Chess Room Newsletter #842 | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

Chess Room Newsletter #842

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #842
September 14, 2018

What would you say as a coach: how can a young player improve his chess? What are the best methods and are there good books or DVDs you would recommend?

You need to work hard on chess. Don’t be lazy. And don’t work too much with computer analyses. Try to understand chess and chess positions by yourself.

—Sergey Tiviakov

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

FIDE Master Ezra Chambers is in command of the Walter Shipman Tuesday Night Marathon, after defeating International Master Elliott Winslow in round six. The 17-year-old high school student from Pacifica has 5½ from 6 (first- round bye), and defeated the top two seeds (Winslow and Conrado Diaz).

Half a point behind Chambers, with three rounds remaining, are Winslow, Expert Steven Gaffagan and upset king, veteran Gagik Babayan. The latter, rated only 1774, has defeated a Master and Expert the past two rounds.

The Shipman is now up to 121 players, and if it picks up four more players will be the eighth consecutive TNM with 125 or more entries. The Shipman marks the 20th consecutive TNM with triple-digit attendance, in a streak which dates back to the fall of 2014.

From round 6 of the Shipman Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Traub–Kuczek after 23 Qg3+)White to move (Yun–Askin after 40...exd5)
Black to move (Thet–Walder after 32 Kh4)White to move (Maser–Cortinas after 53...Kb5)
Black to move (Matz–Anderson after 16 e5)White to move (Matz–Anderson after 30...Qd8)
Black to move (Otterbach–Marcus after 11 h3)White to move (Boldi–Harris after 20...Rxh2)
White to move (Mercado–Baer after 19...Qe7)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 6.

We are saddened to learn of the passing of long-time Mechanics’ Chess Club member Yefim Bukh, who died of colon cancer at the age of 65 earlier this week. Yefim, who was normally rated in the high 1900s and was a much stronger blitz player, was a fixture for many years on MI teams that competed in the Western States Open and Larry Evans Memorials in Reno. He was a true chess lover who loved nothing better than to play all day and all night.

The Mechanics’ Institute is honored to host the Vartan Bedjanian Memorial Fall Tuesday Night Marathon, starting October 23. Thanks to the generosity of his family and the Mechanics’ Institute the tournament will have a record guaranteed first prize of $1000, with $500 for second and $400 for third. There will be a remembrance of Mr. Bedjanian, followed by light refreshments, starting at 5:15 pm. All are welcome to attend.

National Masters Conrado Diaz and Jordy Mont-Reynaud tied for the first at 9–3 in the September 12 edition of the Mechanics’ Wednesday Night Blitz. Tying for third in the 18-player event, a point back, were Experts Carlos D’Avila, Arthur Ismakov, Jules Jelinek and Class A player Anthony Schmitz.

Grandmaster Sam Shankland of Walnut Creek is trailing Maxime Vacher-Lagrave, currently rated number five in the world, 6½–5½ at the midway point of their Chess 960 match in St. Louis.

A young Sam Shankland and Grandmaster Jesse Kraai playing blitz at the Mechanics’. (Photo: Richard Shorman)

Congratulations to Mechanics’ member Ahyan Zaman, who tied for first in the under-1600 section of the Northern California state championship, held over Labor Day weekend. Ahyan scored 5–1 to raise his rating from 1590 to 1641.

12-year-old National Master Rochelle Wu continued her domination of the Mechanics’ monthly G/40 tournaments by winning the 18th Howard Donnelly Memorial with a 5–0 score. National Masters Romy Fuentes and Expert Manas Paldhe shared second in the 35-player event held September 8.

Upset kings of the event who won book prizes for defeating opponents rated 300 points or higher were Yuelin Shi, Jeffery Wang, Arjun Sankar, Joseph Karwat and Cailen Melville.

Lazslo Szabo gave a simultaneous exhibition at the Mechanics Institute on the evening of March 31, 1973. His score was 16 wins, 3 draws and the following loss in the Hungarian Grandmaster’s favorite Four Pawns Attack in the King’s Indian.

King’s Indian E77
Laszlo Szabo–Jerome Lerman
San Francisco (simul) 1973

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 d6 4.d4 Bg7 5.Be2 0–0 6.f4 c5 7.d5 b5 8.cxb5 a6 9.bxa6 Nxa6 10.Nf3 Qb6 11.0–0 c4+ 12.Kh1 Ng4 13.Qe1 Nb4 14.Qh4 Nd3 15.Bxd3 cxd3 16.f5 Nf6 17.Bg5 Qxb2 18.Rac1 Ra3 19.Nd1 Qb7 20.Bh6 Rxa2 21.Ng5 Nh5 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.Ne3 Qb2 24.fxg6 hxg6 25.Rxc8 Rxc8 26.Rxf7+ Kg8 27.Qg4 Rc1+ 28.Rf1 Rxf1+ 29.Nxf1 Qf6 30.Qc8+ Kg7 31.Ne6+ Kh7 32.Nf8+ Kh6 33.Qc1+ Qf4 34.Qb1 Qf2 0–1

2) Boris Spassky’s Endgame Studies

The following is a “primitive” little study Spassky composed with the idea of club players’ being able to solve it.

1.Qc1+ Bg1 2.Nf2+ gxf2 3.Qxc6+ bxc6 4.Bf1 c5 5.Kh6 c4 6.Kh5 c3 7.Kh4 c2 8.Kh3 c1Q 9.Bg2# 1–0

3) One of my favorite games by International Master Jeremy Silman

My opponent wasn’t that strong (2150 or 2200 or something like that), but this game (which was the first time I ever played 1.d4) was a favorite, since the king march and smooth plan made me happy.

I really love long, logical plans.

Modern A46
Jeremy Silman–K.A. Czerniecki
Chicago 1979


My first game ever using 1.d4.

1…g6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 Nc6 5. Be3 e5 6. d5 Nce7 7. Bd3 Nf6 8. f3 c6 9. Qd2 cxd5 10. cxd5 h6 11. h4 Bd7 12. Nb5

I take immediate advantage of my opponent’s poor decision on move 11.

12…Bxb5 13. Bxb5+ Kf8 14. O-O-O a6 15. Bd3 a5 16. Kb1 Nd7 17. h5 g5

18. g4

This structure is horrible for Black: he has no play on the kingside or in the center, while only White can make headway on the queenside. To make matters even worse, a White Knight can eventually leap into f5, targeting both d6 and h6 for assassination. Notice that a Black horse can’t reach f4 since the jump-off points on e6 and g6 are both covered by White pawns. One final bit of horror is Black’s hideous “tall pawn” bishop.

18…b6 19. Ne2 Nc5 20. Nc3 Bf6 21. Rc1 Kg7

22. Kc2!

This move, doubling on the c-file and leading with the mighty king, makes the game memorable. What’s the point, you may ask? Actually, it’s very logical: White’s winning plan is to eventually play b2-b4, chasing Black’s only well positioned piece [on c5] away. However, this idea is quite risky if the white king is living on the queenside. Thus, my monarch takes a little trip to the safe haven of g2. Once there, a green light will be given to the b2-b4 break.


Black prepares to challenge me for control of b5.

23. Kd1 Na7

Intending ...Qd7.

24. Bb5 Nxb5 25. Nxb5 Qd7

26. Qe2

The b5-square is secure, so now White can resume his king walk.

26…Rhc8 27. Ke1 Bd8 28. Kf2 a4

Threatening ...Ra5.


No counterplay allowed.

29…Be7 30. Kg2 Bd8

31. Rc2

Intending to double rooks, when any knight move would be met by Rc6. Because of this, Black seeks relief with an immediate exchange of all the rooks.

31…Nb7 32. Rxc8 Rxc8 33. Rc1 Rxc1 34. Bxc1 Nc5

34...Qc8 35.Be3 is no improvement.

35. Be3 Be7 36. Bxc5 bxc5

37. Qc4

It turns out that I didn’t need to play b2-b4 after all. Now the a4-pawn is falling, and the material advantage, combined with the superior knight versus the horrible black bishop, makes the win easy.

37…Qb7 38. Qxa4 Qb6 39. Qc4 Bf8 40. a4 Qa6

41. Kf2

The king heads for e2 where, in some lines, it will stop any queen intrusions on d2 or e1. Of course, I also intend to exchange queens and march my king to b5 and beyond.

41…Be7 42. Ke2 Kf8 43. Kd3

Defending my queen in preparation for Nc3.

43…Bd8 44. Nc3 Qa7 45. Qb5 Qe7 46. a5 Qa7 47. a6 Ke7

48. Qb7+

This brings an end to the battle. While Black is busy with my b-pawn, my knight will rush to f5 and decimate his entire kingside.

48…Qxb7 49. axb7 Bc7 50. Kc4 Bb8 51. Nd1 Kd7 52. Ne3 Kc7 53. Nf5 Kxb7 54. Nxh6 1-0.

Senior Masters Jeremy Silman and Alan Pollard before their game in the Charles Bagby Memorial (Northern California Championship)in the early 1980s. (Photo:-Mechanics’ Chess Club Archives).

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


Marshall’s Chess Divan offhand game; Russ Chess Star Forging to Front

B. Soldatenkov, one of the Russian envoys to this country, is proving himself to be one of the strongest chess players, not only of Washington, but in the whole United States. In skittle games with Frank Marshall, played in New York, the Russian actually leads the American champion. Mr. Soldatenkov has not as yet had an opportunity of meeting any of the local masters over the board, but expects to break a friendly lance or two with his fellow masters of the Washington Chess and Whist Club this week.

Washington Evening Star, 22 Oct 1917, p. 15

Defeats American Champion

As a special envoy from Russia to America, B. Soldatenkov of Petrograd, an accomplished chess amateur, has occasional opportunities to match his skill against prominent American players. At Marshall’s Divan, the distinguished visitor had a sitting with the United States champion himself, winning the first game and drawing the second.

Washington Post, 23 DEC 1917, p. 3

Queen’s Gambit Accepted D27
Marshall–Vassily Soldatenkov

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nc3 a6 4. e3 Nf6 5. Bxc4 e6 6. Nf3 Nbd7 7. a3 b5 8. Ba2 Bb7 9. O-O c5 10. dxc5 Bxc5 11. b4 Ba7 12. Bb2 O-O 13. Qe2 Ne4 14. Rfd1 Qe7 15. Rac1 Rac8 16. Bb1 Ng5 17. Nxg5 Qxg5 18. f4 $4 Bxe3+ 19. Kh1 Bxf4 20. Ne4 Qh6 21. h3 Bxc1 22. Bxg7 Qxg7 23. Rxd7 Bf4 0-1

Washington Post, 23 Dec 1917, p. 3; see also NY Post, 13 Oct 1917, p. 12

October 27, Triple Tie at Chess

F. J. Marshall, O. Chajes and C. Jaffe divided the first, second and third prizes in the rapid transit tournament held at the Rice Progressive Chess Club in honor of B. Soldatenkov, special Russian envoy to America, who also took a hand in the fray, but was placed next to D. Janowski of Paris. J. Bernstein won the fourth prize.

NY Sun, 28 Oct 1917, p. 4++

November 2, Chess Experts Gather at Memorial Service

Members of the I. L. Rice Chess Club gathered in force at their new rooms Friday night to attend a memorial service in honor of the late Professor Isaac L. Rice. The rooms were most tastefully decorated, thanks mainly to the personal supervision of Mrs. Rice, who was represented at the gathering by members of her family.

5) Here and There

Chess in the Bay Area goes way back, as evidenced by the following letter written to Henry J. Ralston, one of the founders of the California Chess Reporter.

California Historical Society - June 24, 1965

Dear Mr. Ralston,

Some years ago, you expressed an interest in any information regarding chess in early San Francisco.

Recently, in the course of some indexing for my personal files, I found a German chessclub listed on p. 382 of the San Francisco Directory for 1858.

Yours Sincerely,

James de T. Abajian

PS (in pencil)

1859, p. 393 Cosmopolitan Chess Club in 1858 had 150 members!!
1859, p. 393 San Francisco Pioneer Chess Club, 20 members in 1858

Bay Area youngsters have been in the news of late. 11-year-old FIDE Master Christopher Woojin-Yoo’s historic victory in the Northern California State Championship this past Labor Day weekend was written up here. Sisters WCM Aksithi and WIM Ashritha Eswaran played in the Belgrade Open this past summer, and are included in this report.

Long-time Mechanics’ member Grandmaster James Tarjan, who has made his home in Portland the past few years, will be giving a simul on National Chess Day (Saturday, October 13, 2018) in Vancouver, Washington. Full details on this event put on by the legendary organizer Rusty Miller (Jude Acers’ manager for his record-breaking 1970s tours) are available here.

Arun Sharma writes about the upcoming Bay Area International:

Both GM and IM norms are possible. The Bay Area International begins only a couple of days after the Pan American Intercollegiate (in the same hotel!) as well as the North American Open in Las Vegas end so is a very convenient event for those playing in either.

28 players already confirmed, with 8 players over 2600 FIDE. A complete list of players can be found at

The International is open to players with FIDE Ratings above 2000 (a few special exceptions may be made at the discretion of the organizers). But to ensure players of having good chances to make GM norms, a maximum of one-third of the total field will be permitted to be U2200 FIDE.

With the relaxed seven-day schedule, there should be ample opportunity for players to tour one of the US's most popular cities. And along with that, with five days of the tournament having only one game, this will be one of the very few US events which will allow players the opportunity to earn one of the special GM norms required by FIDE to obtain the GM title.

6) This is the end

In chess, a study is a composed endgame position, usually one unlikely to appear in over-the-board play. The solution is expected to be unusual and artistic, with unexpected moves. This study meets all these criteria.

White to move

Show solution

You can browse through our archived newsletters using the "next" and "previous buttons".

Want to save this newsletter for reading at a later time? Click here to learn how.

Want to be notified when the next newsletter is published? Join Our Email List →