Chess Room Newsletter #843 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #843

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #843
September 21, 2018

Theoretically it is possible to play blindfold chess without visualization, merely by remembering all the moves. This require such a prodigious feat of memory that I have met only one person who has played several games simultaneously in this way, Mr. Charles Bagby, an attorney in San Francisco.

—Reuben Fine in Lessons from My Games (page 31)

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

FIDE Master Ezra Chambers is still in the lead in the Walter Shipman Tuesday Night Marathon with 6½ points out of 7 with two rounds to go. Right behind, in clear second with 6 points, is International Master Elliott Winslow. At 5½ are experts Kristian Clemens and Ethan Boldi, A-player Kevin Kuczek, and B-player Gagik Babayan.

From round 7 of the Shipman Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Traub–Boldi after 15 b5)White to move (Traub–Boldi after 28...Ng5)
White to move (Otterbach–Rakonitz after 28...Re8)White to move (Yamamoto–Azimzadeh after 15...Bxd5)
White to move (Carron–Boldi after 27...fxg4+)White to move (Seperi–Cowgill after 6...Nc6)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 7.

Expert Arthur Ismakov won the September 19 edition of the Mechanics’ Wednesday Night Blitz with 9½ from 12. Second in the 12-player event was Expert Carlos Davila with 9 points, and third was National Master Jordy Mont-Reynaud with 8.

Charles Bagby (1903–1975): 1958 California State Champion, and the second-longest-serving Mechanics’ Institute Trustee (1940–1975), behind only Neil Falconer.

Grandmaster Enrico Sevillano and International Master Kim Yap dominated the 2nd Annual Outdoor G/13 Championship held September 15, scoring 9 out of 10 to each win $350 and a bottle of wine. International Master John Donaldson and Expert Greg Lope tied for third at 7–3, winning $100 apiece plus a bottle of wine.

The 32-player event, held in Carmichael, California, was well-organized by Stewart Katz, who hosted the event in his back yard and supplied the vintage analog clocks from his extensive collection. He and his wife also supplied the participants with a terrific lunch spread. John McCumiskey directed the friendly event, which will hopefully become a yearly tradition.

2) Letter from Walter Lovegrove to Henry J. “Bip” Ralston

A transcript of the following letter, dated June 27, 1950, from Walter Romaine Lovegrove, the first native-born San Francisco master, first appeared in MI Newsletter #608. Here we reproduce that material and add scans of the original document, as well as some background information on Lovegrove, who was a successful dentist and lived at 2001 Lyon Street, about three blocks from the Presidio.

Lovegrove is writing to Henry J. “Bip” Ralston (1906–1993), a research physiologist who was an expert on the mechanics of human walking and a pioneer in the development of functional artificial limbs for amputees. One of the founders of the California Chess Reporter, Ralston was a member of the Mechanics’ Institute for around 70 years. Learn more about him.

Friend Ralston:—You must excuse the way I am arranging the information you asked for but I am not well. I may have to go to the hospital next week.

W.R. Lovegrove.
I learned the chess moves in 1886. In the early nineties I won three Mechanics’ tournaments. In the first one of which I gave odds to all the other contestants. In the last tournament I had a clean score winning all my games. I played in the final Pillsbury National Correspondence Tournament winning the same. The final game was with Mordecai Morgan (Ed.—1861-1931, a strong Philadelphia player best known for publishing a four-volume series on the opening, using complete games). Prize $75. Played a match with Joseph D. Redding (Ed.— more information on him) who claimed to be champion of the coast in 1891 or two the score was seven to one in my favor. I take $75.Mr. Redding was a prominent attorney, musical composer and clubman. Max Judd who had been prominent in national chess circles visited San Francisco about that time and I won six games out of seven from him in offhand play. Jackson Showalter also visited us and I won twelve games out of a great many played. In 1893 I visited Los Angeles and played Lipchitz, the score 3 wins to 1 draw in my favor. These were all off-hand games. Visited Europe in 1912. Played Van Vliet (Ed.—Louis Van Vliet 1854–1932, a Dutchman who was one of the top California players while living in San Francisco in the mid 1880s) in London for shilling and won the only game played.
In 1922 visited Vienna, Austria, and played with Savielly Tartakover at Café Central. He told me he would pay me sixty thousand kroner and if he won I would have to pay him forty thousand kroner. The game lasted four hours and I was the winner. He insisted on paying me. However at the time the krone was sixty thousand to the dollar. The next day we played again at even odds and he recovered his loss. However he refused to play me again because he had to get quicker action to make a living.In Paris in 1912 I played Taubenhaus (Ed.—Jean Taubenhaus 1850–1919, was a Polish–born French chess master) for a dollar a game with the score 10–1 in my favor. He did not pay up. In Vienna 1922 I played a number of games with Wolf (Ed.—Heinrich Wolf 1875–1943, was an Austrian chess master). A second class master, for a dollar a game and the score was 3 to 1 in his favor. Kostic (Boris) visited San Francisco about 1913 (Ed.—actually 1915; see MI Newsletter #486) and one day I played him for a dollar a game and won four straight. He did not pay up. The next day he got it and more back.

This letter provided the background information for Ralston’s obituary of Lovegrove that appeared in the October 20, 1956 issue of Chess Life.

Walter Romaine Lovegrove, emeritus master of the USCF, died in San Francisco on July 18, 1956. He was 86 years old. For over 60 years Dr. Lovegrove was one of San Francisco’s leading players. Born October 24, 1869, he learned the game of chess at the age of 16 by studying the article on chess in the Encyclopedia Britannica. During the period 1886–1890 he strengthened his game by playing at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club in San Francisco, finally becoming so strong that in one tournament he gave odds to all the other contestants, yet still won the tournament.

Dr. Lovegrove was the winner of the final Pillsbury National Correspondence Tournament. In 1891 he won a match from Joseph Redding, who claimed the Championship of the Pacific Coast, by a score of 7–1. Max Judd, who was prominent in national chess circles, visited San Francisco about the same time,and Dr. Lovegrove won six games out of seven in casual play. The American champion, J.W.Showalter, also visited San Francisco, and although he had the edge over Dr. Lovegrove in casual play, lost no less than 12 games to him out of about 30 played.

In 1893 Dr. Lovegrove visited Los Angeles, where he met and conquered Simon Lipshutz by a score of 3½–½. The American Championship was in a rather foggy state in those days, but technically, the present writer believes, Lipshutz was still the champion, by virtue of his decisive win over Showalter, by a 10½–4½ margin, in their match of 1892. However, one must admit that Dr. Lovegrove’s victory over Lipshutz must be weighed with caution because of the very uncertain nature of the champion’s health. Lipshutz was a chronic sufferer from tuberculosis, which caused him premature death at the age of 42.

Dr. Lovegrove beat Van Vliet in London, 1912, in the only game played; he beat Taubenhaus in Paris in the same year, 10–1. In Vienna, 1922, playing as usual for a dollar a game, he won one game and lost one to Dr. Tartakower—who said he did not care to play Lovegrove any more because he couldn’t make a living that way. In 1902 he played Dr. Emanuel Lasker a stake game in San Francisco; the champion of the world tried to win a drawn game, and lost. Again, in 1904, an exhibition game was won by Dr. Lovegrove against the American champion, Harry Pillsbury. Pillsbury grabbed a pawn, allowing Dr. Lovegrove to obtain a crushing King-side attack.

Alexander Alekhine giving a simultaneous exhibition at the Mechanics’ Institute on May 11, 1929. Alekhine is at the far right, bent over a chess board. Walter Lovegrove, 59 years old at the time, is the center with white hair, white moustache and glasses. The old Mechanics’ chess pieces can be seen quite clearly. Only one of these massive sets has survived the years, but House of Staunton makes a very nice reproduction, the sale of which benefits the Mechanics’ Institute. (Photo: Mechanics’ Institute Archives)

3) James Tarjan at the US Open

Grandmaster Timur Gareev won the 2018 US Open held in Madison, Wisconsin, with a score of 8 from 9 and with it a spot in the 2019 US Championship. Tying for second a half point back were Grandmasters Ruifeng Li, Ilya Nyzhnyk, Andrew Tang, Alex Fishbein and Mackenzie Molner. Among those in the tie for seventh place at 7-2 were 66-year-old Portland Grandmaster James Tarjan who continues to prove that chess is not only a game for kids. His score included three wins over masters and two draws with Grandmasters plus the following loss that might have turned out differently.

Queen’s Indian E16
Alexander Ipatov–James Tarjan
US Open (6) 2018

1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Nbd2 0-0


6.Bg2 b6


7.0-0 Bb7 8.Ne5 Nbd7 9.Qa4 Bd6


I got this far in my opening prep, following for example Lenderman vs. Anand that went 10.Nxd7. My computer prompted me to look at 10.cxd5 so I wasn’t surprised by it at the board.

10...Bxe5 11.dxe5 Nxd5 12.Nf3 c5 13.Qg4 Qe7 14.Bg5 f6 15.exf6


Perhaps White can claim a positional advantage, based on Black’s isolated e-pawn and the two bishops, but in fact things are not so clear. Black has well placed knights and will kick or exchange the bishop with ...h6.


I expected 16.Qa4 or 16.Qc4 and perhaps White does have that little edge. But he has something more aggressive in mind.


If I had seen his next move I might have played 16...e5.


I hadn’t reached this before the game. I think he was beyond his prep as well; he thought for a long time. Really sharp play, but the position remains somewhere around equal.

17...Nb4 18.e5 hxg5 19.Nxg5 Bxg2 20.Kxg2 Nc2 21.Rad1


I am playing to hinder a white knight going to f3, and of course to plant my own knight on this wonderful square 21...Rad8?! 22.exf6 gxf6 23.Nf3 with a small edge.


22.Rxd4!? cxd4 23.Re1.

22...Qb7+ 23.f3 Nxf3

23...Rad8 is better with approximate equality.

24.Nxf3 Nd5 25.Qg4

Or 25.Qe4 with a small pull


26.Kg1 Raf8??


27.Nh4 b5

I hallucinated that I win his queen with 27...Rf1+

28.Nxf5 Rxf5 29.Qe4

Already here he could play better. The most practical is to give up the e-pawn: 29.Rf1 Rxe5 30.Qg6 Qe7 31.Rde1 and White is not only the exchange ahead, but has the initiative as well.; 29.Re2 c4 30.Qd4 is also clearer than what he played.


I was thinking of resigning, but didn’t. The strong knight on d5 might be enough compensation for the exchange in a blitz game, but it shouldn’t be even close in a slow game against a player of his level. But no matter who he is he has to make the moves...





a curious matching blunder to mine on the 26th move

31...Rxf1+ 32.Kxf1 Ne3+ 33.Ke2 Nxd1 34.Qxb6 axb6 35.Kxd1 b4

A difficult king and pawn endgame. He was somewhat short of time; I was not. But I made the decisive mistake. Make sure and let your computer run for a while if you expect it to figure this one out for you.


Apparently White can draw by following one single thread, though the move order along the way can vary: 36.a3 bxa3 37.bxa3 b5 38.h4! g5! only move: if White gets in h4 and g4 he wins 39.hxg5! (39.h5? g4 Black wins) 39...Kf7 40.g4 Kg6 41.Ke2! Kxg5 42.Kf3! only thus, and why what he played with 36. Kd2? is already a mistake 42...Kh4 43.Kf4 c3 44.Ke3 Kxg4 45.Kd3 Kf5 46.Kxc3 Kxe5 47.Kb4 Kd4 48.Kxb5 e5 49.a4 with a draw. After Black queens first and plays ...Qb1+ White has the one move Ka6.; 36.h4 g5 37.hxg5 Kf7 38.a3 transposes]


correct [36...g5? 37.a3 bxa3 38.bxa3 b5 39.h3! Kf7 40.Ke3 Kg6 41.Ke4 very tricky but a draw 41...Kf7 42.Kd4 Kg6 and 43.g4? Kf7 loses for White by a tempo; 36...Kh7? 37.g4! g5 38.a3 and White wins; 36...b5 also works and transposes]

37.a3 c3+??

Turning a winning king and pawn endgame into a losing one. [37...bxa3 38.bxa3 b5 winning always so obvious after the fact 39.Ke3 (39.h4 g5 40.h5 g4-+) 39...Kg6 40.Kf4 Kh6 (or 40...Kh5 Black eventually progresses by zugwang.) 41.g4 (41.h3 Kh5 42.h4 c3) 41...g5+ and Black’s king comes around to the queen side.


I completely failed to consider this, or rather, White’s 39th move. 38.bxc3? bxa3 winning.

38...cxb2 39.axb4

Now White is winning with the classic outside passed pawn theme. Complicated by the fact that White does not yet have the outside passed pawn, only a two against one that he must convert to a passed pawn. Because of this Black comes close to drawing and White must play with skill.

39...Kg6 40.Kxb2 Kf5 41.Kc3 Kxe5

41...Ke4 42.Kc4 Kxe5 43.Kd3 is the same



42...Kd5 43.h4.

43.h3 Kf5 44.Ke3 Ke5 45.h4 Kf5 46.Kf3 e5 47.g4+ Kf6 48.Kg2!

He wins by triangulation, getting in either g5 or h5 at just the right moment,.

48...Kf7 49.Kf2 Ke7 50.Kg3 Ke6 51.h5! Kf6 52.Kh4

Only thus.

52...e4 53.g5+ Kf5 54.h6 e3 55.Kg3 1-0

4) This is the end

This position occurred in a grandmaster game. What do you suppose the result was, and how did it happen?

White to move

Show solution

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