Chess Room Newsletter #933 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #933

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #933


September 5, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Chess Clubs From Around the Country

It is quite an interesting thing to research other chess clubs from around the country. Most chess players are aware of the bigger clubs, but one thing we know is that there are many chess clubs across the country which meet in churches, schools, malls, coffee shops, and restaurants, more causal settings where people come together just to play chess and socialize. They don't play for rating or for titles, just purely for the love of the game. These clubs are every bit as important as any organized USCF affiliate, and the USCF and the USCF Clubs Committee recognize this. It takes a lot of work to keep these clubs growing and thriving. But there is one chess community out there which is served by the sheer will, passion, and outright hard work of one individual. This individual not only serves his chess community, but serves literally the entire state.

Todd Wolf is the President of the North Dakota Chess Association. He is also the 2015 State Champion, the North Dakota Delegate to the USCF, and organizer of the North Dakota State Championship. I spoke with him about his prolific organizing in North Dakota, and I do mean prolific. When I looked up on the US Chess website about rated events in North Dakota dating back to 2015, every single rated event in North Dakota, over 100 of them, were all organized and directed by Todd Wolf. See for yourself here:

He puts just as much effort in organizing the North Dakota State Championship as he does the Pizza Hut Open, in addition to scholastic events and camps. Todd Wolf is chess in North Dakota!

Todd lives in Bismarck and most events are organized there, but he also organizes events in other cities like Fargo and Minot. Currently, he organizes a regular weekly chess club at the Gateway Mall Food Court on Sundays 2-4pm. It is for casula games, and his local news even ran a story about Todd and his chess activities which can be found here:

While acticities have slowed down due to COVID-19 quarantine, he has also organized events online and is looking to organize scholastic events online as well. 

Todd got started in chess back in 1990, where as a teacher he started playing chess with the kids at school. He saw a flyer promoting the North Dakota State Championship, and he organized the kids for a road trip to play in the event. It seems quite early on that rallying kids up for chess was just in his blood. 

Back in 2013, his son won the state scholastic championship and qualified to play in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions at the U.S. Open in Madison, Wisconsin. Todd has since organized events regularly and continuously for the past five years. Many of these events have had a few players, usually 8-10. This makes it all the more impressive. As organizers, it is tough to spend the time it takes to organize an event, set aside the time on the weekend to spend a half or full day directing an event. With so few players, there is no money to be made. To consistently organize events for the chess community takes a commitment and love for the game that goes beyond chess. Todd carries the weight of being pretty much the only person offering rated chess and organized events for the whole state.

When I asked why he thinks people play, his answer was simple - "People show up for the love of chess, kids play because its fun." 

He will tell you he loves it all, and it would be genuine. But as a member of the US Chess Clubs Committee and from all us organizers out there, kudos to Todd Wolf for doing what he does, for all the kids, for the adults, and for the chess community as a whole. A person like Todd makes it possible for more kids to learn and understand the transformative power of chess, and we can see from the photos above, that communities do indeed come together through chess, and because of Todd, throughout North Dakota.

Mechanics' Instititute Summer Championship 

The Mechanics' Institute hosted an online two-day Summer Championship which was USCF-rated and had a time control of G/60+5, with three games played per day, and pairings done manually on GM Aleksandr Lenderman dominated the field with a perfect score of 6/6 to win the event. IM Elliott Winslow finished in 2nd with 5/6, and four players tied for 3rd with 4/6; Alan Finkelstein, Rachael Tiong, Luke Widjaja and Ian Widjaja. The tournament had 20 players. 

GM Lenderman showed how his technical and precise play can overwhelm even strong masters. Though some of his games were interesting out of the opening, he showed he was always in full control, and displayed top quality form throughout. Elliott Winslow had an impressive result also, with his only loss coming to Lenderman. He showed grit and fight in some of his wins, especially against Alan Finkelstein in the final round. Three other kids, Rachael Tiong, Luke Widjaja, and Ian Widjaja all perfomed exceptionally well to tie for 3rd, especially Rachael, who defeated strong A-players Ashik Uzzaman and Adam Mercado en route to her 4/6. 

Here are some games from the event, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian.

(7) IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (1969) - GM Aleksandr Lenderman (AlexanderL) (2459) [B10]
MI Summer Chess Festival, 30.08.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c6 Alexander is well-versed in a number of openings; the French is as least as common by him, plus a lot of Sicilians. 2.c4 White is pretty sure Lenderman is more knowledgable on the main lines, so tries something a bit eccentric. 2...d5 [2...e5!? takes the game in quite a different direction, while the text keeps it more like what one sees in the Panov-Botvinnik Attack (2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4. c4).] 3.exd5 cxd5 4.cxd5 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Nxc3!? [How about 6...g6 right away?] 7.bxc3 g6!?


Played by both Tal and Petrosian in 1982! 8.h4!? Another Alpha-Zero sycophant! [After simply 8.d4 the opening has a lot of characteristics of a Gruenfeld Defense.] 8...h6?! We might brand this an overreaction, justifying White's last. [8...Bg7 9.h5 Nc6 a) 9...Qc7; b) 9...0-0 10.hxg6 hxg6 11.d4 or White could try various other stalling moves. (11.Qa4; 11.Rb1) ; 10.d4 e5!? (10...Qc7; 10...0-0) ; 8...Qc7!? was a principled attempt to discourage d2-d4; after 9.h5 Bg7 White made it a gambit: 10.d4!? (but maybe 10.Be2 is more reasonable, sticking with the waiting game: 10...Nc6 11.d4 Bf5 12.Bg5 1-0 (33) Miezis,N (2557)-Akesson,R (2415) Norrköping 2012) 10...Qxc3+ 11.Bd2 Qa3 12.Bc4 Nc6 13.Rb1 Qd6!? 14.Qb3 e6 15.hxg6 hxg6 16.Rxh8+ Bxh8 and after further complications, ½-½ (32) Golod,V (2544) -Kaganskiy,G (2386) Ashdod 2003 [Golod,V]] 9.h5?! Definitely overreacting to the overreaction! White could choose the moment better: [9.d4 Bg7 10.Bf4 (10.Be2!? Nc6 11.0-0 0-0 12.Bf4 Bg4 13.Rb1 Qd7 14.Qd2 Kh7 15.d5 Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Ne5 17.Be2 Rfc8 18.h5! gxh5 (18...g5 19.Be3 followed by a kingside attack) 19.c4! b6 20.Rb3! Ng6 21.Rh3! 1-0 (39) Beliavsky,A (2615)-Tal,M (2605) Moscow 1982) 10...Nc6 11.Qd2 is uncomfortable] 9...g5 10.d4 Bg7 11.Bd3 Nc6 12.Qe2?! [12.Rb1 interrupt Black's smooth deployment in the game.] 12...Be6 [12...Bg4!] 13.Rb1 Qd7 14.Qb2? White gets himself all tangled up. 14...b6 [14...Bd5! is more refined] 15.0-0 [When the computer thinks 15.Qe2 is best, you can be pretty sure something went wrong last move.] 15...Bd5 [15...Bg4; 15...Bf5!?] 16.Nd2? White seems to be playing with no plan. 16...0-0 17.Re1 Rac8 [Already Black could successfully attack the center with 17...e5] 18.Nf1


18...e5! The time is ripe. 19.c4? White hopes to confound Black in the tactics; wrong opponent for that! 19...Be6! [19...Bxg2?! is interesting but (1) unclear (2) unnecessary.] 20.d5 e4 21.Qd2 exd3 22.dxe6 fxe6-+ This has turned out very well for Black. 23.Rb3 Rcd8 Black isn't going to give up that superpawn so readily! 24.Ne3 Nd4 25.Ra3 Ne2+ [25...e5!] 26.Rxe2 dxe2 27.Qxe2 Rf7


Not only is Black up a clear Exchange, but White's knight has no future -- unless you consider "in the way" a profession. 28.Qc2 Qd4 29.Rb3 Qh4 30.Qe2 Qe4 31.f3 Qd4 32.Bb2 Qd2 33.Kf1 Qxe2+ 34.Kxe2 Bxb2 35.Rxb2 Rf4 36.Rb5 Rfd4 37.Ng4 Kg7 38.Re5 Rd2+ 39.Ke3 R8d3+ 40.Ke4 Ra3 41.Ne3 Re2 42.Kd4 Kf7 43.Ng4 Rxe5 44.Kxe5 Kg7 45.Kxe6 Rxa2 46.g3 Rg2 AlexanderL won by resignation 0-1

(8) Rachael Tiong (rachael1120) (1567) - Adam Mercado (A-boy415) (1620) [B33]
MI Summer Chess Festival, 29.08.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Bxf6 [The subtle "professional" move order is 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 (and there's also 9.Nd5) 9...gxf6 10.Nd5] 8...gxf6 9.Na3 b5 [since here Black could try 9...f5!?] 10.Nd5 Be6?! [The longstanding main line is 10...f5; While the more recent line is 10...Bg7 followed by ...Ne7.; Please do not play 10...Ne7?? too fast: 11.Nxf6#] 11.c4?!


[The known problem for Black is that after 11.c3! Bg7 12.Nc2 Ne7 (12...f5 13.exf5 Bxf5 14.Nce3 gains a move over the main lines.) 13.Nce3 sees White with a grip on d5.] 11...Qa5+!? Into the unknown. [11...Bxd5!? 12.Qxd5 (12.exd5?) ; 11...Nd4!?] 12.Qd2 Qxd2+ 13.Kxd2 Bxd5 14.exd5 Bh6+ 15.Kd1 Ne7 16.cxb5 Nxd5 17.bxa6 These long forcing lines can be harrowing! White's king is hard to approach, while that pawn on a6 is going to require a lot of attention. On the other hand, Black's pawns in the center, should they get rolling, could sweep White back. 17...Ke7!? [17...0-0 Even with no queens on board the king could be a targe for attack, thus this might be more prudent.] 18.Nc2?! [18.Nb5!? Rxa6? 19.Nd4! Ra4 20.Nf5+ Ke6 21.Nxh6 doesn't get out, but meanwhile on the queenside...] 18...Rhb8!


Always a fun move to play. 19.b3 Nc3+ [19...f5 gets going right away.; 19...Nc7!? deals with the rock in Black's shoe.] 20.Ke1 Ra7? Not part of the plan. [20...d5; 20...f5] 21.Ne3! Bxe3 22.fxe3 White's bishop is going to harrass the knight. 22...Rb4?! 23.Kd2 Ne4+ 24.Ke1? [24.Kc2 Nc5 25.Bc4+- and White is ready for a3 and b4, the second wave of passed pawns.] 24...f5 [24...Nc5! 25.Bc4 Nxa6 26.a3 Rb8 27.b4?? Nxb4] 25.Bc4 Nc5 26.Ke2 [26.Rf1! Kf6 27.g4 d5 28.a3!] 26...Nxa6 27.Rhf1


27...Rxc4? Black must be seeing a ghost. [27...Nc7 28.Rxf5 d5 29.Bd3 Ke6 30.Bc2 d4! 31.exd4 Rxd4 with central counterplay. White still holds an advantage, but it is yet to be decisive.] 28.bxc4 Ke6 29.Rf3 [29.a4! Nc5 30.a5 sets up another dangerous a-pawn!] 29...Nc5 30.a3 [30.a4! Nxa4 31.Kf2! threatens both 31.Rh3 and 31.e4 followed by 32.Rfa3.] 30...Ra4 31.Rh3 Rxc4 [31...Nb3! gets the pawn that's passed.] 32.Rxh7 Ne4 33.g3 Rc2+


34.Kd3?? with 36 minutes left Rachael steps into a hole! [34.Ke1! Rc3 35.a4 Rxe3+ 36.Kf1 is no longer winning, but White does have her rook pawns] 34...Rc3+?? Poor Adam! The culmination of it all was there. He thought for four minutes (with 18 remaining) but just didn't see it. And it's not easy to see... [34...Rd2+! 35.Kc4 Rb2!! 36.Kd3 (36.Rd1 d5+ 37.Rxd5 Rc2+) 36...Kd5!! Mouse-trapped! (36...d5 also works) 37.Rd1 Nf2+ 38.Kc3+ Nxd1+ 39.Kd3 e4#] 35.Ke2 d5 [35...Rc2+ 36.Ke1! as above.] 36.a4 Rc2+ 37.Ke1! Nc3? [37...d4 is the best try, and White's task is difficult.] 38.Rh4! Re2+ 39.Kf1 Rxe3 40.a5 Nb5 41.Rb4 Now White's whole force is working. 41...Nc7 42.a6 d4 43.a7 Kd5 44.Rb7 Na8 45.Rb8 Ke4 46.Rxa8 Rf3+ 47.Kg2 Ke3 48.Rd8 [48.Ra3+ d3 49.Rxd3+ Kxd3 50.Kxf3 isn't a faster route to checkmate, but it's more likely Black would resign.] 48...Rf2+ 49.Kh3 e4 50.a8Q d3 51.Re8 d2


52.Qxe4+? Now this is a hard move to explain! [52.Ra3+ Ke2 53.Qa6+ Ke1 54.Re3+ Kd1 55.Qa1+ Kc2 56.Rc3#] 52...fxe4 53.Rd8?? Even now White has more than half an hour left. And Black has 6:20, so it's not like she'll push him over timewise. [53.Ra3+! is still a win.] 53...Ke2 There they are, all those zeros: "0.00" says the new Stockfish 12. 54.Kg4 e3 55.h4 Rf1 56.Ra2 f5+ 57.Kg5 Rd1 58.h5 Kf3 59.h6


59...e2?? Here on the brink Black loses his way and loses. [59...Rh1! was the only move to draw.] 60.Rd3+! [or 60.h7] 60...Ke4 61.h7! Kxd3 [61...Rh1 62.Rdxd2! e1Q 63.Re2+ Qxe2 64.Rxe2+ Kf3 (64...Kd5 65.Kg6) 65.Re7] 62.h8Q e1Q


Incredible -- Black is even up material and with a giant passed pawn. But it's a classic situation: exposed king, enemy queen and rook, check on the move. White wins. 63.Ra3+! Ke2 64.Qh5+! Kf1 65.Qh1+ Kf2 66.Rf3+ Ke2 67.Qg2+ Qf2 68.Qxf2# A spectacular battle, with promising junior Rachel Tiong coming out on top at the end. 1-0


(9) Alan Finkelstein (stratus_junior) (1867) - IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (1979) [A62]
MI Summer Chess Festival, 30.08.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 The Fianchetto against the Benoni. White calmly decentralizes his king, to ready for an eventual central pawn advance. If Black isn't ready when it happens, he gets pushed into the sea. 10.Bf4 The more modern line, the classic approach being [10.Nd2 a6 11.a4 Nbd7 12.h3 (12.Nc4 Ne5 (12...Nb6) 13.Na3 Nh5 when the rook might rather be on a8 than b8.) 12...b6!? is suggested in the latest Benoni book by John Doknjas.] 10...Bf5!? This also is the rare but promising recommendation found in the abovementioned repertoire. Black hopes to play ...Ne4 and recapture with the bishop, solving the problem of that piece. 11.Nd2 [One key idea is 11.Nh4 Bg4!? (11...Bc8 12.Nf3 would certainly ask Black if he wants a repetition.) 12.h3 (12.Qd2 b5!; 12.Re1!?) 12...Nh5!] 11...Nh5 12.Be3 [12.e4 Nxf4 13.gxf4 Bd7 isn't so easy to proceed for White] 12...Nd7 13.h3?


13...Nxg3! "Of course" -- but as in so many lines of the Fianchetto Variation, and the Benoni in general, Black will be "encouraged" to sacrifice material. [13...Rxe3 14.fxe3 Nxg3 15.e4! is also something for Black, but even more complicated without bringing a higher dividend.] 14.fxg3 Rxe3 15.g4


15...Bxg4! 16.hxg4 Bd4?! Hasty. [16...Qh4 17.Nf3 Qxg4 is pretty strong.; But 16...Ne5! 17.Nf3 Nxg4 18.Qe1 h5 Black's compensation for the piece is way more than enough. Stockfish 12: "-+ (-2.66)"] 17.Nb5 Be5? [17...Bxb2! 18.Rb1 (18.Nc4 a6!!-+ Famous quote by Mikhail Tal in a similar situation (putting a third piece en prise): "They can only take one at a time.") 18...Be5-/+ again sees Black with overflowing compensation for the knight.] 18.Rf3! Qg5 19.Nc4! Re4 20.Nxe5? [20.Qd2 Qxd2 (20...Qxg4 21.Ncxd6+- Black fumbles a bit) 21.Nxd2 Rxg4 22.Raf1 Rf8 23.Nxa7 Nb6 Black stays afloat, but there is no winning attack anymore.] 20...Nxe5 21.Rg3?? [21.Nxd6 Rd4 22.Qc1 Nxf3+ 23.exf3 (23.Bxf3? Rxg4+ 24.Bxg4 Qxg4+ 25.Kf2 Qh4+ 26.Kg2 Rd8 Black's rook enters decisively) 23...Qxc1+ 24.Rxc1 Rxd5 25.Ne4 (25.Nxb7?! Rb8 The winning chances are with Black) 25...Kg7=/+] 21...Rxg4 22.Rxg4


22...Nxg4 [22...Qe3+! ends it.] 23.Qf1 The new Stockfish 12 (released the day after this game was played) sees White as still lost. [23.Qc1?! Ne3; 23.Qd3 Qf4 24.Qh3 (24.Qf3 Qh2+ 25.Kf1 Qh4 26.Kg1 Re8 27.Bh3 Re3 28.Bxg4 Rxf3 29.Bxf3 Qg3+ 30.Bg2 (30.Kf1 h5) 30...c4) ] 23...Qe3+ 24.Kh1 Qg3 That's it. So that's why we play the Benoni! 0-1


(10) Alan Finkelstein (stratus_junior) (1874) - Patrick Kut (pkutchess) (1780) [A11]
MI Summer Chess Festival, 30.08.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 c6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 d5 7.b3 An old, solid try to make something happen. [7.cxd5 cxd5 8.Ne5 e6 9.Nc3 Nfd7 is a sequence seen in many games at the highest level. Black has mostly kept things in balance.; 7.Qb3 is another way to apply pressure at d5 and b7.] 7...a5 A natural reaction. [One also sees 7...Ne4; 7...Bf5; and even 7...dxc4 8.bxc4 c5!] 8.Nc3 Ne4 9.Bb2 Nxc3 [9...Bf5] 10.Bxc3 Be6?!


A problem square for the "problem bishop." [10...a4 11.cxd5 cxd5 12.bxa4 Bd7 0-1 (36) Ding,L (2791)-Caruana,F (2835) INT 2020; 10...Bf5 11.e3 Be4 12.Qe2 (12.Bh3!?) 12...Nd7 13.Rfc1 e6 14.Bf1] 11.Ng5!? Bf5 12.e4 dxe4 13.Nxe4


13...Nd7N Aiming simply to develop but that won't really be good enough. [13...Bxe4 14.Bxe4 c5!? 15.Bxb7 Ra7 16.Bg2 cxd4 17.Bb2 Na6 reaches an unbalanced balance -- White has the two bishops, queenside majority; Black has advanced passed pawn, central majority, free play. ½-½ (75), Kuznetsov,V (2024)-Rozhnev,G (2102) Irkutsk 2015] 14.Re1! Nf6 [14...c5? 15.dxc5 Bxe4 16.Bxg7+- when 16...Bxg2 doesn't attack the rook at f1.; 14...Bxe4 15.Rxe4 c5 16.Qe1! is a surprising move for an advantage.] 15.Nc5! keeping up some pressure. 15...Qc7 [15...b6 16.Na4] 16.Qe2 b6 17.Nd3 [17.Na4! e6 18.Bd2! and to f4.] 17...a4?!


[It could be time to say adieu to the two bishops: 17...Bxd3] 18.Nb4! Here's where White breaks through. 18...c5 [18...Bd7 19.d5 c5 20.Be5 Qc8 21.Nc6 Re8 22.Qb2 Is it hard to accept that White is already winning?] 19.dxc5 bxc5 20.Bxa8 cxb4 21.Be5 Qc5 22.Bf3 White has snipped the Exchange, and the pawns follow in short order. An impressive positional overpowering by Alan. 22...a3 23.Rad1 h5 24.Bd4 Qc8 25.Qxe7 Re8 26.Qxb4 Bg4 27.Bxg4 Nxg4 28.Rxe8+ Qxe8 29.Bxg7 Kxg7 30.h3 Ne5 31.Qc3 f6 32.Rd5 Qe6 33.Kg2 Qf5 34.Qe3 Qc2 35.Rd2 [35.Rd8!] 35...Qb1 36.f4 Nf7 37.Qd3 Qa1 38.c5 g5 39.c6 gxf4 40.gxf4 Qc1 41.Rc2 Qe1 42.Qg3+ Qxg3+ 43.Kxg3 Nd6 44.c7 Nc8 45.Rd2 stratus_junior won by resignation. 1-0


Mechanics' Institute Summer Blitz Championship

We also hosted a summer blitz championship on the evening of August 29, and we had 20 players. GM Aleksandr Lenderman again showed his strength with a perfect 9/9 score. Tied for 2nd place were NM Greg Kotlyar, Nathan Fong, and Eric Hon, all with 6/9. The field includind a couple masters and strong experts, but Lenderman was just too tough. Here is a game from the blitz event.

(11) GM Aleksandr Lenderman (AlexanderL) (2808) - NM Greg Kotlyar (IroniaSudby) (2480) [A30]
MI Summer Chess Festival, 29.08.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.Bg2 c5 5.0-0 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 h6 9.Rd1 0-0 10.Qf4 d6 11.Be3 Nbd7 12.Rac1 Rc8 13.b3 a6 14.a4 All standard Hedgehog/Double Fianchetto business. 14...Nc5


15.Bxc5?! This is an odd moment to exchange like this. He must have been concerned with Black occupying e4 (not to mention the pawn on b3). But all the positional considerations go against this. [15.Nd2 Normal would be 15...Bxg2 16.Kxg2 when 16...Qe8!? is an atypical route to c6.] 15...bxc5 16.Nd2 Bxg2 17.Kxg2 Qb6?! [17...Nd7! sets up two routes (... Nb8 and ...Ne5) to get to c6 and later b4 or d4. Black would have a healthy edge.] 18.Rb1 [18.Nd5 is equal.] 18...Nh5 Black has an idea. A bad one. [18...Qc6+!? 19.Qf3 Qxf3+ 20.Nxf3 Nd7 21.Nd5 Rfe8 22.b4!? just trades off one weakness for another (or two).] 19.Qf3 f5? Suddenly there are a lot of weaknesses in Black's position, maybe even critical ones. 20.Nd5 Qd8 21.Qe3 Black uses attack on e7 to spring into e6. 21...Kh7?! [21...Kf7 is the best chance, stopping Qe6 for now. 22.b4! then looks to get the rook into b7 or so. 22...e6 23.Nf4 Nxf4+ 24.Qxf4 and various devices persist to open up lines on the kingside.] 22.Qxe7 Qxe7 23.Nxe7 Rce8 24.Nd5 Rxe2 25.Kf1 Ree8 26.Nf3 [26.b4 Again! The rook getting into b6 or b7 does more damage than anything Black can muster elsewhere.] 26...f4?! 27.g4 Nf6 28.Nxf6+ Rxf6


29.b4! cxb4 30.Rxb4 Rc8 31.Rb6 a5 32.Ra6 Rc5?! [32...Rxc4 33.Rxa5 remains uncomfortable.] 33.Ra7 Re6 34.Rb1! But this is worse. 34...Re8 35.Rbb7 Rg8


36.Nd4 Rxc4 37.Ne6 f3 38.Rxg7+ Rxg7 39.Rxg7+ Kh8 40.Rc7 Rxa4 41.Rc1 Rxg4 42.Nc7? [42.Rc8+ Kh7 43.Rf8 gets rid of the one pawn that is causing White's grief, after which the rook and knight can take out the other ones.] 42...a4 43.Ra1 Rb4?! [43...Kg7] 44.Nd5 Rb3 45.Ke1 No more getting checkmated. 45...a3 46.Kd2 Rb2+ 47.Ke3 a2?! 48.Nc3 g5 49.Rxa2 Rb3 50.Rc2 Kg7 51.Kxf3 Kg6 52.Kg2 g4 53.Ne4 d5 54.Rc6+ Kf5 55.Ng3+ Kg5 56.Rd6 Rd3 57.Kf1 h5 58.Ke2 Rd4 59.Nf1 h4 60.Ne3 h3 61.Rxd5+ Rxd5 62.Nxd5 Kf5 63.Ne3+ Kf4 AlexanderL won by resignation 1-0

(6) Pranav Sairam (chesspilot01) (2282) - Nathan Fong (nathanf314) (2172) [B49]
Live Chess, 30.08.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Be2 Nf6 8.0-0 Bb4 A classic Taimanov Sicilian. White has full development but Black has flexible pawn structure which restrain the white pieces. 9.Bd3?! Moving a piece twice in the opening is a loss of time. Here 9. Na4! is the main line, looking at the b6 weakeness. 9...0-0 10.f4 Nxd4 [10...Bc5!] 11.Bxd4 Bc5 12.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 13.Kh1 d5?! [13...d6 would help to control the dark squares and keep the game level] 14.e5 Nd7 15.Qh5 g6 16.Qh6 f5 Black needs to advance this pawn to be prepared to defend against Rf3 followed by Rh3. 17.exf6 Rxf6 18.Rf3?! [18.Rae1!] 18...Qf8! 19.Qh4 b5 20.Rh3 Qg7 Black has managed to get back on the defense and now has a safe king position. 21.Ne2 Bb7 22.Nd4 e5 23.fxe5 Nxe5 24.Re1?!


24...Raf8! White was so focused on his own attack that he forgot Black can pursue his own plans. Now the black pieces coordinate well and the white ones not as well. The white rook and h3 is not contributing, hence 24. Re3 would have been preferrable. 25.Kg1? [25.Nf3 Nxd3 26.cxd3 Rf4 27.Re7 would keep White in the game. Black would have a better ending after 27...Rxh4 28.Rxg7+ Kxg7 29.Rxh4 Rc8] 25...Rf4 oops. White loses a piece. 26.Qg5 Nxd3 27.Ne6 Nxe1! 28.Nxf4 [28.Nxg7 Rf1#] 28...Qd4+ 29.Kh1 Qxf4 0-1

For full results, follow this link:

Mechanics' Institute Summer Kids Championship

On Sunday August 30, we held our Mechanics' Kids Summer Championship on In all, 50 players participated in two sections according to rating; 1200+ and under 1200. In the top section, Mechanics' regular RareThird Dessert and CritAura tied for 1st with 5/6, with RareThird Dessert taking the first place trophy on tiebreaks. In the under 1200 section, Chessp9999 took 1st place with a score of 5.5/6. Congratulations to all the kids who participated!

Here are some games from the kids event, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian.

(5) SreyanGBayAreaChess (1433) - RareThirdDessert (1704) [C44]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 Boldly sacrificing two pawns! White offers the Danish Gambit. 4...Nc6 Which Black declines, preferring to take only one pawn (the Goring Gambit). [4...cxb2 5.Bxb2 is a wild and crazy game] 5.Nxc3 Bb4 6.Nf3 Nf6 7.e5 Ng8?! Black retreats and loses time in the opening. Better was the counter attack [7...d5 8.exf6 dxc4 9.Qxd8+ Nxd8 10.fxg7 Rg8 with an equal position] 8.a3?! [8.Qb3 Qe7 9.0-0 is a plus for White due to extra development, e.g. 9...Na5 10.Bxf7+ Kf8 11.Qa4!] 8...Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Nge7 10.0-0 h6 11.Qb3?! [11.Bf4 leaves White with greater control of the center] 11...0-0 12.Nd4?! Na5 [12...Nxe5 would be a clean pawn ahead] 13.Qb4 Nxc4 14.Qxc4 d6 15.exd6 cxd6 16.Rd1 d5 17.Qa2 Nc6 18.Nf3 Re8 Playing for development and activity rather than guarding the d-pawn. A reasonable choice. 19.Qxd5 Qf6 20.Bb2?! This passive square for the white bishop allows Black to gain further activity. 20...Bg4 21.h3 Be6?! [21...Rad8! 22.Qb3 Bxf3 would be a huge advantage. The white kingside would be ruined.] 22.Qd2 Bb3 23.Rdb1 Rad8


24.Qc1? [White couldn't find a good square for the queen. He needed to counter with 24.c4! so the Black queen was also attacked. Black would still be better, but it would be a hard fight.] 24...Rd1+ 25.Qxd1 Bxd1 26.Rxd1 Re2! 27.Rdb1 Ne5! 28.Nxe5?! White was in big trouble no matter what, but this ends it quickly. 28...Qxf2+ RareThirdDessert won by resignation 0-1

(4) KeenUpbeatClock (1528) - CritAura (1652) [B12]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 The Advanced Variation of the Caro-Kann. The became popular among grandmasters as it often leads to attacking possibilities. 3...c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.dxc5?! This is not so good as White loses the pawn chain of c3,d4,e5. It would be better to develop with 5. Nf3. 5...Nxe5 6.Nf3 Bg4?


7.Be2? [White misses a golden oppontunity to win the game with a queen sacrifice - 7.Nxe5! Bxd1 8.Bb5+ wins the queen back with interest 8...Qd7 9.Bxd7+ Kd8 10.Nxf7+ Kxd7 11.Kxd1 and the rook is trapped in the corner.] 7...Nxf3+ 8.Bxf3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 e6 10.Bf4?! [10.Be3] 10...Bxc5 11.0-0 Nf6 Black has an extra pawn and nice solid central pawns. 12.Rd1 0-0 13.c4 Qb6! 14.cxd5 Qxb2 Fine, active play by CritAura. White is a pawn down and under pressure. 15.Nc3 exd5 [15...Nxd5] 16.Rab1 Qa3 17.Rb3 Qa5?! 18.Nxd5? Taking this pawn leads to great trouble. There are back rank issues. [18.Rb5! Bxf2+ 19.Kh1! Would put White ahead. (Not 19.Kxf2 Qxc3! 20.Qxc3 Ne4+) ] 18...Nxd5 19.Rxd5? [Black would be well ahead anyway after 19.Qxd5 Rad8 20.Qf3 Rxd1+ 21.Qxd1 Rd8 22.Qf1 Qxa2 23.Rb1 Bxf2+! 24.Kh1 Bb6] 19...Qe1# CritAura won by checkmate 0-1

(3) LateLoyalBagel (1201) - chessp9999 (1224) [C54]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Nbxd2 0-0?! [8...d5! 9.exd5 Nxd5] 9.0-0?! [9.e5] 9...d6 [9...d5!] 10.e5 White charges ahead, which is the right strategy, but it would have been better to prepare this with 10. Re1. 10...dxe5 11.dxe5 Ng4 12.Re1 Re8 The white pawn on e5 is threatened. What to do? 13.Qe2?! [13.e6! Bxe6 14.Bxe6 Rxe6 15.Rxe6 fxe6 16.Qb3 would get the pawn back with a good position.] 13...Qe7?! [13...Ngxe5 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 simply wins the pawn] 14.Qd3?! [14.Bb5!] 14...Ngxe5 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.Qe3 Bf5 17.Nf3? Initiating exchanges that are in Black's favor. 17...Nxf3+ 18.Qxf3 Qxe1+! 19.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 20.Bf1


20...Bb1 White has the back rank problem and is in danger of losing the bishop on f1 if either the black bishop or other rook can also attack it. Note that two rooks are usually superior to a queen. They can double up to attack targets. 21.Qxb7 Rd8?! [21...Rae8!] 22.Qxc7! correctly grabbing another pawn as the rook on d8 can't leave the back rank. 22...Rf8 23.Qxa7? But this is just too greedy! With 23. Qc3 White is still in the game. Now the bishop on f1 is lost. 23...Bd3! 24.g3 Rxf1+ 25.Kg2 h6 It's always nice to make "luft" so there will never be a bank rank checkmate. 26.Qe3 Rd8 27.Qe7 Rc8 28.Qe2?? A terrible blunder. White could have tried [28.Qd7 Ba6 29.Qxc8+ Bxc8 30.Kxf1 when it would take good technique from Black to win the endgame.] 28...Bxe2 29.Kh3 Rxf2 30.Kh4 Rxh2# chessp9999 won by checkmate 0-1

Full results can be found here:

2020 FIDE Online Olympiad (Part Two) by US Captain IM John Donaldson

The U.S. followed its division victory with a quarterfinal match with Ukraine which had upset China, one of the pre-tournament favorites. Led by Wesley So’s 2-0 result on board one they won in convincing fashion 4 ½ - 1 ½ and 4-2.

Sam Shankland drew his first game with Anton Korobov where he unleashed an important theoretical novelty but missed a problem-like win. In the following round he insured his team’s victory in convincing fashion.

Samuel Shankland - Evgeny Shtembuliak [A42]

Online Chess Olympiad 2020 (USA-Ukraine)

1.d4 g6 2.e4 d6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 e5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8

8.Be3 Bg4 9.Ng5

Energetic play is called for by White. Black has the potential long-term trump of the d4 square but Sam has a lead in development which he exploits in convincing fashion.


White answers 9...Nh6 with 10.h3 Bd7 11.0–0–0 Kc8 12.Nd5 f6 13.Nf3 Nf7 and now either 14.c5 (gaining access to the c4 square) or 14.g4 with the advantage. 

10.Nb5 h6

On 10...Rc8 11.Nxa7 Nxa7 12.Bxa7 b6? tying to trap the bishop, is met by 13.c5. Black should dispense with 12…b6? and instead treat the position as a pawn sacrifice with some compensation.

11.Nf3 Kd8 12.0–0–0+ Kc8 13.Be2 Nf6 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 h5

Black is hoping to follow up with ...Bh6 to exchange off his bad bishop.


This cuts across Black’s plan.

16…a6 17.Nc3 Nd4 18.Bg2! hxg4 19.hxg4 Rxh1 20.Rxh1


If Black captures the pawn with 20...Nxg4 White has strong answers in 21.Bh3 and 21.Rh7.


Sam opens the game to exploit his advantage in development.

21…Ne6 22.f5 Nxg4

On 22...Nd4 23.g5 Nh5 24.Na4 Kc7 25.Nc5 followed by Bxd4 is very strong.


23.Bb6! was also quite strong - 23...Nf4 24.Rh7 Bh6 25.Bf3 leaves Black helpless.

23...Nxe3 24.Rh7 Bf8?

24...Nxg2 25.Rxg7 Kc7 26.Na4 Nf4 27.Nc5 b6 28.exf7 Rf8 29.Nxa6+ Kd6 was the last try but still losing in the end.

25.Rxf7 Bh6 26.Bh3

Black has no effective discovered check.

26...Kb8 27.e7 Ka7 28.Bd7 Nxc4+ 29.Kc2 Nd6 30.Rf6 Ne8 31.Rxg6 Be3 32.Rg8 Nf6


This is the simplest.

33...Bg5 34.Na4 Rb8

Black can prolong the game with 34...Ne8 but not change the final result.

35.Nb6 Bh4 36.Nc8+ Ka8 37.Rxf6 1–0


The US took, again led by Wesley So who scored 1 ½ - ½ in his match against Alexander Grischuk lost to Russia by the very narrowest of margins 2 ½ - 3 ½ and 3-3 to finish equal third with Poland, the other semi-final contestant who succumbed to India in an Armageddon game. The American team could have beaten the Russians with but a bit of luck but still had a very successful event.

Individual scores of the team members.

Wesley So 9.5/13

Sam Shankland 5.5/9

Ray Robson 2.5/4

Carissa Yip 6/8

Anna Zatonskih 5.5/10 (Anna was Black in her last six games)

Tatev Abrahamyan 4.5/8

Jeffery Xiong 10/13

Annie Wang 10/13

The team won 8 matches, drew one and lost two, both by the absolute minimum, scored 69 percent (53 ½ points in 78 game).

Tuesday Night Online Report: September 1, 2020

We held a Tuesday Night Online free event during the one week break from the start of our next TNM and it was won by IM Elliott Winslow. We had 20 playersfor this event, and full results can be found here:

Here are some of the games, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian.

(13) FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2156) - Jonah Busch (Kondsaga) (1723) [E10]
Live Chess, 02.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.e3 e6 6.dxe6 fxe6 7.Nf3 axb5 8.Bxb5 Qa5+ 9.Nc3 Nd5 10.Be2 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Qxc3+ 12.Bd2 Qf6 13.0-0


13...Be7N [For theory hounds we cite 13...Nc6 14.Qc2 Be7 15.Bd3 Qh6 16.e4 Qh5 17.e5 Ba6 18.Bc3 0-0 19.a3?


19...Rxf3! 20.gxf3 Nxe5 21.Bxe5 Qxe5 22.Bxa6 Bd6 23.Rfd1 Rxa6 24.Qe4 Qxh2+ 25.Kf1 Rc6 26.a4 c4 27.a5 c3 28.a6 Bc5 29.Qc2? Ba7 30.Rxd7 Qh1+ 31.Ke2 Qxa1 32.Rxa7 Rd6 33.Qe4 Qd1+ 0-1, Gatineau,Y (2105)-Viennot,D (2351) Avoine 2015. Instructive game!] 14.e4 Nc6 15.e5?! [15.Bg5 Qg6 16.Bxe7 Nxe7 17.Qc2 seems to be a simple edge for White] 15...Nxe5 16.Bg5 Qf5 [16...Nxf3+ 17.Bxf3 Qxg5 18.Bxa8 0-0 is an interesting exchange sacrifice] 17.Bxe7 Kxe7 18.Re1 Rb8 19.Rc1 Bb7 20.Nxe5 Qxe5 21.Bb5?! Qd5! Black seeks an endgame where his king will be happy to be in the center. 22.Qg4 Qxg2+! 23.Qxg2 Bxg2 24.Rxc5 Kd6! 25.Rg5 Bd5 26.a4 g6 27.Rg3 Rhc8 28.Rh3 h5 29.Rg3 Rg8 30.h4 Rbc8 31.Ra1


Game drawn by agreement. Black has the advantage with the centralized king and pawns, but didn't feel confident enough to continue. 1/2-1/2


(12) IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (1984) - Rudolph Breedt (bobbejaan) (1789) [C87]
MI Tuesday Night Online, 01.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5?! [5...Be7 6.Re1 (Nowadays we see other moves here, mainly (6.d3) 6...b5 7.Bb3 d6 (And of course there's the Marshall: 7...0-0 8.c3 d5) 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 is the time-worn move order. But it doesn't really matter, White is going to play Re1 anyway.] 6.Bb3 d6 7.c3 Be7 8.d4 0-0 9.h3 [9.Nbd2 makes more sense, as 9...Bg4 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Nxf3 and Black *still* can't take on e4.] 9...Bd7 10.Nbd2 Re8 11.Re1 Bf8 12.a3?! Everything else played here won. [(well, except this:) 12.Nf1!? 1/2-1/2 (36) Siigur,J (2530)-Wilczek,T (2538) ICCF email 2008] 12...Na5 13.Ba2


[13.Bc2!?] 13...c5!?N [Predecessor: 13...Bc6 was the only game here, but 14.b4 Nb7 15.Qc2 (15.Ng5! Re7 16.Nxf7 Rxf7 17.Bxf7+ Kxf7 18.Qb3+ is crushing as it turns out.) 15...g6 16.Bb2 Bg7 17.c4 is very good for White but 0-1 (43) 43, Swic,W (2345)-Sygulski,A Zielona Gora 1982; 13...h6] 14.b4 Nc6


15.bxc5!? [15.d5 Na7 16.bxc5 dxc5 17.c4 might be a better way to proceed] 15...dxc5 16.dxe5?! [16.Bxf7+! Kxf7 17.Qb3+ c4 18.Nxc4 bxc4 19.Qxc4+ Kg6 20.Nh4+ Kh5 21.Qe2+ Kxh4 22.g3+ Kxh3 23.f3 King hunt!] 16...Nxe5 17.Nxe5 Rxe5 18.c4 Bc6 19.Bb2 Re8 20.e5 Nd7 21.f4? [21.e6! fxe6 22.cxb5 axb5 23.Rxe6 Rxe6 24.Qg4 and White has some advantage in the two bishops and somewhat safer king.] 21...Qh4 [21...Nb6! Black starts to come out with an advantage.] 22.Qg4? [22.e6! fxe6 23.cxb5 axb5 24.Rxe6 Rxe6 25.Bxe6+ Kh8 26.Nf3! with a clear advantage 26...Qe7 27.Ng5] 22...Qxg4 23.hxg4 Nb6 24.Rad1 Rad8 25.cxb5? axb5 26.Nf3 c4 Black is winning 27.Nd4 Bc5 [27...Bd7 28.f5 Na4] 28.Kh2 Bxd4 [28...Na4; 28...Bd7] 29.Bxd4 Na4? 30.f5? Rd5? 31.Ba1 [31.Bb1] 31...Red8 32.Rxd5 Rxd5 33.e6 fxe6 34.fxe6 [34.Rxe6!=] 34...Rd2 35.Bb1 Rxg2+ 36.Kh3 Rf2 37.e7 Kf7 38.Bxh7 Rf3+ 39.Kh4


39...Rxa3?? [39...Nc5=] 40.Bd4 [40.Kg5!] 40...Rd3?! 41.Bxd3 [41.Kg5!! is a mating net.] 41...cxd3 42.Rd1 Be4 43.Bxg7 b4 44.Kg5 Nc3 45.Re1 d2 46.Rf1+ Kxg7 47.e8Q d1Q 48.Rxd1 ecwinslow won by resignation 1-0

Mechanics' Institute Community Tuesday Night Marathon Starts This Week!

Mechanics' Institute Community
​Tuesday Night Marathon Online
USCF Online Rated!

via, Open for everyone!

Sept 8 - 22


Event Schedule:

2 rounds of G/35+2 each night: Round times are: 6:30PM & 8PM

Time control: 6SS G/35+2.  (Game in 35 minutes with 2 second increement with each move.)

MUST Register in order to play: 
Registration deadline in order to be paired in Round 1: 3PM on 9/8. Anyone registering after that will get a 0.5 point bye. Late registrations *might* be paired for extra rated games, but it's not guaranteed.

Eligibility - Players must have:

- current US Chess Federation membership
- account that is part of Mechanics' Chess Club (free account is perfectly sufficient) -- Don't have one yet? Easy to make, just follow the instructions below.

Here is the format:

- 6 rounds of G/35+2  - more details on tournament details here.
- 2 Sections(UPDATED): 1800+ & u1800
- paired based on OTB or ONL Sept 2020 supplemental regular rating!
- paired based on swiss tournament rules
- NEW: pairing will be done manually using match command on You'll need to be on and wait for your game to pop up!
- NEW: Pairing will be posted for Round 1, Round 3, and Round 5 on Tuesdays 4:30PM
- if you register after Tuesday 3:00PM, you'll still be able to join the tournament, but you'll be paired as an extra rated, and will be given a 0.5 point bye for the first round.
- Players have to be online on when Round 1 starts, and their game will be started by the Chief TD.
- Chief TD will have a list of match commands needed to be executed one by one: IF players are not online when pairing is executed, they'll be put at the end of the list, and match command will be tried one more time. Two times not present on will automatically get a 0F.
- Late registraitons *might* be paired up for extra rated games, but it's not guaranteed.
- Games will be US Chess Online regular rated - tournament will be submitted 5-7 days after the tourament to allow all games to be screened for fair play.


Rules:  standard USCF rules apply.

  • Mouse slips count, no takebacks.
  • If player is not logged in to live chess when pairings occur, we will assign a 0 point bye
  • Section prizes will be awarded based on USCF standard rating

Prizes: $600 based on 40 paid entries

Fair Play

This is a US Chess online rated tournament, and therefore most USCF rules and consequences apply. Players should not use any outside assistance, including not having other browsers open and not be talking to other people during their games. Parents are strongly encouraged to monitor their kids' activity during the tournament to ensure fair play. All games will be carefully reviewed and screened by, Mechanics' Institue Chess club staff, and Dr. Kenneth W. Regan (Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Buffalo). Players found or believed to be violating fair play are not eligible for a prize, and their account will be removed from Mechanics' group. Players who are confirmed to be using outside assistance will be reported to US Chess and restricted from future Mechanics' online and over-the-board events.

Parents, please help us educate your child about fair play. This is an opportunity to engage with your children on a lesson that is very important, not just in chess. In addition, as indicated above, there are consequences, and it is simply not worth the risk of losing the opportunity to play and compete. For some helpful links regarding fair play, please check these out:

Please note that the Organizer and/or the Chief Tournament Director can require players to play their games with a camera that records the player playing with a view to the screen. Players should be prepared to provide this precaution if asked to do so. Prize distributions and rating submission will take place AFTER all games have been screened.


Entry Fee

MI library member: $30
Non-MI library member: $40
Play-up for players 1600+: $10 (no play-up for u1600)

Registraton deadline: 2 hours before tournament start time to be included in the pairing, any registration after - first round is not guaranteed.

Tournament Informaiton

Late joins: if you join late, you'll get zero(0) points for each missed rounds.

Sections: Two sections: 1800+ and u1800 based on the 2020 Sept supplemental regular rating system.

Pre-requested byes: since we are pairing manually, based on OTB ratings, pre-requestd byes now available. You must let us know by Tuesday noon.


How to join us?

If you would like to play in our online tournaments, you must

1) Register for the event -- we need to know your full name, and ID

2) have an account on; -- don't have one? Sign up now!

3) join our club on

Join tournaments: two ways to join the tournaments: 1) log in to and click on the link above; or 2) log in --> Play --> Live Chess
For this tournament only: Tournament directors will be pairing players manually, so no tournaments to join!

For players who are interested in play in our online tournament,
PLEASE fill out our online Players database:
to get email notifications about last minute changes and invitational opportunities.

Dr. Alexey Root and Reka Sztaray: Chess and Golf

ChessBase just released an article written by Dr. Alexey Root and co-authored by USCF Senior Tournament Director Reka Sztaray (daughter of Judit). In it, comparisons are made between chess and golf, and readers will find it both entertaining and informative. Click on this link to read the article:


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:


Thursday 5:00-6:30PMA Journey Through Chess History - Course 1: Olympiads with GM Nick de Firmian

This class will be a reflective journey of some of the games and experiences of Mechanics' Institute GM in Residence and 3-time U.S. Champion GM Nick de Firmian. He will go over some of his games from Olympiads of the past where players can learn and interact while at the same time learning stories from the event and about players from the event from someone who lived it. It will be an exciting class that combines chess learning with storytelling for a fun and engaging class. 

More information:

Register at:


 Thursdays 6:30 - 8PM - The World Championship Match  -- by FM Paul Whitehead
Course Dates: Part 1 -- 9/3 through 10/1
                          Part 2 - 10/8 through 11/5

An in-depth look at the World Championship matches – the great games, styles and personalities of the World Champions and their challengers.  The central idea of the class will be the study of chess ideas and theory, as practiced by the greatest players.  In each class we’ll look through a selection of the most famous games ever played: games where literally everything was at stake.

More information:

Register at: Part 1:
                   Part 2:


Mechanics' Chess - Scholastic Tournaments

Saturday, September 5: starts at 3:00PM - join from 2:45PM

6SS G/10+2:

Sunday, September 6: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

5SS G/5 +5 USCF rated:

Monday, September 7: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/15+0:

Tuesday, September 8: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4PM

5SS G/5+5:

Wednesday, September 9: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, September 10: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5+5:

Friday, September 11: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS 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

(1) TopMadHat (1093) - DarkCapableCharm (1471) [C54]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+

This postion has been played for centuries (particularly in Italy in the old days). TopMadHat now makes a novelty that I have never seen before. 8.Qxd2? Perhaps this was played in some cafe in Rome 400 years ago, but never recorded. It unfortuantely just loses the proud e-pawn. 8...Nxe4 9.Qe3 d5! This move begs to be played. It protects the knight, attacks the white bishop on c4 and allows the development of Black's bishop on c8. 10.Bb3?! White had an aggressive posibility to try to get the pawn back - [10.Bxd5 Qxd5 11.Nc3 though Black would maintain the advantage with 11...Qf5 12.Qxe4+ Qxe4+ 13.Nxe4 Be6 14.0-0 0-0-0] 10...0-0 11.Nc3?! better to castle and get the white king to safety. 11...Re8! Now Black will win material when the knight on e4 moves, uncovering the rook attack. 12.Bxd5?!
12...Nxc3! Now Black wins the queen. If white had played 12. 0-0 Ng3 he would have only lost the exchange. 13.Qxe8+ Qxe8+ DarkCapableCharm won by resignation 0-1


(2) AdityaKBayAreaChess (1557) - FunStyle (1469) [C01]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 More interesting is the play 3. e5, the Advance Variation of the French Defense. 3...exd5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2+?! This check is conveniently blocked by a developing move for Black. Meanwhile the white queen is in the way of the light-squared bishop coming out. 5...Be7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.g3 Re8 Here we see the queen check has lead to immediate trouble on the e-file. 8.Bg2 Bb4 9.Be3 Ng4 [9...Bxc3+ 10.bxc3 b6! planning 11...Ba6 would cause White more trouble.] 10.0-0 Nxe3 11.fxe3 Bg4 [11...c6 first, so hold the center, would be safer.] 12.h3 [12.Qb5! Bxc3 13.Ne5! would be an excellent tactical opportunity to make use of. White has several threats and would hold the advantage.] 12...Bh5 13.g4 Bg6 14.a3 [14.Ne5 is a natural move, putting the knight on a strong post] 14...Ba5 [14...Bxc3 15.bxc3 Nd7 plays against the doubled pawns] 15.b4 Bb6 16.Ne5 c6 17.Nxg6 hxg6 18.Qf3?! [18.Rad1 defending the d-pawn and looking to get in e4 would be better. White gets stuck with the backward e-pawn now.] 18...Re7! 19.Ne2 Nd7 20.Nf4 Nf6 Now all the black pieces have good squares. 21.Qg3 Qe8 22.Rf3 Rd8 23.Kh2? Bc7! White has placed too many important people on this long black diagonal (b8-h2). The black bishop move makes White lose material. 24...g5 is threatened. 24.Qh4 [24.g5 Nh5 25.Qf2 Rxe3 26.Rxe3 Bxf4+ 27.Qxf4 Nxf4 28.Rxe8+ Rxe8 is an easily winning endgame for Black.] 24...Rxe3! 25.Rxe3 Bxf4+ FunStyle won by resignation 0-1

NEW: US Chess Online Rated Scholastic Tournaments
Twice a month

September 5, 13, 19, 27, @ 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

Mechanics' Enrichment Chess Classes

Select from the following four levels that are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays:

Absolute Beginner class: This class is meant to teach brand new students the moves of the pieces and captures so that students may jump into the New at Chess class with knowledge of piece movements. Students may take this course as much as needed, but the same concept will be taught weekly, though it will be a different class each week. The goal is simple, teach piece movements in preparation.

Starting at Chess: This class is for new players that need to develop basic skills that will lead to improvement, such as learning notation, elementary checkmates, piece values, piece development, importance of the center of the board, and the most important part of chess learning, the value of learning from mistakes and losses and how to improve from it. This class will build the foundations from which all learning will develop and teach them learning skills that can be applied in many other areas of a child’s learning and development. Class is suitable for new players, non rated players, and players with a ChessKid rating under 800.

Developing Players: This class Is for students looking to go beyond the basics and learn the building blocks of advanced chess learning. We will cover tactics, mating patterns, opening principles, middle game attack planning and endgame techniques. This class is suitable for kids with a ChessKid rating 800-1300 or who have had tournament experience. 

Mastering Your Chess: This class is for advanced scholastic players with tournament experience and understand tactics and mates who want to go beyond what can be calculated and think more abstractly about the game. We will go over middle and endgame theory, have students create their own tactics and learn positional play by going over historical games from the great players in history. Ideal for players with a ChessKid rating above 1300 or USCF rating over 800.

Please click on the day to get more information about the class structure, topics taughts, dates & fees and to register:

Absolute Beginner - Please click here to learn about the special schedule.

Class Tuesdays Wednesdays Thursdays

Starting at Chess

Click for more info
Click for more info
Click for more info
Developing Players 4-5PM
More information
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Click for ore info
Mastering Your Chess 5-6PM
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Note: minimum 5 students to start the class, maximum 10 student in each class.
Information with link to join the class will be sent via email after your registration.
​Classes are online: student must have laptop, with mic and webcam, and good internet connection in order to participate in classes!

Refund policy: Full refund minus a $5 administration fee if cancelled more than 24 hours before the start of class. No refunds within 24 hours of the start of class.

If you have any questions, or need a sample of a class, please feel free to reach out to [email protected]

Mechanics' Institute Regular 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:

9/6 Sunday - Mechanics' Sunday Arena
Format: Arena G/5+2, 90 min
Start: 7:00pm
Registration open 6:00pm:
9/8 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Community Marathon
Format: 6SS G/35+2 USCF rated, manually paired
Start at 6:30PM
9/10 Thursday - Thursday Night Quads
Format: 3SS G/60+10
Join by 4PM -
Start at 6:30PM
9/11 Friday - Friday Evening Online Blitz
Format: 8 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

Domination, Part 1.

[email protected]

The chess study is not only a miniature work of logic and art, it has useful practical application – the simple studies of Lucena and Philidor are used every day by hundreds, perhaps thousands of chess players.

World Champion Vassily Smyslov composed studies, and many Grandmasters (including the Mechanics’ Institutes own GM in Residence, Nick de Firmian) take a keen interest in solving these kinds of puzzles, be it a mate in 3 or a “white wins."

I have a wonderful book I look at far too infrequently: Domination in 2,545 Endgame Studies, by Ghenrikh Kasparyan (1974).

The concept of domination is essentially the bare fact of “my piece (or pieces) are better than your piece (or pieces)”, which translates to an advantage – and in the chess study, a decisive advantage.

It’s all about trapping pieces.

In this series we’ll look at a couple of examples each week, all taken from Kasparyan’s book.  In the first study we will look at the problem AND the solution.  The theme, idea, or key will be in this initial problem.

As for the second study: you have some of the tools - and your imagination.

But I’m afraid you’re on your own.


Our first examples show the knight’s domination of the bishop:

1. Troitzky 1896 - White wins.

The first move is splendid, economical: 1.Nd4! This prevents the black king from approaching the a-pawn, and the threat is 2.Ne6+.  If 1…Kxd4 2.a6, and the pawn cannot be stopped.  Black has only two moves left then, but after 1…Bh6 (or 1…Bh8 2.Nf5 Domination. 2…Kxb5 3.Kg3 Kxa5 4.Kxh3, and the black king can’t make it back in time to help.) 2.Kf3! black is doomed. If 2…Bg5 white wins cleanly with 3.Ne6+ Kb5 4.Nxg5 fxg5 5.Kg3. 2…Bd2/c1 is met by 3.Nb3+, and 2…Bg7/f8 by 3.Ne6+. And 2..Kd6 is met by 3.Nf5+!  Domination!  That only leaves 2…f5, when 3.Ke2! f4 4.Kf3!! puts black into zugzwang.

Reti put his own spin on Troizky’s composition 26 years later:

2. Reti 1922 – White wins.

Good luck!

GM Nick de Firmian's Column

Hikaru Nakamura: e-sports superstar

The current US Chess Champion has been a fixture in top chess for the last 15 years, He has battled many times with the likes of Kramnik, Anand, Gelfand, MVL and the great Magnus. While the US added two top ten players in the last years, Wesley So and challenger Fabiano Caruana, Nakamura has been playing for the US his whole career. That he is current US Champion (for the 5th time) testifies to his legacy as a classical player. Yet where he truly excels is in quicker play of blitz and rapid where he plays for the shear fun of the game. Many of the great world champions have a different approach. When you think of Capablanca, Fischer or Karpov one thinks of deep strategies, long thought out ideas and slow calm plans.

When people think of Hikaru Nakamura, they may also think great chess, but the first thought would be fun! Hikaru has built up his online following with his internet play of blitz and bullet games. His record of rapid and blitz is second only to Carlsen. This has given him a great opportunity in the internet world of online gaming. He has thousands of followers who subscribe to his channel and now Hikaru has signed up with e-sports company TSM (Team SoloMid) to entertain chess players around the world. We give below some of his entertaining games.

(1) Krasenkow,Michal (2668) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2648) [A14]
Barcelona Casino Barcelona (2), 19.10.2007

At this point in time (2007) Hikaru's rating was on the rise. He was a very strong grandmaster, but not top ten yet. Here he met someone slightly higher rated, who was Poland's number one player at the time. 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 Such classical, standard play from Hikaru, who often likes to try original plans. 6.b3 a5 7.Nc3 c6 8.d4 Nbd7 9.Qc2 b6 10.e4 Ba6 11.Nd2 [White may gain a slight edge with 11.e5! Ne8 12.Ne2] 11...c5

The center is about to break apart with captures. Chances are equal, but accuracy is required. 12.exd5 cxd4 13.Nb5 exd5 [13...Bxb5 14.dxe6! would turn the tide in White's favor.] 14.Nxd4 Rc8 15.Re1?! Not worrying enough about the pin on the c-file. Equal chances could be maintianed with [15.Nf5] 15...b5! 16.Bb2 Re8 17.Qd1 bxc4 18.bxc4 Qb6 19.Rb1 dxc4 Black has an extra pawn for the moment, but there is a lot going on. 20.Nc6?! [This meets a surprising idea. White would only be slightly worse after 20.Bc3] 20...Rxc6! 21.Bxf6?
[relatively best is 21.Rxe7 Rxe7 22.Bxf6 Nxf6 23.Rxb6 Rxb6 though Black would hold a clear edge] 21...Qxf2+!! A shocking move! Krasenkow didn't dream of this. He must take the queen now as 22. Kh1 Rxf6 would be easily winning for Black. 22.Kxf2 Bc5+ 23.Kf3 [23.Kf1 c3+ 24.Re2 c2] 23...Rxf6+ 24.Kg4 Ne5+ The white king has been forced up the board to its doom. Now 25. Rxe5 Bc8+! is a mating attack. Krasenkov instead marches his king further up the board. 25.Kg5 Rg6+ 26.Kh5 f6 27...Rh6 mate is threatened. 27.Rxe5 Rxe5+ 28.Kh4 Bc8 Krasenkov resigned as mate comes shortly. 29...g4 30. Bf2+ keeps the king trapped for the checkmate. 0-1


(2) Boris Gelfand (2761) - Hikaru Nakamura (2708) [E97]
World Team Championship Bursa TUR (5), 09.01.2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 The King's Indian Defense is a perfect opening for Nakamura. It is agressive and complicated, with the only downside that Black can be cramped for space and suffer against a top ranked opponent. Such worries don't matter for Hikaru - he never minds some risk or even a bad position if there are good practical chances. 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Nd2 Gelfand plays one of the old, classical continuations. Kramnik, who is the best in the world on the white side of a King's Indian, prefers the direct queenside advance with 9. b4. 9...Ne8 10.b4 f5 11.c5 Nf6 12.f3 f4 13.Nc4 g5

A classic King's Indian position. White is advancing well on the queenside, while Black is a little slower on the kingside advance. Yet on the kingside lies the white king... 14.a4 Ng6 15.Ba3 Rf7 16.b5 dxc5 17.Bxc5 h5 18.a5 g4 19.b6?! This looks like a nice breakthough on the queenside, but White would be safer with the bishop retreat 19. Bf2 to cover kingside squares. 19...g3! This pawn has taken up a very threatening post. 20.Kh1 Bf8 21.d6 axb6 22.Bg1 Nh4!? 23.Re1?! [23.hxg3!? fxg3 24.Be3 could be an improvment, but this position is very complex] 23...Nxg2! Let the action begin. Hikaru starts the fireworks, and Gelfand must try to defend. 24.dxc7?
[24.Kxg2 Rg7 is a strong attack with at least equal chances for Black. Gelfand's move meets a surprising rejoiner.] 24...Nxe1! The black queen can be taken two ways, but then ...g2 mate would happen. 25.Qxe1 g2+ 26.Kxg2 Rg7+ 27.Kh1 Bh3! It's enjoyable to see the black queen stay in take for so long. 28.Bf1 Qd3! This last queen offer wraps up the game. The game finishes after 29. Bxh3 Qxf3+ or 29. Bxd3 Bg2 mate. 29.Nxe5 Bxf1 30.Qxf1 Qxc3 Black has a winning material advantage. 31.Rc1 Qxe5 32.c8Q Rxc8 33.Rxc8 Qe6 0-1


(3) Carlsen,Magnus - Nakamura,Hikaru [D24]
MC Chess Tour finals Online, 14.08.2020

We must give one game from the recent rapid/blitz match where Hikaru battled with Magnus in the finals. Here is the game where he drew first blood. This type of chess event may be the way of the future. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 b5!? A sharp variation with new interest. Caruana has also tried the black side. 6.e5 Nd5 7.Nxb5 Nb6 8.a3 Nc6 9.Be3 Na5 10.Qc2 a6 11.Nc3 Be7 12.Rd1 Bb7 13.Be2 Qd7

Here is the double-edged type of position that Nakamura loves to get. The black pawns are doubled and isolated, but the black pieces are active and there are squares to make use of (such as b3). Objectively White is a little better, but that's very hard to show in a rapid game, even for Magnus. 14.h4!? An interesting idea to get the rook into play. 14...Bc6 15.Rh3 Rb8 16.Rg3 Ba4!? Starting play on the queenside instead of slowing down with [16...g6 17.Ng5] 17.Nxa4 Qxa4 18.Rc1 Nb3 19.Rxg7 Magnus takes up the challenge, sacrificing the exchange for activity. 19...Nxc1 20.Qxc1 c3!? [20...Nd5 21.Bxc4 Nxe3 22.fxe3 Kf8 23.Rg3 Rg8 was a safer alternative] 21.Qxc3 Nd5 22.Qc1 Nxe3?! [22...Rb6] 23.fxe3 Kf8 24.Rg4 Qb3 25.Qxc7 Qxb2 26.Kf2? Here Magnus plays a perfectly normal looking move. One cannot blame anyone for this, but here is the difference between rapid and classical chess. With a lot of time on the clock one would expect Magnus to find [26.d5! exd5 27.e6 when the protection of the black king is stripped away. Hikaru will often give his opponent chances to make a great move, but he always makes great practical difficulties.] 26...Qb7 27.Qa5 Rg8 The game starts to shift in Black's favor. Now the Black king is safe. 28.Rf4 Qc6 29.Qd2 h6 30.Qd3 Rg7 31.Qxa6 Qxa6 32.Bxa6 Rb2+! 33.Be2 Bxa3 The game should be drawn if there are no mistakes, but the black rooks are annoying and time is short. 34.g4 Be7 35.Re4 Rg8 36.Rf4 Kg7! The second black rook prepares to come around the board. 37.g5 hxg5 38.Nxg5?! [38.hxg5] 38...Bxg5 39.hxg5 Rh8!

now the rooks take control 40.Kf3 [40.Ke1 Rh2 41.Bd1 Rb1 wins] 40...Rh3+ 41.Kg4 Rxe3 42.Bf3 Rd2 43.Kh4 Red3 winning another pawn. Hikaru cruises to victory now. 44.d5 exd5 45.Rf6 Re3 46.Rf5 Rd4+ 47.Kh5 Rb4 48.e6 fxe6 49.Rf6 Re5 50.Rg6+ Kf7 51.Rf6+ Ke7 52.Kh6 Rb8 53.Rf4 Rf8 54.Rxf8 Kxf8 55.g6 Kg8 56.g7 Re1 0-1


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