Chess Room Newsletter #937 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #937

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #937


October 3, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

IM Christopher Yoo Wins 2020 US Cadet Championship

IM Christopher Yoo was alone at the top after a grueling three-day weekend, winning the 2020 US Cadet Championship with a score of 6/7. He won a $6000 scholarship to the college or university of his choice, courtesy of Dewain Barber, Dean of Scholastic Chess and the US Chess Federation. He also received a $600 cash prize. FM Christopher Shen and IM Justin Wang finished tied for 2nd with 4.5/6. This USCF national championship invitational was for the eight best under age 16 players in the country. This round robin event was held September 25-27 online on, organized by the Mechanics' Institute. The time control was G/70 +10. 

Christopher got off to a great start, then came up big in rounds 5&6, with wins against IM Arthur Guo and IM Justin Wang, players right behind him in the standings. These victories pulled him away from the pack, and sealed the title with a round to spare. FM Christopher Shen and IM Justin Wang won final round games to round up the top 3. 

Local talent was well represented. IM Chrstopher Yoo and IM Andrew Hong are the last two winners of the Mechanics' Institute's Neil Falconer Award. NM Ruiyang Yan is a Tuesday Night Marathon regular. For an event that featured the top under 16 kids in the country, the Bay Area fielded three players, all with ties to Mechanics' Institute. 

What was even more impressive and fun to watch was the fighting spirit and aggressive chess throughout the weekend. Many games came down to the final minutes and even seconds, and everyone was swinging for the fences. 

It was a special event with many special guests. GM Sam Shankland, GM Patrick Wolff, GM Josh Friedel, and FM Kyron Griffith all stopped by to help with the commentary. GM Nick de Firmian and FM Paul Whitehead worked throughout the weekend covering the action. Special thanks to our tournament directors, NTD John McCumiskey and Dr. Judit Sztaray who paired the games, updated the site, and monitored the players for fair play throughout the weekend. We also have to give a special shout out to Dr. Ken Regan, who screened all the games for the weekend and gave the event a clean bill of health.

You can read the write up for this event in Chess Life Online here:

You can watch the dramatic moments of the US Cadet by finding the videos here:

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

(1) FM Maximillian Lu (waterisgood1) (2043) - IM Christopher Yoo (ChristopherYoo) (2285) [A16]
Live Chess, 27.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 This was the last round and Christopher had already won the tournament, so he offered a draw early on. His opponent though wanted to fight! 2...g6 3.g3 c6 4.e4!? d5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.e5 d4 7.exf6 dxc3 8.dxc3 [8.bxc3 exf6 9.d4 should give White a small edge] 8...Qxd1+ 9.Kxd1 exf6 10.Bg2 Nc6 The endgame is equal. White has a three to two pawn majority on the queenside and hence an optical edge, yet Black has enough counterplay. 11.Be3 Bf5 12.Ke2 0-0-0 13.Bh3! It's good to exchange the light-squared bishops, otherwise the white king could come under fire. 13...Bxh3 14.Nxh3 Bd6 15.Rhe1 b6 16.f4 Rhe8 17.Kf3 Re6 18.Nf2 Rde8 19.Bd2 f5 everything is still very even. 20.Nd3 Kd7 21.Rad1 Re4 22.b3 h5 23.Nf2 R4e6 24.Nh3 Rxe1 25.Rxe1 Rc8 26.Re3 Nd8 27.Ng5 f6! 28.Nh3 Ne6 29.Nf2 h4 30.Rd3 hxg3 31.hxg3 Ke7 White is still hoping to gain something from the queenside majority. Black should seek kingside play with ...g5 at a good moment. 32.Be3 Rh8 33.Rd1 Bc5 34.Rh1 Rxh1 35.Nxh1 Nc7 [35...b5 36.Nf2 Kd6 37.Nd3 Bxe3 38.Kxe3 g5 should hold the game with little trouble] 36.Bxc5+ bxc5 37.Nf2 Nd5 38.Nd1 c4?! This gives White a pawn, doubled and isolated as it is. That gives White real chances in a knight ending. 39.bxc4 Nb6 40.Ne3 Kd6 41.Ke2 Kc5 42.Kd3 a5


43.Nd5! Nxc4 [The pawn ending would be lost for Black after 43...Nxd5? 44.cxd5 Kxd5 45.c4+ Kc5 46.Kc3] 44.Nxf6 Nb2+ 45.Kc2 Nc4 46.Kd3 Nb2+ 47.Kd2 Nc4+ 48.Ke2 a4 49.Nd7+ Kd5 50.Nf8 Nd6! This is the move that holds the draw. White will win the g6 pawn but Black will get the g3 pawn in return after ...Ne4. 51.Kd3 Ne4 52.Nxg6 Nxg3 53.Nh4 Kc5 White is a full pawn ahead now, but there is no way to win with so few (and vulnerable pawns on the board. 54.Kc2 Kd5 55.Kb2 Kc4 56.Ka3 Ne2! 57.Nxf5 Nxf4 58.Kxa4 Nd5 59.Nd6+ Kxc3 60.Kb5 Kb2 61.a4 Nc3+ 62.Kb4 Nxa4 1/2-1/2


(2) FM Maximillian Lu (waterisgood1) (1977) - FM Robert Shlyakhtenko (Robert_Shlyakhtenko) (2252) [A01]
Live Chess, 26.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.b3 d5 2.Bb2 Bg4 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Bxf3 Bd6 8.c4 c6


White's double fianchetto opening has gained the two bishops, but Black has a slight lead in development and a solid central pawn structure. Chances are even. 9.d4 Ne4! The threat of 10...Bb4+ compels White to make a decision. He decides to trade the bishop for the centralized knight on e4. 10.Bxe4 dxe4 11.e3?! [11.Qd2 f5 12.Nc3 is more flexible. The white pawn on e2 would help to cover the light squares.] 11...0-0 12.Qc2 f5 13.Nd2 b5!? 14.cxb5 cxb5 15.Qc6 Bb4 Black gives a pawn to trouble the white king still stuck in the center. 16.Qxb5?! [16.Qxe6+ Kh8 17.Rd1 is close to equal] 16...Rb8 17.Qc6?


17...Nc5! Seizing the opportunity after the white queen moved to the wrong square (e2 or c4 was better). Now both 18...Nd3+ and 18...Rb6 trapping the queen are threatened. 18.Rd1 [18.dxc5 Qxd2+ 19.Kf1 Qxb2; 18.0-0 Rb6 traps the queen] 18...Nd3+ 19.Ke2 Nxb2 20.Qxe6+ Kh8 21.Rb1 Rb6! 22.Qe5 Nd3 White resigned as he is a piece down and now also loses the queen. 0-1


(3) IM Justin Wang (JustinWang1234) (2331) - IM Arthur Guo (ArthurGuo) (2278) [B90]
Live Chess, 27.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3 This move is just as effective as the other 6th move choices White has against the Najdorf. 6...e5 7.Nb3 b5 8.g4 Bb7 9.Bg2 h6 10.Be3 Nbd7 11.a4!? This could be a little premature. 11...b4 12.Nd5 Nxd5 13.exd5 a5! 14.0-0 Be7 15.f4?! Again Justin moves a pawn up that probably should wait for a better moment. 15...Ba6 16.Rf3 0-0 17.f5 Bh4 18.Bf2 Bg5 [18...Bxf2+! 19.Rxf2 Rc8 20.Nd2 Nf6 is simply a great position for Black. He has the better bishop and good lines for his pieces.] 19.Nd2 Nf6 20.c4 e4?!


It is too tempting to win material. Black keeps and edge with the positional [20...bxc3 21.Rxc3 Rb8] 21.Re3! Bxe3 22.Bxe3 White is happy with this exchange sacrifice. The Black pieces are blocked by the white pawns, the black pawn on e4 is vulnerable, and White has the chances on the kingside due to the power of the dark-squared bishop. 22...Qe7!? [22...Re8] 23.b3 Qe5 24.Nf1 g6? This leads to a blocked up position where White has all the chances. What is needed is to open lines for the black pieces, even at the cost of material. So much better would be [24...Nxd5! 25.cxd5 Bd3 with chances for both sides, e.g. 26.f6 Rfc8 27.fxg7 Rc3 28.Bxh6 Rxb3 29.Qe1 Ra3 30.Rc1 Bxf1 31.Qxf1 e3 and it is Black who has more control.] 25.Bd4! Qe7 26.Qd2 Kh7 27.Qb2 Nd7 28.f6! Qd8 29.Re1 Re8 30.Qf2


30...Re5 It was so hard for Black to do anything that he gives back the exchange (and a pawn). This is not good, but everything else is also bad. 31.Bxe5 dxe5 32.Rxe4 Nxf6?! [32...Rc8 33.Nd2 Kg8 34.Re3 Nc5] 33.Rxe5 Qd6 34.Re3 White is a pawn up with connected, passed c and d pawns. The position is winning with proper care. 34...Kg7 35.Ng3 Re8 36.Rxe8 Nxe8 37.Qe3 Nf6 38.Kf2 Nd7 39.Qd4+ Kg8 40.Qe3 Kg7 41.Bf3 Nc5 42.Ne4 Nxe4+ 43.Qxe4 The queen and bishop ending gives Black many opportunites for checks, so Justin has trouble getting his pawns moving. 43...Qf6 44.Qd3 Qb2+ 45.Be2 Qf6+ 46.Kg2 Qe5 47.Kf2 Qf6+ 48.Qf3 Qe5 49.Qe3 Qh2+ 50.Ke1 Qh1+ 51.Kd2 Qa1 52.d6?! [52.Bd1] 52...Qb2+ 53.Ke1 Qa1+ 54.Bd1 Bc8 55.c5 Bd7 56.Kd2 Qb2+ 57.Bc2 Qf6?! [Arthur missed a chance to cause trouble with 57...h5! since 58.gxh5?! Bf5 59.Ke1 Qxc2 60.Qd4+ Kh6 61.hxg6 Kxg6 62.d7 Bxd7 63.Qxd7 Qxc5 is equal] 58.Be4 Qb2+ 59.Ke1 Qe5 60.Ke2 Qb2+ 61.Kf3 Qh2? going for the h-pawn, but this lets Justin finally advance. Better was [61...Qf6+] 62.Qd4+ Kh7 63.c6! Qxh3+ 64.Kf2 Qh2+ 65.Ke3 Qg1+ 66.Kd3 Qf1+ 67.Kc2 Qe2+ 68.Kc1 Qe1+ 69.Kb2 Qe2+ 70.Bc2 Black must lose the bishop for the pawns now. 70...Bxc6 71.d7 Bxd7 72.Qxd7 Though there are still many checks to come, the outcome is certain as the bishop is strong against the black pawns. 72...Qe5+ 73.Kb1 Kg7 74.Qb5 Qe1+ 75.Kb2 Qc3+ 76.Kc1 Qe1+ 77.Bd1 Qc3+ 78.Kb1 Qd4 79.Qe2 Kf6 80.Qa6+ Kg7 81.Be2 Qg1+ 82.Kc2 Qc5+ 83.Qc4 Qe5 84.Kd3! Kg8 85.Qd4 Qe6 86.Bd1 Qa6+ 87.Kd2 Qc8 88.Bf3 Qc7 89.Qc4 Qd6+ 90.Ke3 Qe5+ 91.Kd3 Qb2 92.Bd5! Qb1+ 93.Kd4 Qg1+ 94.Ke5 The white king runs for shelter on Black's queenside. 94...Kg7 95.Kd6 Qb6+ 96.Kd7 Qf6 97.Qc5 Qg5 98.Qxa5 Qxg4+ 99.Kc7 h5 100.Qc5 Qf4+ 101.Kb7 Qf5 102.Qc6 Qe5 103.a5 Qe7+ 104.Qc7 Qe8 105.Bc6 no checks and the bishop stops the black h-pawn. 105...Qe3 106.a6 Qxb3 107.a7 1-0


(4) IM Andrew Zhang Hong (SpeedofLight0) (2261) - FM Maximillian Lu (waterisgood1) (1953) [B01]
Live Chess, 26.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 This is certainly playable, but a somwhat passive variation of the Center Counter Defense. 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.h3! Bxf3 7.Qxf3 c6 8.Be3 e6 9.Bd3 With the two bishops and slightly more territory White has an opening edge. 9...Be7 10.0-0 Nbd7 11.Bf4 0-0 12.Rad1 Nd5 13.Nxd5 cxd5 [slightly more solid, though more passive is 13...exd5 14.Rfe1 Bf6 15.c3] 14.Rfe1 Qb6 15.Bc1 Bf6 16.c3 Qc6 17.h4! White needs more than the queen and bishops to make a successful attack against the black kingside. The pawns come up to help. 17...b5 18.g4


18...e5? Black over reacts to the white pawn storm on the kingside and makes a central break that doesn't work. [no good was 18...Bxh4? 19.Qh3 g5 20.Bxg5; relatively best was 18...g6 19.g5 Bg7 20.h5 Rfe8 21.Bf4 though White is still clearly better] 19.g5! e4


20.Rxe4! snatching a key central pawn and bringing the white pieces to life 20...Bd8 [20...dxe4 21.Bxe4 Qc8 22.gxf6 Rb8?! (22...Nxf6 23.Bxa8 Qxa8 24.Qxa8 Rxa8 25.Re1 is a winning endgame) 23.Bxh7+! Kxh7 24.Qh5+ Kg8 25.fxg7 Kxg7 26.Bh6+ is a quick finish] 21.Rde1 Bc7 22.Re7 Rad8 23.h5 a6 24.Qf5 g6 25.hxg6 hxg6 26.Qh3 Nb6 27.Kg2 Rfe8


28.Bxg6! A great finish to powerful attack. It is checkmate in three no matter what. 1-0


(5) IM Arthur Guo (ArthurGuo) (2339) - IM Christopher Yoo (ChristopherYoo) (2279) [B11]
US Cadet ch (5), 27.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]



1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bh5 The less travelled path, but leading to prickly positions. [4...Bxf3 5.Qxf3 e6 is balance, with the pawns complementing the remaining bishop.] 5.g4 Bg6 Now White can lean on various weak aspects of Black's position (a4-e8 diagonal, vulnerable bishop on g6) but an alert Black stays out of danger. 6.exd5 cxd5 7.Bb5+ [Currently the computers go for 7.d4 e6 8.h4] 7...Nc6 8.Ne5 Rc8 9.d4 e6 10.h4 [A strong case could be made for 10.Qe2 , gently pressuring e6 thus preventing an ...f7-f6 response to h3-h4.] 10...f6 11.Nxg6 [11.Bxc6+ first makes sense, to keep the rook from getting into the game. Yes, it gives Black a stronger center, but that's a maybe versus a definitely (pressure on c3). If White values the two bishops so much, then perhaps 7.Bb5+ wasn't the right move to begin with!] 11...hxg6 12.Be3 [12.Qd3 first keeps Black from developing bishop and knight right away. 12...Kf7 13.Bxc6 Rxc6 14.Ne2!?] 12...Bb4 [12...Kf7 13.Qf3 Qb6 14.0-0-0 Bb4 15.Bxc6 Rxc6 16.Ne2 0-1 (42), Arjun,K (2477)-Sevian,S (2660) INT 2020. White was doing quite well before going off the rails.] 13.Qd3 Nge7 14.0-0-0


14...Qa5!?N [Previously there had been 14...Kf7 15.Ne2 Na5 16.c3 1-0 (33) Garcia,G (2445)-Gonzalez,G Tunja 1991] 15.Na4 a6 16.Bxc6+ Nxc6 17.Qb3 b5 18.Nc5 Bxc5 19.dxc5 Qb4! 20.Qxb4 Nxb4 21.a3 Nc6


A textbook situation. Bad bishop, mobile central pawns -- Christopher just grinds it down. 22.f4 Kf7 23.Bf2 Rcd8 24.Bg3 d4 25.c3 dxc3 [25...Rd5] 26.bxc3 e5 [26...Rxd1+ 27.Rxd1 Rd8 28.Rxd8 Nxd8 29.c4 gives White more chances] 27.fxe5 fxe5 28.Kc2 Ke6 The centalized black king and passed e-pawn give black a clear edge. 29.Rxd8 Rxd8 30.h5 gxh5 31.gxh5 Rd7 32.Bf2 Rf7 33.Be3 Na5 34.h6 gxh6 35.Rxh6+ Rf6 36.Rxf6+ Kxf6


Perhaps White can hold, but it's difficult. 37.Kd3 Ke6 38.Ke4? [38.c6! Nxc6 39.c4 was the best chance to hold.Now Black just takes control.] 38...Nc4 39.Bc1 a5 40.Bh6 Nxa3 41.c6 Nc4 42.Bf8 a4 43.c7 Kd7 44.Kd5 a3 45.Bxa3 Nxa3 46.Kxe5 Kxc7 47.Kd5 Kb6 48.Kd4 Ka5 49.Kc5 Ka4 50.Kd4 Kb3 51.Kd3 Nb1 52.c4 bxc4+ 0-1


(6) IM Christopher Yoo (ChristopherYoo) (2293) - IM Justin Wang (JustinWang1234) (2271) [C84]
US Cadet ch (6), 27.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d4 This line is usually called the Center Attack, although Bologan calls it the Loewenthal-Anderssen Line (it's that old!). It isn't seen very often at all at the highest level, but a number of grandmasters (Gashimov, Tregubov, Krasenkow, Zapata) are fond of it. And also one Christopher Yoo plays it much more often than not! It does avoid the Marshall Attack, as well as the Open Variation and some other lesser lines. And it offers White straightforward development and piece activity. Think Tal.. . And another factor: at this point Christopher was a point ahead of the field. A draw would lock up at least a first-place tie. That might have affected his opening choice. But what's to affect? This is his line. Let's look briefly at how his repertoire here has gone. 5...exd4 6.0-0 Over 5000 games, with a slight plus score. [6.c3 Five games, but 90%! Gambit!; 6.e5 Ne4 7.0-0 Nc5 8.Bb3 Nxb3 9.axb3 Be7 10.Re1 0-0 is a transposition.] 6...Be7 Standard and best result. [6...d6 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.Qf3 c5 10.Nf5 Bc6 11.Nc3 Nd7 12.Nd5 g6 13.Qc3 f6 14.Nh6 1-0 (29), Yoo,C (2455)-Pan,K (2106) PNWCC Online Masters Artist Point, INT 07.09.2020 not even three weeks before out game.; 6...b5 7.Bb3 Be7 8.e5 Ne4 9.Bd5 Nc5 10.Nxd4 Bb7 11.Nf5 Bf8 12.Qg4 1-0 (32) Yoo,C (2455)-Mei,A (1962) INT 2020] 7.e5


[7.Re1 (often by transposition) has been most common, but 7...b5!? (7...0-0 8.e5) 8.e5 (8.Bb3 d6 9.Bd5 Nxd5!? (9...Bb7; 9...Bd7) 10.exd5 Ne5 11.Nxd4 0-0 (11...Bd7!?) 12.a4! Bg4! and here, also Black has done pretty well in practice.) 8...Nxe5!? 9.Rxe5 d6! has been rough on White.; 7.Nxd4?? is a version of the classic Noah's Ark Trap: 7...Nxd4 8.Qxd4 c5 9.Qd3 b5-+] 7...Ne4 8.Nxd4 0-0 [8...Nc5 9.Nf5 (9.Bxc6 dxc6 10.Nc3 0-0 1-0 (35) Yoo,C (2455)-Brown,M (2509) INT 2020) 9...g6 a) 9...Ne6 10.Qg4 Kf8 11.Re1 h5 12.Qd1 Nc5 13.Bb3 Nxb3 14.axb3 d5 15.Nxe7 Nxe7 16.Bg5 1-0 (47) Yoo,C (2455)-Wen,Y (2082) INT 2020; b) 9...0-0 10.Qg4 g6 11.Bxc6 dxc6 12.Nxe7+ Qxe7 13.Qg3 Re8 14.Re1 Ne6 (14...Bf5 15.Bg5 f6 16.Bf4 Ne4 17.Qb3+ Qf7 18.Qxb7 1-0 (40) Yoo,C (2455)-Nasuta,G (2558) chess. com INT 2020) 15.Nc3 Rd8 16.Ne4 Bd7 17.Nf6+ Kh8 18.Qh3 h5 19.Qe3 Qf8 20.b3 1-0 (45) Yoo,C (2455)-Seul,G (2372) INT 2020; c) 9...Bf8!? 10.Nd6+? Christopher tries too hard to punish Black's backward play; (10.Re1! Nxa4 (10...g6!? 11.Bxc6 dxc6 12.Qxd8+ Kxd8 13.Bg5++/=) 11.Qg4 d5 12.exd6+ Be6 13.Bg5! is a plus for White) 10...cxd6 11.exd6 Ne6-+ 0-1 (28) Yoo,C (2455)-Gharibyan,M (2433) INT 2020; 10.Nxe7 Qxe7 11.Nc3 Nxa4 12.Nd5 Qd8 13.Nf6+ Kf8 14.Bh6+ Ke7 15.Bg7 Rg8 16.Nd5+ Ke6 17.Bf6 1-0 (17) Yoo,C (2455)-Pichot,A (2630) INT 2020; 8...Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Nc5 10.Nc3 0-0 11.Bb3 d6 12.Bf4 dxe5 13.Qxe5 Nxb3 (13...Bd6 14.Qd4 Nxb3 1-0 (66) Yoo,C (2455)-Estrada Nieto,J (2280) INT 2020) 14.cxb3!? Bd6 15.Qd4 Bxf4 16.Qxf4 Be6 17.Rfe1 c6 (17...Qd6?! 18.Qxd6 cxd6 19.Rad1 1-0 (66) Yoo,C (2455)-Estrada Nieto,J (2280) INT 2020) 18.h4 Qb6?! 1-0 (36) Yoo,C (2455)-Vivekananthan,A (2239) INT 2020 19.Na4 would be some advantage] 9.Re1 [9.Nf5 d5 10.Nxe7+ Nxe7 11.c3 Nc5 12.Bc2 Bf5 ½-½ 38, Tregubov,P (2588)-Efimenko,Z (2601) Germany 2019] 9...Nxd4 [9...Nc5 10.Bxc6 dxc6 11.Nc3 Re8 12.Be3 Bf8 13.f4 f6! (13...Qh4 14.Nf3 Qh5 15.h3 0-1 (50) Yoo,C (2455)-Paul,J (2231) INT 2020; 13...Ne6 14.Nf3 Qxd1?! 15.Raxd1+/- 1/2-1/2 (39) Yoo,C (2455)-Pogosyan,S (2442) INT 2020) 14.Qh5 fxe5 15.fxe5 g6?! (15...Be6) 16.Qe2 1-0 (35) Yoo,C (2455)-Brown,M (2509) INT 2020] 10.Qxd4 Nc5 11.Nc3 d6 12.Bb3 [Bologan gives 12.exd6 Bxd6 13.Be3 b5 14.Bb3 Nxb3 15.cxb3 Bb7 16.Ne4 Bxh2+ as "the simplest way to level the game."] 12...dxe5 13.Qxe5 Bd6 14.Qh5 Nxb3 [14...Qf6 15.Bd5 Bf5 Gutierrez Dopino - Helmreich, ICCF 2008; Black has the better side of equality.] 15.axb3


15...f6?!N Justin must have prepared considerably for this game, given how often Christopher play this line, but out here he starts to slip up. [15...Bd7 16.Ne4 (16.Bg5 f6 17.Be3 Bc6 1/2-1/2 (30) Jones,R (1966)-Mensing,F (2119) Dresden GER 2008) 16...Bc6 17.Nxd6 Qxd6 18.Qg4 Rae8 19.Bf4 Qd4 20.c3 Qd5 21.c4 Qd4 22.Qg3 1/2-1/2 (22) Paulik,V (2311)-Dedina,M (2307) ICCF email 2011] 16.Ra4!? A full-press rooklift has a psychological value on top of its actual strength! [Stockfish prefers 16.Qd5+ Kh8 17.Qf3] 16...g6?! [16...Rf7 to only play ...g6 after 17.Rh4] 17.Qd5+ Kg7 [17...Rf7 18.Rd4 Qf8 19.Ne4 Be5 20.Rdd1] 18.Bf4 Bxf4 19.Rxf4 Bf5 20.Qxb7 Rb8 21.Qa7! Rb6 [21...Bxc2 22.Rd4] 22.Nd5+- Yoo jumps to life. 22...Rf7


23.Rxf5! gxf5 24.Nxb6 Qd2 25.Rf1 cxb6 26.Qxa6 Qxc2 27.Qxb6 Qxb2 28.b4 [28.h4!] 28...Re7 29.b5?! [29.h4] 29...Re5


At this point Christopher had 30 minutes of his original 70 remaining; Justin had 24. White is losing his b-pawn... 30.Qc7+ Kg6 31.b6 Rb5 32.h4 Rxb6 White still has some advantage, but the win isn't at all certain. 33.h5+ Kh6 34.Qf4+


34...Kxh5? [34...Kg7! 35.Qxf5?! (35.Rd1 Qe5; 35.Re1 Rb4 36.Qxf5 Rb5 37.Qf3 Qb4 Black puts up a defense.) 35...Rb5 Black will pick off the h5 pawn, with pretty dead equality.] 35.Qxf5+? [35.Re1 is a win. 35...Kg6 36.Qg3+ Kf7 37.Qc7+ Kg6 38.Re7] 35...Kh6 36.Qh3+ Kg6 37.Qg4+ Kh6 38.Re1 Rb5! It should be a draw now. 39.Qf4+ Kg6 40.Qe4+ Kh6 41.Qh4+ Kg6 42.Qg3+ Kh6 43.Qe3+ Kg6 44.Qd3+ Kh6 45.Qe3+ Kg6 46.Rd1 Qb3 47.Qe4+ Kh6 48.Rc1 Qb2 49.Qe3+ Kg6 50.Rd1 Qb3 51.Qe4+ Kh6 52.Qf4+ Kg6 53.Re1 Qb4 54.Qg3+ left 54...Kh6 left 55.Qe3+ Kg6 56.Qd3+ Kh6 57.Qh3+ Kg6 58.Qg3+ Kh6 The position is repeated -- and Black actually has two seconds more! (White has burned over a minute.) 59.Qe3+ Kg6 60.g3 Rb7 [60...Rh5 61.Qd3+ Kh6 62.Re6 Qb2 among others] 61.Qe8+ Kg7 62.Re4 A bit touchy - Black has only one move. 62...Qb1+ 63.Kg2 Qd1 64.Qe6 h5! 65.Rf4


65...Rf7? [65...Qa1! defends f6 as well as sets up ...Rb1. White has a way to avoid the perpetual: 66.Qd5 Rb1 67.Kh2 Re1 68.Qd7+ Kg6 but no progress...] 66.Qf5! Now White is winning again. 66...Qe2 (3:43 left) Black thought on this move for a minute and a half, but it was too late to come up with anything. 67.Re4 Qd1 68.Rh4 Rc7 A full two minutes to admit that there was nothing. [68...Kh6 69.g4] 69.Rxh5 Qc2 70.Qg4+ [70.Qf4!] 70...Qg6 71.Qe2 Qc2 72.Qe3 Qg6 73.Rh4 Kf7 74.Qb3+ Kg7 75.Qe6 Qf7 76.Qf5 Kg8 77.Qg4+ Qg7 78.Qh5 Kf8 79.Rg4 Qh7 80.Qd5 Rd7 81.Qa8+ Kf7 82.Qa2+ Kf8 83.Rh4 [83.Qa6!] 83...Qg8 84.Qa3+ Kf7 85.Qb3+ Kf8 86.Qb4+ Kf7 87.Qc4+ An impressive will to win puts Christopher into a tournament victory with a round to spare. 1-0


(7) FM Robert Shkyakhtenko (Robert_Shlyakhtenko) (2227) - IM Arthur Guo (ArthurGuo) (2324) [B23]
US Cadet ch, 27.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 [Compared to 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 White still can use his f-pawn early.] 2...d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 Nc6 5.Qd2 This is actually a very modern system. A game in 1997, another in 2002 -- and then Carlsen played it in once in April 2018 and hundreds more games have happened since. The idea is Ioannis Simeonidis', who tells the whole story in New In Chess Yearbook 128. Very entertaining! Unless you meet this line uprepared as Black! [5.Bb5 Bd7 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Nf3 transposes into a fairly popular position for an "anti-" line.] 5...Nf6 [5...g6 6.b3 Bh6!? (6...Bg7 7.Bb2 Nf6 8.0-0-0 White wasted a move with his queen -- and still castles faster than in the Dragon Variation!) 7.f4! (over a hundred games like that!)] 6.b3 e6 7.Bb2 a6 [7...d5!? 8.exd5 exd5 9.0-0-0 Be6 10.Kb1 Qa5 11.Nb5 Qxd2 12.Rxd2 Bb4 13.Re2 0-0-0 14.Nf3 Rhe8 15.Nfd4 Bd7 16.f3 a6 17.Nxc6 bxc6 18.Ba3 Bxa3 19.Nxa3 a5 ½-½ (37), Jones,G (2670)-Donchenko,A (2646) INT 2020] 8.0-0-0 b5 9.f3 Be7 [9...h5?! Standard prophylaxis in many Sicilian lines. But something is unusual -- the placement of White's knight which hasn't even moved. Carlsen finds: 10.Nh3! The hole on g5 is more dramatic than usually. 10...Be7 11.Ng5 h4 12.f4 Bb7 13.Kb1 Rc8 14.Be2 Qc7 15.Rhe1 Nh7 16.Nxh7 Rxh7 17.g4! 1-0 (31) Carlsen,M (2843) -Wojtaszek,R (2744) Shamkir AZE 2018] 10.Kb1 [10.g4? Bb7 a) 10...Nxg4!? 11.fxg4?? (11.Nh3!) 11...Bg5; b) 10...b4!? 11.Nce2 (11.Na4?! Nxe4!) 11...0-0=/+; 11.Kb1 was the move order in the Sargissyan-Averyanov game below.] 10...Bb7 [10...0-0; 10...h5!?] 11.g4


11...Nd7!? Arthur appears to be theoretically quite current. [11...h6 was played twice previously, both games drawn.] 12.Bg2?! Too slow. [12.h4!? Nce5?! (12...0-0 13.g5 Nc5) 13.g5 is quite good for White, although it later went South: (13.a3!?) 13...b4 14.Nce2 d5? 15.f4+- 0-1 (48) Sargissyan,S (2269)-Averyanov,G (2274) INT 2020] 12...Nc5 13.f4 0-0 14.g5 b4 15.Nce2 a5 16.Ng3 a4 White's king position is the first to be "served." Stockfish 12 gives Black a winning advantage. Lc0 is not so magnanimous. 17.N1e2 axb3 [17...Qa5! 18.Nc1 Na7! and Black is way too fast.] 18.cxb3 Qa5 19.Nc1 Rfd8 [Still, 19...Na7 puts White in severe difficulties.] 20.f5 Ne5 21.f6 Bf8


As it turns out, this is pretty good for Black as well! 22.fxg7 [22.h4 Rdc8] 22...Bxg7-+ All four bishops are fianchettoed! But thanks to the pawn on e4, only three of them are feeling good about it. 23.Rhe1 Ncd3! [23...Na4! was also good] 24.Nh5 Nxe1 [24...Nc4!] 25.Rxe1 Bh8! [Or even 25...Ba6!] 26.Re3 Black drops the ball. Best is 26...Rdc8?! [26...Ng4! 27.Rg3 Bxb2 28.Qxb2 Ne5 29.Nf6+ Kg7 The material advantage will play out.] 27.Nf6+ Bxf6 28.gxf6 Qc5 [28...Kh8] 29.Bd4


29...Qc7? [29...Qxc1+! 30.Qxc1 Rxc1+ 31.Kxc1 Rxa2 32.Bb2 Ba6 is a win.] 30.Bxe5? [30.Bb2!=] 30...dxe5 Black's back in the plus column 31.Rd3 Kh8 32.Rd7 Qc6 33.Rxf7 Rf8 [33...Ba6!] 34.Re7?! Rac8 35.Nd3


35...Rfd8? [35...Rxf6 36.Nxe5 Qc5 Black is walking a tightrope to victory.] 36.Nxe5!! secures a draw. 36...Rxd2 37.Nf7+ Kg8 38.Nh6+ Kh8 An exciting and important game for modern theory. [38...Kf8 39.Rf7+ Ke8 40.Re7+= Kd8?? 41.Nf7#] 39.Nf7+ Kg8 40.Nh6+ Kh8 41.Nf7+ 1/2-1/2


(8) NM Ruiyang Yan (jij2018) (2095) - IM Andrew Zhang Hong (SpeedofLight) (2243) [B85]
US Cadet ch (6), 27.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

Andrew Hong was at 3-2, while Ruiyang Yan had had a horrible start at 0-5. But she came back this game with a bumpy but fine fighting game, which could have gone either way. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e6 The Najdorf-Scheveningen, start of some of the greatest battles in modern chess. Play starts out quietly, but when the armies are in position and finally clash it is often fireworks. 7.Be3 Qc7 8.0-0 Be7 9.f4 0-0 10.Bf3 Rui often opts for balanced centralization. [10.Qe1 Nc6 11.Qg3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.a3 Bb7 14.Rae1 Rad8 (14...Bc6 15.Kh1 Qb7 was the older way to put pressure on White's e4. 16.Bd3 a5) 15.Kh1 (15.Bd3) 15...Rd7 16.Bd3 Qd8 17.Qh3 g6 18.f5 e5 19.Be3 Re8 20.fxg6 hxg6 21.Nd5 Nxd522.Rxf7!! was Wei Yi - Bruzon Battista, Danzhou 2015. Another of the amazing games modern superstars have produced in this variation.; 10.a4 Nc6 11.Kh1 Re8 was the starting position of quite a few world championship games with Kasparov as Black, including the epic last game of the second match, November 9, 1985, which ended the era of Karpov as world champion and started the reign of Kasparov. Worth a look!; 10.g4!? has become the most-played move when you include the lower levels, 10...d5!? The classic "meeting a wing attack with a counter in the center" is the GM response.] 10...Nc6 11.Nxc6!? White heads for a particular position, a sort of Maroczy Bind structure but with Black having better central control. 11...bxc6 12.Na4 Rb8 13.c4 c5 14.Qc2 to bring the knight back 14...Bb7 [14...Nd7 15.b3 Bb7 16.Rad1 Rbd8 17.g4 Nb8 18.Qg2 ½-½ (63) Hovhannisyan,R (2637)-Petrosyan,M (2579) Yerevan 2019] 15.Nc3 Nd7!? Black starts the long journey to d4. 16.Rad1 Rbd8 17.b3 Not really necessary now; [Perhaps it's time for a kingside expansion: 17.g4; Or maybe after a preparatory 17.Kh1] 17...Nb8


18.g4N [The precedent game took an unusual twist: 18.Qf2 Nc6 19.f5?! Bf6 20.Ne2 Ne5 21.Ng3 Bh4 22.Be2 Qe7 23.Qf4 g5!? 24.f6! gxf4 25.fxe7 fxe3!! 26.exd8Q Rxd8 is more than compensation, although White won eventually. 1-0 (47) , Danin,A (2543)-Golubka,P (2410) Belgorod 2011] 18...Nc6 19.Kh1 Bf6 20.Ne2 g6 21.Bf2 Bg7 22.Bg2 Nb4 23.Qb1 Qa5 24.Rd2


24...d5!? 25.e5? This should fail, as Black takes over the d-file with various points of penetration. [25.Bh4!? Rd7 (25...g5?! 26.Bxg5 f6!? might be too much of an overreaction.) when White can create mass panic with 26.f5!?] 25...dxc4! 26.Rxd8 Bxg2+ 27.Kxg2 Rxd8 28.bxc4 Rd2 looks very strong! [But 28...Nd3! may well be better, The following lines are obviously computers in action: 29.Rd1 (29.Bh4 Qd2!! 30.Bxd8 Qxe2+ somehow Black gets away with this! 31.Kg3 Nxe5!!) 29...Nxf2 30.Rxd8+ Qxd8 31.Kxf2 Qh4+ 32.Kf3 h5! even better than taking the pawn -- White's king becomes a target.] 29.Qe4?! White still has 30:49, while Black is on 11:49. [29.Ng3 Nd3!? (29...h6!) 30.Ne4 Nxf4+ 31.Kh1 Rxf2!]


29...Qxa2? Andrew used four minutes on this move, but it just gets in trouble. Now tactics are flying! [But 29...Nd3! (keeping c5 covered) appears to finally crash through (a2); and maybe even better is 29...Bf8! outwaiting White, since 30.Qa8? Rxe2 just wins.] 30.Qa8+! Bf8 31.Bxc5! Everybody burns their bridges. Now Black is on the edge of defeat. 31...Rxe2+ 32.Kg3! Amazing is that this is the only move -- and that Rui found it! And in 15 seconds, still with over half an hour on her clock. The point is to have a rook interposition on f3 if the queen checks. [32.Kf3?? looks good at first, but 32...Qb3+! 33.Kxe2 Qxc4+ nabs the bishop on c5 with an easy win.]


32...Re3+!! Andrew used more than half of his time (going from 6:44 to 3:11)for this precise shot, drawing the bishop away for a precious moment. [32...Rg2+? 33.Kh4!! (33.Qxg2?? Qxg2+ 34.Kxg2 Bxc5-+) 33...Rxh2+ 34.Kg5 h6+ 35.Kf6+-] 33.Bxe3 Qxc4 34.Rc1 Qb3 After all those fireworks it's going to be a draw. 35.Rc8?! [White could try to consolidate being up an exchange, 35.Qf3 Nd5 but that powerful knight and the extra, passed pawn should be enough to hold.] 35...Qxe3+ 36.Kh4 Qf2+ 37.Kh3 They must accept the perpetual: [37.Kg5?? is NOT the same as the line after 32...Rg2+? 33.Kh4!! 37...h6+ (or 37...Kg7 38.Rxf8 h6#) 38.Kf6 Qxf4#] 37...Qe3+ 38.Kh4 Qf2+ 39.Kh3 Qe3+ 40.Kh4 Andrew had 24 seconds left (to Rui's 24 minutes!) as the repetition registered. What a fight! Attack and tactical defense. Hong had the greater chances until he played too straightforward with ...Qxa2? 1/2-1/2


(9) NM Ruiyang Yan (jij2018) (2088) - FM Robert Shlyakhtenko (Robert_Shlyakhtenko) (2246) [C16]
US Cadet ch, 27.09.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

Rui just played an epic battle the round before, and coupled with her dreadful 0-5 beginning she must have just been out of steam. 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 b6 5.a3 Bf8 6.Nf3 Ne7 7.Be3 [7.h4 (Alpha Zero? Okay, yes, but standard in these blocked Winawer French's. 7...h6 8.Bf4 Ba6 9.Bxa6 Nxa6 10.Qd3 Nb8 11.b4 ½-½ (36), Kryvoruchko,Y (2708)-Jussupow,A (2583) Switzerland 2017] 7...Qd7 If you've never seen this system you'd think Black didn't know the basic principles of development and deployment! But once the center is blocked, different rules apply -- and Black can bend them considerably. (Also note the Black player in the game above: Artur Yusupov was #3 behind the K's for quite a while.) 8.Qd2


8...h6N [8...Ba6 is one of the main ideas (bad bishop trade-off) 9.Bxa6 Nxa6 10.b4 c6 11.0-0 Nf5 12.Qe2 Nc7 13.g4 Nxe3 14.fxe3 Be7 when Black doesn't look bad at all; 0-1 (38) Tonnicchi,C (2049)-Werbeck,T (2265) Euskirchen 1999] 9.Nd1 Not a happy square, but it could figure later on e3 or even b2 (after b2-b4) [9.b4!? Ba6 10.b5; 9.h4!?] 9...Bb7 Trying to keep pieces on the board may be more than the position demands. 10.c3 [Again, expansion with 10.h4 was called for. There's no reason to voluntarily put all your pawns on the same color...] 10...a5 11.Bd3 a4 Black rules the light squares. White's space might still be important, but look how effortlessly Black improves over the next dozen or so moves. 12.0-0 Ba6 13.Ne1 Bxd3 14.Nxd3 Nbc6 15.f4 Na5 16.Qe2 Qb5 17.Bf2 Nb3 18.Rb1 c5


Robert has built and built while Rui has nothing going on the kingside. This was a well-chosen opening to exploit her tendency for somewhat stodgy central play. 19.Re1? [19.dxc5] 19...Rc8? [Simply 19...cxd4! wins a pawn. 20.Bxd4 (20.cxd4 Nf5 (20...Nc6) ) 20...Nxd4 21.cxd4 Nf5] 20.Nc1 [20.dxc5] 20...Qd7?! [20...Qxe2 21.Rxe2 (21.Nxe2 g6) 21...Nc6 (21...Kd7 22.Nxb3 axb3 23.Rd2) 22.Nxb3 axb3 23.Rd2 Na5 24.Ne3 h5 25.f5!?] 21.Nxb3 axb3 22.Ne3 Nc6 23.Red1?! [23.Rbd1! and White is starting to look good] 23...Be7 24.Qf3? [24.f5!?; Or even better, 24.h4 h5 25.f5 so no ...Bg5] 24...g6! 25.g4 cxd4?! was there a hurry? 26.cxd4 h5 27.h3 hxg4 28.hxg4 Qa7 29.Rbc1 Qb7 [29...Qa6 of course!] 30.Rc3 Na5 31.Be1 Kd7 32.Rdc1 Rxc3 33.Bxc3 [33.Rxc3!] 33...Qc6 34.Bd2 Qb5 35.Bxa5?! bxa5


36.Nf1? [Now 36.Nd1 is more sensible.] 36...Rc8 [36...Rh4] 37.Rxc8 Kxc8 38.Nd2 a4 Now ...Qc2 at some properly prepared point is a big problem -- and White has to always worry about ...Bxa3. 39.Nb1?? Too worried! [39.Qc3+ Kd7 40.Kf2 Bh4+ 41.Kf3 Be1 42.Ke3 hangs on, precariously.] 39...Kd7 40.Qf1 [40.Qc3 Qe2 is disaster.] 40...Qc6 41.Nc3


41...Bd8 [41...Bxa3 works just fine.] 42.f5! Rui grabs a chance. 42...gxf5 43.gxf5 White should draw now -- Black always has to watch for perpetual or penetration, either at b5 or f7. 43...Bb6 44.fxe6+ fxe6 45.Qf7+ Kc8 46.Qf8+ [46.Ne2; 46.Qf4] 46...Kb7 47.Qb4 Qc4 48.Qe7+ Bc7 49.Qxe6 Qxd4+ 50.Kg2 Qxe5 51.Qd7! Qg5+ 52.Kf3 Qf6+ 53.Ke2 Qa6+ 54.Kd2 The vulnerable Black king and pawns make it impossible for Black to win. 54...Qh6+ 55.Ke2 Qh2+ 56.Kd3 Qc2+ 57.Kd4 Qd2+ 58.Kc5 Qe3+ 59.Kb5?? Ruiyang walks into mate. [59.Kxd5 when Black has nothing better than perpetual, either to White's king or Black's.] 59...Qd3+ 60.Kxa4 Qc4# An exasperating end to a tournament Ruiyang would probably just forget. 0-1

Final standings are here:

SwissSys Standings. 2020 Cadet: Cadet

# Name ID Rating St Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Total Prize
1 IM Christopher W Yoo 15244943 2540 CA ChristopherYoo W6 W8 D2 W5 W4 W3 D7 6.0 600.00
2 FM Christopher Shen 14432243 2424 OH cys9772 W8 D5 D1 L4 D3 W7 W6 4.5 300.00
3 IM Justin Wang 14930904 2540 TX JustinWang1234 D5 W7 D6 W8 D2 L1 W4 4.5 300.00
4 IM Arthur Guo 14772092 2446 GA ArthurGuo W7 D6 W8 W2 L1 D5 L3 4.0  
5 FM Robet Shlyakhtenko 14951916 2459 CA Robert_Shlyakhtenko D3 D2 W7 L1 D6 D4 W8 4.0  
6 IM Andrew Zhang Hong 14941904 2533 CA SpeedofLight0 L1 D4 D3 W7 D5 D8 L2 3.0  
7 FM Maximillian Lu 14732597 2431 CT waterisgood1 L4 L3 L5 L6 W8 L2 D1 1.5  
8 WCM Ruiyang Yan 15462690 2242 CA jij2018 L2 L1 L4 L3 L7 D6 L5 0.5  


Attaining Goals: Chess and Walking

As chess players, we understand goal setting. The fundamental measure of success for many of us are ratings, and we put a high value on the different rating categories as rungs on a ladder we are trying to climb. It provides us a baseline for measuring our growth, and they serve to motivate us to train and improve. I remember when I was actively playing I studied a few hours a day (without the benefit of computers or online play) and was able to raise my rating quite quickly. I played every rated tournament I could, and I had the double benefit of living in an area that had frequent events and could play these events with a group of friends. We played, studied, and helped each other get better. I remember encountering two instances along my growth path where I hit "the wall," a threshold for which I had difficulty getting past. My first was at the 1500 level, where one can no longer count on your opponent to make obvious mistakes. The second was breaking 2000, where I discovered you need to understand small positional advantages and weaknesses and having the patience to slowly improve the position and let it dictate your play. Thankfully, I did get past both. However, I was not going to be able to get past that level, and I knew it. Improving beyond that required coaching and training, and I simply was not going to be able to put in the time to yield the results that would dictate improvement beyond 2000. The work I had done allowed me to win some scholastic titles and tournaments, and it added to my enjoyment of playing chess. I stopped playing around the year 1990.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, I have had to work from home. Given my restless nature, I needed to find an activity that helped occupy my mind that was fun and good for me. I have my own daily workout routine that I do at about 5am every morning which is about a half of an hour and very simple, and is mostly strength training. I'm 47 years old so I need to keep it somewhat simple in order to keep motivated, but I wanted to add running to my exercise routine. However, I was worried about the impact of running on my knees, and let's face it, the thought of running for fun, no matter how beneficial for me, was going to be difficult for me to sustain. 

I spoke to Jen Desideri, our Accounting Manager at the Mechanics' Institute who has completed over 200 half marathons and is an avid runner, stair-climber and walker, and she suggested to me walking as exercise. Now for me, the thought of walking as a deliberate form of exercise was the equivalent of playing chess as exercise. I didn't seriously consider it until I hurt my leg while attempting to run, an apparent IT band injury that I did not want to make worse. So, I decided to give walking a chance.

As I have started walking as a serious activity, I have found that it has many similarities to chess. Here are just a few I have derived.

Getting Past the Wall

Walking seems easy, so how can it possibly yield results? After a few months, I was challenged to walk 100 miles in a month, which became my first goal. I downloaded a running app that tracks distance using GPS, as well as results. At first, I thought walking long distances could not be difficult, the only challenge being what would I do to keep my mind occupied while I walked and what kind of pace would I need to maintain to feel a workout. I had it in my mind that I was going to attempt a half marathon (13.1 miles) walking, a 2nd goal, and after several smaller walks of 2-5 miles, I felt ready and motivated to go after the half marathon goal, I mean, it's just walking…right? 

Walking the first 7-8 miles was fine, though I could feel my legs tightening but painfully. I had just had a coffee I had been enjoying and was listening to a YouTube video while walking so I had my entertainment. At mile nine, I had hit my wall for sure. My legs were starting to hurt, and the thought of calling Uber to save me at least crossed my mind. I tried to rationalize several excuses to stop walking, like I didn't want to further hurt my legs or knees, or that I needed to get back to start working on something, or I didn't need to complete 13.1 miles today. These would have, of course, all been excuses. It's amazing how much of this is mental, pretty much all of it. I knew I could finish 13.1 miles walking, but the thought crossed my mind to find a way to stop. The trick is finding it within yourself to push past that urge to stop, and realize if I stop for this, I'll stop for other things. So I pressed on and finished, and was proud of what I had accomplished. Had I stopped, I'm sure I could have convinced myself I had to, but the reality would be that I'd stop more easily in something else, not a habit I want to develop. I've had enough things in life I stopped before finishing, this would be a good time to keep pressing forward. 

Chess players know this feeling all too well. While I did get past a few walls in my playing career, there was one which I could not. I was never going to make master, the timing was just not right for me to do it and I didn't have the motivation for me to put in the work to do it. Nowadays my motivation is geared towards getting past walls in event organizing and creating innovative opportunities for the club, 

Strategizing the Goal

When I first looked at what it would take to walk 100 miles in a month, I started to realize that was no easy task. Between work, family, moods, injury, and about a dozen other things that can happen on any given day, it is actually quite a difficult task to accomplish, especially for a novice. I remember thinking I just need to break it up into smaller goals, walking about 25 miles a week, which is only just over 3.5 miles a day. But some days I had to skip because of air quality, other days because of heat, so then I rearranged my walks to early mornings, and some days I'd be helping organize a large event so I'd miss several days, and all this needed to be taken into consideration. This meant some days I had to do more in anticipation of the obstacles that could jump in my way to stop me. I truly felt like I was playing chess in trying to reach my goal, planning my candidate moves ahead of time and going to plan B and C when I had to. Often times I was taking work calls during walks and answering emails, maximizing precious time.

Finding New Purpose

I began walking with the idea of getting exercise, but as I began walking, I saw the that the benefits went far beyond physical. It felt good to be outside, especially when you are told not to go outdoors. When I walk, I'll walk to college campuses - San Jose State University and Santa Clara University are on my route. I have a place I go to at mile 2.8 where I often stop and get a coffee. I enjoy people watching as I walk and seeing random things like birds or flowers. The mental health benefits of walking I believe have outweighed the physical benefits, though it is good to have had both. Walking has stopped being a painful activity that I need to get motivated for and has now become something I look forward to. 

Chess has been the same for me. I started as a young player with dreams of being the best and improving and being a master. I got through two difficult walls, and made expert, but I knew I could not be a top player. I stopped playing when I was about 18. It was not until 20 years later that I decided to come back to chess, not as a player, but as a coach and organizer. I loved chess and wanted to be around it, but now I focused on where I thought my talents were better suited through chess: coaching students, building teams, and working with kids.

Sometimes you find new purpose in an activity you do, but do so because you find a better way or better fit to do the activity. And sometimes the goal you set out to do leads to new goals you never thought possible.

Here is my tracker, 103.2 miles in September, and a half marathon on October 1st. Figured a good idea to start October right, and thankfully I had the proper motivation to push past today's 9 mile wall.

Ray Conway Tuesday Night Marathon Online Begins Tuesday October 6!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 to Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Mechanics' Institute Ray Conway Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon Online
USCF Online Rated!

via, Open for everyone!

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

Time control: 8SS 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.


- 8 rounds of G/35+2  - more details on tournament details here.
- One OPEN section
- paired based on OTB or ONL Oct 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, Round 5 and Round 7 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

US Chess online rated tournament - most USCF rules and consequences apply.
Players should not use any outside assistance: not have 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 by and Mechanics' Institue Chess club staff during and after the event.
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 that IT'S SIMPLY NOT WORTH THE RISK!

For some helpful links regarding fair play, please check these out:

Fair play screening: all games will be screened by both and by Dr. Kenneth W. Regan, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University at Buffalo. 

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

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

Tournament Informaiton

What are the time controls mean?
Time controls are telling you how much time you have for each game.
G35+2 for example: Game in 35 minutes with 2 second increment. This means you get 35 minutes, your opponent gets 35 minutes and with each move every player gets 2 second added to the clock. So one game can last up to 70-80 minutes.

How many games/rounds?
The 8SS before the time control means how many rounds, i.e. how many games can a player play in the tournament. The tournaments are never elimination, so win or lose you can stay in the tournament.

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

Sections: One open section


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.

Mechanics' Chess Social

On the October 2, 2020 edition of the Mechanics' Chess Social, we had on IM David Pruess. He is a chess coach, commentator, and along with IM Kostya Kavutskiy, has a Twitch channel called ChessDojoLive: He was also a commentator for the Mechanics' PRO Chess League team who often streamed the matches from the Mechanics' Institute. To watch the interview, follow this link:



Dr. Alexey Root

Check out Dr. Alexey Root's newly released article on something almost every chess player relies on: Coffee! I once went to a coffee shop with Mike Walder and Elliott Winslow before a Tuesday Night Marathon event at Mechanics' and learned Mike was quite the connoisseur of coffee, so this is no surprise. To read the article, follow this link:


Take on the Mechanics' Chess Staff Live on Twitch!

The chess room staff at the Mechanics' Institute are taking on all comers now weekly, as each of us will livestream an Arena tournament where we will commentate our own games! You might be playing 3-time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian, or perhaps our commentator and instructor extraorinaire FM Paul Whitehead. Try to take down Organizer sensation Dr. Judit Sztaray or Chess Director Abel Talamantez. We will all be live on Twitch playing, talking about our games and talking about anything that comes up in the chat. Come hang out with us at the Mechanics' online club, perhaps we may even give out occasional free prizes also!

Arenas are an hour long, and the chess staff will be paired against the first available player to play at the conclusion of their games. All other players will be paired with the next available opponent. This will continue for the whole hour. While there is no guarantee you will be paired against a chess staff member, you will have a very good chance of it, depending on the number of players playing. All games will be streamed live on our Twitch channel:

Check out the times here:

GM Nick de Firmian Arena: Mondays 4pm-5pm, 10/5:

FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, 10/6:

MI Chess Director Abel Talamantez, Dr. Judit Sztaray Arena: Fridays 5pm-6:30pm, 10/9:

See you in the arena!

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 5:00-6:30PM - A Journey Through Chess History - Course 2: US Championships with GM Nick de Firmian


 Thursdays 6:30 - 8PM - The World Championship Match  -- by FM Paul Whitehead
Course Dates: Part 1 -- 9/3 through 10/1 (FREE!) Click on link below to try class out free next week
                          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, October 3: starts at 3:00PM - join from 2:45PM

8SS G/5+2:

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

5SS G/5+5:

Monday, October 5: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/15+0:

Tuesday, October 6: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4PM

5SS G/5+5:

Wednesday, October 7: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, October 8: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM
5SS G/5+5:

Friday, October 9: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4:00PM

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


NEW: US Chess Online Rated Scholastic Tournaments
Every Week!

October 3, @ 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 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. Click Here to Register and for information

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. Click Here to Register and for Information.


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. Click Here to Register and for Information.

Note: Minimum five 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:

10/3 Saturday - Saturday Night Blitz
Format: 6SS G/5+2
Join by 6:00PM -
Start at 7:00PM
10/6 Tuesday - Tuesday Online
Format: 8SS G/35+2 
Start at 6:30PM
10/1 Thursday - Thursday Night Quads
Format: 3SS G/60+10
Join by 4PM - 
Start at 6:30PM

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 5

[email protected]

What’s better, a queen or two rooks?  This classic dilemma has puzzled chess players since the get-go.  We want to know for sure, and we want to know for all time: is it the queen?  Or is it the rooks?  But the wise player will always say: it depends on the situation.

The chess study can isolate these mini-problems, and artfully provide solutions.  

As usual the theme is domination, and again the examples are from Domination in 2,545 Endgame Studies by Ghenrikh Kasparyan (1974).

Today the rooks have their say: the queen is run to ground and defeated.

But tomorrow… who knows?


1. Kling 1849 – White wins.

This is the classic “skewer” study that spawned a zillion others:

1.Ra4!  (Would you have found it? White threatens both 2.Rxa8 and 2.Rh3 mate.1…Qxa4  (or 1…Qc8 2.Rh3+! Qxh3 3.Ra3+ Kd4/e4/f4 4.Rxh3, and white wins2.Rh3+ Kd4/e4/f4 3.Rh4+ followed by 4.Rxa4, and white wins.


With that under your belt the following two studies – variations on today’s theme – should be as easy as pie…


2. Lommer 1948 – White wins.

Kind of intricate, but you’ll get it.


3. Dall’ Ava 1963 – White wins.

This one is almost too easy, but has terrific practical value.


GM Nick de Firmian's Column

The Pro Chess League Finals had a battle between two of the chess world’s elite teams when the Armenian Eagles faced off with the St. Louis Archbishops. The Archbishops had a monster line-up of Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, Lanier Dominguez and Jeffery Xiong - that’s basically the US Olympic team. Both teams had won all their matches in the regular season and the playoffs, so it was clear the Eagles were playing with great heart to match the pace of the Archbishops. The surprise score of the finals was 9.5 to 6.5 in favor of the Eagles. This upset earned them their second Pro Chess League Championship, as they won the live event in 2018 held right here in San Francisco at the Folsom Street Foundry. This year’s event was online, but perhaps we will see next year’s finals back here in San Francisco near Twitch headquarters.

We give a couple of games from the Pro Chess finals and semi matches. Additionally we include a classic game of 1992 from the 2nd Fischer-Spassky match. This is in honor of the new Fischer book written by former MI Chess Director John Donaldson, whose epic 650 page tome on Fischer will be the definitive work.

(1) Petrosian,Tigran L. - So,Wesley [C00]
Pro Chess Finals, 28.09.2020

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.0-0 Be7 5.d3 Petrosian (named after the late, great world champion) has used this King's Indian Attack very effectively in the Pro Chess online games. 5...0-0 6.Nbd2 c5 7.e4 Nc6 8.Re1 b5 9.e5 Nd7 10.Nf1 a5

This is a classical KIA position. Black expands on the queenside and White on the kingside. 11.h4 a4 12.N1h2 a3 13.b3 b4 14.Bf4 Bb7 15.Qd2 Rc8 16.h5 h6 This is positionally desireable as Black doesn't want to allow the white h-pawn to reach a strong post at h6. The black pawn can be a target though on this square. 17.Ng4 Re8 18.Rac1 Kh7 19.Bh3 Bf8 20.Ngh2 Ne7 21.g4 d4 22.g5 Nd5 23.Bg2 Qe7 24.Bg3 Qd8 Both sides have their pieces on good squares and it's not easy to see a good plan to advance. 25.Ng4 Nc3?! Wesley is going for the a2 pawn, but this takes the knight away from the center where it helps protect the kingside. 26.gxh6 gxh6 27.Qf4 Re7?! [Black needed to play 27...Bxf3 28.Qxf7+ Kh8 29.Bxf3 Bg7 30.Be4 Qg5! and White has only a slight advantage.] 28.Bh4 Nxa2 29.Ra1 Nc3 materially Black is ok with a protected passed pawn on a3 for the exchange that is pinned. The real problem is White's attack. 30.Nd2 Bxg2 31.Kxg2 Bg7 32.Nc4 Nd5 33.Qf3 Qf8 34.Kh1?! [34.Nf6+! Bxf6 35.exf6 Ree8 36.Kh1] 34...f5! 35.exf6 Bxf6 36.Nxf6+ N7xf6 37.Nd6?! [37.Nb6!] 37...Rcc7 [37...Rd8 38.Ne4 Nd7! would be fine play for the exchange in the endgame if the queens are traded.] 38.Ne4 Rf7? [38...Nd7!] 39.Nxf6+ Nxf6
40.Rxe6! the attack crashes through 40...Ng8 41.Qe4+ Rf5 42.Bf6! cutting off the defense. Black is busted. 42...Ne7 43.Rxe7+ Rxe7 44.Qxf5+ Kg8 45.Rg1+ 1-0


(2) Sadhwani,Raunak - Caruana,Fabiano [B47]
Pro Chess Semi Finals, 26.09.2020

Caruana will soon be back playing in the Candidates Tournament. He didn't have a good performace in the Pro Chess finals, but throughout the season was a strong force for the team. Here in the semifinals he takes a point with the black pieces. It isn't perfect, but a fighting performance like he will have to reproduce in the Candidates. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.0-0 Bc5 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.Bg5 h5!? taking kingside squares and not worrying about castling. 11.Qf3 Ng4 12.h3 Ne5 13.Qe2 b5 14.Kh1 Bb7 15.f4?! [It is better to develop and maintain flexibility with 15.Rad1] 15...f6! 16.Bh4 Ng6 with this Black gains some edge over the kingside dark squares. 17.e5 Nxh4 18.gxh4 f5 19.Rad1 g6 20.Qe1 Be7 21.Qg3 Kf7?! 22.Ne2?! [There was a tactical possibility 22.Ne4! fxe4? (22...Rhd8) 23.f5! gxf5 24.Rxf5+ exf5 25.e6+ Kxe6 26.Qxc7 Rad8! 27.Rf1! with advantage to White] 22...c5 23.Ng1 Rad8 24.Nf3 Bxf3! Correctly assessing the bishops of opposite color position. Caruana takes the knight before it can cause trouble with Ng5+ 25.Bxf3 c4 26.Rg1 Rhg8 27.Kh2 b4 28.Be2 Bc5 29.Rg2 Rxd1 30.Bxd1 Qd8 31.Be2 Be7 32.Bxc4 Bxh4 33.Qb3 Qb6 34.Rd2 Rd8 35.Rxd8

35...Qf2+! This intermediate check forces the white king to the corner where it is vulnerable. 36.Kh1 Bxd8 37.Bxe6+ Kg7 38.Qxb4 Qf3+ 39.Kg1 Bh4 The black queen and bishop are able to attack and defend their own monarch. Still, it is a tricky position. 40.Qd4 Qg3+ 41.Kf1 Qe1+ [41...Qxh3+!] 42.Kg2 Qe2+ 43.Kg1 Bg3?
stopping the checks gives White one chance. 44.Bb3? [44.Bxf5! would hold the draw. It guards the h3 pawn and if 44...gxf5 45.Qd7+ will be perpetual check] 44...Qh2+ now Caruana wraps it up efficiently 45.Kf1 Qxh3+ 46.Ke2 Qg2+ 47.Kd3 Qf1+ 48.Kd2 Be1+ 49.Kc1 Bf2+ 50.Qd1 Be3+ 0-1


(3) Fischer,Robert James (2785) - Spassky,Boris V (2560) [C95]
St Stefan/Belgrade m Belgrade (1), 1992

This game was the first of the return match between Fischer and Spassky in 1992. They were both somewhat past their prime, but still capable of incredible chess. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bd2 Bg7 17.a4 c5 18.d5 c4 Thus far this is all theory, a normal Breyer Variation of the Ruy Lopez. It gives both sides a lot of scope for strategic maneuvering. 19.b4 Nh7 20.Be3 h5 21.Qd2 Rf8 22.Ra3! A fine idea to press also on the queenside. It looks as though White should just move all the pieces right for a kingside attack, but Black has shown that can be defended against. 22...Ndf6 23.Rea1 Qd7 Spassky defends against the opening of the a-file. It's not easy to see where White can break through. 24.R1a2 Rfc8 25.Qc1 Bf8 26.Qa1 Qe8 27.Nf1 Be7 28.N1d2 Kg7 29.Nb1!

Fischer's last move causes a reaction from Black as waiting is no longer as option. White threatened to open the a-file with 30. axb5, exchange all the rooks and queen and then win a pawn with Na3 (the point of 29. Nb1!). With all the white pieces in the corner Spassky decides to sacrifice in the center. 29...Nxe4?! 30.Bxe4 f5 31.Bc2 Bxd5 Black has two pawns and central play for the piece, but Fischer shows he still has play on the queenside. 32.axb5 axb5 33.Ra7 Kf6 34.Nbd2 Rxa7 35.Rxa7 Ra8 36.g4! slower play may also be good. Fischer continues to press for the initiative. 36...hxg4 37.hxg4 Rxa7 38.Qxa7 f4

39.Bxf4 exf4 40.Nh4 Bf7 41.Qd4+ Ke6 42.Nf5! Another marvelous advance to keep Black off balance. 42...Bf8 [42...gxf5 43.Bxf5#] 43.Qxf4 Kd7 44.Nd4 Qe1+ This is aggressive, but hastens the end. 45.Kg2 Bd5+ 46.Be4 Bxe4+ 47.Nxe4 material is even but the white knights are dominant. There is no defense. 47...Be7 48.Nxb5 Nf8 49.Nbxd6 Ne6 50.Qe5 Spassky resigned. It was such a shame that Fischer stopped playing for 20 years instead of giving us more such masterpieces. To learn more about Bobby you must read John Donaldson's epic work. 1-0


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