Chess Room Newsletter #942 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #942

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #942


November 7, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

  "Genius Carves Its Own Way": The Queen's Gambit on Netflix Part 2

I started writing last week about The Queen's Gambit on Netflix, which as of this writing (Thursday) is at #1 on the Netflix top 10. What is even more impressive is that it fell to #2 and climbed back to #1. The chess world has been buzzing about this series, which is about an orphan who at age nine learns chess from the janitor at the orphanage. He recognizes her talent and helps her embark on a journey that takes her all the way to the top of the chess world, breaking down barriers from sexism to addiction, to childhood trauma and finding connections. After completing the series, I feel it is a marvelous depiction of the psychology and transcendental nature of chess, depicting the joy and love of chess for its own sake in a way that would make any chess aficionado proud.

What is additionally interesting about this series are the San Francisco and Mechanics' Institute connections. In addition to The Queen's Gambit, author Walter Tevis also wrote The Hustler and The Color of Money, both of which became major films. He grew up in San Francisco until he was 10, before moving to Kentucky with his family. Kenn Fong, a Mechanics' regular and someone who has been part of the Mechanics' Institute chess club for over 50 years says that Walter Tevis was an enthusiastic Mechanics' Institute member who played in the North vs. South chess matches (between Northern and Southern California). He made a mention of this in an article he contributed to in Mechanics' chess newsletter 896 released on December 6, 2019 here: He also mentions that Guthrie McClain used to mention Walter Tevis in conversation. 

Speaking of Mechanics' connections, it is quite well known in the chess world by now that the final game between Beth Harmon, the show's central character, and Vasily Borgov, who was depicted as the best chess player in the world, was taken from a game played between Mechanics' Institute Trustee and Chess Committee Chair GM Patrick Wolff and GM Vassily Ivanchuk in Biel 1993. Judit Sztaray and I interviewed Patrick about this, and here is what he had to say.

We asked if he was told beforehand that his game would be used in the series. 

“Nobody asked me beforehand, it was a total surprise to me. I was told by someone, and he didn’t tell me exactly that, he just said 'Just watch the game, you make a surprise appearance.' I had absolutely no idea what to expect!" Then after watching the final episode, he says "Wait a minute, isn’t that my game against Ivanchuk? I went and checked and saw that it was. The move Ne6 is very interesting, and of course the first thing I checked to make sure Black is still fine, and I was relieved that the answer is yes!” 

The Harmon-Borgov game is the exact same game as Ivanchuk-Wolff until move 37. In the finale, at move 36, Harmon plays h3 as white, Borgov calls for an adjournment and plays 36...Qg6. Upon resuming the game, Harmon plays the new line 37. Ne6, and thus begins the divergence. 
We asked what he thought about some of the artistic liberties in the show, such as the rapid rise of a new player playing their first event and beating 1800+ players. Was he fine with that?
“Yes, for sure, but also I think genius carves its own path. The path looks different for different people. The show portrays her as a chess genius, on the order of Bobby Fischer, Magnus Carslen, Vishy Anand, or Gary Kasparov. Different people have different paths, and the path that they show her doesn’t seem crazy to me. Bobby Fischer had a similar path when he went from a good club player to the best player in the US in about a year. So I don’t have any problem with the path they charted for her."
When asked about what it was like to be a part of the show, he said, “From my perspective, it’s a tremendous honor and completely unexpected to be a part of this show. Another fun thing for me personally is I always thought this game against Ivanchuk was an interesting fighting draw, a good fight back and forth, so I’m glad that now people noticed it as well.”
We will have part 2 next week of our interview with GM Patrick Wolff where Judit and I ask Patrick about his experience in the US Senior Championship, fair play protocols, and the use of chess engines to enhance the chess learning and viewing experience. Stay tuned!

We thought it would be fun to have our Grandmaster in Residence GM Nick de Firmian annotate both games. Here they are for your enjoyment.

(4) GM Vassily Ivanchuk - GM Patrick Wolff [D20]
Biel Interzonal Biel SUI (1), 16.07.1993
[de Firmian,Nick]

We show this game from 1993 by the MI's own Patrick Wolff for the opening (and middle game) moves that we copied in the next game. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 Nc6 4.Be3 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 White has the nice duo of center pawns at d4 and e4 so Black hits the dark squares with this move to get squares for his pieces. 6.d5 Ne7 7.Bxc4 Ng6 8.f3 Bd6 9.Qd2 Bd7 10.Nge2 a6 White has a little more space with the advanced pawn on d5 and a small edge. Black has squares for all his pieces and is solid. 11.Bb3 b5 12.a4 0-0 13.0-0 Qe7 14.Rac1 [Perhaps White would do better with 14.Nc1 Nh5 15.axb5 axb5 16.Rxa8 Rxa8 17.g3] 14...Nh5 15.g3 h6 16.Bc2 Rab8 17.axb5 axb5 18.Ra1 Ra8 19.Bd3 Bb4 20.Rxa8 Rxa8 21.Qc2 Bc5 22.Nd1 Bd6 [exchanging with 22...Bxe3+ 23.Nxe3 Rc8 24.Rc1 would leave Black with squares to guard on the queenside] 23.Nf2


23...Nhf4! 24.Rc1 Ivanchuk declines the sacrifice. [24.gxf4 exf4 25.Bc1 Nh4 26.Kh1 Nxf3 27.e5 Bxe5 (27...Nxe5 28.Bxf4) 28.Bxf4 Bxf4 29.Nxf4 Qh4 30.Bh7+ Kh8 31.N2d3 Kxh7 32.Nc1+ Kg8 33.Rxf3 Ra1 is fair compensation for the piece. Black has two pawns and the safer king.] 24...Qg5 25.Kh1 Qh5 26.Ng1 Nxd3 27.Nxd3 f5 28.Nc5 Bc8 29.Rf1?! [White would have an easier position to play leaving the rook on the c-file and playing 29.Qd3] 29...Ne7 30.Qd3 fxe4 31.fxe4 Qg6 32.Kg2 Kh7 33.Nf3 Ng8 34.Nh4 Qg4 35.Nf5 Nf6 36.h3 Qg6


Note the position on the diagram. Here Ivanchuk makes an error compared to the next game. 37.g4?! Bxc5 38.Bxc5 Ra4 39.Rf3? This is an unfortunate square for the rook. Ivanchuk needed to play [39.Be7 Nxe4 40.Nh4 Qb6 41.Nf3 with about even chances] 39...Rc4 40.Be7 Bxf5 41.Rxf5 [41.exf5 Qf7! 42.Bxf6 e4 wins by pawn fork] 41...Rd4 42.Qe3 Rxe4?! [42...Nxg4! 43.hxg4 Qxg4+ 44.Qg3 (44.Kf2 Rd1 is a winning attack) 44...Qxe4+ 45.Rf3 Rd2+ 46.Kg1 Rxb2 is excellent winning chances for Black] 43.Qf3 Rf4 44.Rxf4 exf4 45.Bxf6 Qxf6 46.Qd3+ Qg6 47.Qe2 c6 48.Kf3 [48.dxc6 Qxc6+ 49.Kf2 g5 50.Qe7+ Kg6] 48...cxd5 49.Kxf4 Qf6+ 50.Kg3 Qd6+ 51.Kf3 b4 52.h4 Qf6+ 53.Kg3 Qd6+ 54.Kf3 Qf6+ 55.Kg3 g6 [55...h5!? getting space for the black king could be a better winning try] 56.Qe8 Qd6+ 57.Kf3 Kg7 58.g5!


The computer shows that White has enough checks now to draw. The g5 pawn hems in the black king. 58...hxg5 59.hxg5 d4 60.Qe4 d3 61.Qb7+ Kf8 62.Qc8+ Ke7 63.Qb7+ Ke6 64.Qe4+ Kd7 65.Qb7+ Kd8 66.Qa8+ Kc7 67.Qa7+ Kc8 68.Qa8+ Kc7 69.Qa7+ Kc6 70.Qa6+ Kc5 71.Qxd6+ Kxd6 72.Ke3 Ke5 1/2-1/2

(5) Harmon,Beth - Borgov,Vasily [D20] Moscow 1968
Queen's Gambit

Here is the game from the Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit" between the protagonist, Beth Harmon, and her Russian opponent, starting after the adjournment where Borgov played 36...Qg6.


We take up the story here where Beth plays a better move than Ivanchuck did in 1993. The white knight jumps into the struggle on the kingside. 37.Ne6! Ra4 38.b3 Rxe4 [Black could have chosen the tactical line 38...Nxe4 39.bxa4 Nxg3 40.Ne7! (40.Kh2 Bxe6 41.dxe6 e4 wins) 40...Qxd3 41.Nf8+ Kh8 42.Nfg6+ Kh7 43.Nf8+ with a draw by perpetual check] 39.Nxd6 Bxe6 [39...cxd6?? 40.Nf8+] 40.dxe6 cxd6 41.e7!


Black has won a pawn but the advanced white e-pawn is a source of power. 41...d5 42.Bc5 Qe8?! this is a bit passive and gives White an edge. Black could have played actively and allowed the tactical line [42...h5 43.Rxf6 gxf6 44.Qxb5 Re1 45.e8Q Qc2+ 46.Kf3 Qf5+ 47.Kg2 Qc2+ with perpetual check] 43.Qf3 Qc6 44.b4 Qe8? [44...Kg8 was needed] 45.Qf5+ Kh8


46.Qxf6! The queen sacrifice is a wonderful shot! "Beth" shows the power of the e7 pawn and wins a piece. 46...gxf6 47.Rxf6 Qh5 This try for perpetual check doesn't work, but there was no defense to 48. Rf8 48.Rf8+ Kg7 49.e8Q Re2+ 50.Kf1 Qxh3+ 51.Kxe2 Qg2+ 52.Rf2 Qe4+ 53.Kd2 No more checks, so Borgov resigned. 1-0

Mechanics' Institute to Organize 2020-2021 Pan-American Intercollegiate Online Chess Championships!

The Mechanics' Institute bid was accepted by the US Chess Federation to organize the 2020-2021 Pan-American Intercollegiate Online Chess Championships. This is a huge honor for us and we look forward to putting on this renowned event. This is a recognized national championship event which is a four-player team event open to chess teams from universities, colleges, community colleges and technical colleges from North, Central and South America and the Carribean. The live event was supposed to be held in December 2020 in Toronto, but was moved online and opened for bid due to COVID-19 concerns. 

We are planning a strong team to organize and direct the event. In addition to Abel Talamantez and Chief Organizer Judit Sztaray, we are planning to have NTD FA Glenn Panner as the Chief Tournament Director, along with NTD IA Brian Yang, NTD FA John McCumiskey, and NTD FA Richard Koepcke, as well as others as needed. 

The event will take place on January 3-6, 2021. We are working with GM Alex Onischuk, Chair of the US Chess College Committee, and will soon put up registration. Stay tuned for more details!


 Mechanics' Institute November Tuesday Night Marathon and NEW Thursday Night Marathon

The November Tuesday Night Marathon Online will begin on November 10, and it will be a two-section event 6SS with a time control of G/35+2. We will also have a NEW Thursday Night Marathon Online (ThNM) starting on November 12 which will be one game per week, 5SS with a longer time conrol of G/60+5. Both these events will be USCF rated. 

November Tuesday Night Marathon Information:



NEW Thursday Night Marathon information:


Ray Conway Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon Final Results

After our fair play review, here are the final results. Congratulations to the winners!

Final results - updated on 10/31 after fair play review received


SwissSys Report: Conway Memorial TNM Online

SwissSys Standings. Conway Memorial TNM Online: Open

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Total T-Sonneborn Prize
1 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow W17 W20 W12 W9 W5 D2 D8 W6 7.0 37 250.00
2 GM Gadir Guseinov 17343590 2600 GGuseinov H--- H--- W36 W3 W9 D1 W4 W8 6.5 30.5 125.00
3 IM Prasanna Ragh Rao 16083805 2508 Praschess W29 X--- W19 L2 W11 W20 D7 W13 6.5 25.75 125.00
4 NM Michael Walder 10345120 2075 FlightsOfFancy W43 W21 L9 X--- W22 W5 L2 W17 6.0 22.5  
5 Chelsea Zhou 15239016 1927 mwncklmann W47 W34 W15 W7 L1 L4 W14 D11 5.5 24.5 15.63
6 Javier Silva III 16089208 1869 J3Chess24 L26 W46 W24 W29 W16 D7 W12 L1 5.5 23.75 15.63
7 Felix German 12624534 1976 FelixGerman W37 W28 W23 L5 W19 D6 D3 H--- 5.5 22 15.63
8 FM Kyron Griffith 12860484 2470 KyronGriffith W27 W11 H--- H--- W13 W23 D1 L2 5.5 21.5  
9 Jonah Busch 12469525 1948 kondsaga W42 W25 W4 L1 L2 W32 H--- W27 5.5 20.5 15.63
10 Ethan Boldi 15088362 2120 etvat W31 L23 L32 W34 H--- W28 W30 W22 5.5 20  
11 Mark L Drury 12459313 1843 BirdOrBust W45 L8 D28 W21 L3 W36 W37 D5 5.0 19.25  
12 Nicholas Ruo Weng 15499404 1958 ninjaforce W46 W26 L1 W27 L23 W33 L6 W29 5.0 18.5  
13 Nitish Nathan 15494283 1941 BreatheChessAlways L24 W52 W30 W39 L8 W29 W23 L3 5.0 17.5  
14 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1775 vish1080 L34 W47 W26 L16 W46 W39 L5 W25 5.0 17.5 31.25
15 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 kclemens W52 W24 L5 L19 L17 W46 W31 W23 5.0 17  
16 Daniel Lin 15176393 1998 SmilyFace4 W32 L19 W37 W14 L6 X--- F17 W36 5.0 15.5  
17 Ethan Guo 16761994 1606 LightningDragon8 L1 W49 W44 L23 W15 W19 X16 L4 5.0 15 31.25
18 Eric Hon 13778105 2186 microbear H--- W48 H--- W32 L20 W41 H--- H--- 5.0 9  
19 Pudur Ramaswamy 16106884 1718 MatnMatt20 W38 W16 L3 W15 L7 L17 D32 W35 4.5 18.75  
20 Adam Mercado 16571026 1842 A-boy415 W49 L1 D25 W28 W18 L3 L22 W37 4.5 17  
21 Max Hao 16083648 1761 Joseph_Truelsons_Fan W41 L4 D34 L11 W38 L37 W48 W32 4.5 14.25  
22 Thomas F Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf H--- H--- W42 W31 L4 H--- W20 L10 4.5 11.5  
23 Davi Flores Gomez 14799653 1812 PlayerCreate1 W53 W10 L7 W17 W12 L8 L13 L15 4.0 17.5  
24 Stephen Zhu 16412414 1331 chesspoki W13 L15 L6 W51 L33 W43 L27 W41 4.0 13 15.63
25 Jacob S Wang 17083655 1287 jacobchess857 W35 L9 D20 D36 L29 W51 W33 L14 4.0 13 15.63
26 Ya Dancig Perlman 16280288 1235 noydan100 W6 L12 L14 L35 W50 L27 W51 W43 4.0 13 15.63
27 Kr Gopalakrishnan 16545130 1628 chessboi2010 L8 W45 W55 L12 L41 W26 W24 L9 4.0 12  
28 Pranav Pradeep 15871762 1323 pranavpradeep2006 W51 L7 D11 L20 W54 L10 W34 D33 4.0 11.25 15.63
29 Rachael Tiong 16019458 1656 rachael1120 L3 W40 W38 L6 W25 L13 X47 L12 4.0 11  
30 Richard Hack 12796129 1569 Kaline340Green H--- H--- L13 L41 W45 W38 L10 W47 4.0 9.5  
31 Lisa Willis 12601676 1583 LittlePinkCorvette L10 W53 W50 L22 H--- H--- L15 W45 4.0 7.5  
32 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1513 rimus11 L16 W51 W10 L18 W35 L9 D19 L21 3.5 13.25  
33 Georgios Tsolias 17266862 1710 GiorgosTsolias L44 L42 W40 W45 W24 L12 L25 D28 3.5 12.5  
34 Ethan Sun 16964125 931 sfdeals W14 L5 D21 L10 L51 W53 L28 W48 3.5 11.75  
35 Nicholas Ar Boldi 15088356 1883 nicarmt L25 L37 W47 W26 L32 D42 W41 L19 3.5 11.5  
36 Kevin M Fong 17254586 1783 chessappeals D48 W44 L2 D25 D37 L11 W42 L16 3.5 11  
37 Marina Xiao 16380642 1428 programmingmax L7 W35 L16 W55 D36 W21 L11 L20 3.5 10.75  
38 Stan Polivyanenko 17310102 831 MrL0cust L19 B--- L29 W52 L21 L30 W46 D42 3.5 6.5  
39 Erika Malykin 12910007 1693 starserika18 H--- H--- W41 L13 W42 L14 H--- U--- 3.5 6  
40 Ian Liao 16738735 1091 victor6688 H--- L29 L33 W53 L43 L44 W54 W52 3.5 5.5  
41 Jeff North 17179258 923 JeffNorthSF L21 W43 L39 W30 W27 L18 L35 L24 3.0 11  
42 Ella Guo 16380657 1355 SunnyCountry L9 W33 L22 W50 L39 D35 L36 D38 3.0 9.5  
43 Bryan Hood 12839763 1574 fiddleleaf L4 L41 L45 W48 W40 L24 W44 L26 3.0 9  
44 Sebby Suarez 16875347 691 Sebbymeister W33 L36 L17 L46 L52 W40 L43 W53 3.0 9  
45 Kevin Sun 16898540 1073 kevin_mx_sun L11 L27 W43 L33 L30 W50 W52 L31 3.0 7.5  
46 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L12 L6 W53 W44 L14 L15 L38 W51 3.0 7  
47 Martin Camacho 17248027 1311 camachom L5 L14 L35 W49 W55 W52 F29 L30 3.0 5.5  
48 Adithya Chitta 16695036 933 adichi D36 L18 L51 L43 W49 W54 L21 L34 2.5 5.75  
49 Yuvraj Si Sawhney 17095004 1060 SaintReturns L20 L17 L52 L47 L48 W55 D50 W54 2.5 3.75  
50 Bruce Hedman 17344551 unr. Bruce_Hedman H--- H--- L31 L42 L26 L45 D49 W55 2.5 2.25  
51 Cailen J Melville 14006141 1940 Mangonel L28 L32 W48 L24 W34 L25 L26 L46 2.0 6  
52 Michael Hilliard 12279170 1446 Echecsmike L15 L13 W49 L38 W44 L47 L45 L40 2.0 5.5  
53 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 953 andrewaballantyne L23 L31 L46 L40 B--- L34 W55 L44 2.0 1  
54 Cleveland W Lee 12814843 unr. vincitore51745 H--- H--- H--- U--- L28 L48 L40 L49 1.5 0  
55 Willia Fitzgerald 17048414 537 OlympusMons00 H--- H--- L27 L37 L47 L49 L53 L50 1.0 0


Mechanics' Institue Team League Play

The Mechanics' Institute will be participating in season 2 of the Club's League starting this Saturday morning at 10am Pacific time. Participation is open to all players who are members of the Mechanics' Institute online chess community on The team matches will feature 2 games of G/15+2, with players playing the same opponent with white/black. Following this rapid phase, there will be 2 games of G/3+2 in a blitz leg. Our first opponent will be Rio Rande Valley Rising Stars, from the University of Texas at Rio Grand Valley. 

Any and all players who wishes to participate in this league representing Mechanics' MUST be a part of our online club on

Detailed rules are posted here:

Important extracts from it:

  • Season 2 regular season will be Saturday, November 7 through Saturday, December 19, 2020. The top 16 clubs in each division will qualify for the playoffs, to be played in January 2021.
  • The League will have weekly matches on seven (7) consecutive Saturdays
  1. November 7  vs Rio Grande Valley Rising Stars

Streamer Battle League

The Mechanics' Institute is playing in the Streamer Battle League, a league made up of 8 teams with stream channels in a friendly G/15+5 team match played in 3 sections; 1800+, 1400-1799, and u/1400 according to rapid rating. We had 2 matches last Saturday. We lost the first match against a team from GM Arturs Neiksans by a score of 2-1. We lost the 1800+section, won the 1400-1799, and lost the u/1400. IM Elliott Winslow lost both games against strong GM Arturs Neiksans, but his first game was absolutely amazing, and he had Nieksans on the ropes ready for the knockout blow. But time pressure made it difficult for him to find the best moves, leading to Winslow's defeat. Here is his amazing game, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(2) IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (2031) GM Arturs Neiksans (arturchix)(2680) [B47]
Live Chess, 31.10.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 The highly fashionable Taimanov Sicilian. 6.g3 Bobby Fischer was fond of this; somewhat surprising, since he rarely played fianchettos as White against other systems. 6...a6 7.Bg2 Winslow is 3-0 in TNMs in this system -- but twice as Black! 7...d6 [The modern line is 7...Nf6 8.0-0 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bc5 10.Bf4 d6 11.Qd2 h6 12.Rad1 e5 13.Be3 Be6 (13...Bb4!? is even more modern, the main system in the 2020 book on the Taimanov by Pavlidis.) ] 8.0-0 [8.Nxc6!? might be White's best move, before Black can play his next.] 8...Bd7 9.Re1 Be7 10.Nxc6 Bxc6


11.Qg4 The most popular, but Black can react in typical, Taimanov style. [11.Qd4!?; 11.Ne2!?+/= is the Stockfish move.] 11...h5! 12.Qe2 Nf6 [12...h4!? 13.a4 hxg3 14.hxg3 Nf6 15.a5 Rc8 16.Be3 Kf8 17.Bb6 Qb8 18.Na4 1-0 (48) Adams,M (2723)-Lautier,J (2666) Enghien les Bains 2003] 13.a4 Rc8 14.Bf4N [14.h3 Nd7 15.Nd5 Bxd5 16.exd5 e5 17.Be3 g6 18.a5 f5 19.Rec1 0-0 20.c4 e4 21.Bf4 Bf6 22.Ra3 Be5 23.b4 h4 24.Qd2 hxg3 25.Rxg3 Kf7 26.c5 Bxf4 27.Qxf4 Nf6 28.Qh6 Rg8 29.Bf1 Qe7 30.cxd6 Qf8 31.Qxf8+ Rgxf8 32.Rc7+ Rxc7 33.dxc7 Ke7 34.Rxg6 Nxd5 35.Rb6 Nxb6 36.axb6 Kd7 37.b5 a5 0-1 (37) Lu Shanglei (2536)-Shankland,S (2599) Ningbo CHN 2013] 14...Kf8!? 15.a5 h4!


16.gxh4?! Probably a horrible move, but it does inject some original positions -- and right away Black loses the thread! [16.Red1=] 16...Nh5?! [16...Rxh4-/+ 17.Bg3 Rh6 18.Red1 Nh5] 17.Bg3 Now White's okay, even if his extra pawn is token. 17...Bf6 18.Qe3 Qe7 [18...e5=/+] 19.Red1 Be5? 20.f4 Now White has a dangerous initiative. 20...Bf6 21.e5 dxe5 22.fxe5 Bxh4 23.Bxc6 [23.Bxh4! Qxh4 24.Bxc6 bxc6 25.Ra4! with 26.Ne4 to follow; Black is a mess.] 23...bxc6 24.Ne4 [24.Bxh4!] 24...Kg8 25.Rd6 Rh6 26.Rad1 Rg6 27.Rd7?! [27.Qf3! Nxg3 28.hxg3 White appears to be winning.] 27...Qb4! 28.Qf3


28...Rf8? [28...Nxg3 29.hxg3 Rf8 30.Kg2] 29.R7d4!+- Nxg3 Black just doesn't have enough for the queen; but White is short on time. 30.Rxb4 Nxe4+ 31.Kf1 f5 32.Rb7 [32.Ke2!] 32...Nf2 33.Rdd7 Ng4 34.Qc3 [34.Qh3!] 34...Nxh2+ 35.Ke2 f4


36.Qh3?? [36.Kd2+-; 36.Kd3+-] 36...f3+-+ 37.Ke3 Ng4+ [37...f2! 38.Qxe6+ Kh7! 39.Qxg6+ Kxg6 40.Rxg7+ Kf5] 38.Kd2 Bg5+ 39.Kc3


39...Bh6?? [39...f2; 39...Nxe5-+] 40.Rd3?? [40.Qh5! Kh7 (40...Nxe5 41.Qxe5 f2 42.Rd1 Rg1 and now three crunchers: 43.Rbd7 (43.Qxe6+; 43.Rb8) ) 41.Rf7+-] 40...Nxe5 [40...f2] 41.Rd1 f2 42.Rf1 Ng4?! 43.Rd7?! Ne3 44.Rxf2 Rxf2 45.Kb3 Rgf6 46.Qh5 Nxc2 47.Qe5 R6f3+ 48.Ka2 Nb4+ arturchix won by resignation 0-1

In our second match, we scored a draw against streamers HashtagChess from South Africa, going 1.5-1.5. We won the top section, lost the middle section and drew the lower section. 

NM Mike Sailer delivered two nice wins in the top section, here is one of them.

(3) NM MikeSailer (2174) - Strider23cpk (2097) [D02]
Live Chess, 31.10.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 g6 2.Nf3 Bg7 3.Bf4 The London System, which seems to work against anything - including Black's fianchetto defense here. 3...c5 4.e3 d5 5.Be2 Nc6 [It doesn't help to attack the b-pawn right away as 5...Qb6 is meet by 6.Nc3! Nf6 7.0-0 and White has a strong initiative] 6.c3 Qb6 7.Qb3 This safe move in the spirit of the London System limits Black's counterplay and aims for an endgame edge. 7...c4 8.Qxb6 axb6 9.Na3! Bg4 [White has an opening edge and this is less usefull than development with 9...Nf6 10.Nb5 Ra5] 10.Nb5 Kd7?! [10...Ra5 is a more effective way to avoid the knight fork] 11.Ne5+ suddenly this quiet opening has a lot of tactics 11...Nxe5 12.Bxe5 Bxe5 13.Bxg4+


13...f5? [13...Kc6! attacking the white knight would avoid the biggest trouble] 14.Bxf5+ This is good, winning a pawn, yet White would win two after [14.Bf3! Bd6 15.Bxd5] 14...gxf5 15.dxe5 Ra5 16.Nd4 The strong white knight and the extra pawn make the endgame winning for White. Still, it takes technique. 16...e6 17.h3 Ne7 18.g4 Rha8 19.a3 Rg8 20.Rg1 h5 21.g5 Ng6 22.f4 Rga8 23.Kd2 Ra4 24.Nb5 R8a5 25.Nd6 Ra7 26.Kc2 R4a5 27.Rgb1 Nh4


[27...h4 28.b3 Rxa3 29.Rxa3 Rxa3 30.bxc4 dxc4 31.Nxc4 Ra2+ 32.Rb2 is also a winning ending due to the strength of the passed white g-pawn. That would take longer though.] 28.g6! giving up the powerful passed pawn but opening the file for a powerful rook invasion 28...Nxg6 29.Rg1 Ne7 30.Rg7 There is no way for Black to put up resistance here. 30...Ra8 31.Nxb7 Rb5 32.Nd6 Rb3 33.Rag1 b5 34.Rh7 MikeSailer won by resignation 1-0

This Saturday at 5pm we have our week 3 match against ChessDojo! If you would like to participate, here are the match links: 

Match 3 vs ChessDojo  - 11/7


Support the Mechanics' Institute and

Save Big in the Process!

Join the Mechanics' Institute, and realize savings on our events and classes while supporting our mission to provide a center for cultural and intellectual advanncement

We are doing a membership drive through the end of the year for new members and to encourage current members to renew. 

$120/year for a regular membership
$65/year for a student membership
You will save big if you are a regular participant in our tournaments and/or classes!
Here are some of our registration costs and savings
you can achieve with membership:
Tuesday Night Marathon: $30 member, $50 non-member registration fee
Weekend USCF rated events: $20 member, $40 non-member registration fee
Basically, your membership pays for itself if you attend just six tournaments, classes, or other chess events per year!
Plus you get everything that a Mechanics' Institute membership offers.
Benefits of Mechanics' Institute Membership
  • Discount on most chess events or classes.
  • Full use of the Library and its services, including online databases, ebooks, and more!
  • Free or reduced admission to cultural events, programs, classes, and book groups.
  • Access to the Chess Room and its tournaments and classes.
  • WiFi access throughout the Library, Chess Room, and 4th floor meeting room.
  • Membership access at other membership libraries.
Join Mechanics' at:
Please forward this information to others who might be interested in joining.
Please enter chess in the referred by column and check off chess as a general interest.
Any questions? Please contact us at [email protected].

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 live stream 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, reviewing 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 an occasional free prize!

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 at it, depending on the number of players playing. All games will be streamed live on our Twitch channel:

Check out the times here:

FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, 11/10:

GM Nick de Firmian Arena: Thursdays 5:00pm-6:00pm, 11/12:

See you in the arena!

Tony Lama at Crocker Galleria

Tony Lama last Thursday across from the Mechanics' Institute at Crocker Galleria

Mechanics' Institute Regular Online Classes

Monday's 4:00-5:30PM - Mechanics' Chess Cafe

Casual meeting to talk about chess, life and everything. Join 3-time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian and FM Paul Whitehead as they give a lecture and class in a fun casual atmosphere where you can discuss games, learn strategy, discuss chess current events and interact in a fun casual atmosphere. Enter our Monday chess café for the pure love of the game. Class suitable for ALL level of players and FREE for MI members.

FREE for Mechanics' members. $5 for non-members.

More information:


Monday's 6:30-8:00PM - The Art of Attack in Chess by FM Paul Whitehead

Course Dates: 11/16 through 12/21 (6 classes)

Learn to attack the king in this six-week class using Vladimir Vukovic's book, The Art of Attack in Chess (1963 revised 1993 by GM John Nunn), as our text.
We will take lessons from chapters such as "The classic bishop sacrifice", "The attack against the uncastled king", "Focal-points" and "The attack on the king as an integral part of the game".
Vukovic also talks about mating patterns, defense, and much more.
Join us in an investigation into one of the greatest chess books ever written, a classic enjoyed by chess players around the world.

Registration Fee: $20/class for Mechanics' member, $25/class for non-member

Wednesday's 5:00-6:30PM - Free Adult Beginner Class for Mechanics' Members

Ongoing starting from November 18

Are you an adult who wants to put learning chess on top of your New Year's resolution! Get a head start with us at the Mechanics' Institute! This virtual class is open to any MI member who has no knowledge of the game or who knows the very basics and wants to improve. Taught by MI Chess Director Abel Talamantez along with Judit Sztaray and other MI staff, we will patiently walk through all the basics at a pace suitable for our class. Our goal is to teach piece movement basics, checkmate patterns, importance of development, and general strategy. We will also show students how to play online so they may practice. The goal of the class is to open a new world of fun and joy through the magic and beauty of chess, from one of the oldest and proudest chess clubs in the world. 

Registration: Free for MI members. Members will have to register online to secure their spot and to receive an email confirming the Zoom link.

More information:


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

More information:

Register at:

Mechanics' Chess - Scholastic Tournaments

Saturday, November 7: starts at 3:00PM - join from 2:45PM

4SS G/20+10:

Sunday, November 8: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

5SS G/5+5:

Monday, November 9: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/15+0:

Tuesday, November 10: starts at 4:15PM - join from 4PM

5SS G/5+5:

Wednesday, November 11: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, November 12: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

5SS G/5+5:

Friday, November 13: 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.   

US Chess Online Rated Scholastic Tournaments
Every Week!

Next one: November 8, @3PM on

US Chess online rated - affecting online rating only (not over-the-board)
Every player must be a US Chess member.
Trophies or Medals for Top Finishers - Curbside pickup is available per arrangement.
Convenient, safe platform & tight fair play screening.

Mechanics' Enrichment Chess Classes

Select from the following four levels that are offered:


NEW Class: Get Those Chess Boards Out!  -- Tuesdays 4-5PM
As parents, many of us now see kids staring at a screen for hours during the school day. We understand having another online class may not be so exciting. What if we are able to offer a class for beginners where they can feel and interact with the pieces to capture an important part of the early learning experience? That's why we are introducing a new class for our young, beginner players!
Let's get those chess boards out and use it during the class!
Coach Colin will interact with the players via zoom, but they will talk, use the chess board, set it up and set up different positions, and learn and play on a physical board. No shared screen during the class! It's all interactive, using physical chess pieces! Click HERE for more information.

Starting at Chess -- Mondays 3-4PM

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 -- Tuesdays 3-4PM or Thursdays 4-5PM
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 -- Thursdays 5-6PM
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]org.

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:

11/10 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Marathon
Format: 6SS G/35+2
Start at 6:30PM
11/10 Tuesday - Tuesday Night Marathon Scholastic Event
Format: 6SS G/35+2
Start at 6:30PM
11/12 Thursday Night Marathon
Format: 5SS G/60+5
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 10.

[email protected]

That age-old question that asks if a rook vs. bishop and knight is better, or worse, or just plain even - can never be properly answered.  Like everything else in chess, it depends on the situation.  Using the principle of domination, however, we can develop a sharp eye as to how pieces are superior (or inferior) to each other, and how they can trap each other.  In the three studies given below, it is the bishop and knight that gain the upper hand.

The positions were found in Domination in 2,545 Endgame Studies by Ghenrikh Kasparyan (1974).

I urge the serious student to work these studies out in their heads without moving the pieces – the solutions are short and sharp, the patterns geometric, surprising, beautiful.  And, unlike those “mate in 3” problems, they just might begin with a check… but no more clues!

This time ALL of the problems are for you to solve.


1. Rinck 1918 – White wins.

I think this is a nice little calculating exercise, very straightforward.


2. Bianchetti 1924 – White wins.

This is my favorite of the trio.  Trapping a rook in this manner has never looked so comical – and economical.


3. Troitzky 1914 – White wins.

This study looks so game-like, I can almost imagine it occurring tomorrow in some tournament or other!


Next week I’m starting a new series: The Return of Chessmonster666.  Stay tuned!

GM Nick de Firmian's Column

Queen’s Gambit: 1 d4 d5 2. c4

In honor of the most popular series now on Netflix we show our readers the “Queen’s Gambit”, though this is the real chess version that is not much mentioned in the film. The Netflix show is based on Walter Tevis’s book from 1983. Thirty years ago the book was to be made into a film starring Molly Ringwald (The Breakfast Club) as the young heroine Beth Harmon. Tevis died in 1984 and it took almost forty years for the Queen’s Gambit to come to film. Other notable works by Tevis are “The Hustler” (Paul Newman starred in the film version) and “The Man Who Fell to Earth” (starring David Bowie in the first film version).  In any case, here is the real Queen’s Gambit throughout the history of chess.

First mentioned in the Gottingen Manuscript of 1490, the offer of a pawn on the second move would be tempting to the player of the Black pieces. This medieval manuscript (from the days of the old monks) showed an elegant refutation (our first example)  to those without respect for the Queen’s Gambit. The opening has since become one of the two mainstay’s of White’s classical approach (the other being 1.e4). We give a couple of important historical examples to show its potency.

(1) Queen's Gambit - 1490 [D20]

1.d4 d5 2.c4

This is the Queen's Gambit, one of the oldest openings. It was first mentioned in the Gottingen manuscript of 1490. Of course the move 1.e4 had been the most popular way for White to open the game, but over five hundered years ago people began to consider this alternative. White's second move (2. c4) is what gives the opening bite. The c-pawn is leveraged to battle for the center. The question back then was, "What if Black takes the pawn?" After all, it is hanging and unprotected. 2...dxc4 3.e3 Many players with White prefer 3. Nf3, but we continue with the line from 1490. White seeks to recapture the pawn on c4 while developing the light-squared bishop to a strong diagonal. 3...b5 4.a4 This key move disrupts the black pawn structure. 4...c6 The alternatives are clearly bad: [4...bxa4 5.Bxc4 and; 4...a6 5.axb5 axb5? 6.Rxa8] 5.axb5 cxb5
It seems Black has held on to the booty and kept his/her pawn structure intact, but there is a big flaw. 6.Qf3! The rook in the corner is trapped, so White wins at least a piece after 6...Nc6 7.Qxc6+ Bd7. Thus the Queen's Gambit is not a real gambit at all as Black cannot hang onto the pawn without heavy loss. You can tell that to Beth Harmon. *

(2) Fischer,Robert James (2785) - Spassky,Boris V (2660) [D59]
World Championship Reykjavik (6), 23.07.1972

1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d4 We choose this game as one of the most epic Queen's Gambits ever played. We say that because it gave Bobby Fischer the lead in the match of the century and also because it was the first time Fischer played a Queen's Gambit on the white side, to the surprise of the whole chess world. 3...Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 b6 This is Spassky's favorite Tartakover Variation, which he had great experience with. 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 exd5 11.Rc1 Be6 12.Qa4 c5 13.Qa3 Rc8 14.Bb5 a6?! [It was later discovered that Black does best to be active with 14...Qb7! 15.dxc5 bxc5 16.Rxc5 Rxc5 17.Qxc5 Na6 when Black's lead in development and the uncastled white king leaves more than enough compensation for the pawn.] 15.dxc5 bxc5 16.0-0 Ra7 17.Be2 Nd7 18.Nd4! Qf8 19.Nxe6 fxe6

20.e4! Bringing the white pieces to life. The move attacks the center and allows the white queen to swing to the kingside. 20...d4?! Now the white bishop comes to a powerful post. It was better to accept split pawns with [20...dxe4 21.Qe3 Qf5 22.Rc4 Nf6] 21.f4 Qe7 22.e5 Rb8 23.Bc4 e6 is a fixed target which ties Black down 23...Kh8 24.Qh3 Nf8 25.b3 a5
26.f5! switching advantages from the target on e6 to open lines in which to invade 26...exf5 27.Rxf5 Nh7 28.Rcf1 Qd8 29.Qg3 Re7 30.h4 Now the black knight is retricted and Black has no active play. 30...Rbb7 31.e6 Rbc7 32.Qe5 Qe8 33.a4 Qd8 34.R1f2 Qe8 35.R2f3 Qd8 36.Bd3 Qe8 37.Qe4 Nf6
38.Rxf6! A crushing breakthough. The black king is too exposed. 38...gxf6 39.Rxf6 Kg8 40.Bc4 maintaining the powerful e6 pawn and keeping the black rook stuck on e7. There is nothing Black can do. 40...Kh8 41.Qf4 1-0

(3) Alekhine,Alexander - Capablanca,Jose Raul [D51]
World Championship 13th Buenos Aires (34), 26.11.1927

We include another historic Queen's Gambit, this time from the great 1927 World Championship match between Capablanca and Alekhine. In this match 32 of the 34 games that were played were Queen's Gambit! This game though was the last one, where Alekhine took the title. We will breeze through the opening and middle game to a classic endgame. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.a3 Be7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Bd3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Nd5 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.Ne4 N5f6 12.Ng3 c5 13.0-0 Nb6 14.Ba2 cxd4 15.Nxd4 g6 16.Rc1 Bd7 17.Qe2 Rac8 18.e4 e5 19.Nf3 Kg7 20.h3 h6 21.Qd2 Be6 22.Bxe6 Qxe6 23.Qa5! With this move Alekhine is able to cause a bit of trouble. 23...Nc4 24.Qxa7 Nxb2 25.Rxc8 Rxc8 26.Qxb7 Nc4? After this move Black is just a pawn down. He could have had active pieces and fair chances after 26...Nd3 instead. 27.Qb4 Ra8 28.Ra1 Qc6 29.a4 Nxe4

30.Nxe5! White maintains the pawn advantage and Capablanca must suffer a difficult ending. 30...Qd6 31.Qxc4 Qxe5 32.Re1 Nd6! 33.Qc1 Qf6 34.Ne4! Nxe4 35.Rxe4 Rb8 36.Re2 Ra8 37.Ra2 Ra5 38.Qc7 Qa6 39.Qc3+ Kh7 40.Rd2 Qb6 41.Rd7 Qb1+ 42.Kh2 Qb8+ 43.g3 Rf5 44.Qd4 Qe8 45.Rd5 Rf3 46.h4 Qh8 47.Qb6 Qa1 48.Kg2 Rf6 49.Qd4 Qxd4 50.Rxd4
The World Championship comes down to a tough rook ending. All that work to gain a pawn, but can White convert against the great endgame maestro Capablanca? 50...Kg7 51.a5 Ra6 52.Rd5 Rf6 53.Rd4 Ra6 54.Ra4 Kf6 55.Kf3 Ke5 56.Ke3 h5 57.Kd3 Kd5 58.Kc3 Kc5 59.Ra2! Kb5 60.Kb3 Kc5 [60...Rxa5 61.Rxa5+ Kxa5 62.Kc4 Kb6 63.Kd5 Kc7 64.Ke5 Kd7 65.Kf6 Ke8 66.f4 Kf8 67.f5 gxf5 68.Kxf5 Kg7 69.Kg5 wins a pawn and the game. King endings a pawn up are easy.] 61.Kc3 Kb5 62.Kd4 Rd6+ 63.Ke5 Re6+ 64.Kf4 Ka6 65.Kg5 The white king gets into the black camp. 65...Re5+ 66.Kh6 Rf5 67.f4 Rc5 68.Ra3 Rc7 69.Kg7 Rd7

70.f5! Finally the breakthough. 70...gxf5 71.Kh6 f4 72.gxf4 Rd5 73.Kg7 Rf5 74.Ra4 Kb5 75.Re4! Ka6 76.Kh6 Rxa5 77.Re5 Ra1 78.Kxh5 Rg1 79.Rg5 Rh1 80.Rf5 Kb6 81.Rxf7 Kc6 82.Re7 The white f-pawn will march up the board. Capablanca resigned and Alekhine was World Champion. 1-0

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