Chess Room Newsletter #817 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #817

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #817
February 9, 2018

Fischer’s play in that game evoked memories of 1972. In fact the match games were of a fairly high quality particularly when compared with Kasparov’s championship matches of 1993, 1995 and 2000, for example. Yet the games also reminded many how fans out of place Fischer was in 1992. He was still playing openings of the previous generation. He was, moreover the only strong player in the world who didn’t trust computers and wasn’t surrounded by seconds and supplicants. He was a player from the past.

—Andy Soltis, Bobby Fischer Rediscovered (p. 278)

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

International Master Elliott Winslow is the lone remaining perfect score after five rounds of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon. FIDE Master Josiah Stearman and National Master Tenzing Shaw are half a point back. Three rounds remain for the 132-player field.

From round 5 of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Winslow–O'Connor after 29 Qd6)Black to move (Tsodikova–Maser after 20 Re1)
Black to move (Clemens–Chambers after 14 Qb3)White to move (Thornally–Anderson after 14...Na6)
Black to move (Askin–Robeal after 10 Nb6)White to move (Argo–Malykin after 35...Rxc8)
White to move (Wingenroth–Warton after 9...Nxe4)White to move (Zulkhuu–Boldi after 21...Nc6)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 5.

Lauren Goodkind, author of 50 Poison Pieces: Solve 50 Puzzles Where the Unprotected Pieces is Toxic, played in round four of the Winter TNM. Check out her web site.

National Master Conrado Diaz won the 18th Henry Gross Memorial held February 3 with a 5–0 score. Tying for second, a point back, were National Masters Rochelle and Sijing Wu, Robert Heaton, Joel Marcus and Ethan Boldi. The last crossed 2000 to become a USCF-rated Expert. Congratulations, Ethan. The 44 player field included six National Masters.

This was the second victory at the Mechanics in 2018 for Diaz, whose triumph in the 18th Bob Burger Open this past January was reported as far away as the Philippines—article.

Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator Jules Jelinek writes about the event held January 31st.

Last week, the Wednesday Night Blitz attracted 14 players. Top finishers were

1st/2nd - Carlos D’Avila and Josiah Stearman – 10½ pts (out of 12)
3rd /4th – Pranav Gindal and Jules Jelinek 7½ pts

Best of luck to FIDE Master Josiah Stearman, who is competing in an International Master norm tournament at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Follow Josiah here.

2) Bobby Fischer in Brussels, 1958

Bobby Fischer’s appearance on the show I’ve Got a Secret March 26, 1958, is well known, as is the fact that the judges could not guess his secret (being U.S. Chess Champion). His reward was an airline ticket from SABENA—Belgian World Airlines that took of the financial issue of how to get to Yugoslavia for the 1958 Interzonal in Portoroz (the U.S. Chess Federation was barely getting by at the time). The ticket included stopovers in Brussels (SABENA’s home base) and Moscow (which Bobby was eager to visit for some training). His visit to the latter is well-documented; not so the visit to the Belgian capital.

In an article which appeared in Salon in 2004, the journalist Rene Chun wrote the following, roughly two-thirds of the way through:

If only Fischer had listened to his mother. Regina died in 1997, but a letter she wrote to her son 46 years ago is eerily prescient. In the missive, she dispenses the kind of prudent advice that Fischer would have done well to heed later on in life.

The letter, dated July 9, 1958, was written to the 15-year-old Bobby when he was in Europe, waiting for the Interzonal chess tournament in Portoroz, Yugoslavia, to begin. If he did well at Portoroz, he would qualify for the next step on the way to the world title, a feat unprecedented for a player his age. The letter was a response to an incident that occurred in Brussels, in which Fischer enraged Belgium chess officials by refusing to play a scheduled exhibition and acting like an all-around ugly American. Bobby behaved badly in Moscow too—so badly, in fact, that Russian officials asked him to leave the country before his scheduled departure. The old-guard Soviets dismissed him as “nyekulturni”—uncultured, the Russian equivalent of trailer park trash.

The U.S. Department of State received an official complaint from Brussels, which notified the United States Chess Federation and informed them that it was opposed to Bobby playing in any chess tournaments abroad. Hearing the news, Regina panicked and dashed off a two-page typed letter informing Bobby that there was new legislation in Congress that proposed greater discretion in revoking the passports of any U.S. citizens whose presence abroad might reflect poorly on the country.

Regina goes to great lengths not to upset her son’s mercurial disposition by directly criticizing him. “Please don’t think I am just trying to scare you,” she writes. “Far from it. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.” She instructs Bobby to be on his best behavior for the rest of the trip. “Play whatever matches they propose—regardless of financial gain or not. Be as pleasant and friendly as possible. Bend over backwards if necessary. If this is not physically or mentally possible for you, leave the country at once.”

“If this is not possible for you to agree to, if you just don’t want to and are set to cut your own throat just to prove you are right, at least think it over and come home on your own power before you get kicked out by them or the State Dept. pulls your passport and you have no other choice. If none of these alternatives suit you, remember something has got to give — three strikes and you are out. I sympathize with you and love you regardless of how wrong you are, or even how right you are and how much harm you do to yourself in trying to prove it.”

Reading this article one might think Bobby was a complete jerk in Brussels, but an eye-witness to what happened, American high school student and chess player Larry Finley—in Brussels to work at the American exhibit during the World’s Fair—remembers things quite differently. That Bobby on his arrival in Brussels was shocked to discover the local chess officials in Brussels expected him to give a simul for token compensation. Fischer was only 15, but he already knew his mind and refused to give the simul. Finley recalls that the top Belgian player, Grandmaster Alberic O’Kelly, filled in for Bobby. A more in-depth look at Fischer’s visit to Brussels can be found in Bobby Fischer: The Early Years: 1943–1962 (Kindle Edition).

3) Zuk–Ziegler, Olympia 1983

British Columbia FIDE Master Robert Zuk (b. 1947) is one of a group of Vancouver players (future Grandmasters Duncan Suttles and Peter Biyiasas and FIDE Masters Jonathan Berry and Bruce Harper) who came up in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Zuk is the least-known of the group, but was a strong 2300+ plus player who seemed destined for more. He is perhaps best known for the “Winter of Zuk” when he took first place in a number of tournaments in the Pacific Northwest in 1970–71, winning over 40 games in a row.

Although the early 1970s are arguably when he was at his peak, Zuk won a number of tournaments in 1974–75 as well, including a first-place tie with Biyiasas in the 1974 Capital City Open in Olympia, Washington.

Bob Zuk circa 1983 at 4715 9th Ave. N.E. in Seattle. This was the long-time home of National Master John Braley (1944–2017) and hosted several invitational tournament games and matches in the early to mid-1980s. The house has since been torn down and rebuilt. (Photo: John Donaldson)

Andy Ansel, the great archivist of games played in the United States, alerted us to this game and we found notes to it in the long-running monthly publication Northwest Chess, which has been continuously published since 1947.

Sicilian Four Knights B45
Robert Zuk–Rick Ziegler
Capital City Open (3), 1974

Notes by Zuk

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3

Also possible at this point is 3.d4 since 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.e5 Ne4 7.Qg4 Nxc3 8.Qxg7 Rf8 9.a3 Ba5 10.Bh6 Qe7 11.Bd2 is better for White. (11.Nb3! is even stronger —Ed).

3...Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Ndb5 Bb4 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 d5 9.exd5 exd5 10.Bd3 0–0 11.0–0 h6 12.Bf4 Be6 13.h3

A useful move, since in some variations White wants to play Qd2 without worrying about ...Nh5.

13...d4 14.Ne2 Qd7?

14...Qd5 is better.

15.b4 Rfd8

15...a6 seems necessary.

16.b5 Ne7 17.Be5 Nf5

The only move to save the d-pawn, but now Black’s kingside gets smashed up.


Not 18.g4 Nh4 19.Nxd4 Qd5.

18...gxf6 19.Nf4 Ng7 20.Qf3 f5 21.Rfe1 Rac8 22.Re5 Rc3 23.Qg3 Kh7 24.Qh4 Rg8

The final error, but Black’s position is difficult.

25.Ne2 Bc4 26.Nxc3 Bxd3 27.Nd5 Qd6 28.Nf6+ 1–0

Northwest Chess, December 1974, page 378.

4) This is the end

This tricky study illustrates several different ideas in rook-and-pawn endgames.

White to move

Show solution

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