Chess Room Newsletter #918 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #918

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #918


May 16, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Featured on US Chess Podcast One Move at a Time

Judit and I sat in with US Chess Senior Director of Strategic Communication Dan Lucas for his monthly podcast One Move at a Time. In that interview, we discussed the Mechanics' Institute and how our programs align with the US Chess mission of empowering people, enriching lives, and enhancing communities through chess. You can listen to the podcast by following this link:

2020 Mechanics' Institute Rapid and Blitz Championship Will Be Held Online May 30 - 31st

GM Fabiano Caruana faces GM Cristian Chirila and GM Alexander Donchenko takes on GM Sam Shankland in the 4th round of last year's Mechanics' Institute Rapid Championship

2020 Mechanics' Institute Rapid & Blitz Online Championship
Rapid - Saturday, May 30th
Blitz - Sunday, May 31st
Prize fund: $1600 over the weekend
USCF Online rated event
Play for the fun, play for the challenge, play to be a Mechanics' Rapid and Blitz Champion!

Rapid Championship: Format: One open section, Time Control:  6SS G/15+2inc
Prize fund: $800 total prize fund b/50 paid entries: 1st Place: $250, 2nd Place: $200, 3rd Place: $100, u2000: $100, u1800: $75, u1600: $75

Blitz Championship  Format: One open section Time Control:  12SS G/3+2inc
Prize fund: $800 total prize fund b/50 paid entries:  1st Place: $250, 2nd Place: $200, 3rd Place: $100, u2000: $100, u1800: $75, u1600: $75

* Class prize are based on OTB standard USCF rating. Unrated (OTB, players are not eligible for class prizes. Organizers reserve the right to determine class prize eligibility based on OTB and online activity in certain cases.

USCF Online Rated - Tournament will affect both and USCF online ratings. Tournaments will be submitted to US chess for rating 4-7 days after the tournament to allow time for fair play screening.

Start time: 3PM PST on both days

  • First round is paired at 3PM sharp by
  • Consecutive rounds are paired as soon as all games are finished in previous rounds.
  • No bye requests are possible.
  • Late joins are okay, they will be added by the system with 0 point for each missed round.

Registration Fee: $20 for MI members, $25 for non-members, 10% discount if registering for both tournaments, GM's free, first 10 IM's free by 5/27.

Rules:  Standard USCF rules apply. Pairings are based on rapid/blitz rating.

  • Mouse slips count, no takebacks.
  • No rejoin: once a player withdraws/withdrawn from the tournament, no rejoin is possible.
  • if player is not logged in to live chess when pairings occur, the system will assign a 0-point bye for that round.
  • Section prizes will be awarded based on USCF standard rating

Fair play screening: all games will be screened by both and by Dr. Kenneth W. Regan, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University at Buffalo.
Prize distributions and rating submission will not take place until AFTER all games have been screened.

How to join?
1. Register online via jumbula:
2. Join the specific Mechanics' club on
Note that only those, who registered at least for one tournament through jumbula, and provided their full name, user ID (handle) and their USCF ID will be accepted to the club. Please, allow us time for this process to take place, 24 hours at least a day ahead of the tournament, and min 2 hours on the same day of the tournament. Tentative registration close time is 1PM PST on 5/30 and 5/31, respectively.
3. Join the tournament an hour prior to the start (2PM PST).

For more information and questions, email: [email protected]

Article on 2020 Schutt/Brandwein/Jay Whitehead Memorial on Chess Life Online

Our wrap-up of the 2020 Memorial Blitz has just been released on Chess Life Online, and you can view the article by following this link:

Mechanics' Institute Tuesday Night Online

The Tuesday Night Online this week had 63 players competing in our largest weekly event. Last week's winner IM Rost Tsodikov (JasonRBT) was back to defend his title, but the 5-round G/10+2 war makes back to back wins difficult. Last week, Tsodikov managed to avoid a final round battle with FM Eric Li when he surprisingly withdrew from the final round after going 4/4. This week, Eric joined the tournament, and again, both Rost and Eric were left as the only undefeated players headed into the final round. We all thought we would finally get the matchup we were waiting to see. However, a misclick by Li on the 4th move of the game, outright hanging a bishop, brought an anti-climatic end to the showdown. While Li fought bravely to try to make the most of any opportunities he saw, the early advantage was too much to overcome, and Tsodikov finished the night with a perfect 5/5, and a back-to-back TNO title. Despite the tough final round loss, Li took 2nd on toebreaks with 4/5 and NM Michael Walder made his first medal showing with 3rd.

There was a surprising matchup in round 2, as Tsodikov was paired against IM Elliott Winslow. Winslow is a dangerous player, having recently defeated GM Steven Zierk at the Schutt/Brandwein/Jay Whitehead Blitz Memorial, but on this night, it was Tsodikov that delivered the quick win. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(1) IM Rost Tsodikov (jasonRBT) (2049) - IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (1753) [B23]
Live Chess, 12.05.2020

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.g3 g6 4.d3 Bg7 5.Be3 Nc6 6.Qd2 e5 7.Bg2 Nge7 8.f4 exf4 9.Bxf4 0-0 10.Nf3 a6?! Thus far we have a classic Closed Sicilian, which Boris Spassky used to love on the White side. Theoretically there is no advantage for White as Black gets equal control of the center squares. Just now Black has done a slight inaccuracy with 10...a6 because the "book" 10...Rb8 also plans to advance 11...b5 yet at the same time gets the rook off the long white diagonal in case of a discovered attack from the bishop on g2. 11.0-0 b5 12.Bh6 Rb8 Thus White is one tempo faster to reach this position (...a6 being a waste) and so holds a small edge. 13.Rf2 Nd4 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Nxd4 cxd4 16.Nd5 Nxd5 17.exd5 Black's position is just a little looser. 17...f6 18.Re1! The right file for the rook. There are weak squares on the e-file and it is hard to guard those along with the weak d4 pawn. 18...Bd7? [18...Rb7 19.Rf4 Re7 20.Rxe7+ Qxe7 21.Rxd4 f5 gives Black some play for the pawn since the white rook is somewhat misplaced on the fourth rank.] 19.Qf4 Now White just win a pawn. Black should not defend the d-pawn but cannot resist temptation. 19...Qc7? 20.Re7+! Diagram


Black resigns as 20...Re7 21. Qf6+ or 20...Kg8 21. Qh6 are crushing. 1-0

Though Li had an unfortunate final round, his play in the tournament was spot on, including this fine win against NM Michel Walder.

(3) FM Eric Yuhan Li (wepkins) (2407) - NM Michael Walder (FlightsOfFancy) (1909) [A60]
Live Chess, 12.05.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nf3 g6 7.Bf4 One of several reasonable lines against the Benoni. 7...Bg7?! [Black should play 7...a6 8.a4 Bg7 and get a normal decent Benoni position.] 8.Qa4+! Bd7 9.Qb3 Now Black has some trouble as the d6 pawn is undefended. FlightsOfFancy can take comfort that Bobby Fischer once played the same as Black and had to struggle in this position. 9...Qc7 10.e4 0-0 11.Nd2 Re8 [11...Nh5 12.Be3 f5 13.exf5 gxf5 14.Be2 f4 15.Bxc5 favors White.] 12.Be2 a6 13.a4 Bg4 14.f3 Bc8 15.Nc4 Bf8 16.0-0 [16.Qb6 Qxb6 17.Nxb6 Ra7 18.Nc4 would be a serious bind in the endgame.] 16...Nbd7 17.a5 Rb8 18.Na4?! [18.Qc2 b5 19.axb6 Nxb6 20.Na5 is the standard way to keep control. Instead White offers a pawn sacrifice.] 18...Nh5?! [18...Nxd5! 19.exd5 Rxe2 20.Nc3 heads back to e5 to win the d6 pawn, but Black should make a typical Benoni exchange sacrifice with 20...Re5! to mix things up.] 19.Be3 Ne5 20.Nab6 Bd7?! [20...Nxc4] 21.Nxe5 Rxe5 Diagram


22.Nxd7 Qxd7 23.Bxa6! This wins a pawn and squares on the queenside for a coming invasion. White is winning here so Black lashes out. 23...b5?! 24.axb6 f5! You may as well throw everything at your opponent when your position is busted. 25.exf5 gxf5 26.b7 c4 27.Qc3 Bg7 28.Bd4 Re7 29.Bxg7 Rxg7 30.Qxc4 f4 Diagram


31.Qc8+! Rxc8 32.bxc8Q+ Qxc8 33.Bxc8 Rc7 1-0

For full results from this event, please click here:

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

Mechanics' Online Events Recap

Game annotations by GM Nick de Firmian

The 48-player Friday Night Blitz was won by Sam Schenk (PlasterhippyTwitch), winning on tiebreaks with 8/10 over NM Vyom Vidyarthi. Pranav Sairam (chesspilot01) took third with 7.5, winning a tiebreak over TitanChess666. It was a strong field of club players, so this win was impressive for Schenk. Here is a nice win over Shawnak Shivakumar (alphaunlimited). 

(5) Shawnak Shivakumar (alphaunlimited) (2368) - Sam Schenk (PlasterhippyTwitch) (2213) [A10]
Live Chess, 08.05.2020

1.c4 d6 2.Nc3 e5 3.g3 f5 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.d3 g6 6.e4 White plays a Botvinnik set-up which is a little more aggressive in the center than the more natural 6.Nf3. 6...Bg7 7.Nge2 0-0 8.0-0 f4!? This is objectively a dubious pawn sacrifice, but in quick chess it has a lot of practical value. 9.gxf4 Nh5 10.f5! [10.fxe5 dxe5 11.Be3 Nf4 gives Black the kind of play he was looking for.] 10...gxf5 11.Ng3 Nf4 [11...Nxg3 12.fxg3 Nc6 13.Qh5!] 12.Bxf4 exf4 13.Nxf5 Bxf5 14.exf5 Nc6 15.Qg4 Nd4 16.Be4 Kh8 Thus far White has handled the opening complications very well. He could just tuck his king into the corner with 17. Kh1 and be safely ahead. 17.Nd5?! c6! 18.Nxf4 Be5 19.Kh1 Qf6?! [19...Rg8 20.Qh5 Rg5 (20...Bxf4 21.f6 Qd7 22.Rg1 d5 23.cxd5 cxd5 24.Rxg8+ Rxg8 25.f7! dxe4 26.fxg8Q+ Kxg8 27.dxe4) 21.Ng6+ Kg8 22.Qh3 hxg6 23.fxg6 Bg7 24.f4 Ra5 may still favor White a bit, but makes trouble.] 20.Nh5 Qh6 21.f4! Bf6 22.Nxf6 Qxf6 23.Qg5 Qf7 24.Rae1 Rg8 25.Qh6 Nc2 26.Re2 [26.Rc1 Ne3 27.Rg1 Nxf5 28.Bxf5 Qxf5 29.Rxg8+ Rxg8 30.Qxd6 would be very good] 26...Nd4 27.Ref2 d5?! [Too fast. Black is not so bad after the calm 27...Rad8] 28.cxd5 cxd5 Diagram


29.Qd6! Rad8 30.Qe5+ Qg7 31.f6 Qf7 32.Bxh7! Kxh7 33.Qxd4 Rd6 34.f5 Rxf6 With two pawns up and the safer king White is simply winner. Yet converting under time constraints is always a problem. 35.Qh4+ [35.Rf4!] 35...Rh6 36.Qf4 Qf6 37.Qc7+ Rg7 38.Qf4 d4 39.Re2 Rh4 40.Qf3 Rgg4 41.Re6 Qg5 42.Rg6? Diagram


looks strong, but allows a tactic [42.Qxb7+ Qg7 43.Qxg7+ would be an easy ending with the extra pawns.] 42...Rxh2+! 43.Kxh2 Rh4+ 44.Qh3 Qd2+ 45.Rg2? compounding the error. There was still a draw to be had with [45.Kg3! Rxh3+ 46.Kxh3 Qxd3+ 47.Kg2 Qe4+ 48.Kg3] 45...Rxh3+ 46.Kxh3 Qxd3+ 47.Kh2 Qxf1 48.f6 0-1

Here is another game from the tournament, a nice win by WFM Mugi Tsegmed over Kritin Goplalakrishnan (chessboi2010).

(7) Kritin Goplalakrishnan (chessboi2010) (1492) - WFM Mugi Tsegmed (mugi_tsegmed) (1989) [C01]
Live Chess, 08.05.2020

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.c3 Bd6 6.Nf3 The Exchange French. Long reputed to be drawish, but in practice many games are decisive - there are a lot of pieces left on the board. 6...0-0 7.Bg5?! Bg4 [7...Re8+! would cause some trouble. e.g. 8.Be2 Qe7 and White has trouble castling.] 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Nbd2 c6 10.Bxf6 There is nothing much wrong with this yet it makes things easy for Black. There is no reason to give away the bishop for knight right now, especially as the knight is pinned and cannot move. 10...Nxf6 11.h3 Bh5 12.Qc2 Qc7 13.Ng5 Bg6 14.Bxg6 hxg6 15.Ndf3 Rfe8 16.Rae1 Bf4 Everything is even materially and symmetrical pawn structure, but just a little easier for Black to move. 17.Rxe8+ Rxe8 18.g3 Bxg5 19.Nxg5 Ne4 20.Nxe4?! This gives Black control of the only open file. [20.Re1 f5 21.Kg2 is fine for White] 20...Rxe4 21.Rd1 Qe7 22.Qd2? White needed to be ready for the rook invasion. [22.Kg2! Re2 23.Rd2 Re1 24.Rd1 would avoid any major damage.] 22...Re2 23.Qc1 Qe4 Now Black's queen and rook are posted on powerful squares. White cannot oppose on the e-file and must worry also about his king. 24. Qb1 would keep the game going though it would be a tough road. 24.Kf1? Diagram


24...Rc2! 25.Qe3 Qh1# 0-1

Full results can be found here:

The Saturday matinee on May 9th was won by rainwind with 2.5/3. In second with 2/3 was IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) on tiebreaks over Jeffery Wang (twangbio). Full results can be found here:

The 26-player Saturday Late Night Showdown was won by Nitish Nathan (BreatheChessAlways), who won on tiebreaks with 4.5/5 over Sricharan Pullela (Sricharan_The_King). Mechanics' regular Adam Mercado ) A-Boy415 took 3rd with 4/5 in a fine performance. Full results are here:

We held a Sunday Afternoon Rapid in order to clear the evening for Michael "fpawn" Aigner's birthday bash. This event was won by Game-6_Klay with 4.5/5. Twanbio and rainwind took 2nd and 3rd respectively on tiebreaks with 4/5. Full results and games can be found here:

The Monday Night Arena had 34 players and wan won by FM Kyron Griffith with 37 points. In 2nd was Nitish Nathan (BreathChessAlways) with 32 and vish1080 was in 3rd with 24. Full results are here:

The 35-player Wednesday Late Night Showdown was a family affair, as NM Vyom Vidyarthi (2007checkmate) took clear first with 4.5/5. Dylan Trinh (dyltrinh) took 2nd on tiebreaks with 4/5, ahead of WCM Omya Vidyarthi (harkerchess). Here is a victory from Vidyarthi en route to first place versus the very solid Kristian Clemens. 

(6) NM Vyom Vidyarthi (2007checkmate) (2414) - Kristian Clemens (kclemens) (1901) [D00]
Live Chess, 13.05.2020

1.Nc3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.Bf4 c6 4.f3 g6 [4...Qb6 is a sharp alternative] 5.e4 dxe4 opting for an open position. The danger is if White is able to solidly control the center with the d and e pawns. 6.fxe4 Bg7 7.Nf3 Bg4 8.Be2 Qb6 9.Rb1 [9.Qd2!? Qxb2?! 10.Rb1 Qa3 11.Rxb7] 9...0-0 10.0-0 Nh5?! "Knight on the rim is grim." Of course Black plays this with a plan in mind, unfortunately there is a flaw. [10...Nbd7 11.Qd2 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 e5! would bring Black's pieces to life. ] 11.Be3 e5? This fails tactically. If the black knight on b8 were developed to d7 already then Black could do this. 12.Nxe5! Diagram


12...Bxe2 [12...Bxe5 13.Bxg4] 13.Qxe2 Qc7 [13...Bxe5 14.dxe5 Qc7 15.e6! fxe6 16.Rxf8+ Kxf8 17.Qc4 Ng7 18.Nb5 Qd7 19.Nd6! is very strong.] 14.Nf3 Nd7 15.Qc4 White has and extra center pawn, so has material and positional advantage. 15...Nb6 16.Qb3 Rae8 17.a4 Kh8 18.a5 Nd7 19.Ng5! Ndf6 20.e5 Nd5 21.Nxd5 cxd5 22.Qxd5 f5 [22...f6 23.Nf3 Qxc2 24.Qxb7 offers a little more hope, but not much.] 23.Ne6 [23.g4! would be a quicker win] 23...Qf7 24.Nf4 Nxf4 25.Qxf7 Ne2+ 26.Kf2 Rxf7 27.Kxe2 the two passed center pawns should will win unless there is a blunder. 27...Rc7 28.Kd3 Rd7 29.Kc3 Rc8+ 30.Kb3 Rd5 31.c3 a6 [31...Rxa5 32.c4 Kg8 33.Ra1 Rxa1 34.Rxa1 a6 35.e6 f4 36.Bf2 f3 37.d5 fxg2 38.d6 is also an easy win for White] 32.Ra1 Rb5+ 33.Kc2 Kg8 34.Ra3 Bf8 35.Rb3 Bb4 36.Ra1 Rxa5 37.Rxa5 Bxa5 38.Rxb7 Bc7 39.Bf4 a5 40.h4 Bb8 41.d5 h5 42.d6 Kf8 43.e6 Re8 44.d7 1-0

Full results are here:

Fischer Random Thursday featured the first appearance of IM Rost Tsodikov, who navigated the rules of Fischer Random just enough to finish with a perfect score of 5/5. Nathan Fong (nathanf314) finished in 2nd with 4/5 and in 3rd was Jonah Busch (Kondsaga), who finished 3rd on tiebreaks. We thought we would give readers a taste of what Fischer Random looks like for those who may not be aware. Here is a game from last week's event.

(4) FM Josiah Stearman (josiwales) (2550) - Rudolph Breedt (bobbejaan) (1840)
Live Chess - Chess960, 07.05.2020

1.Ng3 d5 2.d4 Ng6 3.h4 0-0?! usually castling is good, but here White makes better use of the h rook by leaving it on the original square and battering with the h-pawn. 4.h5 Nh8 5.e4 e6 6.Bf3 Nb6 7.h6 g6 The black knight on h8 looks strange but has a future if it can get to f7. 8.b3 c6 9.Bb2?! [9.Ba3 Be7 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.e5 would leave Black with dark square troubles in the middle game.] 9...f5! 10.e5 Nd7 11.c4 b6 12.Nc2 Ba6 13.Qd2 Nf7 14.a4 dxc4? opening up the game when White is better placed for it. Black would be doing well with 14...Bg5! 15.bxc4 Bxc4 16.Bxc6 Bd5? [16...Rc8 17.Bb5 Bd5 18.Nb4 is good for White but Black keeps material equality.] 17.Bxd5 exd5 Diagram


18.Ba3! Black loses either the exchange or a knight for a pawn. 18...Be7 19.e6! Bb4 20.exf7+ 1-0

Full results here:


Michael "fpawn" Aigner's Sacramento Pawn Storm Puzzles

fpawn threw down the challenge last week to our readers, here are the solutions, all are from games from the Sacramento Pawn Storm: White move and win

Solution: 1.Ng5  Qg6  2.Bh5  Qh6  3. Nf7

Solution: 1. Ne4  Qf4 (or Qd8)  2. Nxf6  Qxf6  3. Rf1

Solution: 1. Bg5  Qxg4  2. h3  Qh5  3. Ng3

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 - Scholastic Offerings

Upcoming Tournament Schedule - NOW daily on!

Saturday, May 16: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5+5:

Sunday, May 17: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/10+2:

Monday, May 18: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM
4SS G/15+0:

Tuesday, May 19: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4PM
5SS G/5+5:

Wednesday, May 20: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, May 21: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5+5:

Friday, May 22: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/10+5:

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]

LAST CALL - May 23, Saturday @ 11AM

San Francisco Scholastic Championship Online
Approaching 200 signups! Save your spot NOW!

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


(8) elizurfk (1385) - TastyCelery (1451)
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 d3 A simple way to avoid complications from this attempted Goring (or Danish) Gambit. White may get a bit of an edge, but Black will stay out of trouble. 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bc5 6.e5!? Elizurfk is a player who pushes the position! Safer play was to castle, but there is nothing wrong with the game move. 6...Ng4 7.0-0 Nxf2? This trade of bishop and knight for rook and pawn is really not too good. Note that Black is trading off the two developed pieces. 8.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 9.Kxf2 h6 10.Qe2 0-0 11.Qe4 Black is in trouble, yet at least defends courageously. 11...f5! 12.exf6 Rxf6 13.Qh7+ Kf7 Diagram


14.Bc4+? [14.Bg6+! would win with a decisive attack against the Black king, e.g. 14...Rxg6 15.Ne5+ Ke6 16.Qxg6+ Kxe5 17.Bf4+! Kxf4 18.Nd2 Qf6 19.Qe4+ Kg5+ 20.Nf3+ Kh5 21.g4#] 14...d5 15.Bd3 Qg8 16.Qxg8+ Kxg8 17.Kg1 b6 The game is close to even again, though White still has an edge. The biggest difference from a few moves earlier is that the Black king is safe after the queen trade. 18.Bf4? Ba6? [18...Rxf4! just gathers a free bishop.] 19.Bxa6 Nxa6 20.Be3 Re6 21.Bf2 Nc5 22.Nbd2 Nd3 23.Bd4?! giving away a free pawn. 23. b4 would save it. 23...Nxb2 24.Rb1 Nd3 25.c4 dxc4 26.Nxc4 Re4 27.Ncd2 Re6 28.Nh4 c5 29.Bc3 a6 30.Nf5 b5?! [30...Ra7! guards the g7 pawn] 31.Nxg7 Rg6 32.Nf5 Re8 33.Nf3 b4 34.Ba1?! [34.Bd2! holds up the advance of the black queenside pawns.] 34...c4! 35.N3h4?! [35.N3d4 stays closer to the dangerous black pawns] 35...Rge6 36.Nf3 c3! Diagram


37.Bxc3?! [Last good chance was 37.N5d4 though after 37...Re2! 38.Nxe2 Rxe2 39.Nd4 Rxa2 40.h3 c2 Black should win anyway.] 37...bxc3 38.Rb3 c2 39.Rc3 Re1+! a nice finish! 40.Nxe1 Rxe1# 0-1


(9) charkwok456 (1720) - thechessmaster1 (1427)
Live Chess

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Bg7 5.Nc3 Nc6 The Accelerated Dragon. A good defense and a favorite opening of long time MI Chess Director John Donaldson. 6.Be3 d6 Now we are back in the regular Dragon. 6...Nf6 would keep the possibility of playing d7-d5 in one move. 7.Bc4 Nf6 8.h3 Most popular is 8. f3 - the Yugoslav Attack. White's 8. h3 is a slower but principled system. 8...0-0 9.0-0 [9.Bb3! avoids the chance Black has next move.] 9...Qc7?! [9...Nxe4! 10.Nxe4 d5 would win the piece back with full activity in the center. ] 10.Bb3 b6 11.Nxc6 Qxc6 12.Qd3 a5?! Diagram


Planning to make a skewer with 13...Ba6, but White beats him to the punch. 13.Nd5! suddenly White is in control. The threatened knight fork on e7 plus the possibility of a skewer with Bd5 coming cause a lot of problems for Black. 13...Re8? The only decent defense for Black was the strange looking 13...Ra7! which guards e7 and gets out of the white bishop's coming skewer. White would still be better after 13...Ra7 but Black would not lose material. 14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15.Bd5 Ouch. That's a whole rook Black loses. 15...Qc7 16.Bxa8 Qa7 17.Bc6 Ba6 18.Bb5 Bxb5 19.Qxb5 Rd8 This doesn't help, but a whole rook down was quite lost in any case. 20.Bxb6 Rb8 21.Bxa7 Rxb5 22.Rab1 Rb7 23.Be3 Rxb2 24.Rxb2 Bxb2 25.Rb1 Bg7 26.Rb8+ Bf8 27.Bh6 Excellent game by charkwok456! 1-0


(10) BCSabarishree (1131) - RareThirdDessert (1553)
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 This is a good developing move though experienced tournament players try 4. c3 or 4. d3 with an opening plan in mind. 4...Nf6 5.d3 h6 6.h3 d6 7.Nc3 g5!? A very aggressive advance on the kingside! 8.Be3 g4 9.hxg4 Bxg4 10.Bxc5?! Trading the dark-squared bishops means that White will not have it around to take a black knight hopping in to d4. This loses a defensive option in this position. 10...dxc5 11.Qd2? White needed to play [11.Bb5! (to control the black knight) 11...Rg8 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Qe2 Nh5 14.Qe3! to get out of the pin and still control kingside square. The position would then be equal - White has better pawn structure but needs to be careful defending his king.] 11...Bxf3 12.gxf3 Rg8+ suddenly Black has an overwhelming attack. 13.Kh1 Diagram


13...Nh5! 14.Qxh6 Qh4# 0-1


(11) rjchess (1252) - BentActiveTank (1062)
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Bc5?! A bold offer of the e-pawn. 3.Bc4?! [3.Nxe5! would simply be a pawn ahead for White. Coming quickly is d2-d4 which would attack the black bishop.] 3...Nf6 4.Nc3 [4.Nxe5! 0-0 5.d4!] 4...Ng4 Attacking f2, but White has a great way to defend that square. 5.0-0! Nxf2?! This isn't a good trade for Black. The two developed pieces - the bishop and knight - are traded for a rook and pawn. In the opening that is a poor trade. 6.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 7.Kxf2 c6?! 8.Nxe5! Finally White takes this pawn. 8...Qb6+ 9.Kf1 0-0 10.Nxf7? Diagram


[10.Qh5 or ; 10.d3 would leave White with material and positional advantage. The game move gives Black a great opportunity.] 10...Rxf7+? [10...d5! 11.exd5 Rxf7+ would be a winning game for Black. Suddenly the White king is exposed and cannot be properly defended. In the game Black trades off the black rook and so gets no attack.] 11.Bxf7+ Kxf7 12.Qf3+ Ke8?! [12...Kg8] 13.Qh5+! g6 14.Qxh7 Qa6+ 15.d3 Black has all pieces except the queen undeveloped and so cannot protect the king. 15...Kd8 16.Bg5+ Kc7 17.Bf4+ Kb6 18.Be3+ c5 19.Qxg6+ Nc6 20.Nd5+ Kb5 21.c4+ Ka5 22.Bd2+ Ka4 23.b3+ Ka3 24.Bc1# Diagram




Online Chess Classes for Kids

To see available classes and register:

Day Time Coach Link
Monday 4-5PM Coach Colin
Tuesday 2-3PM Coach Andy
Tuesday 3:15-4:15PM Coach Andy
Wednesday 3-4PM Coach Colin
Friday 1-2PM Coach Andy
Friday 2:15-3:15PM Coach Andy

Class Fee: $25 for single class, $45 for two classes (10% off), $80 for 4 classes (20% off)
More details:

Weekend Clubs Online Via zoom

1.5 hours of fun and educational chess club with our amazing coaches.

To see available clubs and register:

Day Time Coach Link
Saturday 10-11:30AM TBA
Sunday 5:30-7PM TBA

Class Fee: $30 for single class, $54 for two club classes (10% off), $96 for 4 club classes (20% off)
More details:

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:

5/16 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
5/17 Sunday - Sunday Late Night Showdown
Format: 5 rounds of G/5+2
Join from 7PM -
Start: 8PM
5/18 Monday - Monday Online Arena
Format: 90 mins of G/5+2 - as many games as you can.
Join from 5:30PM -
Start: 6:30PM
5/19 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Online Rapid
Format: 5 rounds of G/10+2 (Swiss)
Start: 6:30PM
5/20 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 from 8PM-
Starts 9PM.
5/21 Thursday -  Mechanics' Fischer Random tournament
Format: 5SS G/5 +2
Join from 5:30 - 
Start: 6:30PM
5/22 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:
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

Early Chess Stories, Part 6

- A rambling account of my adolescent and pre-adolescent chess experiences –

Continuing from here:

By the mid-1970’s my brother Jay and I were “out of the house” so to speak, making our way independently by bus (or walking) to the cafes, the Mechanics’ Institute – anywhere chess was being played.  We’d catch rides and go with friends to tournaments, for although our folks played a strong supporting role, neither had much interest in the Royal Game outside of the fact that their sons were crazy about it.

Our friends were not exactly our parent’s friends, but some became somewhat more than acquaintances: Steve Brandwein became my mother’s housemate later on, and Joe Tracy, Randall Feliciano and Pamela Ford, among others, were regular visitors.

My father Stanley was a photographer, and some of his pictures of my brother and I are in earlier episodes of this column.  He always had his camera on hand, but as Jay and me “moved on”, pictures of us become increasingly rare.  Those that remain, I cherish fondly, and I am including some more here, their exact dates unknown.

- Two wonderful pictures of Jay and Dr. Benjamin Gross (a long-time Mechanics’ member and player) giving a tandem simul somewhere…

- Me with a hat on at a chess board, at a birthday party, either Jay’s or mine…

- Me again, quite young-looking, playing in what looks to be one of my first tournaments…

- Jay once more, pensive at the board…

Finally, there I am again, a bit older, at the Mechanics’ Institute.

In this final picture I am not playing, and my father takes the picture.  Perhaps he’s telling my fortune: a time away from chess is on the horizon, distant but drawing nearer. 

My parents were great supporters of me and my brother entering the Chess World, as all parents must be - to give their kids a chance of success, to have some fun. The Chess World was quite different then: much more adult-oriented.  Smoky rooms, eccentric (and sometimes dodgy) personalities – my parents were brave to let Jay and I loose in that World.

I’d like to thank them for that.


GM Nick de Firmian's Column

FIDE Nations Cup

The FIDE Online Nations Cup finished Sunday, with the two leading teams playing a match to decide the champions. We started with six teams - China, Russia, India, USA, and a team comprised of the Rest of the World.  The Final came down to China against the USA, with China having the tiebreak edge in case of a drawn match, as they had more points during regulation play. After a tense battle, the match was drawn and so China was first and America second.

We have an exclusive treat for our MI newsletter readers as we get an inside scoop on the US performance from the valiant Captain of the US team, our one and only John Donaldson:

“The United States was seeded fourth out of the six teams competing in the FIDE Chess.Com Online Nations Cup, so finishing second was a good result ...but we were so close to winning it all.  Fabiano Caruana was the MVP of the event scoring 7 1/2 out of 9 for a performance rating over 3000. This result included 3-0 against Chinese players. Fabiano is the number two player in the world at classical chess but until recently his rapid play was not quite as good. His performances in the Magnus Carlsen Invitational and the FIDE Chess.Com Online Nations Cup are evidence this is no longer the case.

The other star for the US team was Irina Krush. Looking at her performance, 4 out of 9, one might not initially grasp this was great, until they noticed she was the second lowest rated player in the competition, ahead of only her teammate Anna Zatonskih. That didn't stop Irina from competing successfully against players rated over 125 points above her round after round. Making this doubly impressive Irina was recovering from Covid-19 ( you can read about her experiences at ).

This was a completely new type of competition (rapid play, team event and online) and the organizers had to devise regulations on the fly as this event was put together on short notice. Like the Pro Chess League players could see their teammates game live, but unlike Olympiads there was no communication between players and captains during games. Attendance was over 30,000 viewers for the playoff, which was good considering it started early in the morning on the West Coast.”

(1) Caruana,Fabiano - Wang,Hao [C42]
FIDE Nations Cup, 08.05.2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 Wang Hao plays the solid Petrov's defense, as he would be happy to make a draw for the team match (and certainly happy to draw with black against Fabiano). It's a tough assignment to score against this defense with a solid opponent. 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Currently the most popular line with White for top GMs against the Petrov. 5...Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 Nf6 10.Bd3 c5 11.Rhe1 Be6 12.Bf4 Diagram

An interesting practical choice by Caruana, because after the game he stated that this isn't such a good move. It shows the now improved rapid/blitz approach by Fabi - he plays moves that make his opponent err rather than simply the best move (a la Fischer). In this way he has followed the style of Nakamura who wins more often in rapid/blitz with this approach. 12...d5 13.Ng5 Bg4? [13...c4! 14.Nxe6 fxe6 15.Bf1 Qb6 would put Black in good shape and White's light-squared bishop is restricted. Perhaps Wang Hao would have found this continuation in classical chess, but he didn't want to lose the bishop pair as his first intuitive thought.] 14.f3 Bd7? This allows a tactic, but Fabi doesn't see it now. 15.c4?! [15.Bxh7+! Nxh7 16.Nxh7 Kxh7 17.Qxd5 wins the piece back with an extra pawn, since if the bishop on d7 moves the Qh5+ lets the rook on d1 take the black queen.] 15...d4 16.h4 Re8 17.g4 Bc6 18.Qh2! The white position begins to look very threatening with the kingside pawn advance. 18...Qa5 19.a3 Bf8 20.Bd2 Qb6 21.Qf4 Bd7? Diagram
[21...h6 22.Nxf7 Kxf7 23.g5 is good for White but Black is still in the game] 22.Bxh7+! This time Fabi sees the winning idea. 22...Kh8 [22...Nxh7 23.Qxf7+ Kh8 24.Qh5 is over 24...Qh6 25.Nf7+] 23.Bf5 Bxf5 24.Qxf5 Kg8 [24...g6 25.Qd3 Kg8 26.h5!] 25.h5 Qc6 Diagram
26.Nxf7! Kxf7 27.g5 Qd7 28.Qg6+ Wang Hao resigned. Agter 28....Kg8 29. gxf6 is two pawns ahead with the attack. A great show by Fabi! 1-0


(2) Yu,Yangyi - So,Wesley [D38]
FIDE Nations Cup, 10.05.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 d5 5.Qb3 c5 6.dxc5 Na6 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.c6 This pawn was doomed anyway. Yu Yangyi figures he can at least split the black queenside pawns. 8...Qa5!? 9.Bd2 [9.cxb7 Bxb7 10.Bd2 0-0 leave Black fully developed with fine compensation for the pawn.] 9...bxc6 10.g3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Be7 12.Bg2 0-0 13.0-0 e5 Black opens the diagonal for the light-squared bishop to complete development. Things are just slightly less compact for Black so White has an initiative. 14.Qc2 Qc7 15.Qe4 f6 16.Qc4+ Kh8 17.Be3 Nb8 18.Rfd1!? This is a pawn sacrifice. Yu is playing aggressively for the win. 18...Ba6 19.Qe6 Bxe2 20.Rd2 Ba6 21.Nh4 Bc8 22.Qc4 f5 23.Nf3 h6 24.Rad1 Diagram

The position is an interesting picture where White has full development and rooks doubled on the open file. Morphy surely would like White's position. It's not so easy to break in though and Black still has the extra pawn. 24...Kh7 25.h4 Rf6 Played so Black can complete development with either the knight or light-squared bishop coming out. [If 25...Nd7 26.Qe6 Nf6 27.Qxe5] 26.Ng5+!? Yu goes for it!. The knight sacrifice starts the action. 26...hxg5 27.hxg5 Rg6? Diagram
This is the natural, but wrong square for the rook. Wesley needed to play either 27...Re6 or 27...Ba6 when the position is unclear. Now White has an odd looking move which sweeps into Black's position. 28.Bd5! The bishop is powerful here and White vacates the g2 square for the king so that a rook can come to the h-file. 28...f4 [28...Rxg5 29.Kg2! Rh5 30.Bf3 wins.] 29.Be4 Bxg5 30.Rd6 Bf6 31.Kg2 The end. The threat of Rh1 is lethal. 31...f3+ 32.Kxf3! Bg4+ 33.Kg2 Bxd1 34.Rxd1 Diagram


(3) Anand,Vishy - Radjabov,Teimour [E97]
FIDE Nations Cup, 07.05.2020

Vishy Anand is an "old man" in the chess world, but at 50 years old he still packs a punch. Here he plays Radjabov, who qualified for the Candidates Tournament but then declined to go the Russia at the onset of the coronavirus. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Diagram

Black has played the King's Indian in classical style, just as Fischer did. Anand has played Kranmnik's favorite 9. b4 which makes life difficult for KID players. 9...a5 10.bxa5 Nh5 11.Nd2 Rxa5?! An aggressive pawn sacrifice, but the usual 11...Nf4 is better. 12.Nb3 Ra8 13.Bxh5 gxh5 14.Qxh5 b6 15.a4 Ng6 16.a5 Nf4 17.Bxf4 exf4 18.Qf3 bxa5 19.Rxa5 Rxa5 20.Nxa5 Qg5 Black has two bishops against two knights and an active looking position. Anand stops the threats. 21.Ne2! Be5 22.h3 Bd7 23.Nb3 coming back where the action is happening. 23...Ra8 24.Nbd4 Kh8 25.Rb1 It's hard for Black to do anything to the solid White position. White is just a pawn up. 25...h6 26.Kh1 Kh7 27.Nc6 Bxc6 28.dxc6 Ra2 Diagram

29.g3! fxg3 30.Qxf7+ Qg7 31.Qf5+ Qg6 32.Nxg3 Now White gets a winning ending. If the c7 pawn goes White gets a passer two squares from queening. 32...Qxf5 33.Nxf5 Ra6 34.Ne7! Kg7 35.Rb7 Kf7 36.Rxc7 d5 37.Rd7! 1-0 


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