Chess Room Newsletter #813 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #813

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #813
January 12, 2018

Elite players are all inconvenient and against them you feel under pressure very early on. They create problems from the first moves and you need to employ all your time in order to resolve those difficulties. Aronian is one of those. Ivanchuk as well, when he’s on form.

—Lenier Dominguez (interview)

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The Winter Tuesday Night Marathon has 114 entries, making it the 17th consecutive TNM to attract 100 or more players, in a streak dating back to the 2014 Fall TNM. This is the most players the series has ever attracted after round one, and suggests the Winter TNM has chances to surpass the all-time MI Chess Club attendance record of 143 players set in the 2017 Fall TNM/William Lombardy Memorial.

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

From round 1 of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Winslow–Rakonitz after 25...Qb7)White to move (Winslow–Rakonitz after 27...Qxb2)
Black to move (Simpkins–Shaw after 13 f6)White to move (Vickers–Hope after 11...b5)
Black to move (Yamamoto–Tsodikova after 15 Nd2)Black to move (Cunningham–Clemens after 5 Nxf7)
Black to move (Wingenroth–Kuczek after 21 Rd3)White to move (Bayaraa–Chalissery after 35...Nb5)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 1.

Alexander Ivanov writes:

This year I started private lessons with GM Andrey Gutov from Russia. I’d like to share the credit with my coach for my successful tie for first in the last Marathon.

The top finishers in the last Wednesday Night Blitz of 2017, held December 20, were

1. Carlos D’Avila 9½ from 12
2. Jules Jelinek 9
3. John Pope

Carlos D’Avila was the winner of the first Wednesday Night Blitz of the year on January 2. He scored 9½ from 12 to win the 14-player event. IM Elliott Winslow was second, half a point back, with Jeff Sinick third at 8.

International Master Cameron Wheeler has once again won the Neil Falconer Award, given to the highest-rated player under 18 in Northern California in the December 2017 U.S. Chess Federation rating supplement. He joins Grandmasters Vinay Bhat and Daniel Naroditsky as the only three-time winners in the 19-year history of the award.

Here are the four top-rated players under 18 from Northern California (December 2017)

1. IM Cameron Wheeler 2473
2. IM Vignesh Panchanatham 2468
3. SM Andrew Hong 2430
4. SM Rayan Tagizahdeh 2427

Cameron will receive a check for $2473 at a special presentation at the Mechanics' Chess Club on January 23.

Previous Winners

2000 Senior Master Vinay Bhat
2001 Senior Master Vinay Bhat
2002 International Master Vinay Bhat
2003 National Master Michael Pearson
2004 National Master Nicolas Yap
2005 National Master Matthew Ho
2006 National Master Matthew Ho
2007 National Master Nicolas Yap
2008 National Master Sam Shankland
2009 International Master Sam Shankland
2010 Senior Master Steven Zierk
2011 Senior Master Daniel Naroditsky
2012 International Master Daniel Naroditsky
2013 International Master Daniel Naroditsky
2014 Senior Master Yian Liou
2015 International Master Yian Liou
2016 Senior Master Cameron Wheeler

International Master Jeremy Silman, who splits his time between Los Angeles and Japan these days, provides the only photo we have ever seen of the late James Buff. This photo of Buff, a life-long friend of Bobby Fischer, appears to have been taken in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Buff was a regular at the Mechanics’ after settling in San Francisco in the early 1970s. He died in 2010 at age 65. Silman, who was a good friend of Buff, wrote a fine tribute to him, which can be found here.

James Buff (Photo: Jeremy Silman)

International Masters Yian Liou and Kesav Viswanadha lead the UC Berkeley team to a tie for 16th place at 3½ from 6 in the 2017 Pan-Am Intercollegiate Championships held December 27–30 in Columbus, Ohio. The 58 team event was won by top seed Webster University of St. Louis (average rating of 2724!) with a score of 5½ from 6.

Mechanics’ Chess Club Director John Donaldson was recently interviewed by Ben Johnson for the Perpetual Chess Podcast. Topics covered were Bobby Fischer (Donaldson and co-author International Master Eric Tangborn recently completed a five volume series on him which is currently only available on Kindle), the Mechanics’ Chess Club and tips on how to improve. The two-hour interview is here.

2) John Blackstone, remembered by Erik Osbun (part nine)

This is a fairly sophisticated game for John. It has a precedent. Did John study that prior game? I have no idea, but John’s conduct of the endgame proves that he fully understood the position. The annotations are by John from The California Chess Reporter, Vol. XVII, No. 6, May-June, 1968. Additional comments in brackets are by me.

King’s Indian Defense E65
Tibor Weinberger–John Blackstone
Los Angeles County Open 1968

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.g3

Weinberger usually plays this line as White.

4….0-0 5.Bg2 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0-0

With Weinberger leading by a half point going into the last round he is not willing to play the more aggressive 7.d5. He wants to play safe. He later criticized himself for not playing more aggressively during the game. He follows these same tactics down the path till he gets a lost game. One must be willing to fight in a Swiss system tournament where one would not normally want to do so in a round robin. A valuable piece of John’s philosophy.

7….d6 8.dxc5

Botvinnik analyzed that 8.d5 is more accurate than 7.d5.

8….dxc5 9.Be3 Qa5


This is going too far. Best is 10.Bd2 though latest analysis seems to indicate 10….Bf5 will equalize for Black.

On 10.Bd2 Qd8! (If 10….Bf5 11.Nd5 Qd8 12.Nh4! Bg4 13.h3 Bd7 14.Bc3 Qc8 15.Kh2 Rd8 16.f4 with advantage to White, Robert Byrne–Gligorich, U.S. Open Champ., 1963.)

11.Qc1 Be6 =, Evans in MCO 10.

Similarly playable is 10.Nd5 Bf5 11.Bd2 Qd8 12.Nh4! Bd7 13.Bc3 Ng4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.h3 Nh6! (Reshevsky–Kalme, Rosenwald, New York, 1958-59).

10….Qxa4 11.Nxa4 b6

After this last move by Black, I would go as far as saying that White now has the worst of the game and is probably lost. The tactical justification of my last move is that of 12.Ne5 Nxe5 13.Bxa8 Bd7 and Black is attacking two pieces at once.

12.Rad1 Ba6!

With this move Black attacks White’s c-pawn and covers the square b5 which will turn out to be a key point later on. Evans gives 12….Bb7 in MCO 10.


Not 13.Nd2 as after 13….Rac8 White’s pieces are getting into each other’s way.

13….Rad8 14.h3?!

A possibly better defense is 14.Bc1, and if 14….Nb4 15.a3 Nc2 16.Bb2, a suggestion of L. Abramov in the Russian edition of the 1952 Stockholm Interzonal tournament book published in 1954.

14….Nb4 15.Nc3?

If 15.a3 Nc2 16.Bc1 Ne4 17.Bb2 (17.Nh4 Nd6 with the threats of ….Nd4 and ….Na1 plus the additional advantage that Black’s pieces, piece for piece, are more active) Bxb2 18.Nxb2 Nc3, and Black wins. Note that White is one tempo behind Abramov’s line.

The precedent game is Stahlberg–Szabo, Stockholm Interzonal, 1952, which continued 15.Ne5? (The question mark is Stahlberg’s, but the move unleashes a creative combina-tional sequence.) N6d5! 16.Bh6! (Stahlberg analyzed 16.Nxf7 Kxf7 17.a3 Nxe3 18.fxe3+ Ke6! 19.axb4 Rxf1+ 20.Rxf1 cxb4 21.Bd5+ Kd6 22.Rf7 Bf6 23.Rxh7 b5, and Black wins.) 16….Bxh6 17.Bxd5 Nxd5 18.Nc6 Rd6! 19.Nxe7+ Nxe7 20.Rxd6 Bc8 21.R1d1? (Correct is 21.Kh2 with an outside chance to draw.) Bxh3 22.Nc3 Bg7 23.Nb5 Be5! 24.Rd8 Nc6 25.Rxf8+ Kxf8 26.f4 Bd4+ 27.Nxd4 Nxd4 28.Kf2 Bg4 29.Rh1 h5 30.e4 Ke7 (30….Bf3! 31.Re1 Nc2 32.Rc1 Bxe4 wins easily.) 31.Rc1 Kd6 32.Rb1 Kc6 33.Rb2 b5 34.cxb5+ Kxb5 35.Rb1 Ne2 36.e5 Nc3 37.Ra1 Kb4 38.Ke3 Bf5 39.Rc1 a5 40.Ra1 Nb1 White resigns.

15….Nh5 16.Nb5 Bxb5

See note after move 12. Also note that 16.Nd5 was impossible because after all the exchanges on d5 White’s e-pawn is hanging.

17.cxb5 Nxa2 18.g4

White now tries to get some play, but it’s too late.

18….Nf6 19.Rxd8 Rxd8 20.Ra1 Nc3 21.Rxa7 N6d5!

White’s loose pawns will not run away. First of all Black activates his last piece and lays the groundwork for a small tactical twist.


Better is perhaps either 22.Nh2 or 22.Nh4, but then 22….Nxe2+ followed by 23….N2c3 leads to a hopelessly lost position anyway.

22….Nxb5 23.Rb7 Nd6! 24.Ra7

Not 24.Bxd5 Nxb7 25.Bxb7 Rd1 followed by 26….Bc3 wins outright for Black.

24….Nxe3 25.fxe3 Bf6

The end of Black’s little combination. He is now not only material ahead, but also positionally, as White’s pawn structure is extremely weak. Black’s last move is best as it protects his e-pawn and at the same time fixes White’s kingside pawns.

26.Nd3 Rc8 27.Ra8

A sad necessity, otherwise 27….b5 followed by the advance of the c-pawn wins rather easily.

27….Rxa8 28.Bxa8 e6 29.Kf2 Kg7 30.Bc6 Bc3 31.Kf3 Kf6 32.Nf2?

Better is 32.h4 to stop Black’s next move, which is based on the following ideas. 1) If White exchanges into a bishop of opposite color ending he loses a second pawn. 2) Black will eventually play ….f5 and secure two passed pawns on the kingside. Either line results in a win for Black.

32….Kg5 33.Nd1

If 33.Ne4+ Nxe4 34.Bxe4 Kh4 35.Kg2 Bd2, and the second pawn goes.

33….Be5 34.Nf2 Kh4 35.Kg2 f5

After the game Weinberger claimed this was a mistake and he should have been able to draw someplace, but he lost the postmortem also.

36.Bd7 Bg3 37.Nh1 Be1! 38.Bxe6 b5 39.gxf5 gxf5 40.Kf1 Bd2 41.Kf2 c4

The passed pawn wins the game, and the white king can do nothing about it.

42.bxc4 bxc4 43.Kf3 c3 44.Bb3 Be1 45.Kg2 Nc4 46.Kf1 Bd2 47.Kf2 Nxe3 48.Ng3 Kxh3 49.Kf3 Kh4 50.Ba4 Kg5 51.Kf2 c2 52.Bxc2 Nxc2 White resigns.

In this endgame White’s king maneuvers clearly demonstrate his hopelessness.

3) 80 East 11th in New York City

In Newsletter #812 we wrote about the old home of National Master Fred Wilson’s bookstore, which until December 20 was located at 80 East 11th street in Greenwich Village. This building not only housed the bookshops of Wilson and Albrecht Buschke and the U.S. Chess Federation, but also Marcel Duchamp as FIDE Master Allan Savage writes:

The quote from Fred Wilson concerning his 80 E. 11th Street building was most interesting. I knew about all the chess connections except Morphy (how many knew that?).

In spite of all the notoriety involved, it is possible that the most significant one was the Duchamp connection. His fourth-floor studio that Fred so innocently mentioned was the site of Duchamp’s very secret last art work, Étant donnés, which was revealed only after his death in 1968. The assemblage was installed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1969, where it still stands today. It is known that the existence of the USCF office in the same building was the perfect subterfuge excuse that Duchamp used for slipping into his studio, and secretly working on the project. What’s more, his choice of that studio was surely influenced by the black and white chessboard-like tiled floor there, that is a hidden part of the assemblage today (see Manual of Instructions for Étant donnés [Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1987]). Duchamp’s devotion to chess throughout his entire life was even subtly carried forward after his death.

4) Here and There

The December 29 edition of the New York Times featured an op-ed piece by Dorsa Derakhshani titled “Why I Left Iran to Play Chess in America.” The 19-year-old International Master was banned by the Iranian Chess Federation in February 2017 for playing in the Gibraltar Chess Festival the previous month without wearing a hijab. Her 15-year-old brother Borna was also banned—his crime was playing an Israeli Grandmaster in the same tournament. Ms. Derakhshani is now attending St. Louis University, where she also plays on the chess team.

The recent King Salman World Chess Championships, held in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia, also attracted controversy. Most of the best players in the world competed in the blitz and rapid competition, which featured a staggering $2 million dollars in prizes, but Israeli participants were not to be found, as the Saudis reneged on a pledge to grant visas to them.

The noted musician Gabe (Gabriel) Kahane (peak USCF 2142) played in a bunch of Bay Area tournaments circa 1996–98 and was a pupil of FIDE Master Eric Schiller. A thoughtful article by him on bringing people together can be found here.

Grandmaster William Lombardy is remembered as one of the greatest talents American chess has produced. Many will recall his perfect score in the 1957 World Junior, but even more impressive was his performance in the 1958 Olympiad. There the 20-year-old Lombardy scored 11/17. While ostensibly the second board for the U.S., Lombardy saw plenty of action on board one, as Sammy Reshevsky was only available for 11 of the 19 rounds.

Interestingly, Lombardy might have played every game if not for an accident that occurred during the middle of the tournament. John Mulliken, writing in Sports Illustrated (November 3, 1958), explains what happened.

Driving a car lent by the Munich branch of Coca-Cola, Lombardy skidded on wet cobblestones, crashed and was badly stunned. It was two days before he could play again.

This was rounds 3 and 4 in the finals.

5) Mystery Players

Can you guess the two players in the following photo? Two hints—both players grew up in Washington State; one became a well-known Grandmaster and the other an International Master. The answer is given below after This is the end.

6) This is the end

This study touches on several basic endgame principles.

White to move

Show solution

Answer to “guess the players”: Yasser Seirawan (age 14) and Eric Tangborn (age 13) after the Washington Teenage Open held in Tacoma in December 1974. (Photo: Wendell Tangborn)

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