Chess Room Newsletter #949 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #949

Gens Una Sumus!


Newsletter #949


January 2, 2021

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Happy New Year!

We look forward to 2021 as the Mechanics' Institute will continue to organize premier online events and classes, find new ways to bring communities and cultures together through chess, and fine new innovative ways to engage children and underrepresented groups to chess. We hope we see a return of all the things we love about the Mechanics' Institute and its historic chess room, and we hope the experiences of the past year create an even greater passion and appreciation for live play, and the positive social/emotional benefits of engaging in competititon, recreation, friendship and companionship through chess for many years to come. Our team is here for you, staying active and engaged and we will see you all in 2021 either online, and hopefully soon, live at the Mechanics' Institute in downtown San Francisco. See you soon!

Abel Talamantez

Chess Director

2020-2021 Pan-American Intercollegiate Online Chess Championships Organized by the Mechanics' Institute Starts Monday!

The biggest collegiate team championship is coming to the Mechanics' Institute starting Monday January 4, 2021, and going through Wednesday, January 6, 2021, as the 2020-2021 Pan-American Intercollegiate Online Chess Championships will kick off at 9:00am Pacific time, with live coverage for all three days and all nine rounds of the event. We will have 60 colleges and universities participating, with more than 240 players, representing schools from the Unites States, Canada, and Mexico. Time control for the games is G/25+5, and we will broadcast games on our Twitch channel with commentary by GM Nick de Firmian, FM Paul Whitehead, WIM Ivette Garcia Morales, and Abel Talamantez. We will also have special guests throughout the tournament on the broadcast, including GM Sam Shankland, GM Patrick Wolff, IM Kostya Kavutskiy, WGM Carla Heredia, WIM Dr. Alexey Root, FM Kyron Griffith, and many more.

The Red Raiders of Texas Tech University will be looking to defend their title against top college chess teams like Susan Polgar's Webster University team, University of Texas @ Dallas, Saint Louis University, Princeton, Harvard, CalTech, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and over 50 other teams. Follow the action on our channel to see who will come out on top:

For full event schedule, registered teams and players, click the event page here:

Special thanks to our amazing team of organizers and TD's, which make up some of the top talent in the country. FA Judit Sztaray is our Chief Organizer, with NTD/FA Glenn Panner as the Chief Tournament Director. Assistant Chief Tournament Director will be NTD/IA Brian Yang, with NTD/FA John McCumiskey running the pairings. We will also be assisted by a talented staff of assistant TD's in the back room, monitoring nearly 500 cameras behing the scenes and making sure the event is coordinated smoothly. 

Follow the action next week starting at 9:00am Monday!

2020 December Tuesday Night Marathon Report

The final two rounds of the 2020 December Tuesday Night Marathon were held on December 22, 2020 with GM Gadir Guseinov holding solidly with two draws to finish in clear first with 7/8. FM Kyron Griffith finished strong with 2 wins to take clear second place with 6.6/8. In a tie for third place with 6/8 were IM Elliott Winslow, NM Mike Walder, NM Arun Dixit, and Nicholas Weng. Full results as well as the under prizes can be seen on the event page here:

Here are a few games from the final two rounds, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(1) GM Gadir Guseinov (GGuseinov) (2600) - NM Michael Walder (FlightsOfFancy) (2075) [B77]
Mechanics' TNMO (7.1), 22.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Guseinov is fond of this second move, often venturing into rare lines. 2...Nc6 3.Nf3 heading back towards the Open Sicilian [3.Bb5!? , the Tiviakov System, has been in Guseinov's repertoire.; White could also play 3.g3; as well as the Grand Prix: 3.f4] 3...g6 [3...e5!? 4.Bc4 Be7 is hard to believe, what with that hole on d5, but it's a developed system, even recommended by some grandmasters -- and as so often, played with quite a bit of success at the highest levels by Carlsen.] 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 0-0 [The other big line is 7...Qa5 8.0-0 0-0 9.Bb3 (The older 9.Nb3 Qc7 10.f4 d6 11.Be2 looks like the pre-Yugoslav Attack Dragon days) 9...d6 10.h3 Bd7 and now the more sophisticated 11.Re1 has taken over (11.f4 was the original procedure) ] 8.Bb3 d6 9.f3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Nxd4 An option Black has via this move order -- This is similar, but much older [than the Topalov Variation 10...Rc8 11.0-0-0 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5] 11.Bxd4 b5


12.a4 A long think by Guseinov's standards! Since White hasn't castled yet (compared to the Topalov Variation) he has certain advantages: the a-pawn will be guarded twice (after Black's next move), plus White could castle kingside (or stay in the center!) and in general play more positionally. [12.h4 a5 13.a4 (13.a3) ; 12.a3!? a5 13.h4 h5 14.Rd1!? is an interesting middle-of-the-road containment strategy.] 12...b4!? [12...bxa4 used to be the main move, but not any more (Carlsen might have something to do with that).] 13.Nd5 the standard move, but the various retreats have a lot to be said for them. 13...Nxd5 14.Bxg7 [14.exd5 discourages what follows 14...Bxd4 15.Qxd4 Qa5 16.h4!? (16.0-0 Rac8 has been seen in three games of Guseinov's (he was Black!) already, plus a quick Anand game: 17.Rfe1 Rfe8 18.Kh1 Qc5 19.Qh4 1/2-1/2 (19) Anand,V (2790)-Carlsen, M (2810) Wijk aan Zee 2010; 16.Kf2!? was Negi's alternative, also tricky for Black.) 16...e5 17.dxe6 Bxe6 18.0-0-0 was in Negi's Grandmaster Repertoire 1.e4 series, quoting 1-0 (51) Navara,D (2692)-Malakhov,V (2715) Sibenik 2009.] 14...Kxg7 15.exd5 Qb6!? The idea is to wait until White castles queenside, then shift the queen to a5 and pick off the a-pawn. [15...a5 might be a bit static, but noteworthy again from another Anand-Carlsen game: 16.h4 e5 17.dxe6 Bxe6 18.0-0-0 Bxb3 19.cxb3 Re8 20.h5 Qf6 1/2-1/2 (31) Anand,V (2800)-Carlsen,M (2826) Kristiansund 2010] 16.g4!? Sensible to inhibit ...h5 as a defensive move, but it costs a tempo -- precious in the Dragon -- and hasn't been seen since the beginning days of this line. [16.h4 has been met successfully by 16...h5 (16...h6 hasn't done as well) 17.0-0-0 Qa5 when the vast majority of games have drawn! 18.g4 (18.Qd4+!? eliminates the defense seen in this game, but almost every game has seen a draw.) 18...Bxa4!? was a more recent wild game that went Black's way: 19.Kb1 (19.Qd4+) 19...Bxb3 20.cxb3 Rh8 21.Rc1 Rae8 22.Rc6 Qb5 23.Rc7 a5 24.g5 a4 25.Qd4+ Kh7 26.bxa4 Qxa4 27.Re1 Rhf8 28.Ra7 Qb5 29.f4 Kg8 30.f5 gxf5 31.Kc2 b3+ 32.Kd1 Rc8 33.g6 Rc5 0-1 (33) Vachier Lagrave,M (2796)-Giri,A (2771) Stavanger 2017; The one time Guseinov has had White here previously, he played 16.Qf2 and the game was immediately drawn: Guseinov-Zavgorodniy, Alushta 2011.]


16...Rac8N [Predecessor: 16...f5 17.0-0-0 (17.g5!?) 17...fxg4 18.fxg4 Bxg4 19.Rde1 Rf7 20.Qg5 Bf5 21.Rxe7 Raf8 22.Re2 1/2-1/2 (22) Spassov,L-Schoeneberg,M Ybbs 1968; Maybe Black should be thinking about the e-file: 16...Rae8!?; or 16...e5!?] 17.h4 [17.0-0-0!? Qa5 18.h4 Bxa4 19.Kb1 is typical, but White's pawns have yet to make contact.] 17...f5! Black, not completely atypically, starts play on the f-file! And succeeds in throwing his far higher rated opponent off. Mike has really been bringing his best to his games with Gadir, only losing his way after establishing excellent, even just winning positions. [17...h6 18.h5 g5 19.0-0-0 prepares f3-f4 with further inroads.] 18.h5 Maximum contact! [18.g5 allows 18...f4 with the f5 square freed for Black's bishop] 18...fxg4


19.hxg6? [19.0-0-0 had to be tried, but 19...Rxf3!? (aw well as 19...Bf5!?) 20.Rde1 (20.Kb1 Bf5-+) 20...Kf6!! and it's Black's time now.]


19...h5!! taking advantage of White's king's over-long stay in the center! 20.0-0-0 Too late! But [20.Rxh5? Qg1+ 21.Ke2 gxf3+ 22.Kd3 Qxg6+ picks off the rook.] 20...Rxf3! 21.Rde1 [21.Rxh5 Qe3! White can't allow the queens to come off with that monster g-pawn still on the board.] 21...Kxg6!


Stopping all of White's attacking play. But -- with this move Walder offered a draw! After the game on the Twitch broadcast he said he was still spooked by losing to Guseinov after winning a rook in their previous game. But he had a good 18 minutes on the clock (as usual Guseinov had almost 30 minutes left!), and ...Bf5 is going to be an overwhelming counterattack. Indeed White is lost, and Guseinov was happy to accept. 1/2-1/2

(2) Nicholas Weng (ninjaforce) (1958) - NM Tom Maser (Talenuf) (1900) [C60]
Mechanics' TNMO (7.9), 22.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 Maser has been playing the Steinitz Defense Deferred since way before Weng was born. 5.0-0 Bd7 6.c3 Nf6 7.Re1 g6 8.h3 An unnecessary move, even if some superstars have played it. [8.d4 Qe7 (8...b5 9.Bb3 (9.Bc2) ) 9.d5 (9.Nbd2 Bg7 10.Nf1 0-0 11.Ng3) 9...Nb8 10.c4 intending Nc3, b4 gets queenside play going right away.] 8...Bg7 9.d4 0-0 10.Nbd2 Qe8 A slightly stylish maneuver, guarding h5 further along. [Here's a recent game: 10...Re8 11.Bb3 h6 12.a3 Nh5 13.dxe5 dxe5 14.Nf1 Nf4 15.Ne3 Na5 16.Bc2 Be6 17.Nd2 Nd3 18.Rf1 h5 19.b4 Nc6 20.Nb3 Nxc1 21.Rxc1 Bh6 22.Qe2 b6 23.Rcd1 Qg5 24.Kh1 Ne7 25.Nd2 Qf6 26.Bb3 Red8 27.Bxe6 Qxe6 28.Ndc4 Bxe3 29.Nxe3 Qb3 30.Qc4 Qxc4 31.Nxc4 f6 32.h4 1-0 (100), Nakamura,H (2736)-Artemiev,V (2716) Speed Chess Super Swiss KO, 4.10/0 ] 11.Bc2 Nh5 12.Nf1 f5 13.exf5 gxf5


Black's early expansion leaves him loose and prone to tactical device, but with dynamic chances. Still, one must remain diligent. 14.Ne3N [14.Nh4 Ne7 15.Bg5 Nc6 16.d5 Nd8 17.g4 Nf7 18.Bc1 fxg4 19.hxg4 Qd8 20.g5 Nf4 21.Bxf4 exf4 22.Kh1 Qxg5 0-1 (43), Montilla Carrillo,E (2350)-Castaner Harster,X (2205) Sant Boi 1998] 14...Bf6?? Tom just forgot about his f-pawn. There isn't much else to this game. [14...Kh8 15.Nd5 (15.Nh4 Ne7) 15...Rc8=] 15.Nxf5+- Kh8 16.Bh6 complicating, when keeping it simple just wins. 16...Rg8 17.Qd2 Rg6?! But this doesn't work at all. 18.N5h4! Rxh6?! [18...Bxh4 19.Nxh4 Rg8] 19.Qxh6 Qf7 20.Ng6+ [After 20.Ng6+ Kg8 White has a big choice of wins, including various captures on e5, or just back to h4. 21.dxe5! is the most overpowering.] 1-0

(3) FM Kyron Griffith (KyronGriffith) (2470) - IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (2278) [B90]
Mechanics' TNMO (8.2), 22.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 [6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Qd2 Nbd7 9.0-0-0 Be7 10.f4 b5 11.f5 Bc4 12.Kb1 h5 13.Bd3 Qc7 14.a3 0-1 (48) Svidler,P (2750)-Karjakin,S (2725) Nice 2010] 6...e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 h5 9.Qd2 [9.Nd5!?] 9...Nbd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 This could end up being committal -- see Black's 15th. [10...Be7 11.Kb1; 10...Qc7] 11.Kb1 Be7 12.f4 In fact, White has played 14 (!!) different moves here. [12.h3 b5!? (12...h4 13.Bd3 b5 14.f4) ; Relevant: 12.h4 b5 13.a3 0-0 14.Bg5 Re8 15.g4 hxg4 16.fxg4 Bxg4 17.Re1 d5 18.Nxd5 Nxd5 19.exd5 Bf5 20.Bd3 e4 21.Nd4 Bxg5 22.hxg5 exd3 23.Rxe8+ Qxe8 24.Nxf5 dxc2+ 25.Ka2 Qe4 26.Ne7+ Qxe7 27.Qh2 c1N+ 28.Ka1 Nb3+ 29.Ka2 Nc1+ 30.Ka1 Nb3+ 31.Ka2 Nc1+ 1/2-1/2 (31) Wei,Y (2732)-Giri,A (2764) INT 2020; Other than 12.Rc1 (1-0!) 12...0-0 (12...b5!) 13.Nd5 Bxd5 (13...Nxd5 14.exd5 Bf5) 14.exd5 1-0 (52) Szalanczy,E (2242)-Marosi,L (2185) Budapest 2014; Stockfish has a fondness for 12.Rg1 -- humans haven't fared so well with it (3-7).; 12.a3!? (Now that's prophylaxis!) has done the best, over all of seven games.] 12...b5 13.f5 Bc4 14.Bd3 [14.Bxc4?! bxc4! (14...Rxc4) 15.Nc1 Qc7-/+ Black's queen will be excellently situatied on b7; 14.a3] 14...Qc7 [14...Nb6!? 15.h3 h4 16.Qf2 Na4 17.Nxa4 bxa4 18.Bxc4 Rxc4 19.Nd2 Nxe4 20.Nxe4 Rxe4 21.Qf3 Qa8 22.f6 gxf6 23.Bf2 Qc6 24.Rd2 Rc4 25.Qd3 d5 26.Rhd1 d4 27.Qf5 Rg8 28.Bxh4 Rg6 29.g4 Qe6 30.Qh5 Qc6 31.Qf5 Rg8 32.Bf2 Qb5 33.b3 Rc6 34.h4 Qc5 35.Qf3 a3 36.h5 0-1 (36) Zakhartsov,V (2452) -Khismatullin,D (2617) Sochi 2016] 15.a3


15...0-0? And this is definitely committal! A major lesson in the Najdorf, and in general, is to recognize when the king is safe enough in the center, for now, and the tempo is better spent elsewhere. [15...Rb8! is to the point -- Black wants to get his counterplay moving. Now ...b4 is available. 16.Qe2 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 b4! 18.axb4 Rxb4 19.Bg5 (19.Qxa6 0-0! 20.Bg5 (20.Nd5 Nxd5 21.exd5 Rc8) 20...Rb6 21.Qe2 Ra8 and Black triples on the a-file. 0-1 (70) Compagnone,G (2307)-Cade,S (2369) ICCF email 2017) 19...0-0 20.g4 hxg4 21.h3 g3 22.Qxg3 Rc8 23.Qg2 Kf8 24.Rhg1 Ke8 The king on e8 is safer, now that the rook is into play on c8.0-1 (48) Svidler,P (2750)-Karjakin,S (2725) Nice 2010] 16.g4 hxg4 17.Rdg1 d5 A sort of desperation 18.h3 g3 19.Rxg3 Nh5!?


20.Qg2?N This could have let Black off the hook! [20.Rg2! isn't winning -- that would be too strong a claim -- but it was just fine: 20...d4 21.Nxd4! exd4 22.Bxd4 Qd6 23.Bxc4 Rxc4 24.Nd5 Rxd4 25.Qxd4 Re8?! (25...Rc8!?; 25...Ne5!?) 26.Rhg1 Bf8 27.Rg5! Qc5 28.Qd2 (28.Qd3!) 28...Ndf6 29.Nxf6+ Nxf6 30.Qg2 Kh831.Rxg7!! Qxg1+ 32.Qxg1 Bxg7 33.Qa7 Rxe4 34.Qxa6 1-0, Kuhne,D (2393)-Arbrile,G (2338) ICCF email 2018]


20...f6?? Black used less than four of his remaining 15:41 to come up with this unfortunate defense. Freeing the f7 square for the rook but taking f6 away from -- well, Black had a lot of pieces that might have wanted to go there! [20...Nxg3!? 21.Qxg3 f6 works a lot better -- no lame knight on h5. 22.Nxd5! Bxd5 23.exd5 Bc5 24.Bc1! White has advantage, and Black continues to be concerned about his king.; But more pertinent was 20...Qd6 which appears to hold: 21.Bxc4 bxc4 22.Rxg7+ Nxg7 23.Rg1 Bf6 24.Na5! (24.Bh6?? Kh7! 25.Bxg7 Rg8-+) 24...d4 25.Nb7 Qc6 (25...Qb6!? 26.Nd5 dxe3 27.Nxb6 Nxb6= keeps the game going.) 26.Na5 is a repetition!] 21.Bxc4 Kyron suspected there was something up, and finally had a Big Think (better late than never -- and he had the time, 27 minutes, to afford it). 21...dxc4 22.Nd5 Qd8 White: 15:29 Black: 8:33 23.Na5 [23.Rg6! could well be even better.] 23...Rf7?! Black used over half his remaining time on this. [23...Nxg3 24.Nb7 Nxh1!? 25.Nxd8 Bxd8 Somehow Black miscounted or something, since this would at least give him hope.] 24.Nb7 This is hopeless. 24...Qe8 25.Rg6! c3?! 26.b4 "Human move" -- Squelching counterplay. [26.Qg4; 26.Rg1] 26...Rc4 27.Na5 Qc8 28.Rg1 Bf8 29.Rh6 Nf4 30.Bxf4 exf4 31.Qg6 Re7 32.Nxe7+ Bxe7 33.Qxg7# KyronGriffith won by checkmate 1-0

(4) William Sartorio (unusualkid) (2063) - Asjik Uzzaman (ashikuzzaman) (1940) [B72]
Mechanics' TNMO (8.6), 22.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 a6 The "Dragodorf!" 7.f3 b5 [7...Bg7 8.Qd2 h5 could be a bit too far. But still, 9.a4 b6 10.Bc4 Bb7 11.0-0 Nbd7 12.Rad1 Rc8 13.Ba2 Ne5 14.Qe2 Qc7 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.Bxd5 Bxd5 17.exd5 Qc4 0-1 (36) Khanin,S (2584)-Fedoseev,V (2678) INT 2020] 8.Qd2 Bb7 9.Nb3!? in the spirit of one of the modern lines against the Najdorf (5...a6 6.Nb3!?), but so far only played in games by Experts. [9.0-0-0 seems rather hardheaded in the face of Black's already advanced b-pawn. 9...Nbd7; 9.g4!? hasn't been played as much but scores well,; as has 9.Be2!?; 9.a4! was Negi's preferred line in the Grandmaster Repertoire series.] 9...Nbd7 10.0-0-0 [The computers like 10.Nd1!? Admittedly Na5 will be annoying!; 10.Be2 and 0-0 is indicated.] 10...Rc8 11.g4 [11.Kb1 Bg7 12.Bh6 Bxh6 13.Qxh6 b4 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Nf6 16.Bd3 Qb6 17.Rhe1 Bxd5 18.Re2 Kd7 19.Be4 Bxe4 1/2-1/2 (19) Brinck Claussen,B (2323)-Skaanning Pedersen,K (2198) Esbjerg 2007] 11...Ne5


12.Be2N [Last game reference: 12.Qf2 Bg7 13.Bd4 Nfd7 14.h4 h5 15.gxh5 Rxh5 16.Be2 b4 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.exd5 a5 19.Kb1 Qc7 20.Bb5 Kf8 21.f4 Ng4 22.Bxg7+ Kxg7 23.Qe2 Ndf6 24.Rdg1 Nh6 25.Bd3 a4 26.Nd4 Qc5 27.Rxg6+ Kh8 28.Rxf6 Qxd4 29.Rxf7 Nxf7 30.Qxh5+ Kg7 31.Qg4+ 1-0 (31) Chigaev,M (2145)-Chernyavsky,A (2210) Dagomys 2009] 12...Nc4 [Black could catch up on development: 12...Bg7] 13.Bxc4 Rxc4?!


[13...bxc4 14.Nd4 at least sets up later play on the b-file.] 14.e5?! [14.Nc5!+- wreaks havoc in Black's setup.] 14...Nd7 15.exd6 Bxf3 16.Nd5? [16.Na5! is a tactical sequence that leads to an advantage after 16...Bxh1 17.Nxc4 Bf3 18.dxe7 Bxe7 19.Nd6+ Bxd6 20.Qxd6 Qe7 (20...Bxd1? 21.Nd5) 21.Qd4 f6 22.Rd2] 16...e6?! [16...Bxh1! 17.Rxh1 Ne5=] 17.Bg5!


17...f6? [17...Bxd1!? 18.Rxd1 (18.Bxd8? Rxc2+=/+) 18...f6 19.Nxf6+ Nxf6 20.d7+ Kf7 21.Rf1+/=] 18.Nxf6+! Nxf6


19.Bxf6?? [19.d7+!+- Qxd7 (19...Kf7? 20.Rdf1) 20.Bxf6 Qxd2+ 21.Nxd2!] 19...Qxf6 20.d7+ Kd8 and now it's Black with the chances. 21.Qa5+ Rc7 22.Qb6


22...Bxd1?? At first glance a key defensive resource, but in fact it overlooks a real one. [22...Bd5?? fails: 23.Rxd5 Qf4+ 24.Rd2; But 22...Qf4+! first: 23.Kb1 The best of a bad situation 23...Bd5! Now White's best shot is 24.Rxd5!? exd5 25.Re1 but 25...Qf7! when the advantage is with Black -- it's only a question of how big it is. (25...Kxd7?? 26.Qe6+ Kd8 27.Qe8#; 25...Be7 26.Qb8+ Kxd7 27.Qxh8 Qxh2 is just equal) ] 23.Rxd1 Actually it's pretty clear now that White is winning. 23...Bh6+ 24.Kb1 Bf4


25.Qb8+? There it goes again! Either knight move towards c6 would be very good, [while 25.g5!! smashingly takes advantage of the overloaded queen and bishop.] 25...Ke7 26.d8Q+ Rxd8 27.Qxd8+ Kf7 Incredibly, Black is holding after all this. 28.Rd7+ Rxd7 29.Qxd7+ Qe7


30.Qxe7+? Not a good ending; the bishop rules both sides. 30...Kxe7 31.h3 Kd6 [31...e5! should win] 32.c3 e5 33.Kc2 e4 34.Kd1 Kd5 35.Ke2 Bg5 36.Nd4?! [36.Na5] 36...Bc1 37.b4 Kc4 38.Nb3 Bf4 39.Nc5 e3? [39...Kxc3 40.Nxa6 Kb2 wins] 40.Nxa6 Kxc3 41.Nc5 Now White can draw 41...g5 42.a3 Kb2 43.a4 bxa4 44.Nxa4+ Ka3 45.Nc5 Kxb4 46.Ne6 Kc4 47.Ng7 Kd5 48.Nf5 Ke4 49.Nh6 Bg3 50.Nf5 Bf2 51.Nh6 Bh4 52.Nf5 Bf2 53.Nh6 Ke5 54.Kf3 Kd4


55.h4?? White maybe knows too much, and tries to get a famous draw. [It so happens that White can lock up a draw with 55.Ke2 Ke4 56.Ng8 Kf4 57.Nf6 h6 58.Nh5+ (or 58.Ng8 Kg3 59.Nxh6 Kxh3 60.Kf3= as long as White doesn't try to take on e3, but just holds the line.) ] 55...gxh4?? and Black lets it happen! [55...Kd3! 56.Nf5 (56.Nf7!? e2 57.Ne5+ Kd2 58.Nc4+ Ke1!-+) 56...e2 57.Kxf2 Kd2-+] 56.Nf5+ Kd3


57.Nxe3! Bxe3 58.Kg2 Bg5 59.Kh1 It's fun to watch Stockfish giving Black a huge plus score here, when we humans know about bishop and wrong rook pawn(s). Many a game has been saved by heading for this paradoxical ending, often the opponent does a doubletake before remembering what's happening. 59...Ke2 60.Kg2 Ke3 61.Kh1 Kf3 62.Kg1 Kxg4 63.Kh1 Kf3 64.Kg1 Ke2 65.Kh1 Kf1 66.Kh2 Be3 67.Kh1 Bf2 68.Kh2 Bg1+ 69.Kh1 h3 A wonderful up-and-down battle! 1/2-1/2

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 W26 W25 W8 W3 W2 D5 D7 7.0 1st Place: $336
2 FM Kyron Griffith 12860484 2470 KyronGriffith H--- W42 W20 W11 W7 L1 W14 W3 6.5 2nd Place: $252
3 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow W36 W27 W43 W5 L1 W6 W8 L2 6.0 3rd Place: $168;
3-way split: $56 each
4 Arun Dixit 14607904 2199 Limelight2727 W23 W9 L6 W28 L13 W29 W26 W15 6.0
5 Michael Walder 10345120 2075 FlightsOfFancy W32 W44 W18 L3 W29 W7 D1 D8 6.0
6 Nicholas Ruo Weng 15499404 1958 ninjaforce W38 W17 W4 L7 W18 L3 W28 W12 6.0 1st u2000: $84
7 NM Eric Hon 13778105 2202 microbear W22 W14 W12 W6 L2 L5 W13 D1 5.5  
8 NM Kireet Panuganti 13843374 2138 kkpanu9 W24 W28 W29 L1 W26 W13 L3 D5 5.5  
9 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 kondsaga W56 L4 W46 L10 D23 W52 W35 W20 5.5  
10 Ethan Boldi 15088362 2120 etvat W52 L29 W36 W9 H--- H--- L15 W21 5.0  
11 William Sartorio 14715380 2063 unusualkid W45 D20 W30 L2 D31 W16 D21 D14 5.0  
12 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 oka_ako W53 W16 L7 L29 W40 W17 W31 L6 5.0  
13 Nathan Fong 13001390 1954 nathanf314 H--- H--- W22 W21 W4 L8 L7 W31 5.0  
14 Ashik Uzzaman 13178575 1940 ashikuzzaman W55 L7 B--- D31 W20 W15 L2 D11 5.0  
15 Chelsea Zhou 15239016 1866 mwncklmann H--- H--- W49 W19 W25 L14 W10 L4 5.0 Best Female: $56
16 Davi Flores Gomez 14799653 1812 PlayerCreate1 W33 L12 L40 W38 W53 L11 W45 W27 5.0  
17 Max Hao 16083648 1761 Joseph_Truelsons_Fan W51 L6 W33 L26 W27 L12 W46 W25 5.0 Best u1800: $84;
2-way split: $42 each
18 Philip Gerstoft 12913356 1724 pgstar3 W60 W19 L5 W27 L6 L28 W29 W26 5.0
19 Kevin Yanofsky 15901193 1968 kyanofsky W47 L18 W23 L15 W30 L31 D24 W37 4.5  
20 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1829 vish1080 W40 D11 L2 W42 L14 W41 W23 L9 4.5  
21 Ranen A Lardent 12614986 1803 dashrndrx W50 L43 W51 L13 W33 W25 D11 L10 4.5  
22 Erika Malykin 12910007 1693 starserika18 L7 W55 L13 H--- H--- H--- W41 W39 4.5  
23 Mateo Hansen 14907254 1687 mateosh L4 W56 L19 W59 D9 W42 L20 W40 4.5  
24 Ethan Guo 16761994 1664 LightningDragon8 L8 W39 L26 W49 L28 W33 D19 W36 4.5  
25 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 kclemens W46 W35 L1 W44 L15 L21 W40 L17 4.0  
26 Nitish Nathan 15494283 1941 BreatheChessAlways W58 L1 W24 W17 L8 W46 L4 L18 4.0  
27 Cailen J Melville 14006141 1940 Mangonel W48 L3 W32 L18 L17 W47 W34 L16 4.0  
28 Thomas F Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf W39 L8 W47 L4 W24 W18 L6 U--- 4.0  
29 Javier Silva III 16089208 1889 J3Chess24 W49 W10 L8 W12 L5 L4 L18 W42 4.0  
30 Kevin M Fong 17254586 1783 chessappeals D42 W54 L11 D40 L19 L49 W57 W48 4.0  
31 Pudur Ramaswamy 16106884 1718 MatnMatt20 L1 W58 W50 D14 D11 W19 L12 L13 4.0  
32 Linu John Alex 13836822 1652 ibalek L5 W57 L27 L33 L42 W54 W50 W49 4.0  
33 Ethan Sun 16964125 931 sfdeals L16 W53 L17 W32 L21 L24 W47 W45 4.0 Best u1600: $84
34 Leon Diaz Herrera 17355661 unr. Aeqetes H--- H--- L35 L53 X59 W44 L27 W46 4.0  
35 Zachi Baharav 13464604 1813 fastZachi W41 L25 W34 L43 W47 H--- L9 U--- 3.5  
36 Ahyan Zaman 15035222 1711 ahyanzaman L3 W48 L10 D58 W39 L40 W49 L24 3.5  
37 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1513 rimus11 L43 L50 D39 W54 L41 W38 W53 L19 3.5  
38 Nicholas M Brown 12446259 1495 nmbrown2 L6 L51 W57 L16 H--- L37 X58 W52 3.5  
39 Kevin Sun 16898540 1161 kevin_mx_sun L28 L24 D37 W48 L36 W58 W52 L22 3.5 Best u1400: $56;
4-way split: $14 each
40 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 1033 andrewaballantyne L20 W45 W16 D30 L12 W36 L25 L23 3.5
41 Elliott Regan 15032065 943 TTVchessmaster L35 L46 W48 D52 W37 L20 L22 W53 3.5
42 Sebby Suarez 16875347 811 Sebbymeister D30 L2 W54 L20 W32 L23 W44 L29 3.5
43 RIP Felix German 12624534 1976 FelixGerman W37 W21 L3 W35 U--- U--- U--- U--- 3.0  
44 Nicholas Boldi 15088356 1883 nicarmt W57 L5 W59 L25 L46 L34 L42 W54 3.0  
45 Bryan Hood 12839763 1574 fiddleleaf L11 L40 H--- H--- W50 W51 L16 L33 3.0  
46 Marina Xiao 16380642 1556 programmingmax L25 W41 L9 W50 W44 L26 L17 L34 3.0  
47 Kr Gopalakrishnan 16545130 1506 chessboi2010 L19 W60 L28 W51 L35 L27 L33 W57 3.0  
48 Michael Hilliard 12279170 1446 Echecsmike L27 L36 L41 L39 W55 W60 W51 L30 3.0  
49 Ian Liao 16738735 1105 victor6688 L29 W52 L15 L24 W60 W30 L36 L32 3.0  
50 Adithya Chitta 16695036 930 adichi L21 W37 L31 L46 L45 W55 L32 W60 3.0  
51 Bruce Hedman 17344551 unr. Bruce_Hedman L17 W38 L21 L47 W57 L45 L48 W56 3.0  
52 Christoph Bradley 16047844 1654 ifyoustayreti L10 L49 W55 D41 W58 L9 L39 L38 2.5  
53 Ella Guo 16380657 1556 SunnyCountry L12 L33 W56 W34 L16 H--- L37 L41 2.5  
54 Samuel Tsen Brown 16380615 662 ComfyQueso B--- L30 L42 L37 H--- L32 W60 L44 2.5  
55 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L14 L22 L52 L57 L48 L50 B--- W59 2.0  
56 Peter Jam Rushton 16453812 1239 pedrojrush L9 L23 L53 L60 B--- L57 W59 L51 2.0  
57 Jeff North 17179258 1043 JeffNorthSF L44 L32 L38 W55 L51 W56 L30 L47 2.0  
58 Valerie Jade 17168772 1490 Evariel L26 L31 W60 D36 L52 L39 F38 U--- 1.5  
59 Willia Harris III 15953392 1184 15953392 H--- H--- L44 L23 F34 U--- L56 L55 1.0  
60 Cleveland W Lee 30037403 unr. Vincitore51745 L18 L47 L58 W56 L49 L48 L54 L50 1.0  


2020 IM John Donaldson Championship Report

Our 2nd Annual IM John Donaldson Championship capped off a fine year of chess at the Mechanics' Institute, with this two-day, three-section championship event. There were dramatic moments and games, and very competitive sections. In the top section, the top two seeds GM Gadir Guseinov and GM James Tarjan tied for first with 5/6, though both getting there by different means. Though they both drew their game against each other, GM Guseinov blundered in his round 1 game against Alan Finkelstein and was in a losing position. But the veteran found all the right moves in defending his position, holding on for a draw and playing solidly the rest of the tournament. Tarjan had a requested bye in round 4, and was cruising in his final round game againt Alan Finkelstein. However, Finklestein showed great resilliency and set up an incredible opportunity to possibly mate Tarjan, but Tarjan found an escape and held on for the win. Shaaket Sivakumar and Alan Finkelstein shared third place with 4/6. 

In the under 2000 section, Ako Heidari and Rithwik Narendra won their final round games to share first place with 4.5/6. In the under 1600 section, Adrien Cheng bounced back from a round 2 loss to win the rest of his games and take sole first place with 5/6. 

We were treated to a very special event after the first day of action, as IM John Donaldson participated in a one hour arena and joined the broadcast providing banter. It was a fun and entertaining event, where John showed his game is still very strong, going undefeated. You can watch the video here:

Full results can be found on our event page here:

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

(5) GM Gadir Guseinov (GGuseinov) (2634) - Alan Finkelstein (stratus_junior) (1906) [C07]
Mechanics' 2nd Donaldson 2000+ (1.1), 19.12.2020
[de Firmian]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 An active variation against the Tarrasch French. The board becomes very open. 4.Ngf3 cxd4 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.Bc4 Qd7 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Nb3 Nf6 9.Nbxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 a6 White has won his pawn back as the players have followed theory. Guseinov tries to get an edge from his slight lead in development. 11.Bg5 Be7 12.Re1 h6 13.Bh4 b5 14.Bb3 Bb7 15.Bxf6?! played with the continuation of the next move in mind, but White would do better with 15. Qd3 15...Bxf6


16.Nxe6? Such action with this piece sacrifice that Gadir couldn't restrain himself. It's not good though. 16...Qxd1 17.Nxg7+ Kf8 18.Raxd1 Kxg7 19.Rd7


19...Rhe8! Using the back rank mate threat to get the pieces out. 20.Rxf7+ Kg6 21.Rxe8 Rxe8 22.f3 Re7! 23.Rxe7 Bxe7


Here we will take stock of the position, as this was the logical outcome of White's piece sacrifice on move 16. White has 3 pawns for the bishop but is much worse and has almost no winning chances. The black bishops can easily restrain and also attack the white pawns. Gadir is struggling against his young opponent. 24.Kf2 Bg5 25.c4 Bc1 26.cxb5 axb5 27.Bc2+ Kf6 28.b3 b4 This one pawn holds up two on the queenside. 29.Kg3 Bc8 30.Kh4 Bg5+ 31.Kh5 Bd7 32.g3 Be8+ 33.Kg4 h5+ 34.Kh3 Bd7+ 35.Kg2 Be3 Note how the Black bishops push around the white king. 36.h4 Bc6 37.Bd3 Bd7 38.Kf1 Bf5 This lets the white king to help out somewhat. Black would have good winning chances with [38...Be8 39.Ke2 Bb6 when if 40.f4 now 40...Bg6! would be good as trading here would let the black king in.] 39.Ke2 Bc5 40.Bb5 Bd6 41.f4 Bb1 42.Kd2 Bc5 43.Be2 Bf2? [43...Kg6! 44.g4 hxg4 45.Bxg4 Bd6 should win the game. Black needs to keep the b-pawn alive.] 44.Bxh5 Bxg3 45.Kc1 Just in time the white king comes to the queenside 45...Bg6 [45...Bxa2? 46.Kb2] 46.Bxg6 Bxf4+ 47.Kb1 Kxg6 48.a3 bxa3 49.b4!


White just manages to disrupt the protection of Black's last pawn by pushing the passers. Great defense by Gadir and a near miss by stratus junior. 1/2-1/2

(6) NM Ruiyang Yan (jij2018) (2242) - Vishva Nanugonda (vish1080) (1829) [B32]
Mechanics' 2nd Donaldson 2000+ (2), 19.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 This has now become quite a respectable variation of the Sicilian. 5.Nb5 d6 6.N1c3 [6.c4 is a slower paced game where White tries to keep a grip on the center] 6...a6 7.Na3 Be7 [7...Nf6] 8.Nc4 repositioning the knight on the rim is very logical and gives White chances for an edge 8...Be6 9.Ne3 [9.Be3 Nf6 10.Nb6 Rb8 11.Be2 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 d5 13.Nc5 d4 14.Nxe6 fxe6 allows Black to win the piece back, but White may wish to try this after 15.Bd2 Qxb6 16.Bd3] 9...Nf6 10.g3!? 0-0 11.Bg2 Nd4 12.0-0 b5?! [12...Rc8 immediately would give White worries about the c2 pawn when the Nc3 moves] 13.Ncd5! Rc8?! Now Black gets pushed back. It was better to try [13...Nxd5 14.Nxd5 Bxd5 15.exd5 though White holds an edge with the bishop pair] 14.c3 Nc6 15.a4


A picture perfect setup for White in this opening. He controls the d5 square and now starts to pry open the queenside. 15...Rb8 16.Bd2 Bxd5 17.exd5 Na5 18.axb5 axb5 19.b4 Nc4 20.Nxc4 bxc4 21.Qe2 Qc7?! [21...Qc8 is better defensively as it guards the c4 pawn and prevents the coming Ra6] 22.f4 [22.Ra6!] 22...exf4 23.Rxf4 Rfc8 24.h3 Bf8 25.Ra6 Qb7 26.Rc6! This rook is major trouble for Black as it sits deep inside his camp and has the support of the pawn and g2 bishop. Black is losing the c4 pawn and tries something desparate. 26...Nxd5? 27.Bxd5 Rxc6


28.Rxf7! Ouch! This is a killer. 28...Qb6+ It doesn't help to give up the queen as a rook goes too - [28...Qxf7 29.Bxf7+ Kxf7 30.Qf3+ Kg8 31.Qxc6] 29.Be3 Qb5 30.Qf3 With crushing threats. Black resigned. 1-0

(7) Alan Finkelstein (stratus_junior) (2469) - GM Jim Tarjan (Tirantes) (2058) [A90]
Mechanics' 2nd Donaldson 2000+ (6.2), 20.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 f5 Grandmaster Tarjan chooses the Dutch Defense, which is not as solid as the Nimzo-Indian or QGD but ensures an unbalanced, fighting game. 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 d5 5.Bg2 Bd6 6.0-0 0-0 7.b3 c6 8.Bb2 Nbd7 9.Qc2 Qe7 10.Nc3 b6 11.cxd5 A very reasonable time to open up the position. White could also maintain the tension with [11.Rfc1] 11...cxd5 12.Nb5 Ba6 13.Nxd6 Qxd6 So White has won the bishop pair and in return Black has gotten free movement for his pieces. 14.Rfc1 Rac8 15.Qd1 Ne4 16.Ne1 f4 17.Rxc8 Rxc8


18.Bxe4?! giving up the light-squared bishop is suspect as it is a strong defender of the kingside. White could have gained an opening edge with [18.f3 Nef6 (18...Nc3 19.Bxc3 Rxc3 20.Qd2 Qc7 21.gxf4 snags a pawn) 19.g4 This looks somewhat strange, but the white pieces and pawns work well in this position.] 18...dxe4 19.e3? This is just a terrible mistake, turning a roughly even game into a lost position. 19...f3! Black is now positionally winning with the f3 pawn providing mating threats. Also good though was [19...fxe3 20.fxe3 Rf8] 20.Rc1 Rxc1 21.Qxc1 Qd5 22.h3 Nf6 23.Qc7 Qb5! The deadly threat of ...Qf1+ forces White to go into a pawn down ending 24.Qc4 Qxc4 25.bxc4 Bxc4 26.a3 Bb3!


White's position is completely hopeless now. His king and knight can't get into play and even the bishop is restricted. 27.g4 Nd5 [27...g5 would keep White in a box on the kingside] 28.h4 h6 29.Kh2 Kf7 [A quick win is 29...Nxe3 as 30.fxe3 (30.Nxf3 Nd1) 30...f2 makes a queen] 30.h5 Kf6 31.Kg3 Kg5?! 32.Nxf3+! seizing a chance out of nowhere 32...exf3 33.e4 Ne7 34.e5


from a completely dead lost position White has conjured the terrible threat of 35. Bc1 mate! What can Black do? 34...Nf5+! Tarjan had this resource to get our of trouble. White must take the knight. 35.gxf5 Kxf5 36.Kxf3 Kg5 37.Bc3 Kxh5 We are back to the material count of one more pawn for Black. It looks like White should have drawing chances with the bishops of opposite color, but his d and e pawns are blocked by the e6 pawn and black bishop so practically Black is two pawns ahead. 38.Kg3 Kg5 39.Bd2+ Kf5 40.f3 g5 41.Be3 Bd5 42.Bg1 [42.Bd2 h5 43.Bb4 would be a better defense, though wouldn't hold the game anyway. Blacks powerful bishop and ability to get passed pawns on both wings is enough to win.] 42...h5 43.Bh2 b5 44.Bg1 h4+ 45.Kf2 a5 0-1

(8) Sebby Suarez (SebbyMeister) (1358) - Adrien Cheng (ricechessmaster1) (1433) [C56]
Mechanics' 2nd Donaldson u1600 (6.1), 20.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.0-0 A tricky move in this age old line. It puts the opponent on their own without the book continuation. 6...d5?! This gives White the initiative. Best to be brave and grab the center pawn with [6...Nxe4! 7.cxd4 d5 8.dxc5 dxc4] 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.cxd4 Be7 9.Nc3 Nf6 10.Qb3?! [White would have a serious initiative after 10.d5 Nb8 11.Bf4] 10...0-0 11.Ne5 Qe8 [Black would be fine with the aggressive 11...Nxd4 12.Bxf7+ Kh8 13.Qd1 c5] 12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Be3 a6 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.Bxd5 Qf6 16.Rac1 c6 17.Bf3 Bd6 18.h3 a5 [on 18...Bxh3 19.Qxb7] 19.a3?! This is the start of trouble. The white queen gets driven away from the b-file 19...a4 20.Qc3


20...Bxh3! 21.d5 Be5 22.Qd2 Bd7 23.dxc6 Bxc6 24.Bxc6 bxc6 So Black has won a pawn. The position is open with play over the whole board. 25.Rc2 Rab8 26.Bg5 Qg6 27.Rd1?! This square is not as good as [27.Re1] 27...f6 28.Be3 Qh5 29.g3 Bxb2 [29...Qf3] 30.Bc5 [White could try for a very active position with 30.Rxc6 Bxa3 31.Qc2] 30...Rfe8 31.Re1? Rxe1+ 32.Qxe1 Be5 33.Bb4 Rd8 34.Rd2 Rxd2 35.Qxd2 Qe8?! [35...h6!] 36.Qc2 h6 37.Qxa4 Bd4 38.Qb3+ Kh8 39.Qf3 c5 40.Bc3 Qa4 41.Bxd4 Qxd4


Black still has the extra pawn though we have now reached a queen ending. Can he convert it? 42.Qf5?! [42.Qe3! woud be a strong defense since Black would lose if queens get traded here. There would be excellent drawing chances.] 42...Kg8 [42...c4!] 43.Qh5 c4 44.Qe8+ Kh7 45.Qc8 Qd3! This fine move covers all the checks and prepares to run the c-pawn. Black is winning now. 46.a4 c3 47.a5 c2 48.a6 Qd1+ 49.Kg2 c1Q 50.Qf5+ Kg8 51.Qe6+ Kf8 52.a7


52...Qd8 safe and secure. White can do nothing with the a-pawn now, but ...Qh1 mate was quick. 53.Qe4 Qcc8 54.Qb4+ Kg8 55.Qb3+ Kh8 56.Kg1 Qa8 57.Qa4 Qc7 58.f4 Qcxa7+ 59.Qxa7 Qxa7+ 60.Kg2 g5 61.f5 h5 62.g4 hxg4 63.Kf1 Qe3 64.Kg2 Kg7 65.Kh1 Qe2 66.Kg1 Kf7 67.Kh1 Ke7 68.Kg1 Kd6 69.Kh1 Ke5 70.Kg1 Kf4 71.Kh1 Kg3 72.Kg1 Qg2# 0-1

(9) Adam Mercado (A-boy415) (1831) - Rithwik Narendra (rukja) (1820) [C56]
Mechanics' 2nd Donaldson 1600-1999 (3), 19.12.2020
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.e5 d5 6.Bb5 Ne4 7.Nxd4 Bc5 8.0-0 0-0 9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.Be3 Bxd4 11.Bxd4?! White now gets pushed backwards. The game would be level after the better [11.Qxd4 c5 12.Qd3] 11...c5 12.Be3 d4 13.Bc1 Bb7 14.f3 Ng5 15.f4?! Ne4!


The knight jumps back to where it was before and this time Black permanantly owns the e4 square. The bishops of opposite color ensure that Black has serious attacking chances. 16.Nd2 f6 17.Nxe4 Bxe4 18.Qe2 Qd5 19.Re1 f5


This position is worth a diagram. Black has control of the long white diagonal and the central squares d4 and e4. White is strategically lost. 20.b3 a5 21.a4 Rab8 22.Ba3 Rb6 23.Rad1?! [The last chance was to play the endgame after 23.Qc4 Qxc4 24.bxc4 Rc6 even though that's a miserable position] 23...Rg6 Black wins material 24.Rd2 [24.g3 Bf3] 24...Rxg2+ 25.Qxg2 Bxg2 26.Rxg2 Re8 27.Rg5 h6 28.Rxf5?! losing the rook, but there was no hope anyway 28...Qe6 29.Bxc5 Qxf5 30.Rf1 Re6 31.Bxd4 Rg6+ 32.Kf2 Qxf4+ 33.Ke2 Qxd4 34.Rf5 Qe4+ 35.Kd2 Qxf5 36.e6 Rxe6 37.c3 Qd5+ 38.Kc1 Re1+ 39.Kc2 Qd1+ 40.Kb2 Re2+ 41.Ka3 Qa1# 0-1

SwissSys Standings. 2nd Annual Donaldson Championship: 2000+

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total Prize
1 Gadir Guseinov 17343590 2700 gguseinov D4 W7 W3 W5 D2 W8 5.0 294.00
2 GM James Edwa Tarjan 10991820 2469 tirantes W11 W6 W13 H--- D1 W4 5.0 294.00
3 Shaaket Sivakumar 15250088 2064 banoob44 W12 W10 L1 W14 U--- W9 4.0 115.50
4 Alan Finkelstein 14958842 2058 stratus_junior D1 W11 W16 W13 D8 L2 4.0 115.50
5 Ruiyang Yan 15462690 2242 jij2018 W9 W14 H--- L1 D10 H--- 3.5  
6 Shaashw Sivakumar 15089302 2078 dontmesswithme_2 W18 L2 L8 D15 W17 W10 3.5  
7 Daniel Lin 15176393 2002 SmilyFace4 H--- L1 W17 L10 W14 W15 3.5  
8 Nicholas Ruo Weng 15499404 1977 ninjaforce L10 W9 W6 W12 D4 L1 3.5  
9 Artem Kiryukhin 15456235 1982 Feugon L5 L8 W11 W17 W12 L3 3.0  
10 Eshan Guha 15473182 2144 BigPiano W8 L3 L12 W7 D5 L6 2.5  
11 Jacob Chiang 16093205 2039 patzernation L2 L4 L9 B--- D15 W14 2.5  
12 Alexander Nishio 14894235 1891 NoobFectedXD L3 B--- W10 L8 L9 D17 2.5  
13 Michael Walder 10345120 2081 FlightsOfFancy W17 W16 L2 L4 U--- U--- 2.0  
14 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1829 vish1080 B--- L5 W15 L3 L7 L11 2.0  
15 Sounak Bagchi 15744984 1998 DampFalcon L16 D17 L14 D6 D11 L7 1.5  
16 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow W15 L13 L4 U--- U--- U--- 1.0  
17 Nitish Nathan 15494283 1941 BreatheChessAlways L13 D15 L7 L9 L6 D12 1.0  
18 Clarence E Lehman 10497272 1904 FrankJamesMarshall L6 U--- U--- U--- U--- U--- 0.0  

SwissSys Standings. 2nd Annual Donaldson Championship: 1600-1999

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total Prize
1 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 oka_ako W10 D2 D3 D7 W11 W6 4.5 168.00
2 Rithwik Narendra 14903560 1820 rukja W12 D1 W5 D6 D7 W3 4.5 168.00
3 Steven Witt 13885775 1927 StevenWitt H--- W13 D1 W4 W6 L2 4.0 73.50
4 Leonardo Zhou 16132551 1494 MegaCharizardLeo L7 W12 W8 L3 W9 W11 4.0 73.50
5 Adam Mercado 16571026 1831 A-boy415 H--- H--- L2 D12 W10 W7 3.5  
6 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 kondsaga H--- W11 W7 D2 L3 L1 3.0  
7 Aaron Mic Nicoski 12797931 1789 KingSmasher35 W4 W8 L6 D1 D2 L5 3.0  
8 Mateo Hansen 14907254 1687 mateosh W9 L7 L4 D10 H--- W13 3.0  
9 Andersen Yang 16304918 1475 mutantpenguin L8 W10 L11 W13 L4 W12 3.0  
10 Kyle Chang 16418462 1663 SophisticatedFork L1 L9 W13 D8 L5 B--- 2.5  
11 Davi Flores Gomez 14799653 1812 PlayerCreate1 H--- L6 W9 H--- L1 L4 2.0  
12 Lisa Willis 12601676 1583 LittlePinkCorvette L2 L4 B--- D5 L13 L9 1.5  
13 Marina Xiao 16380642 1511 programmingmax H--- L3 L10 L9 W12 L8 1.5  

SwissSys Standings. 2nd Annual Donaldson Championship: u1600

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total Prize
1 Adrien Cheng 16318903 1433 ricechessmaster1 W11 L5 W10 W8 W6 W3 5.0 168.00
2 Valerie Jade 17168772 1490 Evariel W10 L3 W11 L9 W14 W6 4.0

best female:42

3 Sebby Suarez 16875347 1358 Sebbymeister W17 W2 W8 L6 W7 L1 4.0


4 Anagha Dhurjati 17003536 1336 amdink W15 L8 L13 W5 W12 W7 4.0 42.00
5 Sean Kelly 16962568 1086 SlowCynicalQuip W16 W1 L7 L4 W13 W8 4.0 42.00
6 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass W12 W13 H--- W3 L1 L2 3.5  
7 Nicholas Reed 16154827 1416 NXBex H--- H--- W5 W13 L3 L4 3.0  
8 James Lin 16084360 1384 MeLikeGame W14 W4 L3 L1 W9 L5 3.0  
9 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 1057 andrewaballantyne L13 W12 W14 W2 L8 L11 3.0  
10 Jerry Li 16551291 977 figsnoring L2 W17 L1 L12 W16 W15 3.0  
11 Adithya Chitta 16695036 954 adichi L1 W16 L2 L14 B--- W9 3.0  
12 Shelton Cai 16851095 745 NerdySpaceY L6 L9 W15 W10 L4 W17 3.0  
13 John Simpson 30064115 unr. Sanfransimpson W9 L6 W4 L7 L5 W14 3.0  
14 Anshuman Upadhyay 16212932 863 FirstCamel L8 W15 L9 W11 L2 L13 2.0  
15 David Phillips 30085095 unr. David_Phillips L4 L14 L12 B--- W17 L10 2.0  
16 Prashanth Ramachandran 30081021 unr. prashram L5 L11 H--- W17 L10 H--- 2.0  
17 Vaishali Madoori 15281783 637 Vaishali2727 L3 L10 B--- L16 L15 L12 1.0  


We want to thank everyone for their continued support of our events, and we look forward to 2021 being one of the best years ever for our historic club and of the Mechanics' Institute! To watch the broadcast for this tournament, visit our YouTube channel here:

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. 

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, 1/12.

GM Nick de Firmian Arena Thursdays 5pm-6pm, 1/14.

See you in the arena!

Mechanics' Institute Regular Online Classes

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

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 - TBD by FM Paul Whitehead

Course Dates: 

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

More information: 

Register at: 


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

New session starts on January 27, 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 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' 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:

1/12 Tuesday - January 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon
Format: 6SS G/35+2

1/14 Thursday - January/February 2021 Thursday Night Marathon
Format: 5SS G/60+5

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]


Scholastic Corner

By Judit Sztaray

2020 Fall Report

The last few months of this unique year flew by quickly! Scholastic chess has been transformed to a virtual program, and students were flexible and adapted very quickly. In November and December, we have been busy finishing up our weekly scholastic virtual classes, along with preparing and holding our virtual holiday camps. Our Sunday afternoon Weekend Club offers our intermediate and advanced players a chance to connect wiht each other and go over games and develop in their chess.

Weekend Clubs had a fun last club on December 27th, where a briliancy prize was awarded to Mr. Andrew Ballantyne. Andrew has been becoming a staple of the Mechanics' Institute chess scene, starting his passion for chess with our after school classes. From there he has been quite the regular at our Tuesday Night Marathon, raking up rating points against the adults. In this game, Andrew showed a mastery of maneuvering his pieces waiting for his opponent to push too early too fast before he could pounce for the material advantage!

Mechanics' Institute holds daily free tournaments, in which players can practice at their leisure. We are also organizing weekend online USCF-rated tournaments with record number of players participating, earning medals or trophies. Special tournaments such as ones on Halloween, the Pacific Regional Grade Level Online, and the New Year's Eve Blitz tournaments are giving our scholastic players a chance to connect with each other via zoom beforehand, during and after the tournaments.
Congratulations to all the players and winners. Smiles, like Shrinivas', gives us all the encouragements and assurance that we are heading to the right direction.

We look forward to 2021 and starting new classes, weekend clubs, camps and tournaments.
We hope to see many returning and new students joining our programs!

Upcoming Classes

2021 Winter sessions start the second week of January, and goes for 10 weeks total.
More information and links to register for the following classes:

  • All Girls Class with Coach Colin - Mondays 4-5PM
  • Beginner / Intermediate Level with Coach Andy - Tuesdays 3-4PM
  • Absolute Beginners with Coach Colin - Tuesday 4-5PM
  • Intermediate with Coach Andy - Thursdays 4-5PM
  • Intermediate/Advance with Coach Andy - Thursdays 5-6PM


Upcoming Tournaments

Players have to be part of Mechanics' Group on ChessKid. Need help how to join? Watch the tutorial here:

1) Free daily non-rated tournaments on
Tournaments start at 4PM and players can join the tournaments 30 minutes before the tournament.

2) USCF Online Rated Tournaments - Registration needed via the links below, and players must have current US Chess membership.
Games will affect US Chess online ratings (not over-the-board!).
Trophies or Medals for Top Finishers - Curbside pickup is available per arrangement.

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. 

Holiday Camps 

We have offered two virtual winter camps over the holidays, coaches by Coach Andrew, Coach Colin and International Master Coach Elliott Winslow.
Both weeks were filled with intersting lectures, problems and fun tournaments. It was great to see both returning players and new students trying out our offerings and having fun and learning from our amazing coaches. Many thanks for all the parents for their support.

2021 Spring camp schedule has been posted:

  • Jan 18, Monday - Martin Luther King's Day Camp - Register:
  • Feb 15, Monday - Presidents Day Camp - Register:
  • Mar 29 - Apr 2 - Spring Break Camp - Register:


Scholastic Game of the Week, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian


(10) bmhong (1405) - DarkCapableCharm (1566) [C54]
Live Chess
[de Firmian]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 This Guioco Pianissimo allows the position to build up before the action. 5. d4 instead has been worked out to equality. 5...d6 6.Nbd2 0-0 7.Nf1! h6 8.Ng3 Be6 9.Bb3 Ng4?!

Threatening to take on f2, but White has a good way to defend this. 10.0-0 a5 11.h3 Now it's a bad trade to take on f2 so the knight just has to go back. 11...Nf6 12.a4 [12.Bc2! preparing for central action with d2-d4 would gain White a nice opening edge. e.g. 12...d5 13.d4 exd4 14.e5 Ne4 15.cxd4 Bb6 16.Re1] 12...Qd7 13.Bc4 [13.Bc2] 13...Bxc4 14.dxc4 Qe6 15.b3 Nd7 16.Nf5 Ne7 17.N3h4 Nf6 18.Bd2?! After many good moves bmhong just goes wrong here, and especially the next move. Sometimes you just forget about your pawns or pieces and that's fatal against a good opponent. [18.Nxe7+ Qxe7 19.Nf5 Qe6 20.Qf3 is roughly equal yet a bit more comfortable for White. The game move gives away the e-pawn for free.] 18...Nxe4

19.Qc1?? [19.Qg4! threatens mate on g7 and so wins the pawn back. Black needs to play 19...Ng5 20.Bxg5 hxg5 21.Qxg5 Nxf5 22.Nxf5 g6 with perhaps a small edge] 19...Nxd2 White just loses a piece to go with the pawn down. The only hope now is a major blunder from DarkCapable charm. 20.Qxd2 [20.Nxe7+ Qxe7 21.Qxd2 Qxh4] 20...Nxf5 21.Nxf5 Qxf5 22.b4 axb4 23.cxb4 Bd4 A great spot for the bishop. Black wraps it up by taking even more material. 24.Rad1 Rxa4 25.Rfe1 Rfa8! 26.Kh1 Ra2 27.Qd3 Qxd3 28.Rxd3 Bxf2 29.Rf1 Bd4 30.Rdd1 Rb2 31.Rc1 Rxb4 32.Kh2 Raa4 33.Rcd1 Rxc4 34.Kh1 b5 35.Rb1 b4 36.Kh2 Ra3 37.Kh1 b3 38.Kh2 b2 39.Kh1 Ra1 40.Kh2 Rxb1 41.Rxb1 Rc1 42.Rxb2 Bxb2 DarkCapableCharm won by resignation 0-1

FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

Those New Year’s Chess Parties in Palo Alto, so very long ago.

One of the highlights of the year for me, chess-wise, was the annual New Year’s Eve party held at the house of C. Bill Jones in Palo Alto.  I know they began sometime in the 1970’s and continued on into the 1980’s, but when they began, and when they stopped I cannot tell you… 

All of my friends (and rivals) showed up, playing blitz, eating and drinking: it’s all a bit of a blur, quite distant, and I was only a teenager.  The players live on, in memory and in a few photographs found on chessdryad – a veritable Who’s Who of San Francisco Bay Area Chess:

Nick Ballard, Alan LaVergne, Bob Hammie, Dennis Fritzinger, Ruth Haring, Jeremy Silman, Gene Lee, Jay Whitehead, Dennis Waterman, Craig Barnes, Robert Newbold, Ray Schutt, James Tarjan, Ed Rosenthal, Elliott Winslow, David Forthoffer, Alan Benson, Nick Maffeo, Alan Pollard, Karen Street, George Kane, Gil Ramirez, Mike Dyslin and Mike Goodall (who would start his own traditional Christmas Party many years later).

There are countless others I cannot recall - perhaps someone can add to my memories, add to my list. The kids and families, the hangers-on, and even that oddity: the non-chess player - off my radar but there nevertheless, under the warm tent of C. Bill Jones and his family.

As we move into another New Year I sincerely wish days like those to return: the laughter and friendship, the bashing of the chess clocks, the wonderful good will of these people - with the future spinning, spinning out far ahead where it cannot yet be seen.

GM Nick de Firmian

New Year’s Chess

Out with the old, in with the new!  We all hope 2021 will bring a big change from the lockdown of the coronavirus. We anticipate live chess tournaments will start sometime in 2021, and we hope the traditional tournaments around the world will restart to continue their historical annual events. Back home at the Mechanics’ Institute we have of course continued our traditional Tuesday Night Marathon thanks to our inventive chess managers, and also brought in new events.

What will the New Year bring your chess? Will you make some resolutions? “I will not blunder my pieces… I will not get in time trouble… I will study my endgames!”

Maybe. It takes energy to improve your game and many players simply enjoy playing the old systems they are used to. At the very top level the players must always strive with new ideas or they get left behind.

The year’s last big event of the top players is the Champions Chess Tour. Airthings Masters, which started with 12 top grandmasters including the World Champion. Some early results lead me to a couple of chess predictions for 2021: 1) Levon Aronian will regain his great form of a few years ago and re-enter the world’s top five; 2) After a decade of dominance Magnus Carlsen will look human this year and other top players will win many of the elite events of the year.  With that note I leave you with a couple of games from the event, which runs until January 3rd.

(1) Aronian,Levon - Nakamura,Hikaru [D02]
Champions Tour Knock out, 28.12.2020

Nakamura won the last event of the chess tour and is always one of the top favorites of online rapid chess. 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 The very trendy London System. 3...e6 4.e3 Bd6 5.Bb5+!? It seems strange for such a strong player to give a check like this as it is easily blocked with a positive looking move. The point is that if Black blocks by advancing with 5...c6 then the c-pawn can no longer recapture on d6 to keep the central pawn control. 5...Nbd7 6.c3 0-0 7.Nbd2 Qe7 8.Ne5 Ne4?! This gets doubled e-pawns. Sometimes that is good in this system but here White gets a slight edge in the pawn structure. 9.Nxe4 dxe4 10.Qc2 f5 11.Bxd7! giving the bishop for knight to have greater control of e5 11...Bxd7 12.h4 Bb5 13.a4 Bxe5 14.Bxe5 Bd3 15.Qb3 b6 16.f4

White has a nagging edge in the bishops of opposite color position. The powerful bishop on e5 influences both sides of the board. 16...h5 17.Kf2 Kh7 18.Rh3 g6 19.Rg3 c5 [19...Qxh4? 20.Qxe6 would be crushing thanks to the bishop on e5. One will see later the great coordination of the white queen and bishop] 20.Rg5 Kh6 21.dxc5 bxc5 22.c4 Rf7 23.Qc3 Qb7 24.a5 Rc8 25.b3 Qc6 26.Rh1 Headed for the kingside, though White may well have taken over the queenside with 26. a6 26...Rb7 27.Rh3 Rg8 28.Rhg3 Kh7 29.Qc1 Qe8 [29...Rxb3? 30.Qd1 Rb1 31.Qxh5+! is mate next] 30.Qd1 Rd7?
Naka needed to play 30...Qf7 to stay in the game. He underestimated Aronian's following concept. 31.Rxg6! Qxg6 32.Rxg6 Kxg6
The position looks even at first sight. Black has two rooks for a queen and pawn and one wonders who is better. Yet a deeper look shows that the white queen and bishop combine as a powerful force while the black pieces cannot work well together. 33.Kg1 a6 34.Kh2 Rb7 35.Qa1! Rxb3 36.Qa4 Rb1 37.Qd7 Black is toast. 37...Bxc4 38.Qe7 Rbb8 Nakamura resigned as 39. Qf6+ Kh7 40. Qf7+ Kh6 41. Bf6 and 42. Bg5+ is the end. A powerful game from Aronian, who will problably have a very good year in 2021. 1-0

(2) Carlsen,Magnus - Dubov,Daniil [D40]
Champions Tour Knock out, 28.12.2020

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.e3 a6 5.d4 d5 Dubov plays one variant of the Semi-Tarrasch. Both sides use their c and d pawns to battle for the center squares. 6.cxd5 exd5 7.g3!? Magnus fianchettoes the bishop as in a normal Tarrasch, but the pawn has advanced from e2 to e3. These small differences make for an original game which put the players on their own. 7...Nc6 8.Bg2 c4 This move, without Black's ...a6 and White's ...e3, would be the Swedish Variation of the Tarrasch Defense. Here the move makes even more sense as Black easily gains queenside space. 9.0-0 Bb4 10.Ne5 0-0 11.Bd2 Re8 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.b3 Bxc3! 14.Bxc3 Ne4 Black keeps equal chances by activily playing for the central squares. Of course Magnus will not want to trade his light-squared bishop for the knight since his king position would then become dangerous. 15.Rc1 a5 16.bxc4 Ba6 17.f3 Nxc3 18.Rxc3 Bxc4 19.Rf2

We take stock of the opening here, and we can say that White has gotten less than nothing. The white pawn center is restained and Black has freedom of movement for his pieces. Still Magnus is Magnus and we wouldn't expect young Dubov to keep pace. 19...Qg5 20.Qc1 h5 21.Bf1 Bxf1 22.Kxf1 Rab8 23.Rxc6 h4 24.Kg2 Rxe3 25.Rc8+ Rxc8 26.Qxc8+ Kh7 The game is level with 5 pawns, queen and rook for each side. The position is wide open where long tricky queens moves can be expected. 27.Qd7 f6 28.Qb5 Qf5 Magnus plays for the win by aiming to grab a pawn and push a newly passed pawn. Yet has to be careful on the kingside where the black queen, rook and h-pawn are attacking. 29.g4 h3+! 30.Kg3 Qe4!

A pretty move from Dubov. Black threatens the d-pawn and keeps pressure on the f-pawn. Everything seems defended on the kingside - can White snatch the a-pawn? 31.Qxa5? This loses. White had to retreat for defense with [31.Qf1 Qxd4 32.Qxh3+ Kg8 33.Qh5] 31...f5! adding yet another attacker. This breaks the white defense as the threat of 32...Qxg4 mate forces the opening of the kingside. 32.gxf5 Qxf5 33.Qb5 [33.Qd8 Re6 34.Qh4+ Rh6 will win the queen] 33...Re6 34.Re2 Rg6+ 35.Kf2 Qf4! There is no way to survive. 36.Qb1 Kh6 37.Qd3 Qxh2+ 38.Ke3 Re6+ Magnus resigned as Black will trade everything and queen the h-pawn. A nice game by young Dubov, but Magnus is starting to do something at the end of this year that he almost never does - lose. It this a sign of things to come next year? Magnus has turned the ripe old age of 30 and he has been #1 for 11 years already. How much longer can he keep it up? 0-1


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