Chess Room Newsletter #899 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #899

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #899

Dec 27, 2019

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents



Report on the Inaugural
2019 IM John Donaldson Championship

FM Jason Liang and WIM Rochelle Wu tie for first in inaugural IM John Donaldson Championship

It was a fun and exciting weekend in San Francisco December 20-22, as the first ever IM John Donaldson Championship was held to commemorate the many years of service of John Donaldson to chess community, as Mechanics’ Institute Chess Director for 20+ years, Captain of the U.S. Chess olympiad team, and chess historian. He even showed up for the Saturday morning round and played a game! It was great to have him join the weekend festivities. While the mood was upbeat and spirited, the chess action was intense. The drama of the chess action was captured through our live commentary of the event, with FM Paul Whitehead covering Saturday’s rounds and GM Patrick Wolff and FM Jim Eade covering Sunday. The final round featured a special guest commentator, NM Derek Wu, who showed himself to be a natural on the broadcast, and we hope, a regular future commentator for Mechanics’ events.

FM Jason Liang ponders a move on board 1 against Rochelle Wu, IM Ray Kaufman (white) on board 2 battles NM Derek Wu on board 2

67 players came out for this 5-round FIDE rated event. The open section was strong, and the games were action packed. When the smoke cleared, FM Jason Liang and WIM Rochelle Wu tied for first with 4/5 after both scored big final round victories. Both overcame early round adversity, with Liang suffering a 3-day first round defeat to the rising John Canessa. He re-entered the 2-day and was cruising before losing to Rochelle in round 3. He was able to finish strong though, defeating IM Ray Kaufman in the final round to grab a share of first.

Rochelle won her first three games before suffering a loss in round four to Kaufman. However, she played attacking chess in the final round and defeated John Canessa.

One of the most exciting games of the day was in round 4 between NM Derek Wu and John Canessa. This game even had the broadcasters guessing as to what was going on. In time pressure and with much on the line, Derek played a move that on first sight seems like a great tactical shot, only to allow Canessa to overcome a -9 deficit by delivering a beautiful tactic of his own. Rochelle avenged her brother’s defeat in round 4 with some beautiful tactics of her own.

John Canessa played great chess this weekend, defeating FM Liang, drawing IM Kaufman, and defeating NM Derek Wu

In a combined A/B section, Calvin Koo took sole first with 4.5/5, a half point better than Zolb Lkhagvasuren. There was a 4-way tie for third between Uranchim Nyamdorj, Brice Huang, Rithwik Narendra, and Max Hao at 3.5/5.

Sadhana Arivoli (black) concentrates against Atul Thirumalai

The C section was won by Brian Fong with 4.5/5, a clear point better than Ethan Mei, who took second place at 3.5/5. Club regular Albert Starr took third place with 3/5 after a final round draw with John Chan.

In the D/E/unrated section, Wentao Wu and James Lin both finished with 4.5/5 and tied for first, with their half points resulting from a draw against each other in round 2.

It was a joyous weekend at the Mechanics’ Institute, as players played fiercely and had fun in between rounds. Before the start of round 5, players were in the club playing some blitz, and even GM Patrick Wolff came out and played a few games. Players seemed to especially enjoy the broadcast of games inside the room and the live commentary. Our goal in bringing live broadcasting of games and commentary is to bring the chess community together with Mechanics’ through chess and showcase our games to the chess community in general. We are very happy to see many viewers tune in to our events, and players commentating on their own games during the broadcast.

NM Derek Wu provided great commentary with FM Jim Eade, filling in for GM Patrick Wolff for round 5 coverage

To see sibling rivalry at its finest, please follow this link to the 3:12:00 mark : )

GM Patrick Wolff plays some casual blitz before the start of round 5. It was a fun and relaxing weekend of chess

Very special thanks to FA Judit Sztaray, FM Paul Whitehead, FM Jim Eade, GM Patrick Wolff, NM Derek Wu, Marc Lenahan, and Juan and Jon Cendejas for helping make the broadcast and event a great experience for players and parents!

To re-watch our live broadcast of the inaugural Donaldson Championship, please follow these links:

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

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YouTube videos of our broadcasts and events:


(1) Kaufman,Raymond (2269) - Liang,Jason (2296)
IM Donaldson Championship (5.1), 22.12.2019

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 The Exchange Variation of the Caro-Kann. Though Fischer used it well, it is usually thought of as an easy equalizer for Black. 4...Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 g6 7.Nd2 Bf5 8.Bxf5 gxf5 Diagram


Black has gotten doubled f-pawns, but has a firm grip on the central e4 square as compensation. It also leaves Black with the good bishop (opposite color of the pawns' squares). 9.Ngf3 Bg7 10.h3 e6 11.Qe2 Qe7 12.Bg5 [12.Ne5 seems like a direct plan.] 12...Qc7 13.Bxf6?! Trading bishop for knight is no plus here. 13...Bxf6 14.g4 fxg4 15.hxg4 Qf4 16.Rh5 0-0-0 17.g5 Bg7 18.0-0-0 h6 19.Qe3?! White is slightly worse and should seek a variation such as [19.g6 Qg4 20.Rh2 Qxg6 21.Rg1 Qh7 22.Ng5 Qg6 23.Ngf3 which would repeat moves.] 19...hxg5! 20.Rxh8 Rxh8 21.Nxg5 Qf5 22.Rg1 Bh6 23.f4 Rg8 24.Ndf3 Kb8 25.Rh1 Rg6 26.Re1?! [26.b3 Rf6 would keep the defense 27.Rh4] 26...Rf6 27.Rh1 Bxg5! 28.Nxg5 Qxf4 Now Black gets and extra pawn in the endgame. 29.Qxf4+ Rxf4 30.Rh7 Nd8 31.Kc2 Rf2+! The rook causes White trouble from this square. 32.Kb3 Kc7 33.a4 Kd6 34.c4?! dxc4+ 35.Kxc4 Ke7 36.b4 Rc2+ 37.Kd3 Ra2 38.a5 Rg2 39.Rg7? Diagram


[39.Nf3] 39...Kf8! On 40. Nxe6+ Nxe6 41. Rxg2 Nf4+ forks the king and rook. 0-1


(2) Wu,Derek (2039) - Canessa,John (1962)
IM Donaldson Championship (4.2), 22.12.2019

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 d5 3.Nd2 g6 4.Bxf6 exf6 5.e3 Bg7 6.g3 f5 7.Ne2 c5!? Diagram


An interesting and aggressive try. 7...c6 holding the central white squares is often played. Black has two bishops for the doubled pawns and wishes to open the game for them. 8.Bg2 0-0 9.0-0 b6? [Better was 9...cxd4 10.Nxd4 (10.exd4 Nc6 11.c3 Bh6) 10...Nc6] 10.c4 Bb7 11.dxc5 Black is (at least temporarily) losing a pawn. 11...Nd7 [11...bxc5 12.Qb3 Qb6 13.cxd5 Ba6 14.Nc4 Is very good for White.] 12.Nb3 Rc8 13.Nc3?! [Simple and good is 13.cxd5] 13...Nxc5 14.cxd5?! [14.Bxd5] 14...Ba6! Diagram


Trouble with the rook. White now boldly sacrifices the exchange, a good practical choice. 15.Nd4 Bxf1 16.Kxf1 Re8 17.Nc6 Qd7 18.Rc1 Ne4 19.Nxe4 fxe4 20.b4 a6 21.a4 Qd6 22.Kg1 Objectively Black is a little better. Practically it is easier for White to play with that nice knight on c6. 22...Rc7 23.Bf1 Rd7 24.Bc4 b5 25.Ba2 Rb7 26.Qe2 h5 27.Rc5 bxa4 28.Ra5 Bc3?! [28...Rxb4 29.Nxb4 Qxb4 30.Qxa6 Qe1+ 31.Kg2 h4 is about equal] 29.Qxa6 Qf6!? 30.Rxa4 [Not falling for 30.Qxb7? Be1! hitting f2] 30...h4 31.Bb3 hxg3 32.hxg3 Rd7 33.Qc4 Kg7 34.Ra2 Be1 35.Re2? [35.Kf1] 35...Qf3! 36.Nd4 Qh5? [36...Bxf2+ 37.Rxf2 Qxg3+ 38.Kf1 Qxe3 would be very good for Black] 37.Bc2? [37.Rxe1 Rh8 38.Kf1 Qg4 39.Ne6+ fxe6 40.Qc3+ Kh7 41.dxe6 Is very complicated but very good for White] 37...Rh8? [37...Rde7] 38.Bxe4! Qh2+ 39.Kf1 Bxf2 40.Rxf2 Qxg3 Diagram


41.Nf5+? [41.Qc3 Would leave White a winning position] 41...gxf5 42.Rg2?! Rh1+ 43.Ke2 Rh2! Now Black is in control 44.Qc3+ f6 45.Kf1 Rh1+ 46.Ke2 Rh2 47.Kf1 Rxg2 48.Bxg2 Rc7 49.Qd2 Ra7 50.Qb2 Qe5 good technique by Black. Simply head for a winning ending where there are no complications. 51.Qd2 Ra1+ 52.Kf2 Rb1 53.Qd3 Rb2+ 54.Kf3 Qe4+! 55.Qxe4 fxe4+ 56.Kg3 f5 57.Bh3 Kf6 58.d6 Re2 59.Kf4 Rf2+ 60.Kg3 Rf3+ 61.Kg2 Rxe3 62.d7 Rd3 0-1


(3) Canessa,John (1962) - Wu,Rochelle (2136)
IM Donaldson Championship (5.2), 22.12.2019

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 Nc6 6.Nf3 d6 7.Bc4 Nb6 8.Bb5 d5 9.0-0 Bg4 10.h3 Bh5 11.Nc3 e6 12.a3 Rc8 13.Bf4 a6 14.Be2 Diagram


We have an equal position that has arisen from the 2. c3 variation of the Sicilian. 14...Bxf3 15.Bxf3 Nc4 16.b4 Qb6 17.Be3 Qc7 18.Na4 [18.Nxd5!? exd5 19.Bxd5 Is a very interesting and promising sacrifice.] 18...b5 19.Nc5 Bxc5 20.bxc5 0-0 21.Be2 Qa5 [21...f6 is a direct plan on the kingside] 22.Qd3 Qd8 23.Qc2 Qh4 24.Rfd1 Ne7 25.Qc1 Nf5? Diagram


[25...Nxe3] 26.Bf3? [White misses a great chance here: 26.Bg5! Qe4 (26...Nxd4 27.Bxc4) 27.Bf3 Nxd4 28.Bxe4 Ne2+ 29.Kf1 Nxc1 30.Bc2! wins a piece] 26...Nfxe3 27.fxe3 f6! 28.exf6 Rxf6 29.Rf1 Rcf8 30.Kh2?! [30.Ra2 would help the kingside defense] 30...Qg5 31.e4?! Diagram


31...Ne3! too many threats 32.exd5 Rxf3 0-1

Tournament Director's Corner

Brilliancy Prizes

When I played chess as a teenager, many tournaments had brilliancy prizes. These prizes went usually to a player that won a very interesting or beautiful game, that was well played and often had an exciting attack or tactic or involved some sort of drama and tension during the game. This prize was in addition to the normal tournament cash prize and would often be in the form of an item like a chess clock. What we would have to do is turn in our scoresheet at the end of the game and write “brilliancy” on it. It would then be evaluated by a master and judged accordingly.

Kenn Fong recently sponsored a brilliancy prize for the recently concluded McClain Memorial. The prize was $100 to be divided $60/$40 for 1st and 2nd. The only problem is that it seemed many were not very clear on the spirit of the prize, as we only received 3 submissions. 2 of them were from players who lost and the other was from a player victorious over another 600 points higher. We did not think this fit the criteria of a brilliancy, so with permission from the donor, we will roll it over to another event.

Players, if we announce brilliancy prize eligibility for an upcoming event, please send us games that show fight, fortitude, creativity and guts. Well fought draws certainly qualify, and even certain losses fought with vigor and honor may be given consideration. FM Paul Whitehead and GM Nick de Firmian will judge the games, so please submit games that are in the true spirit of the award. The games do not have to be GM level and they do not have to be perfectly played games, far from it. We just ask that they are a game that you yourself are proud of, of any level of player.

I offer two real life example of brilliancy prize winners. Incidentally, they both involve me playing in the same event in 1988. In one, I was the victor, the other, I was the victim. I defeated my first master, John Bidwell, by being lucky and good at the right time. I was an Alekhine's Defense player as black and was familiar with it and he played it against me and made a slip where i took advantage. The loss was one in which I was riding high after my win and felt like I was on my way to two upsets in a row, but then it all fell apart as I was done in by the fearless and relentless attacking of Neil Regan. It is certainly a blast from the past for me. These games were when I was 15 years old and found in the California Chess Journal July 1988. Thank you to Kerry Lawless and the Chess Dryad for the preservation of California chess history.



Bob Burger Memorial Championship

January 3-5, 2020

Come out for a fun and exciting weekend! Top 10 Boards are broadcasted via DGT. Register TODAY to save your spot and the late fee! Hope to see many of you that weekend!

Onsite Registration: Friday, 1/3: 5-5:45pm or Saturday, 1/4: 9:30-9:45AM

Rounds:  3-day Schedule: Friday 6pm, Saturday 10am, merge, 3pm, Sunday 10am, 3pm
               2-day Schedule: Saturday 10am, 12:30pm, merge, 3pm, Sunday 10am, 3pm

Time Control: 3-day schedule: all rounds G/90 +30s inc
                      2-day schedule: Round 1-2: G/60; d5 and Round 3-4-5: G/90 +30s inc

Prizes: $5000 b/90 
Open (FIDE rated): 1st: $1000, 2nd: $500 3rd: $200 4th: $100, Best under 2200: $400
Section A (1800-1999, FIDE rated): 1st: $450, 2nd: $250, 3rd: $100
Section B (1600-1799):1st: $400, 2nd: $250, 3rd: $100
Section C (1400-1599): 1st: $400, 2nd: $250, 3rd: $100
Section DEu (under1400): 1st: $300, 2nd: $150, 3rd: $50

Fees: $60 for MI members, $70 for non-members.
Late fee of $20 when we reach 70 players!
Play-up: $20 (need to be within 200 rating point of the next section.)
USCF membership is required!

Information - Register Online

Take our survey!

Closing the year 2019, we would love to hear your feedback and suggestions regarding the last 12 months. We have developed a short, 5-questions survey, which was available for our TNM players and anyone who visits the chess club.
We also have a slightly expanded version of this survey that is available online:
Thank you for your time and energy to provide feedback.


Tony's Teasers

Last week's problem: White to move and mate in 3, A. Akerblom, 1936

Solution: 1. Bg5!!  Rf1+  2. Kxf1  g3  3. Nf7#



Chess Camps are underway during Winter break
@ Mechanics' Institute Chess Club


We are done with the first day, and more days are coming! Days offered: December 30, 31, Jan 2, 3  -- These days are confirmed!

Schedule: 9AM - 12:30PM Morning camp or 12:30 - 4PM Afternoon camp or Full-day 9AM - 4PM.
Full day students will have lunch break between 12:15-12:45PM. Bring your own lunch!

Camp activities include lectures, instructions, paired play, game reviews, fun activities such as blitz, bughouse, puzzles and other short and fun activities.


THIS SATURDAY - 2019 End of Year Scholastic Championship

on Saturday, December 28th

Fun event is planned for the end of the year! Come out for a 5 round kids' tournament, where players can practice their skills, have fun and win some trophies!
More information:
Register online to save your spot:



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