Chess Room Newsletter #927 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #927

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #927


July 25, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Short History of the People's Tournament: Part 2 

The Organizers Through Berkeley 2009

"24 years and counting. That's how long chessplayers have been coming down to Berkeley on President's Day weekend to participate in the People's Chess Tournament. Yes, 24 years of bongos, Blondie's Pizza, street preachers, and the rest of the usual Berkeley assortment to maintain your interest if your mind should wander from chess."

Don Shennum, from California Chess Journal Volume 11 #2 regarding the 1997 People's Tournament

Special thanks to the immense resource of The Chess Dryad in obtsining this information:

In the previous issue, I wrote about the early years and gave a list of the winners to this date. I also wrote about the first Chief Organizers, Alan Benson and Mike Goodall. While much is written about the winners and players, I thought it would be interesting to mention the organizers, as they are the ones that keep the events going. Thier impact on chess is greatly felt, and it would be great to know even a little about them, especially to those reading and learning for the first time.

After Mike Goodall, Alan Glasscoe took up organizing the People's. Alan was TD of the People's Tournament from 1985-1991. He was a veteran of directing events, including the 1984 U.S. men's and women's championship held on the campus of UC Berkeley. 

Alan Glasscoe, photo courtesy of the Chess Dryad.

Alan Glasscoe, back row far left, with TD George Koltanowski front center and the participants of the 1984 US Women's Championship in Berkeley.

Alan also had the help of Andy Lazarus and Max Grober. In 1989, a new organizer would join the crew, and he would soon lead organizing of the event for the next several years. It was someone I knew perosnally as a player, though I had no idea how important he would be in event organizing.

The People's Tournament by the late 1980's was a fixture on the UC Berkeley campus. I had just started to play actively in 1985, when I was 12 years old. After a couple of years, I felt I had hit a wall in my progress. I was about 1600 and trying to get to the next level in skill, but had no idea how to improve past that. From the tournament scene in the South Bay, I met Peter Yu, who was then a student at Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose (from where incidentally my son graduated in 2018). He rose up the ranks quickly, and I believe by the time he started attanding UC Berkeley, he had become a master. During one of the events in the South Bay, I had inquired if he was open to giving lessons. I had never had an instructor and had just taught myself. ChessBase or engines as we know them accesible to the club player weren't around then, so I essentially never had training or learning with a master evaluating my games and seeing what I was doing wrong. He came to my house and I trained with him for a few months, but for some reasons, we didn't keep it going. Little did I know that he would be a key player in the evolution of the People's Tournament.

Peter Yu

Peter Yu had a lot of energy, and I was happy to see him take to organizing events. It also presented an opportunity for someone from the younger generation to take a stab at organizing an event in a city known for the youth movement pushing to change the world. One of the advantages Peter had was in organizing was partnering with a student organization on campus called SUPERB (Student Union Program, Entertainment, and Recreation Board). By doing so, Peter was able to obtain a discounted rental on the campus facilities. This was important, as the reality of the business side of organizing any event is something that cannot be ignored. 

Don Shennum assisted in directing the People's tournament with Peter Yu as early as 1993, and by 2000, a combination of Mike Goodall making a return to directing the People's, Don Shennum, and then Richard Koepcke kept the event going. Also helping during these years was Alan Tse (then also a UC Berkeley student).

Richard Koepcke took over directing the Peoples Tournament in 2004, with the assistance of SUPERB. One of the challenges of this relationship was that althought SUPERB financed the organization of the event itself, it was not a chess organization. A dispute between the campus and the organization stripped the organization of the facility rental savings, and the People's Tournament was again without a venue and organizer after 2009. 

Richard Koepcke at the Peoples Tournament 2009

The question I often think about is whether the essence of what the People's Tournament was can ever be felt again. Or does a new history need to be written for the event? The constant sounds of drumming on Sproul Plaza have gone silent, or at least is filled with new sounds that don't bring back memories of days past. The Student Union while still there, has had a massive facelift, all of course for the better. One of the venues that looks much the same today is Pauley Ballroom, site of the 2018 People's Tournament, as well as The Faculty Club, site of the 2016 and 2017 People's. While the lighting at both were not ideal and never were, it did bring back the same feel of the stories and pictures in past issues of Chess Voice or the California Chess Journal. They look was the same, but not the feel of days past. I asked Richard Koepcke whether this difference is the result of time or something else, and he definitely said time. It is just not the same anymore, and the absence of the sounds of drums symbolizes something larger. Things change, and as organizers, we have to take notice of those changes and evolve with the times. While we may not be able to capture the past, we may be able to start a future, bringing forth something that people experience and value in these times, and begin writing a new history that will be remembered years later. There are not many chess events that have an impact on the senses the way the People's Tournament did, almost like the smells of certain foods can bring you back to a time and place. The People's Tournament is one of them, and if you don't believe me, read Paul Whitehead's column later in the newsletter...

In my final part next week, I'll focus on the players through 2009, as well as some of the games. Stay tuned!

Mechanics' Institute Tuesday Night Marathon Online

The 1st Tuesday Night Marathon online was concluded in spectacular fashion by FM Kyron Griffith, who had to play the two toughest opponents he could possibly face and delivered masterful performances to take the TNM with perfect 6-0 score. Griffith defeated Eric Li in a dominant perfomance in round 5 and then defeated IM Elliott Winslow in a great technical games in the final round, which determined who would win the TNM. Griffith showed true nerves in a game where everyhting was on the line. 

In the u/1600 section, there was opportunity for many players to finish in the money, but in the end, Shakara Mohan and Daniel Perlov finished in a tie for first with 4.5/6. 

It seemed all cylinders were firing for Griffith, and it started early in round 5. Griffith built up a huge positional advantage over the usually very technical Eric Li. He then gradually accumulated material as well as space and soon overwhelmed the young phenom. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(8) FM Eric Li (wepkins) (2245) - FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2143) [E81]
Tuesday Night Marathon (online) (5.1), 22.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 Kyron visited the Twitch commentary right after the game finished, and noted that Eric mostly played h3 systems against him in the past. [5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3] 5...0-0 6.Be3 c5 A popular gambit line, trying to take the initiative. 7.Nge2 [7.dxc5 dxc5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bxc5 does at first look almost unsound, but Black's counterplay shows up in force. So most White players try to stay in control with the move played.] 7...Nc6 8.d5 Na5!?


Kyron noted that Eric is always well prepared, but figured that this rare line would leave them both on their own. But in fact it has scored quite well, that it might well be the move. On the other hand, Grischuk played it a couple times in 2012 before dropping his bombshell mentioned below the next year. [8...Ne5 9.Ng3 (9.Nc1) 9...h5!? is quite difficult to understand. Consider: (9...e6 leads to dense Benoni play) 10.Be2 h4 11.Nf1 e6 12.f4 Nxc4!! Svidler - Grischuk, Candidates tournament, London 2013.] 9.Ng3 [9.Nc1 e6 10.Be2 exd5 11.cxd5 a6 12.a4?! (12.0-0!? b5) 12...Nd7 is still relatively uncharted seas.] 9...a6 10.a4? White loses his way. the Ng3 and a4 don't work together here at all. So Kyron's opening strategy succeeded completely -- clear advantage by move 10. [10.Be2 Nd7!? 11.Rc1 b5!? 12.cxb5 axb5 13.Bxb5 Ne5 was a Benko Gambit witha few pecularies, like the knight on a5. Not necessarily a bad thing! But White prevailed 1-0 (55) in Svidler,P (2747)-Radjabov,T (2793) London 2013 CBM 154 [Javakhadze,Z/Alejandro Ramirez]] 10...Qb6!-/+ 11.Rb1?! [11.Bd2 would at least keep the qiueen out of b4] 11...Qb4 12.Qd3?!


White tries to hold on to his pawn, but it only costs him further. 12...Nd7! 13.f4 Nb6 White crumbles. 14.Bd2 Nbxc4 15.Nd1 Nxd2 16.Qxd2 Qxa4 Trading queens would also win, but Kyron adheres to the principle, "keep queens when your opponent is under attack" -- and takes another pawn as well. 17.Nc3 Qb4 18.Be2 Nb3 19.Qc2 Nd4 [19...Bd4 keeping the king in the center, would be consistent.] 20.Qd2 h5 This pawn adds to White's troubles. 21.0-0 h4 22.Nh1 h3 23.Ng3 hxg2 24.Kxg2 f5 25.Kh1 fxe4 26.Ngxe4 Bf5 27.Bd3 c4! 28.Bc2 b5 A picture perfect King's-Indian/ Benoni position for Black. 29.Qg2 Nxc2 30.Qxc2 Qb3 31.Qg2 b4 32.Nd2 Qc2 33.Nd1 c3! 34.bxc3 bxc3 35.Nxc3 White essentially gives in. The rest doesn't need comment. 35...Bxc3 36.Rbd1 Rab8 37.Nf3 Qxg2+ 38.Kxg2 Be4 39.Rc1 Bf6 40.Rc6 Bxd5 41.Rxa6 Bc4 42.Ra7 Bxf1+ 43.Kxf1 Ra8 44.Rb7 Rfb8 45.Rc7 Rb2 46.h4 Ra1+ 47.Ne1 Bxh4 48.Rxe7 Bxe7 49.f5 gxf5 KyronGriffith won by resignation. 0-1

In round 6, Griffith and Winslow would play for the championship, as Griffith was 5/5 and Winslow 4.5/5 after defetating NM Ruiyang Yan in avery close and exciting game that was decided after a blunder by Yan. It was a qulaity final game for the title from the tournament's two best players.

(7) FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2149) - IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (1943) [B23]
Live Chess (6.1), 22.07.2020
[de Firmian, Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Lately there's been an influx of what used to be called "sidelines" against the Sicilian. It's probably Carlsen's influence. [2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Nxd7 (4...Qxd7 5.0-0 Nc6 6.c3 Nf6 7.Re1 e6 8.d4 cxd4 9.cxd4 d5 10.e5 Ne4 goes way back and has "balanced" written all over it.) 5.0-0 Ngf6 6.Re1 (similarly 6.Qe2 Rc8) 6...Rc8!? on the other hand is so modern there are articles on it in the last month or two.] 2...d6 3.Bb5+ An interesting relative to the Moscow Variation (2.Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+, see above). [3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd2 is another recent line in the same vein.] 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+


4...Nxd7?! [4...Qxd7 is more sensible. Compared to the line with the other White knight out, there is no longer a quick c3 to take back on d4 with a pawn. Black should try to make that work in his favor. 5.f4 Nc6 6.Nf3 g6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.d3 e6 (8...Nf6) ] 5.f4 Now it's a sort of Grand Prix closed Sicilian, where White doesn't have to decide which way to go with his light-squared bishop, as it's a done deal. Black will miss the counter in the center with ...Nd4. 5...e6 [5...g6 6.Nf3 (6.d4!? cxd4? (6...Bg7!=) 7.Qxd4 Ngf6? 8.e5 would really make Black wish he'd deploy differently.) 6...Bg7 7.0-0 and White still has the option of d4 or d3.] 6.Nf3 Ngf6 7.0-0 Qc7 Black is playing as if White is going to play d4, but White doesn't oblige him. 8.d3 Be7 9.Kh1 Hardly a necessary move. [9.Qe1 would start thoughts on the kingside. 9...0-0 (9...0-0-0 10.a3 starts on the queenside as well.) 10.Qg3 when it's hard for Black to get any counterplay going.] 9...a6 10.a4 0-0 11.Qe1 b6?! A "do-nothing" strategy is just not going to work, especially in a must win situation (Kyron is a half point ahead of Elliot, and everyone else is a half point behind again). 12.e5 [12.Qg3 gives both 13.e5 and 13.f5 added momentum.] 12...Ne8 13.Qg3 f5 Probably a needed reaction sooner or later. 14.Bd2?! [14.exf6 Ndxf6 15.Qh3 Qd7 16.Re1 Nc7 17.Ng5 really leans into the weak e6 pawn.] 14...d5?! [14...g6 15.Qh3 Ng7 is pretty solid.] 15.Qh3 [15.Ne2 right away] 15...g6 16.Be1!? Nb8 17.Ne2 Nc6 18.c3 Smoothly avoiding any action on the queenside 18...Qd7 19.Bh4 Bxh4 20.Qxh4 Nc7 21.Ng5 Qg7


22.Rg1 The computer is all over playing on the queenside now, with some rook move to b1 or c1. But playing to open the g-file has a strong psychological effect, plus Black starts to run short on time. (less than five minutes to White's fourteen). 22...b5 [22...Rab8] 23.d4 c4 24.h3?! [24.g4!] 24...b4 [24...Rab8! 25.axb5 Rxb5! gets some play going, when Black isn't much worse.] 25.g4 Rab8 [25...Ne7] 26.gxf5 exf5 27.Rg2 White: 10:30 Black: 1:45. Probably fatal time mismangent. 27...bxc3 28.bxc3 Rb2 29.Rag1 Kh8?! [29...Qe7!?] 30.Ng3 [30.e6!?] 30...Rxg2 31.Rxg2 Nd8


[31...Qe7!] 32.Rb2! Black opened the road up for White. 32...Nce6 33.Nxe6 Nxe6 34.Rb6 Qd7 Black is in free fall. 35.Qh6 [35.Rxa6] 35...Ra8 36.Rd6 [36.Nxf5! puts Black away.] 36...Qe7?!


[36...Qf7 37.h4] 37.Nxf5 Better late than never! 37...Qf7 [37...gxf5 38.Rxe6] 38.Ne3 Rb8 39.f5 Ng7 40.Rf6 Qe7 41.fxg6 Rb1+ 42.Kh2 Rb2+ 43.Kg3 KyronGriffith won on time. 1-0

In an exciting game from the top section, Barbara Goodkind unloaded a vicious attack on Kevin Sun's position, and he seemed to survive the onslaught. But the advantage Goodkind had gained was too much, but it did provide a lot of entertainment on the broadcast.

(10) Barbara Goodkind (eatdinner) (1644) - Kevin Sun (kevin_mx_sun) (1443) [A45]
Live Chess, 22.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 [Some people stop 4.e4 right away with 3...d5] 4.e4 d5 Others counter it [Then there are those who just let White have her way and let it turn into a Pirc Defense. 4...d6] 5.e5 Ng4? [Critical was 5...Ne4 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.c3 c5 with central counterplay.] 6.h3 Nh6 7.Qd2 Ng8 8.0-0-0 White has a winning advantage, space, development. 8...e6 Black tries to close it up a bit, so the development won't matter as much. 9.h4! Ne7 [9...h5; 9...h6] 10.h5 Always useful, whether to open the h-file (should Black dare to castle) or cramp Black further with h6, what's become known as "Alpha-Zero-style". 10...Nd7 11.hxg6 No hurry, but still good. 11...fxg6 12.Bg5 c5?!


Out of the frying pan... [12...a6] 13.Nb5! Qb6?! [13...0-0 14.f4] 14.Nd6+ Kf8 15.Qf4+ Nf5 16.g4 Now it's all but over. But that "but" can be a danger, as Kevin fights back in the center. 16...cxd4 17.gxf5 Bxe5 18.Bh6+?! [18.Qf3 exf5 19.Nxf5! gxf5 20.Qxf5+ Kg8 21.Rh6 does it.] 18...Kg8 [18...Ke7!? 19.Nxc8+ Raxc8 20.Bg5+] 19.Qh4 [19.Qg5!] 19...Bxd6 [19...Qxd6 keeps the bishop on g7 and f6] 20.fxg6 [20.fxe6 destroys Black's main advantage, the center pawns.] 20...hxg6 21.Bd3 e5


[After 21...Bf8! 22.Qg5 e5! 23.Nf3! (23.Bxg6? transposes to the game.) 23...Qf6 24.Qxf6 Nxf6 25.Bxf8 White still has an advantage (the center is coming down), but Black can play on] 22.Bxg6? A critical position with only one way to win! [It turns out White had a shot, quite unexpected and hard to see: 22.Qe4!! Nf8 a) 22...dxe4 23.Bc4+ Kh7 24.Bf8#; b) 22...Rxh6 23.Qxd5+ Kg7 24.Bc4! (24.Rxh6 Kxh6 25.Qg8 is less precise but still wins) 24...Rxh1 25.Qg8+ Kh6 26.Qh8+ Kg5 27.Nf3+ and 28.Rxh1 with queen, rook and bishop vs. lone king.; ] 22...Bf8! 23.Qg5


23...Qf6? Overlooking a tactic to continue White's attack. [23...Rxh6! (or the bishop first) 24.Rxh6 Bxh6 25.Qxh6 Nf8 is Black taking over. 26.Nf3 Qxg6 27.Rg1 Bg4! 28.Qxg6+ Nxg6 29.Rxg4 Kf7-+] 24.Bh7+! Double check! 24...Kf7 [24...Kxh7 25.Bxf8+ Qh6 26.Rxh6#] 25.Qh5+ Ke6


26.Bxf8? This must have been frustrating for Barbara -- is Black getting away? [26.Bd2! still targets Black's king, keeping all the pieces on and ready for 27.f4. Black can't hold it together.] 26...Rxf8 Black is a pawn up but still has to mobilize all those queenside pieces. The computer makes it around even (!). 27.Nh3 Kd6 28.Rhg1 Kc7 [28...Qe7!? 29.f4 Nf6! 30.fxe5+ Qxe5 31.Qxe5+ Kxe5 Black finally gets the queens off so doesn't mind the centralized king so much, but White can't turn it in her favor either.] 29.f4! exf4 30.Qxd5 Qd6?! [30...Qe5 31.Qxd4 Qxd4 (31...a5!? with the "beginner" rook development.) 32.Rxd4 f3 33.Rc4+ might still cause Black's king grief.] 31.Qc4+?! [31.Qxd6+ Kxd6 32.Rxd4+ Kc7 33.Rg7 f3 34.Nf2 doesn't let go.] 31...Qc5 [31...Kb8!] 32.Qd3 [32.Rxd4!] 32...Ne5! Developing with tempo! The break Kevin was looking for. 33.Rg7+ Kb8 34.Qf1


34...Bxh3? [Black had a shot: 34...d3! 35.Bxd3 Qe3+ 36.Kb1 Qxh3 winning.] 35.Qxh3 Black is still all right but time shortage must be getting to Kevin, as he drifts into a loss. 35...Qd6 36.Bd3? [36.Be4 is a very nice bishop!] 36...Nxd3+ [36...Qd5! The same couuld be said for this queen!] 37.Rxd3 Qf6?!


[37...a5! 38.Rb3 Ra7 39.Qh7 Qd5] 38.Rd7?! [38.Qh7! is crushing; and 38.Qd7! Qc6 39.Qxd4 is as well;; even 38.Rxb7+!? Kxb7 39.Qd7+ Kb8 otherwise mate in three 40.Rb3+ Qb6 41.Qe7 manages to scoop up those pawns with checks, for a good queen vs. two rooks.] 38...a5! 39.R7xd4 [39.Qf3 Qc6 40.Qxc6 bxc6 41.R7xd4 is a good rook and pawn ending] 39...Ra6 40.Qf3 Re6 Kevin has held his game together and now should be okay; a blunder in time trouble was probably the rest. 41.b3 Re1+ 42.Kb2 Ka7 43.a3 Re7 44.b4 axb4 45.axb4 Rd7 46.Qf2 Rxd4 47.Rxd4 Rd8 48.c3 Rxd4 49.cxd4 Kb8 50.Kc3 f3 51.Kd3 Kc7 52.Ke4 Kd6 53.Qxf3


53...Qxf3+?? It's hard for beginners and masters alike to get a grip on the impulse to trade, but keeping the queens on the board is a draw. This on the other hand... 54.Kxf3 Kd5 55.Ke3 b5 [55...Kc4 56.Ke4 and White definitely queens first.] 56.Kd3 Kd6 57.Ke4 Ke6 58.d5+ Kd6 59.Kd4 Kd7 60.Kc5 eatdinner won by resignation. What a battle! The advantage changed hands several times, and only at the end was it finally decided. Both players have a lot to be proud of, and also to inspect for what could have been. 1-0

In the under 1600 section, one game stood out as instructive to watch. It was the 5th round game between Rama Chitta and Liora Ginzburg.

(9) Rama Chitta (draidus) (1488) - Liora Ginzburg (pegasus1015) (1338) [A45]
Live Chess, 22.07.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.c3 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.Nbd2 [White usually plays 6.h3 to be able to save the bishop] 6...Nh5 and Black decides to exchange it. 7.Bg3 Bg4!? a new move. [Most often Black just trades, 7...Nxg3 8.hxg3 and then starts softening up the long diagonal with 8...e5] 8.Be2 Nxg3 9.hxg3 e5 10.Qb3!


10...Nc6?! [10...Qc8?! is surprisingly in troubleafter 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Bc4!; 10...exd4 11.Qxb7 Nd7; 10...Nd7! 11.Qxb7 Rb8 12.Qxa7 Rxb2 13.Qa3 exd4! 14.cxd4 Rb8 15.0-0 White doesn't have much advantage, but does have a pawn.] 11.Qxb7 Qd7 12.Qb3 [12.Bb5!? Rab8 13.Qxc6 Rxb5 14.Qxd7 Bxd7 15.b3 also holds the pawn, without permitting Black much counterplay.] 12...Rab8 13.Qc2?! [Nobody's going to bother the queen after 13.Qa3!] 13...exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 [14...Bf5!?] 15.Qc3? Now there is bother. 15...c5! White is in big trouble. 16.a3 Nd5? Black didn't have to retreat! [16...cxd4 crasheds through to c2 17.Nxd4 Bxd4 18.exd4 Bxe2 19.Kxe2 Rfc8 White's king in the center is a big target.] 17.Qc2 Holding onto that pawn may yet cost. [17.Qd3 Rxb2 18.0-0 keeps it managable.] 17...cxd4 18.Nxd4 Bxe2?! [18...Bxd4! 19.Bxg4 Qxg4 20.exd4 Rfe8+ and again, the king is stuck between the rooks and in trouble.] 19.Kxe2? [19.Nxe2 Rxb2 20.Qd3 might yet survive.] 19...Rfc8? [19...Bxd4 wins again. It's a common phobia, giving away the great fianchettoed bishop, but getting at White's king is a much more important matter.] 20.Qd3 Qg4+ [20...Rxb2! is still an advantage.] 21.N4f3!


21...Nxe3? [21...Qe6 dares White to take the repetition (and her probably should).] 22.fxe3 [22.Rh4!] 22...Bxb2 [22...Qxg3 23.Rag1 (23.Rhg1) ] 23.Ra2 [23.Rab1; 23.Rh4! Qxg3 24.Rg1] 23...Qxg3 24.Nh4? [The other knight could help out - 24.Ne4 Qg4 25.Rb1 Bg7 26.Rxb8 Qxg2+ 27.Ke1 Qh1+ 28.Kf2 Rxb8 29.Qxd6] 24...Rc3?! [24...d5! 25.Qxd5? Rd8 26.Qf3 Qd6 27.Rd1 Bf6 is quite an attack still.] 25.Qe4 d5! 26.Qf3 Qxf3+ 27.Nhxf3 Rxa3 28.Rxa3 Bxa3 The game has simplified to equal material in the ending, but White has the edge because the black pawns are targets. 29.Ra1 Bc5 30.Ne5 Re8 31.Ra5! Bb6 32.Rxd5 f6 33.Nec4 f5 34.Rb5?! [34.Nxb6] 34...Bxe3! 35.Nxe3 f4 White is still better, but there is only one white pawn left. 36.Rb7 fxe3 37.Nc4 Ra8 38.Kxe3! a5 39.Rb2 Ra6 40.Ra2 a4 41.Nb2 a3 42.Nc4 Ra4! 43.Nxa3 Kf7 [43...Kg7 would keep the pin on the knight] 44.Kd3 [44.Rf2+ Kg7 45.Nc2] 44...Ke6 45.Kc3 Kd5 46.Kb3 Ra8 47.Rd2+ Ke6 48.Nc4 Rb8+ 49.Kc3 Ke7 50.g4 Rd8 51.Re2+?! [51.Rxd8! Kxd8 52.Kd4 should win the game] 51...Kf6 52.Ne3 Rc8+ 53.Kd4 Rd8+ 54.Ke4 Kg5 55.Kf3 Rf8+ 56.Kg3 Re8 57.Re1 Re7 58.Kf3 Now the game is just a draw. The last white pawn will be exchanged. 58...Re6 59.Re2 Rf6+ 60.Kg3 Re6 61.Kf3 h6 62.Kg3 h5 63.gxh5 gxh5 64.Kh3 Re5 65.Rg2+ Game drawn by agreement <br />
[65.Rg2+ Kh6 66.Rg3 Rg5 67.Rf3 Ra5 68.Ng2 Kg5 0.75/0 ] 1/2-1/2

The Tuesday Night Marathon online was a terrific success. In total, 62 players participated in this 6-round, G/35 +2 event. We paired the games manually on and did so according to USCF standard rating. We played 2 rounds per week, and players could take byes and we posted pairings the afternoon before the games. Special thanks goes to Chief Tournament Director Judit Sztaray for providing all the TD support as well as player support during the rounds. Special thanks also to my co-commentator FM Paul Whitehead for an amazing job bringing the games of the online event to life. 

To watch the broadcast of the final round, please follow this link:

For full standings, follow this link:

Mechanics' Online Events Recap

Friday Night Blitz July 17: Winner: NM Conrado Diaz (canonjamaicaella)

Saturday Matinee: July 18: Winner: NM Conrado Diaz (canonjamaicaella)

Saturday Night Blitz July 18: Winner: Clarence Lehman (FrankJamesMarshall)

Sunday Matinee July 19: Winner: Jeffery Wang (twangbio)

Sunday Evening Blitz July 19: Winner: Adam Mercado (A-Boy415)

Monday Night Arena: Winner July 20: Winston Leung (TM_TheMaster)

Wednesday Matinee July 22: Winner: Kevin Fong (chessappeals)

Wednesday Late Night Showdown July 22: Winner: NM Conrado Diaz (canonjamaicaella)

Thursday Night Blitz: July 23: Winner: Christopher Bradley (ifyoustayreti)

Selected Games

(1) Andrew Schley (andrewschley) (1770) - Adam Mercado (A-boy415) (1829) [B33]
Live Chess, 19.07.2020

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 The Sveshnikov Sicilian is one of the most respected defenses there is. Magnus (and before him Kramnik) recognized the virtue of the direct advance in the center. 6.Nb3 This avoids the main line theory that comes after the usual 6, Ndb5 but it doesn't present Black with any real difficulties. 6...Bb4! 7.Bd3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 d5 Very direct, yet Black may well do better with advancing the pawn just one square to d6 and keep the center more static. 9.Qe2?! [9.exd5 Qxd5 10.0-0 0-0 11.c4 is at least equal for White.] 9...0-0 [9...dxe4 10.Bxe4 Nxe4 11.Qxe4 0-0] 10.0-0 [10.Bg5] 10...dxe4 11.Bxe4 Nxe4 12.Qxe4 f5 Black has better pawn structure and so a little edge. 13.Qc4+ Kh8 14.Ba3 Re8 15.Rad1 Qg5 [15...Qf6! 16.Rd6 Be6] 16.f4 [16.Qf7 Qg6 17.Qxg6 hxg6] 16...exf4 17.Rxf4?! This allows a developing tempo on the white queen. 17...Be6 18.Qf1 Ne5 19.Nd4 Bc4 20.Rxf5? Qe3+ 21.Qf2


21...Ng4! This wins the exchange. As Black also has better pawn structure that adds up to a winning position. 22.Qxe3 Nxe3 23.Rc5?! [23.Rb1 Nxf5 24.Nxf5 still allows White to fight on.] 23...Nxd1 24.Rxc4 Re1# A-boy415 won by checkmate 0-1

(2) NM Conrado Diaz (canonjamaicaella) (2519) - Ako Heidari (oka_ako) (1834) [D03]
Live Chess, 22.07.2020

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 d5 4.e3 Be7 5.Nbd2 White chooses a set up without c2-c4. This is a Torre Attack instead of playing the classic lines of the Queen's Gambit. 5...h6 6.Bh4 0-0 7.Bd3 b6 8.Qe2! This prevents the exchange of light-squared bishops with ...Ba6. 8...Bb7 9.0-0 c5 10.c3 Nc6 [Black may prefer to try 10...Ne4 11.Bxe7 Qxe7] 11.Rad1 Rc8 12.Ne5! Both sides have developed in a direct manner. White jumps into e5 with the knight and plans to follow up with f2-f4. 12...Nd7 [12...Nxe5 13.dxe5 Nd7 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.f4 leaves White with the better bishop and attacking chances.] 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.f4 Black has problems dealing with the e5 square. Exchanging the knights on e5 allows a strong pawn to come to that square, while not exchanging means living with the powerful knight. 14...Rfe8 15.Rf3 Nf8?! After this the White attack just builds up. Better to bite the bullet and play [15...Ncxe5 16.fxe5 f6 17.exf6 Nxf6 with an edge to White.] 16.Rg3 f6 17.Ng4 Kh8 18.Rh3 [18.Nxh6 gxh6 19.Qh5 f5 20.Qxh6+ Nh7 21.Rg6 is a promising sacrifice] 18...f5


19.Nxh6!? [19.Ne5 Nxe5 20.dxe5 keeps a positional edge] 19...gxh6 20.Rxh6+ Nh7 [20...Kg7 21.Qh5 Nd8! brings the knight to f7 to give Black decent defensive chances] 21.Qh5 Qg7? [21...Rf8 22.Nf3 Rf6 23.Rxf6 Qxf6 24.Ng5 Rc7 would keep Black in the game with just a slight disadvantage] 22.Nf3 Suddenly White is just winning. There is no decent defense to the threat of Ng5. 22...Kg8 23.Rg6 Re7 24.Bb5 Qxg6 25.Qxg6+ Kf8 26.Bxc6 Rxc6 27.Ne5 Rc8 28.Rf1 The rook will enter the attack for a quick finish. There is no hope against the white queen and powerful knight on e5. 28...cxd4 29.exd4 Ba6 30.Rf3 Bc4 31.Rg3 Black resigns as mate is coming. 1-0 Club's League Update

The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club finished off the Club's League season in amazing fashion, defeating Club Ajedrez Jacque al Rey from Corrientes, Argentina 19-1 to finish the season with 5.5/8 and taking 9th place overall. This is an amazing accomplishment, given that the A Division in the league was composed of 61 teams from all around the world. Congratulations and thank you to all the club players that have represneted Mechanics' during this season. 

In our final match, we were represented by GM Cristian Chirila, GM James Tarjan, IM Elliott Winslow, FM Kyron Griffith, FM Eric Yuhan Li, NM Ruiyang Yan, NM Michael Walder, Theo Biyiasas, Andrew Schley, and Benjamin Jiang.

Former Bay Area resident and friend GM Cristian Chirila finished both games quick. He had this fine win on board one and then won the following game as the result of a misclick by his opponent in the second game. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(5) FM Daniel Perez (labestia1998) (2144) - GM Cristian Chirila (TheCount) (2366) [B32]
Live Chess, 18.07.2020

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qb6 A little played line to avoid major Sicilian theory. Black forces the knight on d4 to move, but will likely give back a tempo by having to move the queen from b6 soon. 5.Nb3 Nf6 6.Nc3 e6 7.Be3 There is no rush for this move. White could be more flexible by playing 7. Bd3 and 8. 0-0 then see where Black places the pieces. 7...Qc7 8.Bd3 d6 9.0-0 a6 10.a4 b6 11.f4 Be7 12.Kh1 0-0 We have now reached a typical Sheveningen style pawn structure. Black has gotten a reasonable opening. White must now choose a plan on how to advance on the kingside and center. 13.Qf3 Nd7?! [13...Bb7! would also be fine.] 14.Rad1 Nb4 Ready to eliminate the d3 bishop means White will not have an effective light-square attack on the black king. There are still the dark squares though. 15.Qg3 Re8 16.Nd4 Bf8 17.f5 Ne5


18.Bh6?! [18.f6! g6?! 19.Qh4! with the pla of Bh6 (to exchange dark squared bishop) would give White a terrific attack. Black would be hard pressed to defend, and 19...h5 24. Be2! would threaten to sacrifice on h5.] 18...Kh8! 19.Bf4?


walking into a pawn fork. Sometimes one gets confused with the complications of these Sicilian postions and it is easy to blunder. 19...Nexd3 20.cxd3 e5 21.Be3 exd4 22.Bxd4 f6 White is a piece down for a center pawn and objectively lost. Still there are attacking chances, especially in rapid chess. 23.Rc1 Qb7 24.Rf3 d5! Opening the center gets the black pieces into the fight. You can't let White have a free hand on the kingside or the attack will build very quickly. 25.e5?! Nc6! The return of the knight to c6 hits the center squares just in time to turn the game into a rout. 26.Bg1 Nxe5 27.Rf4 Nf7 28.Qh3 Ng5 29.Qh5 Qf7 30.Qg4 Bd6 31.Rff1 Rb8 32.Qd1 h6 33.Qb3 d4 Forcing the trade of queens to reach a piece up endgame. labestia1998 resigned. 0-1

Another fun player to follow is NM Ruiyang Yan. Her agressive attacking style always delivers action, as it did in this game.

(6) Jose Aguirre (tryako) (1651) - NM Ruiyang Yan (jij2018) (2159) [B50]
Live Chess, 18.07.2020

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 e6 5.c3 Be7 6.Bg5?! 0-0 White has played one type of closed Sicilian. It's fairly reasonable but the black pieces have all gone to natural Sicilian squares and already Black is for choice. 7.Nbd2 Nc6 8.Bb3 d5 [hitting in the center. Another good plan would be to expand on the queenside with 8...b5] 9.exd5 [More natural seems to be advancing in the center with 9.e5 yet Black is also doing well in this line after 9...Ng4! 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.d4 cxd4 12.cxd4 Qb4!] 9...exd5 [9...Nxd5! 10.Bxe7 Ndxe7 would be a safe and simple, leaving better pawn structure for Black. 11.a3] 10.0-0 Bf5 11.d4 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Nxd4 13.cxd4 h6 14.Bh4 Re8 15.Re1 Ne4 16.Bxe7 Rxe7 The pawn structure is symmetrical and all is back to being even. Both sides are rightly focusing their pieces on the central squares and the e-file. 17.h3 Qd6 18.Nf3 Kh8 19.Rc1 Rae8 20.Ne5 f6 21.Qh5!? White throws in a tactic instead of retreating the knight. Both plans are good. 21...fxe5 22.Qxf5 g6?! This creates a little weaking of the black king's shelter. Instead [22...exd4 23.Qxd5 Qf4 24.Qxd4 Ng3 25.Qxf4 (25.Rxe7 Qxc1+ 26.Kh2 Nf1+ 27.Kg1 Ng3+ would be a draw) ] 23.dxe5! Rxe5 24.Qf7 Rf8 25.Qxb7?! [25.Qc7! leaves White an advantage in the endgame of middle game. Black could not take the f2 pawn because of the pin on the e-file.] 25...Nxf2 26.Rf1?


[26.Rxe5 Qxe5 27.Qc7! Nxh3+ 28.gxh3 Qe3+ 29.Kh1 Qxh3+ 30.Kg1 Qe3+ should be a draw] 26...Ref5! This powerful move is decisive. Black covers the knight on f2 and sets up the winning battery on the f-file. 27.Rc8 Nxh3+! 28.gxh3 Qg3+ jij2018 won by resignation 0-1

It was fun for Mechanics' to showcase our players against club's from other parts of the world in friendly competition. We had a steady group of players that played almost every week and we can say we are among the top 10 competitive online clubs in the world. Congratulations to the team!

Here are the final standings:

Division A Standings

# Club R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 Pts TB Place
1 Kyiv Chess Club W26 W12 W27 W10 W2 W14 W4 W5 8.0 42 1st
2 Bursa Buyuksehir Belediyespor W35 W3 W56 W15 L1 W10 W5 W11 7.0 41 2nd
3 Batubey Chess Club W48 L2 W12 W11 W16 W31 W6 W10 7.0 39 3rd
4 Thomas Jefferson Chess Club W61 W6 W7 W21 L5 W19 L1 W14 6.0 42.5 4th
5 The Flaming Tigers Chess Club W55 W34 W8 W22 W4 W11 L2 L1 6.0 42 5th
6 Club De Ajedrez Par de Alfiles W46 L4 W9 W7 W13 W34 L3 W15 6.0 40 6th
7 Clube De Xadrez de Curitiba W37 W20 L4 L6 W9 W21 W28 W24 6.0 38 7th
8 Uttara Central Chess Club W51 W28 L5 W39 W34 W29 L10 W23 6.0 32.5 8th
9 Mechanics' Institute Chess Club D24 W17 L6 W52 L7 W30 W21 W20 5.5 37 9th
10 Chess Club Politika W49 W38 W29 L1 W15 L2 W8 L3 5.0 42 10th
11 Chess School Etud W56 W36 W35 L3 W25 L5 W16 L2 5.0 38  
12 Amo Galaxias Thessaloniki W18 L1 L3 W43 L28 W39 W29 W31 5.0 37.5  
13 Rio Grande Valley Rising Stars L21 W19 W30 W17 L6 L20 W40 W27 5.0 35.5  
14 Echecs 16 W23 W42 L15 W56 W26 L1 W34 L4 5.0 35  
15 SK Sarajevo B--- W25 W14 L2 L10 W26 W27 L6 5.0 35  
16 Mykolaiv Chess Club W36 L56 W18 W25 L3 W47 L11 W26 5.0 34  
17 Toronto Kaiqi Chess Club D60 L9 W52 L13 W41 W49 W37 D19 5.0 30  
18 Lviv State Chess Club L12 W48 L16 W36 W22 L27 X47 W28 5.0 28.5  
19 ChessKidsNation Club W40 L13 W24 W20 L21 L4 W38 D17 4.5 35.5  
20 Club Jaque al Rey W41 L7 W37 L19 W30 W13 D24 L9 4.5 35.5  
21 Stevenson High School Chess Club W13 W40 W45 L4 W19 L7 L9 H--- 4.5 32.5  
22 Bangladesh Univ of Eng & Tech L28 W51 W39 L5 L18 D25 W44 W35 4.5 30.5  
23 SSZ Olimpia Goleszow L14 L26 W54 W33 D56 W50 W31 L8 4.5 29.5  
24 S. Ariz Chess Assn / Eastside CC D9 W57 L19 W30 W37 H--- D20 L7 4.5 28.5  
25 SSDE- Societa Scacchistica Epor. W58 L15 X43 L16 L11 D22 W50 W36 4.5 27  
26 Klub Szachowy Dwie Wieze Krakow L1 W23 W42 W27 L14 L15 W32 L16 4.0 37.5  
27 Wasa SK W32 W59 L1 L26 W38 W18 L15 L13 4.0 37  
28 Golden Sporting Club W22 L8 L34 W55 W12 W35 L7 L18 4.0 35  
29 Bay Tigers Chess Club W33 W43 L10 W32 L31 L8 L12 W38 4.0 34  
30 Iowa Pawn Stormers W45 W53 L13 L24 L20 L9 W42 W40 4.0 32  
31 Loulé ++ Clube de Xadrez L42 W33 X59 W38 W29 L3 L23 L12 4.0 30  
32 La Zubia L27 W58 W47 L29 L49 W42 L26 W41 4.0 25.5  
33 MUKS SZS Cieszyn L29 L31 L50 L23 W54 W58 W46 W37 4.0 24  
34 University Of Sydney Chess Club W39 L5 W28 W51 L8 L6 L14 D44 3.5 35.5  
35 Bahrain Chess Academy L2 D50 L11 W54 W44 L28 W49 L22 3.5 31  
36 Chesshouse Club L16 L11 W48 L18 D43 W56 W55 L25 3.5 28.5  
37 Liga Regional de Xadrez L7 W41 L20 W45 L24 W46 L17 L33 3.0 32  
38 SK Kriegshaber W54 L10 W49 L31 L27 W43 L19 L29 3.0 29  
39 Ballarat Chess Club L34 W55 L22 L8 W51 L12 L51 W54 3.0 28  
40 Rocky Top Chess Club L19 L21 L44 W57 W45 W41 L13 L30 3.0 27.5  
41 Maritime Chess Club L20 L37 W58 W46 L17 L40 W45 L32 3.0 26  
42 Nucleo Sporting. de Sao Miguel W31 L14 L26 L47 W58 L32 L30 X57 3.0 26  
43 African Chess Lounge W47 L29 F25 L12 D36 L38 D48 W49 3.0 24.5  
44 Club Ajedrez 64 Villalba H--- L47 W40 L50 L35 W48 L22 D34 3.0 24  
45 Fox Valley 2020 Chess Club L30 W46 L21 L37 L40 B--- L41 W52 3.0 22.5  
46 Waco Chess Club L6 L45 W61 L41 W57 L37 L33 B--- 3.0 22  
47 Chess Club Levice L43 W44 L32 W42 W50 L16 F18 --- 3.0 21  
48 Shamieh Chess Academy L3 L18 L36 D49 W52 L44 D43 D51 2.5 29  
49 Port Elizabeth Chess Club L10 W54 L38 D48 W32 L17 L35 L43 2.5 28.5  
50 UCS De Rode Loper L59 D35 W33 W44 L47 L23 L25 --- 2.5 27  
51 Karakol Chess Academy L8 L22 W55 L34 L39 L54 W39 D48 2.5 26.5  
52 Pittsburgh Chess Club L53 W61 L17 L9 L48 H--- W57 L45 2.5 23.5  
53 Charlotte Chess Center W52 L30 W57 H--- U--- U--- U--- --- 2.5 7.5  
54 Grassy Park Chess Academy L38 L49 L23 L35 L33 W51 W56 L39 2.0 25  
55 Bishan Chess Club L5 L39 L51 L28 B--- W57 L36 --- 2.0 20  
56 Shakh Club L11 W16 L2 L14 D23 L36 L54 --- 1.5 32  
57 Learners Chess Academy B--- L24 L53 L40 L46 L55 L52 F42 1.0 19  
58 Zukertort Amstelveen Jeugd L25 L32 L41 B--- L42 L33 U--- --- 1.0 17.5  
59 Halesowen Chess Club W50 L27 F31 U--- U--- U--- U--- --- 1.0 7  
60 Nashville Chess Center D17 U--- U--- U--- U--- U--- U--- --- 0.5 5  
61 GHA Chess Club L4 L52 L46 U--- U--- U--- U--- --- 0.0 11  

To watch the broadcast of this match, follow this link:

Mechanics' Chess Social 

This Friday's guest was FM Sunil Weeramantry. He is the Executive Director of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation and member of the USCF Scholastic Council. It was a fun conversation in which we discussed his stepson GM Hikaru Nakamura, his time as a chess player, his interactions with U.S. Senator Carl Levin in promoting chess to the U.S. Senate, and his work with the scholastic committee and council in helping to continue national scholastic chess championships in the time of COVID-19. He even provided an amazing story about Steve Brandwein when he visited Mechanics' Institute some twenty years ago. To watch the lively interview, please follow this link:

Mechanics' Institute Regular Online Classes

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

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

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Mechanics' Chess - Scholastic Offerings

Saturday, July 25: starts at 3:00PM - join from 2:45PM
5SS G/15+2 USCF Rated:

Sunday, July 26: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

5SS G/5+5 :

Monday, July 27: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/15+0:

Tuesday, July 28: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4PM

5SS G/5+5:

Wednesday, July 29: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, July 30: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
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Friday, July 31: 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


(3) DarkCapableCharm (1502) - CoolPowerfulGhoul (1457) [C54]
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 This is about as good as the sharp 4. Ng5. It is just a choice for a quieter game to start with. 4...Bc5 5.c3 d6 6.0-0 Bg4 7.h3 h5?! An interesting practical choice in a blitz game. Objectively this isn't good, but proving that in a quick game is a tough task. 8.hxg4 hxg4 9.Ng5! This is the key defensive move. 9...0-0 10.Qb3 [10.b4 Bb6 11.g3 would be a direct way to shore up the kingside. Black would have clearly insufficient compensation for the piece.] 10...Qe7 11.Qxb7 The game is getting complicated with this pawn grab. It's simpler to focus on defense. [11.g3] 11...Na5 12.Qb5 Nxc4 13.Qxc4 g3 14.d4 gxf2+ 15.Rxf2 exd4 16.cxd4 Bb6 17.Qd3! This gives White attacking chances greater than Black's. Plus he has the extra piece. 17...c5?! 18.e5! dxe5 19.Rxf6! g6 20.Qh3 Kg7

21.Nh7?! [21.Rxf7+! Rxf7 22.Qh7+ Kf6 23.Nxf7 Qxf7 24.Bg5+ Ke6 25.d5+ wins the queen] 21...Rh8! The best defensive chance. 22.Qh6+ [22.Bh6+ Kg8 23.Nc3 Rxh7 24.Nd5! White still has the extra piece and raging attack.] 22...Kg8 23.Bg5? [23.Qg5 Rxh7 24.dxe5 still keeps the white advantage] 23...Qe8? [23...Rxh7! 24.Rxb6 Qd7! 25.Rxg6+ fxg6 26.Qxg6+ Rg7 27.Qe4 Rf8 is good chances for Black] 24.Bd2? This retreat is wrong [24.Rxg6+! fxg6 25.Nf6+ Kf7 26.Nxe8 Rxh6 27.Nd6+ Ke6 28.Bxh6 Kxd6 is a winning endgame] 24...Rxh7 suddenly Black has the advantage with the safer king and better development for the piece 25.Qg5 Bd8?! [25...cxd4!] 26.dxe5 Bxf6 27.Qxf6 Qe6? [27...Rd8] 28.Qf3? [28.Qxe6 fxe6 29.Nc3 is a terrific endgame for White as the e5 pawn works wonderfully with the white bishop and knight] 28...Rd8 29.Ba5?
29...Qxe5! This tactic threatens too much for White to handle. 30.Bxd8 Qe1+ 31.Qf1 Rh1+! White resigned. A wonderful, wild game! 0-1

(4) suIndu12 (1497) - CuteDynamicGargoyle (1594) [C53]
Live Chess

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 d6?! This allows White to take the center. Better is [4...Nf6] 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb6 7.d5 [7.Nc3; or 7.h3 hold the central ground] 7...Nb8 8.0-0 Qf6?! It's better to develop the knight. The black queen is exposed coming out so early. 9.Re1 Ba5? 10.Bd2 [10.Qa4+ wins the bishop on a5] 10...Qxb2

11.Qa4+! Bd7 12.Qxa5 b6 [12...Qxa1 13.Bc3 traps the queen] 13.Qc3 Qxc3 14.Bxc3 White has a piece for just one pawn, so should win the endgame with proper technique. 14...f6 15.Nbd2 a6 16.Bf1 Ne7 17.Nb3 Bg4 18.Nbd4 Nd7 19.h3! Now the light squares in Black's camp are becoming weak. 19...Bh5 20.Ne6 Bxf3 21.Nxc7+! The simplest way to take home the point. 21...Kd8?! [21...Kf7 at least connects the rooks.] 22.Nxa8 Bh5 23.Rac1 a5 24.Bd4 With an extra rook and targets to hit, White is just cruising. 24...Nc8 25.Rc2 Re8 26.f3 f5 27.g4 Bg6 28.Nc7! Re7 29.Ne6+ Ouch 29...Rxe6 30.dxe6 Nf6 31.Bxf6+ gxf6 32.exf5 Be8 33.Ba6 Ne7 34.Rec1 Ba4 35.Rc7 Bc6 36.R1xc6 Nxc6 37.Rxc6 Ke7 38.Rc7+ Kd8 39.Rxh7 Ke8 40.e7 Kd7 41.Bb5+ Kc7 42.e8R# suIndu12 won by checkmate 1-0

NEW: US Chess Online Rated Tournaments
Twice a month

July 25, August 2, August 8 @ 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:

7/25 Saturday - Saturday Matinee
Format: 3SS G/30
Join from 2PM -
Starts at 3PM
7/25 Saturday - 5SS G/5+2
Starts at 9PM
7/26 Sunday - 6SS G/15+2, USCF Online Rated
Starts at 2PM

7/27 Monday - Monday Online Arena

Format: 90 mins of G/5+2 - as many games as you can.
Join from 5:30PM -
Start: 6:30PM
7/28 Tuesday - Mechanics' Player Appreciation Blitz
Format: 7 rounds of G/5+2 (Swiss)
Start: 6:30PM
7/29 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.
7/30 Thursday Night Blitz
Format: 8SS G/3+2
Join the tournament from 6PM - 
Starts 7PM.
7/31 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

Some Hazy Memories of The People’s Tournaments.

I played in a total of seven People’s Tournaments, stretching from 1976 to 1990, all on the UC Berkeley Campus at the Student Union Building.

My results were not that good, and some results and games have been lost in the sands of time, as you can see in highlights from this list:

- 1976.  I lost to John Grefe and Jeremy Silman and drew Kim Commons. How I did I fare in my other 3 games?  Who knows?  The score sheets are lost.

- 1977. This year I scored a mediocre 3 – 3, losing to John Watson, C. Bill Jones and John Grefe (again).

- 1978.  My best chess year overall, but another dismal turnout at the Peoples with a 3 – 3 score.  No highlights at all, I’m afraid.

- 1979.  Another incomplete result - 3 scoresheets, including a loss to Richard Lobo.

- 1981.  Finally a half-way decent result, with a 4 – 2 score.  However, I lost in the last round to someone named Adam, and I have no idea who that is!

- 1984.  Yet another incomplete result, 3 scoresheets and a 1.5 score.  Did I withdraw?

- 1990.  My last People’s Tournament, and although I finished with an OK 4 -2 score, my play was not so good.  I saved what was certainly a lost game in the last round against John Donaldson (given below), and that somehow is a fitting coda to my People’s Tournaments.

So the big question remains, for me, is why?  Why could I never get this tournament right? 

Was it the non-stop drumming coming in through the walls, part of the experience playing there?  Was it the city of Berkeley itself, lulling me with good vibes and good food: a somehow too-friendly atmosphere that wreaked havoc on my competitive drive?

Looking back, I think it may have been all those things, and a bit more.  I loved seeing my friends in Berkeley: Alan Benson, Mike Goodall, John Grefe, Dennis Fritzinger, Paul Enright, Kerry Lawless, Paul Cornelius – the list goes on and on.  Going over to Berkeley was a social event!

Perhaps for me, the People’s Tournament was more about the people, and less about the chess. 

And the chess suffered!


Event "Peoples Tournament, Berkeley 1990"

White: Paul Whitehead

Black: John Donaldson

Result: 1/2-1/2

Opening "Sicilian Defense: Canal Attack, Main Line"

1. e4 { This was our second game (see MI Newsletter #890 for our first, in 1982). As usual I trotted out my favorite 3.Bb5+ which has served me so well. } 1... c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. a4 Nc6 5. O-O Nf6 6. Re1 g6 7. h3 Bg7 8. d3 O-O 9. Nbd2 b6 10. Nc4 a6 11. Bxc6 Bxc6 12. a5?! { Better was } (12. e5) 12... b5 13. Nb6 Rb8 14. Bg5 h6 15. Bd2 Nd7 16. Qc1 Kh7 17. Nd5 e6 18. Nf4 e5 19. Nd5 Bxd5 20. exd5 f5 { Black is certainly much better, but over the course of the game never seems to land a haymaker. White escapes by the skin of his teeth. } 21. b4 Rc8 22. c4 cxb4 23. Bxb4 Nc5 24. Ra3 bxc4 25. Qxc4 e4 26. dxe4 fxe4 27. Rxe4! { This exchange sacrifice seems to solve most of white's problems. } 27... Nxe4 28. Qxe4 Rc1+ 29. Kh2 Qc7 30. Bd2 Rc4 31. Qd3 Qc8 32. Rb3 Rf5 33. Rb6 Rc5 34. Qxa6 Qxa6 35. Rxa6 Rcxd5 36. Bb4 Rb5 37. Bxd6 Rxa5 38. Rxa5 Rxa5 39. g4 Kg8 40. Kg2 Kf7 41. Bc7 Rb5 42. Bf4 g5 43. Be3 Rb4 44. Kg3 Bf6 45. Kg2 Ke6 46. Kg3 Kd5 47. Bd2 Rb3 48. Be3 Rb5 49. h4 Ke4 50. hxg5 hxg5 51. Nd2+ Kd3 52. Kf3 Bd4 53. Bxd4 Kxd4 54. Kg3 Kd3 55. Nf3 Ra5 56. Ng1 Kd2 57. Nh3 Ke2 58. f3 Ke1 59. Kg2 Rd5 60. Kg3 Kf1 { Drawn here or a few moves later. White could play 61.Nxg5! and make black nervous... } 1/2-1/2

Position after 27.Rxe4!

GM Nick de Firmian's Column

GM Nick de Firmian's column will return in August


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