Chess Room Newsletter #827 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #827

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News #827
May 4, 2018

You are right—at our age we should write more and play less. What use is being superior in your chess knowledge over your young rivals if you are unable to take advantage of it in practice? In a book you can write exactly how chess should really be played.

—Paul Keres, writing to Eero Böök (interview)

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

National Master Conrado Diaz leads the 142-player Spring Tuesday Night Marathon by a point with one round remaining. Tied for second through eighth, a point back at 5½ out of 7, are International Master Elliott Winslow, FIDE Master Ezra Chambers, National Master Derek O’Connor, Experts Alexander Ivanov and Michael Walder and Class A players Kevin Kuczek and Edward Lewis. The latter is having a spectacular tournament having defeated Fide Masters Chambers and Josiah Stearman.

From round 7 of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Elisman–Chambers after 18 Kd1)White to move (Shaw–Clemens after 7...Qe5)
White to move (Pryor–Ochoa after 38...Nh6)White to move (Jensen–Robeal after 22...Be7)
Black to move (Quang–Yanofsky after 50 Raa7)White to move (Waharte–Singh after 12...Nxd5)
Black to move (Smith–Casares after 23 Bd2)White to move (Simpkins–Starr after 12...g6)
White to move (Isenberger–McEnroe after 17...Re2)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 7.

Jules Jelinek, Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator, supplies the results of last week’s event, held April 25, which attracted 10 players.

1st – Carlos D’ Avila 9½/12
2nd – Jules Jelinek – 8½
3rd – Stan Kitsis – 8

The Wednesday Night Blitz is taking a break for the summer and will resume on August 29.

Don’t forget, this Sunday, May 6, the club hosts the annual Stephen Brandwein/Ray Schutt/ Jay Whitehead Memorial Blitz Tournament 12–5 pm ($400, 250, 120, 100, 75, 50).

Advance entries include Grandmaster Conrad Holt and International Masters Cyrus Lakdawala and Vince McCambridge. There is a chance 2018 US Champion Sam Shankland will be playing. More information.

The 18th annual Charles Powell Memorial G/40 tournament is this Saturday, May 5, starting at 10 am, hosted by the Mechanics’ Institute. Powell (1944–1991) was Virginia State Champion a record seven times, and moved to the Bay Area in the late 1970s. Notable also is the fact that Powell beat Bobby Fischer in a simultaneous game in Richmond, Virginia 1964—also on May 5.

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Room Director John Donaldson described the occasion in his book Legend on the Road (1994): “Fischer had requested that his opponents be seated according to rating. However, several prospective opponents had already gone home by the time the simul finally started, leaving some ‘gaps’ along the row of tables. Charlie Powell, by far the strongest local player, also arrived late. Maybe he didn’t intend to play originally and came just to watch. But finding the simul still just getting underway with some spaces available, he slipped into an unoccupied board among the weaker players. Powell won the game and some people recall that Fischer was quite upset afterwards, maybe suspecting that the deviation from correct board order was an intentional deception.”

You can see the game here.

2) Sam Shankland wins 2018 U.S. Championship

World number two, Fabiano Caruana, has had a brilliant 2018. He followed up his wins in the Candidates’ tournament and the Grenke Chess Classic (ahead of Magnus Carlsen) with an outstanding performance in the recently-concluded U.S. Championship in St. Louis, where his score of 8–3 was good for a 2837 performance. Few players have had three performances like this back to back with almost no break, but Caruana did not win his last event—Sam Shankland did.

Rated in the middle of the field, and with three players rated in the top ten competing, no one, including Sam, expected him to take first, but he did—with a superhuman effort. His undefeated score of 8½–2½ was good for a whopping 2885 performance and raised his FIDE rating to a personal best of 2701, making him only the sixth American player (Caruana, Nakjamura, So, Kamsky and Onischuk are the others) post-Bobby Fischer to cross the 2700 milestone. Sam joins Walter Browne (six times), Nick de Firmian (three times) and John Grefe as Bay Area players who have won U.S. Championship titles. M.I. Trustee Patrick Wolff won two titles while living in his native New England.

Sam’s victory got a write up in chess publications around the world, and, closer to home, in the East Bay Times (link).

There will only be a short rest period before Sam’s next event, the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba, which starts May 8. When it ends he will head further south to Montevideo, Uruguay, for the American Continental Championship, which starts June 1.

3) Nick de Firmian playing Anatoly Lein at an American Open

Newsletter #826 ran a tribute to the late Anatoly Lein. Here is another photo of Lein playing Nick de Firmian, with Walter Browne watching. Thanks to Al Pena Jr. for sharing this photograph, which was signed by both players and Browne.

4) Grandmaster James Tarjan Annotates

English A37
Jim Tarjan–Ticia Gara
Gibraltar (9) 2018

1.c4 c5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Nf3 e6 6.d3 Nge7 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bd2 0-0 9.Rb1 d5 10.Qc1 Kh7 11.0-0 b6 12.a3 a5

I got nowhere against this exact line once before, in the 2016 Canadian Open vs. John Dojknas. I swore off the line then, but it didn’t stick -- hopefully after this game it will.

13.Qc2 Ba6 14.Na4 Rb8


White cannot even bail out and play for a draw with 15.b4?. Black ends up clearly better.

15...Qd6 16.cxd5 Nxd5 17.Nc3 Nde7 18.Qa4 f5 19.Qh4 Nd4 20.Bg5 Rbe8 21.a4?

A typical positional mistake -- White needs the possibility of counterplay with b4. 21.Nxd4 cxd4 22.Na4 with b4 next is logical. I saw this possibility, and was aware that I am going nowhere otherwise, and have been going nowhere since the opening. But it would have required more than a little calculation, as White is sacrificing the N on a4 in some variations. And the variations are quite obscure and difficult. 22...Rf7 (22...Nd5 23.Bxd5 exd5 24.b4 Bb5 25.bxa5! Bxa4 26.Bf4 Qe6 (26...Qf6 27.Qxf6 Rxf6 28.axb6+/-) 27.Rxb6+/- Not at all an obvious variation: the a pawn and the rooks coming to the seventh are worth more than the piece) 23.b4 Bb5 24.Nxb6 (24.Nb2 Nd5=/+) 24...Qxb6 25.bxa5 Qxa5 (25...Qa6 26.Rc7+/=) 26.Rc5 Rb8 27.Bxe7 Bxd3! 28.Rbc1! (28.Rxb8 Qe1+ 29.Bf1 Bxe2 30.Qh3 Rxe7-+) 28...Qa7 29.exd3 (29.Bd6!?) 29...Rxe7 30.Ra5 Qd7 Black is slightly better.; 21.Nd2 or any neutral move would be better than 21.a4.

21...Nec6 22.Nxd4?

22.Nd2 aiming to at least put this N on c4.

Yasser Seirawan and Pal Benko (standing); sitting L-R Bent Larsen, Ron Henley, John Fedorowicz and James Tarjan at Lone Pine 1981. (Photo: Stella Monday)

22...Nxd4 23.Rd1

23.e3! White needs to do something 23...Nb3 (23...Nc6 24.Nb5 Bxb5 25.axb5 Nb4 26.d4=) 24.Rd1 Qd7 (24...Rh8!? 25.Nb5 Qd7 26.Qc4 hxg5 27.Qxb3) 25.d4 cxd4 26.exd4 h5 27.Be3 Rc8=/+ but perhaps more of a game for White.

23...Rf7 24.Rbc1

Difficult now for White to do anything but wait [24.e3 Nc2 25.Rd2 Nb4-/+ 26.d4 e5]


I was happy to see this, thinking it eased my position, but I was wrong.

25.Bxb7 Rxb7 26.Be3 e5 27.Qh3 Rd7 28.Qg2 Qe6 29.Rb1 Red8

How should White set up to defend this? Probably f3, and Bf2; then maybe he can hope for e4 and Nd5.

30.Qf1 Qb3 31.Rdc1 Nc6 32.Qd1


32...Qe6 33.Qf1 Qb3 34.Qd1 Qf7! 35.Qf1?

35.f3 but clearly Black remains much better. She can play carefully, or she can break with 35...e4!, which I was afraid of, without calculating the variations 36.fxe4 Ne5 37.Qf1 Ng4 38.Bf4 g5.

35...f4 36.Bd2 f3 37.Be3 fxe2 38.Qxe2 Rxd3 39.Rd1?!

When it rains, it pours. But White has lost a crucial pawn and his attempts to hold on by keeping a blockade on e4 are doomed to failure.

39...Rxd1+ 40.Rxd1 Nd4 41.Qg4 h5 42.Qe4



43.Nxe2 Rxd1+ 44.Kg2 Qd5 45.Qxd5 Rxd5 46.Nc3 Rd8 47.Kf3 Bh6 48.Ke2 Bxe3 49.fxe3 Kg7 50.Ne4 Kf7 51.Nd2 Ke6 52.Nc4 e4 0-1

She played very well, did she not?

5) National Master Erik Osbun annotates Pruner-Blackstone, San Francisco 1966

John crossed swords with one of the strongest northern California masters in the San Francisco Bay Area Chess League.

Bird’s Opening
Earl Pruner–John Blackstone
San Francisco Bay Area Chess League, 1966

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 c5 5.0-0 Nc6 6.d3 Nf6 7.c3 0-0

A reversed Dutch Defense, Leningrad System is achieved, a line not often seen.


A mistake, correct is either 8.Qe1 planning 9.e4 or 8.Na3.

8….Ng4! 9.Nb3 Qb6 10.e3 a5 11.a4?

A second more serious mistake; 11.h3 is correct.


This break exposes White’s inaccuracies.

12.exd4 cxd4 13.c4 Ne3

White’s punishment commences.

14.Bxe3 dxe3 15.c5 Qb4 16.Qc2 Be6 17.Nc1 Rac8 18.Ne2

18…Rfd8 19.Ne5

Black’s game has played itself into a clearly winning position, so White is desperate.

19….Nxe5 20.fxe5 Rxc5 21.Qb1 Bxe5 22.d4

22…Rxd4! 23.Nxd4 Bxd4 24.Rf4 e2+ 25.Kh1 Bf5 26.Be4 Be3 White resigns.

Earl and John became good friends. I encountered both in Las Vegas in the 90’s.

John Blackstone (far right) playing at the Mechanics’ Institute in the early to mid-1960s (Photo: Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Archives)

6) This is the end

An instructional position from a Grandmaster game.

Black to move

Show solution

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