Chess Room Newsletter #924 | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

Chess Room Newsletter #924

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #924


June 27, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Announcement: The Mechanics' Institute Chess Newsletter Will Be Off Next Week and Return On July 11. 

GM Sam Shankland Wins 2020 Northern California Online Invitational

The 2020 Northern California Online Invitational brought out the best in Northern California in a six-player online invitational, sponsored by Mechanics' Institute Trustee Jim Eade, who also heads of the Eade Foundation. The tournament was a G/15 +2 and featured GM Sam Shankland, GM Zviad Izoria, GM Steven Zierk, along with the last 3 recipients of the Mechanics' Institute Neil Falconer Award, IM Christopher Yoo, IM Andrew Hong, and IM Cameron Wheeler. It was a Father's Day spectacular with great chess action for chess fans to enjoy. GM Sam Shakland showed why he is one of the world's elite players, dominating an exceptionally strong field to score 4.5/5 and capture sole first. GM Steven Zierk finished in 2nd with 3.5/5 and GM Zviad Izoria finished 3rd with 2.5/5. IM Yoo, IM Hong and IM Wheeler all finished with 1.5/5. 

From the very beginning, Sam showed he was going to be the one to beat. He was paired in round 1 with GM Zviad Izoria, and put on a dominant positional performance to make a statement making win.

(3) GM Sam Shankland (Shankland) (2738) - GM Zviad Izoria (Izoria123) (2498) [A62]
Live Chess, 21.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Bg2 g6 7.Nc3 Bg7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Bf5?! [9...a6 10.a4 Nbd7 is more in keeping with the Benoni idea of controlling the e5 square] 10.Nd2! Re8 11.h3 The black bishop on f5 has no future. White has cleverly taken away the squares it could advance to. 11...Na6 12.e4 Bc8 13.Nc4 Diagram

rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/3P4/8/PPP1PPPP/RNBQKBNR b KQkq d3 0 1

13...Bf8N A reasonable defensive move, but admitting the opening has not been a success. 14.Re1 Nd7 15.a4 Nb6 16.Na3 White keeps pieces on the board to keep Black cramped. 16...Nb4 17.Bf1 Bd7 18.Bf4 a6 19.b3 [19.a5! Nc8 20.Nc4] 19...g5 20.Bd2 Qf6 21.a5 Nc8 22.Nc4 Na7? [22...Bg7 would be a disadvantage, but not unusual for a Benoni.] 23.Nb6! Rad8 Diagram


now White wins a crucial pawn 24.Nxd7 Rxd7 25.Qg4 Rc7 26.Bxg5 Qg6 [26...Qxc3? 27.Bf6+] 27.Rac1 h5 28.Qh4 Re5 29.Bf6 Be7 30.Bxe7 Rcxe7 It's hard to criticise this move as Black is lost and so plays for activity. It does give up the exchange. 31.f4! Rxe4 32.Nxe4 Rxe4 33.Qg5 Trading into an ending is the safe way to play. There may be quicker wins but Black cannot cause much trouble without the queens. 33...Qxg5 34.fxg5 Rd4 35.Rcd1 Rxd1 36.Rxd1 Nb5 37.Bxb5 axb5 38.Kf2 Kg7 39.Ke3 Kg6 40.h4 The ending is a simple win for Sam. 40...f6 41.gxf6 Kxf6 42.Ke4 Nc2 43.Rf1+ Kg6 44.Rf8 Nd4 45.b4 Black resigned. The white rook and central white king make it easy. 1-0

In round 3, Sam had the fortune of getting white again against what would be the next toughest opponent, GM Steven Zierk. Again, Shankland displayed amazing precision in getting the win and breaking away from the field.

(1) GM Sam Shankland (Shankland) (2774) - GM Steven Zierk (Zkid) (2464) [C18]
Live Chess, 21.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qa5 7.Bd2 Qa4 Known mostly as the Portisch-Hook Variation, this sets particularly difficult tactical and strategic problems for both players. 8.Rb1 A 21st Century move (played a few times by your annotator). [8.Qb1 , a one-move threat, is actually the most popular here (so far).; 8.Qg4 Kf8 (8...g6 9.Nf3!?) 9.Qd1! White returns his queen to the center defense, but there is no easy way for Black to return his king somewhere appropriate (not between his rooks). 9...Ne7 10.Nf3 A recent grandmaster game went (10.Qb1!? Negi in his Grandmaster Preparation 1.e4 volume 1 (2014).) 10...b6 11.c4 Ba6 12.cxd5 Bxf1 13.d6?! (13.Kxf1 Nxd5 14.dxc5 bxc5 15.h4+/= is the often-seen development of the rook, usually after a further h5 h6; Rh4.) 13...Ba6 14.dxe7+ Kxe7 15.dxc5 Qe4+ 16.Be3 Rd8 0-1 (37) 37, Chigaev,M (2631) -Andreikin,D (2724) Moscow 2019] 8...c4 and it's locked up tight in the center, for now. 9.Qc1 Nc6 10.h4! Nge7 11.h5 h6 12.Ne2 White has a spatial advantage on the kingside, spearheaded by the strong pawn on e5. Still the question for both sides is where do you make your pawn break? 12...b6 Diagram


[12...Qa6] 13.g4N [Previously 13.Rh3 had been seen: 13...Bd7 14.Rf3 Rf8 15.g4 0-0-0 16.Bh3 Ng8 17.Rg3 f6 18.f4 1-0 (40) Schoppen,C (2508) -Grooten, H (2274) Hoogeveen 2019] 13...Bd7 14.Bg2 Mysterious and then some. Much of White's play anticipates Black's attempting to open up the center with ...f7-f6. Very long term. 14...0-0-0 15.f3 And more mysterious, but Sam keeps control with any pawn breaks. 15...Rdf8 16.Bf4 Kb7 17.Bg3 f5?! Black had plenty of good incremental improvements to implement, but he loses a bit of patience. 18.exf6 gxf6 19.Bf4 Ng8 20.0-0 White is solid, but Black continues in a similar vein: 20...e5?! [20...f5!?; 20...Rh7!?] 21.Be3! White's bird's nest on the kingside suffices. 21...Re8 [21...e4?? 22.fxe4+-] 22.Qd2 Diagram


22...Nge7?! [22...Be6] 23.Bxh6 Reg8 24.dxe5 fxe5 25.Bg5 White grabbed a pawn; Black grabs back... 25...Qxa3 26.Bf6 [26.Ng3!? Black could sac an exchange for a pawn and a dangerous looking center with 26...Rxg5 27.Qxg5 Qxc3 28.Rf2 defends well] 26...Rh7 27.Ng3 Qd6? 28.Ne4! With the knight entering play on the kingside the battle is firmly in White's favor. 28...Qc7 29.Ng5 Rh6 Diagram


30.Ne6! No surprise that Sam breaks through with a tactical sequence, well calculated. 30...Rxf6 Steven elects to radically alter the balance, but objectively it's just lost. 31.Nxc7 Kxc7 32.Rbe1 a5 33.h6 Be6 34.g5 Rfg6 35.f4 One step with each pawn, and Black's crumbling. 35...Kd7 [35...exf4 36.Qxf4+ Kb7 37.h7 Rh8 38.Rxe6 Rxe6 39.Qf7 with 40.Re1 the final touch.] 36.h7 Rh8 37.f5! This second tactical sequence is the death of Black. 37...Bxf5 38.Rxf5 Nxf5 39.Qxd5+ Kc7 40.Rxe5 Black resigned. A marvelous game by Sam. 1-0

GM Zierk, despite the round 3 loss, had a strong tournament. Here is his win against GM Izoria.

(6) GM Zviad Izoria (Izoria123) (2398) -GM Steven Zierk (Zkid) (2536) [A07]
Live Chess, 21.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.g3 Nf6 2.Bg2 d5 3.Nf3 c6 4.0-0 Bf5 5.d3 e6 6.Nh4 White decides to chase down the black bishop - there will be a cost of a slight kingside weakening. 6...Bg4 7.h3 Bh5 8.f4 Be7 9.g4 Nfd7 Diagram


Thus the white knight is attacked and their is a decision to be made. 10.Nf3N [alternatively 10.gxh5 Bxh4 11.e4 f5 12.e5 Qe7 13.d4 Na6 is probably a little better for Black. White has a nice pawn center, yet the doubled pawns are more of a liability.] 10...Bg6 11.Nc3 0-0 12.e4 h6?! This gets the light-squared bishop locked away for a while. [12...Qb6+ 13.Kh1 f6 is about equal] 13.f5 exf5 14.exf5 Bh7 15.Be3 Bf6 16.Qd2 Ne5 17.Nxe5 Bxe5 18.Ne2 Nd7 19.c3 Re8 20.Rae1 Qc7 21.Bf4 Re7 22.d4 [22.Bxe5 Rxe5 23.d4 Re7 24.Nf4+/-] 22...Bd6 23.Bxd6 Qxd6 24.Qf4 Qf6 safer was to trade into the ending with [24...Qxf4 25.Nxf4 Rae8 26.Rxe7 Rxe7 27.h4 g6=] 25.Nc1 Rae8 26.Nd3 Qg5 27.Rxe7 Rxe7 28.Kf2?! The king becomes active too soon. White could have stayed in the middle game with an edge after [28.Qd6! Nf8 29.Nf4] 28...g6=/+ 29.Qxg5 hxg5 30.fxg6 Bxg6 31.Re1 Rxe1 32.Nxe1 Bb1 The game has traded down to a dry looking ending at first glance. However the black pieces can cause trouble to the white queenside. 33.Nf3?! Diagram


[33.a4] 33...Nb6! Black aims to hit the b-pawn and make the whole queenside weak. 34.Nxg5 Na4 35.c4 dxc4 36.d5 Nxb2!? [36...cxd5 37.Bxd5 Nxb2] 37.dxc6 bxc6 38.Ne4 Na4!? [38...Bxa2 39.Nc3 Bb3 40.Bxc6 a5 is a reasonable alternative] 39.a3 c3 40.Ke3 c5 the black pawns are advanced and the white king can't approach. What to do? 41.Nd6? not this! White needed to keep the knight on e4 and play slowly with 41. h4. Now Black has a tactical win. 41...c2 42.Kd2 Diagram


42...Nc3! White resigned as there is no decent defense to ...Na2 queening the pawn. [42...Nc3 43.Be4 Nxe4+ 44.Nxe4 c1Q+ 45.Kxc1 Bxe4] 0-1

Though Izoria had a rough showing against the GM's, he took care of business against the young IM's. Here is his win against IM Cameron Wheeler.

(2) GM Zviad Izoria (Izoria123) (2576) - IM Cameron Wheeler (Caminator2000) (2314) [A09]
Live Chess, 21.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.c4 d4 5.d3 e5 6.b4 Ne7 7.Nbd2 0-0 8.0-0 h6 9.a4 c5?! [Perhaps better is 9...Be6 though White has an edge anyway. One game continued 10.Ba3 Nd7 11.b5 Re8 12.Nb3 b6 13.a5 Rb8 14.Ne1 h5 15.Nc2 h4 16.Nb4 hxg3 17.hxg3 Bf6 18.axb6 axb6 19.Nd2 Kg7 20.Ne4 Rh8 21.Nc6 Nxc6 22.bxc6 Nc5 23.Bxc5 bxc5 24.Nxc5 Bg4 25.Bf3 Qg8 26.Bxg4 Qh7 27.Kg2 Qh2+ 28.Kf3 Be7 29.Rh1 Qxh1+ 30.Qxh1 Rxh1 31.Ne6+ fxe6 32.Rxh1 Rb6 33.Bxe6 Rxc6 34.Bd5 Rf6+ 35.Kg2 Ba3 36.Ra1 Ra6 37.Kf3 Ra5 38.Rb1 Bd6 39.Be4 Iordachescu,V (2591)-Jobava,B (2634) Batumi 2018 1-0] 10.bxc5 Diagram


10...Nbc6N [Also seen was 10...f5 11.Ne1 Nbc6 12.Nc2 Kh7 13.Ra3 g5 14.e3 Ng6 15.Qh5 Bd7 16.Rb3 Na5 17.Rb4 Bc6 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.exd4 exd4 20.Nf3 f4 21.Rb1 Rf5 22.Bd2 Ne7 23.g4 Rxc5 24.Bb4 Qd6 25.Nxg5+ Rxg5 26.Bxd6 Rxh5 27.gxh5 Bf6 28.Bxe7 Bxe7 29.Nxd4 Rd8 30.Rfe1 Bf6 31.Nb3 Nb7 32.Re6 Bh4 33.Rxc6 Nd6 34.Nd2 Rd7 35.Nf3 Nf5 36.Rc5 1-0 (36) Eljanov, P (2716)-Nepomniachtchi,I (2632) Netanya 2009] 11.Ne4 Be6 12.Rb1 White simply has good and easy play on the queenside. A great Benoni reversed. 12...Rb8 13.Rb5 a6 14.Rb3 Qa5? 15.Rb6! Diagram


suddenly the Black queen is in trouble. White threatened to win it with Bd2. Black saves the queen but at a material loss. 15...Nb4 16.Bd2 Nec6 17.Rxb4 Nxb4 18.Qb3 b5 19.Bxb4 bxc4 20.Bxa5 cxb3 21.Bb6! Shutting off the black rook seals the queenside and the game. 21...f5 22.Nd6 e4 23.Nd2 Be5 24.N2c4 Black resigned as the white pieces are jumping all over the queenside and center. Perhaps this was a bit premature, yet the position is certainly lost. 1-0

IM Christopher Yoo is definitely a player to follow and among the future stars of American chess. Here is his win as black against IM Wheeler.

(7) IM Cameron Wheeler (Caminator2000) (2260) - IM Christopher Yoo (ChristopherYoo) (2221) [D85]
Live Chess, 21.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 Diagram


8.h3!? Hard to believe White can stop for this but maybe! This could well be the move of the future. Kramnik did roll it out against Kasparov at Wijk aan Zee, 2000 (draw). The two Big Theory moves are [8.Be3 thinking about Qd2 and Rc1; and 8.Rb1 0-0 9.Be2 with some pawn sacrifices in the air] 8...0-0 9.Be2 b6 [9...b5!? 10.Be3 Bb7 11.Qd3 cxd4 12.cxd4 Nd7 13.0-0 Nb6 ½-½ (37) Kramnik,V (2758)-Kasparov,G (2851) Wijk aan Zee 2000; 9...cxd4 10.cxd4 Nc6 11.Be3 f5 12.Bc4+ Kh8 13.0-0 fxe4 14.Ng5 e5 15.dxe5 Nxe5 16.Bd5 h6 17.Nxe4 Bxh3 18.gxh3 Nf3+ 19.Kg2 Nh4+ 20.Kg1 Nf3+ 21.Kg2 Nh4+ 22.Kg1 Nf3+ 1/2-1/2 (22) Svidler,P (2739)-Grischuk,A (2810) Tbilisi 2015 CBM 165 [CB]] 10.Be3 Bb7 11.Qc2 [11.Qd3 e6 12.0-0 Nd7 13.Bg5 Qc7 14.Qe3 Rae8 15.Rad1 Qc6 16.Bd3 Qa4 17.Bh6 f5 ½-½ 40, Sakaev,K (2596)-Hansen,E (2606) Moscow 2019] 11...cxd4 12.cxd4 Qc8 Diagram


13.Bd3N [13.Qb1? Bxe4! 0-1 (34) Altantuya,B (2220)-Stankovic,M (2462) Veliko Gradiste 2019] 13...Nc6 14.Qa4 a6 15.Rc1 b5 16.Qa3 Qd7 The rest of the game sees Christopher playing an energetic Gruenfeld master class game. 17.d5 Ne5 18.Nxe5 Bxe5 19.0-0 e6 20.f4 Bd6 21.Qb2 exd5 22.e5 Qe7 23.Qd4 Ba3 24.f5 Rfe8 25.e6 Diagram


Cameron sacrifice an exchange to bust open Christopher's kingside, but the plan of ruling the long diagonal never comes to fruition. 25...Bxc1 26.exf7+ Qxf7 27.Bxc1 Qg7 28.Qh4 Rf8 29.Bh6 Qf6 30.Bg5 Qb6+ 31.Kh1 Rf7 32.Qh6 Raf8 33.Re1 Qf2 34.Re2 Qg3 35.Bf4? Qxd3 ChristopherYoo won on time 0-1

IM Cameron Wheeler has the distinction of being the only player to draw GM Shankland. He also had this win against IM Andrew Hong.

(4) IM Cameron Wheeler (Caminator2000) (2338) - IM Andrew Hong (SpeedofLight0) (1995) [E04]
Live Chess, 21.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 dxc4 5.Bg2 Bb4+ 6.Nbd2 0-0 7.0-0 b5 8.a4 c6 9.Ne1!? [More active looks to be 9.Ne5 yet the knight may get in the way there. One game continued 9...Nd5 10.Ne4 f6 11.Nf3 a5 12.b3 cxb3 13.Qxb3 Ba6 14.Qc2 bxa4 15.Rxa4 Nd7 16.Ra1 Rc8 17.Nc5 Nxc5 18.dxc5 e5 19.Ba3 Bb5 20.Rfd1 Qe7 21.Nh4 Nc3 22.Rd6 Nxe2+ 23.Kh1 Nd4 24.Qe4 Rcd8 25.Bxb4 axb4 26.Qg4 f5 27.Qh5 Rxd6 28.cxd6 Qxd6 29.Ra7 b3 30.Bh3 b2 31.Qd1 Qb4 32.Qb1 Bd3 33.Qa2+ Qb3 0-1 (33) Harikrishna,P (2731)-Anand,V (2757) Kolkata 2019] 9...Nd5 10.e4 Nc7 11.Nc2 Be7 12.e5 Nd5 13.Ne4 Diagram


13...Bb7N [13...b4 may be a little better] 14.Qg4 Kh8 15.Qh5 f5 Black feels the pressure on the kingside and feels compelled to do something in response. This creates weakenesses however, so perhaps it was better to sit tight with 15...Nd7 instead. 16.exf6 gxf6 17.Bh6 Rg8 18.Rfe1 Nd7? It's strange for a developing move to be bad but now White gets to target the e6 pawn. [18...Na6 lets Black have the option of Nc7 to guard e6.] 19.Nc3! b4 20.Nxd5 exd5 21.Bh3 The e6 pawn was spared however the white rook and light-squared bishop now use the light squares to infiltrate. 21...Nf8? [21...Bf8 22.Be6 Rg6 23.Bd2 is unpleasant for Black with all the weak kingside squares. The game move loses material.] 22.Qf7! Ng6 23.Bf5 Diagram


23...Qe8 [the problem with 23...Bd6 is 24.Re8! Qxe8 25.Qxf6+ Rg7 26.Qxg7#] 24.Bxg6 Rxg6 25.Rxe7 Qxf7 26.Rxf7 Ba6 The knight up ending is an easy win for White. 27.Nxb4 Rxh6 28.Nxa6 Rg6 29.Re1 Rg4 30.Ree7 Rxd4 31.Nc7 Rb8 32.Rxh7+ Kg8 33.Reg7+ Kf8 34.Ne6+ It's mate next move. A great game by Cameron! 1-0

IM Andrew Hong had a chance to tie for 3rd with Zviad Izoria had he drawn the final game, which looked even before a blunder in time pressure cost him the game. He looked in good form in this event, and here is his win against IM Chistopher Yoo.

(5) IM Andrew Hong (SpeedofLight0) (1914) - IM Christopher Yoo (ChristopherYoo) (2198) [B69]
Live Chess, 21.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 The Richter-Rauser Attack. Very classical Sicilian play. 6...e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Bd7 9.f4 Be7 10.Nf3 b5 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.f5 Qb6 13.Qh6 [most usual is to transfer the knight to the kingside - 13.Ne2 Na5 14.Nf4] 13...0-0-0 14.Qh5 Kb8 15.Kb1 [15.Qxf7 b4 16.Na4 Qe3+ is about equal] 15...Be8 16.Bd3 Ne5 Diagram


17.Ne2N [White has tried 17.Nxe5 dxe5 18.Rhf1 a5 19.Qg4 1/2-1/2 (19) Garcia,H (2079)-Fourie,M (2376) ICCF email 2008] 17...Qb7 18.Nf4 d5! 19.exd5 Nxd3 20.Nxd3 Rxd5 So far a very well played opening by both sides. White could now defend the f5 pawn with 21. Nh4 or 21. g4 but chooses to give it up and win the h-pawn. 21.Qg4 Rxf5 22.Qg7 Rf8 23.Qxh7 b4 24.h4 Usually the center pawns are just better than the wing pawns in the opening and middle game. Yet this white h-pawn intends to be troublesome. 24...Bc6 25.Nd4 Ra5 26.Nxc6+ Qxc6 27.Qg7 Rc8 28.Rd2 Qa4 29.Nc1 b3? Diagram


[29...Bd6! with ideas of ...Bf4 or ...Be5 would give Black attacking chances to keep the game level. The game move overlooks a key defense.] 30.Qg3+! If White had captured the b-pawn with the knight or either pawn it would be trouble, but now the white queen comes back for the defense. 30...Ka8 31.Qxb3 Both the middlegame or endgame will be a real struggle for Black. 31...Qc6 32.Rh3 [32.h5!] 32...e5?! [32...Rb5] 33.h5 Rb5 34.Qxf7 Rcb8 35.Rb3 White is two pawns up with a very defensible king position. So the game is over if White doesn't err. 35...Bb4 36.Rd7 Bc5 37.Qd5 Qxd5 38.Rxd5 Be3? A blunder, but it doesn't matter much. 39.Rdxb5 axb5 40.Rxe3 Black resigned. 1-0

I want to thank GM Nick de Firmian, FM Jim Eade, and FM Paul Whitehead for the commentary. A special thanks goes to Chief TD Judit Sztaray, who had to pair the round robin manually on every round, as well as starting games. Thanks again to Jim Eade for his generous support of quality chess events and using the power of technology to bring chess events that can be viewed by many. Finally, I want to thank all the players for participating in this event - their time and talent allowed us to enjoy a great afternoon of chess.


2020 Northern California Online Invitational

Sponsored by FM James Eade, MI Trustee


# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total Prize
1 GM Sam Shankland 12852765 2762 W3 W6 W2 W5 D4 4.5 $500
2 GM Steven Zierk 12796611 2597 W4 D5 L1 W3 W6 3.5 $300
3 GM Zviad Izoria 12922861 2694 L1 W4 D6 L2 W5 2.5 $200
4 IM Cameron Wheeler 13473477 2494 L2 L3 W5 L6 D1 1.5  
5 IM Andrew Zhang Hong 14941904 2533 W6 D2 L4 L1 L3 1.5  
6 IM Christopher W Yoo 15244943 2540 L5 L1 D3 W4 L2 1.5  


To learn more about the work Jim Eade does to help support chess for those in need, please visit

The People's Tournament: A Short History Part 1 (Coming July 11)

The People's Tournamnet is a Bay Area chess tradition. It is more commonly known as a Berkeley tradition, but the story of the evolution of the event is facinating and important as a matter of local history. Over the next several weeks, I will speak to many individuals who have been part of or played this event, which started in Hayward in 1974. I was going to start writing about it in this edition, but since the newsletter will go on a one week hiatus next week, I figured it be best to begin on our return on July 11, where I will write the first of a three-part series. 

I encourage submissions from the chess community of stories or games from the People's Tournament, which was originally named "First California People's Chess Festival." Please send to [email protected] 


Mechanics' Institute Tuesday Night Online

IM Elliott Winslow put on a show at the Tuesday Night Online, playing incredible chess through a tough field to win the TNO with a perfect 5/5, including a third-round game that was as spectacular as it was artistic and creative. Here is the round 3 game against NM Sriram Krishnakumar, it was a pleasure for us to follow on the broadcast. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(8) IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (1845) - NM Sriram Krishnakumar (2008king) (2002) [C78]
Live Chess, 23.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bb7 7.Re1 The old main line. [7.c3!?; 7.d3 Be7 (7...Bc5 8.a4 (8.Nc3; 8.c3) ) ] 7...Bc5 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Ba7?! Rare. Perhaps he was thinking about some of the recent games with 5...Bc5, when the bishop sometimes comfortably retreats to a7. [Typical is 9...Bb6 10.Bg5 (10.Be3 0-0 11.Nbd2 h6 12.h3 Re8 13.d5 Ne7 14.Bxb6 cxb6 15.a4 bxa4 16.Bxa4 b5 17.Bc2 Qb6 0-1 (39) 39, Alekseenko,K (2638) -Grischuk,A (2771) St Petersburg 2018) 10...h6 11.Bh4 Qe7 (11...Qd7) 12.a4 0-0-0 13.axb5 axb5 14.Na3 Na7 15.Qd3 g5 16.Bg3 Nxe4!? 17.Rxe4 f5 18.Rxe5! dxe5 19.Qxf5+ Kb8 20.Bxe5? (20.Nxe5+-) 20...Rhf8 21.Qg6 Nc6 22.Bg3 Rf6 23.Qc2 Rxf3 1-0 (88) Winslow,E (2312)-Shirazi,K (2425) Palo Alto 1981] 10.a4 h6 11.h3? Unnecessary in this line -- nothing is going to g4. [11.Be3; 11.Na3; 11.axb5 axb5 12.Na3] 11...0-0 Diagram


12.Be3!?N In many of these lines White baits Black with the e-pawn. But he has to be careful it doesn't just fall for nothing. 12...exd4 13.cxd4 Re8 [13...Ne7 14.d5 Bxe3 15.Rxe3 c6] 14.axb5 axb5 15.d5?! [White could continue to advantageously play on the edge with 15.Nc3 b4 (15...Nxe4 16.Nxe4 Rxe4 17.Bc2 (17.d5 Bxe3 18.Rxa8 Bxa8 19.dxc6 Bxf2+ 20.Kxf2 Rxe1 21.Qxe1 Bxc6 just isn't enough) ) 16.Nd5 Nxe4 17.Rc1 is a lot of pressure on the c-file and the a4-e8 diagonal] 15...Bxe3 16.dxc6?? [16.Rxa8 Bxa8 17.dxc6 Bb6 18.e5= is still a dynamic equality.] 16...Rxa1 Elliott completely overlooked this little detail; Black is totally won 17.cxb7 Bb6?? Black neglects the power of this little pawn. Remember the legendary quote, maybe the best thing in "My System": "A passed pawn is a criminal which should be kept under lock and key. Mild measures, such as police surveillance, are not sufficient." – Aron Nimzovich [17...Ba7; 17...Bf4!-+] 18.e5!=/+ White flails to create tactical possibilities. 18...Nd7?! [18...dxe5 19.Nxe5 Qxd1 20.Rxd1 Rb8 21.Bxf7+ Kf8 22.Bg6 c5 23.Rd7! appears to hold (via computer analysis).] 19.e6? [19.Qd5! gets better and better the longer the computer looks at it!] 19...fxe6 20.Rxe6 Kh8 21.Qd3 Rxe6 22.Bxe6 Nc5? [22...Ba7! He has to stop that pawn!] 23.Qg6!? Incredible! But [23.Ne5!! wins immediately] 23...Nxe6 24.Qxe6 Rxb1+ 25.Kh2 Ba7 26.Qc8 Qg8 27.Nh4 g5?? He was too short on time to see that he had to let the perpetual happen. [27...Re1; 27...Ra1; 27...Rc1] 28.Ng6+ Kg7 29.Qxg8+ Kxg8 30.Ne7+ Kf7 31.Nc6 ecwinslow won on time in a won position 1-0

Winslow followed that amazing win with a fantastic win against FM Kyron Griffith. In this game, Winslow missed a mate in one on move 14, but persevered on and won a hard fought game.

(9) IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (1858) - FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2070) [B15]
Live Chess, 23.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6 6.c3 Bd6 7.Bd3 0-0 8.Ne2 [8.Qc2 Re8+ 9.Ne2 h5] 8...Re8 9.Qc2 h5 This is the big novelty in this line, but it's hard to see what all the fuss is about. 10.0-0 [Most games see White at least postponing the king commitment: 10.Be3 Nd7 11.Qd2 Nf8 12.Bf4 Be6 13.0-0 h4 14.Bxd6 Qxd6 15.Qf4 Qxf4 16.Nxf4 g6 17.f3 Rad8 18.b4 Kg7 19.Kf2 f5 20.a4 Bc8 21.Rfe1 Ne6 22.Nxe6+ Bxe6 23.Re5 Bd7 24.Rae1 Rxe5 25.Rxe5 Re8 26.f4 f6 27.Rxe8 Bxe8 28.Bc4 Kf8 29.Ke3 Ke7 30.a5 b6 31.axb6 axb6 32.g3 hxg3 33.hxg3 Kd6 34.Bg8 c5 35.bxc5+ bxc5 36.c4 g5 37.Kd3 Bc6 38.Ke3 Bd7 39.Bd5 Be8 Guseinov,G (2665)-Cheparinov,I (2686) 2020 1/2-1/2 (79)] 10...h4 11.Bf4!? [11.h3; 11.Nf4!?] 11...Rxe2? [11...h3 is the only move with a plus score here, but White is fine after 12.g3; So just 11...Na6 to work on the light squares.] 12.Qxe2 Bxf4 Paul and Abel on the Twitch commentary weren't sure who had fallen for whose trap! 13.Qe4 Diagram


Stockfish is sure, though -- White is winning. 13...Qc7??N Winning or not, allowing Mate in One is not good! [13...g5 14.Qh7+ Kf8 15.Rae1 Be6 16.g3 Bc7 17.f4 hxg3 18.hxg3 Qd6 19.Re3 c5 20.f5 Nd7 21.fxe6 fxe6 22.Bg6 1-0, Jakic,I (2393)-Tica,S (2439) Zadar 2018] 14.Qh7+?? [14.Qe8#] 14...Kf8 15.Qh8+ Ke7 16.Qxg7 Bxh2+ 17.Kh1 Be6 18.Rae1 Nd7 Diagram


19.Rxe6+! Kxe6 20.Bc4+ [20.Re1+! was even better. White was concerned with some block on e5, but White keeps piling in the pieces and pawns.] 20...Kd6 21.Qxf7 Qa5 22.Kxh2?! Elliott didn't see any total knockout and just snaps up the material. It's still won, but Kyron resists as best he can. Eventually he succumbs. 22...Rf8 23.Qe6+ Kc7 24.Re1 Qg5 25.Qe3 b5 26.Bd3 Rg8 27.Qxg5 fxg5 28.f3 g4 29.fxg4 Rxg4 30.Re7 Rf4 31.Kg1 [31.Kh3] 31...a5 32.Re4 Rxe4 33.Bxe4 Nf6 34.Bf3 Nh7 35.Kf2 Ng5 36.Bg4 Kd6 37.Ke3 c5 38.dxc5+ Kxc5 39.Kf4 Nf7 40.Be6 Nd8 41.Bg8 Nc6 42.Kg5 Ne5 43.Kxh4 Nd3 44.b3 b4 45.cxb4+ Nxb4 46.a4 Kd6 47.Kg5 Ke5 48.g4 Nc6 49.Bc4 Ne7 50.Kh6 Kf4 51.g5 Nf5+ 52.Kg6 Ng3 53.Bd3 [53.b4!] 53...Ke5 54.Kf7 Nh5 55.g6 ecwinslow won by resignation 1-0

Shaashwath Sivakumar finished in 2nd on tiebreaks with 4/5, with his only loss coming in the final round against Winslow. He had this win against Anika Rajaram.

(11) Shaashwath Sivakumar (Dontmesswithme_2) (1831) - Anika Rajaram (Kirotori) (1854) [E49]
Live Chess, 23.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 [1...d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 Nf6 6.e3 c5 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bd3 1-0 (39) Shankland,S (2679) -Sanikidze,T (2497) Baku 2016] 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 [4.e3 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 1-0 (27) Minzer,C (2370)-Aberbach Peltzman,A Villa Ballester 1993] 4...Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 0-0 6.e3 [6.f3 d5 7.cxd5 exd5 8.e3 c5 9.Bd3 b6 10.Ne2 Ba6 1-0 (41) Mirzoev,E (2412)-Lushnikov,E (2136) Pardubice 2018] 6...c5 7.Bd3 Diagram


7...d5 [7...Nc6 doesn't give White an easy way to dissolve his doubled pawns, and is a more thematic strategy.] 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Ne2 b6 10.0-0 Ba6 If you've never seen the monumental game Botvinnik-Capablanca, AVRO 1938, this would be an excellent time to do so. History, Strategy, Education, Entertainment. [10...Re8 11.Ng3 Ba6 12.Bxa6 Nxa6 13.f3 Rc8 14.Qd3 Nb8 15.Bb2 1-0 (27) Minzer,C (2370)-Aberbach Peltzman,A Villa Ballester 1993] 11.f3 Bxd3 [11...Re8 12.Ng3 Bxd3 1-0 (41) Mirzoev,E (2412)-Lushnikov,E (2136) Pardubice 2018] 12.Qxd3 Nc6?! [12...Re8 13.Ng3 Nc6] 13.Bb2?! [13.e4!] 13...Re8 14.Ng3 Na5 Taking the pressure off d4 right away. [14...c4 is popular but loses options, notably the c4 square. Sam Shankland won a critical game for the US team at the 2016 Olympics, also worth study and enjoyment. 15.Qe2 h5 16.Qf2 Qd7 17.Rae1 Ne7 18.e4 h4 19.Nh1 Ng6 20.e5 Nh5 21.Bc1 Nhf4 22.Bxf4 Nxf4 23.Qxh4 Nd3 24.Re3 Re6 25.f4 1-0 (39) Shankland,S (2679)-Sanikidze,T (2497) Baku 2016; 14...Rc8 is a sensible plan, counterplay along the c-file, but as has 15.Rad1!? has done wella) 15.Rae1!? Na5 16.e4 Nc4 1-0 (41) Mirzoev,E (2412)-Lushnikov,E (2136) Pardubice 2018 (16...cxd4 17.cxd4 dxe4 18.fxe4 Nc4 1-0 (27) Minzer,C (2370)-Aberbach Peltzman,A Villa Ballester 1993) ; b) 15.e4?! cxd4 16.cxd4 dxe4 17.fxe4 Ne5! gets a tempo of sorts.; ; 14...h5!? played in Petrosian-Fridshtein, 1947 and then all but forgotten until the 2000s when it went viral.] 15.Rae1 [15.e4! Seize the day! (and the center)] 15...Nc4 16.Bc1 Rc8 17.e4 cxd4 18.cxd4 dxe4 19.fxe4 Ne5 20.Qd2 This position has occured five times in the database! The score 5-0 is a hint that Center Pawns Matter. 20...Nc4 21.Qf2 Qd7 22.h3 [22.e5 Nd5 23.Nf5 Rc6 24.Qf3 sets up 25.Nd6:1-0 (41) Mirzoev,E (2412)-Lushnikov,E (2136) Pardubice 2018] 22...Rcd8 [22...Rf8 23.Nf5 Ne8 24.e5 Qe6 25.d5 Qd7 26.e6 1-0 (27) Minzer,C (2370) -Aberbach Peltzman,A Villa Ballester 1993. Why the extra move? White had played Bxa6 and Qd3, and Black had played ...Nb8 and ...Nc6.] 23.e5 Nd5 24.Bg5 Rc8 25.Nf5 h6 Diagram


26.Bxh6! gxh6? 27.Qg3+ Kh8 28.Qg7# Dontmesswithme_2 won by checkmate 1-0

NM Kevin Pan played in what I believe is his first TNO. He will be a force in future events, and on Tuesday he had this win versus Barbara Goodkind.

(10) NM Kevin Pan (petearrpan) (1869) - Barbara Goodkind (eatdinner) (1658) [D12]
Live Chess, 23.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.c4 Transposing to a popular line against the Slav Defense without allowing Black any opportunity to play ...dxc4 and try to hold that pawn. 4...Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.b3 Not the most incisive; [6.Nh4; and 6.Qb3 are the most frequently seen.] 6...Nbd7 7.Bb2 Be7 8.h3 h6 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Bb4 11.0-0 0-0 12.a3 Bxc3 13.Bxc3 Ne4 14.Nd2 Nxc3 15.Qxc3 f5 16.f3 Qg5 17.e4 Nb6? Wrong way! It might look like a Stonewall gone bad, but Black doesn't have the usual bad light-squared bishop, nor the cramped development in general. And the pawn on h3 means it's White with the suspect complex of squares, the dark ones on the kingside. If anyone is better it would be Black. [17...Nf6! 18.f4 Qh4 19.e5 Ne4!=/+] 18.Rae1 [18.f4! Qh4 19.c5! Nd7 20.e5 Note that White's queen can shift quickly across, but Black even here has a space problem.] 18...Rad8 [18...Qf4!=] 19.exd5 [19.c5; 19.f4] 19...exd5 20.f4 Qf6 21.Re5 [21.c5!] 21...Nd7? [21...dxc4 22.bxc4 Nd7 23.Re3 Nc5!=] 22.Re3?! [22.cxd5 cxd5 23.Rxd5] 22...Nb6 [22...Nc5!] 23.Nf3 dxc4 24.bxc4 Qf7 25.Ne5 Qc7 26.Rfe1 Nd7 27.Ng6 Rf6 28.Ne7+ Kh7 29.g3 Nf8 Diagram


30.Re5 [The shot 30.Nxf5!+- would break Black down immediately.] 30...Ng6 31.Nxg6 Kxg6 32.Qd3 Qb6 33.c5 Qc7 34.Rxf5 Rxf5 35.Re6+ Kh7 36.Qxf5+ Kh8 37.Qe4 [37.Qe5!] 37...Qd7 38.Re7 Qxh3 39.Qe3?? [39.Qg6! Rg8 40.f5! is crushing] 39...Rf8? [39...b6 to open up a file for the rook should extract a perpetual for one side or the other.] 40.Rxb7 Now White is back on top 40...Qh5 41.Qe5 Qd1+ 42.Kg2 Qd2+ 43.Kh3 Rg8 44.Rxa7 Qd1 45.Re7 Qh1+ 46.Kg4 Qf1 47.Re6?! [47.a4] 47...Qd1+ 48.Qe2 Qh1? [48...Qxd4+/-] 49.Qe5 [49.a4; 49.Re5; 49.f5] 49...Qd1+ Diagram


50.Kf5?? [50.Qe2 Qxd4 51.Qc2+/-] 50...Qh1?? [50...Rf8+! and BLACK wins] 51.g4 [51.Kg6! and f4-f5 will lock Black out, then Re8 will mate. 51...Qb1+ 52.f5 Qb8 53.Qxb8 Rxb8 54.Rxc6] 51...Qh3 52.Rg6?? Diagram


[52.Re8! is easiest] 52...Qg3?? [52...Qd3+! and Black wins again!] Now White finally gets to play the move he has been trying to set up for so many moves now: 53.Rxh6# petearrpan won by checkmate 1-0

The TNO is never without action, and two action players provided fireworks in this game.

(12) Lauren Goodkind (laurengoodkindchess) (1783) - Adam Mercado (A-boy415) (1642) [B22]
Live Chess, 23.06.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 e5 4.c4? Diagram


White has so many good things to do here, giving the first move to Black (and the better knight development) isn't one of them. [4.d4; 4.Bc4] 4...Nf6 [4...d6 and ...f5 takes an initiative.] 5.d3 Be7 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 h6 8.0-0 Be6 9.Ne1 Nd4 10.Nc2 a6 11.Ne3 b5 12.b3 b4 13.Ncd5 Bxd5 14.Nxd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Diagram


15...f5? This needs some preparation. Now White takes over on the light squares. 16.Bh5+ Kd7 17.Be3 g5 18.Bxd4 cxd4 19.Bf7 Qf8 20.Be6+ Ke8 21.Qh5+ Kd8 Diagram


22.a3 bxa3 23.Rxa3 Kc7 24.Rfa1 Kb6 25.Qe2 Qb8 26.Bxf5 h5 27.Qd2 Kc7 28.Qa5+ Qb6 29.Qd2 Rhf8 30.Be6 Rf4 31.Qa2 g4 32.Ra4 h4 33.Qa3 e4 34.Rb4 Qc5 35.Qa4 Rd8 Diagram


36.Qxa6 Rb8 37.Rxb8 Kxb8 38.Qa8+ Kc7 39.Qc8+ Kb6 40.Ra6# laurengoodkindchess won by checkmate 1-0

It was a fun evening of chess. To watch the broadcast of the event, please follow this link:

For full results, follow this link:

Mechanics' Online Events Recap

Friday Night Online Blitz: Winner: FM Kyron Griffith

Saturday Matinee: Winner: Oren Livne

Saturday Late Night Showdown: Winner: FM Kyron Griffith

Sunday Evening Blitz: Winner: FM Kyron Griffith

Monday Night Arena: Winner: FM Kyron Griffith

Wednesday Late Night Showdown: Winner: Advay Bansal

Thursday Night Blitz: Winner: Shaashwath Sivakumar

Mechanics' Chess Social

Guest June 26 Episode, Adisa Banjoko

On the June 26 episode of our Mechanics' Chess Social, we had a conversation with Adisa Banjoko, founder of the Hip Hop Chess Federation, marial artist, writer, and teacher. We discussed 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. To watch the interview, please follow this link:

To listen to his podcast Bishop Chronicles, follw this link: Club's League Update

The Mechanics' Institute had a statement making win on Saturday, defeating the Pittsburgh Chess Club 18.5-1.5 in a match where many of our top players showed to get Mechanics' back in the win column after losing the previous match. GM James Tarjan, IM Elliott Winslow, NM Ruiyang Yan, and NM Sriram Krishnakumar were among the players representing the club. 

This Saturday we will be facing off against Clube De Xadrez de Curitiba fro Brazil. To join the event or follow the action, please follow this link:

Here are the standings for the A Division in the Club's League

Division A Standings after Round 4

# Name Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 Bursa Buyuksehir Belediyespor W40 W5 W35 W14   4.0
2 Kyiv Chess Club W11 W23 W39 W7   4.0
3 The Flaming Tigers Chess Club W58 W17 W18 W24   4.0
4 Thomas Jefferson Chess Club W59 W9 W28 W15   4.0
5 Batubey Chess Club W57 L1 W23 W26   3.0
6 Bay Tigers Chess Club W61 W44 L7 W31   3.0
7 Chess Club Politika W42 W36 W6 L2   3.0
8 ChessKidsNation Club W53 L16 W21 W27   3.0
9 Club De Ajedrez Par de Alfiles W54 L4 W20 W28   3.0
10 Echecs 16 W38 W51 L14 W35   3.0
11 Klub Szachowy Dwie Wieze Krakow L2 W38 W51 W39   3.0
12 Loulé ++ Clube de Xadrez L51 W61 X48 W36   3.0
13 Mykolaiv Chess Club W46 L35 W33 W37   3.0
14 SK Sarajevo B--- W37 W10 L1   3.0
15 Stevenson High School Chess Club W16 W53 W47 L4   3.0
16 Rio Grande Valley Rising Stars L15 W8 W30 W43   3.0
17 University Of Sydney Chess Club W45 L3 W29 W49   3.0
18 Uttara Central Chess Club W49 W29 L3 W45   3.0
19 Charlotte Chess Center W52 L30 W50 H--- U--- 2.5
20 Mechanics' Institute Chess Club D21 W43 L9 W52   2.5
21 S. Ariz Chess Assn / Eastside CC D20 W50 L8 W30   2.5
22 UCS De Rode Loper L48 D40 W61 W41   2.5
23 Amo Galaxias Thessaloniki W33 L2 L5 W44   2.0
24 Bangladesh Univ of Eng & Tech L29 W49 W45 L3   2.0
25 Chess Club Levice L44 W41 L31 W51   2.0
26 Chess School Etud L35 W46 W40 L5   2.0
27 Club Jaque al Rey W34 L28 W32 L8   2.0
28 Clube De Xadrez de Curitiba W32 W27 L4 L9   2.0
29 Golden Sporting Club W24 L18 L17 W58   2.0
30 Iowa Pawn Stormers W47 W19 L16 L21   2.0
31 La Zubia L39 W55 W25 L6   2.0
32 Liga Regional de Xadrez L28 W34 L27 W47   2.0
33 Lviv State Chess Club L23 W57 L13 W46   2.0
34 Maritime Chess Club L27 L32 W55 W54   2.0
35 Shakh Club W26 W13 L1 L10   2.0
36 SK Kriegshaber W60 L7 W42 L12   2.0
37 SSDE- Societa Scacchistica Epor. W55 L14 X44 L13   2.0
38 SSZ Olimpia Goleszow L10 L11 W60 W61   2.0
39 Wasa SK W31 W48 L2 L11   2.0
40 Bahrain Chess Academy L1 D22 L26 W60   1.5
41 Club Ajedrez 64 Villalba H--- L25 W53 L22   1.5
42 Port Elizabeth Chess Club L7 W60 L36 D57   1.5
43 Toronto Kaiqi Chess Club D56 L20 W52 L16   1.5
44 African Chess Lounge W25 L6 F37 L23   1.0
45 Ballarat Chess Club L17 W58 L24 L18   1.0
46 Chesshouse Club L13 L26 W57 L33   1.0
47 Fox Valley 2020 Chess Club L30 W54 L15 L32   1.0
48 Halesowen Chess Club W22 L39 F12 --- U--- 1.0
49 Karakol Chess Academy L18 L24 W58 L17   1.0
50 Learners Chess Academy B--- L21 L19 L53   1.0
51 Nucleo Sporting. de Sao Miguel W12 L10 L11 L25   1.0
52 Pittsburgh Chess Club L19 W59 L43 L20   1.0
53 Rocky Top Chess Club L8 L15 L41 W50   1.0
54 Waco Chess Club L9 L47 W59 L34   1.0
55 Zukertort Amstelveen Jeugd L37 L31 L34 B---   1.0
56 Nashville Chess Center D43 --- --- --- U--- 0.5
57 Shamieh Chess Academy L5 L33 L46 D42   0.5
58 Bishan Chess Club L3 L45 L49 L29   0.0
59 GHA Chess Club L4 L52 L54 --- U--- 0.0
60 Grassy Park Chess Academy L36 L42 L38 L40   0.0
61 Muks Szs Cieszyn L6 L12 L22 L38   0.0

Tom Dorsch 1941-2020

Tom Dorsch passed away on April 17, 2020. He was a former CalChess President, USCF Treasurer, organizer and all around chess enthusiast. To learn more about his life, please follow this article written on the CalChess site:

Dr. Alexey Root: Chess and Cooking: A Perfect Pairing?

Dr. Alexey Root has recently taken an interest in the subject of chessplayers and food. While I know many other artistic disciplines can fuse with chess - like dance, music, art, and martial arts -  food is not necessarily something that readily comes to mind. However, both elite Grandmasters and strong club players have a foodie experience through chess. 

WIM Alexey Root emailed, "The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club is how I met my latest co-author online. After Mike Walder noticed me in a Facebook posting by Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, he contacted me via Facebook. Mike told me his story of surviving stage four cancer, which became Chemo Brain and Chess: One Master's Story. As Mike and I were writing that story, Mike emailed me a photo of a brunch he cooked for his roommates. As Mike, IM Elliott Winslow, and FM Frank Thornally ate brunch, they analyzed Kiriakov – Tiviakov, Port Erin 1999. Mike's brunch photo gave me the idea for articles about chess and cooking. Our first article about chess and cooking is Grandmaster Chef: Anish Giri."

Enjoy! There sill be another article, another GM, and more food next week!

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 27: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5 +5:

Sunday, June 28: starts at 3:00PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/15+2 USCF Rated:

Monday, June 29: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/15+0:

Tuesday, June 30: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4PM
5SS G/5+5:

Wednesday, July 1: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, July 2: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5+5:

Friday, July 3: 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

(13) ThinOvalPaw (1532) - RareThirdDessert (1601) [C50]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0-0 [4.c3; 4.d3] 4...Nf6 [4...d6 5.h3 Nf6 6.d3 h6 1-0 (56) Mege Rustici,A-Roesch,R France 1999] 5.Nc3 d6 6.h3 The combination of 0-0 and h3 is a sort of red flag for Black -- to attack! 6...h6 7.d3 Diagram


7...g5!? White has castled but Black has not -- so pawnstorm is an option! 8.Be3 [8.Nd5 g4 9.hxg4 Bxg4 1-0 (56) Mege Rustici,A-Roesch,R France 1999] 8...g4 9.hxg4 Bxg4 10.Nd5 Rg8 11.Bxh6? Abandoning control of d4! [The one game that had this position went 11.g3 Bxe3? a) 11...Nxd5! 12.Bxd5 (12.exd5 e4! 13.dxe4 Ne5 14.Be2 Bxe3 crashes through) ; b) Less good, but still good, is 11...h5; 12.Nxe3 Bh3?! 13.Re1 and White went on to win 13...Ng4 14.Nf5 Qf6 15.Qd2 Nd4 16.N3xd4 exd4 17.Bd5 c6 18.Bb3 1-0 (56) Mege Rustici,A-Roesch,R France 1999] 11...Nxd5 12.Bxd5 Nd4! Diagram


Black's attacking strategy works to perfection! White's poor bishops might as well not be on the board! 13.Kh2 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Qh4# RareThirdDessert won by checkmate 0-1


(14) Oktai (1463) - FreeFavoriteMap (1519) [B13]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.d4 Bf5 6.Bb5 a6 7.Bxc6+ bxc6 8.Bf4 Qb6 9.Qb1 Rb8?? 10.Bxb8 Qxb8 White is up a clear exchange, although the presence of both Black bishops is somewhat of a compensation. 11.0-0 h5?! Any normal development is more sensible. 12.Nh4?! Just a waste of time. 12...Bh7 13.Qc1 e6 14.Ne2 Be7 15.Nf3 Diagram


15...g5?! Tossing another pawn into the fire. [The computer amuses us with 15...Be4 16.Nd2 Bf5 17.c4 Bd6 18.h3 Ne7 White is clearly ahead, but with the extra long range piece (two bishops vs. rook and knight!) Black has his practical chances.] 16.Nxg5 h4 17.Nh3 [17.Nxh7!? Rxh7 18.c4 gets it going (and gets rid of a bishop!).] 17...Bf5 18.Nef4 an overweight defensive line. 18...Bd6 Diagram


19.g3?? White really, really didn't have to do that! Now Black is winning! Everything is justified... 19...hxg3 20.fxg3 Rh4?? Well, not everything! [Why not just 20...Bxh3-+ 21.Nxh3 Rxh3 for example, 22.Qg5 Ne7 23.Qg7 Bxg3!] 21.Ng5?! [21.gxh4 What were they thinking?] 21...Rg4 Diagram


22.Nf3?? That throws the win away. [22.Ne2 bolsters up g3: 22...Bxg3 23.hxg3 Rxg3+ 24.Nxg3 Qxg3+ isn't even a perpetual after 25.Kh1 Qh4+ 26.Kg2 Qg4+ 27.Kf2 There just isn't enough backup material to make this work for White. 27...Nf6 (27...Qxd4+ 28.Qe3) 28.c3] 22...Bxf4! NOW it's all Black's way. 23.Qe1 Diagram


23...Bxg3!! It all comes together! 24.hxg3 Rxg3+ 25.Kh1?! [25.Kf2 Nf6! Black swarms.] 25...Rh3+ [25...Be4! is the simplest wipeout.] 26.Kg2 Qf4! 27.Rd1 [27.Qe5 Qg4+ 28.Kf2 Qxf3+ (28...Rxf3+) ] 27...Qg4+ 28.Kf2 Qxf3+ 29.Kg1 Rh1# FreeFavoriteMap won by checkmate 0-1


(15) CuteDynamicGargoyle (1462) - ThinOvalPaw (1538) [C57]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 [2.Nf3 Nc6 0-1 (12) Fischer,R-Burger,R San Francisco 1964] 2...Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4!? [5...Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 is the most common defense,] 6.d6?! Seen hundreds of times, but it's a shortsided achievement as we'll see here. [6.c3 is by far the most common and critical move, with incredible complications after 6...b5! 7.Bf1! Nxd5! 8.cxd4 (8.Ne4!?) 8...Qxg5 9.Bxb5+ Kd8 (or the other king move). Let's publish again former past boardmember and chess statesman Robert Burger's miniature: 10.Qf3 Bb7 11.0-0 exd4 12.Qxf7 Nf6 0-1 (12) Fischer,R-Burger,R Mechanics' simultaneous, San Francisco 1964] 6...Qxd6 7.Nxf7? Diagram


[7.Bxf7+ Ke7 8.Bb3 Nxb3; 7.0-0!? might still hold out for a proper game, although 7...Bg4 8.f3 Bh5 and Black is ready to start pushing back.] 7...Qc6! 132 two games in the database chose this (and no others) 8.Na3N [8.0-0 Qxc4 9.Nxh8 Nxc2] 8...Qxg2 Diagram


This pattern is quite old and seen in other openings as well: 9.Rf1 Qe4+ 10.Be2 Nf3# ThinOvalPaw won by checkmate. Nicely done! 0-1


(16) LateLoyalBagel (1207) - DarkCapableCharm (1402) [A06]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.Nf3 d5 2.d3 c5 3.e4 Nc6 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.c4?! Perhaps positionally suspect -- that hole on d4... 5...Qd6 6.g3 e5 7.Bg2 Nb4?! Diagram


Hey! Development! [7...Bf5!?; Simply 7...Nf6; or 7...Be7] 8.Bd2?? [8.0-0! Qxd3 9.Qxd3! (9.Nc3) 9...Nxd3 10.Nxe5! Nxe5 11.Re1+/- Black is getting caught in the center.] 8...Nxd3+ 9.Kf1 Bg4 [9...e4 10.Ne1 f5] 10.Bc3 with a threat, but... 10...e4 11.Be5? Qd7?! [11...Nxe5!] 12.Qd2 exf3 13.Qe3 fxg2+ 14.Kxg2 Nxe5 [14...Bh3+ 15.Kg1 0-0-0] 15.Qxe5+ Be7 16.Qxg7 Qf5 Alas, you can only play one. [16...Qc6+; 16...Bh3+] 17.Qxh8 Qf3+ 18.Kf1 Qxh1# DarkCapableCharm won by checkmate 0-1

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:

6/27 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
6/28 Sunday - 6SS G/15+2 USCF Online Rated
Starts at 2PM

6/29 Monday - Monday Online Arena

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


6/30 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Online Rapid
Format: 5 rounds of G/10+2 (Swiss)
Start: 6:30PM
7/1 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.
7/2 Thursday Night Blitz
Format: 8SS G/3+2
Join the tournament from 6PM -
Starts 7PM.
7/3 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

Practical Shots for the Tactical Patz.

“Always study your one and two-move tactics.”

- IM John Grefe

The title of this article comes from John Grefe, who always wanted to write a book with that name.  The “Greefster” was a bit of a harsh teacher – he had no truck with lazy students, and woe betide those who missed a simple mate or elementary combination. I was reminded of this the other night while commenting on this position from the Tuesday Night Marathon:

IM Elliott Winslow – FM Kyron Griffith. TNM 06.23.20

Here Kyron tried 1… Qc7.  It looks logical, protecting the bishop and hitting h2.  Naturally Elliott swooped in with his Queen: 2.Qh7+ and eventually won the game and the tournament.

What did these titled - yet human! - players miss?

John Grefe - rest his soul – is turning over in his grave.


And now on to you, dear reader.  It’s your turn to try your hand.  The following puzzles are pretty easy, and they come again from my on-line blitz games.  Mate or win material.

I’m going to offer a few clues, but remember: Grefe is watching.

Diagram 1. White to move.

Let’s start with a real easy one…


Diagram 2.  White to move.

No clues, just find the winning shot.


Diagram 3.  White to move.

A standard mating pattern.  This should literally take you 2 seconds to see.


Diagram 4.  Black to move.

Black is losing but tried 1…gxf3, trying to sneak in a new Queen I guess.  What did he miss?


Diagram 5. White to move.

Here your task is just to win a lowly pawn.  Can you see how?


Diagram 6. Black to move.

This sequence needs to be in every chess player’s head.  Mate in 4 moves.


Diagram 7. White to move.

Black has gone astray in a sharp variation of the Sicilian. What move ends his hopes?


Diagram 8. White to move.

Black has just tried the tricky 1…Ng5.  However, the trick is on him. Why?


Diagram 9. White to move.

Another standard mating pattern… learn to recognize them!


Diagram 10. White to move.

A lovely shot brings smashes the black defenses.


GM Nick de Firmian's Column

Sam the Man

“Sam I am, I am Sam. Would you like…”  Thus speaks the title character of Dr. Seuss’ famous rhyme.  Yet we have our own 'Sam' the man - Sam Shankland, who won Northern California Championship on Sunday. He adds another feather in his cap of many tournament victories.  We thought this was a good time to recount the glories of our local hero who was born in Berkeley and grew up in Orinda. He was US Chess Champion in 2018 and had other superb tournament victories that year, but has been relatively quiet the last couple years. His razor-sharp play last Sunday was a pleasure to watch, and hopefully a sign that he will be back to great tournament victories very soon.

Sam has been a mainstay of the US Olympic Teams the last several years, winning gold medals twice, one for his individual board in 2014 Tromso Olympiad and one with the team at the 2016 Baku Olympiad. He is a hard working player, who instills the work ethic into his pupils.  We see this at the “US Chess School,” which is a week-long camp for the country’s best junior players. It is held once a  year at the Mechanics’ Institute with Sam and organizer Greg Shahade. The kids are thrilled to be pushed hard by Sam to achieve their best.

Sam’s greatest achievement was winning the 2018 US Championship ahead of World Championship challenger Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura. This brought Sam to the level of super grandmaster, but there the road is steep and Sam has not progressed up the rating ladder since. His great play on Sunday may be the start of a new run and even greater glories.
We show a couple of his games below, but see also his play from the Northern California Championship in this newsletter.

(1) Alexander Shabalov (2611) - Samuel Shankland (2368) [B50]
World Open Philadelphia, PA USA (1), 02.07.2008

This was an important game in the development of Sam's chess career. The wily Shabalov is a difficult opponent for anyone in the US, and before this game Sam had difficulties meeting him over the board. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.Bc2 e6 8.d3 Be7 Black has gotten his pieces out to good squares. It's very nice the light-squared bishop is out instead of trapped on the queenside. 9.Nbd2 Qc7 10.Qe1 0-0-0!? Sam is out for blood!. It would have been ok to castle kingside, but now the opposite sides castling means attacks for both players. 11.a3 Kb8 12.b4 h6 13.b5 Na5 14.c4 g5 15.Bb2 Rhg8 Diagram

Simple and direct. Black aims to open the g-file as the route to the white king. 16.Nh2 g4 17.Qe3 gxh3 18.Qxh3 Be2 19.Rfe1 Bg4 20.Nxg4 Nxg4 White has the bishop pair while Black has more open lines against the enemy king. 21.Bd1 Ne5 22.Nf1 Bf6 23.Ra2 Qe7 24.Bc1 h5! It looks like the black h-pawn is doomed, but taking it would open the h-file 25.Nh2 [25.Bxh5 Rh8 is a very annoying pin on the bishop] 25...h4 26.Nf1 Ng6 27.f4? [27.Bd2 keeps the game at only a small black advantage (having more play on the kingside squares). After 27. f4 Black can infiltrate.] 27...Bc3! 28.Ree2 Qf6 29.Qf3? Diagram
[29.f5 Ne5 is very pleasant for Black with minor pieces using the central dark squares. Now though the breakthrough comes.] 29...h3! 30.Nh2 [30.Qxh3 Bd4+ 31.Be3 Nxf4!; 30.g3 Ne5! wins] 30...hxg2 31.Be3 Bd4 32.Rf2 Bxe3 33.Qxe3 Qh4! There is no stopping the black attack. Sam threatens ...Ne5 and ...Qxh2+! 34.Bg4 e5 35.fxe5 Nxe5 Shaba resigned as he loses at least a piece. If 36. Bd1 Qxh2+!, if 36. Bh3 Rg3. 0-1


(2) Shankland,Sam - Liang,Awonder [B13]
US Championship St Louis, MO USA (1), 29.04.2018

This is one of the games from Sam's 2018 US Championship victory. 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 The old Exchange Variation against the Caro Kann, which was sometimes used by Bobby Fischer. 4...Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 Bg4 7.Qb3 e5?! Diagram

8.h3! This was undoubtedly part of Sam's opening preparation. He simplifies the complications to reach a positional advantage. [8.dxe5 Nh5 is Black's idea, which is a most unclear position] 8...exf4 9.hxg4 Qe7+ in this way Black guards the b7 pawn 10.Kf1 0-0-0 11.Nd2 g6?! this now threatens to capture on g4 (since no Bf5+) but it allows White the setup he seeks. Note the white king is happy on f1 since one rook can come to e1 and the other is already developed on the h-file. 12.Re1 Qc7 13.g5 Nh5 14.Be2 Ng7 15.Ngf3 Ne6 16.Bb5! focusing on the e5 square. Black has the isolated d-pawn and trouble attacking White's solid pawn structure. 16...Bg7 17.Qa4 Rd6 18.Nb3 b6?! Diagram

Note sure what to play Awonder stops any idea of Nc5, but in doing so he creates weakeness on the queenside light squares. Try to guess Sam's powerful maneuver. 19.Nc1! Nb8 20.Nd3 Kb7 21.Nb4 A great relocation of the white knight - it reminds me of Petrosian. Black is now in serious difficulties. 21...Qd8 22.Ne5! Qc7 23.Qb3 Black can't hold on to all his pawns now. 23...Rhd8 24.Rxh7 a6 25.Bd3 Ka7 26.Qa4 a5 27.Bb5 Kb7 28.Nbd3 Rg8 29.Nf3 Rh8 30.Rxh8 Bxh8 White has an extra pawn and postional edge. Sam wraps up efficiently. 31.a3 Nc6 32.Bxc6+ Rxc6 33.Nde5 Bxe5 34.Nxe5 Rd6 35.Qe8! Rd8 [35...Nxg5?! 36.Nxf7! with Re7 coming] 36.Qxf7 Nxg5 37.Qxc7+ Kxc7 38.Nxg6 With 2 pawns ahead, the game is finished. 38...f3 39.Nf4 Kc6 40.gxf3 Nxf3 41.Re6+ Kb5 42.Ke2 Ng1+ 43.Kd3 1-0


Submit your piece or feedback

We would welcome any feedback, articles or "Letter to the Editor" piece. Submit yours today through this Google Form:


You can browse through our archived newsletters using the "next" and "previous buttons".

Want to save this newsletter for reading at a later time? Click here to learn how.

Want to be notified when the next newsletter is published? Join Our Email List →