Chess Room Newsletter #830 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #830

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #830
June 8, 2018

Of all my Russian books, The Defense contains and diffuses the greatest “warmth”, which may seem odd seeing how supremely abstract Chess is supposed to be.

—Vladimir Nabokov

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

16 players have perfect scores after two rounds of the Summer TNM, which now has 109 entries. Among the leaders are top seed National Master Derek O’Connor and International Master Elliott Winslow, plus Class B player Gagik Babayan, who upset an Expert in round two.

It’s still possible to enter the eight-round Summer Tuesday Night Marathon, which is both USCF- and FIDE-rated, with half-point byes for rounds one and two.

From round 2 of the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Pane–Tsodikova after 16 hxg3)Black to move (Smith–Davila after 28 fxg5)
Black to move (Malvar–Clemens after 26 O-O-O)White to move (Persidsky–Allen after 14...Bf5)
Black to move (Jensen–Mondial after 6 c3)Black to move (Walters–Chan after 54 Ka6)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 2.

The 55th annual Arthur Stamer Memorial attracted 34 players to the Mechanics’ Institute on June 2 and 3. Tawin Matthew Nunbhakdi of Thailand, rated 2027 FIDE, had an outstanding tournament to win the event by a point, at 5½–½. Among his victims were National Master Rochelle and Sijing Wu and 2114-rated Expert Manas Paldhe. His only draw was a hard-fought last round battle with top seed (2342) Conrado Diaz. The latter and the Wu siblings shared second place at 4½–1½. Upset winners, who won book prizes, were Louka Waharte, Benjamin Holderness, Nicholas Boldi and Ethan Boldi.

Grandmaster Sam Shankland will be the guest lecturer before the Tuesday Night Marathon on June 12. Come hear the reigning U.S. Champion talk about his recent successes, which have pushed his rating over 2700 FIDE and into the ranks of the top 30 players in the world. Sam will also be offering his three-volume DVD guide to tactics and calculation, The Shankland Method, at a discounted price. The lecture, free to all, will run from 5:15 to 6:15 pm and be preceded by a reception.

Are you a women or girl? Do you play chess? Do you wish you played chess? Have you played a few times but have been intimidated about playing more?

If these things apply to you, come to the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco for our free women-only chess classes. Classes are held every Sunday between 11 am–1 pm.

We are the oldest chess club in the country, and offer a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Players from novice to intermediate level are welcome. Start any time.

Children under the age of twelve years should not be left unattended during classes.

2) Tuesday Night Marathon Attendance

The 2018 Spring Tuesday Night Marathon broke the all-time Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club attendance record with 145 players. The TNM averaged 127 players per event in 2017 and is on pace to average 140 this year.

The current TNM, with 101 entrants to date, is the 19th consecutive TNM with triple-digit attendance, in a streak that goes back to 2014.

Winter 139 Spring 145 (the record) Summer 101 (currently in progress)

Winter 112 players
Spring 120
Summer 135
Peter Grey 125
Fall 143

Winter 132 players
Spring 125
Summer 127
Alan Benson 106
Fall 113

Winter 121 players
Spring 106
Summer 106
Leighton Allen 102
Fall 105

Fall 103 players

3) June FIDE Ratings

The June FIDE rating list has World Champion Magnus Carlsen on top with a rating of 2843. His challenger this fall, Fabiano Caruana, is number two on the monthly list, 27 points behind at 2816.

The U.S. has three players in the top 10 (Caruana, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura) and four in the top 30 (Sam Shankland at 2717 is number 30). Four other U.S. players are in the top 100 in the world (Gata Kamsky #64 at 2675, Ray Robson #72 at 2670, Jeffery Xiong #93 at 2656 and Varuzhan Akobian #98 at 2654).

Russia may not dominate as it once did, but it still has the deepest bench, with 21 players in the top 100 in the world, including 11 over 2700 and 7 in the top 30. China, has never had a huge number of players rated 2600-plus, in part because many of its stars retire early, but it has plenty of quality with 9 players in the 100 and 6 over 2700—all of whom are rated in the top 30.

Other top countries include India, with 3 over 2700 and 7 in the top 100; Ukraine with no players in the top 30, but 3 over 2700 and 9 in the top 100. Azerbaijan has 6 players in the top 100, but two in the top 20. Poland has two in the top 25, but only 3 in the top 100. All of these countries and several others look to be contenders for the medals in Batumi.

4) Bobby Fischer in Indianapolis in 1964

Legend on the Road, about Bobby Fischer’s 1964 exhibition tour around the United States and Canada, was published in 1994. Subsequent editions have doubled in size, and the trend continues with the 3rd edition published in 2015 as an e-book which features exhibitions in over 40 cities and over 200 games, many annotated.

One might think that after this there was nothing more to be found, but here is a newly-discovered tidbit. One wonders about the young Bobby’s interest in pay phone theft.

In the fall of 63, I was president of the Western Electric Co. Chess Club. I read about Bobby’s (age twenty at that time) first simul tour in January through March of ’64. I contacted him and Indianapolis became part of his nationwide tour. He played 50 boards at the IBEW Union Hall on Massachusetts Avenue, winning 48, drawing 1 and losing 1. He gave a tremendous lecture and simul, but strangely enough, as his hosts George Georgopulos and myself could not get him to talk about chess at any time away from the simul. At dinner all he wanted to discuss was our new W.E. project at that time, which was how to keep people from stealing money from pay phones. He also wanted to talk a lot about our speedway and race. He was a tall, good-looking young man who was super confident on the chess board but almost the opposite off the board. I’m glad I got to meet him, and feel he’s probably the strongest player of our time.

This was part of an interview with Andy Soforic, Indiana’s most active tournament director in 1983.

Hoosier Chess Journal, May-June 1983, page 20.

An unusual glimpse of Bobby Fischer (R) captured with Pal Benko around 1965–66. (Photo: Beth Cassidy)

5) Philadelphia’s Franklin-Mercantile: Second Oldest Chess Club in the United States

The Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club of San Francisco is the oldest in continuous operation in the United States having been founded in 1854. Number two on the list is the Franklin Mercantile Chess Club of Philadelphia, which dates back to 1885 when the Franklin Chess Club was founded (it later merged with the Mercantile Chess Club in 1955).

To see how things are going at this storied club based in center city Philly, check out this article.

6) Blackstone–Cunningham, San Francisco 1964, annotated by National Master Erik Osbun

This game between two juniors from the California State Championship, 1964, is an interesting example of one of the toughest endgames in chess. The game is long and how they handle the problem of the ending brings into focus the application of the theory that evolved from the game Salwe–Rubinstein, Prague, 1908. In the interest of brevity my notes are light and references to the relevant chess literature are made.

Center Counter B01
John Blackstone–Walter Cunningham
California State Championship, San Francisco, 1964

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Bb5+

In my opinion this check is less good than 3.d4.

3….Bd7 4.Bc4 b5

Risky, but playable.


5.Be2 is best.

5….Bg4 6.f3 Bc8 7.Nc3

7.Qe2 is equally playable.

7….b4 8.Ne4 Nxd5 9.d4 e6 10.Ne2 Be7 11.0-0 0-0 12.c4 bxc3 e.p. 13.bxc3

13.N4xc3 may be correct.

13….Nd7 14.c4 N5f6 15.Bb2 e5! 16.dxe5?

16.d5 is the better course.

16….Nxe4 17.fxe4 Nc5 18.Ng3 Qxd1 19Bxd1 Nd3 20.Bd4 Rd8 21.Be3 Nxe5 22.Nf5 Bf8 23.Bf4 Re8 24.Bb3 Nd3 25.Bg3 g6! 26.Rad1 gxf5 27.Rxd3 fxe4 28.Rd5 h6 29.Bxc7 e3

This is the point of Black’s variation begun on his 15th turn.

30.Ba5 Be6 31.Re5 Rac8 32.Re1 Bc5 33.R1xe3

The threat is 33….e2+ 34.Kh1 Bg4, so White gives up the exchange.

33….Bxe3+ 34.Rxe3 Bf5 35.Bd2 Rxe3

35….h5 may be better.

36.Bxe3 Bc6 37.Bxa7 Bxc4 38.Be3 Bxb3 39.axb3 Kh7!

39….Rc3 40.Bxh6 Rxb3 is not enough to win.

40.b5 Rc3 41.Kf2 Rb3 42.Bc5 Kg6 43.Bf8 h5 44.Be7 Kf5 45.Bc5 Ke4 46.Ke2 f5 47.Kf2 f4 48.Be7 Rb2+ 49.Kg1 Re2 50.Bd8 f3 51.gxf3+ Kxf3 52.h4 Rg2+ 53.Kh1 Rb2 54.Kg1

If 54.Be7 Kg3 55.Bd6+ Kxh4.

54….Rxb4 55.Kh2 Kg4 56.Kg2 Rb2+?

Allows White to draw. 56….Rf4, confining the white king as per Maizelis’ analysis in Averbach’s Comprehensive Chess Endings, Volume 2, position no. 435, is the winning path.

The reader may wish to compare this analysis with that given by the Nalimov Tables [one free source is http://chessok.comEd.]

57.Kf1 Kf3 58.Ke1 Re2+ 59.Kd1 Re6 60.Bg5 Kf2 61.Kd2 Rd6+ 62.Kc3 Kf3 63.Be7 Rd7 64.Bg5 Ke4 65.Bh6 Rd3+ 66.Kc2 Kd4 67.Bg5 Kc4 68.Bh6 Rd4 69.Bg5 Rd6 70.Bf4 Rd3 71.Bh6 Kd4 72.Bg5 Ke4 73.Bh6 Rd6 74.Bg5 Kf3 75.Kc3 Ke2 76.Be7?

The decisive mistake allows Black to force the king to the b-file. Correct is 76.Kc4! keeping the diagonal opposition, which allows White to draw as per Baranov’s analysis in Averbach’s Comprehensive Chess Endings, Volume 2, position no. 436.

76….Rd3+ 77.Kc4 Ke3! 78.Bf6 Ke4 79.Bg5 Rf3! 80.Kc5

Now this loses as per the game Salwe–Rubinstein, Prague, 1908, given in The Life and Games of Akiva Rubinstein, Volume 1: Uncrowned King, game no. 180 by Donaldson and Minev, and by the above reference, position no. 435.

80….Rc3+ 81.Kd6 Rc2 82.Be7 Rd2+ 83.Kc5 Rd5+ 84.Kc6 Ke5 85.Bc5 Ke6 86.Kb5 Kf5 87.Kc4 Rxc5+ 88.Kxc5, and White resigns.

Conclusion: Study this endgame using faithfully Comprehensive Chess Endings, Volume 2 by Yuri Averbach.

7) This is the end

This study is harder than it looks.

White to move

Show solution

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