Chess Room Newsletter #839 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #839

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #839
August 24, 2018

The biggest thing is the phasing out of evaluating a position as “with initiative”, or “with an attack”. That’s been more or less completely phased out, because by this point when you do that it just means you’re lazy! Also, very much in connection with this, the reason why this is that the machine has very, very strongly demonstrated just how many positions which 20 years ago I would just stop looking at saying, “I will give mate here”, the machine just holds without blinking an eye. Once you bang your head against this wall for the 105th time you realize that you just cannot leave it there, because there will be an answer. Whenever the position is concrete enough and tactical enough basically either one side wins or it’s a draw. Unless it’s so complicated and so unlikely that you will ever see this position that maybe you can say, ok, this will never happen and this is why I’m stopping it here, but if you actually have an expectation of getting this on the board at any point in your career you have to continue, because you have to know the answer.

The defensive scope that the machine demonstrated to all of us is obviously the biggest change from when I was starting to what it is now—sadly we’ve all come to expect that you need to really, really sin against your position to be in a lot of trouble! You really need to do something horrendous to be in significant trouble.

—Peter Svidler, on the influence of computers. Full interview.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

International Master Elliott Winslow, National Masters Russell Wong and Keith Vickers and Experts Igor Traub and Michael Walder are tied for first at 3–0 a third of the way through the Walter Shipman Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon. Jerry Simpkins (1565) was the upset king for round three, defeating an opponent rated 335 points higher than himself.

From round 3 of the Shipman Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Ricard–Wong after 26...Rc5)Black to move (Jensen–Diaz after 24 Qc1)
Black to move (Adams–Boldi after 9 cxd4)White to move (Adams–Boldi after 14...f6)
White to move (Agdamag–Askin after 53...Rb4)White to move (Maser–Zaman after 22...fxe5)
Black to move (Olson–Gossiaux after 17 Qxd4)White to move (Seperi–Otterbach after 44...b4)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 3.

The 13th Bernardo Smith Amateur, open to players rated below 2200, was held August 18–19 and attracted 35 players, ranging in strength from Expert to 1082.

Top seed Rahul Desirazu (2052) won the event with 5½ from 6, drawing only with Shawnak Shivkumar, who tied with Arul Viswanathan and Arun Dixit for second, a point back. MI regular Sam Greene had an excellent event, picking up over 100 rating points for his 4–2 score.

Tam Pham, Felix Zhou, Ethan Chen, Aaron Ng and Stephen He won chess books and chess teeshirts for scoring the biggest upsets the first three rounds.

Mechanics’ chess players circa 1909. Elmer W. Gruer (front, left, seated), Gerald E.K. Branch (front, 2nd from left), Ernest Clarke (rear, middle), Bernardo Smith (front, middle) and A.J. Fink (front right, seated). (Photo: Mechanics’ Institute Archives)

Bernardo Smith (1875–1952) was the Mechanics’ key organizer and tournament director for the few decades of the 20th century. A San Francisco native, he worked as a music teacher.

I hope everyone has had a great summer break and is ready to start playing blitz chess again. So mark your calendar for next Wednesday (August 29) and every Wednesday up to Thanksgiving (we take that week off) for a few hours of blitz chess. And if that is not enough to motivate you to stop by next week, one of the players has guaranteed the prize fund for $100 (minimum) on August 29. So no excuses, warm up those clocks and let’s play BLITZ.

As always, sign-up starts around 6:30 pm with round 1 starting at 6:45. The weekly event ends before 9 pm.

Jules Jelinek
Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator

2) Earl Pruner: Mechanics’ star of the 1950s and 1960s

National Master Earl Pruner, who turned 88 this past May, was the first talent to emerge at the Mechanics’ Institute after World War II. In 1949 he took fourth place in the US Junior Open, defeating Arthur Bisguier, as reported in Newsletter #361.

Pruner quickly earned his National Master title, but played only sporadically until the late 1960s, when he had some of his best results, winning two Stamer Memorials and tying for second in a third. This propelled his rating to 2323 on the September 1969 USCF list, ranking him number 42 in the United States.

Around this time Pruner moved to Southern California, where he played only occasionally the next two decades. His career was reborn when he moved to Las Vegas in the 1990s. Not long after, he won the 1995 Nevada State Championship, and the following year he achieved his peak rating of 2339 at the age of 66. National Master Pruner retired from tournament play in 1998 at 2295.

A picture of NM Pruner can be found in Newsletter 798.

3) US Olympiad Team Record 1928–2016

Mechanic’s Grandmasters-in-residence Roman Dzindzichashvili, Alex Yermolinsky and Nick de Firmian all played in several Olympiads. Sam Shankland has won individual and team gold and Chess Director John Donaldson has captained U.S. teams a dozen times, but only the late William Addison, a former M.I. Chess Director who played on the 1964 and 1966 teams, had Bobby Fischer as a teammate, and what an asset he was.

Fischer’s record in the Chess Olympiads

Bobby Fischer’s record in Olympiads was outstanding. He scored 49 points from 65 games (+40, -7, =18) winning two team silver medals (and two fourth-place finishes) and two silver and one bronze individual medals. His career winning percentage of 75.4% is among the top 15 players of all-time, behind only Isaac Kashdan (79.7%) and James Tarjan (75.5%), among American players who have played in more than one Olympiad.

An American team led by Fischer and backed by Lubos Kavalek, Robert Byrne, Larry Evans, William Lombardy and Sammy Reshevsky would have been a strong lock for a medal at Skopje in 1972, and with a bit of luck could have pressed the Soviets for first.

The United States has had only one World Champion post Wilhelm Steinitz, but since 1928 it has consistently been among the top finishing teams at the Chess Olympiads. The domination by American teams in the 1930s is well known (first place in 1931, 1933, 1935 and 1937). Attracting less attention has been the steady results posted after World War II, when the Soviets first started competing.

This is particularly true for the period since 1974. During the stretch from 1974 to 2010 (leaving out the boycott year of 1976) the US finished second twice and third on no fewer than eight occasions. That is 10 medals in 18 tries. One can also add in three medals (gold in 1993 and silver in 1997 and 2009) from six tries in the World Team Championship.

Considering that in most of these competitions, particularly after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1990, American teams were rarely ranked in the top three by rating, you have a tradition that deserves more recognition. Below is the record of the US team from 1927 to 2016, when it took first place for the first time since 1976. For those wishing more information we can strongly recommend a visit to the excellent web site.

US Team Performance

1927 (London) The first Olympiad, the US did not participate.
1928 (The Hague) 2nd Isaac Kashdan, Herman Steiner, Samuel Factor, Erling Tholfsen and Milton Hanauer, captain???
1930 (Hamburg) 6th Kashdan, Frank Marshall, Harold Phillips (playing captain), Steiner, James Allan Anderson
1931 (Prague) 1st Kashdan, Marshall (playing captain), Arthur Dake, I.A. Horowitz and Steiner
1933 (Folkestone) 1st Kashdan, Marshall (playing captain), Reuben Fine, Dake, Albert Simonson
1935 (Warsaw) 1st Fine, Marshall (playing captain), Abraham Kupchik, Dake, Horowitz
1937 (Stockholm) 1st Sammy Reshevsky, Fine, Kashdan, Marshall (playing captain) and Horowitz
1939 (Buenos Aires) The US did not participate.
NO OLYMPIADS 1940-1949
1950 (Dubrovnik) 4th - Reshevsky, Steiner, Horowitz (playing captain), George Shainswit, George Kramer, Larry Evans
1952 (Helsinki) 5th - Reshevsky, Evans, Robert Byrne, Arthur Bisguier, George Koltanowski (playing captain), Hans Berliner
1954 (Amsterdam) The US did not participate.
1956 (Moscow) The US did not participate.
1958 (Munich) 4th - Reshevsky, William Lombardy, Bisguier, Evans, Nicholas Rossolimo, Jerry Spann (captain)
1960 (Leipzig) 2nd – Bobby Fischer, Lombardy, R. Byrne, Bisguier, Rossolimo, Raymond Weinstein, Kashdan (captain)
1962 (Varna) 4th - Fischer, Pal Benko, Evans, R. Byrne, Donald Byrne, Edmar Mednis, Eliot Hearst (captain)
1964 (Tel Aviv) 6th - Reshevsky, Benko, Anthony Saidy, Bisguier, D. Byrne, William Addison, Kashdan (captain)
1966 (Havana) 2nd - Fischer, R. Byrne, Benko, Evans, Addison, Rossolimo, D. Byrne (captain)
1968 (Lugano) 4th - Reshevsky, Evans, Benko, R. Byrne, Lombardy, D. Byrne (playing captain)
1970 (Siegen) 4th - Fischer, Reshevsky, Evans, Benko, Lombardy, Mednis, ed Edmondson (captain)
1972 (Skopje) 8th-9th – Lubos Kavalek, R. Byrne, Benko, Bisguier, William Martz, George Kane, D. Byrne (captain)
1974 (Nice) 3rd - Kavalek, R. Byrne, Walter Browne, Reshevsky, Lombardy, James Tarjan, Benko (co-captain) and Koltanowski (co-captain)
1976 (Haifa) 1st - R. Byrne, Kavalek, Evans, Tarjan, Lombardy, Kim Commons, Bill Goichberg (c) * Note there was a boycott of this Olympiad by the Soviet Union and the East Bloc.
1978 (Buenos Aires) 3rd - Kavalek, Browne, Anatoly Lein, R. Byrne, Tarjan, Lombardy, Benko (captain)
1980 (Malta) 4th – Lev Alburt, Yasser Seirawan, Larry Christiansen, Tarjan, Nick de Firmian, Leonid Shamkovich, Benko (captain)
1982 (Lucerne) 3rd - Browne, Seirawan, Alburt, Kavalek, Tarjan, Christiansen, Evans (captain)
1984 (Thessaloniki) 3rd – Roman Dzindzichashvili, Kavalek, Christiansen, Browne, Alburt, de Firmian, R. Byrne (co-captain) and John Fedorowicz (co-captain)
1986 (Dubai) 3rd - Seirawan, Christiansen, Kavalek, Fedorowicz, de Firmian, Max Dlugy, John Donaldson (captain)
1988 (Thessaloniki) 4th - Seirawan, Boris Gulko, Joel Benjamin, Christiansen, Sergey Kudrin, de Firmian, Donaldson (captain)
1990 (Novi Sad) 2nd - Seirawan, Gulko, Christiansen, Benjamin, Fedorowicz, de Firmian, Donaldson (captain)
1992 (Manila) 4th – Gata Kamsky, Alex Yermolinsky, Seirawan, Christiansen, Gulko, Benjamin, Donaldson (captain)
1994 (Moscow) 5th-7th - Gulko, Yermolinsky, Benjamin, Seirawan, Alex Shabalov, Kudrin, Donaldson (captain)
1996 (Yerevan) 3rd - Gulko, Yermolinsky, de Firmian, Gregory Kaidanov, Benjamin, Christiansen, Donaldson (captain)
1998 (Elista) 2nd - Yermolinsky, Shabalov, Seirawan, Gulko, de Firmian, Kaidanov, Christiansen (captain)
2000 (Istanbul) 26th-32nd - Seirawan, Gulko, Shabalov, Kaidanov, Yermolinsky, de Firmian, Christiansen (captain)
2002 (Bled) 37th-45th - Kaidanov, Seirawan, Gulko, Benjamin, Christiansen, Alex Ivanov, de Firmian (captain)
2004 (Calvia) 4th – Alex Onischuk, Shabalov, Alexander Goldin, Kaidanov, Igor Novikov, Gulko, Boris Postovsky (captain)
2006 (Turin) 3rd - Kamsky, Onischuk, Hikaru Nakamura, Ildar Ibragimov, Kaidanov, Varuzhan Akobian, Donaldson (captain)
2008 (Dresden) 3rd - Kamsky, Nakamura, Onischuk, Yury Shulman, Akobian, Donaldson (captain)
2010 (Khanty Mansiysk) = 5th-10th - Nakamura, Kamsky, Onischuk, Shulman, Robert Hess, Donaldson (captain)
2012 (Istanbul) = 4th-5th - Nakamura, Kamsky, Onischuk, Akobian, Ray Robson, Donaldson (captain)
2014 (Tromso) =12th-23rd - Nakamura, Kamsky, Onischuk, Akobian, Sam Shankland, Donaldson (captain)
2016 (Baku) 1st – Fabiano Caruana, Nakamura, Wesley So, Shankland, Robson, Donaldson (captain)

Note - starting in 2008 the Olympiads have been played on four boards with one reserve player, down from the traditional two reserves. The number of countries competing has increased dramatically in the past 60 years from 16 countries in 1950 to 60 in 1970, 108 in 1990 and 149 in 2010.

4) Frank Marshall in 1917 (Part Eight) by Eduardo Bauzá Mercére

June 15, New York exhibition game

French C10
Oscar Chajes–Marshall

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Bg5 Ngf6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Bd3 b6 8. Nxf6+ Nxf6 9. Ne5 Bb7 10. Bb5+ c6 11. Bxc6+ Bxc6 12. Nxc6 Qd5 13. Ne5 Qxg2 14. Qf3 Qxf3 15. Nxf3 Rc8 16. c3 Nd5 17. Rg1 f6 18. Bd2 Kf7 19. Kf1 b5 20. a3 a5 21. Rg4 b4 22. axb4 axb4 23. Rc1 bxc3 24. bxc3 Rc4 25. Ng1 Ra8 26. Ne2 Ra2 27. Ke1 g5 28. Rg3 Bd6 29. Rd3 Bxh2 30. Rh3 Bf4 31. Nxf4 Nxf4 32. Bxf4 gxf4 33. Rxh7+ Kg6 34. Rh3 Kf5 35. Kf1 e5 36. dxe5 fxe5 37. Kg2 e4 38. Kf1 Rd2 39. Rh8 Ra4 40. Kg1 Raa2 41. Rf1 Rac2 42. Rf8+ Kg4 43. f3+ exf3 44. Rg8+ Kf5 45. Rxf3 Rd1+ 46. Rf1 Rxf1+ 47. Kxf1 Ke4 48. Rd8 Ke3 49. Rd1 Rh2 50. Kg1 Ke2 51. Rc1 Rh7 52. Rc2+ Kd3 53. Rc1 Ke2 54. Rc2+ Ke3 55. c4 Kd3 56. Rc1 Kd2 57. Rb1 Ke3 58. c5 Ra7 59. Rb3+ Ke4 60. Rb4+ Kf5 61. Rb8 Kg4 62. Kf1 Ra1+ 63. Kf2 Ra2+ 64. Kf1 Rc2 65. Rc8 Rc1+ 66. Ke2 f3+ 67. Kd3 Kg3 68. Kd4 f2 69. Rf8 1/2-1/2

Pittsburgh Gazette-Times, 1 Jul 1917, Sect. 5, p. 6; Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 Jun 1918

June 16, Beynon and a game of Kriegspiel

F. P. Beynon, who left for Canada on Monday to join the artillery, had a farewell meeting with a few friends at Marshall’s Chess Divan Saturday evening. Among those who were successful in simultaneous play against the departing expert and received prizes were Otto Deck and T. B. Parker, who won, and A. D. Parker, H. Hall and Franklin Hopkins, who drew. Beynon, who was made the recipient of a purse as a token of esteem, next took on Champion Marshall in a game of “Kriegspiel” for a prize offered by A. D. Parker. The game, in which Marshall conceded a pawn and two moves, was interestingly complicated and resulted in favor of the United States champion.

Brooklyn Eagle, 21 Jun 1917, p. *3

June, Divan at Atlantic City Opened by Marshall

Frank J. Marshall has established himself for the summer in a Divan for Chess and Checkers in the Million Dollar Pier at Atlantic City, N. J. where the American champion invites his friends from far and near to come and see him. The master is not without competition, for there are two or three divans at the famous seaside resort, from which it follows that interest in these board games is by no means declining. Meanwhile, Marshall’s Chess Divan, at 118 West 49th street, New York, remains open for the benefit of members and visitors.

American Chess Bulletin, 7-8/1917, p. 171

July 5 This was the date the match with Janowski or the master tournament at Atlantic City were supposed to start. Neither materialized.

July 6, Marshall’s Discovery: U. S. Chess Champion Has New Trap in Russian Defense

Frank J. Marshall, who has moved his divan for chess and checkers to the Million Dollar Pier at Atlantic City for the summer, discovered a new trap in the Petroff or Russian defense. The trap was discovered by Marshall on Friday while playing a game with George Baker, a strong amateur from Philadelphia, on the pier. Marshall played the black pieces as follows:

Petroff C43
George Baker–Marshall

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. Bd3 d5 5. Nxe5 Bd6 6. Qf3 O-O 7. Bxe4 dxe4 8. Qxe4

White captures the pawn before he is fully developed and falls into the trap.

8...c5 9. c3 cxd4 10. cxd4 Bb4+ 11. Nc3 f6 12. O-O fxe5

With a piece ahead, Black soon won the game.

NY Herald, 8 Jul 1917, p.18

July 14 Schlesinger lost to Marshall

Frank J. Marshall, the well-known chess player, who has played many of the chess experts of Kingston, has written to a friend in town that he has opened a chess divan on the Million Dollar Pier at Atlantic City. “There are two other chess divans here,” he writes. “I heard it rumored around for two days that there was a crack chess player down here beating them all. I had no idea who it was, so I asked the managers of the other divans to find out the name of the crack player or send him down to my divan, that I’d take a chance on him. “They did send him down and bless me! Who do you think it was? Why, it was Schlesinger of Kingston, and after a shake or two for old time’s sake we started the battle royal. The game was full of brilliancies, and after several attacks by the Kingston crack, I made one he could not parry, and so regained the championship of Atlantic City.” “Today Schlesinger beat the champion of the Atlantic pier three games.” Undoubtedly other chess players of Kingston will visit Atlantic City to test their ability against that of Marshall.

Kingston Daily Freeman, 14 Jul 1917, p. 10

5) Here and There

Two players made Grandmaster norms in the Berkeley Chess School’s GM norm round robin held August 24–29. International Joshua Sheng of Los Angeles, who is a student at UC Berkeley, won the event with a score of 7–2 to make his first GM norm by half a point. Filipino IM Kim Yap also made a GM norm, finishing second at 6½. FIDE Master Christopher W. Yoo made his first International Master norm. Complete standings.

Edward Winter’s Chess Notes reports in C.N. 10959 that the quote attributed to Capablanca in MI Newsletter #217 (November 10, 2004) was not in fact something of his. The misattributed quote was

“A recorded game of chess is a story in symbols, relating in cipher the struggle of two intellects; a story with a real plot, a beginning, a middle, and an end, in which the harmonies of time and place are scrupulously observed; the fickleness of fortune is illustrated; the smiles of the prosperous, the struggles of adversity, the change that comes over the two; the plans suggested by one, spoiled by the tactics of the other—the lures, the wiles, the fierce onset, the final victory. An hour's history of two minds is well told in a game of chess.”

6) This is the end

Here is a tricky position from a grandmaster game.

Black to move

Show solution

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