Chess Room Newsletter #833 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #833

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #833
June 29th, 2018

Chess is the toughest. The only problem is that people don’t understand it. Those who are involved do, but the general public cannot understand how much effort is behind preparation and decision making.

—Peter Leko made this observation during his
commentary on the 2018 Grenke Chess Classic.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

FIDE Master Ezra Chambers defeated International Master Elliott Winslow in round five to grab the lead in the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon at 5–0. Women’s FIDE Master Natalya Tsodikova and Class A players Michael Askin, Ella Papanek and Guy Argo are half a point back. The 125-player field has three rounds remaining in the USCF- and FIDE-rated event.

From round 5 of the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Wong–Shi after 23...Bc8)Black to move (Askin–Thieme after 9 Bg5)
Black to move (Campers Jr–Boldi after 37 Rg4)Black to move (Pane–Huberts after 15 Nxe4)
White to move (Bhattacharjee–Karp after 31...Rf8)Black to move (De La Garza–Gomboluudev after 34 Kf1)
White to move (Cohee–Reed after 23...Nxd4)White to move (Hilliard–Cendejas after 11...Re8)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 5.

We reported in Newsletter #832 that Carissa Yip made her first International Master norm earlier this month, but neglected to mention Steven Zierk of Los Gatos completed his third and final GM norm in another event held in Charlotte.

National Master Michael Aigner of Davis writes: “Steven already has the required 2500 rating and is now waiting for approval by FIDE. That makes him the fourth Bay Area junior to earn the Grandmaster title in the past decade, behind Vinay Bhat (2008), Sam Shankland (2011) and Daniel Naroditsky (2013). I still remember needing every ounce of effort to beat a 7-year-old Steven from down a pawn in the endgame at the Pafnutieff Memorial in August 2001.” Read more about Steven’s success here.

GM-elect Steven Zierk (left) congratulated by organizer Peter Giannatos. (Photo: Grant Oen)

Grandmaster Ioan-Christian Chirila, who made El Cerrito his home for several years, won the 2018 National Open with a score of 6 from 7. This was a very strong event, but that did not stop 81-year-old International Master Anthony Saidy from scoring 4 from 7, good for a performance rating of 2438 USCF. Thanks to chief organizers Alan and Janelle Losoff and their assistants, the National Open attracted 722 players in eight sections, only the third time since 2001 the event has attracted over 700 players. In the concurrent U.S. Women’s Open, the Bay Area’s Saikhanchimeg Tsogtsaikhan won the 44-player event with a perfect score of 5 out of 5.

Book and equipment donations to the Mechanics’ are always welcome. Donations to the Mechanics’ are tax deductible due to the M.I.’s 501(c) (3) nonprofit status. If you have any chess books or equipment that have been lying around unused for some time consider donating to the Mechanics’. You will not only get a tax write-off but also the satisfaction of seeing things put to good use.

Gagik Babayan (Black) studies his position against David Askin in round three of the 2018 Summer Tuesday Night Marathon (Photo: Frank Revi)

The Mechanics’ Chess Club has been around for over 160 years and for most of that time it has made its home on the fourth floor of 57 Post Street. Chess Room regulars from the 1920s visiting the club today would find much familiar, including the beautiful wooden tables that were purchased in 1913, replacements for those destroyed in 1906. They would find one major change as well.

In the 2000s the administrative offices that were immediately off the elevator were replaced by the fourth floor meeting room. Not long after a long-needed women’s bathroom was built on the other side. The space for it was carved out of the Chess Room, which by way of compensation received room 407, which henceforth became known as the Chess Room Annex.

Here is what the now missing part of the Chess Room looked in 2001, a few years before it was converted. The photo was taken by Alex Baburin during the Linklater Memorial. For more photographs of the event go to

MI Chess Room in 2001 (Photo: Alex Baburin)

Chess Chair Naming Opportunity

This opportunity is available for a donation of $500 per chair. When you sponsor a seat, we will acknowledge your gift to the recipient of your choice. Chair donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

You can dedicate a chair

• As an individual, couple, or family
• For your children, grandchildren, or parents
• In memory of a loved one
• With the name of your business or organization
• Marking a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion
• To honor an employee, friend or colleague
• Or with your favorite quotation

More information.

2) George Barnes on Emanuel Lasker

The real-chess highlight of my four years at Michigan was a three-day visit by Emanuel Lasker in 1924. At that time Dr. Lasker had lost his title in a controversial match in Havana where the heat was oppressive. However, as everyone knows, Dr. Lasker had been chess champion of the world for 27 years and had just recorded a smashing victory in the 1924 New York tournament; ahead of both Capablanca and Alekhine. It was my privilege to meet Dr. Lasker at the Ann Arbor depot with my “collegiate” flivver. Anyone familiar with Ann Arbor knows that the station is on a level with the Huron River and that there’s a steep climb up to State Street. But then once on State Street, there is a downhill stretch of a mile and a half to the Michigan Union. Sometimes, when my Model T was in fine fettle, I could reach 30 miles an hour on this stretch. When we reached the top, Lasker grasped the situation (as he did in so many chess situations), and with his usual tact he said, “George, if you don’t mind, please drive slowly as I catch cold easily in drafts and winds!” We arrived at the Michigan Union at a decorous rate of speed. Dr. Lasker spent the next two days with the chess-minded students at Michigan, playing skittles with us, and more important showing us some of his games in the New York tournament, together with his penetrating analysis. I suggested that he rechallenge Capablanca, but he cooled me off (in words I better understand mow that I have passed 65), by stating that he had held the title as long as Steinitz, that he was growing older, that he had his turn, and that chess was primarily a young man’s game. At the time, I was disappointed in his decision. On his third day with us, I accompanied Dr. Lasker to Detroit where he was scheduled to give a simultaneous exhibition. His 42 opponents included the Michigan champion, the tri-state champion of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, the champion of Detroit, also Professor Karpinski and myself. A novel twist was given to the exhibition in that Dr. Lasker, in conformance with an old continental custom, gave the white pieces to the players of the odd-numbered boards. This enormously increased the difficulty of his task. Dr. Lasker won 26, drew 10 and lost 6. Playing the first board, I had the White pieces. I scored the first win as follows...

King’s Indian E90
George Samuel Barnes–Emanuel Lasker
Detroit (simul) 1924

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 g6 4.c4 Bg7 5.Nc3 0–0 6.e4 d6 7.Bd3 Nbd7 8.0–0 Ne5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Be3 b6 11.h3 Nh5 12.Qf3 Bd7 13.g4 Nf6 14.Qg3 Ne8

15.f4 exf4 16.Bxf4 Nf6 17.e5 Ne8 18.Rae1 Rc8 19.Qh4 e6 20.Bg5 f6 21.exf6 Bxf6

22.Ne4 Bxg5 23.Rxf8+ Kxf8 24.Nxg5 Nf6 25.dxe6 1–0

Perhaps it is appropriate to comment that this may be the weakest game Dr. Lasker ever played. I felt that it was a honor to meet him and it encouraged me to learn that a great master also has his “off” days (from which we duffers constantly suffer).

3) Klay Thompson and Magnus Carlsen

Golden State Warrior guard Klay Thompson is recognized as one of the greatest shooters in the history of the game and a tremendous defender, but until Ben Cohen’s article in the Wall Street Journal (May 30, 2018, page A14) basketball fans might not have realized he is also a chess aficionado who plays every day. The roots of his love for the game can be traced back to a class he took in seventh grade at Riverdale Grade School in Portland, taught by five-time Oregon state champion Carl Haessler.

Thompson recalled he took the class as an elective just to waste time, but quickly realized he was having a great time. As he told Cohen: “Just for an hour, to be with your friends, hang out and play chess. It was probably the best class I’ve ever had.”

Thompson is not the only Warrior that has the bug; in fact, most of the team has chess fever. Golden State is known for making the right moves, and following in that tradition, decided to go for the best chess instructor possible—none other than World Champion and NBA super-fan Magnus Carlsen. Cohen reports that Carlsen was in Houston this past May for the Western Conference Finals to take in a game between the Warriors and Rockets.

4) USCF Ratings—Part Two

The origins and early development of USCF ratings were discussed in Newsletter #831. Later developments are addressed in this second and final installment.

USCF ratings were first established in the early 1950s and initially published annually. This gradually shifted to semi-annually and quarterly, but it was Northwest ratings, used by players from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia, that first appeared monthly in the early 1970s. The computerized ratings initiated by Bruce Bailey were fast and accurate and existed alongside USCF ratings until 1985.

In 1973 the USCF switched over from publishing ratings in Chess Life to producing rating supplements which appeared semi-monthly for close to 30 years. These supplements, most of which the Mechanics’ has in Room 408, are an important historical record.

Go to the U.S. Chess website and you will find online ratings only go back to September 1991. The reason for this is that earlier records were thrown out when the USCF moved from New Windsor, New York, to Crossville, Tennessee, in 2006. If your highest rating was before September 1991 it will not appear online—for that you need to go to the rating supplements.

Two players who achieved their peak USCF ratings in May 1990 were MI Chess Director John Donaldson (2601) and Jeremy Silman (2593).

5) Frank Marshall in 1917 (Part Two) by Eduardo Bauzá Mercére


Marshall’s Chess Divan

Marshall’s Chess Divan, now situated at 118 West Forty-ninth Street, New York, in the Café Français, is flourishing as it has never done before. According to a circular letter sent out from headquarters, a few friends of the United States champion have formed themselves into a working committee, paid the rent for four months and are confident of establishing permanent quarters for the master. To this end one hundred members are required, the annual dues being $10. A large front room on the second floor has been set aside for the Divan, which is well lighted and cozy, with all necessary appurtenances to make it a most attractive place to spend an afternoon or evening. It is easily accessible from all points in New York City, while meals and refreshments can be obtained from the Café. Applications and dues may be sent to A. J. Gordon, treasurer, at 118 West Forty-ninth Street, New York.

American Chess Bulletin, 4/1917, p. 89

The attractiveness of Marshall’s Divan has been still further enhanced by the hanging of a large painting, about seven feet square, portraying a scene in a Parisian café, with two of its characteristic habitués engaged in playing a game of chess. The artist is Howard M. Hartshorne, a prominent member of Marshall’s Divan, who received honorable mention for this painting at the Paris Salon.

American Chess Bulletin, 5-6/1917, p. 112

War Services Offering

Like many of his compatriots, Frank Marshall has offered his services to his country through President Wilson. Although an acknowledgement came from the White House, Marshall has not yet been sent to the front. Writing from Maxim Park at Landing, N. J., Hudson Maxim gave the United States champion the following characteristic advice:

“In regard to what you can do to help the country, I do not believe that you can do any better than just what you are doing. Don’t go to the front and get yourself shot up. You must remember this, that when the war is over a large number of war cripples will have to find their main solace and comfort in the war game and the games of chess and checkers. You cannot do any better than to stick to your present work.”

American Chess Bulletin, 5-6/1917, p. 112

March 2, Baltimore simul [?]

March 3, Manhattan CC vs. Rice Progressive CC

Marshall and Janowski Unable to Save Manhattans in Final League Match

With the all-important match between the Manhattan and the Isaac L. Rice Progressive Chess Club, appropriately staged for the final round at the rooms of the latter at the Café Métropole in Manhattan, Saturday night, the annual club championship series of the Metropolitan Chess League came to a conclusion, at least so far as the determination of the title was concerned. This goes to the Rice Progressive Chess Club on points, despite the fact that the match in question remained undecided at an early hour in the morning, at which time the score stood at 4 to 3 in favor of the home team, the Manhattans needing the remaining game to tie the score.

It was in every respect one of the most notable triumphs achieved in the history of the league, because the Manhattan team was headed by F. J. Marshall, the U.S. champion, who had hurried over from Baltimore, and David Janowski, the French champion, who arrived from Lexington, Ky., just in time. It was on account of these two masters, with Capablanca thrown in, that the Brooklyn Chess Club stayed out of the league this season, after failing to come to an understanding with the Manhattan Chess Club on the subject. The Progressives, however, were not in the least flustered and entered upon the contest with all possible confidence, which evidently was not misplaced.

As a matter of fact, Marshall drew his game with Jaffe, although the former Brooklyn master had the White side of the Queen’s gambit declined. He sacrificed a piece for two pawns and his position looked somewhat precarious when he offered a draw to Jaffe, the latter accepting. It was a most unsatisfactory ending to an important game, which might have become historical. Janowski, on the other hand, had a hard tussle with Oscar Chajes, which lasted the entire session and was finally adjourned, slightly in favor of the French champion. Three draws were recorded, the winners being S. Lubowsky and J. Menkes, for the Progressives, and L. B. Meyer for the Manhattans. Janowski and Chajes will play off Wednesday night.

The league record to date, as between the two leading clubs, is five matches apiece won and 42 1/2 games for the Progressives and 36 for the Manhattans. This decides the issue in favor of the former irrespective of the unfinished games.

Brooklyn Eagle, 5 Mar 1917, p. 8

[The game between Janowski and Chajes] ended in a draw in 73 moves after a most exciting finish, in which the French champion did his utmost to break through the sturdy defense of the former Western Champion. Chajes, however, held tight throughout a most trying ordeal and finally divided the honors of the long sitting with his famous opponent.

The Manhattans needed this game in order to tie the match and, although it would not have saved them the league championship, they would have had the satisfaction of being unbeaten in the series and tied with their rivals in the matter of matches won and lost. Now however, they are beaten out for the first place, both on the match and game totals. The victors scored six matches in succession and rolled up the total of 43 wins as against 36 1/2 by the ex-champions.

The absence of Capablanca and Kupchik, both of whom played against Brooklyn in the decisive match of last year, meant a great deal to the Manhattans, but, in spite of this, the opposing sides in the contest wound up yesterday were very evenly matched, so much so that, were the meeting to be repeated, the Manhattans might very well turn the tables and win by the same score. It is only too evident, therefore, that the gallant team of the Rice Progressive Chess Club is one of which the organization has every reason to be proud and that its members deserve the fullest credit for the consistently fine form maintained throughout the long series.

Brooklyn Eagle, 8 Mar 1917, p. 4

Marshall-Charles Jaffe
New York 1917

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 c6 6. cxd5 exd5 7. Bd3 Be7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Qc2 Ne4 11. Bxe4 dxe4 12. Nxe4 Bxg5 13. Nexg5 Nf8 14. Qb3 Qf6 15. Ne5 Rxe5 16. Nxf7 Re6 17. Ne5 c5 1/2-1/2

NY Post, 10 Mar 1917, p. 15; Brooklyn Eagle, 22 Mar 1917, p. 3; American Chess Bulletin, 4/1917, p. 78

6) Here and There

Paul Stagnoli writes: I am canceling the 2018 Exchange Bank Open due to a personal issue beyond my control. I apologize for the late notice.

Casey Bush, the author of Grandmaster from Oregon: The Life and Games of Arthur Dake, has written more about the US Chess Hall of Famer from Portland: link.

Former Mechanics’ member Jeremy Silman has a new set of challenging puzzles designed to improve club player’s positional skills. The challenge is free and can be found here.

The 36th Annual Reno Western States Open will be held October 19–21, with a two-day schedule on October 20–21.

7) This is the end

This position occurred in a master game; Black just captured White’s last pawn on c4.

White to move

Show solution

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