Chess Room Newsletter #917 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #917

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #917


May 9, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents



2020 Schutt/Brandwein/Jay Whitehead Memorial Blitz Online

The 14th annual Ray Schutt/Steve Brandwein/Jay Whitehead Memorial Blitz was moved online to this year due to the shelter-in-place order, but we were very excited to see 104 players show up to keep the tradition going. We had two GM's in the field - GM Rauf Mamedov, the former European Blitz Champion who has been ranked as high as #4 in the world in blitz, and GM Steven Zierk, a local prodigy known for his endgame prowess. We also had many top scholastic players like IM Christopher Yoo, FM Jason Liang, and NM Ruiyang Yan. We also had some of our top Mechanics' club players like FM Kyron Griffith, IM Elliott Winslow, and the always entertaining NM Jules Jelinek. Add to that our loyal crop of Mechanics' Institute regulars, and it made for a fantastic blitz event.

GM Steven Zierk, winner of the 14th annual Schutt/Brandwein/Jay Whitehead Memorial

The tournament was a 12-round G/3 +2 battle that would test the stamina of the players. The games were exciting and the matchups interesting. The best players shined, and when it was over, GM Steven Zierk captured the gold medal with 10.5/12. GM Rauf Mamedov took silver with 10/12, and FM Kyron Griffith took the bronze with 9/12 on tiebreaks over Abhinav Penagalapati. 

Former European Blitz Champion GM Rauf Mamedov finished in 2nd

At first it looked like the story of this tournament would be IM Elliott Winslow. All who know him are aware he can be a dangerous opponent for any player, and he was having a tremendous run, winning his first 5 rounds. He was paired against GM Steven Zierk in round 6, and produced this phenomenal upset. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian. 

(1) ecwinslow (2257) - Zkid (2787) [C07]
Live Chess, 03.05.2020

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Bb5 Bd7 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Bd3 Qc7 9.0-0 Ne7 [9...Bd6 10.Nf3 Nf6 would test White's set-up. Perhaps White needs to sac a pawn with 11. e5 to get play.] 10.Nf3 Ng6 11.Re1 Be7 12.c4! Using the c-pawn to get more control of the center. 12...dxe4 13.Bxe4 0-0 14.Be3?! This bishop is now a targer for the black pawns and could get pushed back by the coming advance. 14...f5 15.Bc2 c5 16.Qe2 Bf6 17.Rab1 e5 18.Bg5 This actually saves the piece by tactics. 18...e4! 19.Bxf6 Rxf6 [19...exf3 20.Be5!] 20.Nd2 Nf4 21.Qe3 Nxg2? too eager! [21...Rh6 22.g3 Nh3+ 23.Kf1 (23.Kg2 f4!) 23...Rf8 leaves Black in great shape with the coming attack after ...f4.] 22.Kxg2 f4 23.Qc3 f3+ Diagram


24.Kh1! The only good move. It looks scary to move the white king far away from help, but the white knight is coming to the rescue. 24...Rh6 25.Nf1 Bh3 26.Ng3 Bg2+ 27.Kg1 surprisingly the black attack cannot get through ( at long as White plays very accurately). 27...Qd7 28.Qe5! [28.Rbd1? Qh3] 28...Qh3 29.Qd5+ This is excellently greedy. White needs to defend the mate on h2, but he rightfully decides to take material with checks first. 29...Re6 [29...Kf8 30.Qxa8+ Kf7 31.Qxa7+ Kf8 32.Qb8+ Kf7 33.Nxe4 does it as h2 is guarded.] 30.Qxa8+ Kf7 31.Bxe4 Rh6 32.Qd5+ Kf8 33.Qf5+ 1-0

The incredible run would be halted in round 7 by GM Rauf Mamedov. Mamedov and Zierk would meet in round 9, and this would be the game that could put one player in the driver's seat. The match was decisive, with Zierk getting the win with endgame technique.

(1) Muisback26 (3023) - Zkid (2805) [C07]
Live Chess, 03.05.2020

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 The most active, open continuation against the Tarrasch French. 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd7 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Nb3 Nf6 9.Nbxd4 White has recaptured the pawn and is active, but Black has no weakenesses. 9...Nxd4 10.Nxd4 a6 11.Re1 Bc5 12.Be3 0-0 Diagram


13.Nxe6?! Courageous and interesting, but is it good? White had many other slower continuations but decided to start the action right away. 13...Qxd1 14.Raxd1 Bxe6 15.Bxc5 Bxc4 16.Bxf8 Kxf8 Diagram


Thus the players reach this endgame after the forced captures. Sometimes a rook and pawn is worth a bishop and knight in an endgame, but that requires the rook to have great freedom of play. Here Black covers the entry squares and simple holds the edge. 17.b3 Be6 18.c4 Ke7 19.f3 a5 20.Re5 Nd7 21.Re3 a4 22.h4 axb3 23.axb3 Ra2 It's not easy to find a good plan for White. Black meanwhile can bring his king to c7 and then activate the knight. 24.Rde1 Kd6! 25.Rd1+ Kc6 [25...Kc5? 26.Rxe6 fxe6 27.Rxd7] 26.h5 Rb2 27.h6?! White's b3 pawn may fall, so he hits on the kingside. It doubles the black h-pawns, yet even doubled pawns can be useful. 27...gxh6 28.Ra1 Nc5 29.Ra3 h5! 30.f4 h4 31.Re5 Passive defence won't hold so White goes for activity. That's a good practical choice, but his opponent is not perturbed. 31...Nxb3 32.Rh5 h3 33.gxh3 Nd4 34.Rxh7 Bxc4 35.h4 Bd5 The centralized bishop and knight, combined with the rook on the seventh mean trouble for the white king. This will cost White the exchange. 36.Kf1 Bg2+ 37.Kg1 Nf3+ 38.Rxf3 Bxf3 39.Rxf7 Rg2+ 40.Kf1 Rh2 41.f5 Kd6 42.f6 Ke6 43.Rf8 Rxh4 44.Kf2 Rf4 45.Ke3 Rxf6! Trading all the material except one pawn! This is of course a winning king and pawn ending. 46.Rxf6+ Kxf6 47.Kxf3 Ke5 48.Ke3 Kd5 49.Kd3 Kc5 50.Kc3 Kb5! 51.Kc2 [51.Kb3 b6 52.Ka3 Kc4] 51...Kb4 52.Kb2 b5 53.Kc2 Ka3 54.Kb1 b4 55.Ka1 b3 56.Kb1 b2 White resigns. A very high quality game from Zkid, as good as many games of classic time control. 0-1

Heading into the final round, Zierk held a full point lead and needed only a draw to win the tournament. He was paired against his former coach Michael "fpawn" Aigner, while Mamedov took on Rohan Rajaram (ninjatrick). Mamedov won his game, and Aigner managed a nice sacrifice to force a perpetual check, which was all Zierk needed to clinch the victory in the tournament. 

This online event was a big success, and Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club is proud to have organized it in remembrance of Ray Schutt, Steve Brandwein, and Jay Whitehead, all of whom share a special place in Mechanics’ history and who made an impact on chess in the Bay Area.

Ray Schutt

Ray Schutt was one of the founding members of the Hayward Chess Club and in 1995, won the U.S. Senior Open Championship. A write up on his passing can be found in the Mechanics’ Institute Newsletter from 2007:

Steve Brandwein

Steve Brandwein was the Chess Room Coordinator of the Mechanics’ Institute and a regular player there, who was famous in the chess community for his blitz play and playing Miguel Najdorf to a 6-game draw in a friendly blitz match at the Mechanics Institute. He roomed with Jim Buff and Bobby Fischer and John Donaldson tells great tales of those encounters. IM Donaldson’s write up on Brandwein’s passing in Chess Life Online can be found here:

Jay Whitehead

Jay Whitehead is the brother of current Chess Room Coordinator Paul Whitehead, and was an International Master who holds the distinction of being the only American player to ever finish ahead of Garry Kasparov in a tournament (World Cadet, 1977). Jay was a former US Junior Champion and played twice in the US Championship.

I want to thank the Mechanics' team - Dr. Judit Sztaray, GM Nick de Firmian, FM Paul Whitehead, and FM Jim Eade. We all participated in the broadcast and helped keep this great event going, even under extraordinary circumstances. We have phenomenal teamwork within the Institute and support from our leadership in our online events. I also want to thank our chess community for supporting us and our events, as the community is what helps make our building and online community such a special place. Your support is very much appreciated by Mechanics' Institute. 

Mechanics' Institute Tuesday Night Online

The Tuesday Night Online was intersting this week, as the back-to-back champion NM Ruiyang Yan skipped this week's edition. With many of the usual top players taking the day off, the medals were really up for the taking. There was a surprise entry this week from a new player to our events, JasonRBT. He went on to take clear first with 4.5/5. We learned later during the broadcast that this player is none other than IM Rost Tsodikov, the husband of WFM Natalya Tsodikova. A few players finished with 4/5, but Abhinav Penagalapati (qing29) took the silver on tiebreaks and Daniel Lin (SmilyFace4) took the bronze. 

In a surprise move, FM Eric Li (wepkins) withdrew for th last round after going 4/4. We had anticipated an epic finale between wepkins and JasonRBT but it will have to wait for a future tournament. Here is Eric's 4th round victory over Michael Walder (FlightsoOfFancy).

(3) wepkins (2400) - FlightsOfFancy (1956) [E90]
Live Chess, 05.05.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Bd3 exd5 9.exd5 Re8+ 10.Be3 Bh6 Diagram


11.0-0! An excellent pawn sacrifice. White gets a lead in development to go with his space advantage. The other useful point is that Black trades off his important dark-squared bishop which is very useful for defense. 11...Bxe3 12.fxe3 Rxe3?! [If Black wants to play this line I would recommend not taking the pawn and instead covering the dark squares - 12...Kg7 13.Qd2 (13.b3) 13...Nbd7 14.Rf2 Ng8! 15.Raf1 f6 with the idea of Nh6-f7] 13.Qd2 Re8 14.Qh6 Nbd7 15.Ng5 Nf8? [Already the position is very difficult. The best chance is to sacrifice the exchange with 15...Re7 16.Nce4 Rxe4 17.Bxe4 Qf8 when at least the black king is safe and the position solid.] 16.Nce4 Bf5 Diagram


[16...Rxe4 17.Bxe4 just delays the invasion on the f-file for a couple moves] 17.Nxf6+ Qxf6 18.Rxf5! Qd4+ 19.Rf2 Qxd3 20.Rxf7 Qd4+ 21.Kh1 material is even but White has a death grip around the black king. 21...Qh8 22.Raf1 Rad8 23.Nxh7 Nxh7 24.Qxg6+ Nice tour de force by Wepkins. 1-0

Tsodikov would have finished with a perfect score, as he had his final round game in hand after a long battle. However, one of the craziest finishes we have witnessed at the TNO saved a half point for Penagalapati and stunned the commentators during the broadcast. To fully appreciate the madness, watch the video starting at the 2:28:00 mark The game itself is instructive and here, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(5) qing29 (2098) - jasonRBT (2011) [A45]
Live Chess, 05.05.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d5 3.e3 e6 4.Nd2 Bd6 5.Bg3 c5 6.c3 Qc7 7.Ngf3 We are seeing a lot of London Systems these days. MI Trustee Jim Eade will be happy. 7...Nbd7 8.Bd3 0-0 9.0-0 Bxg3 10.hxg3 b6 11.Qe2 Bb7 Black has played a very principled opening and has gotten a fully equal position. White is solid and without weaknesses, yet so is Black. 12.e4 Nxe4 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.Bxe4 Bxe4 15.Qxe4 cxd4 16.Nxd4 Rac8 17.Qe2 Rfd8 In the old days this would be the kind of position for the infamous "grandmaster draw." 18.a4 Nf6 19.Rfd1 h6 20.Nb5 Qb8 21.Rxd8+ Rxd8 22.Rd1 a6 23.Na3 Rxd1+ 24.Qxd1 Qc7 25.Qd4 Qd7 26.Qxd7 Nxd7 27.Nc4 Kf8 28.Kf1 Ke7 29.Ke2 e5 30.Ke3 Ke6 31.g4! put this pawn to work! 31...g6 32.a5!? b5 33.Nb6!? White is trying an interesting invasion. Now if Black takes the bait he loses - 33...Nf6! [33...Nxb6? 34.axb6 Kd6 35.Ke4 f6 36.b7 Kc7 37.Kd5 Kxb7 38.Ke6] 34.f3 Ne8 35.Na8 Kd6 36.Nb6 Nc7 37.Ke4 Ke6 38.b3 f5+ 39.gxf5+ gxf5+ 40.Kd3 h5 41.c4 h4 42.c5 b4!? Now it is Black's turn to try an aggressive plan 43.Kc4 f4! Diagram


44.Kd3! [44.Kxb4? e4! 45.fxe4 f3 46.gxf3 h3 wins] 44...Nb5 45.c6 Kd6 46.c7 Nxc7 47.Ke4 Ke6 48.Nc4 Nd5 49.Nxe5 Ne3 50.Nd3 Nxg2 51.Nxf4+ Nxf4 52.Kxf4 This endgame is still very interesting. Who can queen a pawn first? 52...Kd5 53.Kg4 Ke5! 54.f4+ [54.Kxh4? Kf4 wins] 54...Ke4 55.f5 Ke5 56.Kg5 h3 57.f6 h2 58.f7 h1Q 59.f8Q Qg2+ 60.Kh4 Qe4+ 61.Kg5 Qe3+ 62.Kg6 Qd3+ 63.Kg7? [63.Kg5 is a draw] 63...Qg3+ 64.Kh7 Qh4+ 65.Kg6 Qg4+ 66.Kh6 Qf4+! 67.Qxf4+ Kxf4 Now Black is winning the king ending. 68.Kg6 Ke5 69.Kf7 Kd6 70.Ke8 Kc5 71.Kd7 Kb5? [71...Kd4! 72.Kc6 Kc3 73.Kb6 Kxb3 74.Kxa6 Kc4 75.Kb7 b3 76.a6 b2 77.a7 b1Q+ 78.Kc8 Qf5+ 79.Kb7 Qf7+ 80.Kb8 Kc5! 81.a8Q Kb6! wins] 72.Kd6 Kxa5 73.Kc5 stalemate 1/2-1/2

In another wild game from this tournament, Clarence Lehman (FrankJamesMarshall) took advantage by a blunder from Lauren Goodkind (laurengoodkindchess) to win a game that had some moments where good calculation was needed to close the show. This was a fine win by Lehman, especially considering that Lauren has been playing especially well lately. 

(4) FrankJamesMarshall (1479) - laurengoodkindchess (1764) [D00]
Live Chess, 05.05.2020

1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Tricky in quick chess. 4...exf3 5.Qxf3!? Normal is for White to recapture 5. Nxf3 with development and open lines for the pawn. Taking with the queen does not look as good, but puts the opponent on unfamiliar ground. 5...c6 [5...Qxd4 6.Be3 Qe5 7.0-0-0 is complicated and tricky.] 6.h3?! this is slow for a gambit (or here now a double pawn gambit). 6...Qxd4 7.Be3 Qd8 [7...Qd6] 8.Bc4 e6 9.Nge2 Be7 10.Rd1 Qc7 11.0-0 Nd5?? Just forgetting that f7 is not protected! Instead Black could have played 11...Nbd7 or 11...0-0 with the extra pawns and a solid game. White would still have extra development to try things, but the onus would be on White to prove value for the sacrificed material. 12.Qxf7+ Kd8 13.Qxg7 Re8 14.Rf7 Nd7 15.Bxd5 exd5 16.Nd4 Qe5 Diagram


17.Qg3! Bc5 [17...Qxg3 18.Ne6#] 18.Bg5+ Be7 19.Bf4! Now White wins the queen or checkmates with the knight on e6. 19...Bc5 20.Rxd7+ Bxd7 21.Bxe5 Rxe5 22.Qxe5 Rc8 23.Nce2 Bb6 24.Rf1 Rc7 25.Rf8+ Be8 26.Qxe8# 1-0

A special thanks to the people that make the broadcast and commentary happen so we can bring the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club online for people to watch and follow. Judit Sztaray runs the broadcast and FM Paul Whitehead and FM Jim Eade provide commentary each and every week that help bring the games to life. 

For full results from this event, please click here:

To watch the broadcast and commentary, please follow this link:

Mechanics' Online Events Recap

The Saturday Late Night Showdown on May 2 was won by FM Kyron Griffith with 4.5/5, winning on tiebreaks over NM Ruiyang Yan (jij2018). WCM Omya Vidyarthi (harkerchess) finished in third on tiebreaks with 4/5. 

Omya was on the verge of pulling out an exciting upset against Griffith in round 3. Blitz chess provides plenty of opportunities for blunders and momentum swings, and this game was an exciting one in that spirit. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(2) harkerchess (1998) - KyronGriffith (2372) [A45]
Live Chess, 02.05.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6 3.e4 h6 This a a very reasonable line against White's system. Black will gain the bishop pair at a cost of space. It helps Black that one set of minor pieces get exchanged to ease the spatial cramp. 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Nc3 Nd7 7.Bd3 g6 8.Qe2 Bg7 9.Nb5?! No real harm done here, but this is a cheap threat. 9...Qd8 10.Qd2 a6 11.Na3 0-0 12.c3 b5 13.Nc2 c5 14.0-0 Bb7 15.Rfe1 Rc8 16.a4 Qb6 Black is just a little better due to the bishops. White's pawn center is not a threat here. 17.axb5 axb5 18.Na3 c4 19.Bf1 e5 20.b3?! Active but giving Black chances too. Safer was 12. Nc2 [20.Nc2] 20...cxb3 21.Bxb5 Nf6 22.d5 Rc5?! [22...Qc5! 23.c4 Ra8 24.Qb2 Ra5 25.Qxb3 Rfa8 26.Nc2 Rxa1 27.Nxa1 Nxe4 would be very good.] 23.Bc4?! [23.c4!] 23...Rfc8 24.Qe2 b2 25.Ra2 Qa7?! [Black can get two pieces for a rook with 25...Rxc4! 26.Rxb2 Qc5! 27.Nxc4 (27.Qxc4 Qxa3) 27...Ba6] 26.Qxb2 Ra5 27.Rea1? Too worried about the action on the a-file, White gives up the e-pawn. Much better was [27.Raa1] 27...Nxe4 28.Qb3 Nc5 [28...Nxc3! 29.Qxc3 e4! wins] 29.Qc2 Ra8 30.Nb5 Diagram


30...Rxa2 31.Rxa2 Qb8 32.Rxa8 Bxa8 33.Qa2 Bxd5? [This leads to big trouble. Black is still better after the patient 33...Bb7] 34.Bxd5 Qxb5 35.Bxf7+ Now Black has a lot of problems on the light squares. 35...Kh7 36.h3 [36.Nh4! is very strong] 36...Qb7 37.Qc2?? Having a big advantage after a hard fought battle, harkerchess just blunders the important bishop. Yet the game is never over in quick time control chess. 37...Qxf7 38.Nh4 Bf6 39.Nf3 e4 40.Nd2 Qd5 41.c4 Qd3 42.Qa2! fighting hard 42...Bg7 43.Nf1 h5 44.Ne3 Bd4 45.Qa7+ Kh6 46.Qf7 Bg7 47.g4 Qd4 48.h4 hxg4 49.Nxg4+ Kh5! brave and good 50.Ne3 Qf6 51.Qd5+ Kxh4 52.Ng2+ Kg4 53.Ne3+ Kf3?? Diagram


[53...Kh3! is an easy win] 54.Qd1+! Kf4 55.Nd5+ Ke5 56.Qa1+ Ke6 57.Nxf6 Bxf6 Black has blundered the queen for a knight. Still there are fair chances in blitz mode with knight, bishop and pawn for the queen. 58.Qe1 Kf5 59.Qe3 Be5 60.Kf1 Nd3 61.Ke2 g5 62.Qh3+ Kf6 63.Qg4 Nc5 64.f3 exf3+ 65.Kxf3 Bf4 66.Qg1 Ke5 67.Qd1 Kf5 68.Qd5+ Be5 69.Qf7+ Bf6 70.Qh7+ Ke6 71.Kg4 Nd7 72.Qe4+ Ne5+ 73.Kg3 g4 74.Qf5+?? Maybe White first thought about 74. Qd5+ where it is guarded. A tragic finish. 74...Kxf5 75.Kg2 Nxc4 76.Kf2 Ne5 77.Kg2 Kf4 0-1

Full results for this tournament can be found here:

In the Sunday matinee, Imcharlene took clear first with 3/3, making a successful transition from our scholastic tournaments to our regular events. Talenuf and rainwind finished 2nd and 3rd with 2.5/3. Full results can be found here:

The Sunday Late Night Showdown had 34 players and was won by NM Vyom Vidyarthi (2007checkmate) with a perfect 5/5 score. FM Kyron Griffith and Game-6_Klay and Sricharan_The_King rounded the top 4 with 4/5. In a very gentlemanly shout out, Jonah Busch (Kondsaga) gave props to Clarence Lehman (FrankJamesMarshall) for a nice victory seen here:

Full results here:

The Monday Night Arena was a fight to the finish, as NM Vyom Vidyarthi nudged out FM Jason Liang (Marty435) 34-33. Nitish Nathan (BreatheChessAlways) took third with 25. Full results here:

The Wednesday Late Night Showdown on May 6 saw an appearance from our friend GM Cristian Chirila (TheCount). However, an upset by NM Bela Kis left the tournament open, and it was Abhinav Penagalapati who emerged victorious with 4.5/5. NM Vyom Vidyarthi took 2nd on tiebreaks over TNM regular David Askin, both with 4/5. Full results are here:

Fischer Random Thursday drew 30 players for our second edition of this chess variant. Two late second round entries spiced up the field, with FM Josiah Stearman (josiwales) and FM Kyron Griffith joining the fray. Both players won all their games to get 4/5, but Ako Heidari won the tiebreaker and first place with 4/5 because he played all 5 games. Full results are here:

Thank you to all our players participating!

Sacramento Chess Club News

by Michael "fpawn" Aigner

The Sacramento Pawns club on hosts weekly tournaments for chess players in the Sacramento region to compete while sheltering-in-place at home. While neither as strong nor as large as the Mechanics' Institute, these Pawn Storm events on Saturdays typically draw a crowd of up to 20 players, roughly evenly split between adults and juniors. The strength of the over-the-board Sacramento club is well reflected in the field of competition - more than half of the participants are rated between 1600 and 2000.
Currently there are two events each Saturday afternoon, both at the time control of G/10 with a 3 second increment.
* 1:30 PM - Sac Kids & Amateurs - for juniors and amateur adults under 1400 rapid rating
* 3:00 PM - Sac Pawn Storm - open to all online club members (five rounds take about two hours)
Check out the post tournament reports which include a selection of lightly annotated games. While there are no prizes, anyone rated under 2000 USCF who beats or draws a master shall have the game published in the subsequent news. 
The following positions arose in games played during a Pawn Storm. White to move.

Puzzle A

Puzzle B

Puzzle C

Solutions will be posted next week.

Bay Area players interested in playing rapid games on Saturday afternoons are welcome to join the Sacramento Pawns club and play in the tournaments. The more, the merrier! If you have any questions or comments, please send a message to fpawn on


Online Class with FM Paul Whitehead

Wednesdays 6:30PM - 8:00PM

This class is designed to help players who are 1000+ learn how to think and what to look for in games after the opening all the way through the endgame. Modeled after his own style of coaching, Paul uses games of students and current and historical games to discuss what players should be thinking about in order to get their chess to the next level. This class is dynamic, and encourages student participation and discussion. The goal is for students to understand the thinking so they can apply what is learned in their own games.

Students will need a Zoom account, and Paul will use an interactive board to conduct the class online. This will be a live class, not per-recorded. While this class is aimed at the active tournament player looking to rise in rating, it is suitable for everyone that wants to improve their chess by learning how a master thinks and sees games. Paul is a former U.S. Junior Champion and commentator on our Mechanics' broadcasts.

$25/class for a 90-minute class. MI needs a minimum of four students to host the class, and has a maximum of 12 students.

Register online:

 Mechanics Chess Social #4

The Mechanics' Chess Social showcased MI leadership on the Friday May 8 edition. MI Executive Director Kimberly Scrafano joined the broadcast, along with MI Trustee GM Patrick Wolff, who is also the MI Chess Commitee Chair and Board CFO, as well as Trustees FM Mark Pinto and FM Jim Eade. We discussed the Mechanics' Institute as an institution dedicated to giving access to educational materials and the arts to working people and how we continue that mission to this day. We also delved a bit into MI chess history and the evolution of the Institute. It was a fun and informative hour, and you can watch the broadcast by following this link:

Tony's Teaser's Returns!

Paul managed to run into Tony in the neighborhood studying a position, so he thought he would take a picture and share it with our readers. Tony's teasers returns!

White to play and mate in 2. Frederick Gamage, 1940


Mechanics' Chess - Scholastic Offerings

Upcoming Tournament Schedule

Saturday, May 9: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
1000+ section:
u/1000 section:

Sunday, May 10: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

Tuesday, May 12: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4PM
1000+ section:
u/1000 section:

Thursday, May 14: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

Saturday, May 16: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
1000+ section:
u1000 section:

Sunday, May 17: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

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

Any questions? [email protected]

Save the Date - May 23, Saturday @ 11AM

San Francisco Scholastic Championship Online

Registration: Players can register by clicking here. 
Deadline: Friday 6PM.  Instructions on how to join the tournament is being sent to all who registered.
Bonus:  If you register by Thursday noon, you will be invited to be part of a practice tournament on Thursday at 4PM.
Time Control:  G/15+5 : Game in 15 minutes with five (5) second increment
Each player has 15 minutes for their whole game, and five (5) seconds are added to their time after each move.
Platform:  Games in all sections will be played on except for the K-12 1000+ Championship section, which will be played on 
Prizes: Trophies to top six players in each sections.
Trophies will be available for pickup at the club after Mechanics' Institute reopens. Trophies cannot be delivered or mailed.


USCF online rated Time Control # of Rounds Start Time Trophy/Medal
K-2 no G/15 +5 5 11am
Grade 3-5 no G/15 +5 5 11am Yes
Grade 6-12 no G/15 +5 5 11am Yes
K-12 u/1000 championship yes G/15 +5 5 11am Yes
K-12 1000+ championship yes G/15 +5 5 11am Yes
Entry Fee: FREE!
USCF membership is required in the championship sections.



Scholastic Games Of The Week (games from our scholastic online tournaments)

Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian


(6) Nightimeninja (921) - jimmykids (1266)
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 A somewhat less usual line in Petrov's Defense than the usual capture of the e-pawn, 3. Nxe5. 3...Nxe4 4.dxe5!? This is definitely unusual though. The standard continuation is [4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5] 4...d6 [4...Bc5! 5.Qd5?! Bxf2+ 6.Ke2 f5 wins a pawn since 7.exf6 Nxf6 8.Qe5+ Kf7 would make a knight fork on g4 if White takes the bishop on f2.] 5.exd6 Bxd6 6.Bd3 Qe7 7.Bxe4?! [7.0-0 Nf6 8.Re1 Be6 9.Nd4 is a little more comfortable for White.] 7...Qxe4+ 8.Qe2 Qxe2+ 9.Kxe2 0-0 10.Bh6? This move is hard to understand. White develops a piece, but it is just taken! 10...gxh6 11.Nc3 Nc6 12.Ke1 [White is in trouble being a piece down in this ending. It would be better now to get a safe place for the white king with 12.Rhd1 so that the king heads to f1, g1 with the white rook out and developed.] 12...Nb4 13.Rd1 Nxc2+ 14.Kf1 b6! Black brings the light-squared bishop out with effect. 15.Ne4 Ba6+ 16.Kg1 Be7 17.Rd2 Nb4 18.a3 Nc6 19.b4 f5 20.Ng3 f4 21.Nf1 Bf6 22.Rc2 Nd4 Black has played very well, getting all the pieces out. The white rook on h1 is stuck for a while and Black can use that time for an invasion. Needed now is 23. Nxd4 to continue the game., even though it would be difficult. 23.Rxc7 Ne2#! Diagram




(7) ThinOvalPaw (1411) - giganotosaurus (1170)
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 Looking for the Four Move checkmate with 4. Qxf7. Gigantosaurus has seen this before and doesn't fall for it. 3.Qh5 g6 4.Qd1 [Most players give it one more chance at checkmate with 4.Qf3 which Black can block with 4...Nf6] 4...d6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Nc3 a6 7.h3 b5 Black has done nicely using the pawns in the opening to take squares. 8.Bd5 Nxd5 9.exd5 Ne7 10.d4 exd4?! safer would be to develop with [10...Bg7 and keep control of the long dark-squared diagonal] 11.Nxd4 [11.Qxd4! Rg8 12.0-0 is a very pleasant position for White] 11...Nf5? 12.Qe2+? missing the great post for the knight [12.Nc6! Qh4 13.0-0 and the black king is in trouble] 12...Be7? [12...Qe7! escapes all problems for Black. The game move though allows White to create a serious bind.] 13.Nc6! Qd7 14.Bg5 Diagram


Black is in trouble. If 14...f6 [14...Kf8 15.Nxe7 Nxe7 16.Bh6+ the game might continue 16...Kg8 17.Ne4 Nxd5 18.Qd3 Bb7 19.Qxd5 Bxd5 20.Nf6#] 15.Bxf6 b4 16.Bxh8 bxc3 17.Bxc3 Bb7 White is in command, and here he chooses to follow the rule that you trade down when you are ahead material. 18.Nxe7 Nxe7 19.0-0-0 0-0-0 20.Bf6 Re8 21.Bxe7 Rxe7 22.Qd2 White has the exchange and 3 extra pawns. That is winning if White plays accurately. 22...Qe8 23.Rde1 Rxe1+ 24.Rxe1 Qf7 25.c4 Qg7 26.Re8+! Kd7 27.Qe2! White uses the power of the rook and queen well. The lethal threat is 28. Qe6 mate. 27...Qh6+ 28.Kb1 Qg7 there was no way out. 29.Qe6# 1-0


(8) TopWittyGem (1653) - UltimateGuitar (1554)
Live Chess

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 The Dragon Variation! UltimateGuitar is going for a fighting game. 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Qd2?! h5?! [It's better to disturb the white bishop on e3 with 7...Ng4 White usually prevents that move with 7. f3] 8.Bc4 a6 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.Rad1 b5 11.Bb3 Bb7 12.f3 Rc8 Diagram


This position is well done by both sides. The pieces are developed to good squares in classic Sicilian fashion. 13.h3 Ne5 14.Qc1 Qc7 15.a4 b4 16.Na2 a5 17.Nb5 Qc6? overlooking a fork. Black could just retreat with [17...Qd8 and have a fine position. Probably White would continue with 18. c3 to start action on the queenside.] 18.Na7! Here Black resigned as the exchange is lost. I must say to UltimateGuiter - next time fight on! There is so much material left that one can often come back from that loss, particularly in a Sicilian which is unbalanced to start with. 1-0

Online Chess Classes for Kids

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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:

5/9 Saturday - Saturday Afternoon Matinee
Format: 3SS G/30+0
Join from 1PM -
Starts at 2PM

Saturday Late Night Showdown
Format: 5 rounds of G/5+2
Join from 8PM  -
Start: 9PM
5/10 Sunday - Sunday Afternoon Matinee
Format: 3 rounds of G/30+0
Join from 1PM -
Start: 2PM
5/11 Monday - Monday Online Arena
Format: 90 mins of G/5+2 - as many games as you can.
Join from 5:30PM -
Start: 6:30PM
5/12 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Online Rapid
Format: 5 rounds of G/10+2 (Swiss)
Start: 6:30PM
5/13 Wednesday - NEW:  Afternoon Rapid
Format: 4SS G/15+2
Join from 3PM -
Start at 4PM

Wednesday Late Night Showdown
Format: 5SS G/5+2
Join the tournament: 8PM:
Starts 9PM.
5/14 Thursday -  Mechanics' Fischer Random tournament
Format: 5SS G/5 +2
Join from 5:30 -
Start: 6:30PM
5/15 Friday - Friday Evening Online Blitz
Format: 10 rounds of G/3+2 (Swiss)
Join from 5:30PM -
Start: 6:30PM sharp.

Past Club Tournament results are here:
Before playing in our online tournaments, be sure to do the following:
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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

FM Paul Whitehead

Paul' column will return next week. Thank you for your patience


GM Nick de Firmian's Column

Magnus Invitational Finals

FIDE Nations Cup

We start with the finals of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, which rescued the world from the doldrums of the vacant sports times due to coronavirus. The elite level online chess event was won by Magnus himself (not that we are surprised). Magnus had a struggle in the semi-finals against Ding Liren, when Ding won the second game of the match to take the lead. This put Magnus in the hole and forced him to really fight, which is when he is at his best. Winning two game in a row put the World Champion into the finals. In the other semi-final match our two American heroes, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura faced off. Though Fabi had won their individual match encounter in the regulation part of the tournament, he went down to Naka when it counted in the playoff. Though Naka is not as good now in classical (he is “only” 18th in the world) he is still at the very top of rapid and blitz chess. The encounter with Magnus was great entertainment and Naka won the second game to show his prowess. In the end though it was Magnus again, showing he is alone at the top.

The FIDE Online Nations Cup started on Tuesday to provide us further entertainment. This has 5 elite teams of 4 men and 2 women players playing 2 rapid games a day in a double round robin. The teams are China (the rating favorite), Russia, India, the USA and a team comprised of the Rest of the World. Our American team includes the top three of Caruana, Wesley So and Nakamura. Most important though is that the captain of the USA team is again the MI’s very own John Donaldson! The USA has started well and we hope they and John cruise to a victory by Sunday’s final round.

(1) Nakamura,Hikaru - Carlsen,Magnus [D37]
Magnus Inviational, 02.05.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.c5 Nh5 winning the bishop pair, but White gets a firm grip on e5. 8.Bd3 Nxf4 9.exf4 b6 10.b4 a5 11.a3 c6 12.0-0 Ba6 Diagram


Black has developed the "problem" bishop of the Queen's Gambit Declined. In principle Black is OK in the opening, yet White has a space advantage. 13.Qe2 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 g6 15.Rfc1 Qc7 16.g3 axb4 17.axb4 Qb7 18.Rab1 Ra3 19.Qc2 Rfa8 20.Kg2 Bf6 21.Ne2 Ra2 22.Qd1 bxc5?! Black is only a tad worse in the position, but this move takes away options. Better would be [22...b5; or 22...Qc7] 23.bxc5 Qa6 24.Rc2 Rxc2 25.Qxc2 Rb8 26.Rxb8+ Nxb8 27.Nc1 Nd7 28.Nd3 White is the only one with winning chances. The black pawn on c6 is a permanent target. 28...Qb5 29.Qc3 h5?! [29...Kg7 30.Qa3 h6 gives Black an extra option of playing for ...g5] 30.Qa3! Kg7 31.Nde5 Bxe5 32.fxe5 Qe2 33.Ng5 Qg4?! [33...h4! 34.gxh4 Qg4+ 35.Qg3 Qxd4 36.Qf3 Nxe5 37.Qxf7+! Nxf7 38.Nxe6+ Kf6 39.Nxd4 Ne5] 34.h4! Nf8 [34...Qxd4? 35.Qa7! Nxe5 36.Nxe6+ wins the queen] 35.Qd3 Qf5 36.Qxf5 exf5 [36...gxf5!? 37.Nh3 f6] 37.Kf3 f6 38.exf6+ Kxf6 39.Ke3 Diagram


This closely fought game is in White's favor. Both the king ending and the knight ending are a struggle for Black due to the weak c6 pawn and the threat of a white king invasion. 39...Nd7 [39...Ne6 40.Nxe6 Kxe6 41.Kf4 Kf6 42.f3 g5+ 43.hxg5+ Kg6 44.Ke5 Kxg5 45.Kd6 f4 46.gxf4+ Kxf4 47.Kxc6 h4 48.Kd6 h3 49.c6 h2 50.c7 h1Q 51.c8Q Kxf3 52.Qe6] 40.Nf3 Ke6 41.Ne1! Nb8? [41...Kf6 42.Nd3 g5 43.hxg5+ Kxg5 44.Ne5 Nb8 (44...Nxe5? 45.f4+!) 45.f4+] 42.Nd3 Kf6 43.f4 Nd7 44.Ne5 Now White is winning. If Black exchanges knights White gets a protected passed pawn. 44...Nf8 [44...Nb8 45.Kd3 Kg7 46.Kc3 and the white king marches in.] 45.Nxc6 Ke6 46.Ne5 Ke7 47.Kd3 Kd8 48.Kc3 Kc7 49.Nd3 Nd7 50.Nb4 Nf6 51.Kb3 Kb7 52.Ka4 Ne4 53.Nxd5 Naka wraps it up efficiently. 53...Nxg3 54.Kb5 Ne4 55.c6+ Kc8 56.Kb6 Nd6 57.Ne7+ Magnus resigned. A great game by Naka! 1-0


(2) Carlsen,Magnus - Nakamura,Hikaru [D37]
Magnus Invitational, 02.05.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Be2 Magnus prefers an open game rather than closing the queenside with c5. 7...dxc4 8.0-0 c5 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.Bxc4 a6 11.Ng5!? A rather new opening idea which has a lot of tactical points. Naturally Magnus is up on the latest theory, but Naka slowed down indicating he was not as sure what to do. 11...b5 12.Bxe6! fxe6 13.Nxe6 Qe7 14.Nxf8 Qxf8 15.Ne4! Diagram


with this move White gets an opening edge. If the white knight is captured Qd5+ wins. 15...Bb7 [15...Be7 16.Qb3+ (16.a4) 16...Kh8 17.Ng5 Nc5 18.Nf7+ Kg8 19.Nh6+ Kh8 20.Nf7+] 16.Nxc5 Qxc5 17.Rc1 Qd5 18.f3! [Also reasonable was the endgame with 18.Qxd5+ Bxd5 19.b3 a5 20.Rc2 a4 yet Magnus plays the game like Capablanca - preferring control of the squares to the worth of a pawn.] 18...Qxa2 19.e4 Nf8 [19...Qxb2? 20.Rc7 wins] 20.Rf2 Rc8?! [20...Ne6 21.Be5 Rd8 22.Rd2 is also difficult for Black.; perhaps best is 20...Re8] 21.Rxc8 Bxc8 22.Qd8 Qe6 23.Bd6 Qe8 24.Qxe8 Nxe8 25.Bb4! Diagram


White has only a rook and pawn for the two knight, but the black queenside pawns are immobile and the white e and f pawns will march. 25...Ne6 26.Rd2 Kf7 27.Kf2 Nf6 28.Ke3 g5 29.Rd6 Nd7 30.g3 Ne5 31.b3! h5 32.h4 gxh4 33.gxh4 Ng6 34.Be1 a5?! [The position is difficult. Naka could have tried 34...Nef4 35.Bg3 Ng2+ 36.Kf2 N2f4 37.b4] 35.Rd5! a4 36.Rxh5 Nef4 37.Rg5 [Also possible is 37.Rxb5 Ng2+ 38.Kf2 Nxe1 39.Kxe1 axb3 40.Rxb3 Nxh4 41.Kf2] 37...axb3 38.h5! Nf8 39.Bc3 b4 40.Bb2 Well controlled by Magnus. He stops the black b-pawns and focuses on his winning position on the kingside. 40...N8e6 41.Rf5+ Kg8 42.Rxf4 Nxf4 43.Kxf4 Ba6?! It seems the opposite colored bishop ending is lost, yet Black could make more trouble with [43...Kh7 hoping for 44.Kg5?! (44.Ke5! Kh6 45.f4 Kxh5 46.f5 Bb7 47.Kf4! Kh6 48.e5 Kg7 49.e6+ Kf8 50.f6) 44...Bb7 45.Kf5 Kh6 46.f4 Kxh5 47.e5 Ba6 48.e6 Bd3+ 49.Kf6 Kg4 50.e7 Bb5 51.f5 Bd7 52.Be5 Be8 53.Ke6 Kg5] 44.Kg5 Bd3 45.Kg6 Bb5 [45...Be2 46.h6] 46.f4 Be8+ 47.Kg5 Bc6 48.e5 Bd5 49.f5 Kh7 50.e6 Bc4 51.Kf6 Be2 52.Ke7 the f-pawn queens. 1-0


(3) Caruana,Fabiano - Vidit,Santosh [C65]
FIDE Online Nations Cup, 05.05.2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.Ba4 0-0 6.0-0 d6 7.c3 Ne7 8.Re1 Ng6 9.Nbd2 c6 10.Nf1 d5 11.exd5 Nxd5 12.Ng3 Re8 13.h3 Bb6 14.Bc2 h6 15.Bd2 Bc7 16.d4 exd4 17.Rxe8+ Qxe8 18.Nxd4 Bd7 19.Qf3 Qe5 20.Re1 Qd6 21.Kf1 Ne5 22.Qe2 Re8 23.Ndf5 Qf8 24.Qh5 Bxf5 25.Nxf5 Ng6 26.Rxe8 Qxe8 27.g3 Nf6 28.Qf3 Qd8 29.Bc1 Qd5 30.Qxd5 Nxd5 31.Ke2 Kf8 32.h4 Ne5 33.Bb3 Ne7 34.Nxe7 Kxe7 35.h5 Nd7 36.Bd1 Nf6 37.Kd3 Bb6 38.f4 g6 39.hxg6 fxg6 40.Ke2 Nd5 41.Kf3 h5 42.Bd2 Kf6 43.c4 Ne7 44.Bc3+ Ke6 45.b4 Nf5 46.c5 Bc7 47.Bb3+ Ke7 48.Bc4 b6 49.a4 bxc5 50.bxc5 Ke8 51.a5 Bd8 52.Bd3 Be7 53.Bb4 Bf6 54.a6 Be7 55.g4 hxg4+ 56.Kxg4 Ne3+ 57.Kf3 Nd5 58.Bxg6+ Kf8 59.Ba3 Nc7 60.Bd3 Ne6 61.Bc4 Nxc5 62.Bc1 Nd7 63.Ke4 Bc5 64.Kf5 Ke7 65.Bb2 Be3 66.Be2 Nb6 67.Bf3 c5 68.Bf6+ Kf7 69.Bh5+ Kf8 70.Be5 c4 71.Ke4 Bc5 72.f5 Nd7 73.Bc3 Be7 74.Be2 Nc5+ 75.Ke5 Nxa6 76.Bxc4 Nc5 77.Bd2 Nd7+ 78.Ke6 Nc5+ 79.Kd5 Kg7 80.Be2 Diagram


We start our investigation here on move 80! The game has been pretty normal thus far, with Fabiano trying to press a small advantage and Vidit defending well. Now we have reached a position with even material and just one pawn each. "Must be a draw" one says, but the one difference is that Fabiano has the bishop pair. 80...Kf6 81.Bg4 Nd7?! [Black could play the active 81...Nb7! 82.Bc3+ Kg5 83.Bh3 Nd6 84.Ke6 Nxf5 85.Bxf5 Bc5 and secure the draw. With no pawns two bishops cannot win against one bishop.] 82.Bc3+ Kg5 83.Bh3 Bf6 84.Bd2+ Kh4 85.Bf1 It's still a draw, but the black king has been pushed away from the white f-pawn. Yet Vidit probably thought there was no danger. 85...Bg5 86.Bb4 Nf6+?! [86...Kg4 87.Bd3 Kf3 88.Ke6 a5! 89.Bd6 Nf6 90.Be7 Nh7 would hold, even though there are still tricks White could try.] 87.Ke6 Ne4 88.Bd3 Ng3? The f-pawn has become very dangerous and active defense was needed - [88...Bd2! 89.Be7+ Ng5+ 90.Kf6 Kh5 91.Kg7 Bc3+ 92.f6 Ne6+ 93.Kg8 Ng5] 89.f6 Now this pawn costs Black the bishop. 89...Bxf6 90.Kxf6 We have reached the rare ending of two bishops against a knight (the black a-pawn will easily be rounded up). The ending is winning for White as the knight gets restricted and the black king is checked to the side lines. See how Fabiano finishes. 90...Kg4 91.Ke5 Kf3 92.Ba6 Ne2 93.Bd2 Ng3 94.Bg5 Ne4 95.Bb7 Kg4 96.Be3 Ng3 97.Bf2 a5 98.Bc6 a4 99.Bxa4 Kf3 100.Bd4 Kg4 101.Bd1+ Kg5 102.Be3+ Kg6 103.Bc2+ Kf7 104.Bd1 Kg6 105.Ke6 Nh5 106.Bc2+ Kg7 107.Ke7 Ng3 108.Bd3! Nh5 109.Bg5 Ng3 110.Ke6 Nh5 111.Kf5 Kf7 112.Bc4+ Kg7 Diagram


113.Bh4! Kh6 114.Bf7 Ng7+ 115.Kg4! now the black knight is trapped, even though it is close to the black king and protected. 115...Kh7 116.Kg5 Kh8 117.Kg6 Ne6 118.Bf6+ Ng7 119.Bxg7# *


(4) Artemiev,Vladislav - Wei,Yi [A34]
FIDE Online Nations Cup, 06.05.2020

An encounter between two young and very talented players from Russia and China. 1.c4 g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.Nc3 0-0 5.Nf3 c5 6.0-0 d5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qb3 e6 9.d3 Nc6 10.Qb5!? An aggressive move from Atemiev. Usually you don't want to move the queen so often in the opening, but here there is a threat at least. 10...Qb6 11.Qc4 Qb4 12.Ne4 Qxc4 13.dxc4 Nb6 14.Rb1!? both sides will have the c-pawn taken by a knight, White prepares for that. 14...Nxc4 15.b3 N4e5 16.Nxe5 Bxe5 17.Bh6 Rd8 18.Rfd1! better than just taking the c-pawn. Black is now under pressure for lack of development even though we are in and ending. 18...Rb8 19.Nxc5 Bc7 20.Bg5 Rxd1+ 21.Rxd1 Kg7 22.Ne4 Be5 23.Nd6 h6 24.Be3 Nb4? Diagram


25.Bxh6+! losing a pawn as well as the other problems. Wei Yi resigned. 25....Kxh6 26. Nxf7+ wins too much. 1-0


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