Chess Room Newsletter #946 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #946

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #946


December 5, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Giving Tuesday Marathon

Tuesday December 1st was Giving Tuesday, traditionally the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and is known as a day of generosity in support of people and organizations to make a positive impact on their communities. We thought we would make it a day of fun and thrilling chess events while raising awareness and asking for support for the Mechanics' Institute through membership and direct giving. What transpired was a full day of engagement with our chess community, bringing both local and national talents together for an action filled day of events, culminating in the start of our December Tuesday Night Marathon. 

We began with a noon blitz tournament, which had a decent tournout from some of our regular players and some exciting games. 19 players played in our special bitz event, where we had a tie for first between Oli_MS from Uruguay and LittlePinkCorvette with 5/6. Full results can be found here:

Next we had a very special interview with Mechanics' Institute CEO Kimberly Scrafano. We discussed how we are facing the challenges of the pandemic and how the many facets of the Institute are working together to come up with solutions while in shelter and place and preparing for brighter days in 2021. You can watch the full interview on our YouTube channel here:

We then had a very special Arena on with the UC Berkeley Chess Team. NM Kireet Panuganti and Nathan Fong came on the stream while they played our Mechanics' players. The Mechanics' regulars played them tough however, going to show that our club players can give even the most talented students a tough time when it comes to chess. NM Arun Dixit ended up winning the Arena, full results can be found here:, as well as the stream: Also in this video thread you can find a short version of the Monday Chess Cafe from GM Nick de Firmian and FM Paul Whitehead.

Right before the start of the Tuesday Night Marathon, we had our Giving Tuesday main event of the day, a 1-hour G/3+2 Arena with regining and 8-time US Women's Champion GM Irina Krush. This was a very fun Arena in which Judit Sztaray, WIM Dr. Alexey Root and FM Paul Whitehead joined me on the broadcast to cover Irina putting on a show against our always tough Mechanics' players, going 7/7 and winning the Arena. Here is one of her games, using a queen sacrifice that she said after was intentionally done for flair in defeating NM Kireet Panuganti. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(3) GM Irina Krush (Irochka83) (2364) - NM Kireet Panuganti (kkpanu9) (2065) [E33]
Live Chess, 01.12.2020
[de Firmian]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 Capablanca's line against the Nimzo-Indian. 4...Nc6 one of the less usual replies to Capa's line. 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bd2! This small move with the bishop gets the right setup for White and ensures an edge out of the opening. Irina knows her stuff. 6...0-0 7.a3 Bxc3 8.Bxc3 The bishop sits well on this square which helps control center and the long diagonal. 8...Qe7 9.b4 e5 10.d5 Nb8 11.e4


White has a clear space advantage. 11...c6 12.Be2 cxd5 13.cxd5 g6?! better to get the other pieces developed 14.0-0 Nh5 15.Rfc1! Nf4 16.Bf1 Bd7 [16...f5 17.g3 fxe4 18.gxf4 exf3 19.fxe5 dxe5 20.Qd2 Qd6 21.Qe3 Nd7 22.Bh3 and the raking white bishops give White a huge advantage; White is also much better after 16...Nd7 17.g3 Nh5; perhaps best is 16...Bg4 17.Ne1 Rc8 18.Nd3] 17.Bd2! Rc8?


[Black needs to try 17...Na6 18.Bxf4 exf4 19.Qd2 Qxe4 20.Rc4 Qe7 21.Re1 Qd8 22.Qxf4 though White still has a great advantage.] 18.Qxc8+! Bxc8 19.Rxc8+ Kg7 20.Rac1 White has just a rook and bishop for the queen but completely dominates the board. The black rook and knight are pinned and undeveloped in the corner. Meanwhile Irina is ready to invade on the 7th rank with the other rook. There is no good defense. 20...a5 21.bxa5 Qd7 22.g3 Nh5 23.R1c7


Irochka83 won on time 1-0

We want to thank Irina for being so generous with her time. She was gratious enough to join us after the Arena for a brief interview, which can be seen at the end of the stream. To watch the Arena and interview, please follow this link:

Full results are found here:

It was a fun filled day with a variety of chess action. We were happy to bring people together through chess, and we appreciate the generosity of the UC Berkeley chess team and GM Irina Krush for giving their time in support of Mechanics'. 

If you would like to support the Mechanics' Institute through membership, please follow this link:

Membership give you big discounts on our chess events and classes, and in some cases free access to classes while being eligible to enjoy the full benefits of membership to the Institute, including borrowing privileges to our library, access to author and speaker events, and access to our cinema/lit events. 

Thank you everyone for all your support!

 Mechanics' Institute November Tuesday Night Marathon Report

The Mechanics' Institute December Tuesday Night Marathon kicked off as the culmination of a full day of events from our Giving Tuesday campaign, and we have the largest turnout yet for our online TNM, with 60 players participating as of this writing. The final marathon of the year is one open section, with top seeds GM Gadir Guseinov, FM Kyron Griffith, and IM Elliott Winslow and several 1800+ players all participating in this 8-round G/35+2 USCF rated event. 

There were no major upsets, with 6 rounds to go. Here are the current standings:

SwissSys Standings. 2020 December TNMO: Open

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Total Prize
1 GM Gadir Guseinov 17343590 2600 gguseinov W31 W23             2.0  
2 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow W32 W24             2.0  
3 NM Eric Hon 13778105 2202 microbear W33 W25             2.0  
4 Arun Dixit 14607904 2199 Limelight2727 W34 W26             2.0  
5 NM Kireet Panuganti 13843374 2138 kkpanu9 W35 W27             2.0  
6 Michael Walder 10345120 2075 FlightsOfFancy W36 W28             2.0  
7 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 kclemens W37 W30             2.0  
8 Javier Silva III 16089208 1889 J3Chess24 W40 W21             2.0  
9 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 oka_ako W50 W18             2.0  
10 Felix German 12624534 1976 FelixGerman W51 W19             2.0  
11 Nicholas Ruo Weng 15499404 1958 ninjaforce W52 W20             2.0  
12 Philip Gerstoft 12913356 1724 pgstar3 W60 W17             2.0  
13 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1829 vish1080 W41 D15             1.5  
14 Kevin M Fong 17254586 1783 chessappeals D47 W44             1.5  
15 William Sartorio 14715380 2063 unusualkid W49 D13             1.5  
16 FM Kyron Griffith 12860484 2470 KyronGriffith H--- W47             1.5  
17 Kevin Yanofsky 15901193 1968 kyanofsky W38 L12             1.0  
18 Davi Flores Gomez 14799653 1812 PlayerCreate1 W42 L9             1.0  
19 Ranen A Lardent 12614986 1803 dashrndrx W43 L10             1.0  
20 Max Hao 16083648 1761 Joseph_Truelsons_Fan W46 L11             1.0  
21 Ethan Boldi 15088362 2120 etvat W48 L8             1.0  
22 Nathan Fong 13001390 1954 nathanf314 H--- H---             1.0  
23 Nitish Nathan 15494283 1941 BreatheChessAlways W53 L1             1.0  
24 Cailen J Melville 14006141 1940 Mangonel W54 L2             1.0  
25 Ashik Uzzaman 13178575 1940 ashikuzzaman W55 L3             1.0  
26 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 kondsaga W56 L4             1.0  
27 Thomas F Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf W57 L5             1.0  
28 Nicholas Boldi 15088356 1883 nicarmt W58 L6             1.0  
29 Chelsea Zhou 15239016 1866 mwncklmann H--- H---             1.0  
30 Zachi Baharav 13464604 1813 fastZachi W59 L7             1.0  
31 Pudur Ramaswamy 16106884 1718 MatnMatt20 L1 W53             1.0  
32 Ahyan Zaman 15035222 1711 ahyanzaman L2 W54             1.0  
33 Erika Malykin 12910007 1693 starserika18 L3 W55             1.0  
34 Mateo Hansen 14907254 1687 mateosh L4 W56             1.0  
35 Ethan Guo 16761994 1664 LightningDragon8 L5 W57             1.0  
36 Linu John Alex 13836822 1652 ibalek L6 W58             1.0  
37 Marina Xiao 16380642 1556 programmingmax L7 W59             1.0  
38 Kr Gopalakrishnan 16545130 1506 chessboi2010 L17 W60             1.0  
39 Willia Harris III 15953392 1184 15953392 H--- H---             1.0  
40 Ian Liao 16738735 1105 victor6688 L8 W48             1.0  
41 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 1033 andrewaballantyne L13 W49             1.0  
42 Ethan Sun 16964125 931 sfdeals L18 W50             1.0  
43 Adithya Chitta 16695036 930 adichi L19 W51             1.0  
44 Samuel Tsen Brown 16380615 662 ComfyQueso B--- L14             1.0  
45 Leon Diaz Herrera 17355661 unr. Aeqetes H--- H---             1.0  
46 Bruce Hedman 17344551 unr. Bruce_Hedman L20 W52             1.0  
47 Sebby Suarez 16875347 811 Sebbymeister D14 L16             0.5  
48 Christoph Bradley 16047844 1654 ifyoustayreti L21 L40             0.0  
49 Bryan Hood 12839763 1574 fiddleleaf L15 L41             0.0  
50 Ella Guo 16380657 1556 SunnyCountry L9 L42             0.0  
51 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1513 rimus11 L10 L43             0.0  
52 Nicholas M Brown 12446259 1495 nmbrown2 L11 L46             0.0  
53 Valerie Jade 17168772 1490 Evariel L23 L31             0.0  
54 Michael Hilliard 12279170 1446 Echecsmike L24 L32             0.0  
55 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L25 L33             0.0  
56 Peter Jam Rushton 16453812 1239 pedrojrush L26 L34             0.0  
57 Kevin Sun 16898540 1161 kevin_mx_sun L27 L35             0.0  
58 Jeff North 17179258 1043 JeffNorthSF L28 L36             0.0  
59 Elliott Regan 15032065 943 TTVchessmaster L30 L37             0.0  
60 Cleveland W Lee 30037403 unr. Vincitore51745 L12 L38             0.0
Here are some games from the first two rounds, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(4) Nitish Nathan (BreatheChessAlways) - GM Gadir Guseinov (GGuseinov) [A41]

MI Dec TNM (2.1), 01.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 d6! A glance at Nitish's games on Chess. com show that he overwhelmingly prefers the Modern London system, 1.d4 and 2. Bf4 against just about everything. So Guseinov plays to specifically cause that very move order some grief. 2.Bf4 [2.e4!? would just be into the Pirc and/or Czech complexes.; 2.Nf3 could still be a London system (after all, for a couple hundred years the most common London move order was 1.d4, 2. Nf3 and 3.Bf4), when Black could still stir up idiosyncrasy with 2...Bg4!?] 2...g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Nf3 Nd7 Thanks to his holding back on ...Nf6, Black gets his pawns rolling, contesting the dark squares so often White's birthright in the London. 5.h3 e5 6.Bh2 f5!?

7.c4 Sensible, [but 7.Bc4!? is a ray of hope, taking advantage of Black's forgetting about the light squares. 7...e4 (7...Nh6!? as in the game, also thinking about castling still.) 8.Ng1 Ne7 9.Ne2 Nf6 10.Bb3 1-0 (77) Miroshnichenko,E (2606)-Zhou,Y (2449) INT 2018] 7...Nh6 8.Nc3 Nf7 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 c6 [10...g5!?] 11.Qd2 [11.c5? e4 12.Nd2 dxc5 picks off a pawn (even if it does let the London bishop back into the game).; 11.Qc2 keeps the path from d1 to d8 available.] 11...Qe7 12.Rad1 e4 13.Ne1 Nf6 White's game is still preferable, but it's necessary to do something with it before Black gets developed. 14.Nc2 Bd7 15.b4 g5 16.c5 [16.d5!?; 16.b5!?] 16...d5 [16...dxc5 17.bxc5 Rad8] 17.b5
A dramatic position, akin to many of the lines of the King's Indian. White has a queenside pawn storm going, Black tries to organize one of his own on the kingside. The London bishop helps to hold things back, but the difference, like in the KID, is that if/when Black gets in there's an enemy king to pay up. 17...Nh8!? Grandmaster Guseinov either blunders or sets a positional trap. 18.Bd6!? Just winning an Exchange. But the bishop could certainly be missed when the pawns make contact. 18...Qf7 19.Bxf8 Rxf8 and White crashes through with his extra rook on the queenside, winning? So say the engines, but Nitish loses his way in short order. 20.f4!? Certainly sensible, [as in a different vein is 20.Rb1] 20...exf3 Stockfish at first goes wild for White's game, but over time its opinion softens. 21.Bxf3 Ng6
For the last time, White is an exchange up and should find a suitable file for rooks. The b-file of course. Instead White overlooks a little tactic: 22.Qe2?? [22.Rb1] 22...g4 23.hxg4 fxg4 24.Bxg4?! [24.Bxd5!? cxd5 25.e4 tries to put up a fight.] 24...Bxg4 25.Qxg4 Nxg4 26.Rxf7 Rxf7 27.Nb4 Nxe3 28.Re1 Bxd4 29.Ne2 Bxc5 30.Nd3 Nc2+ That could have gone bad for the grandmaster. Nitish let himself be snookered. 0-1

(5) Ahyan Zaman (ahyanzaman) - IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) [E67]
MI Dec TNM (1.2), 01.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4 Nf6 5.g3 0-0 6.Bg2 Nbd7 7.e3 [Usually White takes a more aggressive approach: 7.0-0 e5 8.e4] 7...e5 8.dxe5 The various exchange variations of the King's Indian might seem unambitious at first, but many of them contain more than a little pressure on weak points. 8...dxe5 9.0-0 c6 Black doesn't want to suffer a knight into d5, but has to put up with some danger on the dark squares now. 10.b3 Re8 11.Bb2 Qc7 [11...e4!? The indirect attack on b2 means that White won't be able to win this pawn right away, but it could still be a problem down the line.] 12.Qc2 Nc5

13.b4? White gets "intermezzo'ed" now; [13.Ng5 and into e4 with exchanges might be an attempt to keep the balance. But clearly something has gone wrong.] 13...Bf5 Black takes over. 14.e4!? White tries to confuse the issue. 14...Ncxe4 15.Nxe4 Bxe4 [15...Nxe4?! 16.g4 looks like it wins a piece, but it turns out Black has 16...Nf6! 17.gxf5 e4! followed by ...Ng4 with complications that eventually net an exchange and a tenable game.] 16.Qe2 Rad8 It's not easy to consolidate here, although various moves could just be winning. [16...Qd6!? 17.c5 Qd3! could well be the silver bullet.] 17.Rad1 Bxf3 18.Qxf3 e4 Black might have thought he was crashing through with his extra pawn, but Ahyan puts up serious resistance. 19.Qb3 [In fact Stockfish prefers 19.Qe2 and suggests 19...h5!? with some advantage still. Perhaps Alpha Zero is influencing other computers with its love of mobilizing rook pawns. Does nobody remember Bent Larsen's rook pawn advocation from the 1960s?] 19...e3!? Clutching somewhat at straws. [The computer path is 19...Ng4! 20.Rxd8 Qxd8 21.Rd1 Qg5 to work on the kingside. Bordering on a win.] 20.fxe3 Ng4 Still, this looks pretty good. 21.Bxg7 [21.Bc1!? h5 White may no longer be down a pawn but the positional factors (weak e-pawn, loose kingside) spell advantage Black.] 21...Kxg7 22.Rxd8 Qxd8 23.Qc3+ f6 This looks solid but a few moves later things get shaky. 24.e4
24...Qb6+? The start of a misadventure. [24...Re7! intending ...Rd7 and the d-file is a win; 25.Bh3 Rxe4 recovers the extra pawn without consequence.] 25.c5 Qa6? [25...Qd8! 26.Bf3 Ne5 27.Rd1 Qe7 28.Kg2 Rd8 isn't bad, while (28...h5! 29.h4 b6 30.Rd6?! bxc5 31.bxc5 Qb7 and Black finds his entry on the b-file.) ] 26.Qf3!
What a mess Black has made of his game! But there was one more error: 26...f5? Black thought a desperate defense was necessary, but it backfires. [26...h5! 27.Bh3 (27.h3 Ne5! 28.Qxf6+ Kg8= is a surprisingly tight box which White has no way into. (or 28...Kh7=) ) 27...Rf8 28.Bxg4 hxg4 29.Qxg4 Black has fine counterplay on any queen penetration (while retaking the pawn totally holds as well).] 27.exf5 Qc4 28.fxg6 [28.Qd1!] 28...hxg6 29.h3 [29.a3 consolidates 29...Re1!? 30.Qf8+ Kh7 31.h3] 29...Qd4+ 30.Kh1 Nf6 31.Qf4?! White starts to fall behind on the clock while making subpar moves.This just increases Black's chance to hold. Young players need to ramp up their ending study! [31.g4; 31.Qf2; 31.b5!?] 31...Qxf4 32.Rxf4 Re2?! Black also burns a big chunk of his remaining time on shaky moves. [32...Re1+! first: 33.Rf1 Re2+/= 34.a3 Nd7] 33.a3+/- Nd7 and again, using four of the remaining twelve minutes. 34.Re4?! [34.Rd4! and if 34...Ne5 only then 35.Re4] 34...Rd2 35.a4 [35.g4; 35.Bf1] 35...Kf6 Now White is ahead on the clock! 10:30 to [35...g5!?] 36.Rf4+ [36.h4 both mobilizes the majority and makes Bh3 available.] 36...Ke7
[Black really should just go back home with 36...Kg7] 37.b5? This just doesn't work. [37.h4 is still problematic (read: losing) for Black.; As is 37.a5] 37...cxb5 38.c6 [38.axb5 Nxc5 39.Rc4 b6] 38...bxc6 39.Bxc6 bxa4 40.Bxa4?! [40.Rxa4 White will end up with a nominal advantage of two vs. one on the kingside -- an almost certain draw.] 40...Ne5 This also should be a draw. But despite being up on time, White never gets his ending bearings and finally lets Black sneak his a-pawn through. 41.Kg1 g5 42.Re4 Kd6 43.Re3 a5 44.Be8 Ra2 45.Kf1 [45.h4 g4 46.h5! stops Black's dreaming of a win.] 45...a4 46.Re4 a3 47.Rd4+ Kc5
48.Rd1?? The big blunder. [48.Ra4 behind the pawn where it belongs, still keeps a draw.] 48...Rb2 Somehow it's a case of a knight dominating a bishop on a completely open board. 49.Ba4 a2 50.Rc1+ Nc4 51.Be8 Rb1 52.Rxb1 axb1Q+ 53.Kf2 Kd4 54.Kf3 Qd1+ 55.Kf2 Ne5 56.Bb5 Qf3+ 57.Ke1 Ke3 58.h4 Qf2+ 59.Kd1 Qd2# A disaster for young Ahyan, but he gets stronger and stronger; soon he'll be surpassing his dad! 0-1

(6) Kevin Yanofsky (kyanofsky) - Philip Gerstoft (pgstar3) [E91]
MI Dec TNM (1.12), 01.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 Nbd7 Most King's Indian players are willing to resort to tactical methods to combat the center: [6...e5! One reason for the chosen move is to avoid the Exchange Variation, which isn't to some KID players' taste. 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8; 6...c5 7.dxc5 Qa5 is another way to go; while 6...Bg4!? may still be seen this tournament, as it's GM Guseinov's workhorse line. 7.Be3 Nfd7; Or 6...Na6 when ...e5 will be more comfortable should White exchange.] 7.Be3 c5?! This doesn't go so well with the previous move. [7...e5 is back to the Gligoric Variation.] 8.d5

Now the standard Benoni trade of Black's e-pawn would require some awkward preparation, 8...Ng4 This doesn't really gain anything... [8...e6?? 9.dxe6 and Black falls apart (d6 hangs).] 9.Bg5 a6 10.0-0
[There's nothing wrong with the "automatic" reaction 10.a4] 10...f5?! Black's desperate bid for counterplay comes at quite a cost (e6, half-open e-file). 11.exf5 Rxf5 12.Bd3?! logical to clear the e-file with tempo, but [12.Qd2 Nde5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.Rae1 continues to mass in preparation for moving forward.] 12...Rf8 13.Qe2 Nde5 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.Rae1 Bf6?! [15...h6 16.Bd2 b5!? Benko Gambit style, even if Black doesn't just get the pawn back right away. White should just keep it relatively closed, with 17.b3] 16.Bh6! Re8 17.Ne4 Bh8?! [17...b5!? That knight is at least the match for Black's dark-squared bishop.] 18.f4 It's a plan, but now White must be very accurate. [18.Ng5! accentuates White's space and attack on the kingside. 18...Nxd3 19.Qxd3 Bxb2] 18...Ng4 19.Bg5 Bd4+ 20.Kh1 Ne3 21.Rf3!+- Bg4
All of a sudden Black wins an exchange, but White has so much going for him that he's still got a won game. 22.h3? [22.Ng3! when f4-f5 tears up Black's kingside.] 22...Bxf3 23.Qxf3 Nf5 24.g4 Ng7 White's superior control grants good compensation (and that knight on g7 vs. the White pawns on d5 and g4!) but his advantage has slipped mostly away. Black will need to open lines for his rooks. From here on White runs down his clock trying to find a way to proceed, going quickly from 12 minutes to 2 without succeeding. 25.Ng3?! Overlooking something? [25.h4 b5 26.b3 and there's still no entry for Black.] 25...Qa5!? [25...b5!? 26.b3 Qa5 27.Re2 Bf6 28.Bh6 bxc4; 25...Bf6!?] 26.Rf1 Qd2 27.h4 Qe3
Black thinks trading queens will increase his chances. (2:38 vs. 8:07) 28.f5? [28.Qxe3 Bxe3 29.Kg2 prepares h5] 28...Qxf3+ 29.Rxf3 gxf5 White has done Black's work for him -- now the rooks can get in. 30.Nxf5 Nxf5 31.Bxf5 (2:12 left) 31...Kg7! (6:12 left) 32.Be6 (0:21 left!) 32...Rf8! 33.Rxf8 Rxf8? [33...Kxf8! leaves White resourceless; ...b5 will find a file for the rook.] 34.Bxe7 Now White has counterplay with a passed d-pawn. 34...Rf1+?! [34...Rf2! 35.Bxd6 Rxb2 White's king can't participate.] 35.Kg2 Rf2+ 36.Kg3 Rxb2 37.Bxd6 Rxa2

38.Bc7? White was very short on time [38.Be7 runs up against 38...Re2 stifling the pawn advance; 38.g5!? a5 39.h5 a4 when Black's a-pawn is the biggest threat.] 38...Rd2 [38...a5! touchdown!] 39.d6? [39.Bf4] 39...Be5+ and wins! White had no time to find the "Resigns" button. 40.Kf3 Bxd6 41.Bxd6 Rxd6 42.Bc8 Rb6 43.Ke4 Rb4 44.Kd5 a5 45.Kxc5 Rb1 46.Kd6 a4 47.c5 a3 48.Be6 Kf6 49.Bc4 Rb2 50.Kc7 Ke5 A difficult game for both players! Yet another youngster with a combative style, Philip Gerstoft with a sharper opening knowledge will be a big threat to come. 0-1

(1) William Sartorio (unusualkid) - Vishva Nanugonda (vish1080) [B32]
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 This the Kalishnikov Variation, one of many reasonable ways to play the Sicilian as Black. 5.Nb5 d6 6.N1c3 [6.c4 is the most usual continuation for White, taking more control of the center] 6...a6 7.Na3 Be7 8.Nd5 Nf6 9.Nxf6+ Bxf6 10.Nc4! getting the knight back into play before ...b5 keeps it in the corner 10...Be7 11.Be3 b5?! [11...Be6] 12.Nb6 Rb8 13.Nd5 [A good alternative is 13.Nxc8 Qxc8 14.Be2 with the bishop pair and good control of the light squares] 13...0-0 14.g3 Be6 15.c3 f5 16.Bg2 Kh8 17.0-0 Na5 18.b3?! a better way to prevent ...Nc4 is [18.exf5 Bxf5 19.Nb4! which leaves some weak squares for Black in the center and queenside that are hard to all cover] 18...Qd7 19.Qd2 Bxd5 20.Qxd5 [20.exd5 would still keep some edge.] 20...f4!

21.gxf4? This leads to trouble, opening up the white kingside. Needed was [21.Bd2 f3 22.Bh1 is still about equal] 21...exf4 22.e5 [now 22.Bd2 f3 just wins the bishop on g2] 22...fxe3 23.fxe3 Qa7? [23...Qc7! supporting the d6 pawn is just simply a piece ahead] 24.exd6 Qxe3+ 25.Kh1 Bf6 26.Rae1 Qxc3 27.d7!
This pawn causes trouble and the black knight on a5 is out of play, giving White a lot of play for the lost piece. 27...Rbd8 [27...Nb7!? tries to get the knight back in the game. White can try 28.Re8 Rfxe8 29.dxe8Q+ Rxe8 30.Qxb7 Qe5 31.Qxa6 Be7 with a small edge for Black as the white king has only one pawn defender in the bishops of opposite color middle game.] 28.Rc1 Qe3 29.Rfe1?! [29.Rce1] 29...Qf2 30.Qe6 Qxa2? taking a pawn but moving the queen to the edge of the board. This gives White a chance to use the advanced d-pawn [30...Qd2! is still better for Black] 31.Rc8 Qd2

32.Rxd8? [32.Rf1! threatens 32. Rxd8 Rxd8 33. Qe8+ and there's no good defense to it since 32...Rg8 33. Bd5 is a killer.] 32...Bxd8 33.Qe8 Kg8 a draw was agreed since 34. Qe6+ Kh8 repeats the position. A hard fought battle! 1/2-1/2


Mechanics' Institute Thursday Night Marathon Report

The Mechanics' Thursday Night Marathon resumed thos week after a week off for Thanksgiving. Here are the standings after 3 rounds.
Standing after Round 3

SwissSys Standings. Thursday Night Marathon Online: Open

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total Prize
1 Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow W14 W20 W10     3.0  
2 Michael Walder 10345120 2075 FlightsOfFancy W28 W15 W8     3.0  
3 Pranav Sairam 15424820 2084 chesspilot01 W27 W26 W7     3.0  
4 Eric Hon 13778105 2186 microbear W12 W23 H--- H---   2.5  
5 Stewart Katz 12458563 1835 knvsback W30 W33 D9     2.5  
6 Gadir Guseinov 17343590 unr. gguseinov H--- W19 W18     2.5  
7 Adam Mercado 16571026 1831 A-boy415 W13 W16 L3     2.0  
8 Allan G Savage 10014999 2200 duchamp64 W25 W11 L2     2.0  
9 Richard W Koepcke 10493269 2200 rkoepcke H--- W22 D5     2.0  
10 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 oka_ako W29 W31 L1     2.0  
11 Roger V Shi 16191192 1753 1-h4-1-0 W24 L8 W28     2.0  
12 Rama Krish Chitta 17350313 1475 draidus L4 W32 W24     2.0  
13 Paul Krezanoski 16897133 1238 pjkrizzle L7 W25 W26     2.0  
14 Marina Xiao 16380642 1545 programmingmax L1 W35 W33     2.0  
15 Bryan Hood 12839763 1574 fiddleleaf X--- L2 W30     2.0  
16 Richard Hack 12796129 1569 Kaline340Green W38 L7 W31     2.0  
17 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L18 W38 W23     2.0  
18 Felix German 12624534 1976 FelixGerman W17 H--- L6     1.5  
19 Thomas F Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf H--- L6 W34     1.5  
20 Alexander Huberts 16419664 1794 cccalboy W37 L1 D21     1.5  
21 Nicholas Reed 16154827 1416 nxbex H--- H--- D20     1.5  
22 Lisa Willis 12601676 1583 LittlePinkCorvette H--- L9 W38     1.5  
23 Timothy Horng 13282721 1730 aYzz W32 L4 L17     1.0  
24 Ethan Sun 16964125 1180 sfdeals L11 W27 L12     1.0  
25 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1513 rimus11 L8 L13 W35     1.0  
26 Jeff C Andersen 11296106 1643 zenwabi W39 L3 L13     1.0  
27 Jacob S Wang 17083655 1434 jacobchess857 L3 L24 W37     1.0  
28 Ya Dancig Perlman 16280288 1428 noydan100 L2 W37 L11     1.0  
29 Andrew Nicho Paul 14232850 1385 chessplayer3740 L10 H--- H---     1.0  
30 Stephen Zhu 16412414 1347 chesspoki L5 W39 L15     1.0  
31 Robert H Frank 10498325 1200 cyber-droid X36 L10 L16     1.0  
32 Ian Liao 16738735 1105 victor6688 L23 L12 W39     1.0  
33 Danny Du Uy Cao 16939797 863 caodanny X--- L5 L14     1.0  
34 Rahim Dharssi 12693378 595 rahimftd H--- H--- L19     1.0  
35 Willia Fitzgerald 17048414 537 OlympusMons00 H--- L14 L25     0.5  
36 Mohammad Amir Ali 30029248 1565 Deshbondhu F31 U--- U---     0.0  
37 Bruce Hedman 17344551 870 Bruce_Hedman L20 L28 L27     0.0  
38 Cleveland W Lee 12814843 470 Vincitore51745 L16 L17 L22     0.0  
39 B J Day 12586048 unr. mrbillstunes1 L26 L30 L32     0.0  

FIDE Trainers Seminar December 11-13

The Mechanics' Institute will be organizing its first FIDE Trainers Seminar on December 11-13, 2020. This seminar is for coaches and players looking to enhance their education in coaching and understanding the learning of chess. Participants at the conclusion of the seminar will take an exam towards the awarding of a FIDE title for trainers. 

The instructors and lecturers for this seminar include GM Melik Khachiyan, GM Jacob Aagaard, GM Dejan Bojkov, IM John Donaldson, WIM Dr. Alexey Root, Dr. Judit Sztaray and Abel Talamantez. Topics for the seminar include Some of the topics covered will be the role of the trainer, fair play in chess, psychological issues, study of classical games, tactics training, training in calculation, and means of improvement.

For more information and to register, please follow this link:

2nd Annual IM John Donaldson Championship December 19-20, 2020

The Mechanics' Institute will hold the 2nd annual IM John Donaldson Championship the weekend of December 19-20th. It will be played on over 2 days, 3 rounds per day with a time control of G/60+5. There will be a $2000 prize pool based on 50 entries. Join us in closing out 2020 with one of our largest prize pool events in honoring former MI Chess Director and current US Olympiad Captain John Donaldson. GM's and IM's free. For information and registration, please follow this link:

Mechanics' Chess Social

We had IM Keaton Kiewra on our Mechanics' Chess Social on Friday December 4th and it was a fascinating interview talking about his own chess career, philosophy of coaching chess, online play and how his multi-disciplined background in psychology, poker, meditation, and spirituality has helped him have a heightened sense of awareness in his own development, coaching, and detecting online cheaters. Watch the interview on our YouTube channel by following this link:

WIM Dr. Alexey Root

Dr. Alexey Root has released the latest installment of Grandmaster Chef, featuring GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. Click here to read the article from ChessBase:
NM Michael Walder made the dish from the article, pictured here, photo by Elliott winslow:
Learn what this is by reading the article!
Also, Alexey and Judit will be presenting seperately at ChessTech2020, which will be held online and covering all things regarding cyber chess. Check out a Chess Life Online article here to see all the speakers, schedule and registration:


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, 12/8:

GM Nick de Firmian Arena: Thursdays 5:00pm-6:00pm, 12/10:

See you in the arena!

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

November 18, 2020 - January 20, 2021

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:


Pacific Regional Grade Level Online Championship Report

The Pacific Regional Grade Level Online Championship brought together 54 players for a weekend post Thanksgiving grade level championship played on It was fun and exciting to see so many kids compete, and we got a glimpse of some up and coming future Bay Area talent. The games were manually paired and the event ran very smoothly. Kudos to Judit Sztaray, Chief Tournament Director for running a smooth event while keeping many of the kids company in the Zoom helpdesk. 

Here is one game from the tournament in the first round that I thought was very intriguing. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(2) Jashith Karhi (CoolPowerfulGhoul) (1490) - Dani Rivera Villa (alexandermex) (1274) [B92]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Bg5 [8.f4!] 8...h6?! 9.Bh4?! [9.Bxf6! Qxf6 10.Na5 Qd8 11.Nc4 will give White control of d5] 9...Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.0-0 0-0 12.Nd5 Bg5 13.Bg4 the opening has turned out to be about even 13...Re8 14.Bxe6?! this solves Black's only positional trouble which was how to contest the d5 square 14...fxe6 15.Ne3 Bf4 [15...Bxe3! 16.fxe3 Qb6 17.Qf3 Nc6 would be a nice position for Black with the better pawn structure] 16.Nc4! d5 17.exd5 exd5 18.Ne3 d4 19.Nc4?! [19.Nf5! is a more aggressive square for the knight] 19...Re6?! [development is called for - 19...Nc6] 20.Re1 Qd5 21.Ncd2 Rg6?! 22.Qf3! Qd7?! [22...Qc6! keeps more control of the center light squares. Now White gains a strong initiative.] 23.Nc5 Qb5 24.Qd5+ Kf8?

[24...Kh7 is a much safer place for the king, though White would still have a clear advantage] 25.Ne6+! Rxe6 26.Qxe6 Nc6 [Black can't take the knight on d2 - 26...Bxd2 27.Rxe5 threatens the queen and 28. Rf5 +] 27.Nb3 [27.Ne4! is a beautiful centralized square] 27...Re8 28.Qd6+ Kf7 29.Qc5 Na7? oops 30.Qxa7 Qc6 31.Na5 Qb5 32.Qxb7+ Qxb7 33.Nxb7 Re7 34.Nd6+ Ke6 35.g3 Bg5 36.h3? returning the favor 36...Kxd6 37.h4 Bf6 38.Rad1 Kc5 39.f4? [39.c3! breaks up the central pawns and would be a fairly easy endgame win] 39...e4 White is still winning with best play, but the black pawn duo on d4 and e4 is bound to cause a lot of trouble 40.g4?! Bxh4 41.b4+?! Kc4 now the black king also has a good square to help the pawns 42.Re2 e3 43.a4 Bf6 44.Rb1 Rb7 [44...d3! 45.cxd3+ Kxd3 46.Kf1 Bc3 47.b5 Re4!] 45.c3? giving away this last pawn removes a key defender to stopping the black pawn duo 45...Kxc3 46.b5 a5 47.b6 Kd3 48.Ree1 Bh4 49.Red1+ Ke4 50.Rdc1 Bd8 51.Rc8 Bxb6 52.Rc6
52...Rf7? [52...d3! 53.Kg2 (53.Rcxb6 Rxb6 54.Rxb6 d2 55.Rd6 e2 wins) ] 53.Rcxb6 Rxf4 54.R6b2? the rook isn't good here [54.Re6+ Kd3 55.Kg2 Rxg4+ 56.Kf3 h5 57.Rc6 Kd2 58.Rb2+ Kd3 59.Rb3+ Kd2 60.Rb2+ would be a draw] 54...g5 55.Re2 d3
now the pawns win 56.Ree1 Rxg4+ 57.Kh2 Kf3 58.Rf1+ Ke4 59.Rbc1 e2 60.Rfe1 Kf3 61.Rb1 Rh4+ 62.Kg1 Rg4+ 63.Kh2 Kf2 64.Rxe2+ dxe2 65.Rf1+ Kxf1 66.Kh3 Rxa4 67.Kh2 Kf2 alexandermex won by resignation 0-1

Here are the tentative final standings, congratulations to the winners and all the participants:

TENTATIVE Final Results

SwissSys Report: Pacific Regional Grade Level Online Championship

SwissSys Standings. Pacific Regional Grade Level Online Championship: Kindergarten - Grade1

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total T-Sonneborn Grade Prize
1 Carl Lin 17110834 313 AtomicSillyTiger W10 W2 W3 W4 W8 5.0 14 1 1st Place Grade 1
2 David Kuperman 17140478 778 NeatDryPie W6 L1 W7 W8 W4 4.0 9 1 2nd Place Grade 1
3 Avani Shenoy 30015624 950 AquaJollyPopsicle W9 L4 L1 W6 W7 3.0 6 K 1st Place Kindergarten
4 Jeffrey Zhao 17185671 488 NewJumpyPanda W12 W3 W5 L1 L2 3.0 6 1 3rd Place Grade 1
5 Cyrus Julia Babai 16841338 751 CyrusB16841338 W11 W7 L4 W9 U--- 3.0 5 1 4th Place Grade 1
6 Shlok Kumbhare 30055831 unr. shlokee L2 W10 L8 L3 W9 2.0 4 K 2nd Place Kindergarten
7 Patrick C Moore 30024957 unr. summerknight12 W8 L5 L2 W10 L3 2.0 4 1 5th Place Grade 1
8 Arjun Heman Gorur 30015823 133 MasterArjun L7 W11 W6 L2 L1 2.0 3 K 3rd Place Kindergarten
9 Aiden X Gilling 30049972 100 LongJumpingTrain L3 W12 W11 L5 L6 2.0 1 K 4th Place Kindergarten
10 Thomas C Moore 30024974 unr. SummerKnight11 L1 L6 B--- L7 W11 2.0 1 1  
11 Ryan Wang 30054726 unr. RyanWBayAreaChess L5 L8 L9 B--- L10 1.0 0 K 5th Place Kindergarten
12 Julian German 17270874 unr. GermanChessWizard L4 L9 U--- U--- U--- 0.0 0 K  

SwissSys Standings. Pacific Regional Grade Level Online Championship: Grade 2 - 3

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total T-Sonneborn Grade Prize
1 Ryuta Watan Nunez 17015848 1061 GeyyaYippe2000 W14 W3 W13 W4 W6 5.0 14 2 1st Place Grade2
2 Prithiv Arokiadass 17318768 921 Bigbusyracecar L11 W19 W7 W12 W9 4.0 9.5 2 2nd Place Grade2
3 Sreyan Ghosh 17248390 681 sreyangbayareachess W6 L1 D5 W14 W13 3.5 8.5 3 1st Place Grade3
4 Daniel Cao 17081711 1006 WiryAncientNutmeg W19 W11 W9 L1 D5 3.5 8 2 3rd Place Grade2
5 Jashith Karthi 30016333 846 CoolPowerfulGhoul L7 W16 D3 W8 D4 3.0 8.5 3 2nd Place Grade3
6 Shankar Parasuram 16967084 937 sparasuram L3 W14 W12 W15 L1 3.0 6.5 3 3rd Place Grade3
7 Dani Rivera Villa 17345287 546 alexandermex W5 L13 L2 W17 W15 3.0 6.5 3 4th Place Grade3
8 Shelton Cai 16851095 745 BestTractor W17 L9 W11 L5 W16 3.0 6 2 4th Place Grade2
9 Ethan Liu 30021739 unr. BestMiddleSun W18 W8 L4 W13 L2 3.0 6 2 5th Place Grade2
10 Vishwa Guntupalli 17181620 409 bestdizzyteeth W15 L12 L14 W19 W18 3.0 4 2  
11 Dominic Matar 16748251 677 Tastycelery W2 L4 L8 W18 D12 2.5 6.25 2  
12 Serena Yiqing Liu 16887121 720 QuietUnicorn W20 W10 L6 L2 D11 2.5 4.25 3 5th Place Grade3
13 Neal Sundar 17307025 822 nealsundar W16 W7 L1 L9 L3 2.0 5 2  
14 Jeremy Zhang 17076230 691 JeremyZ L1 L6 W10 L3 W19 2.0 4 3  
15 Kurtis Yan 16893680 817 wrongpilot L10 W20 W18 L6 L7 2.0 1 3  
16 Alexande Yagudaev 17267488 473 BoldGrubbyelf L13 L5 B--- W20 L8 2.0 0 3  
17 Avnis Gunasekaran 30015415 312 Avnish L8 L18 H--- L7 W20 1.5 0 2  
18 Jackson Hi Blouet 17090260 701 dryhandsomelamb L9 W17 L15 L11 L10 1.0 1.5 2  
19 Benjamin Hong 16724714 683 bmhong L4 L2 W20 L10 L14 1.0 0 3  
20 Arthur Liao 30072174 unr. IcyBoldEgg L12 L15 L19 L16 L17 0.0 0 2  

SwissSys Standings. Pacific Regional Grade Level Online Championship: Grade 4 - 5

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total T-Sonneborn Grade Prize
1 Sebby Suarez 16875347 811 MSCFriSebbyS W10 W9 W8 W2 W4 5.0 14 5 1st Place Grade5
2 Leia 1 Lin 17110828 898 PinkAiryCloud W14 W12 W3 L1 W8 4.0 9.5 4 1st Place Grade4
3 Shiv Sohal 30032729 unr. opalmilitarydugout W12 W14 L2 W5 W6 4.0 9 5 2nd Place Grade5
4 Akash Vadali 16868053 unr. Chessp9999 D7 W5 W9 W10 L1 3.5 8.25 4 2nd Place Grade4
5 Shreyus Sane 16548501 159 DearMagicalZebra W13 L4 W7 L3 W11 3.0 5.5 4 3rd Place Grade4
6 Cyrus Julia Babai 16841338 751 CyrusB16841338 B--- B--- H--- H--- L3 3.0 0 5 3rd Place Grade5
7 Eric Japson 16252148 521 saferelaxedkite D4 L8 L5 W9 W10 2.5 5.75 5 4th Place Grade5
8 Om Gaddam 17355551 unr. magicom H--- W7 L1 W13 L2 2.5 3.5 4 4th Place Grade4
9 Willia Fitzgerald 17048414 537 Dinosaurus333 W11 L1 L4 L7 W13 2.0 3 5 5th Place Grade5
10 Pranathi He Gorur 30015817 325 MasterPranathi1 L1 B--- W11 L4 L7 2.0 2 4 5th Place Grade4
11 James C Moore 30024947 unr. SummerKnight20 L9 W13 L10 W14 L5 2.0 2 5  
12 Aathya Srinivasan 16827837 543 AwesomeHat L3 L2 L13 B--- W14 2.0 1 5  
13 Tanmay B Kanumuri 30015702 592 PureGoldenCreature L5 L11 W12 L8 L9 1.0 2 4  
14 Jacob Se Davidson 16709881 338 cinderace2001 L2 L3 B--- L11 L12 1.0 0    

SwissSys Standings. Pacific Regional Grade Level Online Championship: Grade 6 - 12 Merged

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total T-Sonneborn Grade Prize
1 Anshul Redd Kolli 15089371 767 Fitfunland L3 B--- W4 W6 W5 4.0 8 10 1st Place Grade10
2 Alexander Li 15843203 725 OnlySlowFan W8 W6 W3 W7 L4 4.0 6 8 1st Place Grade 8
3 Shrinivas Ba Iyer 16691948 1443 DullDistinctcyclone W1 W4 L2 L5 W7 3.0 8 6 1st Place Grade 6
4 Jerry Lu 16480854 575 nextspace W5 L3 L1 B--- W2 3.0 7 6 2nd Place Grade 6
5 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 1055 DarkCapableCharm L4 W7 W6 W3 L1 3.0 6 7 1st Place Grade 7
6 Ethan Yan   unr. goldstrongmachine W7 L2 L5 L1 B--- 2.0 1 6 3rd Place Grade 6
7 Anantha Parasuram 16967078 959 aparasuram L6 L5 B--- L2 L3 1.0 0 7 2nd Place Grade 7
8 Adrien Cheng 16318903 1433 rarethirddessert L2 U--- U--- U--- U--- 0.0 0 8  


Mechanics' Chess - Scholastic Tournaments

Saturday, December 5: starts at 3:00PM 

6SS G/10+2:

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

5SS G/5+5:

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

4SS G/15+0:

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

5SS G/5+5:

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

4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, December 10: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

5SS G/5+5:

Friday, December 11: 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: December 5, @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]

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:

12/8 Tuesday - December Tuesday Night Marathon
Format: 8SS G/35+2
12/10 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

[email protected]

William Lombardy on the West Coast: 1978 and 2017.

Legendary Grandmaster William Lombardy (1937-2017) blew into San Francisco sometime in August 2017, having exiled himself from New York City where landlords and feuds and practically his entire history lay; ours here in California not to question why, but only to sometimes listen to his tales and yarns, in wonder and exasperation. 

Bill found refuge here on the West Coast, suddenly appearing among us, and the chess community here that knew him not, embraced and took him in…


He was gone – dead – in just 3 months after his arrival, a sudden passing on in the home of MI Chess Club member Ralph Palmeri, who had taken Bill in when Bill had no place to stay, when Bill was sleeping on a park bench in Union Square sometimes, at others sitting in all-night burger-joints in the Tenderloin.

Another MI Chess Club member took this man (and Catholic priest!) into their home for a month: Richard Hack.  We are a generous chess tribe!

His presence at the club was steady: he opened and closed the club for weeks at a time, giving lessons, holding forth, playing games, hawking his autobiographic magnum opus (see below).

He talked about Bobby Fischer, who he knew as a boy: Lombardy was Fischer’s second in Reykjavik.

His presence at the club was also noted 3 times in the newsletters, at first obliquely on August 11th:

Then, on September 22nd:

“Grandmaster William Lombardy is visiting San Francisco and gave a well-received lecture this past Tuesday night. He is available for lectures and lessons and has signed copies of his book Understanding chess: My System, My Games, My Life for sale. Contact the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club at [email protected] for more information.”

And then, horrifically, on October 27th, a memorial tournament AND an obituary:


I really enjoyed hanging out with Bill at the club: he was cranky and opinionated, brilliant and worldly, battle-scarred yet triumphant: a flawed human being  - aren’t we all! – and an incredibly strong chess player.

As I learned first-hand, long ago.

In 1978 I travelled down to Lone Pine, joining 72 other players participating in this amazing tournament.  Players came from all over the world, including ex-World Champion Tigran Petrosian!  I’ve written about this event previously, but there’s always more to add. 

Lombardy came on my radar in two ways during the event: firstly, by calling to TD Isaac Kashdan’s attention the fact that Sammy Reshevsky had blatantly cheated his opponent in a time-scramble (true, and upheld), and secondly by giving this long-haired youngster a lesson on the 64 squares. 

See below.

RIP, William Lombardy.  It was great to meet you.

(1) William James Lombardy - Paul Whitehead [B44]
Lone Pine Lone Pine, CA USA (3), 04.04.1978

Lombardy and I met in the 3rd round. Bill would eventually finish with a 5-4 score, and I made a respectable finish of 4-5, despite starting off 0-3. This game followed a familiar arc for me: a decent position where I get into trouble trying to force matters. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Nxc6 White doesn't get much from this approach, but Bill is content to just swat the ball back and forth. 7...bxc6 8.Bd3 e5 9.0-0 0-0 10.Qc2 Re8

[Also possible is 10...Bc5 and if 11.Na4 Bd4 with a complex game.] 11.Na4 d5 12.Bg5 d4 13.c5 h6 14.Bxf6 Qxf6 15.a3 Ba5 16.b4 Bc7 17.Nb2 Qg5 18.Bc4 g6 19.Qb3 Re7 20.Qg3 Kg7
Black is slightly better due to the bishop pair. 21.Nd3 f5 22.f3 Bd7 23.Qxg5 hxg5 24.h3 Rh8?! [Black starts to go wrong. 24...a5! and if 25.Rfb1 fxe4 26.fxe4 g4! opening the game for the bishops was better.] 25.Nf2 Ree8 26.Rab1 Rb8 27.a4 Kf6 28.Rb2 Rh4?! 29.g4 f4?! 30.Kg2 Rhh8
Black has deprived himself of play on the kingside and is drifting, but the position is still (perhaps) holdable. However, black continues to play aimlessly, and white eventually pounces. 31.Rfb1 Rhc8 32.Nd3 Rh8 [32...a5!] 33.b5! Ba5 34.bxc6 Rxb2+ 35.Rxb2 Bxc6 36.Bd5 Rc8 37.Kf2 Bc3 38.Rb3 Ba5 39.Rb1 Bc3 40.a5! Bxa5

41.Ra1 Bc3 42.Ra6 Winning a piece and the game. I never knew what hit me, and this is a perfect example of an experienced player out-smarting a young talent. 1-0


GM Nick de Firmian's Column

The Return of So

Wesley So had a great streak soon after immigrating to the United States in 2014. He continued to improve his chess game in 2015 and 2016 and had a banner year in 2017 where he improved his ELO rating to 2822, gaining the #2 ranking in the world. That year he won the prestigious Tata Steel Masters along with the US Championship, ahead of fellow world title contenders Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura.

It looked as if Wesley was on the fast track to challenge for the World Championship, but the following two years were something of a setback. His rating dropped 50 points and attention shifted to others in the world’s top ten. Fabiano won the Candidates Tournament and became the challenger, while Hikaru became the one clear rival to Magnus in speed and rapid chess (and also gained 30k internet followers.) Thus even in the US he was looked upon as the #3 man.

Yet the last year has belonged to Wesley. He started last November a year ago with a resounding defeat of Magnus in the finals of the Fischer Random Chess World Championship. That may have looked like an aberration, but then he tied for first in the world class field of the St. Louis Blitz and Rapid in September and won the US Championship again just last month with an incredible score of 9/11, bringing comparisons to Fischer. Now he has topped all of that by winning the Skilling Open, besting 16 of the world’s top players and defeating the great World Champion Carlsen in the finals match. It seems Wesley is the only player who really can beat Magnus some times, and we will watch him closely this coming year.

(1) So,Wesley - Nakamura,Hikaru [C54]
Skilling sem-finals, 28.11.2020

Here Wesley meets fellow American Nakamura in the semi-finals. As this was rapid chess everyone considered Hikaru to be the favorite. That opinion is likely changing now. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 This Guioco Piano is one of the most popular openings at the top level these days. 5...d6 6.0-0 h6 7.Re1 0-0 8.Nbd2 a5 9.Nf1 Be6 10.Bb5 Keeping the bishops on the board is a more complex choice, giving the opponent more chances to go wrong. 10...Bb6 11.Ng3 Nh7 12.h3 Ng5 13.Nxg5 hxg5 14.d4 The action is the center finally begins. 14...exd4 15.Bxc6 bxc6 16.cxd4 c5?! This results in a semi-blocked position which the white knight likes. More promising was [16...d5 17.e5 f5! which gives Black dynamic play] 17.d5 Bd7 18.a4 Re8?! [18...Qf6!] 19.Bd2 c4 20.Qf3 Rb8 21.Bc3

White has gotten a clear opening edge with his bishop and knight looking towards the kingside and the d5 pawn as a cramping influence. 21...Bc5 22.Re2 f6 23.Nf5 Bb4 24.Bd4 Bc5 25.Bc3 Bb4 26.Ne3 Bc8 [Black could consider exchanging with 26...Bxc3 27.bxc3 c6 which is still worse but takes the focus off the kingside] 27.Bd4 Ba6?! this bishop is best left on c8 to keep guard of the white knight's invasion 28.Nf5! Bc8 29.Ne3?! [29.Rc1!] 29...Ba6 30.Nf5 Bc8 31.Rc1! Now White is back on track. Black is in difficulties. 31...Qd7 32.Rec2 Ba6
33.h4! gxh4 34.Qg4 suddenly the white queen, knight and bishop are winning on the kingside while Black has been focused on guarding the c4 pawn. 34...Kf8
35.Bxf6! gxf6 36.Qxh4 Kg8 37.Re2 Re5 [37...Qh7 38.Qxf6 is crushing] 38.Re3 Rxf5 39.Rh3 Wesley wins with elan. 39. exf5 would have also been easy. 39...Rg5 40.Qh8+ Kf7 41.Rh7+ Nakumura resigned and went down to defeat in the match. 41...Kg6 42. Rh6+ is mate shortly. 1-0

(2) Carlsen,Magnus - Nepomniachtchi,Ian [D85]
Skilling sem-finals, 28.11.2020

We give this game from the semi-finals of Wesley's opponent in the finals - the champ himself. The game is noteworthy in that Magnus had lost to Nepomniachtchi in the preliminaries of the tournament with a horrible mouse slip. One thinks Magnus may have been mad in the rematch. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bd2 looking for a different pawn structure than the usual 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3. White would like to get the dark-squared biship on the long diagonal to contest Black's fianchettoed bishop. 5...Bg7 6.e4 Nxc3 7.Bxc3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.d5! Bxf3 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.gxf3 Magnus is playing with real aggression. His pawns are doubled on the kingside and enough pieces have been exchanged so that Black need not worry about becoming cramped. Yet White is just charging forward. 12...Ne5

13.0-0-0!? I suppose this is to be expected considering White's temperment this game. 13...c6 14.Bh3! this looks a bit unnatural but covers important squares, such as c8 14...Kg8 [14...Nxf3? 15.Qc3+] 15.Qc3 Qb8? the losing move as White finds a surprising rejoiner. Nepo's idea is that 16. f4 Ng4 17. Bxg4? Qxf4+ wins a pawn. He should have tried instead [15...Qc7] 16.d6!
Now Black is busted. 17. dxe7 is a big threat and the other problem is the black knight is getting trapped. 16...exd6 17.f4 Re8 18.Rhe1 a5 19.Kb1 a4 20.fxe5 Rxe5 21.f4 Rc5 22.Qf6 a3 23.b3 Rh5 24.Rxd6! threatening 25. Red1 and 26. Rd8 + 24...Qe8
25.Be6! fxe6 26.Red1 We can assume this game was sufficient revenge for the mouse slip game. 1-0

(3) So,Wesley - Carlsen,Magnus [B33]
Skilling finals, 29.11.2020

Thus came the finals match. No surprise at all that Carlsen made it through the field. Arriving at the finals was already thought of as a successful tournament for So. People didn't really think he could knock off the champ in rapid chess. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 Carlsen's favorite Sveshnikov Sicilian. He used it against Caruana in the World Championship match and frequently throughout his career. 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Nb8 9.Qf3!? already an unusual move. Wesley has come to mix it up. 9...a6 10.Qa3 b6 11.Bg5!

11...Be7?! Carlsen is feeling the pressure and reacts with a normal move that allows White an opening edge. [11...Qxg5? 12.Nc7+ wins, but; 11...f6 may hold the balance] 12.Bxe7 Kxe7 13.0-0-0 Bb7 14.Nc3 Nd7 15.f4! Qc7 [no good is 15...exf4 16.Re1+ Kf8 (16...Ne5? 17.Rxe5+) 17.Qxd6+] 16.fxe5 Nxe5 17.Qb4 h5 18.Be2 Kf8 19.Rhf1 White is fully mobilized. 19...Re8 20.Rf5 h4 21.Rf4 Qd8 22.Kb1 Rh6 23.Rdd4 h3 24.g3 Bc8 25.a4 Kg8 26.Rde4 Qc7 27.Rh4?! [Magnus has hung tough, as always. White could have kept a good edge with the centralizing 27.Qd4] 27...a5 [27...Rxh4! 28.Rxh4 Qc5 is equal] 28.Qd4 Rxh4 29.Rxh4 Bf5?! [29...Qc5 again was called for. Black moves the bishop to a loose square.] 30.Rh5 Qc8 31.Qxb6 Ng4?

Magnus chases after the h2 pawn so that his own pawn would be just two squares from queening. Unfortunately for him White can take take control with tactical themes. 32.Ba6! Re1+ 33.Ka2 Qe8 [Too late Magnus sees that 33...Qd7 34.Rxf5! Qxf5 35.Qd8+ Kh7 36.Bd3 wins the queen] 34.Rxf5 Ne3 35.Bb5 Qe7 Black resigned as 36. Rh5 is a piece ahead with also a strong attack. Congratulations Wesley! We look forward to your further events. 1-0

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