Chess Room Newsletter #808 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #808

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #808
November 24, 2017

Any opening is good if its reputation is bad enough.

—Saviely Tartakower

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

FIDE Master Josiah Stearman and Experts Igor Traub and Alexander Ivanov are leading the 126-player Fall Tuesday Night Marathon/William Lombardy Memorial after five rounds, with scores of 4½–½. A large group of players led by FIDE Master Paul Whitehead and International Master Elliott Winslow, are a half-point back. Four rounds remain to be played in the USCF- and FIDE-rated event.

From round 5 of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Diaz–Stearman after 36...Kg7)Black to move (Diaz–Stearman after 38 Kh2)
Black to move (Rudyak–O'Connor after 33 Ne4)White to move (Perepelitsky–Cheng after 24...Nd2)
Black to move (Wong–Gomboluudev after 28 Qb6)White to move (Maser–MacIntyre after 18...Na5)
White to move (Clemens–Giridharan after 25...Qd6)Black to move (Nyangar–Thornally after 14 Re1)
White to move (Rakonitz–Anderson after 26...Bd8)White to move (Boldt–McEnroe after 14...Nxe5)
White to move (Cohee–Revi after 13...a6)White to move (Howell–Lucas after 14...c5)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 5.

14-year-old FIDE Master Josiah Stearman of Martinez won the 17th Pierre St. Amant G/45 with a 5–0 score, to raise his rating to a personal best of 2342. Tying for second in the 39-player event held November 18 were 11-year-old National Master Rochelle Wu, her brother Sijing, National Master Romy Fuentes, Expert Ashik Uzzaman and Class B player Venkatagiri Acharya. The last upset two experts and gained over 100 rating points.

National Master Ezra Chambers won the November 15 Wednesday Night Blitz with a score of 11 from 12. Experts Carlos D’Avila and Jules Jelinek were second and third in the 10-player event.

The Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club has a new Facebook page.

Portland Grandmaster and former Mechanics’ member James Tarjan scored 7½ from 11 to tie for 11th place in the World Senior (age 65 and over) competition held in Northern Italy. Grandmaster Evgeny Sveshnikov won the 166-player event.

Former Mechanics’ member Chinguun Bayaraa is having a tremendous result in the 2017 World Junior, representing his native Mongolia. One of the youngest (age 12) and lowest-rated (1820) players in the competition open to those 20 and under, Chinguun has scored 4 from 9 against opponents 300 to 500 points higher-rated, for a performance rating to date of 2247 FIDE, and a gain of 127 rating points, with two rounds remaining.

2) Alla Kushnir at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club (part one)

Alla Kushnir (1941–2013) was the second-strongest female chess player in the world from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, losing three matches (1965, 1969 and 1972) for the Women’s World Chess Championship title to Nona Gaprindashvili—the last by only a single game. Kushnir won the Women’s Championship of the Soviet Union in 1970 and represented the USSR in two Women’s Chess Olympiads, winning team and individual gold in 1969 and 1972. She immigrated to Israel in 1973 and led her new homeland to victory in the 1976 Women’s Chess Olympiad. Kushnir’s win over Larry Evans at Lone Pine 1975 was one of the first victories by a female player against a Grandmaster.

Kushnir was driven to San Francisco after Lone Pine by Bob Burger and Guthrie McClain and gave a simul at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club. The following photos by Richard Shorman are from that event.

3) John Blackstone, remembered by Erik Osbun (part four)

The following game contains as a bonus three extra games that demonstrate both a learning experience and a theoretical discussion.

Ruy Lopez Open C82
John Blackstone–Larry Remlinger
Pacific Southwest Open (5)
Los Angeles August 5, 1962

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3 Nc5

This line is known as the Berlin variation.

Against the more usual 9….Be7, John tried 10.Nd4, Alekhine’s Gambit, against me a couple of months before the present game. Alekhine’s Gambit is not really sound, but here is that precedent to the game with Larry: Blackstone–Osbun, Hamilton A.F.B. Open, June 14, 1962. 9….Be7 10.Nd4 Nxe5 11.f3 Nc5 (Alekhine–Fine. A.V.R.O., 1938 continued 11….Nf6 12.Qe2 Nc4 offering White a chance to recover his pawn with 13.Nxe6 fxe6 14.Qxe6 Qd7 for a draw. Fine in PCO considered 11….Nc5 to be “more speculative.” I think 11….Nc5 is a better chance to win.) 12.f4 [PCO shows 12.Bc2 Bd7 13.b4 Na4 14.Re1 Nc4 15.Qe2 Kf8 16.Nd2 Bf6 17.Nxc4 bxc4 18.Bxa4 Bxa4 (Engels–Kieninger, Barmen, 1938) and evaluates the position as equal. In my opinion Black is better. The text move, 12.f4, forces Black to find counterplay.] 12….Bg4 13.Qc2 [13.Qe1 Nc4 14.Qg3 (14.Nc6 Qd7 15.Nxe7 Qxe7 offers White nothing.) h5 14.h3 Bh4 is disaster for White.] 13….Nc4 14.f5 (Hoping to trap the Black bishop, but Black counters by placing his pieces for a counterattack on White’s King.) 14….Bd6 15.h3 (White’s point, 15.Bf4 Bxf4 16.Rxf4 Qg5 is worse.) 15….Qh4 16.Bxc4 (Perhaps wondering if Black would be happy with a draw: 16….Qg3 17.Bxd5 Qh2+ 18.Kf2 Qg3+ 19.Kg1.) 16….dxc4 17.Bf4 0-0-0! (No draw, castling queen-side envisions the lift of that rook to his third rank.) 18.hxg4 Nd3 19.Bxd6? (A better defense is 19.g3 Qxg4 20.Qe2 Qh3 21.Qg2, and if Black wants to continue there is 21….Qxg2+ 22.Kxg2 Bxf4 23.gxf4 Nxb2 with three pawns for the piece and the more active pieces.) 19….Rxd6 20.Nf3 (Not 20.Qe2?? Rh6) 20….Qxg4 21.a4 (An attempt at counter-play that falls just short.) 21….Qxf5 22.axb5 Qxb5 23.Na3 Qc5+ 24.Kh1 [If 24.Nd4 Re8! 25.Nxc4 Rxd4! 26.cxd4 Qxd4+ 27.Rf2 (Or 27.Kh1 Re6 28.Rf3 Rh6+ 29.Rh3 Nf2+ 30.Kh2 Qf4+ 31.Kg1 Nxh3+ 32.gxh3 Rg6+, and Black wins.) Nxf2 28.Qxf2 Qxc4, and Black should win.] 24….g5! (Pushing the knight toward zugzwang.) 25.Nd4? (His best chance is 25.Nxc4 Rh6+ 26.Nh2 Qxc4 27.Rf3 Rd8 28.Rd1 Qh4 29.g3 Qxh2+ 30.Qxh2 Nf2+ 31.Rxf2 Rxd1+ 32.Kg2 Rxh2+ 33.Kxh2 Rd7, but Black should win.) 25….Rh6+ 26.Kg1 Qe5 27.Nf3 Qe3+ 28.Rf2 Nxf2 29.Qxf2 Rh1+ 30.Kxh1 Qxf2 31.Nxc4 g4 32.Nd4 Re8 33.Nb3 Re6 0-1.

10.Bc2 Be7?!

Perhaps Black should play 10….Bg4, and now is his last chance to do so. Then 11.Re1 Be7 12.Nbd2 Qd7 or 12….0-0 would be more comfortable for Black than the text move. Refer to ECO C83.

After 10….Bg4 11.Re1, Black should not attempt 11….d4?!, because of 12.h3 Bh5 13.e6! fxe6 14.g4 d3 15.Bb3 Bf7 16.Ng5 Qf6 17.Bd5! Kd7 18.Ne4 Nxe4 19.Bxe4 Bd6 20.Qxd3 Ne5 21.Qe2 Qh4 22.Bg2 Bg6 23.Bf4 Nd3 24.Qxe6+ (24.Bxd6!? Nxe1 25.Bg3) 24….Kd8 25.Bg3 Qf6 26.Qxf6+ gxf6 27.Bxd6 cxd6 28.Re3 Ra7 29.a4 bxa4 30.Rxa4 Nxb2? 31.Rb4 Nd3 32.Rb8+ Black resigns (I. Rivise–J. Rinaldo, Steiner C.C. vs. Long Beach, Los Angeles, 1956). See annotations by Irving Rivise in the California Chess Reporter, Vol. VI, No. 1, August, 1956. It seems probable that Larry Remlinger of Long Beach was aware of this game.


John makes the same aggressive knight move he made against me, but now in a more favorable setting. It seems stronger than 11.h3 0-0 12.Re1 Qd7 13.Nd4 Nxd4 14.cxd4 Nb7 15.Nd2 c5 (Karpov–Korchnoi, 24th Match Game, Baguio, 1978). In fact, Tal suggested 11.Nd4 in his notes to this game in Report from Baguio (1979) by D. Bjelica and M. Tal.


Probably Black’s best reply, because acceptance of the offered pawn is dangerous: 11….Nxe5 12.f4 Nc4 13.Nc6 Qd6 14.Nxe7 Kxe7 15.b3 Nb6 16.f5 Bc8 17.Bf4 Qc6 18.Nd2 Bb7 19.Qg4 Rae8 20.Be5 Rhg8 21.Bxg7 f6 22.Nf3 Ne4 23.Bxe4 dxe4 24.Nd4 Qxc3 25.Ne6 Nd5 26.Qh5 Kd6 27.Qf7 Bc8 28.Rad1 Bxe6 29.fxe6 Rxg7 30.Qxe8 Qc5+ 31.Kh1 Ke5 32.Qd8 Qd6 33.Rxd5+ Kxd5 34.Qxf6 Qe7 35.Qf5+ Kc6 36.Qxe4+ Kb6 37.Re1 c5 38.Qe5 Rg8 39.h3 Rc8 40.Rd1 Rc6 41.Re1 h5 42.a3 h4 43.b4 cxb4 44.axb4 Kb7 45.Re4 Rc1+ 46.Kh2 Rc6 47.Qf5 Qc7+ 48.Re5 Qg7 49.Qf7+ Qxf7 50.exf7 Rf6 51.Re7+ 0-1, N.Fercec –M.Vucic, Yugoslav Championship, Kladovo, 1989.

12.f4 Nxd4 13.cxd4 Ne4 14.Nc3 Bg4?

Black has a tough assignment. What is the best defense? The text move appears to put off the decision in favor of simplification.

Black is not yet ready to counterattack with 14….c5?! 15.Be3 (15.Nxe4?! dxe4 16.Bxe4 Rd8 relieves Black.) Rd8? (15….Nxc3 16.bxc3 cxd4 17.Bxd4 Bf5 18.Bxf5 Qxf5 19.Qf3 Qd7 20.f5 is worse than the text line.) 16.dxc5 Bxc5? 17.Bxc5 Nxc5 18.f5, and White wins.

Probably Black’s best chance is to block with 14….f5: then 15.exf6 Bxf6! (15….Nxf6 16.f5 Bf7 17.Bf4 0-0 18.g4 is dangerous.) 16.Be3 Rd8 17.Nxe4 (17.Qe1!?) dxe4 18.Bxe4 Bxd4 19.Bxd4 Qxd4+ 20.Qxd4 Rxd4 21.Rae1 Kf7 may be adequate for Black, but it will be close.

15.Qe1 Nxc3

Or 15….Bf5 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Be3, and Black’s e-pawn may become a liability.

16.bxc3 Bf5 17.Bxf5 Qxf5

Black has achieved the desired simplification, but is unprepared for White’s next assault.


Targeting Black’s queen-side pawns creates the diversion needed to force his real goal of getting control of square f5.


The reasonable defense, for if 18….c6 19.Qe2 h5 (to prevent 20.g4 and 21.f5) 20.axb5 cxb5 21.Rxa6! Black loses.

19.Qe2 Qd7

Or 19….c6 20.g4 Qe4 21.Qxe4 dxe4 22.Re1, and White wins a pawn.


White gets his goal, and now Black cannot allow 21.f6.

20….f6 21.e6 Qc6 22.Qg4


Black diverts the threat of 23.Bh6. If, instead, Black tries 22….Re8 or 22….Kh8, then 23.Rf3.


Of course not 23.Qxh5? Qxc3.

23….Qc4 24.Rf3 Qe2 25.Bf4 g6

Black is desperate in view of the now-real threat of capturing the h-pawn.

26.fxg6 Kg7 27.Qxh5 Rh8 28.Qxd5 bxa4 29.Qd7 Rhe8


A sham sacrifice as the bishop cannot be taken: 30….fxe5 31.Rf7+ Kxg6 32.Rxe7 Rxe7 33.Qxe7 exd4 34.Rf1, and White wins.

30….Qb5 31.Bxf6+ Kxg6 32.Rg3+ Kh6

Or 32….Kxf6 33.Rf1+, and White wins.

33.Bxe7 1-0

If 33….Qxd7 34.Bg5+ Kh7 35.exd7, and White wins.

4) Hermann Helms (1870-1963)

U.S. Chess Hall-of-Famer Hermann Helms is remembered as of the great chess journalists and promoters of the game. He and John Collins were good friends and the latter’s archive at the Lilly Library at the University of Indiana in Bloomington has the following photo in its collection.

Hermann Helms and John Collins analyzing in the late 1950s (Photo: John Collins Collection, Lilly Library, Indiana University)

Collins also offered some biographical information about Helms.

Born 1870 Brooklyn
Age 3 moved to Germany (his father died early)
Moved to Halifax at age 10
Moved back to NYC at age 17

In 1898 he married musician and painter Mary Whitney who died in 1943
His only child Thelma died at age 40.
His American Chess Bulletin at 150 Nassau Street in NYC was a stone’s throw from City Hall.
Miss Sullivan was his devoted secretary for over 30 years.

She died one year to a day after Helms, struck by a car when she walked into traffic.
Collins describes Helms as an old-time Baptist who held dear the virtues of honor, honesty, courage, frugality and forthrightness.

Helms lived his final 13 years at 304 E. 18th with Mr. and Mrs. John Boyan
Helms, like Steinitz, is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

5) This is the end

An instructive position from a Grandmaster game.

White to move

Show solution

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