Chess Room Newsletter #821 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #821

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Room Newsletter #821
March 23, 2018

I wouldn’t say that Keres was riddled with superstition. Somehow, however, he had a very old-fashioned stance, something along the lines of believing that when things were starting to going wrong for him, they would go wrong; or that when the start was good then the end would be similar. I had already experienced this on our trips—Keres was influenced by external factors, external omens... I would say that it leaned toward some kind of fatalism...

I should stress that it was not really superstition, but it was something similar. It was probably characteristic of chess artists: when his games did not seem to go well, it was as if he lost belief in himself. So that when he played badly, he played very badly. Comparing him to his great rival and in many ways complete antipode, Botvinnik, one could claim that an out-of-form Botvinnik played better than an out-of-form Keres. An in-form Keres, however, was often better than an in-form Botvinnik, or certainly at least at the same level.

—Ivo Nei Article

Paul Keres (Photo: unknown)

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The Spring Tuesday Night Marathon got off to a fast start on March 20. 110 players, including five rated over 2300 U.S.C.F., are already competing in the 8 round event which is both USCF and FIDE rated. 14-year-old Josiah Stearman (2395) is the top-seed and looking to become the Bay Area’s latest Senior Master.

This is the 18th consecutive Tuesday Night Marathon with triple-digit attendance, in a streak going back to the Fall TNM of 2014, and the most players ever after the first round. It’s still possible to join the Spring TNM with a half-point bye for round one.


From round 1 of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Stearman–Casares after 19...Kd6)Black to move (Rakonitz–Diaz after 24 Qxb2)
White to move (Brown–Uzzaman after 31...Bc3)White to move (Gray–Regzedmaa after 18...Kf8)
White to move (Cunningham–Steger after 27...e6)Black to move (Yu–Lesquillier after 17 Rxe5)
Black to move (Otterbach–Cendejas after 20 Bg3)White to move (Quang–Scalese after 11...Nf5)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 1.

Conrado Diaz defeated fellow National Master Ezra Chambers to win the 18th Max Wilkerson Memorial. The 41-player event was held March 17.


The Wednesday Night Blitz, under the direction of Jules Jelinek, has been consistently attracting a good crowd the past few weeks.

March 7 – 15 players

1st – Carlos D’Avila 10½ pts
2nd – Pranav Gindal 9½ pts
3rd/4th – National Master Anna Matlin and Jules Jelinek 8 pts

February 28 – 16 players
1st – FIDE Master Ezra Chambers - 10 pts
2nd – National Master Anna Matlin - 9 pts
3rd/4th – Carlos D’Avila & Jules Jelinek – 8 pts
5th International Master Elliott Winslow - 7 pts

The Wednesday Blitz signup starts around 6:30 pm, with round 1 starting at 6:45 pm.


Congratulations to Natalya Tsodikova, who recently received her long-overdue Women’s FIDE Master title.


Adrian Kondakov (2051), who is the fourth-highest-rated 10-year-old player in the United States, recently visited the Tal Memorial in Moscow, where he got to rub shoulders with some pretty high-rated company.



Adrian with Sergey Karjakin (Photo: Konstantin Kondakov)


Walnut Creek Grandmaster Sam Shankland tied for second in the Spring Chess Classic held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis from March 6 to 14. Sam scored 5 from 9 against a field averaging just under 2650 to raise his FIDE rating to 2671, making him the 69th-highest-rated player in the world. The event was won by 17-year-old Grandmaster Jeffrey Xiong of Plano, Texas, who had an outstanding performance, scoring 6½ from 9. More information.


Congratulations to TNM regular National Master Derek O’Conner, who broke 2300 for the first time by winning the Berkeley Chess Club’s John Grefe Marathon with a 7–1 score. International Master Elliott Winslow and Expert Alexander Ivanov tied for second at 6–2 in the 36-player event held January 5 to March 2. Bryon Doyle directed and Elizabeth Shaughnessy organized the tournament for the Berkeley Chess Club.

2) 2018 Samford Fellowship to Liang and Sevian

The Frank P. Samford, Jr. Chess Fellowship, marking its thirty-second annual award, has selected Grandmasters Awonder Liang of Madison, Wisconsin, and Samuel Sevian of Holden, Massachusetts, as its 2018 Fellows. The Samford is the richest and most important chess fellowship in the United States, having awarded over two million dollars the past three decades. It identifies and assists the best young American chess masters by providing top-level coaching, strong competition and access to study materials. The Fellowship also supplies a monthly stipend for living expenses so that the winners may devote themselves to chess without having financial worries. The total value of the Fellowship has been increased several times over the years and is now $42,000 annually, which will be shared by the two winners. The prize is awarded for one year and can be renewed for a second year. The winners’ term begins July 1, 2018.

14-year-old Awonder Liang is currently the highest-rated player in the world under 16 at 2578 FIDE and Samuel Sevian, who recently turned 17, is the number eight player in the world under 20 at 2617 FIDE.

The winners were chosen by the Samford Fellowship Committee, consisting of Frank P. Samford III (son of Samford Fellowship founder Frank P. Samford, Jr.), former U.S. Chess Champion Grandmaster Yury Shulman and International Master John Donaldson. The winners’ potential was determined based on their chess talent, work ethic, dedication and accomplishments. The Fellowship is administered by the U.S. Chess Trust, with particularly valuable services provided by Al Lawrence.

The Samford Chess Fellowship was created by the late Frank P. Samford, Jr. of Birmingham Alabama. Mr. Samford was a distinguished attorney and CEO of Liberty National Life Insurance Company (now Torchmark). He was active in civic, business, political, educational and cultural affairs. Mr. Samford was also an enthusiastic competitor in chess tournaments. After providing financial support for several chess projects he decided to do something significant for American chess. The result was the Samford Fellowship.

Since its inception the Fellowship has proven very successful. Many Samford Fellows have become strong Grandmasters, members of the United States Olympiad team and US Champions. The 2016 Samford Fellow Wesley So is number four in the world on the February 2018 FIDE rating list and four of the five members of the 2016 gold-medal-winning US Olympiad team were current or former Samford Fellows.

Generous contributions from the late Mrs. Virginia Samford and the Torchmark Corporation support the Fellowship. The Samford Fellowship is a fitting memorial to an extraordinary man. The dedication, creativity and achievement that marked Mr. Frank P. Samford, Jr.’s life are examples for all chess players to admire and emulate.

Samford Winners:

1987 Joel Benjamin
1988 Maxim Dlugy
1989 Patrick Wolff
1990 Alex Fishbein
1991 Ilya Gurevich
1992 Alex Sherzer
1993 Ben Finegold
1994 Gata Kamsky
1995 Josh Waitzkin
1996 Tal Shaked
1997 Boris Kreiman
1998 Dean Ippolito
1999 Greg Shahade
2000 Michael Mulyar
2001 Eugene Perelshteyn
2002 Varuzhan Akobian
2003 Dmitry Schneider
2004 Rusudan Goletiani
2005 Hikaru Nakamura
2006 David Pruess
2007 Josh Friedel
2008 Vinay Bhat
2008 Irina Krush
2009 Ray Robson
2010 Robert Hess
2011 Alex Lenderman
2012 Timur Gareev
2012 Alejandro Ramirez
2013 Sam Shankland
2014 Daniel Naroditsky
2015 Samuel Sevian
2015 Kayden Troff
2016 Wesley So
2017 Jeffrey Xiong
2018 Awonder Liang
2018 Samuel Sevian

3) A New Example of the Classical Bxh7+ Sacrifice

Newsletter reader Richard Reich of Madison, Wisconsin, provides this recent game.

London System D02
Mark Paragua–Justin Sarkar
New York State Championship (4) 2017

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d5 3.e3 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nd2 e6 6.Ngf3 Bd6 7.Bg3 O-O 8.Bd3 b6 9.e4 dxe4?!

9…Be7

10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.Bxe4 Bb7 12.dxc5 Bxc5 13.Qa4 Qe8??



13…Qd7 14.Ne5! Nxe5 15.Qxd7 Nxd7 16.Bxb7 with the bishop pair. 13…Rc8 was best.

14.Bxh7+! 1-0

Source: Empire Chess, Fall 2017

4) Donaldson and Rowles win Collyer Memorial

David Rowles and International Master John Donaldson tied for first in the 26th Annual David Collyer Memorial held February 24 and 25 in Spokane, Washington.

King’s Indian Attack A04
John Julian (2010)–John Donaldson (2418)
26th David Collyer Memorial Spokane (4) 2018

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d3 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 e5 6.0–0 Nge7 7.c3 0–0 8.a3

White’s plan in this King’s Indian Attack structure is to expand on the queenside with b4, aiming to nibble away at Black’s center. Sometimes he also plays for the advance d3–d4. One player who plays the KIA with real skill is the Egyptian 2700 player, Grandmaster Bassem Amin.

8...d6

There are many ways to counter White’s planned b4, including 8...a5, which stops the advance, but weakens the b5 square.

9.b4 a6

This protects the knight from the advance b4–b5 and Black may later play ...b5. 9...h6 10.Nbd2 Be6 11.Bb2 Qd7 is another way to handle the position, saving a tempo (...a6) but allowing b4–b5. In the same position, but with colors reversed, Kasparov anticipated Black’s ...b5 with b4 and then met ...b5 with a4 against the French Grandmaster Nataf. This was a blitz game, but the idea is still noteworthy. Here the extra tempo makes this plan dubious, as 9...b5? is strongly answered by 10.a4!

10.Bb2

10.Nbd2 h6 11.Rb1 Be6 12.Qc2 (12.bxc5 dxc5 13.Rxb7 Qxd3) 12...Qc7 13.bxc5 dxc5 14.a4 Na5 15.Re1 Rfd8 16.Bf1 Rab8 17.Nh4 b5 18.axb5 axb5 19.Ng2 Qd7 Botvinnik–Korchnoi, Moscow-Leningrad 1960, with slightly better chances for Black, is an instructive game between two giants of the past.

10...h6

10...Be6 would be met by 11.Ng5.

11.Nbd2 Be6 12.d4?!

This advance is premature. Either 12.Rb1 or 12.Re1 is better, waiting to play d3–d4, when White is fully-developed. Black will meet either move with either 12...Qd7 followed by ...f5 or ...b5, or the immediate 12...b5.

12...exd4 13.cxd4 cxb4 14.axb4



14...d5

The thematic answer to d3–d4. Capturing on b4 immediately allows White compensation for the pawn. For example: 14...Nxb4 15.d5 Bxb2 16.Rb1 Bd7 17.Rxb2 a5 18.Nd4.

15.Rb1

Now 15.e5 Nxb4 and White does not have enough for the pawn.

15...dxe4

This looks natural, but 15...Qb6 and 15...Re8 were reasonable alternatives, and might even be more accurate.

16.Nxe4 Ba2

The immediate 16...Bd5 allows White 17.Nc3 Nxb4 18.Ba3 a5 19.Bxb4 axb4 20.Rxb4 recovering the pawn with equal chances.

17.Ra1 Bd5 18.Re1

Black should answer 18.Nc3 with 18...Be6.

18...Nxb4 19.Ba3

White’s position starts to drift downhill the next few moves. Perhaps 19.Ne5 was the best try here.

19...Nec6 20.Qd2 a5 21.Rad1 Re8 22.Ne5



22...f5!

The correct response. Simplifying with 22...Nxe5 is just what White’s wants. 23.dxe5 Bxe4 24.Rxe4 Qxd2 25.Rxd2 Rxe5 26.Rxe5 Bxe5 27.Rd7 with excellent drawing chances.

23.Bxb4 axb4

23...Nxb4 was also possible, but the text, which limits White’s options, is stronger.

24.Nxc6 bxc6

A question of taste, as 24...Bxc6 was also good.

25.Nc5 Rxe1+ 26.Qxe1 Bxg2

26...b3 was more accurate, meeting 27.Rb1 with 27...Rb8.

27.Qe6+

27.Kxg2 Qd5+ followed by ...Bxd4.

27...Kh7 28.Kxg2 Qd5+ 29.Qxd5 cxd5 30.Nd3

30.Kf3 , trying to bring White’s king to the queenside, was worth considering.

30...b3 31.Rb1 Rb8



32.Nc5

32.Ne5 was more stubborn, but after 32...Bxe5 33.dxe5 g5 34.f4 gxf4 35.gxf4 b2 36.Kf2 Rb3 37.Ke2 d4 38.Kd2 d3 39.Ke3 Kg6 40.Kd2 Kf7 41.Ke3 Ke6 42.Kd2 Kd5 43.Ke3 Kc4 Black is winning.

32...b2 33.Ne6 Bf6 34.Kf3 g5 35.h4 Kg6 36.g4 Rb3+ 0–1

5) The Queen of Katwe at the Berkeley Chess School

Sarah McCarty-Snead writes:

Have you seen or read The Queen of Katwe?

I’m so excited to host Phiona Mutesi in Berkeley next weekend. Phiona will be visiting our chess club on Friday, March 30 from 5:30–8:00 pm at the Berkeley Adult School. She will give a talk about her incredible life story. If you haven’t seen the movie with your girls, watch it; it’s amazing. Suggested donation of $10 is requested; all proceeds will go directly to Phiona. More information here, or call (510) 843-0150.

6) Here and There

Newsletter reader Ashik Uzzaman reports the triumph of the NorCal House of Chess team in the US Amateur Team West here.


Paul Stagnoli sends in the 2018 tournament schedule for Santa Rosa:

* Frank Doyle Open April 21 and 22
* Exchange Bank Open August 25 and 26

Four round Swiss (G/120 d5)
2018 Frank Doyle Open

When: Saturday, April 21 & Sunday, April 22, 2017
Where: Exchange Bank, Andrew J. Shepard Building
444 Aviation Boulevard, Santa Rosa, CA 95409
Sections: Open 1900+ Reserve 1500-1899 Booster Under 1500 + Unrated
Rounds: 4 Round Swiss System Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Prizes: Open $250-$175 Reserve $200-$125 Booster $150-$100
Entry Fee: $35.00 in advance $45.00 late registration after April 18, 2017 Extra $10 fee for playing up a section(s)
Registration: Saturday, April 21, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Contact: Paul Stagnoli 707-478-4385 paulgs@sonic.net. Post-tournament information can be found here.


The Fodors travel guide series recommends that chess lovers check out Jude Acers when visiting New Orleans. Learn more about one of America’s greatest chess promoters here.

The following game was played in a match between Acers and Berkeley National Master and organizer Alan Benson.



7) 7th Annual Reno Larry Evans Memorial, March 30–April 1, 2018

Chess players from the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club have gone to Reno for high-quality chess run by Fran and Jerry Weikel for over 30 years. Their upcoming memorial for Grandmaster Larry Evans will be held over Easter weekend.

$25,500 PRIZE FUND: for this six-round Swiss in Six Sections (based on 275 paid players, $15,500 Guaranteed). 120 Grand Prix points. Open Section FIDE rated. Large prize fund made possible by funding from the Sands Regency Casino Hotel.

ADDITIONAL PRIZES: Top Senior (65 & over) and Top Club money prizes. Top unrated gets trophy and USCF membership for 1 additional year.

SPECIAL ENTRIES: For GMs and IMs, free entry to main tournament (late fees may apply after 3/2/2018). For unrated players, free tournament entry with purchase of a one-year USCF membership (unrateds ineligible for cash prizes except for Open Section). $10 discount entry to rated Seniors 65 and over.

MASTER CLASSES: GM Sergey Kudrin $30 clock simul on Wednesday evening with follow-up analysis on Thursday. Lecture by IM John Donaldson on Thursday evening 6–7:15 pm. GM TBA $20 simul on Thursday evening. FREE IM John Donaldson game/position analysis clinic on Saturday afternoon.

SIDE EVENT: 7:30pm Five Minute Blitz (G/5 d0) Tournament on Thursday night. $25 with 80% of entries returned as prizes.

HOSTED BY THE SANDS REGENCY CASINO HOTEL in Reno, Nevada. Site of the 1999 100th U.S. Open. Complimentary coffee and coffee cakes served each morning. Complimentary airport shuttle.

SPECIAL HOTEL RATES. $54.07 Sunday-Thursday, $76.77 Friday-Saturday. Single or double occupancy. To guarantee hotel reservation with credit card by telephone 1-866-386-7829, group code CHESS318 (call by 3/15/2018). (Please, no tournament entries by telephone.)

RENO/TAHOE SIGHTSEEING: The Sands Regency is located in the heart of downtown Reno, convenient to many area attractions, entertainment, fine dining and incredible sightseeing at beautiful Lake Tahoe and historic Virginia City.



8) This is the end

This position looks like an easy win for White, but since it is a study, things are not so simple.

White to move

Show solution



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