Chess Room Newsletter #947 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #947

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #947


December 12, 2020

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Felix German 1978-2020

I was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of one of the Mechanics' Institute's most devoted chess players. It is still only hours after I learned the news, and it is a painful reminder of how short life is and how suddenly things can change. Felix German was a club regular. a passionate player who loved the game in the truest sense. He participated regualrly in the Tuesday Night Marathons, weekend tournaments, team matches, and simultaneous exhibitions live at the club, as well as regularly in our online events. My first direct experience with him was during a simultaneous exhibition in January 2019 with GM Jeffrey Xiong, where he held a two pawn advantage in his game, offered Jeffrey a draw, and told me during the game how frustrated he was that he declined it. He went on to lose the game. 

Photo by Abel Talamantez

If there exists a definition of a Mechanics' player, Felix had to be it. Passionate and emotional about his chess, in love with his club, and a regular participant in our activities. IM Elliott Winslow, Judit, and I were texting each other about Felix this morning, where Elliott wrote, "another brother down." There is a brotherhood and sisterhood among chess players, and certainly very powerfully so at the Mechanics' Institute. We will make sure his love of the club and of chess is honored at Mechanics' in some way, because the spirit he contributed to our chess community elevated our club, made it better and stronger. We will miss him, but he will always be remembered at Mechanics' Institute.

Here is Felix's last rated game, played during round 4 of the Tuesday Night Marathon. Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(4) Zachi Baharav (fastZachi) (1677) - Felix German (FelixGerman) (1741) [A00]
Live Chess, 09.12.2020
[de Firmian]

1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 e5 3.e4 d4 4.d3 Be7 5.f4 h5!? 6.fxe5 h4 Black has good play for the pawn with this h-pawn prying open the white kingside 7.g4 h3 8.Nxh3 Rxh3?! This is too aggressive though. Black need not give material and would gain some edge with [8...Bh4+ 9.Nf2 Bxf2+ 10.Kxf2 Qh4+ 11.Kg1 Bxg4] 9.Bxh3 Bb4+ 10.Kf1 Qh4 11.Kg2 Nc6 12.Bf4?! [White gives Black a few more chances than 12.Nd2 Bxd2 13.Bxd2 Nge7 14.Qe1!] 12...Nh6 13.Bxh6?! [13.Qf3 Nxg4 14.Qg3 Qh5 15.Nd2 Ncxe5 16.Bxg4 Bxg4 17.Bxe5 Bxd2 18.Raf1 still holds the edge] 13...gxh6 [13...Qxh6 14.c3 Bc5 15.Qd2 g5! does well holding the dark squares] 14.c3?! [14.Nd2 Bxd2 15.Qxd2 Bxg4 16.Bxg4 Qxg4+ 17.Kf1 Qf3+ 18.Kg1 0-0-0 19.Qg2!] 14...h5 15.Qe1 Qg5 16.cxb4 hxg4


17.Qg3? White would still be doing well after [17.Rg1! gxh3+ 18.Kh1 Bg4 19.Nd2 Nxe5 20.Rg3 when he can defend against the attack] 17...gxh3+ 18.Kf2


18...Qxg3+? letting White off the hook with the queen trade. Black would be winning after [18...Bg4! 19.Na3 Qd2+ 20.Kg1 Be6! as the white king is caught trapping his own rook, e.g. 21.Nc4 Bxc4 22.dxc4 0-0-0 23.Qxh3+ Kb8 24.Qg2 Qe3+ 25.Kf1 Nxe5 26.Re1 Qf4+ 27.Qf2 Qh6 28.h4 Nd3 29.Qg3 Nxe1 30.Qxe1 d3] 19.Kxg3 Nxb4 20.Na3 [20.Nd2!] 20...Nxd3? [20...Bd7 is about equal] 21.Rad1 Nxe5 22.Rxd4 [22.Nb5! Rb8 23.Rxd4 c6 24.Nd6+ Ke7 25.Nxc8+ Rxc8 26.Kxh3 would be the exchange up and winning with best play. Black would have the centralized knight though which could cause some tricks.] 22...Ke7 23.Nb5 = 23...Be6 [23...c6! 24.Nd6 Be6 25.Kf4 Ng6+ 26.Ke3 Ne5] 24.Nxc7 Rg8+ 25.Kf4


25...Ng6+?! [25...Rg4+! hopes for 26.Kxe5? f6# White would have retreated rather than take the knight one presumes.] 26.Ke3 Bc8 27.Nd5+ Ke6 28.Rf1 White is objectively winning with the exchange up, but there are always tricks to be tried. Felix keeps fighting and gets his opponenet into more time trouble. 28...Ke5 29.Rxf7 Be6 30.Rxb7 Nh4 31.Ne7 Rg1 [What to do when you are down in the position? An alternative was the tricky knight move 31...Ng2+ 32.Kd2 Kxd4 33.Nxg8 Bxg8 34.Rxa7 Kxe4 when White should win with best play but would have to deal with two pieces for the rook 35.a4 Bc4 36.Rc7 Bf1 37.a5 Nf4 38.Rc3 Nd3 39.a6 Nxb2 40.a7 Nc4+ 41.Rxc4+ Bxc4 42.a8Q+ Kf4] 32.Rd2 Ng2+ 33.Kf2 Rc1 34.Rb5+ Kf6 35.Nd5+ Kg6 36.Ne3 Nf4 37.Nf5 Rh1 38.Kg3 Rf1 FelixGerman won on time. White is objectively winning at the end, but Felix had caused enough confusion to flag fastZachi. This was another great battle of Mechanics' Institute chess! Felix was very active in the club for tournament games and I would always look forward to him joining my weekly arena for challenges. He will be sorely missed from our chess community.0-1

 Mechanics' Institute November Tuesday Night Marathon Report

The December Tuesday Night Marathon completed rounds 3 & 4, with the favorites winning out, setting up intriguing round 5 & 6 matchups. GM Gadir Guseinov, IM Elliott Winslow, FM Kyron Griffith, and NM Eric Hon all won both their games. Kyron's two wins were both long and technical, and showcased his precision and tenacity for endgame play. Young Nicholas Weng continued his strong play in the tournament, defeating NM Arun Dixit, before losing to NM Eric Hon in round 4 for a total score of 3/4. Philip Gerstoft, who won the under 1800 section in the previous TNM is also looking strong at 3/4 in this open event. Mechanics' scholastic regular Andrew Ballantyne is having a breakout tournament as well, scoring a big upset over David Flires Gomez and drawing Kevin Fong, both upsets in terms of rating differential. He plays literally every week is is very active and it was a matter of time before he had a strong showing like this. 

Here are some games from rounds 3&4, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian.

(5) FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2470) - Vishva Nanugonda (vish1080) (1829) [B32]
Mechanics' December TNM (3.7), 08.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 The Kalyshnikov Sicilian, formerly back cousin of the Sveshnikov, has since come into equal standing. Same central grab, same backward pawn, both players have options with their unblocked bishop pawns (White's c-pawn, Black's f-pawn). 6.c4 Now White's second most common line, even if it gives Black some shaky play on d4. [6.N1c3 has taken over as the main move, but Black doesn't have to transpose: 6...a6 7.Na3 b5 (7...Be7!? has been seen a lot at the top (that is: Carlsen, Nakamura, Radjabov).) 8.Nd5 Nf6 would be the Sveshnikov, with Black dodging the fashionable 7.Nd5 lines. (8...Nge7!?; 8...Nce7!?) ] 6...Be7 This move has sorted out as number one. 7.N1c3 [7.N5c3!?; 7.b3!?] 7...a6 8.Na3 f5 9.exf5 Bxf5 10.Bd3 Be6 11.0-0 Nf6 12.Bg5 [12.Nc2; 12.Ne4!?] 12...0-0 13.Bxf6 gxf6! Black adds another pawn to controlling the center, and... 14.Be4


14...f5?! Too loose too soon? [14...Kh8 has been played a few times, with excellent results.] 15.Bd5 Bxd5 Not putting up much of a tempo fight. 16.Nxd5 Kh8 17.Nc2 e4 18.Nd4 Nxd4 19.Qxd4+ Bf6 20.Nxf6 Qxf6 21.Rfd1 Qxd4 22.Rxd4


Kyron banks on the double-rook ending and his big edge in experience -- Vishva is 11 and has been playing tournaments for "only" three years! Certainly Black has the worse position with weak pawns, but maybe it's not a loss. 22...Rf6?! [22...b5! gives White pawns to worry about as well: 23.cxb5 axb5 24.Rxd6 Rfc8 (threatening the a-pawn) 25.g3 Rc2 26.b3 Rcxa2 27.Rxa2 Rxa2 28.Rd5 b4 29.Rxf5 (29.Rb5 Kg7 30.Rxb4 Kg6 Black defends) 29...e3! 30.fxe3 Rb2 also looks like a draw (the engines certainly think so!). Remember: it's all about activity!] 23.Rad1 Rc8 24.g3 Rc6 25.b3 Kg7 26.Kf1 Kf7 27.Ke2 Ke7 28.Ke3 Rc5 29.b4 Rc7 30.a4 h5 31.h4 Re6 32.Kf4 Kf6 33.Rc1 Rc6 34.b5 axb5 35.axb5 Rc5 36.Ra1 e3 37.fxe3 Rce5 38.Ra3 Re4+ 39.Kf3 Rxd4 40.exd4 Re4 41.Rd3 b6 42.Rd2


42...Kg6?? Played in less than a minute (with over 22 left). Black needs his king closer to the central and queenside action. [These three moves all hold: 42...Kf7; 42...Rg4; even 42...Re1] 43.c5! White sacs his way to a passed b-pawn. 43...dxc5 44.dxc5 bxc5


45.Rd6+? Here also, Kyron saw the R-d6-d5 move and played it in two seconds (with almost 19 left): [45.Rb2 is a lot easier, as well as thematic ("Rooks belong behind passed pawns!" can be found in every endgame manual). 45...Re7 46.b6 Rb7 47.Ke3 Kf6 48.Kd3 Ke5 49.Kc4 Kd6 50.Kb5] 45...Kg7 [Again, 45...Kf7] 46.Rd5 Kg6?! [46...Kf6=] 47.Rxc5 Rb4? [47...Kf6 48.Rc6+ Ke5] 48.Rc6+ Kg7 49.b6 Ra4 50.Ke3 Rb4 51.Kd3 Rg4 52.Rc4 Rxg3+ 53.Kc2 Rg6 54.Rb4 Rc6+ 55.Kd3 Rc8 56.b7 Rb8 57.Kd4 Kf6 58.Kd5 Kg6 59.Kc6 Bumpy for both players, but in the end class mattered. 1-0

(6) NM Kireet Panuganti (kkpanu9) - GM Gadir Guseinov (Guseinov,Gadir) [B36]
Mechanics' December TNM (4.1), 08.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Nxd4 The Gurgenidze Variation of the Accelerated Fianchetto Sicilian. (Long enough!?) White has various ways to secure a space advantage, often with Nd5 or other exchanges, but Black has a fairly relaxed game. 7.Qxd4 d6 8.Be3 Bg7 9.Be2 White could do well to leave this at home for the moment; [9.f3 defends e4 as well as stops ...Ng4, so prepares for some knight move. 9...0-0 10.Qd2 is still more popular. And who knows, the bishop sometimes comes out on h3 (!).] 9...0-0 10.Qd2 a5 Guseinov is mostly partial to this move (+2 =8); [but 10...Be6 11.Rc1 Qa5 12.f3 Rfc8 13.b3 a6 14.Na4 Qxd2+ 15.Kxd2 Nd7 16.g4 f5 was a couple hundred other games as well as ½-½ (30) Nakamura,H (2708)-Guseinov,G (2614) Bursa 2010] 11.Rd1 a4 12.c5?! [Going strictly on results 12.0-0 is a much better move.] 12...Be6 13.cxd6 Qxd6 14.Qxd6 exd6 15.a3 This looks like White has established a positional advantage, but Black has counterplay. 15...Rfc8 16.f3 [16.Rxd6 Black equalizes with 16...Rxc3!? 17.bxc3 Nxe4 18.Rb6 Bxc3+ 19.Kf1 Nd2+ 20.Kg1 (20.Bxd2 Bxd2 and White's a-pawn falls) 20...Nb3 also here, . ..Bb2 establishes a passed pawn when a3 goes.] 16...Ne8= Now a bit of cat-and-mouse without much progress on the board, but while the grandmaster cruises along having hardly take any time (still over 30 minutes!), the international master finds himself thinking on most moves. He has 21:30 here... 17.Bd4 Bb3 18.Rd3 Bc4 19.Rd1 Bb3 20.Rd3 Bh6 21.Be3 Bf8 22.Kf2 Nc7 23.Bf4 Ra6 24.Rd2 Rc6 25.Bd1 Ne6 26.Bxb3 axb3 27.Be3 f5 28.Ke2 Bg7 29.Nd5 Re8 30.exf5


... and here it is, 8:14 vs. 25:18. 30...Nd4+! 31.Kf2 Nxf5 32.Ba7? [Just 32.Re1 isn't charming for White but should hold on. Good knight vs. good bishop.] 32...Kf7 Somehow Black has got a significant if not overwhelming edge. 33.g4?! See later... 33...Ne7 34.Nb4 Rc4 35.Rhd1?


[35.Be3 h5 36.h3 Nc6 37.Nd5 Rc2 still annoying] 35...Nc8?? This might look tight, but a window of opportunity for Black closes, and for White a window opens! [35...Nc6! 36.Be3 (36.Nxc6 bxc6!-+) 36...Nxb4 37.axb4 Rc2! 38.Re2 Rec8-+ Black gets to b2 which is all he needs. 39.Bd4 Rxe2+ 40.Kxe2 Rc2+ 41.Kd3 Bxd4 42.Kxd4 Ke6! when 43.Rb1?! Rxh2 ready with the h-pawn] 36.Bd4! Now it's going to be White's b-pawn that goes, with a solid plus for White. 36...Bh6 37.Re2? [37.Rd3! Rc2+ 38.Kg3! Ree2 39.f4! Rg2+ 40.Kf3 White may take on c2 after all...] 37...Rxe2+ 38.Kxe2 Rc2+ 39.Kd3?! [39.Ke1= and Rd3xb3 sets up counterplay and draws] 39...Rxh2 40.Kc3?! [40.Nd5=/+] 40...Bf4?!


[40...Ne7!-/+] 41.Kxb3? Curiously a mistake, that pawn isn't going anywhere. [41.Nd5! is a sort of free move. (Grab those tempos when you can!) 41...Bg3 (41...Bg5 42.f4! (42.Kc4 Rc2+ 43.Kxb3 Rd2 44.Rxd2 Bxd2 45.a4=; 42.Kxb3) ) 42.Kxb3 Ne7 43.Nxe7 Kxe7 Black's advantage is just about nothing. He can create a passed pawn with ...h5, but there will be obstacles to getting it to the queening square. 44.Rc1! Kd7 45.Rg1! Be5 46.Bxe5 dxe5 47.Kc4! Rxb2 48.Rh1 just went "0.00" for all moves. Black is running out of pawns that matter.] 41...Ne7 42.Kc4 h5 43.gxh5 gxh5


The ghost of 33.g4?! has definitely come back to haunt Kireet. 44.Rg1?! [44.Kd3 still resists.] 44...Nf5 No counterplay, no rook activity. Black wraps it up. 45.Bc3 h4 46.Nd5 Bg3 47.a4 h3 48.a5 Rg2 49.Rxg2?! hxg2 50.Bd4 Nxd4 Guseinov show that he's not invulnerable, but in practice he keeps taking out everybody. Panuganti came close, but in the end... 0-1

(7) Nicholas Weng (ninjaforce) (1958) - NM Eric Hon (microbear) (2202) [B89]
Mechanics' December TNM (4.3), 08.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 This does have the advantage of avoiding the Prins Variation (3...cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3), which has been showing some signs of flourishing, including a featured part of a repertoire book. 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Bc4!? The Sozin Attack. 6...e6 7.Be3 [7.Bb3 Be7 8.Be3 0-0 (8...Qc7 9.Qe2 0-0 1-0 (25) Lallee,C (2069)-Badaracco,C Buenos Aires 2001) 9.Qe2 a6 10.0-0-0 1-0 (32) Bronstein,D-Lein,A Leningrad 1971] 7...Be7 8.Qe2 0-0 9.0-0-0 And Velimirovic's famous version. 9...Qc7 10.Bb3 a6


Through various move orders this is one of the most important positions of the Velimirovic Sozin Sicilian. White's next move is the most aggressive but it has a flaw. 11.g4!? [11.Rhg1 starts out seeming the more reasonable prelude but shortly gets extremely sharp.; 11.f4 only has a few games but they've gone comparatively well for White, plus Judit Polgar has played it, PLUS Shirov lost to it (an early game). Food for thought.] 11...Nxd4!? Most seen, as it seemingly gets White to take with the rook, misplacing it. Or is it an added brick in the kingside attack, sometimes even with e4-e5 and Rd4-h4!? [11...Nd7 hopes to get right on ...Nc5 and ...Nxb3+, but leaves White to set up the kingside attack anyway White wants -- plus it gives White an added shot: 12.Nf5!? Velimirovic first, of course.; 11...Na5 12.g5 Nxb3+ 13.axb3 Nd7 is slower, as the knight on d7 hasn't much to do. 14.h4! has scored very highly.; 11...b5 risks some sort of combination involving Nxc6 and Nd5.] 12.Bxd4?! [It was well established many years ago that 12.Rxd4! should be played. Black still has a viable game after 12...Nd7! Shirov is the man to yet be beaten in this line (0-4): a) 12...e5?! 13.Rc4! Qd8 14.g5 Nd7 (14...Ne8 15.Rxc8!) 15.Qh5 White rolls out the stock Velimirovic attack, with little opposition.; b) 12...b5 13.g5 Nd7 is not quite a transposition but close.; 13.g5 (13.f4 Nc5 14.f5 Bf6 15.g5!? Bxd4 16.Bxd4 b5 17.Qh5!? (17.Rg1 Bb7 18.Rg4 Nxb3+ 19.axb3 e5 20.Be3 b4 21.Na4 Bc6 0-1 (31) De Firmian,N (2545)-Shirov,A (2685) Tilburg 1993 CBM 039 [Boensch,U]) 17...Bb7 18.Rg1 Nxb3+ 19.axb3 e5 20.Be3 Rac8 21.Rg4 1-0 (32) Brenjo,S (2490)-Vujacic,I (2142) Montenegro 2009) 13...Nc5 14.Rg1 (14.Qh5!? is the "normal" approach.; 14.e5!? dxe5 15.Rh4 g6 16.Rh6!? f5 17.h4 1-0 (32) Bronstein,D-Lein,A Leningrad 1971; 14.f4!? f5!) 14...b5 15.Qh5 g6 16.Qh6 Rd8! 17.e5 Bf8 18.Qh3 Bg7 19.Rxd6 Bb7 0-1 (40) De Firmian,N (2605)-Shirov,A (2695) Biel 1995 CBM 049 [Shirov,A]] 12...e5 13.g5?! [White can simply let the pawn go: 13.Be3 Bxg4 14.f3 Be6 when results have been enough to say "sufficient compensation" but no more.] 13...exd4 14.gxf6 dxc3 15.fxe7 [15.fxg7 Kxg7 16.Rhg1+ Kh8 17.Qe3 Qc5 18.Qg3 Qe5 19.f4 Qf6 20.e5 dxe5 21.fxe5 Qh6+ 22.Kb1 Be6 0-1 (22) Lehto,V (2295)-Veingold,A (2425) Jarvenpaa 1996] 15...cxb2+ 16.Kxb2 [Sometimes the pawn can be left to shield White's king, 16.Kb1 but here there's not much to be shielded from: 16...Qxe7-/+] 16...Qxe7-/+


17.Qd3N [Previously the move was 17.Rd3 but after 17...Be6 18.Rhd1 Bxb3 19.axb3 Qe5+ 20.Kb1 a5! with a serious attack of his own: 0-1 (57) Peeters,M-Van Nies,P, Schagen 2006] 17...Rd8 18.Rhg1 Be6 19.Qd4 g6 With commonsense moves, defending against basic threats, Eric has a solid, pawn-up, advantageous game. If Nicholas is going to keep playing the Velimirovic he has some major work to do on it. 20.f4 Rac8 21.f5 Bxb3 22.axb3


22...Qe5 Off with the queens [22...Qh4!?] 23.Rg2 Re8 24.fxg6 hxg6 25.Re2 [25.Qxe5! Rxe5! (25...dxe5 26.Rd7 b5 27.h4) 26.Rxd6 Rxe4 27.Rd7 b5 28.Rf2 f5 29.Rd6 Kg7 30.Rxa6 gives White the best chance to hold.] 25...Rc6!-+ 26.c3 f5?! [26...Qxd4 might as well be played.] 27.Rg2! The result is back in question. 27...Qxd4 28.Rxd4 fxe4? [28...Kf7] 29.Rxg6+ Kf7 30.Rgxd6 Rxd6 31.Rxd6= Black has let his whole advantage slip! 31...e3 32.Rd1 Kf6 33.Kc2 Kf5


34.Re1?? [34.Kd3! gets very drawn, very quickly.] 34...Kf4 [or 34...Ke4] 35.Rf1+ Kg4 36.h4 e2 Fifty years ago this was the Wild West of chess -- but in this century, to play such openings one needs to know a few more book lines! In any case, well defended Mr. Hon! 0-1

(1) Kevin Yanofsky (kyanofsky) - Chelsea Zhou (mwncklmann) [D36]
Mechanics' December TNM, 08.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 The Exchange Variation seems to have gotten popular recently. 4...exd5 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 c6 7.Bd3 Nbd7 8.Qc2 0-0 9.Nf3 Re8 10.0-0 h6 11.Bh4 [11.Bf4 deserves consideration, looking for play like a London System. On 11...Nh5? 12.Nxd5! wins a pawn. 12...cxd5? 13.Bc7] 11...Ne4 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.b4!? Ndf6 14.b5 Nxc3 [Black is about equal after 14...cxb5 15.Bxb5 Bd7 16.Bxd7 Qxd7 17.Nxe4 Nxe4 18.Ne5 Qe6 19.Qb2 b6] 15.Qxc3 cxb5 16.Bxb5 Ne4 17.Qb2 Rd8 18.Bd3 Rd6!?


Aggressively looking for kingside play. White's pawn structure is better though. 19.Ne5 Rb6 20.Qe2 Qa3 21.Rfc1 [21.Bxe4! dxe4 22.Qc2 gives White the advantage] 21...Be6 22.Rc2 Nc3 23.Qe1 Na4 24.h3? a blunder losing a piece. White could keep a nice advantage with [24.Qc1!] 24...f6 either the white bishop or the knight is lost 25.Rac1 fxe5 26.Bg6 e4 27.Qe2 Rf8 28.Qh5 Qd6 good defense to consolidate with the extra piece. All of White's pieces are trying to attack but mwncklmann brings the black pieces back to keep the king safe. 29.Rc7 Nb2 30.Be8 Bf5?


returning the favor and letting White get the piece back [30...Rf6 stopping Qg6 is still easily winning] 31.g4? [31.Bf7+! Kh8 32.Qxf5 wins the piece back with advantage] 31...Bh7?! [31...Nc4!] 32.Bg6?? [32.Rd7! Qf6 33.Rf7! has the idea 33...Rxf7? (33...Bg6! 34.Rxf6 Bxh5 35.Rxb6 axb6 36.Bxh5 Rxf2 is about equal) 34.Bxf7+ Qxf7 35.Rc8+] 32...Qxg6 oops. Now it's two pieces. Nothing to be done now. 33.Qxd5+ Qe6 34.Qh5 Nd3 35.Rd1 Nxf2 36.Rdc1 Nd3 37.d5 Qf6 38.R1c2 Qf1+ 39.Kh2 Rf2+ 40.Kg3 Qg2+ 41.Kh4 g5+ 42.Qxg5+ hxg5+ 43.Kxg5 Rg6+ 44.Kh5 Qxh3# 0-1

(2) Ethan Boldi (etvat) - Jonah Busch (Kondsaga) [E60]
Mechanics' December TNM, 08.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.0-0 0-0 5.b3 c5 breaking the symmetry with a principled move 6.Bb2 Nc6 7.d4 d6?! this is a little passive. Black is fully equal after [7...cxd4 8.Nxd4 d5] 8.c4 e6 9.e3 [9.dxc5 dxc5 10.Ne5 takes some central squares] 9...Qc7 10.Nc3 a6 11.Re1 Rb8 12.Qd2 b5 13.d5 playing for space in the center [13.cxb5 axb5 14.dxc5 dxc5 15.a4 may gain a small queenside initiative] 13...exd5?! [13...Na5! puts the knight to use and levels the chances] 14.cxd5 Na7 15.e4


White has a solid grip on the center and the black knight on a7 is out of play. 15...b4 16.Nd1 [16.Na4!?] 16...Bb7 17.Qg5?! leading the charge with the queen. This is tricky and tactical but a somewhat anti-positional. [17.a3 gets everyone working for the cause] 17...h6 18.Qh4 g5!


courageously taking on the challenge 19.Nxg5 hxg5 20.Qxg5


20...Qe7?? The wrong square for the queen! It's natural to want to bring pieces as close as possible to the black king for the defense, but this loses a key tempo and thus the game. Black is better after [20...Qd8! with the plan of ...Ne8. White has no really good way to continue the attack.] 21.Ne3! suddenly White is completely winning. 22. Nf5 is a devastating threat 21...Nb5?! this goes down without a fight. Black could try [21...Bc8 22.Nf5 Bxf5 23.exf5 Qd8 when White has to find 24.Re4! which wins. 25. Rg4 is threatened and 24...Ne8 25.f6! wins] 22.Nf5



Here are the standings after 4 rounds:

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 W20 W13 W9 W6         4.0  
2 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow W40 W24 W10 W8         4.0  
3 NM Eric Hon 13778105 2202 microbear W47 W18 W22 W11         4.0  
4 FM Kyron Griffith 12860484 2470 KyronGriffith H--- W46 W19 W17         3.5  
5 Arun Dixit 14607904 2199 Limelight2727 W33 W25 L11 W26         3.0  
6 NM Kireet Panuganti 13843374 2138 kkpanu9 W34 W26 W14 L1         3.0  
7 Ethan Boldi 15088362 2120 etvat W41 L14 W40 W25         3.0  
8 Michael Walder 10345120 2075 FlightsOfFancy W48 W27 W16 L2         3.0  
9 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 kclemens W35 W28 L1 W27         3.0  
10 Felix German 12624534 1976 FelixGerman W42 W30 L2 W28         3.0  
11 Nicholas Ruo Weng 15499404 1958 ninjaforce W50 W32 W5 L3         3.0  
12 Nathan Fong 13001390 1954 nathanf314 H--- H--- W47 W30         3.0  
13 Nitish Nathan 15494283 1941 BreatheChessAlways W43 L1 W34 W32         3.0  
14 Javier Silva III 16089208 1889 J3Chess24 W52 W7 L6 W22         3.0  
15 Chelsea Zhou 15239016 1866 mwncklmann H--- H--- W52 W23         3.0  
16 Philip Gerstoft 12913356 1724 pgstar3 W58 W23 L8 W24         3.0  
17 William Sartorio 14715380 2063 unusualkid W49 D19 W31 L4         2.5  
18 Ashik Uzzaman 13178575 1940 ashikuzzaman W60 L3 W38 D20         2.5  
19 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1829 vish1080 W21 D17 L4 W46         2.5  
20 Pudur Ramaswamy 16106884 1718 MatnMatt20 L1 W43 W54 D18         2.5  
21 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 1033 andrewaballantyne L19 W49 W29 D31         2.5  
22 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 oka_ako W36 W29 L3 L14         2.0  
23 Kevin Yanofsky 15901193 1968 kyanofsky W37 L16 W33 L15         2.0  
24 Cailen J Melville 14006141 1940 Mangonel W59 L2 W48 L16         2.0  
25 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 kondsaga W61 L5 W35 L7         2.0  
26 Thomas F Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf W44 L6 W37 L5         2.0  
27 Nicholas Boldi 15088356 1883 nicarmt W53 L8 W51 L9         2.0  
28 Zachi Baharav 13464604 1813 fastZachi W45 L9 W56 L10         2.0  
29 Davi Flores Gomez 14799653 1812 PlayerCreate1 W39 L22 L21 W50         2.0  
30 Ranen A Lardent 12614986 1803 dashrndrx W54 L10 W57 L12         2.0  
31 Kevin M Fong 17254586 1783 chessappeals D46 W55 L17 D21         2.0  
32 Max Hao 16083648 1761 Joseph_Truelsons_Fan W57 L11 W39 L13         2.0  
33 Mateo Hansen 14907254 1687 mateosh L5 W61 L23 W51         2.0  
34 Ethan Guo 16761994 1664 LightningDragon8 L6 W44 L13 W52         2.0  
35 Marina Xiao 16380642 1556 programmingmax L9 W45 L25 W54         2.0  
36 Ella Guo 16380657 1556 SunnyCountry L22 L39 W61 W56         2.0  
37 Kr Gopalakrishnan 16545130 1506 chessboi2010 L23 W58 L26 W57         2.0  
38 Pranav Pradeep 15871762 1252 pranavpradeep2006 H--- H--- L18 W47         2.0  
39 Ethan Sun 16964125 931 sfdeals L29 W36 L32 W48         2.0  
40 Ahyan Zaman 15035222 1711 ahyanzaman L2 W59 L7 D43         1.5  
41 Christoph Bradley 16047844 1654 ifyoustayreti L7 L52 W60 D45         1.5  
42 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1513 rimus11 L10 L54 D44 W55         1.5  
43 Valerie Jade 17168772 1490 Evariel L13 L20 W58 D40         1.5  
44 Kevin Sun 16898540 1161 kevin_mx_sun L26 L34 D42 W59         1.5  
45 Elliott Regan 15032065 943 TTVchessmaster L28 L35 W59 D41         1.5  
46 Sebby Suarez 16875347 811 Sebbymeister D31 L4 W55 L19         1.5  
47 Erika Malykin 12910007 1693 starserika18 L3 W60 L12 L38         1.0  
48 Linu John Alex 13836822 1652 ibalek L8 W53 L24 L39         1.0  
49 Bryan Hood 12839763 1574 fiddleleaf L17 L21 H--- H---         1.0  
50 Nicholas M Brown 12446259 1495 nmbrown2 L11 L57 W53 L29         1.0  
51 Willia Harris III 15953392 1184 15953392 H--- H--- L27 L33         1.0  
52 Ian Liao 16738735 1105 victor6688 L14 W41 L15 L34         1.0  
53 Jeff North 17179258 1043 JeffNorthSF L27 L48 L50 W60         1.0  
54 Adithya Chitta 16695036 930 adichi L30 W42 L20 L35         1.0  
55 Samuel Tsen Brown 16380615 662 ComfyQueso B--- L31 L46 L42         1.0  
56 Leon Diaz Herrera 17355661 unr. Aeqetes H--- H--- L28 L36         1.0  
57 Bruce Hedman 17344551 unr. Bruce_Hedman L32 W50 L30 L37         1.0  
58 Cleveland W Lee 30037403 unr. Vincitore51745 L16 L37 L43 W61         1.0  
59 Michael Hilliard 12279170 1446 Echecsmike L24 L40 L45 L44         0.0  
60 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L18 L47 L41 L53         0.0  
61 Peter Jam Rushton 16453812 1239 pedrojrush L25 L33 L36 L58         0.0  


Mechanics' Institute Thursday Night Marathon Report

Here are the standings after 4 rounds of the Thursday Night Marathon. Pranav Sairam is having a very string tournament, but he will have his hands full next week as he faces a matchup with GM Gadir Guseinov. For more information, click on the event page here:

SwissSys Standings. Thursday Night Marathon Online: Open

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total Prize
1 Pranav Sairam 15424820 2084 chesspilot01 W27 W16 W13 W3   4.0  
2 GM Gadir Guseinov 17343590 2600 gguseinov H--- W11 W25 W7   3.5  
3 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow W15 W14 W8 L1   3.0  
4 NM Allan G Savage 10014999 2200 duchamp64 W19 W9 L7 W12   3.0  
5 NM Richard W Koepcke 10493269 2200 rkoepcke H--- W26 D12 W18   3.0  
6 Eric Hon 13778105 2186 microbear W10 W30 H--- H---   3.0  
7 NM Michael Walder 10345120 2075 FlightsOfFancy W20 W17 W4 L2   3.0  
8 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 oka_ako W31 W32 L3 W21   3.0  
9 Roger V Shi 16191192 1753 1-h4-1-0 W33 L4 W20 W23   3.0  
10 Rama Krish Chitta 17350313 1475 draidus L6 W34 W33 W17   3.0  
11 Thomas F Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf H--- L2 W24 W28   2.5  
12 Stewart Katz 12458563 1835 knvsback W22 W29 D5 L4   2.5  
13 Adam Mercado 16571026 1831 A-boy415 W23 W18 L1 D15   2.5  
14 Alexander Huberts 16419664 1794 cccalboy W35 L3 D28 W26   2.5  
15 Marina Xiao 16380642 1545 programmingmax L3 W37 W29 D13   2.5  
16 Jeff C Andersen 11296106 1643 zenwabi W39 L1 L23 W32   2.0  
17 Bryan Hood 12839763 1574 fiddleleaf X--- L7 W22 L10   2.0  
18 Richard Hack 12796129 1569 Kaline340Green W36 L13 W32 L5   2.0  
19 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1513 rimus11 L4 L23 W37 W33   2.0  
20 Ya Dancig Perlman 16280288 1428 noydan100 L7 W35 L9 W34   2.0  
21 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L25 W36 W30 L8   2.0  
22 Stephen Zhu 16412414 1347 chesspoki L12 W39 L17 X30   2.0  
23 Paul Krezanoski 16897133 1238 pjkrizzle L13 W19 W16 L9   2.0  
24 Rahim Dharssi 12693378 595 rahimftd H--- H--- L11 X31   2.0  
25 RIP Felix German 12624534 1976 FelixGerman W21 H--- L2 U--- U--- 1.5  
26 Lisa Willis 12601676 1583 LittlePinkCorvette H--- L5 W36 L14   1.5  
27 Jacob S Wang 17083655 1434 jacobchess857 L1 L33 W35 D29   1.5  
28 Nicholas Reed 16154827 1416 nxbex H--- H--- D14 L11   1.5  
29 Danny Du Uy Cao 16939797 863 caodanny X--- L12 L15 D27   1.5  
30 Timothy Horng 13282721 1730 aYzz W34 L6 L21 F22   1.0  
31 Andrew Nicho Paul 14232850 1385 chessplayer3740 L8 H--- H--- F24   1.0  
32 Robert H Frank 10498325 1200 cyber-droid X38 L8 L18 L16   1.0  
33 Ethan Sun 16964125 1180 sfdeals L9 W27 L10 L19   1.0  
34 Ian Liao 16738735 1105 victor6688 L30 L10 W39 L20   1.0  
35 Bruce Hedman 17344551 870 Bruce_Hedman L14 L20 L27 X37   1.0  
36 Cleveland W Lee 12814843 470 Vincitore51745 L18 L21 L26 W39   1.0  
37 Willia Fitzgerald 17048414 537 OlympusMons00 H--- L15 L19 F35   0.5  
38 Mohammad Amir Ali 30029248 1565 Deshbondhu F32 U--- U--- U---   0.0  
39 B J Day 12586048 unr. mrbillstunes1 L16 L22 L34 L36   0.0  

December 5 Weekend Rapid Recap

We held a weekend rapid on Saturday night December 5th and we had 18 players for our G/10+2 event. FM Kyron Griffith won the tournament with 5.5/6, a half point ahead of NM Eric Hon. 

Here is one game from the tournament, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(3) NM Michael Aigner (fpawn) (2275) - FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2262) [B15]
Live Chess, 05.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6 This variation of the Caro-Kann has become very popular recently. Black's 4 pawns on the kingside lead to interesting, unbalanced positions. 6.c3 Bd6 7.Bd3 0-0 8.Ne2 Re8 9.Qc2 h5!

fpawn has played the classical response to this variation and Kyron responds with the aggressive way of defending the h-pawn. This is the move that generates play for Black on the kingside squares. 10.Be3 Nd7 11.0-0-0 Aggressive and principled play from Michael. We have a real opposite side castling battle. 11...b5 12.Ng3 [12.d5!? should be carefully considered. That gives White squares in the center to make the play over the whole board.] 12...Nb6! [12...h4 13.Nf5 Nb6 14.Nxh4 Be6 is an alternative, though probably favors White] 13.Nxh5 Nd5 14.Rde1 Be6 15.Kb1?! These sharp attacking positions require brave moves, and this is too routine. [15.Bd2 gets the bishop out of take and opens the e-file. It's very complex but White should have an edge.] 15...Qa5 [15...b4 16.c4 b3! turbo charges the black attack. 17.axb3 (or 17.Qxb3 Rb8) 17...Nb4 leaves White suffering a difficult defense] 16.a3?
[16.Bd2 is about even] 16...b4! 16...Bxa3 is also good 17.cxb4?! [17.axb4 Nxb4 18.cxb4 Bxb4 19.Re2 Qxh5 20.Qxc6 is certainly unpleasant for White with his open king, but he would still have fighting chances.] 17...Bxb4 White's position is collapsing on the queenside and the white knight on h5 is also loose. There is no good move, so Michael decides to go down fighting. 18.Nxg7 Kxg7 19.Qe2 Bxe1 20.Rxe1

[20.Qh5 Nc3+ wins the queen on h5] 20...Nc3+! 21.bxc3 Rab8+ 22.Kc2 Qa4+ KyronGriffith won by resignation 0-1

Here are the full results:

Saturday, December 5 7PM Rapid - 6SS G/10+2

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total Prize
1 FM Kyron Griffith 12860484 2470 USA W18 W4 W7 W5 D2 W3 5.5 1st Place: $50
2$ NM Eric Hon 13778105 2202 USA W15 W6 D5 W13 D1 W7 5.0 2nd Place: $37.50
3 Manas Paldhe 16418854 1994 IND W10 L5 W14 W6 W4 L1 4.0 3rd Place: $25;
1st u2000: $37.50;
2-way split $62.50: $31.25 each
4 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 USA W12 L1 W10 W7 L3 W8 4.0
5 NM Michael Aigner 12595730 2207 USA W8 W3 D2 L1 L7 W12 3.5  
6 Menachem Dorfman 16395755 unr. USA W16 L2 W17 L3 D12 W15 3.5 1st u1800: $25
7 Vikram Rajmohan 15521827 1955 USA W14 W17 L1 L4 W5 L2 3.0  
8 Davi Flores Gomez 14799653 1812 MEX L5 W9 L13 W11 W10 L4 3.0  
9 Kevin M Fong 17254586 1783 USA D11 L8 D18 W15 L16 W14 3.0  
10 Sebby Suarez 16875347 691 USA L3 W18 L4 W17 L8 W16 3.0 1st u1600: $25
11 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 USA D9 L13 W12 L8 L15 B--- 2.5  
12 Glenn Kaplan 12680193 1776 USA L4 W15 L11 W14 D6 L5 2.5  
13 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 USA U--- W11 W8 L2 U--- U--- 2.0  
14 Kian Jamali 16761438 1166 USA L7 W16 L3 L12 B--- L9 2.0  
15 Travis Webb 12721727 1148 USA L2 L12 W16 L9 W11 L6 2.0  
16 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 948 USA L6 L14 L15 B--- W9 L10 2.0  
17 Bruce Hedman 17344551 unr. USA B--- L7 L6 L10 U--- U--- 1.0  
18 Felix German 12624534 1976 USA L1 L10 D9 U--- U--- U--- 0.5  

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 two days, three 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:

ChessTech 2020 Conference

Report from ChessTech2020
Chess and Technology Online Conference
5-6 December 2020
By Dr. Judit Sztaray
Last weekend I had the pleasure to attend one of the chess community's leading conference traditionally held in London in connection with the London Classics Tournament. Conference organizers John Upham and Stefan Löffler gathered online chess' leading experts and organized their presentations, talks and roundtable discussions over two days with representatives from many different countries, ranging from Australia, Russia, and countries in Europe, South, and North America. Topics ranged from Online coaching, tournaments, fair play, technical and social media, and broadcasting.
I was honored to co-present with one of the most renowned female arbiters, International Arbiter, WFM and FIDE lecturer Shohreh Bayat, who is known for being the chief TD of many prestigious international tournaments, such as the 2017 & 2018 Women’s World Championship. She brought her expertise in fair play monitoring and game analysis, while I presented guidance for planning online tournaments, requirements, and staffing. We presented comparisons between platforms, which I'll discuss in greater details in the next Newsletter.
On the second day, David Cordover, Stefan Löffler, and I coordinated a roundtable discussion about current online chess events, and presented a few interesting and out-of-the-box events that we had. I enjoyed reporting on our signature traditional Tuesday Night Marathon which is now online since the summer, and how it helps keep our community connected with live broadcasting by the Mechanics' Institute chess staff and various guests online. I also mentioned our scholastic Halloween tournament which I hosted, encouraging kids on Zoom to wear their costumes, and our Summer Chess Festival, where we offered a variety of tournaments, including the traditional "boring" swiss tournament, but also had Fischer Random, fun blitz side event, and a scholastic tournament. I also mentioned that the weekly newsletter always helps in getting our community connected and to highlight our tournaments and games.
The main focus was on coming up with ideas on offering not just a "dry" chess tournament, but to offer players and communities a well rounded, entertaining experience. The three of us will write a short summary article about this, and I'm excited to share it with the Mechanics' community. Tune in next week to read a summary about the different platforms, comparison on some of the important functions, user experience, and functionality from the arbiter's perspectives.

2020-2021 Pan American Intercollegiate Online Chess Championships

The Mechanics' Institute was awarded the bid to organize the prestigious 2020-2021 Pan American Intercollegiate Online Chess Championships. This event will be held January 4-6, 2021, and will be held online on the platform. This collegiate team championship event would have been held in Toronto this year, but the live event was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. We are proud to have been awarded the bid by the US Chess Federation to continue holding the event online, and keeping the spirit of competition among college teams from North, Central, and South American and the Carribbean. 

The Texas Tech University team is the defending champion and ended a seven-year championship reign by Susan Polgar's Webster University last year. We are hoping to see many college chess powerhouse teams such as University of Texas @ Dallas, Saint Louis University, University of Missouri, University of Toronto, Harvard University, Princeton University, MIT, and our local favorite, University of California @ Berkeley. We are especially hopeful to see more teams from all around participate in this years event since it is online, as the barriers of travel and cost associated with flights and hotel rooms are removed. 

We will have an all-star staff for this event making sure everything runs smoothly, including Judit Sztaray as Chief Organizer, NTD/FA Glenn Panner as Chief Tournament Director, a veteran of several Pan Am's and national championship events, NTD/IA Brian Yang, NTD/FA John McCumiskey, and several other seasoned experienced TD's to help with monitoring of games.

To Register and for event information, please follow thos link to our event page:

Mechanics' Chess Social

Our special guest this week on our Mechanics' Chess Social was US Chess Senior Director of Strategic Communication Dan Lucas. He has been with the USCF since 2005, was the former editor of Chess Life magazine and now is the head of communications which now also includes digital communications. We will talked with him about is tenure at US Chess, the challenges and opportunities that have presented themselves obver the past year, and what got him in the chess game. Here is the link to watch the interview:

WIM Dr. Alexey Root

Our good friend Alexey has written two fine articles showcasing outdoor/street chess communities from two very different parts of the world; St. Augustine, Florida and Canberra, Australia. Check out the street chess scenes by clicking on reading the articles here:
photo: Jennifer Jordan


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 advancement. 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, 12/15: 

GM Nick de Firmian Arena: Thursdays 5:00pm-6:00pm, 12/17: 

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:

Mechanics' Chess - Scholastic Tournaments

Saturday, December 12: starts at 4:00PM 

5SS G/5+2:

Sunday, December 13: starts at 2:00PM - join from 1:45PM

8SS G/5+2:

Monday, December 14: starts at 4:00PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/15+0:

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

5SS G/5+5:

Wednesday, December 16: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

4SS G/20+0:

Thursday, December 17: starts at 4PM - join from 3:45PM

5SS G/5+5:

Friday, December 18: 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 13, @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:

12/15 Tuesday - December Tuesday Night Marathon
Format: 8SS G/35+2
12/17 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]

Friendly Rivalries, Part 21.

Continuing from here:

Jon Frankle was yet another powerful chess master from the old days. His interest in chess pre-dates the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match – he seems to have come out of Iowa:

Poking around on the internet a bit, I see that Jon obtained his PhD from UC Berkeley, lives in Silicon Valley, and has been a highly-regarded chess coach

I’m just hazarding a guess, but the highlight of Jon’s chess career was probably becoming Northern California Chess Champion in 1987, winning the prestigious Bagby Invitational in 1987:

I finished dead last in that event.

Going over these games from long ago I am struck by Jon’s aggressive play – he once crushed GM Miguel Quinteros in 25 moves – and also by my own play: sloppy, and with a poor choice of openings (that darn Rat Defense!). 

Here’s the Quinteros game:

I just plain underestimated this dangerous opponent…

We played three times, in three Bagby’s at the Mechanics’ Institute.  I was black in all three games, won the 1st but lost the next two.

See for yourself:

(1) Jon Frankle - Paul Whitehead [B21]
Bagby Mem./No. Cal. Ch. San Francisco, 1982

Storyline: white plays in a hyper-aggressive style, but black hangs in there and eventually the game turns in his favor. 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 d3 4.c4 Nc6 5.Qxd3 d6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Bg5 e6 8.Rd1 Qa5 9.Bd2 a6 10.Nd5

10...Qd8 11.Nxf6+ Qxf6 12.Bc3 Qg6 13.h4 h5 14.Nf3 Be7 15.Be2 e5 16.c5 dxc5 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Bxe5 Qxg2 19.Rh2 Qg6 20.Kf1
20...Qe6 21.Qg3 Rg8 22.f4 Qg6 23.Qxg6 fxg6 24.Bc4 Rf8 25.Bd5 Bf6 26.Bc7 Bd7 27.e5 Bd8 28.Bxd8 Rxf4+ 29.Ke1 Rxd8 30.Rhd2
30...Rb8 31.Bg2 Bg4 32.Rc1 b6 33.Rc3 Ke7 34.Rcd3 Bf5 35.Rd6 Rxh4 36.Rc6 Rd4 37.Rxd4 cxd4 38.Rd6 h4 39.Rxd4 h3 40.Bf3
40...Ke6 41.Ra4 a5 42.b4 Kxe5 43.bxa5 bxa5 44.Kf2 Rb4 45.Rxa5+ Kf4 46.Bc6 Rb2+ 47.Kg1 g5 48.Ra4+ Kg3 49.Ra3+ Kh4 50.Rf3
50...g6 51.a4 g4 52.Rf2 Rb1+ 53.Rf1 h2+ 54.Kg2 Rb2+ 55.Kh1 Kh3 56.a5 g3 57.a6 g2+ 58.Bxg2+ Rxg2 59.a7 Rg1+
0-1 White resigns. 0-1

(2) Jon Frankle - Paul Whitehead [B06]
Bagby Mem./No.Cal. Ch. San Francisco, 1985

Storyline: white goes all-out for attack, but it's unsound. Black blunders with 30...c2?? instead of 30...f5 or ...30...f6 winning. Swindle! 1.e4 d6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Bg5 c6 5.Qd2 b5 6.f3 Nd7 7.h4 Ngf6 8.Bd3 Qb6 9.Nce2 e5 10.c3 0-0

11.Bh6 d5 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.h5 dxe4 14.hxg6 exd3 15.Qh6+ Kg8 16.gxh7+ Kh8 17.dxe5 Nd5 18.Rd1 Qe3 19.Qxe3 Nxe3
20.Rxd3 Nc2+ 21.Kf2 Nxe5 22.Rd6 Ne3 23.Rh5 N3c4 24.Rf6 Nxb2 25.Nf4 Nbc4 26.Nge2 Bd7 27.Ng3 a5 28.Ne4 b4 29.Rg5 bxc3 30.Rh6 c2?
31.Nf6! Ng6 32.Rhxg6 fxg6 33.Nxg6+ Kg7 34.Nxf8+ Kxf6 35.Rg6+ Ke7 36.h8Q c1Q 37.Qg7+ Ke8 38.Qxd7+ Kxf8 39.Qg7+ Ke8 40.Re6+
1-0 Black resigns. 1-0

(3) Jon Frankle - Paul Whitehead [B06]
Bagby Mem./No. Cal. Ch. San Francisco, 1987

Storyline: white had an edge the whole game and black was destroyed with hardly a shot fired. This opening just never seemed to work out for me. 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 c6 5.Qd2 b5 6.f3 Nd7 7.Nd1 h6 8.Be3 Ngf6 9.a4 bxa4 10.Rxa4 Qc7

11.Bd3 e5 12.Qa5 Qxa5+ 13.Rxa5 exd4 14.Bxd4 a6 15.Ne3 0-0 16.Ne2 Ne8 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Nc3 Nc5 19.Be2 Rb8 20.b3 Nc7
21.Kf2 Be6 22.Rd1 Rfd8 23.b4 Nb7 24.Ra3 c5 25.b5 axb5 26.Bxb5 Bc8 27.Bc6 Ne6 28.Rb1 Nd4 29.Bd5 Rd7 30.Ra2 Rc7 31.Rab2

1-0 Black resigns. 1-0


GM Nick de Firmian's Column

The Yerminator

We take a look back at one of the one of the great American players of the 1990’s and 2000’s, grandmaster Alex Yermolinsky. Yermo is of course well known to many Mechanics’ players as he was the Grandmaster in Residence at the club from 1998-2008. He won two US Championships and played on many US national teams in these two decades. The national teams were at the Olympiad and World Team Championship events, where he had memorable victories over some of the world’s biggest chess stars.

Yermo is well remembered at the MI for his lectures and teaching and also for his great results on the US chess circuit of big swiss system tournaments. He is still active and won the Western States Open in Reno a few years ago (a tournament which usually features a Mechanics’ Institute team entry). Yermo and his wife (WIM Camille Baginskaite) and two sons moved to the heartland of the US ten years ago – in South Dakota. While some immigrants wish to only life in big urban cities, Yermo has embraced heartland American culture and enjoys the pleasures of the Midwest and western US.

(1) Timman,Jan H (2655) - Yermolinsky,Alex (2625) [B30]
Elista ol (Men) Elista (5), 03.10.1998

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Jan Timman was the west's big hope to challenge for the World Championship in the 1980's and early 90's. Here he plays the Rossalimo Variation of the Sicilian, which gained some popularity after Fischer used it extensively in his 1992 match with Spassky. 3...e6 4.0-0 Nge7 5.c3 a6 6.Be2 d5 7.exd5 exd5 8.d4 cxd4 9.Nxd4 Nxd4! Accurate play by Yermo gains equality in the opening. White can recapture with the queen on d4 to avoid the same isolated d-pawn as Black, but then 10...Nc6 would gain time in the opening. 10.cxd4 g6 11.Nc3 Bg7 12.Bg5 0-0 13.Re1 [13.Nxd5 Qxd5 14.Bxe7 Re8 15.Bc5 Bf5 16.Bf3 Be4 17.Re1 Rad8 is fair compensation for the pawn] 13...h6! 14.Bh4?! [White should try 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.Nxd5 Qd6 16.Bf3 Be6 17.Nc3 Qxd4 though Black is at least equal] 14...g5 15.Bg3 Nc6 16.Bf3 Be6 17.Be5 The only way to defend the d-pawn, but now Black gets the bishop pair. 17...Nxe5 18.dxe5 d4! 19.Na4 Qa5 20.Bxb7? too greedy. Timman wins a pawn but will suffer against a long term initiative. 20...Rad8

Black has given a pawn (temporarily) but his game is a picture of activity. All the black pieces are on the right squares whitle White has the offside knight and the black d-pawn to worry about. 21.Rc1 d3 22.Re4 Bd7! The white position doesn't hold together after this move. If 23.Bc6 [23.b3 Bxa4 24.bxa4 d2 25.Rc2 Rb8 26.Bc6 Rfd8 27.g3 Rb1! wins. The black d-pawn is a monster.; 23.Nc3 d2 24.Qxd2 Bc6] 23...Bxc6 24.Rxc6 Qd5 25.Rcc4 Bxe5 material is equal but Black is winning. White has a terrible situation that his queen must do the job of blockading the d-pawn. 26.Nc3 Qd6 27.h4 d2 28.hxg5 hxg5 29.Re3 Bf4 30.Ne4 Qe6 31.Rec3
31...f5 32.g3 The end is coming. White cannot allow ...Qe1+ 32...fxe4 33.gxf4 Rxf4 34.Rg3 everything loses also 34...Qxc4 Timman resigned. The USA beat the Netherlands in this match 4-0. The US team lead the Olympiad for 13 of the 14 rounds but was just notched by the Russians in the final round to only win the silver medal. 0-1

(2) Yermolinsky,Alex (2596) - Thiel,Peter [D36]
US op 101st Saint Paul (5), 09.08.2000

Here Yermo plays against a very famous chess master, billionaire Peter Thiel of PayPal and Palentir fame. Older MI players will remember Peter at the club. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bg5 c6 6.cxd5 Yermo chooses the Exchange Variation of the QGD. He has always enjoyed a position where he can do a slow squeeze like a Boa Constrictor. 6...exd5 7.e3 Be7 8.Qc2 0-0 9.Bd3 Re8 10.0-0 Nf8 11.h3 g6 12.Rab1 Ne6 13.Bh6 a5 14.a3 Ng7 15.Bxg7 Kxg7

Very good solid opening play by Peter. Yermo has his work cut out for him if he wants to win. 16.b4 axb4 17.axb4 Bd6 18.b5 Ra3 19.Ra1 Rxa1 20.Rxa1 Qe7?! just a small inaccuracy. 20...Bd7 would leave the black queen with more influence on the queenside. Yermo starts to gain a little edge. 21.bxc6 bxc6 22.Na4 Bb7 23.Rc1 Ne4? Black could keep the game close to even with [23...Rc8] 24.Bxe4! giving up the second bishop and playing with two knights. The knights however have fine squares while the bishops are not doing too much. 24...dxe4 25.Nd2 f5 26.Nc5 Bc8 27.Qa4 f4! well played. Black is in trouble and takes his best chance by playing actively. 28.Ncxe4 fxe3 29.fxe3 Bb4
30.Nf1! the best way to consolidate the white position 30...Bf5?! [30...Rf8!] 31.Nf2 c5? under pressure Black goes astray. The c6 pawn is weak but now it is lost. 32.dxc5 Rb8 [32...Bxc5 33.Rxc5 Qxc5 34.Qxe8] 33.c6 Bd6 34.Ng4 h5 35.Qd4+ Kh7 36.Nf6+ Kh6 37.e4! Be6 38.e5 White is now just two pawns up and Yermo wraps it up efficiently. 38...Bc7 39.Kh1 Rb3 40.Nd2 Rb8 41.Qe3+ Kg7 42.Qc5 Kf7 [42...Qxc5 43.Rxc5 Bxe5 44.Nxh5+ gxh5 45.Rxe5] 43.Nf3 Bf5 44.Nd5 Black resigned. 1-0

(3) Yermolinsky,Alex (2530) - Rensch,Daniel (2406) [E39]
Tonto Village Tonto Village (4), 05.06.2011

Here Yermo plays against another chess celebrity - Danny Rensch, the funniest man in chess broadcasting. Danny is famous for his work at, but is also a strong international master. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 c5 7.dxc5 Nc6 8.Nf3 Bxc5 9.e3 b6 10.Be2 Bb7 Thus far logical play by both sides in a Nimzo-indian. 11.0-0 Be7 12.Rad1 Rc8 13.Rd2 Na5 14.b3 d5 15.Qb2 Qe8 16.cxd5 exd5?! [16...Nxd5] 17.Rc2 Ne4 18.Bxe7 Qxe7 19.Nd4 Black has the isolated d-pawn. This simple technical edge is the king Yermo would love to play. Danny is suffering. 19...Qf6 removing Black's isolated pawn, but still maintaining more control of the queenside squares. 20.Nxe4 dxe4 21.Rfc1 Nc6 22.Nxc6 [22.Bg4!? Rc7 23.Qa3] 22...Qxb2 23.Rxb2 Bxc6 24.Rbc2 Yermo has a little edge in the endgame. He loves to grind down an opponent. 24...Bd7 25.Ba6 Rxc2 26.Rxc2 Rd8 27.Kf1 Bg4 28.Be2 Bxe2+ 29.Kxe2 Rd7

30.g4 White is a little better because of the centralized king. It's hard to make progress though and instructive to see Yermo squeeze. Here he takes space on the kingside. 30...g6 31.h4 Kg7 32.Rc6 Rd5 33.Rc4 Re5 34.Kd2 Kf6 35.Rc7 Ra5?! [35...Re7!] 36.a4 h5 37.gxh5 gxh5 [37...Rxh5? 38.Rxa7 Rxh4 39.Rb7 gets two passers on the queenside] 38.Kc3 Rc5+ 39.Rxc5 bxc5 40.Kc4 Kf5 41.Kxc5 Kg4 42.b4 Kxh4 43.b5

where to go with the black king to let the h-pawn run? 43...Kg4? [Danny chooses the wrong square. He should have played 43...Kg5 44.a5 h4 45.b6 axb6+ 46.axb6 h3 47.b7 h2 48.b8Q h1Q 49.Qe5+ Kg6 50.Kd5 when White can still cause suffering for Black, but the game should be drawn with best play 50...Qd1+ 51.Kxe4 Qh1+ 52.f3 f6] 44.a5 h4 45.b6 axb6+ 46.axb6 h3 47.b7 h2 48.b8Q h1Q 49.Qf4+ this is the big difference. Yermo wins a pawn with check now 49...Kh5 [49...Kh3 50.Qg3#] 50.Qxf7+ Kg5 51.Qf4+ Kg6 52.Kd5 Qd1+ 53.Kxe4 Qb1+ 54.Kf3 Qh1+ 55.Ke2 1-0

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