on his face.

Bill Lombardy at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club on September 24, 2017. (Photo: Pia Fransson)

Visiting Swedish chess player Pia Fransson was among the many who helped Bill during his stay in the Bay Area. When Ms. Fransson heard he lost his cell phone after being mugged in New York City, she immediately bought him a replacement. She wrote a wonderful article about him, with many more photos, which can be found here.

Bill’s last public appearance was at the Pinole Chess Club on Wednesday, October 11—his second visit to the club, according to Tuesday Night Marathon regular Michael Baer, who remembers he spent much of the evening playing Expert Greg Lope blitz.

We encourage others with memories of Bill Lombardy to share them.

3) Fred Wilson earns National Master at 71

Noted chess historian, author and teacher Fred Wilson of New York City can now be known by another title—National Master. Wilson scored 3–1 (his loss was to GM Alex Fishbein) in the Dr. David Ostfeld Memorial held October 1 in Hackensack, New Jersey. This makes Wilson the second-oldest U.S. player to earn the National Master for the first time, behind only Oscar Shapiro, who crossed 2200 USCF at 74.

Four Knights Game (Mengarini Variation)
Fred Wilson–Sriram Kumar (1895)
Hackensack, October 1, 2017

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bb4 5. O-O O-O 6. d4!?

A gambit invented by Dr. Ariel Mengarini in the early 1960’s which he used to beat several masters, including GM Bisguier in a great “30-30” game in 1963.

6…exd4 7. Nd5! Be7!

The best move. Not 7…Nxe4?? as 8.Bxc6 wins a piece.

8. Re1

The point. White protects e4 before taking back on d4.


Maybe 8…d6 is better.

9.Nxe7+ Rxe7?

This can’t be right

10. Bg5 Ne5!?

After long thought, and I couldn’t find a decisive advantage by taking on f6 so I delayed this.

11. Nxd4 d6 12. Qd2!

Simply keeping up the pressure. This turns out to be a very important queen placement.

12…a6 13. Bf1

Not 13. Ba4?, because of 13…c5!, followed by …b5 and …c4 trapping the bishop as in “Noah’s Ark”.


Probably just weakening d6 for no good reason.

14. Nf3!

He didn’t expect this.

14… Nxf3+ 15. gxf3 Re6?

Loses. 15…Re8 is forced, though after 16. Rad1 White is winning.

16. e5!

A nice “shot”.

16…h6 17. Bh4 g5 18. exf6 gxh4 19. Rxe6 Bxe6 20. Qxh6 Qf8 21. Qg5+ Kh7 22. Bd3+ 1–0

Fred Wilson in his book store where he has operated for over 35 years. (Photo: Kent Johnson)

Fred will be moving next year, but for now can be found at:

Fred Wilson Chess Books
80 East 11th Street
Suite 334
New York, NY 10003

Phone: 212-533-6381       Email: [email protected]

4) Magnus Carlsen at Champions Showdown in Saint Louis

Rapid and Blitz Matches Features Top Three Americans and
Five International Champions

The Saint Louis Chess Club will host a series of four matches, the Champions Showdown, November 9–14. In an exciting twist, the three top American players and current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, will face their opponents in 10 games of rapid and 20 games of blitz. Tournament play will begin November 9 at 1 p.m., with World Champion Magnus Carlsen and No. 1 Chinese Grandmaster Ding Liren beginning November 11 at 1 pm.

The match-ups include Fabiano Caruana (USA) vs. Alexander Grishchuk (Russia); Hikaru Nakamura (USA) vs. former World Champion Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria); and reigning U.S. Chess Champion Wesley So (USA) vs. Leinier Dominguez (Cuba). These matches will be held November 9th through 12th.

For the first time in recent history, each match will feature play with no delay or increment, meaning the games will be faster and more exhilarating for fans to watch, both online and in person at the Saint Louis Chess Club. Each day the games will be faster with less time on the clocks.

“We were looking for something special for some of the world’s top players to come to Saint Louis in November,” said Tony Rich, Executive Director of the Saint Louis Chess Club. “With no time increments or delay, we believe this will be one of the most watched and exciting set of matches of the year.”

For a complete schedule; to watch live. The matches will be broadcast live at 1 pm, CDT, with the final day starting at 11 am.

Challenger Opponent
Magnus Carlsen (Norway)   2837Ding Liren (China)2774
Fabiano Caruana (USA)2798Alexander Grishchuk (Russia)   2781
Hikaru Nakamura (USA)2779Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria2749
Wesley So (USA) 2788Leinier Dominguez (Cuba)2739

5) This is the end

This position is from a recent grandmaster game. Can Black stop the white pawns?

Black to move

Show solution

You can browse through our archived newsletters using the "next" and "previous buttons".

Want to save this newsletter for reading at a later time? Click here to learn how.

Want to be notified when the next newsletter is published? Join Our Email List →