Chess Room Newsletter #912 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #912

Gens Una Sumus!




Newsletter #912

Apr 3, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Special Announcement! Collaboration For Online Match With St. Louis Chess Club Set For Wednesday April 15th! Stay Tuned For Details


Historic Club Round Robin: Mechanics' Institute, Marshall, Charlotte, and Memphis Chess Clubs

A historic club round robin was played online on April 1st between the Mechanics' Institute, Marshall Chess Club, Charlotte Chess Center, and Memphis Chess Club. This collaboration was an effort to have our chess communities continue the spirit of friendship and competition, and expand the number of clubs participating in online competition. The match was structured as a club quad with 18 players on each team, dividds by rating categories with three players per category. Each match had a time control og G/8 +2, with each player playing their opponent two games, each player playing white/black. The match was streamed on the Mechanics' Chess Club Twitch channel, with commentary by FM Paul Whitehead, FM Jim Eade, Andy Schley, Judit Sztaray, and Abel Talamantez. The match featured some hard fought, action-packed games. In the end, the Charlotte Chess Center emerged victorious with a perfect 3-0 score, followed by Marshall (2-1), Mechanics' (1-2), and Memphis (0-3). 

The Mechanics' scored their only win of the match in the first round against Memphis, winning by a score of 21-15. The second round opponent was Charlotte, and we lost that match 22.5-13.5. Though the result was a bit lopsided, the matches for the round were exciting. Many of the games could have gone either way, but the pieces fell in favor of Charlotte. Here are a couple of games from a thrilling round 2. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(8) NM Ruiyang Yan (jij2018) (2257) - NM Tianqi Wang (NorthYardPrince) Charlotte (2571) [B06]
Live Chess, 01.04.2020

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.Be3 d5 5.Qd2 Nf6 6.e5 Ng8?! Black is playing a provacative opening. Objectively it would be better to play [6...Ne4] 7.0-0-0 b5 8.f4 Nh6 9.h3 Nf5 10.Bf2 h5 11.Nf3 Nd7 12.Bd3 Qa5 13.g4 b4 14.Nb1 Diagram


White has played classically, advancing and taking territory. Black now decides to confuse matters. 14...Nb6?! 15.gxf5 Bxf5 16.Bxf5 Nc4 17.Qd3 gxf5 18.Nfd2 Qxa2 19.Qb3 Qxb3 20.Nxb3 Bh6 OK, Black is a piece down in the endgame and it's not objectively sound. It's blitz though and tricky. 21.Bg3 h4 22.Bh2 a5 23.Nc5 e6 24.Rd3?! [24.b3!] 24...a4 25.b3? Diagram


25...a3! Oh! that a-pawn is a terrible trouble maker, ready to queen in two moves. Black is now clearly better. 26.Nxa3 Nxa3 27.Kb2 Nb5 28.Rdd1 0-0 29.Nd3 Nxd4 30.Nxb4 c5 31.Nd3 Rfc8 32.Bg1 Ne2 33.Bxc5 Nxf4 34.Bd6 Ng6 35.Rhg1? An unfortuante square for the rook. NorthYardPrince takes advantage with a double threat. 35...Be3! 36.c3 36...Bd4+ was a terrible threat and had to be stopped. Now it is easy for Black after winning the exchange. 36...Bxg1 37.Rxg1 Kh7 38.b4 Rc6 39.Bc5 Kh6 40.b5 Rxc5 giving back the exchange makes the winning technique easy. 41.Nxc5 Ra5 42.Nd3 Rxb5+ 43.Kc2 Ra5 44.Kb3 Ra7 45.Kb2 f4 46.Rg4 f3 47.Rg1 Ra4 48.Rf1 Nf4 49.Nf2 Kg5 50.Re1 Kf5 51.Re3 Re4 52.Rxf3 Re2+ 53.Kb3 Kxe5 0-1

(9) IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (2220) - NM Dominique Myers (northridgehawk) Charlotte (2281) [C78]
Live Chess, 01.04.2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.d4 Bb6 9.a4 Rb8 10.a5!? Ba7 [10...Nxa5 Complications arise after 11.Rxa5 Bxa5 12.dxe5 as 12...dxe5?! 13.Qxd8+ Kxd8 14.Nxe5 is very good for White] 11.h3 0-0 12.Be3 Re8 [12...Nxe4? 13.Bd5] 13.Nbd2 exd4 14.cxd4 d5? Black tries to strike back in the center, but this advance backfires 15.e5 Ne4 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Ng5 Re7 Diagram


[17...Be6 18.d5 Bxe3 19.dxe6 Bxg5 20.exf7+ Kh8 21.fxe8Q+ Qxe8 is Black's best choice now, though that should lose anyway.] 18.Qh5! Blitkrieg. White has so many threats so quickly. 18...h6 19.Bxf7+ Kh8 20.Qg6 20...hxg5 21. Qh5 is mate. 1-0

The final round brought high hopes for us as we thought we were evenly matched and could pull off the victory against Marshall. However, they were the better team that day, winning 20.5-15.5. 

It was an amazing evening of chess. We want to thank Bryan Quick, Director of the Marshall Chess Club, as well as Grant Oen and Peter Giannatos from Charlotte. Special thanks also to Alex King from the Memphis Chess Club and to Judit Sztaray for coordinating with everyone in getting the match together. We are looking for collaborations with more chess clubs across the country, and we look forward to bringing new matches very soon.

To view the replay of the stream of the event, please follow this link:

Mechanics' Institute Tuesday Night Online

The 3rd edition of the Tuesday Night Online brought 60 players competing for one of the prestigious medals; a gold, silver, or bronze given out for the top three finishers of the Tuesday Night Online of Friday evening blitz. The G/10 +2, 5-round event brought some top players, but it was FM Eric Li taking the gold medal with his final round win over FM Kyron Griffith. Taking the silver medal was Michael Lum and the bronze went to Kristian Clemens. 

Here was the deciding final round win by FM Li. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(5) FM Eric Li (wepkins) (2380) - KyronGriffith (2284) [E90]
Live Chess, 31.03.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 Na6 7.Be3 e5 8.d5 Nh5 9.Nd2 Nf4 10.g3 g5?! Diagram


Aggressive play in the King's Indian. Webkins now finds the flaw in the plan. 11.h4! Black's kingside becomes compromised. The knight on f4 is aggressive, but at some point it can be safely taken. 11...f6 12.Nf3 g4 13.gxf4 Trading pawns and pieces here leaves White strategically in control. 13...exf4 14.Bd4 gxf3 15.Qxf3 c5 16.dxc6 bxc6 17.Qxf4 c5 18.Be3 f5 19.Rg1 Kh8 20.0-0-0 [20.Rxg7!? Kxg7 21.0-0-0] 20...Be5 21.Qh6 f4 22.Bd2 Qf6 23.Qxf6+ Rxf6 24.Nd5 Black has traded to an endgame, but that doesn't solve the problems. 24...Rf7 25.Bc3 Be6 26.Bxe5+ dxe5 27.Rg5 The black pawns are weak. webkins wraps up with good technique. 27...Rg8 28.Rxe5 Bg4 29.Re1 Bf3 30.Bh3 Rg6 31.Re8+ Kg7 32.Ne7 Nc7 33.Rg8+ Kf6 34.Nxg6 hxg6 35.e5+ The only hope here is some blunders. Of course that happens in blitz. 35...Ke7 36.Rxg6 Rh7 37.Bg4! Bxg4 38.Rxg4 Ne6 39.Rd1 Rh5 40.Rd5 Rf5 41.Kd1 Rh5 42.a3 a5 43.Ke2 Rf5 44.Kf3 Rh5 45.Rxf4 This makes it easy to progress without much thought (or time). 45...Nxf4 46.Kxf4 Rxh4+ 47.Kf5 Rxc4 48.e6 Rc2 49.Rd7+ Ke8 50.f4 Rxb2 51.Kf6 Rf2 52.f5 c4 53.Rh7 Kd8 54.Rh8+ Kc7 55.e7 1-0

Here is another game from the TNO in round 5.

(7) NM Michael Walder (FlightsOfFancy) (1621) - Abhinav Penagalapati (qing29) (1749) [D30]
Live Chess, 31.03.2020

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.b3 Bd6 6.Bb2 Nbd7 7.Ne5?! It's always a little risky to move the same piece twice in the opening and neglect development. Safer is [7.Bd3] 7...Ne4 8.Bd3 Qa5+ 9.Ke2 Nef6?! [9...Bxe5 10.dxe5 Nec5 is aggressive] 10.f4! Qc7 11.Nc3 dxc4 12.bxc4 a6 13.c5 Bxe5?! [13...Be7] 14.fxe5 Nd5 15.Ne4 Now White has an aggressive position and control over the dark squares in the center. 15...0-0 16.Nd6 b6 17.Rc1?! [Letting the pawn wedge get broken up. White can keep and edge with 17.cxb6 N7xb6 18.Rc1] 17...bxc5 18.dxc5 Rb8 19.Bd4 g6 [19...f6!] 20.h4 f6 Diagram


21.h5 fxe5 22.hxg6? Wonderfully brave, but it doesn't work well. White can keep chances by saving his bishop with [22.Ba1] 22...exd4! 23.Rxh7 Rb2+! winning the queen, since 24.Bc2 [24.Ke1 Qa5+ is the end] 24...Nc3+ 25.Kd2 Nxd1 26.Rxd1 dxe3+ 27.Kc1 Rxc2+ 28.Kxc2 Qa5 29.Rdh1 Qxc5+ 30.Kb1 Qxd6! 0-1

To see the full results for this event, please follow this link:


Mechanics’ Online Event Recap

The Friday Night Blitz on March 27 drew 55 players, and the gold medal for that event was won by FM Josiah Stearman (josiwales) with a score of 8.5/10. Silver medal went to NM ChessInstinct with a score of 8/10, and the bronze went to Shaashwath Sivakumar (Dontmesswithme_2) with 7.5/10.

Here is a fine win by Josiah over IM Elliott Winslow from round 3. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(6) IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (2154) - FM Josiah Stearman (josiwales) (2468) [B33]
Live Chess, 27.03.2020

Another meeting of these long time rivals. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.Bd3 [11.Bxb5; 11.Nxb5] 11...Be6 A classic position from the Sveshnikov Sicilian. 12.Nxb5? Strange. This sacrifice doesn't make problems for Black as the sacrifices on move 11. 12...axb5 13.Bxb5 Rc8 14.exf5 Diagram


14...Qa5+! This precise move just leaves Black a piece ahead for insufficient compensation. 15.c3 [15.Nc3 Bxf5] 15...Qxb5 16.fxe6 fxe6 17.Qh5+ Kd8 The black king had to move, but he is safe in the center. The black center pawns control squares so White cannot mount a real attack. 18.Qg5+ Ne7 19.Nxe7 Bxe7 20.Qd2 Rg8 21.g3 Kd7 22.0-0-0 Rc6 23.Kb1 Rb8 Black goes on the offensive. The result is not in doubt. 24.Rhe1 Rcb6 25.Re2 Qa4 26.Qd3 Ra8 27.b4 e4! 28.Qd4 Bf6 29.Qd2 Bxc3 0-1

Full results from that event can be found here:

The Thursday Night Late Showdown on April 2 was won by FM Andy Lee (falsenarwhal) with a score of 4/5. He took first on tiebreaks over FM Kyron Griffith and jackyripper. Below is the final round match between Andy Lee and Kyron Griffith.

(11) KyronGriffith (2500) - FM Andy Lee (falsenarwhal) (2190) [C47]
Live Chess, 02.04.2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5 0-0!? Black tries to confuse matters offering a pawn instead of the well know recapture on d5. Kyron decides not to take the bait and transposes back to the main line. 9.0-0 [9.dxc6 Re8+ 10.Be3 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Ng4 12.Qf3 Qd6 is probably better for White, but confusing.] 9...cxd5 10.Bg5 c6 11.Qf3 Be7 12.h3 h6 13.Bf4 Bd6 14.Ne2 c5 15.Rad1 Rb8 16.b3 Bb7 17.Bxd6 Qxd6 18.Qf4 Qc6 19.Rfe1 Rfe8 20.Ng3 The position is roughly equal. Black has a nice pawn duo on c5 and d5 which offer dynamic posibilities. White has play on the kingside with the queen and knight. 20...c4?! This uses up the potential of the pawns too early. [20...d4 is about equal as the pawns are strong and the black bishop active.] 21.Bf1 [Also good is 21.bxc4 dxc4 22.Bf1!] 21...cxb3 22.cxb3 Ne4? The position is already difficult for Black to play. This move gets in serious trouble. He could try instead [22...Rxe1 23.Rxe1 Re8] 23.Nxe4 dxe4 24.Bc4! Diagram


All of Whites pieces become very active. All are posted on excellent squares. 24...Qf6 25.Qxf6 gxf6 26.Rd7 Rf8 27.Re3 very nice. The endgame cannot be held. 27...a5 28.Rg3+ Kh7 29.Bxf7 Rfd8 30.Bg8+ Kh8 31.Rh7# 1-0

Full results can be found here:

To participate in our chess events, ask to join the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Online by clicking on this link:


Mechanics' Institute - Online Offerings For Our Scholastic community

We had more than 160 kids playing in our online scholastic tournaments!
   We are excited to see new IDs and new kids playing in each tournment. There are some interesting and very exciting games, and we encourage everyone to keep up the great participation.
Upcoming schedule (to join, click on the link under Join from 3:45PM) 
Game in 5 minutes (5 min for each players) with 5 sec added with each move.
Game in 10 min (10 min for each players) with 2 sec added with each move.

Join (sign up) for the tournament: at 3:45PM - 15 minutes before the start time. First round starts 4PM sharp!


Look at upcoming tournaments: 

Joining is easy! Group: 

If you are new - 

If you already have an account - Registration Key: QCJJNH

  • Find the 6-digit Registration Key on the "Info" tab page of your Group. Give this code to the Kid.

  • Have the Kid log in to his own account & click the grey Settings icon. **They'll need to log in from a browser for access to this page.**

  • Enter the Kid's first & last name, and parent/guardian email.

  • Click "Do you have a Group Registration Key"

  • Enter the 6 digit Registration Key & click Save. The kid will be added to your Group

  • Note: If you do not see a place where you can add Registration Key, that means you need to add Mechanics' as a Secondary Guardian. Email us for further instructions.

The kids play some very interesting games online, and we thought we should showcase a few of our up and comers. Here are a few games from our scholastic tournaments, with annotations by our Grandmaster-in Residence, 3-time U.S. Champion Nick de Firmian.

(1) DarkCapableCharm (1353) - FairSafeInk (1349)
Live Chess

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 The Smith-Morra Gambit is a practical choice, especially in Blitz chess. 4...d6 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.Nf3 g6? Diagram


Not good here. 6...e6 holds the center squares. 7.e5! Nfd7 [7...dxe5? 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.Qxd8] 8.exd6 exd6 9.Qd5? Too eager to checkmate on f7! With the simple developing move [9.0-0 Black would be in big trouble, e.g. 9...Nc6 (9...Be7 10.Bh6) 10.Re1+ Nde5 11.Qb3] 9...Qe7+ 10.Kf1 Bg7 11.Bg5 Nf6 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Re1 Be6 14.Bb5+?! [White could still have attacking chances after 14.Qb5+ Qd7 15.Qb3!] 14...Nd7 15.Bxd7+?! Qxd7 16.Qe4 0-0 17.Nd5? Black has come back to take the advantage and now White blunders a piece. 17...Bxb2 [17...Qb5+!] 18.Ng5 Qb5+! 19.Kg1 Bxd5 20.Qh4 With an extra piece, the bishop pair, two extra pawns and a safer king Black has the game in the bag - except this is blitz chess. 20...Rae8?? 21.Qxh7# 1-0


(2) rjchess (1229) - BentActiveTank (1089)
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nc3 Nh6?! Knight on the rim is grim! 5.d3 0-0 6.Bxh6 Qf6? giving a piece. Better to take the medicine with [6...gxh6] 7.Nd5? [7.Be3 is simple and strong] 7...Qxh6 8.0-0 d6 9.Nxc7 Qg6? 10.Nxa8 oops 10...Bh3 11.g3? [11.Nh4! guarding mate and attacking the queen would be very good.] 11...Bxf1 12.Nh4 Qf6 13.Qd2? [13.Qxf1! guards f2 and takes the piece] 13...Nb4? [13...Bh3! saves the good bishop which can help for check mates] 14.Rxf1 Nxa2 15.Nc7 Bb4 16.Nd5 Qe6 17.c3 Bc5 18.Nb4 Qh3 19.Re1 d5 20.exd5 Bd6 21.Nxa2 e4 22.dxe4 Be5 23.Nf5 h5 24.Nb4 h4 25.Nd3 hxg3 26.Nxe5?! [26.hxg3!] 26...Qxh2+ 27.Kf1 g2+ 28.Ke2 g1Q Diagram


You must say these players provide real action! 29.Ne7+ Kh8 30.Rxg1 Qxg1 31.Nxf7+ [31.Qf4!] 31...Rxf7 32.d6? Qxf2+ [32...Rxf2+!] 33.Kd3 Qf3+ 34.Kd4 Qf6+ 35.Kd3 [35.e5!] 35...Qxd6+ 36.Nd5 Rf3+ 37.Ke2 Rf4 [37...Qh2+ 38.Kd1] 38.Ke3 Rh4 39.Qd4 Qg3+ 40.Ke2 Rh2+ 41.Kf1 Rh1+ [41...Qg2+ 42.Ke1 Rh1+ 43.Bf1 Rxf1#] 42.Ke2 Re1+? 43.Kd2 Qg2+? 44.Kd3? Qd2+?? [44...Qe2#] 45.Kxd2 1-0


(3) dinosaurus333 (1186) - elizurfk (1267)
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 A tricky opening! Particularly for blitz chess. 3.d3 [White has the advantage after 3.exd5 e4 4.Qe2!] 3...dxe4 4.dxe4 Qxd1+ 5.Kxd1 Nc6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.Bc4 [It's always good to develop pieces if you can, so preferable is 7.Nc3] 7...Bg4 8.h3 0-0-0+ 9.Bd2 Bh5 10.g4 Bg6 11.Ng5?! Diagram


11...Nf6! development! 12.Nxf7 Bxf7 13.Bxf7 Nxe4 Now White has lots of problems due to the active Black pieces. 14.Be6+ Kb8 15.Re1 Nxf2+ 16.Kc1 Nxh3 17.Re4?! [17.Nc3!] 17...Nf2 18.Rf4? Nh3? probably the score is mistaken here for these last moves 19.Ra4 Bc5 20.Nc3 Rhe8 21.Bf7 Re7! 22.Rc4 Rxf7 23.Rxc5 Rf1+ ouch! 24.Nd1 Nf2 25.c3 Rxd1+ 26.Kc2 R8xd2+ 27.Kb3 Rxa1 28.Rc4 Rb1 29.Ka3 Rbxb2 30.g5 Rxa2+ 31.Kb3 Rdb2# 0-1


(4) DarkCapableCharm (1304) - zzng (1176)
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 h6?! This doesn't help getting the pieces out. 4...d6 or 4...Nf6 is better. 5.d4 d6? forgetting the threat 6.dxc5 Nf6 7.cxd6 cxd6 8.Qd3 0-0 9.0-0 Bg4 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 Re8 12.Qg3?! Threatening 13. Bxh6. but this is too eager! Bring out all the pieces and the attack is easy. 12...Nxe4 13.Qg4 Nf6 14.Qg3 Ne4 15.Qf3 Nf6 16.Nd2 d5 17.Bb5 a6 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.c4 Ra7 20.cxd5 cxd5 21.Rd1 Rd7 22.Nb3 a5 Black has done a good job after blundering a piece on move 5. The center pawns and centralized pieces provide chances. 23.Qg3 Ne4 24.Qg4 Nf6 25.Qh4 Ne4?! You don't want to trade queens a piece down. 26.Qxd8 Rdxd8 27.Nxa5 f6 28.Nc6 Rd6 29.Nb4 d4 30.Re1 Nc5 31.f4?! e4 Now Black has powerful passed pawns. 32.Bd2 f5 33.Nc2 Ree6? [After fighting back well, Black allows White to trade pieces and wrap up the point. With 33...Nd3! things would be uncertain.] 34.Bb4! Rd5 35.Nxd4! Rxd4 36.Bxc5 Rd2 37.a4 Rxb2 38.a5 Rb5 39.a6! Rxc5 40.a7 Rc8 41.a8Q Rxa8 42.Rxa8+ Kf7 43.Kf2 e3+ 44.Rxe3 Rb6 45.Ra7+ Kf6 46.g4 g6 47.h4 Rb2+ 48.Kg3 Rb1 49.g5+ hxg5 50.hxg5# 1-0 

If you have any problem connecting with us on, please send us an email and we'll send you a step-by-step instructions with pictures.   

Any questions? [email protected]

Online Chess Classes for Kids

Our chess coaches have transitioned their classes to online platforms. We have had two weeks with full classes of students for small group classes, learning, playing chess, connecting and having fun together. We encourage you to try one of our popular online classes. Our schedule is open for any student to join, and we are adding classes as demand grows.
Current schedule:
Monday - Coach Andy 4-5PM
Tuesday - Coach Andy 3-4PM
Wednesday - Coach Colin 3-4PM
Thursday - Coach David 3-4PM
Friday - Coach Andy 1-2PM
Class Fee: $25/single class, $45/2 classes, $80/4 classes
Sign up via Jumbula:
If you have any questions, or need a sample of a class, please feel free to reach out to [email protected]

Mechanics' Institute Online Events Schedule

The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club will continue to hold regular online events in various forms. Here is the upcoming schedule for players:

4/3 Friday - Friday Evening Online Blitz
Format: 10 rounds of G/3+2 (Swiss)
Start: 6:30PM sharp.
4/4 Saturday - Saturday Matinee
Format: 3 rounds of G/30+0
Join from 1PM  -
Start: 2PM
4/5 Sunday - Sunday Late Night Showdown
Format: 5 rounds of G/5+2
Join from 8PM -
Start: 9PM
4/6 Monday - Monday Online Arena
Format: 90 mins of G/5+2 - as many games as you can.
Start: 6:30PM
4/7 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Online Rapid
Format: 5 rounds of G/10+2 (Swiss)
Start: 6:30PM
4/8 Wednesday - Club Team Match Night
Let's Do It Again Match with Charlotte 
Format: 2 games G/15+2 
Starting 4:30PM
Sign up via Google Form:
4/9 Thursday - Club Team Match Night
Club Match with Pittsburgh Chess Club
Format: 2 games G/15+10 
Join the tournament from 4PM onward.
First game starts at 5PM.
4/10 Friday - Friday Evening Online Blitz
Format: 10 rounds of G/3+2 (Swiss)
Join from 5:30PM via
Start: 6:30PM sharp.
4/11 Saturday - Saturday Online Matinee
Format: 3 rounds of G/30  (Swiss)  
Join from 1PM via 
Start: 2PM sharp, approx. end 5PM
4/12 Sunday - Sunday Late Night Showdown 
Format: 5 rounds of G/5+2 (Swiss) 
Join from 8PM via  
Start: 9PM sharp, approx. end 10PM

Past Club Tournament results are here:
Before playing in our online tournaments, be sure to do the following:
1. Sign up and log in to
2. Sign up to be a member of Mechanics' Institute Chess Club at You need to become a member before you can play.
3. Please fill out the Google Form, so we know who you are, and can inform you about changes, and ad hoc events:
Any questions? [email protected]


FM Paul Whitehead's Column

Early Chess Stories, Part 3

In the Fall of 1972, my family returned to the States after a four-plus year hiatus, sailing back on the S.S. France this time.  On our way back to San Francisco we stopped in New York City and visited the famous Manhattan Chess Club, located in a suite of offices in Mid-Town, I think.  

I was in awe. This was the club Bobby Fischer had cut his teeth in.

In New York I bought my first chess book: Paul Morphy and the Golden Age of Chess, by William Ewart Napier. Chess was in my blood, and my brother’s as well.

Back in the Bay Area my brother and I really hit our stride, joining the venerable and fabulous Mechanics’ Institute. At the time membership dues were $5.00 yearly, and prospective members needed to be vouched for by 2 other MI members. I don’t recall ever using the library in those early years, just the chess club. My brother and I were in the club at all hours, whenever we could get a ride down there or take the bus. I’ve written a fond memory of those early days in a previous newsletter, here:

In that first year or two Jay and I played in lots of tournaments in the Bay Area, as a whole world (or sub-culture, if you like) opened up.  Chess books and magazines, rating points and cross-tables, organizers and players, the Masters and the Fish (the weak chess players), tournaments and skittles – what a world it was.  My brother and I, precocious and intelligent, fit right in with the Bohemian gestalt of the times: long hair and drugs meets Chess Life & Review, Think Like a Grandmaster meets White Punks on Dope. 

Paul Whitehead (seated) and Jay Whitehead, LERA 1973

Casual chess – blitz- was extremely popular in a whole succession of cafes in San Francisco, and very strong players were to be found first at the Blue Unicorn on Hayes Street in the Haight-Ashbury, and later at the Sacred Grounds (Hayes Street again), and the Meat Market Coffeehouse on 24th Street. For those older than Jay and me, there was Vesuvio Café in North Beach.

Chess tournaments were everywhere in the Bay Area: the Stamer and Capps Memorials at the Mechanics’ Institute were major events at the time, attracting local GM’s and IM’s like Browne, Tarjan, Christiansen, de Firmian, Biyiasis, Grefe.  These local giants were joined by visiting stars of the time, such as Seirawan and Shamkovitch, Shirazi and Lein.

There was the People’s Tournament in Berkeley.

Although Raymond Conway ruled supreme as the Director of the MI, the 1970’s also saw other organizers trying to muscle in.  Benson and Goodall were busy carving out major territory in the East Bay, and Jim Hurt had Santa Clara sewn up with the LERA tournaments.  Hans Poschmann was the Lord of Fremont, while Ted and Ruby Yudakufski kept the peace in Monterey.

And the players Jay and I met: just about everyone.  It was still rare-ish to see kids at tournaments in those days, and Jay and I stood out.  We were talented, and we had moxie.  And we were getting good.

The influence and mentorship of a few great friends - and strong chess players- can be enormous, and I count Jeremy Silman, Joe Tracy and Steve Brandwein as especially important guides in those early days.  Every time I make a move, I can imagine them telling me something … their laughter and wisdom have lasted a lifetime.

Bobby Fischer was World Champion, and chess was everywhere.

(To be continued)



GM Nick de Firmian's Column

Meet the Candidates

This week: Ding Liren

Even though the Candidates Tournament has been halted mid-way, we continue our investigation of the participants as they are the best in the world and have many interesting things to show us from their games. This week we look at Ding Liren, China’s number one player and 3rd in the world by rating. Ding is famous for his hundred game undefeated streak and for very solid, accurate play. We show here his earlier games when he played with great adventure. The first game (against Kamsky) is a gem where Ding plays marvelous, risky moves where you simply have to trust your intuition as the complications are too complex.

Ding has been at the top of the chess world and was favored (along with Caruana) to win the Candidates Tournament. He was stuck in Russia for two weeks before the event and was suffering with the circumstances there. Clearly we have not seen his good form, and now almost certainly he will have to wait until the next Candidates Tournament to become the challenger. This is rather like Tal in 1961 when he had to deal with health issues and the death of his father right before the return match with Botvinnik. Sometimes the events of the greater world have a large influence on the world of the chess board.

(1) Gata Kamsky (2730) - Ding Liren (2628) [C11]
Aeroflot Open Moscow RUS (6), 13.02.2011

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Ne2!? Diagram


The players have entered the Steinitz Variation of the French Defense. The usual move for White is the developing 7. Be3. Kamsky chooses to bolster the defense of d4, which is logical but he must deal with lagging development. 7...Be7 8.c3 0-0 9.Be3 f6! Trying to open the game to use the lead in development. 10.g3 Qb6 11.Qd2 fxe5 12.dxe5 This is the best recapture now, though the pawn structure is much more fluid than a typical French. Chances are roughly equal. 12...Rd8 13.Bh3 Diagram


13...d4! 14.Bf2 [14.Bxe6+ Kh8 Helps Black's developmengt and leaves the bishop on e6 open to a discovered attack.] 14...d3 15.Nc1 Nf8 16.b3 Qa6 17.a4 b5 18.0-0 Bb7 19.Ra2?! Kamsky should have offered the exchange sacrifice with [19.axb5 Qxa1 20.bxc6 Bxc6] 19...b4 20.c4 Na5 21.Be3 Diagram


21...Nxc4!? Ding is playing like Tal this game! He gets pressure and two pawns for the knight, 22.bxc4 Qxc4 23.f5 exf5 24.Bxf5 Qd5 25.Bxd3 c4 26.Bb1 Qc6 27.Qe1 Ng6 28.Raf2?! This logical move leads to the white pieces getting bottled up. White should have taken the night on g6 with his bishop to stay even. 28...Nxe5 29.Ne2 Rd3! 30.Ned4 Qd5 Diagram


Black's position is a picture of harmony. The queen and bishop on the long white diagonal pressure with mating possibilites, the other pieces are active and the b and c pawns are a potent duo. 31.Bxd3?! Nxd3 32.Qd2 Nxf2 33.Rxf2 Rf8 34.h4?! c3 35.Qd3 Bc5 The black bishops work in tandem. White is just barely holding on. 36.Bf4 Rd8 37.Be5? It was necessary to play 37. Be3. The game move gives Black a tempo to come in on the e-file. 37...Re8 38.Bf4 Re1+ 39.Rf1 Diagram


39...Qxf3! 40.Qxf3 Bxd4+ Kamsky resigned as after 41. Kh2 Bxf3 42. Rxe1 b3 Black's monster pawns win easily. 0-1


(2) Ding Liren (2654) - Alexander Areshchenko (2682) [E60]
World Chess Team Championship Ningbo CHN (2), 18.07.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 A reasonable move if White is happy to play the Saemisch Variation of the King's Indian. Areschenko goes another way with Black. 3...Nc6!? 4.d5 Ne5 5.e4 d6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.f4 Ned7 8.Nh3 0-0 9.Be2 Nc5 10.Nf2 The opening play has been a bit unorthodox but good. Chances are about even. 10...Re8 [10...c6] 11.0-0 e5 Diagram


12.f5! Ding gives a pawn to gain advantage in the pawn structur and blunt Black's activity. 12...gxf5 13.exf5 Bxf5 14.Ng4 Bxg4 15.Bxg4 Nxg4?! After this exchange White is able to control the king side light squares. Better was [15...e4] 16.Qxg4 Qd7 17.Rf5! e4?! [Black could prevent White's next move by 17...Kh8] 18.Bh6 f6 19.b4 Na6 20.Bxg7 [20.a3! may be even better as the black knight stays on the sidelines for a while.] 20...Qxg7 21.Qf4 Nxb4 22.Nxe4 Kh8 23.Rf1 Nd3?! [The pressure is building so Black should try to exchange what he can. Best was 23...Re5 24.Nxf6 Rxf5 25.Qxf5 Rf8] 24.Qh4 Re5? Too late! Now this doesn't lead to an exchange. Black stays in the game longer with [24...Rg8] 25.R5f3! f5 there is no way out now [25...Rg8 26.Rg3 forces 26...Rg5 27.Nxg5 fxg5 28.Qe4 should win; on 25...Nc5 26.Nxf6] 26.Nf6 Nc5 27.Rh3 Re7 Diagram


28.Nxh7! 1-0


(3) Ding Liren (2660) - Lu Shanglei (2514) [D24]
Chinese Chess Championship Xinghua CHN (5), 31.03.2012

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.d4 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bxc4 Nxe4 7.0-0 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Diagram


Ding has played aggresively, sacrificing one pawn and now offering another. 8...Be7?! [White will get good play in any case. Black may as well be gready here 8...Bxc3 9.Rb1 Nc6 10.Qb3 Bxd4 11.Rd1 0-0 12.Ba3 is a lot of pressure for White, but since Black is two pawns up he can give material back when he chooses.] 9.Ne5 0-0 10.Qg4 c5 11.Bh6 Bf6 12.Bd3 Re8 13.f4!? [13.Rad1 would be a normal plan for White. Instead Ding has something special in mind.] 13...g6? Diagram


[13...Nc6 was needed.] 14.Bxg6! fxg6 15.Nxg6 hxg6 16.Qxg6+ Kh8 17.Bg5 Ding has saced two pieces for this ferocious attack. The black king is open and half of his pieces are just sitting on the queenside. 17...Bxg5 opening the f-file for White. The alternative was to guard the bishop - [17...Rf8 18.Rf3 Bxg5 19.Rh3+ Bh4 20.Qh5+ Kg8 21.Rxh4 would force Black to sacrifice his queen with 21...Qxh4] 18.fxg5 Re7 19.Qh6+ Kg8 20.g6 Nd7 21.Rf3 Nf8?! [21...Qf8 22.Rxf8+ Nxf8 23.Rf1 Bd7 24.h4 is winning for White, but Black could hold out for a while.] 22.Raf1 Nxg6 Diagram


23.Rg3! Rg7 24.Rxg6 Black resigns as 24...Qe7 25. R1f6 will win the queen. 1-0

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