Chess Room Newsletter #868 | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

Chess Room Newsletter #868

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #868

April 26, 2019

By Abel Talamantez

Upsets and Chance Shake Things Up in Round 6 of the TNM

Round 6 of the TNM saw some last minute changes. FM Josiah Stearman fell ill and would not be able to play, giving NM Conrado Diaz a chance victory that places him in sole possession of first with 5/6. On Board 2, FM Andy Lee and NM Eric Yuhan Li played to a draw, as did FM Ezra Chambers and NM Tenzing Shaw.

Upsets still prevail in this TNM, as IM Elliott Winslow won a very nice game against FM Kyron Griffith. Expert David Askin won against WFM Natalya Tsodikova, and Jason Childress, who earlier in the tournament drew against GM Patrick Wolff, scored a draw against WGM Carla Heredia.

In one of the final games to finish, IM Elliott Winslow defeats FM Kyron Griffith to put him back into contention.

Going into the final 2 rounds, Conrado Diaz has the lead with 5/6. FM Andy Lee, NM Eric Yuhan Li and NM Tenzing Shaw are right behind at 4.5/6. To view the complete standings, click here.

In the A/B section, William Gray and Kristian Clemens are tied on top with 5/6. Hot on their heels is Jonah Busch at 4.5/6.

The U/1600 section has the lone perfect score in the tournament, with Susheel Khamkar at 6/6. John Chan, Victor Reyes and Charles James are a full point behind at 5/6.


Reflections On the Chess Club: A Vision For the Future

In addition to having the honor to serve as Chess Director for the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, I also serve as one of 7 Northern California delegates to the USCF to actively participate in the yearly meeting in conjunction with the US Open. I am also a member of the USCF Outreach Committee and USCF Chess Club Committee, both committees serve small chess clubs around the US and keep chess clubs involved with the USCF.

The new leadership in the club committee is working on several ways to increase engagement while aligning to the mission of US Chess of empowering people, enriching lives, and enhancing communities through chess. Making it easier for people to start chess clubs, updating the Handbook for chess clubs, and providing access to experienced organizers for advice and ways to obtain chess supplies at a discount are all goals of the Chess Club Committee. Many new developments are in works with these committees, which hopefully will show for the local chess clubs, like MI, around the US.

One of the things that we are most proud of here at the Mechanics' Institute is our broadcasting of club games, which we do for our Tuesday Night Marathon. It started as a concept we thought would generate interest and excitement, but has then evolved into something much more. From the games broadcasting, we have added live commentary of games, and witnessing the engagement and interest at the club and online, I truly feel that this should be a goal for clubs. No other chess club I know of does this, regularly broadcast with commentary the weekly club games. I have witnessed community engagement in ways I have never seen before, and I think broadcasting local games on a regular basis forms a bond between the club and the community that has a deep impact that goes beyond chess. Through the analysis, players can learn about chess, the ideas that are behind the moves. We get to learn how players think and their approach. More importantly, we learn more about the players personally, as they show another side of themselves, we see player and person, the love of chess and the love for the club. I see this week to week, and it is a pleasure to watch.

The Chess Annex at Mechanics' Institute, which also doubles as our broadcast room. Sos Hakobyan and Alexandr Ivanov break down their game with FM Paul Whitehead.

It is true that our club has the resources to do this, while others may not. But I don't think it is out of reach for many clubs. You need a decent laptop, camera, and a microphone. The DGT board is probably the biggest investment, with clock, board and pieces now available for $650 around there. The biggest resource to make this happen is time, as it is a lot of work and requires a commitment to be able to produce this on a regular basis, week to week. It requires a team dynamic where the people involved are passionate about what they do and give it their all. Juan Cendejas and Paul Whitehead do so much more work to make it all happen than is visible to the community.

I believe that if clubs that have the resources can promote chess in this way, connect the club to the esport of chess and thus find a new and innovative way to bring chess to the community and connect them, this will elevate the entire chess community, especially new developing clubs, as it creates interest and more participation.

The Mechanics' Institute will be purchasing two more DGT boards. I would like to offer them on loan to new chess clubs looking to develop and broadcast their games. We wan to do our part to help other clubs develop and thrive, as that benefits chess everywhere. We believe broadcasting and commentary of local club games can provide the fuel for introducing chess to many new people, and we would love to see the engagement we see here week to week, everywhere.

If you know someone looking to start a club, or would like to start a club in a location close to you, please reach out to me. There is great potential in this, and I think it has the power to make a significant impact on the USCF and for our communities.


Mechanics' Institute Tournament Week

  • May 2, Thursday 6pm: 2019 Mechanics' Institute Rapid Championship, Presented by PRO Chess League. 5 rounds, G/15 +2
  • May 3, Friday 1pm: GM Eric Hansen Simul
  • May 4, Saturday 10am: Charles Powell Memorial. 5 rounds, G/40;d5
  • May 5, Sunday 1pm: Schutt/Brandwein/Jay Whitehead Memorial Blitz. 6 rounds, double; G/4 +2

To register, please visit


Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Players Reno Report

Special thanks to our former MI Chess Director IM John Donaldson for providing this on-site report.

Congratulations to some local players on an outstanding performance at the Larry Evans Memorial in Reno April 19-21. Bryon Doyle from the Berkeley Chess School tied fir first in the Expert section with 4.5/6. Cailen Melville tied for first in the A section with 5/6. Congrats also to Samuel Agdamag, who tied for 2nd in the C section with 4.5/6.

Here are some more results from our club players:

  • Clarence Harris (C) 3.5
  • Renate Otterbach (C) 2.5
  • Adrian Kondakov (open) 2
  • Ezra Chambers (open) 3.5
  • Tom Maser (A) .5 (2)
  • Cailen Melville (A) 5
  • Kristian Clemens (A) 4
  • Bruce Wishard (C) 2.5
  • Russell Wong (Open) 1.5 (5)
  • Daniel Trimbach (A) 2

Congratulations to everyone for participating and our community! Final results can be found here.


Tony's Teasers

Last week's problem:

  1. ​Qa6!! Rg4
  2. Qe2#

This week's problem: Mate in 3 by Bettmann, 1933



Friendly Rivalries, Part 7

By FM Paul Whitehead

IM Guillermo Rey is a well-known Bay Area chess organizer and long-time resident of Pacifica. He organized and played in the two Miz Brown's tournaments in the mid-eighties, and participated in the strong Pan Pacific International of 1987, organized by the Mechanics' Institute.

Aside from his many successes in Bay Area tournaments, Guillermo also tied for 1st place in the United States Game in Ten Minutes Championship in Las Vegas, 2001.

We played 3 times in the space of 2 years, and I was lucky to get the White pieces in all 3 games, scoring 2 wins and a draw.

The thing is, I always played better with White. And, like many 1.e4 players, saw the French Defense as a kind of provocation...

(1) Whitehead,Paul A (2370) - Rey,Guillermo (2334) [C19]

1st Miz Brown's International San Francisco, 1985

Guillermo and I played 2 games this year, this one at Miz Brown's Country Restaurant and the other at the Mechanics' Institute. I'm not sure which game came first, but they have similarities apart from being played in the same year. 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Nf3 Bd7

​Now 8.a4, 8.Bd3, 8.Be2, 8.h4 are all popular as is the move played. 8.dxc5 Ba4 9.Rb1 Nd7 10.Rxb7 Nxc5 11.Rb4 Qa5 12.Bd2 0-0

This all seems reasonable. 13.Rg4 13.c4 and drawn in 35 moves was Chandler - Agdestein, 1985. 13...f5 Understandable, but 13...Rab8 was an alternative. White appreciates Black opening the position up a bit more... 14.exf6 Rxf6 15.Be2 Ne4 16.0-0 Raf8

This doubling of the rooks is ineffectual. 16...Be8! redeploying the Bishop seems better. 17.Bd3 White enjoys a nice edge through the following small tactics and exchanges. 17...Be8 18.c4 Qxa3 19.cxd5 Nxd2 20.Qxd2 exd5 21.Qe3

The threat of 22.Bxh7+ induces a mistake by Black. 21...Qd6? 21...Bg6 or 21...Kh8 were clearly better. 22.Qxa7 Bd7 At any time around here ...Rxf3 seems to fall short. 23.Rg3 h6 24.Qa1 Nc6 25.Re1 Qf4 26.Bb5

Now a new flurry of tactics begins. 26...Nb4? 26...Qb4 holds the fort temporarily. 27.Bxd7 27.Re7 was even stronger. 27...Nxc2 28.Be6+ Kh8 28...Rxe6 29.Qxg7 mate. 29.Qa7 g5

Necessary, but Black's position is weakening. 30.Nxg5 White cannot hold on the extra piece. This threatens 31.Qh7 mate and forces Black's response, but apparently the simple 30.Rf1 or 30.Rd1 is even stronger. 30...Qxf2+ 31.Qxf2 Rxf2 32.Nf7+

The tactics continue. 32...R2xf7 33.Bxf7 Nxe1 34.Bxd5 Nc2 35.h3 Nd4 36.Rg6

An unpleasant position for Black, who had to play 36...Kh7, walking into 37.Be4 Ne2+ 38.Kh2 Nf4. Now White enjoys a huge plus, but the various discovered checks do not lead to a forced win. 36...Rf5? Now the game is past saving. 37.Rxh6+ Kg7 38.Rd6 Ne2+ 39.Kh2 Nf4 40.Bf3

40...Nxg2 This desperate attempt to leave White with the wrong rook-pawn cannot succeed. 41.Kxg2 Re5 42.Kg3 Rg5+ 43.Kf4 Rg6 44.Rd7+ Kh6 45.Bg4 Rg7 46.Rd8 Rg6 47.Bf5 Rb6 48.Rh8+ Kg7 49.Rh7+ Kg8 50.Ra7

The end is near... 50...Rc6 51.Kg5 Rb6 52.h4 Kh8 53.h5 Rb8 54.Kh6 Re8 55.Bg6 Rf8 56.Rh7+ Kg8 57.Rg7+ Kh8 58.Bf7


(2) Whitehead,Paul A (2370) - Rey,Guillermo (2334) [C19]

San Francisco Bagby San Francisco, 1985

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Nf3 Qa5

Varying from 7...Bd7 of the last game. 8.Bd2 Nbc6 9.Bd3 Inducing ...c4, but so what? 9.a4, 9.h4 and 9.Be2 are all probably better. 9...c4 10.Be2 Bd7 Now 11.a4 and 11.0-0 are the most common. 11.Ng5 f6?

Bad. Simply 11...h6 or 11...0-0 was fine for Black. 12.Bh5+ Ng6 12...g6 13.exf6 is also poor. 13.Nxh7! Kf7 14.Ng5+ fxg5 15.Qf3+ Kg8 16.Bxg6

Black is in trouble. 16...Rf8 17.Qg3 Ne7 18.Qxg5 Qd8 19.Qg4 Nxg6 20.Qxg6 Bishops of opposite colors, but the Major pieces are on the board and White is 2 pawns up. 20...Qh4 21.Be3 Qe4 22.Qxe4 dxe4 Now White plays a move the computer doesn't even consider. 23.d5!

It's important that the position stays open. 23...exd5 24.Bxa7 Rf5 25.Rb1 Bc6 26.Bd4 Kf7 27.Ke2

27...Ke6 28.h3 Ra8 29.Ra1 Ba4 30.Rhb1 Rf7 31.Rb6+

White is making progress. 31...Bc6 32.a4 Ra5 33.Ke3 Rf8 34.f3 White must continue to open up the position. 34...exf3 35.gxf3 Rh8 36.Rg1 Decisive infiltration is imminent. 36...Kf7 37.e6+!

Yet another line-clearing sacrifice! 37...Kxe6 38.Rxg7 Rxh3 39.Rgxb7 It's almost over. 39...Kd6 40.Bf6 Rh6 41.Be7+ Ke5 42.Rc7

Black is in a mating net. 42...d4+ 43.cxd4+ Kd5 44.Rd7+! Bxd7 45.Rxh6

Black faces mate or catastrophic loss. 1-0

(3) Whitehead,Paul A (2380) - Rey,Guillermo (2340) [C19]

San Francisco Bagby San Francisco, 1987

Guillermo might have won this with a little bit more accuracy in the endgame. 1.e4 e6 Another French Defense. 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4

Another Winawer Variation. 4.e5 Ne7 5.Nf3 c5 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Qa5 8.Bd2 Nbc6 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa4

11.c4 Weak. 11.Rb1 scores very well here. 11...Qxd1+ 12.Rxd1 dxc4 13.Bxc4 0-0 14.0-0 b6 15.Bd3 Bb7 16.Be4 h6

Black is slightly better, with a 2 to 1 queenside pawn majority and the possibility of working on the backward White queen-pawn. 17.Rc1 Rac8 18.Bb4 Nxb4 19.Bxb7 Rxc1 20.Rxc1 Nbd5 21.g3 Rb8

22.Bxd5 22.Ba6 was better. If then 22...b5 23.Rc5. 22...Nxd5 23.Kf1 b5 24.Ke2 Rb6 Black should set the queen-side pawns in motion with 24...a5. 25.Rc8+ Kh7

26.Nd2?! 26.Ne1 was a better re-routing for the knight. 26...Ra6 27.Nb1 Ra4 28.Kd3 Kg6 29.Ke4

29...Ne7?! Leads to nothing. 29...b4 was indicated. 30.Rc3 Nf5 31.Rd3 b4 32.axb4 Rxb4 33.Nd2

The Knight heads to f3, and pawn exchanges on the king-side are coming up. 33...h5 34.h3 a5 35.g4 hxg4 36.hxg4 Ne7 37.f4 a4 38.Nf3 f5+ 39.exf6 gxf6



Nick de Firmian's Opening Lab

This week: The King's Indian Attack 1. Nf3 2. g3, 3. Bg2 4.0-0 5. d3

We continue with unusual openings. This week we investigate a real "system" opening. We mean "system" in that White simply plays his/her system for the first 6 or 7 moves and doesn't care much what Black does. This has the advantage that you know where to place your pieces and what your basic plan is. Much of the time White will play these first 7 moves: 1. Nf3, 2. g3 3. Bg2. 4. 0-0 5.d3 6. Nbd2 7. e4. The disadvantage is that White does not seize the center, which allows Black some advantage in space. The fun part is when White's king side attack gets going.

Black has a few main responses which we will investigate:


A. Black responds with d5 and we get a King's Indian Defense Reversed. 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 c5 3.Bg2 Nc6 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d3

Black has responded in the most classical way, taking the center and giving us the King's Indian Reversed. Now most direct is 5e5 6. Nbd2 Be7 7. e4 d4 8. Nc4 Nd7 9. a4 0-0 which is roughly equal. White has an extra tempo in a position of the King's Indian Defense. Most often the player of the Black side will be less aggressive and choose. 5...e6 After 6.Nbd2 Be7 7.e4 0-0 8.e5 Nd7 9.Re1 b5