Chess Room Newsletter #840 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #840

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #840
August 31, 2018

I think India… an interesting answer would be Iran, but I think they will become a force, they will start fighting for podium finishes and things like that, but to actually win the Olympiad I don’t know if 20 years is enough. But India, for sure. This generation, and I suspect the generation after it will be very similar considering the human resources they have, will be a very interesting team once they mature a little bit. All these kids who are 12, 13, 14 now, they’re not ready yet, but they will be in three, four years... The current power-houses I don’t expect to disappear, but India is the obvious team that should join the conversation.

—Peter Svidler, on who who’ll win the 2038 Olympiad. Entire interview.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

International Master Elliott Winslow and National Master Russell Wong are the only remaining perfect scores after four rounds of the Walter Shipman Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon. The two leaders respectively defeated National Master National Master Keith Vickers and Expert Igor Traub to grab the lead in the 116-player field. Among those on 3½ points are top seed Conrado Diaz (2343) and FIDE Master Ezra Chambers.

From round 4 of the Shipman Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Boldi–Kuczek after 29 Ne5)Black to move (Tsodikova–Campers Jr after 34 Bxc6)
Black to move (Tsodikova–Campers Jr after 38 Rxa6)White to move (Kokesh–Cortinas after 34...Bc7)
White to move (Yun–Poling after 13...O-O)Black to move (Pham–Uribe after 15 Qf4)
White to move (Greene–Adams after 4...Bf5)White to move (Otterbach–Morgan after 23...Raf8)
White to move (Mercado–Colquhoun after 27...Qxc4)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 4.

The MI Wednesday Blitz returned with a bang after its summer hiatus, attracting a record turnout of 19 players to the August 29 event. Andrew Ng won with a score of 10 from 12, followed by Maxime Elisman with 9 points. Tying for third at 8½ were Conrado Diaz and Arthur Ismakov, followed by Jordy Mont-Reynaud on 7½.

US Champion Sam Shankland of Walnut Creek will tune up for the upcoming Chess Olympiad by facing French superstar and perennial world top-ten player Maxime Vachier- Lagrave in a match of 960 Chess (Fischer random) in St. Louis this September—more about this event in “Here and There”. Sam will also play many-time Russian champion Peter Svidler in a classical chess match in the Netherlands later this fall.

2) Boris Spassky’s Endgame Studies (Part One)

Boris Spassky’s visit to the Mechanics’ Institute in the fall of 2006 will be long remembered. A report on his visit, written shortly after his departure, can be found at In addition to the rook and pawn ending Boris shared with the San Francisco Mechanics US Chess League team he also presented some endgame studies. The first was a deceptively simple pawn ending by Grigoriev shown to him by trainer during his world championship run, Igor Bondarevsky.

1.Kf5 Ke3 2.Ke5 c6!

The best try. 2...Kd3 3.Kd5 Kc3 4.Kc5 followed by advancing the a-pawn wins.


3.Kd6? Kd4 4.Kxc6 Kc4 and Black wins the white pawn.

3...Kd3 4.a5 c5 5.a6 c4 6.a7 c3 7.a8Q c2

White only has one way to win. Can you find it?

8.Qd5+ Ke3

8….Kc3 9.Qd4+ Kb3 10.Qa1wins


The winning move which is well worth remembering. Spassky is said to have taken 20 minutes to solve this difficult study. According to Andy Soltis (Chess Life, August 2016) Spassky was so proud of this that for years afterwards he would see if his colleagues could solve it. He showed it to Bobby Fischer, who was temporarily stumped, but eventually came up with the solution.

3) Timman on Kasparov

The Mechanics’ Institute Library has over 2000 chess books and is constantly adding to its collection through purchases and donations. One recent noteworthy addition is Timman’s Titans. Published in 2016 by New in Chess, this 332-page paperback is arguably the best of the many fine books the Dutch Grandmaster has written. It contains his impressions of the six World Champions he faced (Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Karpov and Kasparov), three he met (Euwe, Botvinnik and Fischer) and one whose chess set he purchased and who influenced his style (Alekhine).

Timman includes not only his impressions and memories of the greats, but also analyzes the games he played against them and some of their other important encounters. In the case of Fischer, whom he never met over the board, Timman has selected seven lesser-known masterpieces, as well Fischer–Durao from the 1966 Havana Olympiad, which features in a dream he had about Fischer. The chosen games are not completely unknown (several are given in Bobby Fischer Rediscovered, by Andrew Soltis), but were carefully chosen.

How many remember the gem Guimard–Fischer, Buenos Aires 1960? The tournament was arguably the worst of Bobby’s career, but did produce one magnificent moment against the Argentine grandmaster.

Queen Pawn A48
Carlos Guimard–Bobby Fischer
Buenos Aires 1960

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.Nbd2 d6 5.e4 h6 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Bb5+ c6 8.Bd3 0-0 9.e5 Bg7 10.Qe2 c5 11.h4 cxd4 12.h5 g5 13.Qe4 f5 14.exf6 Rxf6 15.Nxg5 d5 16.Qh7+ Kf8 17.0-0-0 Nc6 18.f4 Nb4 19.a3 Nxd3+ 20.Qxd3 hxg5 21.h6 Bxh6 22.fxg5 Bf5 23.Rxh6 Bxd3 24.Rh8+ Kg7 25.Rxd8


The fantastic point of Black's play. He allows the white rook to take one more time, because after the capture on c2, he will win back all the material with interest—Timman.

26.Rxa8 Rxc2+ 27.Kb1 Rxd2+ 28.Kc1 Rc2+ 29.Kb1 Rc8+ 30.Rxd3 Rxa8 31.Rxd4 Rd8 32.Kc2 Kg6 33.Rf4 Kxg5 34.Rf7 Rd7 35.Kd3 Kg6 36.Rf8 Kg7 37.Ra8 b6 38.Kd4 Kf6 39.Rf8+ Ke6 40.Rg8 Kd6 41.g4 e5+ 42.Kd3 Rh7 43.g5 Ke6 44.g6 Rh3+ 45.Kc2 Rh2+ 46.Kb3 Rg2 47.g7 Kf6 48.Rd8 Rxg7 49.Rxd5 Rc7 50.a4 e4 51.Rh5 e3 52.Rh3 Re7 53.Rh1 e2 54.Re1 Kf5 55.Kc3 Kf4 56.Kd2 Kf3 57.Rh1 Rd7+ 58.Kc2 Kg2 0-1

One of things that makes this book special are Timman’s even-handed portraits of the world champions, in which he presents them as human beings and not gods. One example is Garry Kasparov, for whom he has only the highest regard as a player. Timman writes; “In my opinion he is the strongest player in the history of chess.” His views on the man are more complicated.

The following observations suggest Garry’s board manners did not endear him to his colleagues. Yasser Seirawan expressed sentiments similar to Timman’s in his Chess Duels.

“In the 1990s, Kasparov started to develop an arsenal of facial expressions to show his opinion about certain positions. In this respect, he was the opposite of Karpov, who always sat stoically behind the board. Kasparov’s face at the board was actually an open book. He was quietest when he didn’t like his position. Then, he had no times for grimaces, and he would sit there fully concentrated, with his head in his hands. Sometimes, when he had overlooked something, he would shake his head. When he did like the position—which occurred much more often—he would start frowning and grimacing. When Kasparov played in Wijk aan Zee for the first time, he introduced the ‘grimace round’. That meant that he had developed the habit of making a round along the boards, and then displaying one grimace after the other. The other participants would always make moves that found no favor in his eyes.”

Timman’s Titans is the rare chess book that will interest a wide range of players.

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

July 22, Dr. Thomas First to Win from Marshall at Chess

The first game to be lost by Frank J. Marshall, United States chess champion, at his chess and checkers divan on the Million Dollar Pier, at Atlantic City, was scored by Dr. John D. Thomas, chess champion of Java, who is at present on a visit to this country. Among other recent visitors to the pier were J. Herbert Watson, ex-president of the Brooklyn Chess Club, and Dr. William C. Daly of Manhattan. Marshall is also keeping open his Divan at 118 West Forty-ninth street, Manhattan.

Brooklyn Eagle, 22 Jul 1917, p. 4


We received last week an interesting postal card from Frank J. Marshall, the American champion, showing him at the chess table on the Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City. The picture also shows other chess players playing on the other boards. The Divan looks comfortable in this hot weather. We are sure chess players throughout the country visiting Atlantic City will derive much pleasure visiting the champion in his new quarters.

Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 Aug 1917, p. 6

August 10 Marshall's 40th birthday

September 2 Long Trip to See Marshall

Frank J. Marshall, United States champion, is still in his Divan for chess and checkers, on the Million Dollar Pier at Atlantic City. He will return to New York the latter part of September. Recently, an automobile party, headed by J. E. Clock, publisher of the Kingston Freeman, and S. Bernstein, of the Kingston Chess Club, traveled 200 miles to get Marshall's opinion on a variation in a given chess opening.

Brooklyn Eagle, 2 Sep 1917, p. 4

September Atlantic City offhand game

During a visit to Marshall's Chess Divan at Atlantic City, Wilbur L. Moorman, of Lynchburg, Va., one of the leading Southern experts, who has been a familiar figure in this city's chess resorts during the past week, had a session with the U. S. champion, in the course of which he had the good fortune to win from Marshall, who, playing the White side of the Queen's Gambit declined, experimented with a pawn sacrifice, the main object of which was to get the Black Queen out of play. As an experiment it was worthwhile, but, against a careful defense, it should not prevail.

QGD Cambridge Springs D52
Marshall–Wilbur Lyttleton Moorman

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3

White must not play to win a pawn here by 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Nxd5 Nxd5 7 Bxd8, on account of 7...Bb4+, regaining the Queen, with a piece ahead.

5...c6 6. Bd3

More usual is 6. Nf3 Qa5 (now known as the Cambridge Springs variation) 7. Nd2 Bb4 8 Qc2 Ne4 9 Ndxe4 dxe4 10 Bf4 e5 11 dxe5 Nxe5 12 Be2 Bf5 13 0-0, etc.

6...Qa5 7. Nf3 Bb4 8. O-O

Yielding a pawn for the sake of drawing the Black Queen to a part of the board where her activities may be limited or, at any rate, cause her to lose time in returning to the scene of real activity. The sacrifice, however, cannot be regarded as sound.

8...dxc4 9. Bxc4 Bxc3 10. bxc3 Qxc3 11. Rc1 Qb4 12. Qe2

Either 12. Qd3 or 12. Qc2 would have been preferable to the text-move.

12...Ne4 13. Bh4 O-O 14. Bd3 f5

Not 14...Ndf6 because of 15. Qc2, to be followed by Bxf6 and the capture of the h pawn.

15. Bxe4 fxe4 16. Nd2

Somewhat better would have been 16. Ng5 Nf6 17. Qc2 h6 18. Nxe4 Nxe4 19. Qxe4, and, with bishops of opposite colors on the board, the result might well be a draw.

16...Qb2 17. Qd1

To obtain freer action, White must now lose much valuable time, and of this Black takes full advantage.

17...Qxa2 18. Nxe4 Qd5 19. Nc3 Qf5 20. e4 Qf7 21. e5 Nb6 22. Bg3 Qg6 23. Re1 Nc4 24. Re4 h5 25. Rh4 b5

Black’s passed pawns must decide the issue, and the sooner they get under way the better for his chances.

26. Rxh5 Nb2 27. Qe2 b4 28. Ne4

Clever play and the means of winding up the game in short order, 28...Ba6, instead, was less effective, and, in fact, would have been attended by more or less risk.

28...Nd3 29. Rxc6 Nf4 30. Bxf4 Rxf4 31. Nd6 b3 32. Rc3 Rg4 33. Qf1 Bd7 34. Rc7 Rb8

Again well-played and forcing in the pawn, in case White should stop for Rxd7.

35. Nb7 Ba4 36. Qc1 Rxg2+ 37. Kh1 b2 38. Rc8+ Rxc8 39. Qxc8+ Be8 0-1

NY Post, 27 Oct 1917, p. 12; notes by Hermann Helms

5) Here and There

Saint Louis Chess Club to Host Champions Showdown Chess 960 September 11–14
Exhibition matches feature ten chess champions, including legendary
World Champion Garry Kasparov

SAINT LOUIS (August 24, 2018) — The Saint Louis Chess Club will bring ten of the top chess players in the world, including legendary world champion Garry Kasparov, to play in the Champions Showdown this September. The matches will be played in Chess 960 style, also known as Fischer Random, with a $250,000 prize purse. The competition will include six rapid games and fourteen blitz games over the five days of play.

“Bringing this amount of talent to an event is a tribute to Saint Louis, the chess capital of the world,” said Garry Kasparov. “People will get to see chess champions battle it out in a nontraditional and exciting format that will challenge all competitors.”

Fischer random is a variant of chess created by Bobby Fischer in the late 1990s in which the pieces on the home rank are randomized. The 960 represents the number of possible starting positions. Players will not know the order of the home rank pieces until they arrive before the start of the round and will have to rely on their creativity in rapid and blitz games.

Player Matchups


URS RatingPlayerURS Rating
Garry Kasparov2734vs. Veselin Topalov2722
Hikaru Nakamura2812vs.Peter Svidler2758
Wesley So2794vs.Anish Giri2763
Sam Shankland2695vs.Maxime Vachier-Lagrave2796
Levon Aronian2794vs.Leinier Dominguez2754

“This format of the unknown setup presents quite the challenge for even the top players in the world,” said Tony Rich, executive director of the Saint Louis Chess Club. “We will see some of the most interesting games as this format puts these players in positions they may never have seen before.”

Play will begin at 1 pm each day, September 11–14, at the Saint Louis Chess Club, and be broadcast live on

6) This is the end

Here is a tricky study, definitely not what you might see in a game.

White to move

Show solution

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