Chess Room Newsletter #923 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #923

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #923


June 20, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Northern California Online Invitational Sunday, 6/21 2PM Pacific

GM Sam Shankland leads the field this Sunday

This Sunday we will host the first Northern California Online Invitational. The event, starting at 2PM, is sponsored by Jim Eade, a trustee at Mechanics' Institute (MI) and the former MI Chess Director. The time control for the tournament will be G/15 +2. This will be a 6-player round robin featuring three world-class Grandmasters and three teenagers who represent the future of American chess. What is special about this tournament is that it has deep Mechanics' ties, as the three scholastic players are the last three recipients of the MI Neil Falconer Award, given to the top under 18-year-old player in Northern California based on end-of-year USCF rating. The participants will be GM Sam Shankland (2762), GM Zviad Izoria (2694), GM Steven Zierk (2597), IM Christopher Yoo (2540), IM Andrew Hong (2533), and IM Cameron Wheeler (2494). Shankland and Zierk are also past winners of the Falconer award. Recipients of this award receive a check in the amount of their USCF rating! This award was started by former Mechanics' Institute Trustee Neil Falconer, who was an attorney and member of the Chess Committee of the Mechanics' Institute. He was also a very strong player, who in 1949 held former world champion Max Euwe to a draw during a simul at Mechanics' Institute. John Donaldson wrote a piece for Chess Life here:


Neil Falconer was a longtime Mechanics' Trustee and Chess Committee member

This is a special event between talented players between generations. It will be a Father's Day special for chess enthusiasts, and we look forward to an afternoon of amazing chess. We will broadcast the event on our channel here: We will have live commentary by GM Nick de Firmian, FM Paul Whitehead, FM Jime Eade, and Abel Talamantez. Dr. Judit Sztaray will be the Chief Tournament Director managing the game setup. 

See everyone on Sunday!


Mechanics' Institute Tuesday Night Online

FM Kyron Griffith took down the June 16 installment of the Tuesday Night Online, winning clear first with 4.5/5. There was a 5-way tie for 2nd with 4/5 between Rapaka Krishnakanth (DragonInAction), Shaashwath Sivakumar (Dontmesswithme_2), Lauren Goodkind (laurengoodkindchess), and Anika Rajaram (Kirotori). The commentary team took the night off this evening, but 50 players showed up for the Tuesday night battle. 

Kyron Griffith used a tactical shot to convert a big 4th round win against Sivakumar. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(2) FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2073) - Shaashwath Sivakumar (Dontmesswithme_2) (1787) [B23]
Live Chess, 16.06.2020

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nowadays White has found many other options to the open Sicilian (with d2-d4). 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.d4 cxd4 6.Qxd4 Nc6 7.Qd3 Nf6 8.Nf3 e6 9.Bg5 Be7 10.0-0-0 a6 11.Kb1 [White could double the black f-pawns with 11.Bxf6 gxf6 which is a positional approach. He aims for piece play in the center instead.] 11...Qc7 12.Rhe1 b5 13.h4 h6 [13...Rd8 is a perfectly sensible move which would give Black even chances.] 14.Bf4 b4? Diagram


[14...Ne5] 15.Bxd6! Kyron is not bothered by the attack on his knight and simple grabs a pawn. He has calculated accurately and White is ahead in all variations. 15...Qb7?! [The best choice is to try the pawn down endgame after 15...Bxd6 16.Qxd6 Qxd6 17.Rxd6 bxc3 18.Rxc6] 16.Bxe7 [also 16.Nd5 Bxd6 (16...exd5 17.exd5) 17.Nxf6+ gxf6 18.Qxd6] 16...bxc3 17.Ba3 cxb2 If Black could castle it wouldn't be so bad, but this takes some effort with the white bishop on a3. 18.Qc3 Rc8 19.Ne5 Na7 20.Qb3 Nb5 21.Bxb2 Nxe4 [21...0-0? 22.c4 wins a piece] 22.Ka1! This fine move safeguards the white king against knight checks and keeps all the threats of c2-c4 and others. 22...Nc5 23.Qg3 Rg8 [now 23...0-0 24.Nd7 wins with the threat of mate on g7.] 24.c4 Na7 25.Qf4 f6 26.Nd3 Rb8 [26...Nxd3 27.Rxe6+ Kf7 28.Rxf6+! gxf6 29.Qxf6+ Ke8 30.Qe6+ Kf8 31.Rxd3 is overwhelming] 27.Re2 Nxd3 28.Rxd3 Kf7 29.Rb3 [29.Red2!] 29...Qxg2? [29...Qc8 would hold out longer. White could play 30. Rg3 threating 31. Rxg7+!] 30.Qc7+ Kg6 there was no where to go 31.Rg3+ 1-0

Another interesting game was between Anika Rajaram and Lauren Goodkind in round 3.

(3) Anika Rajaram (Kirotori) (1873) - Lauren Goodkind (laurengoodkindchess) (1756) [D11]
Live Chess, 16.06.2020

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 e6 4.Qc2 f5 5.g3 Nf6 6.cxd5!? This pawn capture is a commital move that should probably be deferred. White could capture later on d5 while Black really doesn't want to give up the center with ...dxc4. 6...exd5 7.Bg2 Bd6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bd2 Be6 11.Ne5 Nbd7 [11...Bxe5!? 12.dxe5 Ng4 starts interesting complications surrounding the e5 pawn.] 12.Ng6 Rf7 [12...Re8!] 13.Bf4! contesting the dark squares with the bishop gives White a positional edge. 13...Nf8 14.Ne5 Bxe5 15.Bxe5 N8d7 16.Nd2?! after this the game is even again [16.Bf4 is simply an edge to White with the bishop pair and dark square control] 16...Nxe5 17.dxe5 Ne4 18.Nb3 Qc7 19.f3! Qb6+ 20.e3 [20.Kh1? Nf2+ 21.Kg1? Nh3+ 22.Kh1 Qg1+ 23.Rxg1 Nf2#] 20...Qxe3+ 21.Kh1 Ng5 22.h4 Nh7 23.Rae1 White has given up a pawn for extra space and the initiative. 23...Qb6 24.Nc5 Re8 [24...Nf8 would put the knight right to work] 25.f4 Nf8 26.Bh3 g6?! Diagram


[26...Bc8 is more solid] 27.h5! breaking up the kingside pawns 27...gxh5 28.Nxe6 Rxe6 [28...Nxe6 29.Bxf5 Nd4 30.Bh7+ Kh8 (30...Rxh7? 31.Qg6+ wins) 31.Qg6 is good for White with the potent passed e and f pawns] 29.Bxf5 Ree7 30.Rg1 Qd4 31.Rgf1?! [31.Rg2] 31...Rg7 32.Kh2 a6 33.Bh3 Kh8 34.Qe2 Rg6? Black has been defending tenaciously but now errs. [34...Kg8 would keep Black in the game with a small disadvantage] 35.f5! Now the white pawns roll and there is no stopping them. 35...Rg5 36.e6?! was the last chance to hold up the pawns. [36.Rf4! drives the black queen off the a1-h8 diagonal] 36...Qg7? a blunder [36...Nh7! was the last chance to hold up the pawns. If White had played 36. Rf4 there would have been no last chances.] 37.f6 Qh7 38.fxe7 Qxe7 39.Rf7 Qc5 40.e7 Nh7 41.e8Q+ Rg8 42.Q2e5+ 1-0

Rapaka Krishnakanth (DragonInAction) had a strong 2nd place showing. Here is his win using a blistering attack against Roham Rajaram (ninjatrick).

(4) Rapaka Krishnakanth (DragonInAction) (2086) - Roham Rajaram) ninjatrick (1935) [B44]
Live Chess, 16.06.2020

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nxc6 This immediate capture on c6 allows the black b-pawn to join the fight for the center. 5...bxc6 6.c4 Qf6?! [6...Nf6 7.Nc3 (7.e5 Qa5+) 7...Qc7 is a safer alternative] 7.Bd3 Bb4+ 8.Nd2! Ne7 9.0-0 Ng6 10.a3?! [10.Nf3 h6 11.Be3! would leave White nicely developed and ready to use the black queen as a target] 10...Bd6! 11.Nf3 Ne5 12.Nxe5 Bxe5 13.Rb1 0-0 14.b4 a5 [Black could have equality with direct central play - 14...d5 15.cxd5 cxd5 16.exd5 exd5 17.Re1 Bf5!] 15.Kh1!? [15.b5! gets a passed pawn and keeps the black rook on a8 from getting an open file. White has an aggressive idea however] 15...axb4 16.f4! Bc3 17.axb4 e5! This is needed to hold the dark squares in the center 18.f5 d6?! This one slow move allows White to brew up a dangerous initiative [18...h6 19.Qh5 d5 starts the action in the center so that White doesn't have time to focus squarely on the kingside.] 19.Qh5! h6 20.Rf3 [20.g4!] 20...Re8 21.g4! g6 the powerful threat of 22. g5 forced black to give up a pawn. 22.Qxh6 Qg7 23.Qh4 Qh7 24.Qg3 White could also have played the endgame but wants to finish with an attack. 24...Ra2 25.Bg5 Bd4 26.Bf6! This bishop takes up a very powerful post. Now there are mating threats in both the middlegame and endgame. 26...g5 Diagram


27.Qh3! Qh4 The only defense to the threat of 28. Qxh7+ Kxh7 29. Rh3+ and mate. This only delays the inevitable though. 28.Qxh4 gxh4 29.Rh3 Bf2 30.g5 [30.Rf1!] 30...Rd2 31.Rf1! planning 32. Rxf2 and 33. Rxh4 31...Bd4 32.Rxh4 Kf8 33.Rh8# 1-0

We will be back streaming next Tuesday with upgraded streaming power. We look forward to seeing everyone then!

For full results, folow this link:

Mechanics' Online Events Recap

The Friday Night Online blitz on June 12 was won by FM Kyron Griffith with 9.5/10. In 2nd was Rudolph Breddt (bobbejaan) with 8/10 followed by Austin Mei (TitanChess666) with 7/10. Here is a miniature by FM Kyron Griffith over the usually tough Austin Mei. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(1) FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2385) - Austin Mei (TitanChess666) (2268) [C46]
Live Chess, 12.06.2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 f5?! A sharp attempt to mix things up from the start. Black plans 4. exf5 d6 when it is a Vienna Game reversed. The problem when playing sharply with Black is that White already has an extra developing move, so there are more options for the first player. 4.d4! This is equally good as 4. exf5 but it has the pschological advantage that White grabs the initiative. 4...fxe4 5.Nxe5 Nf6 6.Bc4 d5 Diagram


7.Nxd5! [7.Bb5] 7...Nxd5 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Nxg6 Nf6? This logical defensive move allows a terrific shot. Black needed to try [9...hxg6 10.Qxg6+ Kd7 11.Bxd5 Nxd4 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Be6+ Nxe6 14.Rd1+ Kc6 15.Rxd8 Bxd8 When White is clearly better, but it's still a battle. ] 10.Bf7+! Diagram


10...Kxf7 there is no way out. Black gets mated in any case. 11.Ne5+ Ke6 12.Qf7+ Kf5 13.g4# A terrific attacking game by Kyron. 1-0

Friday Night Online Blitz

Saturday Matinee

Saturday Late Night Showdown

Sunday Matinee:

Sunday Evening Blitz

Monday Night Arena:

Wednesday Matinee:

Rudolph Breedt  (bobbejaan) tied for 1st with Alan Finkelstein (stratus_junior2) and Jeffery Wang (twangbio) in the Wednesday Night Showdown with 5/7. Here is his final round victory over Kristian Clemens. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(5) bobbejaan (2032) - kclemens (1926) [C42]
Live Chess, 17.06.2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.d4?! [The usual follow up to the pawn sacrifice is 4.Nc3 when 4...Nxc3?! 5.dxc3 gives White a dangerous initiative, having f7 as a target.] 4...d5! 5.Bb3 exd4 6.Qxd4 c6 [6...Be6! with the plan of 7...Nc6 would be clearly better for Black.] 7.Nbd2 Qf6 8.Nxe4 Qxd4 9.Nxd4 dxe4 10.0-0 White has arrived in the endgame with reasonable compensation for the pawn due to the developed white pieces. 10...Bc5 11.Re1! 0-0 12.Rxe4 Nd7 13.Nf3 Nf6 14.Re5 Bd6 15.Re1 Bg4 16.Nd4 Rfe8 17.Bg5 even material again and both sides castled and developed 17...Nd7?! [17...Be5! 18.c3 h6 19.Bh4 g5 20.Bg3 Bxg3 21.hxg3 Rad8] 18.h3 Bh5 19.Nf5 Bf8 20.g4 White has taken some territory. 20...Bg6 21.Ne7+ Kh8?! [21...Bxe7 22.Bxe7 Nf6 23.Bxf6 gxf6 is relatively best] 22.Nxg6+ fxg6 23.Rad1 Nc5 24.Bf7 Rxe1+ 25.Rxe1 White has the bishop pair and more active pieces. An endgame struggle for Black. 25...h6 26.Be3 Kh7 27.Bd4?! [27.Rd1! takes the file] 27...Rd8 28.c3 Nd3! 29.Re2 Nf4 30.Re3 Nd5 31.Re6 Nf4 32.Re4? not wanting to retreat back to e3 White loses a pawn and allows tactics 32...Nxh3+ 33.Kf1 Ng5 34.Rf4 Diagram


34...Nxf7? [Simply 34...Bd6! wins outright as the white rook is trapped!] 35.Rxf7 Now White has good compensation for the pawn with the active rook on the 7th rank. 35...c5 36.Be5 b5 37.Rxa7 c4?! [37...g5!] 38.Ke2 Re8 39.f4 g5 40.Kf3 gxf4 41.Bxf4 Kg6 42.Rb7 Ra8 43.a3 Now White wins a pawn. Along with the more active king and bishop that is enough to win the game. 43...Rc8 44.Rxb5 Kf7 45.Be5 g6 46.Rb7+ Ke6 47.Bd4 Be7 48.Rb6+ Kf7 49.Rb7 Ke6 50.Ke4 Re8 51.Rb6+ Kf7 52.Rb7 Ke6 53.a4 Kd6?! 54.a5?! [54.Rb6+! Kd7 55.Rxg6] 54...Kc6? [54...Bd8+ 55.Kf3 Bxa5 56.Rh7 is still better for White but Black may draw] 55.Rb6+ Kc7 56.Rxg6 Now it's completely over. 56...Bb4+ 57.Kd5 Bxa5 58.Rxh6 Rd8+ 59.Kxc4 Rb8 60.Be5+ 1-0

Wednesday Late Night Showdown:

Thursday Night Blitz:

Mechanics' Chess Social

Guest June 26 Episode, Adisa Banjoko

On the June 26 episode of our Mechanics' Chess Social, we will have a conversation with Adisa Banjoko, founder of the Hip Hop Chess Federation, marial artist, writer, and teacher. We will discuss a range of issues including the power of chess and its impact on children, as well as how chess can be used to bring communities together and create a space in which people from diverse backgrounds can find a common bond and understanding. Tune in at noon next Friday on our channel: Club's League Update

Because of a server restart last week on, the games from last week's club match had to be pushed a week ahead. Our match with Pittsburgh Chess Club will therefore be held this Saturday at 2PM. The link for the match is here: Good luck to the team!

NEW Online Advanced Class With 3-Time U.S. Champion GM Nick de Firmian

For players around 1400-2000, this class is for players looking to develop the thinking skills and techniques that bring their chess to the next level. The class will focus on the development of middle-game thinking, positional play, and endgame concepts, but will cover all areas of need, depending on the class. The class will be dynamic and interactive, so players really become involved in the class with GM de Firmian guiding instruction through lecture, going over games and through discussion. Students are also encouraged to bring games for discussion and analysis so that the whole class can benefit. Also encouraged is to investigate your specific opening problems, which students should bring to the forum.
Classes will be held online through Zoom. Take advantage of this great opportunity to train with our GM in Residence!
Class is on Thursday's 6:30-8:00PM
Begins June 25, 2020


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

Saturday, June 20: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5 +5:

Sunday, June 21: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/10+2:

Monday, June 22: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/15+0:

Tuesday, June 23: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4PM
5SS G/5+5:

Wednesday, June 24: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, June 25: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5+5:

Friday, June 26: 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.   

NEW: US Chess Online Rated Tournaments
Twice a month

in June: June 14 & June 28 @ 3PM on

US Chess online rated - affecting online rapid rating - every player must be a US Chess member
Trophies or Medals for Top Finishers
Convenient, safe platform & tight fair play screening
Space is limited to first 30 players to ensure tournament quality


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

Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian

(6) RareThirdDessert (1544) - TopWittyGem (1537) [B52]
Live Chess

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Nxd7 5.0-0 Ngf6 6.Re1 g6 This is reasonable but lets White get the central set up he's after with c3 and d2-d4. Black could play like a French Defense with 6...e6 and 7...d5 with the light-squared bishops exchanged. 7.c3 Bg7 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 0-0 10.Nc3 A nice classic pawn center for White. 10...a6 11.Qb3 Qc7 12.Be3 Rac8 13.Rac1 Qb6 14.Qa3! White is using the extra central space to develop a serious initiative. Black has more difficulty maneuvering without access to the middle of the board. 14...Ng4? 15.Nd5! Rxc1 16.Rxc1 [16.Nxb6 Rxe1+ 17.Nxe1 Nxb6 18.Qb3 would be simply winning. White is still way ahead with the game move.] 16...Qd8 Diagram


17.Bg5?! [17.Rc8! Qxc8 18.Nxe7+ Kh8 19.Nxc8 Rxc8 20.Qxd6 is the end as their are no back rank checkmates] 17...Ndf6 18.Bxf6?! [18.Rc8! Qd7 19.Rc7!] 18...Nxf6 19.Nxf6+ Bxf6 20.e5 dxe5 21.dxe5 Bg7 Black has struggled back to almost equality. 22.h3 e6 23.b3 Qd5! 24.Qe7 Qd8? this loses a pawn [24...Bxe5 25.Nxe5 Qxe5 26.Qxb7 Qb2 27.Rc8 will likely end in perpetual check] 25.Qxb7 Qa5 26.a4 Rd8 27.Rc7? [27.Qe7 maintains the pawn up advantage] 27...Rd1+ 28.Kh2 Bxe5+! 29.Nxe5 Qxe5+ 30.g3 Rd2?? Diagram


[30...Qe1! and Black's attack comes first] 31.Qb8+ Kg7 32.Rxf7+! winning the queen. The last few moves have had dramatic tournarounds. 32...Kxf7 33.Qxe5 Rxf2+ 34.Kg1 Rf3 The game goes on for some time now, but Black has no real hope. 35.b4 Rb3 36.b5 axb5 37.axb5 Ke7 38.Qc7+ Kf6 39.b6 Rb1+ 40.Kf2 Rb2+ 41.Kf3 Rb3+ 42.Kg4 Rb4+ 43.Kf3 Rb3+ 44.Kf2 Rb2+ 45.Ke1 Rb1+ 46.Kd2 Rb2+ 47.Kd3 Rb3+ 48.Qc3+! simplest 48...Rxc3+ 49.Kxc3 Ke5 50.b7 Ke4 51.b8Q Kf3 52.Qf4+ Kg2 53.Kd4 Kxh3 54.Qh4+ Kg2 55.Qxh7 Kxg3 56.Qxg6+ Kf3 57.Qxe6 Kf4 58.Qe5+ Kf3 59.Qe4+ Kf2 60.Qe3+ Kf1 61.Qd2 Kg1 62.Qe2 Kh1 63.Ke3 Kg1 64.Kf3 Kh1 65.Kg3 Kg1 66.Qe1# 1-0


(7) BCSabarishree (1236) - NextLovingPajamas (1224)
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 This has been played by the Italians for centuries. The logical developing move is very principled and Black must react precisely. 7...Bxc3+ [7...Nxe4! 8.0-0! Bxc3 9.d5 Bf6! 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6 is the complicated line that has been worked out to equality for the last two centuries.] 8.bxc3 Nxe4 9.Ng5? [9.d5! Na5 10.Bd3 is nicer for White with the good development and safer king.] 9...0-0? [9...Nxg5 simply snags a piece and leaves Black very well, even if the piece is given back for position and another pawn.] 10.Qh5! h6? [10...Nxg5 11.Bxg5 Qe8+ 12.Kd2 d5! would give Black reasonable defensive prospects. After the game move the White attack is decisive.] 11.Bxf7+! Kh8 12.Nxe4 d6 Diagram


13.Bxh6! The black king is a goner. 13...d5 14.Bxg7+! Kxg7 15.Qg6+ Kh8 16.Qh6# 1-0


(8) ColdOriginalGecko (1433) - thechessmaster1 (1574)
Live Chess

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.g3 A good solid system against the King's Indian Defense. 5...c5 6.d5 [6.dxc5 Na6 gets the pawn back in good position] 6...d6 7.Bg2 Na6?! The knight has less prospects developed here on the rim. It would be better to play [7...e6 which would transpose into a Benoni Defense after 8.0-0 exd5 9.cxd5] 8.0-0 Bf5 9.Ng5 [9.Nh4 Bd7 10.e4 also gives White a space advantage] 9...Nb4 10.e4 Bd7 11.a3 Na6 Black has been pushed back and has less room to maneuver. 12.f4 [12.h3 Qc8 13.Kh2 Is a slow and steady way to control more squares on the kingside] 12...h6 [12...Ng4 13.Kh1! avoids ...Bd4+ and leaves White in control after 13...h6 14.Nf3] 13.Nf3 Qc8 14.e5 dxe5 15.fxe5 Ne8 16.Be3 Bh3 17.Nh4?! [17.Qd2 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 Kh7 19.Rae1 is a straightforward way to build the pressure on the kingside and center] 17...Bxg2 18.Kxg2 h5?! [18...Bxe5! 19.Bxh6 Bg7 is a better defensive chance since Black removes the powerful e5 pawn. Still, it would be a tough defense as the white pieces have easier access to the kingside.] 19.Bg5 f6 Diagram


20.Nxg6! A crushing blow, which follows logically from the offensive buildup. 20...fxg5 This doesn't work but anything else loses material as well as a difficult defense. 21.Nxe7+ Kh8 [21...Kh7 22.Qxh5+ Bh6 23.Qg6+ is the same] 22.Qxh5+ Bh6 23.Qxh6# A fine game by ColdOriginalGecko! 1-0

Virtual Summer Chess Camps 2020

June 1 through Aug 14 on selected weeks

More information:

9AM - 12AM morning camps: Monday through Fridays
Next camp: June 29-July 3 - camp is filling up so secure your spot now!
Other weeks: 6-29-7/3, 7/6-10, 7/20-24, 8/3-7
Min 4 students, max 9 students in each camp.


Continuing our Small Group Afternoon Chess Classes

More information: 

1-hour intensive class followed by optional online tournament
$25/class, $45/two classes or $80/four classes package

Available classes:
Monday 4:00-5:00PM - Coach Colin
Tuesday 3:15-4:15PM - Coach Andy
Wednesday 3:00-4:00PM - Coach Colin
Friday 1:00-2:00PM - Coach Andy
Friday 2:15-3:15PM - Coach Andy 


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:

6/20 Saturday - Saturday Afternoon Matinee
Format: 3SS G/30+0
Join from 2PM -
Starts at 3PM

Saturday Late Night Showdown
Format: 5 rounds of G/5+2
Join from 8PM  -
Start: 9PM
6/21 Sunday - Northern California Online Invitational
Format: 6 player round robin G/15+2
 2PM -GM Shankland, GM Izoria, GM Zierk, IM Yoo, IM Hong, IM Wheeler
6/21 Sunday - Sunday Late Night Showdown
Format: 5 rounds of G/5+2
Join from 7PM -
Start: 8PM

6/22 Monday - Monday Online Arena

Format: 90 mins of G/5+2 - as many games as you can.
Join from 5:30PM -
Start: 6:30PM


6/23 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Online Rapid
Format: 5 rounds of G/10+2 (Swiss)
Start: 6:30PM


6/24 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.
6/25 Thursday Night Blitz
Format: 8SS G/3+2
Join the tournament from 6PM -
Starts 7PM.
6/26 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

Paul Whitehead's column will return soon


GM Nick de Firmian's Column

Rematch: Fabiano battles Magnus Again

Two years ago we had a very closely-contested World Championship between Magnus and our American challenger Fabiano Caruana. It was tied after regulation games and went into the rapid time control tiebreaks, where Magnus showed his superiority. Now we are awaiting the second half of the Candidates Tournament to choose the next challenger, which may again be Fabiano. He has consistently maintained the number two ranking in the World. In addition, Fabi has greatly improved his rapid game so that he is as good as anyone in the world in fast chess too. Well anyone except perhaps Magnus, and that question was put to the test in the finals of the Clutch Chess Rapid Tournament with its $265,000 prize fund (the most ever for an on-line chess event).

Magnus cruised into the finals with a 12-6 shellacking of super GM Lev Aronian. Fabiano had a much tougher time against fellow American Wesley So, with a narrow victory 9.5-8.5. Thus we got the World Championship rematch in the finals. Magnus struck first on day one to take the lead, but Fabi struck back. Day one ended in a tie 3-3, showing the dramatic improvement Fabi has made since the tiebreaks of the World Championship two years ago. The second day was also closely contested. This became a real heavyweight battle fought to the last round. The last game came down to a situation where Magnus had to win, or Fabi would take the title on tiebreak. The drama of this rematch is shown in the third game we cover of this great encounter.

(1) Carlsen,Magnus - Caruana,Fabiano [D02]
Clutch Chess Finals, 13.06.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d5 3.e3 Magnus frequently uses this London System. I suggest MI trustee Jim Eade write a book on this opening, something the average player could use to improve his/her game after reading his best selling "Chess for Dummies." 3...c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Nbd2 Nh5 A principled move to trade the knight for the bishop. It loses a little time but the benifits are worth it. 6.dxc5 Nxf4 7.exf4 Qa5 8.Bd3 Qxc5 9.0-0 g6! 10.Nb3 Qd6 11.Qd2 Bg7 12.c3 0-0 13.Rfe1 Bg4 14.Qe3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 e6 Diagram

Fabiano has played like Capablanca or Fischer thus far. He has a wonderful classical position with a solid kingside pawn chain and nearly full development. Against just about anyone in the world one expects him to press to win with this position. Yet he is playing Magnus... 16.h4! This takes the play a little bit more over to the kingside. 16...h5 17.g3 Rfe8 18.Rad1 a6 19.Nd2 b5 20.Ne4 An active move to bring more force to the kingside. 20...Qd7 [not 20...dxe4? 21.Bxe4 winning the knight back with an extra pawn] 21.Ng5 Rad8 22.Bc2 b4 23.Ba4 bxc3 24.bxc3 Qc8? Diagram
This one small error allows the White positon to erupt. Everything looks so solid for Black, but Magnus spots the flaw. Fabiano could have kept even chances with [24...Rf8] 25.f5! gxf5 [25...exf5? 26.Rxe8+ Rxe8 27.Qxd5 just wins] 26.c4! breaking in the center before capturing with Qxh5 makes White's attack more powerful 26...Nd4 [26...Ne5 27.Qxh5 Re7 28.cxd5] 27.Rxd4! Bxd4 28.Bxe8 Rxe8 29.Qxh5 Qc7 30.cxd5 Black has defended the king, which can run away from the check on h7, but the collapse of the center in conjuction with the kingside problems is decisive. There is no way out. 30...Re7 31.dxe6 f6 [31...fxe6 32.Qg6+ Kh8 33.Nxe6] 32.Qg6+ Kf8 33.Nf3 The retreat leaves the Black position in ruins. Resignation would be in order if the game were classic time control. 33...Bc3 34.Rc1 Rxe6 35.Nd4! Rb6 36.Qh6+ Kg8 37.Qe3 1-0


(2) Caruana,Fabiano - Carlsen,Magnus [B30]
Clutch Chess Finals, 15.06.2020

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 [Caruana didn't have much success in the World Championship match with the open Sicilian - 3.d4] 3...e5 4.0-0 [4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.Nxe5 Qd4 wins the pawn back with at least equality] 4...Bd6!? inventive, but Black should do better with a more usual way to defend the e-pawn such as 4...d6, 5.c3 a6 6.Ba4 b5 7.Bc2 Nge7 8.d3 This develps slowly and lets Black get a decent game. Perhaps 8. a4 followed by 9. Na3 would be more testing of Black's setup. 8...Ng6 9.Be3 0-0 10.Nbd2 Be7 11.Bb3 d6 12.Bd5 Qe8?! The queen is a bit odd here. More usual is 12...Bb7 13.d4 The game has turned into a position like a Ruy Lopez, Closed variation except the black knight is not as well placed on g6 as the usual square f6. 13...exd4 14.cxd4 Rb8 15.Rc1 Nb4!? A pawn sacrifice for activity. White has gotten the opening edge, so this is as good as the alternatives. 16.dxc5 dxc5 17.Bxc5 Nxd5 18.exd5 Bxc5 19.Rxc5 Bb7 20.Nb3 Qd7 21.Na5! This powerful knight move to the rim gives Fabiano a positional edge as well as the extra pawn. The knight looks to post itself on the excellent c6 square, coordinating well with the d5 pawn. 21...Ba8 22.Nc6 Rbe8 23.Nfd4 Qd6 24.b4 Re4 25.Qf3 Rfe8 26.Nf5 Both white knights have great influence on the board. Sometimes the bishop pair is very strong, but knights are at least as good when they have good posts. 26...Qd7 27.g3 h6 28.h4 Kh8 29.Ne3 [29.Nb8 Qd8 30.Nxa6 would win a second pawn, but Fabiano wants to keep control. When pieces are spread out in a fast time control game it is easy to fall for tactics.] 29...Kg8 30.Rfc1 Nf8 31.Nf5 Nh7 32.Kg2 Kh8 Diagram

33.Nb8! Now this move is very strong. It's not just the pawn but control of the c-file. White is winning if he doesn't err. 33...Qd8 34.Nc6 Qd7 35.Nb8 Qd8 36.Nxa6! Bxd5 37.Nc7 Bb7 [37...Qxc7 38.Rxc7 R4e5 39.Nd6 Bxf3+ 40.Kxf3 Rf8 41.R1c5 is easy] 38.Nxe8 Re7 Diagram
39.Qxb7! Rxb7 40.Ned6 Threatening Rc8, Nxb7 and eyeing the fork on f7. Black is completely busted. 40...Nf8 Magnus resigned before 41. Rc8 Qf6 42. Rxf8+ etc. A powerful performance by Fabiano to even the score! He is showing Magnus that there is no big difference in their rapid play anymore. 1-0


(3) Carlsen,Magnus - Caruana,Fabiano [A22]
Clutch Chess, 15.06.2020

This was the final game of the match. In case of a draw Caruana wins the tournament, so it was win or die for Magnus. 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 Bb4 4.e4!? An interesting move. Magnus insists upon a Botvinnik pawn structure in this English Opening. 4...Bxc3 5.bxc3 0-0 [5...Nxe4 seems very logical. White gets the pawn back though and remains with the bishop pair after 6.Qe2 Nf6 7.Qxe5+ Qe7 8.Qxe7+ Kxe7 9.Nf3] 6.f3!? Another unusual move from Magnus. He is trying to lock down the center so that White can slowly consolidate and make use of the bishop pair and space when he is ready. 6...b5!? Fabiano chooses an active pawn sacrifice to open the game with a lead in development. 7.d4 White choose to play for activity instead of taking the pawn - [7.cxb5 d5 8.exd5 and Black has good play with 8...a6!] 7...exd4 8.cxd4 bxc4 9.e5 Nd5 10.Bxc4 Now we have an opening with similarities to a Queen's Gambit Accepted and a Nimzo-Indian. Black has castled with a slight lead in development while White has more pawns in the center and the bishop pair. 10...Bb7 11.Nh3 d6 12.0-0 Nd7 13.Re1 dxe5 14.dxe5 N7b6 15.Bb3 Qe7?! [15...c5! controls queenside space] 16.e6! Magnus directly goes for an open position where the bishops are strong. 16...fxe6 17.Ng5 Rf6?! [17...Bc8 18.Qc2 g6 19.f4 Rb8 20.Bb2 leaves White with fine compensation for the pawn. It's difficult to play this passively for Black but the game move is worse.] 18.Qc2 [18.Qd3 g6 19.Bb2] 18...Rg6?! Diagram


[18...g6 19.Bb2 is very unpleasant but now White has a shot.] 19.Rxe6! Qxe6 the only move as mate comes after [19...Rxe6 20.Qxh7+ Kf8 21.Qh8#] 20.Nxe6 Rxe6 21.Bb2 With the two raking bishops and queen against rook and knight, White is winning. Converting in a rapid game against Caruana is no easy task, but one Magnus is up to. 21...Rae8 22.Bd4 Kh8 23.Qf5! Bc8 24.Qh5 c5 25.Bxc5 Re5 26.Qf7 Bh3 27.Bf8! Re1+ 28.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 29.Kf2 Rf1+ 30.Ke2 Nc3+ 31.Kd3 A great game from the champ, who always seems to play his best chess when pushed to the edge. Still, Caruana played a great match and we hope he will have another shot at Magnus when the Candidates Tournament finishes. 1-0


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