November 7, 2020
By Abel Talamantez
Table of Contents
- Queen's Gambit on Netflix
- Mechanics' Organizing 2020-2021 Pan-Am
- New Marathons Starting This Week
- Ray Conway Memorial TNM Final Results
- Mechanics' League Play
- Become a Mechanics' Institute Member
- Twitch Arena
- Weekly Classes
- Scholastic Online Offerings
- Online Events Schedule
- FM Paul Whitehead's Column
- GM Nick de Firmian's Column
- Submit your piece or feedback
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: https://www.milibrary.org/milibrary/chess-newsletters/896. 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!”
“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."
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
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
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
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 Chess.com 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!
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: https://www.milibrary.org/chess-tournaments/november-2020-tuesday-night-marathon-online
NEW Thursday Night Marathon information: https://www.milibrary.org/chess-tournaments/thursday-night-marathon-g605-novdec-2020-pilot
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|
|6||Javier Silva III||16089208||1869||J3Chess24||L26||W46||W24||W29||W16||D7||W12||L1||5.5||23.75||15.63|
|8||FM Kyron Griffith||12860484||2470||KyronGriffith||W27||W11||H---||H---||W13||W23||D1||L2||5.5||21.5|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|49||Yuvraj Si Sawhney||17095004||1060||SaintReturns||L20||L17||L52||L47||L48||W55||D50||W54||2.5||3.75|
|51||Cailen J Melville||14006141||1940||Mangonel||L28||L32||W48||L24||W34||L25||L26||L46||2.0||6|
|54||Cleveland W Lee||12814843||unr.||vincitore51745||H---||H---||H---||U---||L28||L48||L40||L49||1.5||0|
The Mechanics' Institute will be participating in season 2 of the Chess.com 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 Chess.com. 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 chess.com:
Detailed rules are posted here: https://www.chess.com/news/view/clubs-league-season-2-rules
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
- November 7 vs Rio Grande Valley Rising Stars
- Rapid G/15+2 10am: https://www.chess.com/live#tm=300397
- Blitz G/3+2 11:15am: https://www.chess.com/live#tm=300399
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 Chess.com 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 Chess.com, 31.10.2020
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 Chess.com, 31.10.2020
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:
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.
- 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.
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: https://www.twitch.tv/mechanicschess
Check out the times here:
FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, 11/10: https://www.chess.com/live#r=600277
GM Nick de Firmian Arena: Thursdays 5:00pm-6:00pm, 11/12: https://www.chess.com/live#r=600653
See you in the arena!
Tony Lama at Crocker Galleria
Tony Lama last Thursday across from the Mechanics' Institute at Crocker Galleria