Chess Room Newsletter #926 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #926

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #926


July 18, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Short History of the People's Tournament: Part 1 

People’s Tournament: A Chess Poem by Dennis Fritzinger

people’s tournament

the people’s tournament got the name
back when there were still memories
of the people’s park riots
and tear gas and the blue meanies
busting heads.
also, the berkeley team
in the national phone league
was named the berkeley riots.
the best players always showed up
and played, and took away prizes,
which usually was a little money,
though maybe not enough
to pay for a motel room and meals
with much left over,
so the players were usually locals.
if someone came down a distance
it was usually from seattle
or maybe los angeles,
twin poles on the chess hiway.
the same pattern operates today,
though the local players are much stronger,
with names i don’t even recognize
half of the time.
overall, the people’s tournament
has been a success, lasting
as long as it has, with new players
of strength showing up each year
to display their skills or try
their luck. it shows no signs
of fading.
in this regard it resembles
berkeley itself, a small town
named for a philosopher
with an eye to establishing an intellectual
outpost of enlightenment
on the wild california coast.

Dennis Fritzinger, from Mechanics' Institute Newsletter 799 

My first memory of the People's Tournament was when I was a scholastic player in the mid 1980's. Though I lived in San Jose, I would travel to the North Bay to play events, at St. Marks and some other places, but I had never played in the People's Tournament, nor had visited Mechanics' for that matter. I knew it was a special tournament that felt different from many of the other regular local events of the time, the LERA tournaments etc. From reading the California Chess Journal, I knew that strong players would go out of ther way to play this event. I would also read and hear about the ambience of the event, the drums beating at the student union on the campus of UC Berkeley during the tournaments, and the occasional protests and marches on Telegraph. Many years later, I would be a student at UC Berkeley and living in nearby Albany while attending college. I got to experience that ambience first hand on an almost daily basis. There is something magical in that, to have a tournament that transcends the chess play alone and brings to the senses a feeling of something different and special, a feeling of representing a culture. It all came alive during the People's Tournament.

I wanted to write this piece to keep in the memory of this event present for the younger generation of players. It has Berkeley roots, references Berkeley ideologies and places, and was originated by people from Berkeley. The 1960's and 70's in Berkeley was a revolutinary time. The Free Speech Movement during the 1964-65 academic year on the campus of UC Berkeley was the first major organized civil disobedience movement on a college campus in support of civil rights and a protest of the Vietnam War. People's Park in Berkeley was not only the scene of a clash between police and protesters in 1969, but later became a symbol and place for peaceful protest and gathering. I believe that the revolutionary thread of peaceful gathering, of striving towards justice and equality, of offering a tournament which memorializes what Berkeley is about and its importance in the civil rights movement is more important than ever during these times. We need to reflect on those events that originated with meaning and purpose, and not let them fade away. Keeping things etched into history and remembering them matters.

We made a deliberate effort to hold the Schutt/Brandwein/Jay Whitehead Memorial online because we thought it would be a shame not to have that event when we knew it could be done online. I know my great predecessor IM John Donaldson is a world class chess historian that understands the value of preserving knowledge, as does Kerry Lawless, with his Chess Dryad website being the greatest collection of California Chess history anywhere. I'm not a historian, and I don't pretend to be. I just believe knowing our chess history, even in the most basic form, has value, and helps us preserve those things that have value so they endure.

I will write this in three parts, this being the first. I do not have the space to make a complete history, and much of the information I bring forward has previously been compiled by others. My goal is to offer a fresh take on the People's Tournament as observed from a former scholastic observer, co-organizer of the event, and now staunch advocate. I will also interview those who have experienced and played in it before to get their thoughts on the event and its evolution. I guess the reflective part of my interest in writing this is that the absence of events due to COVID-19 has made me think about what might be lost if we do not act proactively preserve our chess history and keep the momentum going. While I'm not the person to preserve history, I may be among a team of people at Mechanics' looking to sustain events and the memory and idea of those events for continuity. History suffers when it stops being recorded, and the same goes for our treasured events, even if a world changing pandemic threatens them. I want to thank Kerry Lawless and John Donaldson in this newsletter for taking time to share information with me regarding the People's Tournament. Special thank you to Kerry for the Chess Dryad, which I have lately often looked and reminisced about my early career in chess that has brought back smiles, including finding some of my old games in issues of the California Chess Journal. I could not have known that I would appreciate history and enjoy reflecting on a joyful childhood time some 30 years later. 

The 1st People's Tournament wasn't even held in Berkeley. Right off the bat we start off with a shock to those unaware. It was called the California People's Chess Festival and held on the campus of Chabot College in Hayward. According to the California Chess Reporter January-February 1974, the tournament was so named because it was a tournament set up by the people and for the people. The organizers of the first event were Jim McCormick, Alan Benson, John Grefe, Richard Shoreman, Dennis Frtizinger, as well as a few others. Although the event was an Hayward, some organizers like Alan Benson, John Grefe, and Dennis Fritzinger had Berkeley roots, so the Berkeley influence has always been present. Ruben Rodriguez was the first winner of this event, beating out a strong field that included GM Walter Browne. Here is Rodriguez's  win over Browne in this event that led to him winning the title. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian. 

(12) Rodriguez,Ruben - Browne,Walter [B99]
People's Tournament, 1974

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 A classic 6. Bg5 Najdorf Variation. Walter Browne was an expert on the Black side, so this was a brave choice from Rodriguez. 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 10.Be2 b5 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.e5 Bb7


13.exf6!? This is Keres' idea that he tried against Bobby Fischer. A very interesting queen sacrifice. 13...Bxf3 14.Bxf3 Bxf6 15.Bxa8 d5! 16.Bxd5! Bxd4 17.Rxd4 exd5 18.Re1+ Kf8 19.Nxd5 Qc5 20.c3 g6 [20...h5 may be better] 21.Re5 Kg7 22.g4 Qc8?! [22...h5! 23.g5 Qc6] 23.f5! Re8?! [23...gxf5] 24.f6+ Kh8 25.Re7! Rodriguez begins to take control with the advanced pawn and centralized pieces. 25...Kg8? [25...Qb8 26.Nc7 Rf8 27.Rdd7?! Qb6! would activate the queen] 26.Nc7! Now White takes full control 26...Rf8 27.Rdd7 White has a winning bind 27...g5 28.Ne6 transposing to a pawn up rook ending 28...Qxd7 29.Rxd7 fxe6 30.Rg7+ Kh8 31.Rxg5 Rxf6 32.h4 Rf4 33.h5 b4 34.Kc2 bxc3 35.Kxc3 h6 36.Rg6 Kh7 37.Rxe6 Rxg4 38.Rxa6 Rg5 39.Rg6 Rxh5 40.Rg3 two passed pawns on the queenside should win the game 40...Rc5+ 41.Kb4 Rc2 42.Kb3 Rc1 43.a4 h5 44.Kb4 Kh6 45.Kb5 h4 46.Rg8 Rc7 47.b4 Rg7 48.Rc8 h3 49.Rc3 Rg5+ 50.Ka6 h2 51.Rh3+ Rh5 52.Rxh2! giving up the rook, but the advanced white pawns are too much 52...Rxh2 53.b5 Kg5 54.b6 Rh6 55.a5 Kf5 56.Ka7 Ke6 57.b7 Rh7 58.Ka8 Rh5 59.a6 1-0

Here is the list of the winners of the People's tournament, compiled by John Donaldson in the MI newsletter. 

1974 Ruben Rodriguez (199 players)
1975 Walter Browne (over 100 players)
1976 Peter Biyiasas, Walter Browne and John Grefe (220)
1977 Walter Browne (168)
1978 Larry Christiansen and Nick de Firmian (142)
1979 Eugene Meyer (216)
1980 Paul Cornelius, John Donaldson and Charles Powell (196 players)
1981 James Tarjan (209)
1982 Jeremy Silman and John Grefe (111)

1983 Jeremy Silman (209)

1984 ???
1985 Igor Ivanov and Kamran Shirazi
1986 ???
1987 Cris Ramayrat and Jay Whitehead
1988 Nick de Firmian, Cris Ramayrat, Marc Leski and Dov Gorman (about 180)
1989 Nick de Firmian (213)
1990 Nick de Firmian and Vince McCambridge (close to 200)
1991 John Donaldson, John Grefe, Marc Leski, Larry Remlinger, and Vladimir Strugatsky (219 with 29 masters)

1992 Walter Browne (193)
1993 Nick de Firmian and Renard Anderson (200+)
1994 Richard Kelson, Victor Baja and Burt Izumikawa (152)
1995 John Donaldson (210)
1996 Dmitry Zilberstein and Artak Akopian (226)
1997 John Donaldson, Robin Forman and Walter Shipman (160)
1998 Tigran Ishkhanov and Vinay Bhat (170)
1999 Vinay Bhat (141)
2000 Camilla Baginskaite (130)
2001 Mauro Casadei (131)
2002 John Donaldson and Dmitry Zilberstein (160)
2003 Ricardo De Guzman and John Donaldson (157)
2004 Ricardo De Guzman (152)
2005 Ricardo De Guzman (144)
2006 Michael Aigner (60)
2007 Craig Mar, Walter Shipman and Nicholas Yap (126)
2008 Michael Aigner (79)
2009 David Pruess (104) Note: this event was only four rounds.
2010 Ricardo De Guzman (98)
2011 Ricardo De Guzman (176)
2012 Ricardo De Guzman and Kesav Viswanadha (135)
2013 No Tournament
2014 Faik Aleskerov (177)
2015 Eugene Yanayt (161)
2016 Parimarjan Negi (168)

2017 Conrad Holt (175)

2018 Prasana Rao, Yiping Lou, Jack Zhu (148)

2019 Gergely Antal (197)


Multiple Winners
De Guzman and Donaldson – 6 times
de Firmian – 5 times
Browne – 4 times
Grefe – 3 times
Aigner, Bhat, Leski, Ramayrat, Shipman, Silman and Zilberstein– 2 times

Tournament Location
Berkeley 1976-2007, 2009, 2016, 2017, 2018
Concord 2010
Fremont 2011
Hayward 1974 and 1975
Pleasanton 2012
Santa Clara 2008, 2014, 2015, 2019

The tournament was moved to Berkeley for the 3rd People's, and remained there for the next 31 years. Alan Benson, Mike Goodall and Mike Donald directed this 220 player event, that was proclaimed by Benson as the "strongest tournament that was ever held in Berkeley without exception" -California Chess Reporter, Volume XXV number 4, January-February 1976. Peter Biyiasas, Walteer Browne, and John Grefe tied for 1st in this event. 

In the 5th People's Tournament in 1978, GM Larry Chritiansen and our very own GM Nick de Firmian tied for first. Here is a win by Christiansen over GM Yasser Seirawan.

(11) Larry Mark Christiansen - Yasser Seirawan [B08]
People's Tournament San Francisco, CA USA, 1978

1.Nf3 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.d4 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Be2 0-0 6.0-0 Nc6 7.d5 A classical Pirc Defense. White now takes some space but Black plays for dark squares in the center. 7...Nb8 8.Bg5 c6 9.Qd2 Qc7 10.Rad1 Nbd7 11.Rfe1 a5 12.Bf1 a4 13.a3 Re8 A classic Christiansen - Seirawan battle. Larry goes for the center and big play with attacking prospects. Yasser looks to maneuver to a better position. 14.h3 Nb6 15.Bh6 [15.dxc6 bxc6 16.e5! should give White a slight edge.] 15...cxd5 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.exd5?! [17.Nxd5] 17...Bd7 18.Re3?! Ra5! The rook lift is very powerful. It will lead to the win of a pawn due to the weakeness of d5 and the white queenside. 19.Rd3 Nc4 20.Qc1 Rc5 21.Ng5 Nxa3 So Black has won a pawn. Christiansen plays as if its not important and centralizes his pieces to keep them active. 22.Rd4 [22.bxa3 Rxc3] 22...h6 23.Nge4 Nxe4 24.Rxe4 Nc4?! [24...b5] 25.Rdd4?! [There was a tactical opportunity here - 25.Nxa4! Bxa4 26.b4] 25...Nb6 26.Rh4 Rh8 27.Qa1 The queen looks far away from the action but defends the queenside. 27...Ra8 28.Bd3 g5? [Black could still have an edge with 28...a3 as 29.b3? Rxc3 30.Rc4 Nxc4 31.Rxc4 Qb6 32.Qxc3+ Kg8 leaves the powerful black a-pawn. Yasser thinks to chase away the white rook from the kingside, but runs into a terrible surprise.] 29.Rxh6!!


29...Kxh6 30.Rh4+!! It's amazing White can give up the two active rooks and gain a winning attack with the queen far away on a1. 30...Kg7 [no better is 30...gxh4 31.Qc1+ Kg7 (31...Kh5 32.Qd1+ (32.g4+ hxg3 33.h4 Rg8) 32...Kh6 33.Qd2+ Kh5 34.Qe2+ Kh6 35.Qe3+ Kh5 36.Qf3+ Kh6 37.Qxf7 (37.Qf4+ Kh5 38.Qxf7+) ) 32.Qg5+ Kf8 33.Qh6+ Kg8 34.Qh7+] 31.Rh7+ [31.Qc1 gxh4 (31...f6) ; 31.Ne4 gxh4 32.b4+ f6] 31...Kf6 [31...Kg8 32.Qd1 g4 33.Qd2] 32.Rh6+ Kg7 33.Rh7+ Kf6 34.Ne4+ Kg6


[34...Ke5 35.b4+] 35.Qd1! [35.Nxd6+ f5] 35...g4 [taking the rook gets mated 35...Kxh7 36.Qh5+ Kg7 37.Qxg5+ Kf8 38.Qh6+ Kg8 39.Nf6+ exf6 40.Bh7+ Kh8 41.Bg6+ Kg8 42.Qh7+ Kf8 43.Qxf7#] 36.Qd2 Rxd5 [36...Kxh7 37.Nf6+ Kg7 38.Qg5+] 37.Qh6+ Kf5 38.Rxf7+ Ke5 The black king struggles, but he's clearly doomed. 39.Qg7+ Ke6 40.Rf6+ Ke5 41.Rxd6+ Kf4 42.g3+ Kf3 43.Nd2# An absolutely amazing game! 1-0

By the 9th People's tournament, Mike Goodall assumed the role of Chief TD after Alan Benson stepped away from organizing this event.

Mike Goodall at Mechanics'

The venue for the People's was the UC Berkeley campus at the Student Union. The Student Union was located next to Sproul Plaza, with the iconic Sather Gate and water fountain. 

Martin Luther King Student Union on the campus of UC Berkeley

For anyone who had been to the campus during that time, and to this day, Sproul Plaza has echoed the sounds of drums playing. Be it drums, bongos, kongas, or even tin cans, the constant rhythmic sound of drums playing echoed as a symbol of what the People's Tournament was. Players seemed to drown out the sound as white noise because of its regularity. The sound added to the flavor of the event, and created a physical reminder of the memories of the People's Tournament. 

Such were the early years. The next article next week will take a look at the 1980's through 2000, which showed great results by Mechanics' players including GM Nick de Firmian and IM John Donaldson. We saw a change in tournament directors and organizers. We will review some games from these events, and discuss the people from the People's next week in part two.

Mechanics' Institute Tuesday Night Marathon Online

The Tuesday Night Marathon continued with rounds three and four of this six-round, three-week event, and the strongest players rose to the top and provided some thrilling action. The 62-player TNM now has two players in clear first in their respective divisions. In the top section, FM Kyron Griffith weathered a storm from Felix German in the third round to win, then unleashed a blistering attack on NM Ruiyang Yan in the fourth round. Yan found superb defense and some amazing opporunities, but in the end, Griffith converted the win to be the only player with 4/4 in a 49-player top section. IM Elliott Winslow launched a fierce attack of his own against FM Eric Li, but Li's defenses proved strong and the two agreed to a draw. Here are some games from that section, featuring first the two games mentioned. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian. 

(1) Felix German (FelixGerman) (1677) - FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2112) [E73]
Live Chess, 14.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.h4 Felix has a fondness for this system, with a fair number of crashing successes. But general consensus, as well as classic theory, contends that "a wing attack is best met by a counterattack in the center" -- and so... 6...c5 7.d5 b5! Playing into the Benko Gambit makes a lot of sense, turning White's h2-h4 into a virtual lost tempo. [7...e6 8.h5 exd5 9.exd5 Re8 10.h6!? is Felix's continuation, with complicated play.] 8.cxb5 a6 Diagram


9.h5?! Consistent but refusing to adapt. Forget about checkmate! Deal with the queenside! [White could secure a pawn plus with 9.bxa6; or there is a lot to be said for 9.b6 (It's funny how Black misses his a-file play thanks to his own pawn being there); While best might well be 9.a4!? axb5 10.Bxb5 Ba6 11.Bd2!? to recapture on b5 with the a-pawn. Looks ugly but thwarts a lot of Black's counterplay.] 9...axb5 10.hxg6 [After 10.Bxb5 Black has a standard trick: 10...Nxe4! 11.Nxe4 Qa5+ 12.Nc3 Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 Qxb5 with a solid edge.] 10...b4?! Perhaps Kyron felt that White's ignoring Black's aggressions should be punished! [10...fxg6 comes out fine, even after 11.e5 (11.Bxb5 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Qa5+ 13.Nc3 Bxc3+ 14.bxc3 Qxb5) 11...dxe5 12.Bxb5 Ba6] 11.gxh7+ [11.gxf7+ Rxf7 12.Nb5 Nxe4 13.Nf3 White still has options for his king position, his knight on b5 isn't, surprisingly, in danger, and Black's king isn't so thrilled about the missing pawns.] 11...Kh8 Another standard idea, hiding behind the opponent's pawn. 12.Nb1?! Can White stand this loss of development after all that time spent with the h-pawn? [12.Nb5 Nxe4 13.a4] 12...Nxe4 13.Bh6? Diagram


One of those knights needs to get into the game: [13.Nd2 is probably best, even if you have to take back with the queen.] 13...Bxb2! Black bravely takes the material. 14.Qc2 [14.Bxf8 Qxf8 15.Nd2 Nxd2] 14...Bxa1 15.Qxe4 f5 This is fine but a bit losening. Black must play accurately henceforth. 16.Qh4 Bf6 17.Qh5 Rxa2 18.Nh3 Nd7? [18...Qe8! contesting, the kingside squares, was the only winning move there.] 19.Ng5 Diagram


19...Bxg5?? [19...Ne5 keeps an equality after 20.f4 Rxe2+!; Or even more to the point, 19...Rxe2+! right away: 20.Kxe2 (20.Qxe2? Bxg5 21.Bxg5 Nf6-+) 20...Ba6+ 21.Kd1 Ne5 22.f4 Qa5 23.fxe5 Qa2= with a perpetual 24.Kc1?? b3-+] 20.Qxg5 Something has gone quite wrong with Black's defense! 20...Rxe2+!? Trying to stay alive as it turns out. [20...Rf7?! 21.Bh5 Rxh7 22.Bg7+! with mate impending.] 21.Kxe2 Rf7 Diagram


22.Qc1?? This fails -- there's never going to be any mate on the long diagonal! [22.Qh5!! sticks Black in a quandary and would have been another of those crushes White plays for: 22...Ne5 (22...Kxh7 23.Qxf7+; 22...Rxh7 23.Bg7+! Kxg7 24.Qxh7+ Kf6 25.f4!; 22...Qe8 23.Bg7+!! and mate shortly!) 23.f4 wins a piece with an overwhelming position. 23...Bb7 24.fxe5 Bxd5 25.Nd2 dxe5 26.Qg6 c4 27.Rh5 c3 28.Rg5! Rxh7 29.Bg7+ Kg8 30.Bxe5+ Kf8 31.Qxh7 is over] 22...Rxh7 No more tricks. 23.Qb2+ Nf6 24.Rh3 Qg8 25.Rg3 Ba6+ 26.Ke1 Qxd5 27.Nd2 Rxh6 KyronGriffith won by resignation 0-1


(4) FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2125) - NM Ruiyang Yan (jij2018) (2157) [B90]
Live Chess (4), 14.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bd3 Rare! Kyron used to play the Najdorf as Black but has been going other ways (as against Winslow, a ...Nf6/exf6 Caro Kann), and here as White playing one of the "anti-theory" lines. Many players do what they can to avoid opponent preparation. 6...e5 Reccommended in Vigorito's 2020 Najdorf book, seeing no reason not to keep things Najdorfian. [6...g6 makes sense, as Bd3 is even less thematic in Dragon lines than ...a6 is for Black.; 6...Nc6 also bluntly exposes one slight drawback of White's move.] 7.Nde2 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Kh1 Nbd7 10.f4 b5! 11.a4 [Contesting the queenside, but Black is doing well in any case, e.g 11.Ng3 g6 12.f5 b4 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Nf6 15.Bh6 Bb7 16.Ne4 Nxd5 17.Bxf8 Qxf8 18.Qd2 Rc8 19.Rae1 a5 20.b3 Nf4 21.Rxf4 exf4 22.Qxf4 d5 23.Ng5 h6 24.Nf3 g5 25.Qd4 Bc5 26.Qg4 Re8 27.Rf1 f6 28.Nd4 h5 29.Qxh5 Bxd4 30.Qg6+ Kh8 31.Rf3 Re1+ 32.Bf1 Qg7 33.Qh5+ Qh7 34.Qg4 Be5 35.Kg1 Ba6 0-1 (35) Polgar,J (2677) -Ponomariov,R (2743) Moscow 2002] 11...b4 12.Nd5 Nxd5 13.exd5 Bb7 14.c4! a necessary move to hold the center squares 14...Bf6 15.Ng3 exf4 16.Bxf4 Be5 17.Ne4 Bxf4 18.Rxf4 Ne5? This allows White some tactics. Safer was to hold kingside squares with [18...f5! 19.Ng3 g6] 19.Nf6+!


19...gxf6 20.Qh5! Now White's attack rages. 20...Re8?! [20...Nxd3 21.Rg4+ Kh8 22.Rh4 is a quick mate; 20...f5! 21.Rh4 Re8 22.Qxh7+ Kf8 23.Qh6+ Ke7 24.Bxf5 Rg8 25.Re1 is still good for White but Black has defensive chances at least.] 21.Bxh7+? [21.Qxh7+ Kf8 22.Raf1 is a very strong attack for White] 21...Kf8?! [21...Kg7! keeps the white queen away for a move] 22.Qh6+ Ke7 23.Rxf6 Rh8 24.Raf1 Qf8


25.Rxf7+! Qxf7 [25...Nxf7 26.Qe6+ Kd8 27.Rxf7] 26.Rxf7+ Nxf7 27.Qe6+ Kf8 28.Bg6 Black must lose material against the queen and bishop attack. 28...Rh7 29.Bxf7 [29.Bxh7? Re8 is a back rank problem] 29...Rxf7 30.Qxd6+ Kg8 31.Qg6+ Kf8 32.h4 The white pawns are too strong. 32...Re8 33.h5 Rg7 34.Qd6+ Kf7 35.h6 Rg6 36.Qd7+ Re7 37.Qf5+ Rf6 38.Qh5+ Kg8 39.Qg5+ Kf7 40.h7 The little white h-pawn wins the game. Its march up the board was a quick journey. 40...Re1+ 41.Kh2 Re8 42.Qh5+ 1-0


(9) IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (1931) - FM Eric Yuhan Li (wepkins) (2258) [C65]
Live Chess (4), 14.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 A bit of a change from Eric's usual Najdorf Sicilian! 4.d3 Even Winslow finally admits the resiliency of the "Berlin Wall" variation: [4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8] 4...Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 Diagram

6.Qe2!? Essayed by Carlsen already a couple times at least. [There's certainly nothing wrong with 6.0-0 unless you don't like to commit your king one way or another too soon.] 6...Bd6!? Also not so popular, but an excellent percentage. [6...Qe7; 6...Nd7; 6...Bg4 are typical ways to deal with the threat to the e-pawn.] 7.Nbd2 0-0N [7...Be6 is the only move previously played] 8.Nc4 Now White gets some pressure going. 8...Re8 [8...b5!? 9.Ncxe5? Qe8 10.d4 c5] 9.Bg5 b5 10.Ne3 h6 11.Bh4 Be6?! [11...g5 12.Bg3 Nh5 13.h4! White hits at the right moment.; 11...Bc5!? looking for ...Qd6 unpinning the knight without consequence.] 12.h3 a5 13.g4?! A bit crude [13.a4!? takes the battle to the other side, qith a plus.] 13...g5?! And too crude in response. [13...a4!? 14.Rg1 a3 15.b3 is still an initiative for White (whose king is fine at f1).] 14.Bg3 Nd7 15.h4 f6 16.0-0-0 [16.hxg5 hxg5 17.d4 is crushing according to Stockfish.] 16...c5 17.hxg5 hxg5 18.Nf5 Bf8 19.Rh2 Even here White should have every reason to expect to win. 19...Bg7 20.Rdh1 [20.Nd2!] 20...Bxf5 21.gxf5 [21.exf5!?] 21...Nf8 An expensive defense 22.Qe3 Qe7 Diagram
23.Rh5 [23.Bxe5! fxe5 24.Nxg5 and a shift of the rooks to the g-file, and it's over.] 23...Ra6 24.Nd2 [24.Bxe5! again: 24...fxe5 25.Rxg5] 24...a4 25.f3 Kf7 26.Bf2 Rc6 27.Nb1 c4?! 28.dxc4 Rxc4? 29.Nc3?! Time shortage starts to affect the play. [29.Na3 collapses Black.] 29...c6 30.Rd1 [30.a3] 30...Rd8 31.Rxd8 Qxd8 Diagram
32.Rh1 [32.Ne2! (threatens the rook) 32...c5 33.Nc3!] 32...Rd4 33.Qe2 Rd7 34.a3 Qe7 35.Na2 Qd6 36.Nb4 Ke8 37.Rd1 Qxd1+ 38.Qxd1 Rxd1+ 39.Kxd1 still great for White (that bishop on g7!) 39...Kd7 40.Bc5?! Kc7 41.Ke2 Nd7 42.Be7 Bf8 43.Bxf8 Nxf8 White has loosened his grip considerably. 44.Kd3?= [44.Nd3] 44...Nd7 45.c4? Diagram
45...Kb6? [45...Nc5+ 46.Kc3?? g4!-+] 46.cxb5 and a tense draw after 46...Kxb5 47.Kc3 Nc5 48.Nd3 Nd7 49.Nf2 Kc5 50.Ng4 Game drawn by agreement 1/2-1/2


(7) Austin Mei (TitanChess666) (1802) - Simona Nayberg (roboro13) (1810) [C20]
Live Chess, 14.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 Nf6 2.d3 A passive response to Alekhine's defense. 2...e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Be7?! This lets White get a good setup against the e5 pawn. [6...Bg4 is more active] 7.0-0 Be6 8.Re1 Bf6 9.Nc3?! [9.Nbd2! headed to c4 would annoy the e5 pawn.] 9...Nxc3 10.bxc3 e4?! this trade lets the white pieces come to active squares 11.Rxe4 Bxc3 12.Rb1 0-0 13.Bg5 [13.Rxb7! Bd5 14.Rh4 is good] 13...Qd7 14.Bd2 Bf6 15.Rxb7 Bxa2 16.Bf4 Rfc8 17.Ng5?! [17.c4! would put the bishop on a2 in danger] 17...Bxg5 18.Bxg5 Rcb8 19.Rxb8+ Rxb8 20.Re1 Nd4 21.c3 Ne6 22.Be3 a5 23.Qa1 [23.c4 Bb3 24.Qd2 a4 is chances for both sides] 23...Bd5 24.Bh3?! White abandons the long diagonal. This is asking for trouble. 24...Ba8! 25.Rb1? [25.Bg2] 25...Rxb1+ 26.Qxb1 Qc6! 27.Qb8+ Nf8 28.f3 Qxf3 29.Bc5

29...Qh1+ 30.Kf2 Qxh2+ 31.Ke1 Qxg3+ 32.Kd2 Qg5+ Black has stopped the mate on f8 by checks and now simply has extra pawns. 33.Be3 [33.Kc2 Qxc5] 33...Qd5 34.Qxc7 Qa2+ 35.Kc1 Qa1+ 36.Kc2 a4 37.Qc8?! [37.Bc5 would give White a little hope] 37...Bf3! 38.Bc5 now Black finishes it off with checks 38...Qd1+ 39.Kb2 Qb3+ 40.Kc1 Qxc3+ 41.Kb1 Qxd3+ 42.Kc1 Qc3+ 43.Kb1 Be4+ 44.Ka2 Qb3+ 45.Ka1 Qb1# a great attack by roboro13 0-1


(8) Ahyan Zaman (ahyanzaman) (1420) - Tejas Mahesh (ChessTX9) (1818) [B33]
Live Chess, 14.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.f3?! It is better to developa a piece. This guards the center but lags in development. 7...Be6 [7...a6! 8.Na3 Be6] 8.Be3 a6 9.Na3 Rb8 [9...d5 is very sensible] 10.Nd5? loses a pawn 10...Nxd5 11.exd5 Qa5+! 12.c3 Qxd5 13.Qc2 Be7 14.Bb6 A tricky move, trying to trap the black queen in the center with Bc4. 14...Nd8 makes a square for the queen, though even better is [14...Bh4+! 15.g3 Bd8] 15.Rd1 Qc6 16.Qf2 0-0 17.c4 d5! The loss of White's center pawn is a serious matter. Black is not just a pawn up - he has control of the key center squares. 18.c5?! It's hard to give good advice here but there is really no hope with ceding the central squares to the black pawns. 18...f5 19.Qg3 Nf7 20.Rc1 Rbc8 21.Qf2 f4 22.g4 e4! 23.h4 Ne5

24.fxe4 dxe4 The position is a wonderful picture from Black's side, but a nightmare from White's side. 25.g5 Kh8 26.Rd1 e3 splat 27.Qg2 f3 28.Qg3 f2+ 29.Ke2 Qe4 Many players would resign, but you may as well fight to the finish from here. 30.Bg2 Bg4+ 31.Bf3 Rxf3 32.Qxe5 Rf4+ 33.Kf1 e2# 0-1


In the under 1600 section, Charlene Kwok (imcharlene) is at 4/4, a full point ahead of Rama Chitta (draidus). 

Here are the current standings:

Standings after Round 4

SwissSys Standings. TuesdayNightMarathonOnline_2020July: 1600+

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total T-Sonneborn Prize
1 Kyron Wa Griffith 12860484 2470 W30 W27 W24 W4     4.0 9  
2 Eric Yuhan Li 15688436 2369 W42 W7 W19 D3     3.5 7.75  
3 Elliott C Winslow 10363365 2278 W35 W28 W22 D2     3.5 7.25  
4 Ruiyang Yan 15462690 2242 W10 W20 W13 L1     3.0 7.5  
5 Pranav Sairam 15424820 2087 W40 L13 W14 W18     3.0 6  
6 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 W39 D14 D17 W27     3.0 5.5  
7 Simona Nayberg 14373224 1906 W32 L2 W44 W21     3.0 5  
8 Shaashw Sivakumar 15089302 2078 H--- H--- W31 W20     3.0 4  
9 Ashik Uzzaman 13178575 1940 H--- H--- W23 W22     3.0 4  
10 Ryan Tiong 15990403 1790 L4 W29 W26 X24     3.0 4  
11 Tejas Mahesh 15086558 1988 W49 L22 W36 W30     3.0 3.5  
12 Cailen J Melville 14006141 1940 H--- H--- X--- W19     3.0 2  
13 Robert E Berry 12742576 1671 W26 W5 L4 D16     2.5 6.25  
14 Imran Champsi 16176854 1663 W16 D6 L5 W34     2.5 5.5  
15 Edward Rosenthal 12413338 2029 L19 D25 W47 W32     2.5 3.5  
16 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 L14 W39 W38 D13     2.5 3.25  
17 Stewart Katz 12458563 1835 W47 H--- D6 H---     2.5 2  
18 Michael K Lum 12604366 1926 H--- W37 X33 L5     2.5 1.5  
19 Ryan Wang 15991187 1725 W15 W21 L2 L12     2.0 4.5  
20 Javier Silva III 16089208 1869 W29 L4 W25 L8     2.0 4  
21 Austin R Mei 16090452 2149 W34 L19 W28 L7     2.0 3.5  
22 Roger V Shi 16191192 1572 X48 W11 L3 L9     2.0 3  
23 Kr Gopalakrishnan 16545130 1506 W31 L24 L9 W42     2.0 3  
24 Felix German 12624534 1976 W46 W23 L1 F10     2.0 2.5  
25 Ethan Guo 16761994 1241 H--- D15 L20 W39     2.0 2.25  
26 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 L13 W40 L10 W38     2.0 2  
27 Rudolph Fr Breedt 13701346 1884 W38 L1 W45 L6     2.0 2  
28 Adam Mercado 16571026 1831 W44 L3 L21 W45     2.0 2  
29 Cesar B Tamondong 12439091 1600 L20 L10 W40 W41     2.0 2  
30 Saatvik Krishnan 15210955 1797 L1 W46 W41 L11     2.0 1.5  
31 Lauren Goodkind 12778910 1856 L23 W49 L8 W44     2.0 1  
32 Rachael Tiong 16019458 1624 L7 W42 X12 L15     2.0 1  
33 John P McCumiskey 11277713 1838 X43 H--- F18 H---     2.0 0  
34 Kevin M Fong 17254586 1783 L21 D47 W37 L14     1.5 1.75  
35 Barbara Goodkind 12778604 1791 L3 L38 D46 W47     1.5 0.75  
36 Ahyan Zaman 15035222 1699 H--- H--- L11 D37     1.5 0.75  
37 Kevin Sun 16898540 1009 B--- L18 L34 D36     1.5 0.75  
38 Ishaan Kodarapu 16128527 1607 L27 W35 L16 L26     1.0 1.5  
39 Adelynne Yang 15661335 1695 L6 L16 W43 L25     1.0 1  
40 Kevin Joe Roberts 12735690 1739 L5 L26 L29 W46     1.0 0.5  
41 Michael Walder 10345120 2075 H--- H--- L30 L29     1.0 0  
42 Alexander Huberts 16419664 1794 L2 L32 W49 L23     1.0 0  
43 Gan Mathrubootham 15183473 1494 F33 U--- L39 W49     1.0 0  
44 Wentao Wu 16629782 1411 L28 B--- L7 L31     1.0 0  
45 Michael Hsu 14949587 1263 H--- H--- L27 L28     1.0 0  
46 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1664 L24 L30 D35 L40     0.5 0.75  
47 Andersen Yang 16304918 1475 L17 D34 L15 L35     0.5 0.75  
48 Jeremy Da Cawthon 15038608 1866 F22 U--- U--- U---     0.0 0  
49 Erika Malykin 12910007 1693 L11 L31 L42 L43     0.0 0  

SwissSys Standings. TuesdayNightMarathonOnline_2020July: u1600

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total T-Sonneborn Prize
1 Charlene Kwok 16470910 1124 W8 W11 W3 W4     4.0 7.5  
2 Rama Krish Chitta 17350313 unr. W5 L3 W7 W6     3.0 6.5  
3 Daniel R Perlov 16465203 1364 W6 W2 L1 D5     2.5 6.25  
4 Pranav Pradeep 15871762 1252 D9 W7 W8 L1     2.5 4.25  
5 Shankara Mohan 16810493 1129 L2 W12 W10 D3     2.5 3.75  
6 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 948 L3 W13 W9 L2     2.0 1.5  
7 Jonatha Baterdene 15088555 1237 W13 L4 L2 W12     2.0 1  
8 Liora Ginzburg 16587703 1523 L1 W9 L4 D10     1.5 2.25  
9 Rahim Dharssi 12693378 595 D4 L8 L6 B---     1.5 1.25  
10 Martin Camacho 17248027 1031 H--- H--- L5 D8     1.5 0.75  
11 Michael Hsu 14949587 1263 W12 L1 U--- U---     1.0 1  
12 Danny Du Uy Cao 16939797 843 L11 L5 X13 L7     1.0 0  
13 Kate Canessa 14102056 473 L7 L6 F12 U---     0.0 0  

SwissSys Standings. TuesdayNightMarathonOnline_2020July: Extra Games

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total T-Sonneborn Prize
1 Michael K Lum 12604366 1926 W4           1.0 0  
2 John P McCumiskey 11277713 1838 W3           1.0 0  
3 Roger V Shi 16191192 1572 L2           0.0 0  
4 Kevin Sun 16898540 1009 L1           0.0 0  

Rounds 5 & 6 will be this Tuesday starting at 6:30PM. You can follow the final two rounds on our live broadcast which can be seen on our Twitch channel at this link:

To watch the brodcast of rounds 3 & 4, it can be seen at this link:

Mechanics' Online Events Recap

Friday Night Online Blitz: Winner: Roham Rajaram (ninjatrick)

Sunday Matinee: Winner: Jeffery Wang (twangbio)

Sunday Evening Blitz: Winner: Vedant Talwalkar (serverbusy)

Monday Night Arena: Winner: Winston Leung (TM_TheMaster)

Wednesday Matinee: Winner: Kevin Fong (chessappeals)

Wednesday Late Night Showdown: Winner: Cancelled due to Server Restart

Thursday Night Blitz: Winner: Andrew Schley (andrewschley) Club's League Update

The Mechanics' Institute secured a big win last Saturday against Stevenson High School Chess Team 15-5. With that win, we are now in 13th place in the league out of 61 teams with a score of 4.5/7. There was an absolutely beautiful game played by IM Elliott Winslow in his first match. He has been playing some creative chess lately, and we hope he continues his inspirational run in the coming U.S. Senior Invitational.

(5) MellowYawn (1810) - ecwinslow (1935) [B90]
Live Chess, 11.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 e5 7.Nde2 h5 The 21st-Century approach, using the h-pawn early in the game. 8.Bg5 [8.g3] 8...Be6 9.Ng3 [9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.Nd5 Qd8 and now 11.Qd3!? (preparing to castle queenside before Black can slip ...g6 and ...Bh6 in) is the forefront of Najdorf chess theory.] 9...g6?! [9...Nbd7 is probably more important, to recapture on f6] 10.Nd5?! [10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.Nd5 Qd8 12.Bc4 Nd7 and now 13.Ne2 Rc8 14.Bb3 Nc5 15.Nec3 was a win by former Bay Area star Steven Zierk: 1-0 (40) Zierk,S (2494) -Jacobson,B (2376) Charlotte 2018] 10...Nbd7 11.Bc4 Rc8 12.Bb3?! [12.Nxf6+ Nxf6 13.Bb3 is still a little something for White] 12...Bxd5! 13.exd5 [It looks logical for White to recapture with the bishop but then 13.Bxd5 Qa5+ 14.Bd2 Qb6=/+ 15.Be3?! Qxb2 16.Rb1 Qc3+ 17.Bd2 Qxc2-/+] 13...Bh6! Seizing the moment to exchange bishops 14.Bxh6 Rxh6 Black has the edge because the white bishop on b3 is not very active. 15.Qd2 Rh8 16.0-0 h4 17.Ne2 Kf8 18.f4!? Kg7?! [18...Ne4 19.Qd3 f5 Black continues to keep White's knight back.] 19.fxe5 dxe5 [19...Nxe5! give White d4 but not much else. Black would have fine control of the dark squares.] 20.Nc3 [20.d6 is tricky for Black, although objectively he's still better.] 20...Qb6+ 21.Qf2?! The attacking chances were with White, so keep the queens on! [21.Kh2!] 21...Qxf2+ 22.Rxf2 Diagram


22...Rxc3!? played rather cavalierly. This is fun, but there were better moves. [22...Ne8! is close to winning. Black follows up with ...f5 against almost anything. Even 23.d6 f5! and the d-pawn is a goner in the long run. 24.Be6 Nef6] 23.bxc3 Ne4 24.Rf3?! White needs to do something against the slow advance of the black pawns. [24.Re2!? Nd6 25.Rae1 f5 26.Rxe5! comes close to equality (but not quite)] 24...Nd6 Black has no pawn for his Exchange, but the ones he does have threaten to march, well supported by the knights. In practice White has a difficult defense, with no open file for the rooks, and a cornered bishop. 25.Raf1 f5 26.c4 Rc8 Wasting time. [26...Kf6!; 26...e4!] 27.g4 f4! 28.Rc3 Diagram


[28.g5 Ne4] 28...g5! There's no stopping those pawns and knights now. 29.Re1 e4 The extra exchange is of no value here. White is desparate to get some play. 30.c5 Nxc5 31.a4 a5! Black square control. 32.Ba2 Kf6 33.Rb1 Ke5 34.Rb6 e3 35.Kf1 Nde4! 36.Re6+ Nxe6! 37.Rxc8 f3 38.Bc4 [38.dxe6 Ng3+ 39.Kg1 f2+] 38...Ng3+ 39.Kg1 Nf4 40.Re8+ Kd4 A wonderful endgame exchange sacrifice. 0-1


GM James Tarjan delivered another solid perfomance for the team, winning both his games. Here is one of his victories.

(6) Tirantes (2334) - robot18 (2082) [D85]
Live Chess, 11.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e3 An unpretentious but underestimated system, often leading to a Tarrasch Queens Gambit reversed. 5...Bg7 6.Bc4 Nb6 7.Bb3 0-0 8.Nf3 Na6 9.0-0 c5 10.h3 This little move prevents ...Bg4 and so holds the white center. 10...cxd4 11.exd4 White has an edge as the black knight on a6 needs rerouting. 11...Nc7 Diagram


12.d5! Bxc3?! Taking the pawn is risky but Black felt compelled to grab space in the center. 13.bxc3 Nbxd5 14.Qd4 Nf6 15.Qh4 White has wonderful play for the pawn - the bishop pair, attacking chances against the weakend finachetto position and mobility. 15...Be6 16.Rd1 Qc8 17.Bg5?! [17.c4!] 17...Nb5? [17...Bxb3 18.axb3 Qf5 is a better defense] 18.c4 [18.Bxe6 Qxe6 19.Re1] 18...Nc3 19.Re1 b5 20.cxb5 Bxb3 21.axb3 Ncd5 [21...Nxb5 22.Rxe7] 22.Nd4 a6?! Now it rolls downhill in White's favor. 23.Nc6! axb5 24.Rac1 All of white's pieces are in the attack. Black must lose something. 24...Qb7 25.Nxe7+?! [25.Bxf6! exf6 26.Qd4! is very good 26...Nb6 27.Qxf6] 25...Nxe7 26.Bxf6 Nf5 27.Qf4 Rac8 28.g4 Rxc1 29.Rxc1 Ng7 30.Bb2 Diagram 30...f5? [It's hard to defend against the queen and bishop working on the dark squares, but 30...f6 and White has his work cut out still.] 31.Rc7 That's all folks. 1-0

This Saturday we play Club de Ajedrez Jacque al Rey from Corrientes, Argentina. If we win that match, we will surely crack the top 10 in the final standings. Good luck to the team, match will be at 10am at this link: Mechanics!

Mechanics' Institute Regular Online Classes

Monday 6:30-8PM - Endgame Lab by FM Paul Whitehead

More information:

Register at:


Wednesday 6:30-8PM - Online class with FM Paul Whitehead

More information:

Register at:




Mechanics' Chess - Scholastic Offerings

Saturday, July 18: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5+5:

Sunday, July 19: starts at 3:00PM - join from 3:45PM

6SS G/10+2 USCF Rated:

Monday, July 20: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/15+0:

Tuesday, July 21: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4PM

5SS G/5+5:

Wednesday, July 22: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, July 23: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5+5:

Friday, July 24: 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.   

Games from Scholastic Tournaments

Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian


(2) FunStyle (1490) - RareThirdDessert (1654) [C50]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 The Bishop's Opening is a simple plan, but masters usually prefer to get the knight out first. 2...Nc6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nf3 h6 [More economical is 4...Nf6 since if 5.Ng5? 0-0 and f7 is guarded. It's not good for White to trade on f7 then - losing a bishop and knight for rook and pawn.] 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Nd5 d6 7.h3 Be6 8.Nxf6+ [8.c3 is to be considered as White then occupies the d5 square - cramping the Black position.] 8...Qxf6 9.0-0?! [9.Bxe6! Qxe6 10.c3 is a plan fro central play] 9...g5! Going for the direct attack against the White king! [9...Bxc4 10.dxc4 a5 is comfortable for Black.] 10.Be3 g4 Diagram

11.hxg4? This lets Black get what he wants [Needed was 11.Bxe6! fxe6 (11...gxf3 12.Bg4) 12.hxg4 Bxe3 13.fxe3 Qg6 14.Nh2 tries to defend, not the storm that occurs.] 11...Bxg4 12.Bxc5?! dxc5 13.Qe2? [13.Bb5! would stop the black knight from jumping in] 13...Nd4 Ouch! 14.Qd1 Bxf3 15.gxf3 Rg8+ 16.Kh2 Qh4# A fine attack by RareThirdDessert! 0-1


(3) GoodShakyBeetle (1520) - KeenUpbeatClock (1487) [C01]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 The Exchange Variation of the French Defense is very safe, but 3. e5 or 3. Nc3 are more promising (though more complicated). 3...exd5 4.Nc3 c6 5.Nf3 Bd6 6.h3 Nf6 7.Bg5 0-0 8.Be2 Bf5 9.Qd2 Nbd7 10.0-0-0!? Castling on opposite sides makes the game for interesting. Black is fine no matter where the white king goes. 10...h6 11.Bf4

11...Ne4!? [11...Qc7 is simple and good] 12.Nxe4 Bxf4 13.Qxf4 Bxe4 14.Bd3 Bxd3 15.Rxd3 Qf6 16.Qxf6 Nxf6 Now we have ended up in a dead even endgame with symmetrical pawn structure. Reasonable play by both players but not so exciting. 17.Re1 Rfe8 18.Ne5 Nd7 19.Rde3 Nxe5 20.Rxe5 Rxe5 21.Rxe5 Kf8 22.Kd2 Re8 23.f4 Rxe5 24.dxe5 All the pieces have been exchanged to an even king and pawn ending. These can be tricky though - one error can lose the game. 24...Ke7 25.Kd3 f6! 26.exf6+ Kxf6 27.g4 g5?! 28.f5 Ke5 White has a protected passed pawn. Fortunately for Black the white king has trouble getting in. 29.Ke3 d4+ 30.Kd3 c5? [30...Kd5 stops the white king] 31.c3 [31.Kc4! would have good winning chances] 31...b5? [31...dxc3 32.Kxc3 Kd5] 32.b3? [32.cxd4+ cxd4 33.a3 a6 34.b4 Kd5 35.f6 Ke6 36.Kxd4 Kxf6 37.Kc5 would win] 32...a5? [32...dxc3!] 33.a4? [33.cxd4+ cxd4 34.f6 Kxf6 35.Kxd4] 33...b4 34.cxd4+ cxd4 35.Kc4 Ke4 36.f6 d3 37.f7 d2 38.f8Q d1Q 39.Qf5+ now the game is a draw 39...Ke3 40.Qe5+ Kf3 41.Qf5+ Kg3 42.Qxa5 Kxh3 43.Qxb4 Qxg4+ 44.Kc3 Qxb4+ 45.Kxb4 g4 46.a5 g3 47.a6 g2 48.a7 g1Q 49.a8Q Qe1+ 50.Kc4 Qe2+ 51.Kb4 Qd2+ 52.Kc4 Qc2+ 53.Kb4 Qd2+ 54.Kb5 Qd3+ 55.Kb4 Qd4+ 56.Kb5 Qd3+ 57.Kb4 Qd2+ 1/2-1/2

NEW: US Chess Online Rated Tournaments
Twice a month

in June: July 11, July 19 & July 25 @ 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


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: 7/13-17,  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 2:00-3:00PM - 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:

7/18 Saturday - Saturday Online Rated Blitz
Format: 3SS G/30
Join from 2PM -
Starts at 3PM
7/18 Saturday - 5SS G/5+2
Starts at 9PM
7/19 Sunday - 4SS G/15+5
Starts at 4PM
7/19 Sunday - 8SS G/3+2 
Starts at 8PM

7/20 Monday - Monday Online Arena

Format: 90 mins of G/5+2 - as many games as you can.
Join from 5:30PM -
Start: 6:30PM
7/21 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Online Rapid
Format: 5 rounds of G/10+2 (Swiss)
Start: 6:30PM
7/22 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.
7/23 Thursday Night Blitz
Format: 8SS G/3+2
Join the tournament from 6PM -
Starts 7PM.
7/24 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

John Grefe Continued

Grefe’s signature game of the 1973 US Championship was this powerful victory over Walter Browne.

John Grefe – Walter Browne

US Championship 1973.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4

Be7 8.Qf3 h6 9.Bh4 Qc7 10.O-O-O Nbd7 11.Be2 Rb8 12.Qg3 Rg8

13.Rhf1 g5 14.fxg5 Ne5 15.Nf3 b5 16.Nxe5 b4 17.Nxf7 bxc3

18.gxf6!! Rxg3 19.fxe7 Rg5 20.Bxg5 hxg5 21.Nxd6+ 1-0.


Grefe’s attacking prowess and fondness for the initiative and sharp play is nowhere better illustrated than in this beautiful game against the legendary Miguel Najdorf:

John Grefe – Miguel Najdorf

Lone Pine 1976.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.Qe2

c6 8.a4 Qc7 9.h3 exd4 10.Nxd4 Re8 11.Bf4 Ne5 12.Bb3 Nfd7

13.Rad1 Bf8 14.Bc1 Nc5 15.Ba2 d5 16.f4 Ned7 17.e5 Nb6 18.a5

Nbd7 19.Qh5 Ne6 20.Nf5 Qxa5 21.Rf3 Nb6 22.Rg3 g6 23.Qh4 Na4

24.Rxd5!! Qb6+ 25.Be3 Qb4 26.Rb5!! Nxc3 27.Rxb4 Ne2+ 28.Kh2 Nxg3

29.Qxg3 Bxb4 30.Nh6+ Kh8 31.f5 Nd8 32.fxg6 fxg6 33.Qf4 Bf8

34.Nf7+ Nxf7 35.Qxf7 Be6 36.Bxe6 Bg7 37.Bd4 Rad8 38.Bc3 b5

39.Bd7 Rf8 40.Qe7 1-0.


I remember Grefe coming up with an interesting pawn sacrifice on the 4th move in a game against Arnold Denker, an experiment that was so successful… it’s apparently never been repeated!

John Grefe –  Arnold Denker 

Lone Pine 1979.

1.e4 c6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 Qc7.

Here Grefe uncorked the amazing 4.f4!? and won a nice game:

 4….Qxf4 5.Ngf3 Nf6 6.Nb3 Qc7 7.e5 Ng4 8.d4 Bf5 9.Nh4 Bd7 10.Be2 Nh6 11.Bxh6 gxh6 12.O-O Na6

13.Bxa6 bxa6 14.Nc5 e6 15.Qh5 Bc8 16.Rf6 Bxc5 17.dxc5 Rb8 18.Raf1 Rf8 19.Qxh6 Qxe5 20.Qxh7 Rxb2

21.Rxf7 Rxf7 22.Qg8+ 1-0.


I really like the way Grefe took the wind out of black’s sails in this game. Chess is a fight!

John Grefe – Miguel Quinteros

Lone Pine 1976.


25.Rxf7! Kxf7 26.Qxd6 Kg8 27.Qe6+ Kh7 28.Qxg4 Qe7 29.Qh4+ Bh6

30.Bg4 Rf6 31.Bf5 Rg8 32.Na4 Ra6 33.Nxc5 Rxa2 34.Ne6 1-0.


GM Nick de Firmian's Column

GM Nick de Firmian's column will return in August


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