Chess Room Newsletter #951 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #951

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #951


January 16, 2021

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

All endeavour calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one...characteristic we must possess if we are to face the future as finishers. Henry David Thoreau

January 2021 TNM Report

A Mechanics' tradition almost 50 years in the making, the Tuesday Night Marathon is Mechanics' Institute's flagship chess event. The pandemic of 2020 changed society in many ways and put a halt to much of our daily life. The TNM however has persevered, thanks to our very loyal and supportive chess community, and we are proud to continue in 2021 to bring you the TNM online, as we hope this is all a bridge to returning to live chess sometime this year. The action remains the same, and we bring you a great mix of our club players with top titled players while broadcasting our games, making for a fun and interactive Tuesday evening for our chess community.

An online record 65 players are registered for this six round G/35+2 battle divided into two sections. Here are the standings after the first two rounds:

SwissSys Standings. Jan 2021 TNM Online: 1800+

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total
1 GM Aleksan Lenderman 12787646 2704 AlexanderL W31 W11         2.0
2 GM Gadir Guseinov 17343590 2700 gguseinov W18 W15         2.0
3 FM Kyron Wa Griffith 12860484 2504 KyronGriffith W27 W12 H--- H---     2.0
4 FM Eric Yuhan Li 15688436 2368 kingandqueen2017 W19 W17         2.0
5 Ruiyang Yan 15462690 2242 jij2018 W20 W23         2.0
6 Ethan Boldi 15088362 2120 etvat W32 W16         2.0
7 Michael Walder 10345120 2106 FlightsOfFancy W33 W25         2.0
8 William Sartorio 14715380 2063 unusualkid W34 W22         2.0
9 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow D28 W30         1.5
10 Nicholas Ruo Weng 15499404 2045 ninjaforce D30 W28         1.5
11 Steven Gaffagan 12542809 2058 carbon64 W29 L1         1.0
12 Arthur Liou 12906142 2034 artliou W21 L3         1.0
13 David Benja Askin 13776967 2023 David_Askin L22 W32         1.0
14 Daniel Lin 15176393 2009 SmilyFace4 L23 W33         1.0
15 Tejas Mahesh 15086558 1997 ChessTX9 W35 L2         1.0
16 Nathan Fong 13001390 1981 nathanf314 W36 L6         1.0
17 Nitish Nathan 15494283 1941 BreatheChessAlways W24 L4         1.0
18 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 kondsaga L2 W34         1.0
19 Chelsea Zhou 15239016 1886 mwncklmann L4 W35         1.0
20 Christian Jensen 12780890 1844 Christianjensen23 L5 W36         1.0
21 Kevin M Fong 17254586 1783 chessappeals L12 W31         1.0
22 Philip Gerstoft 12913356 1766 pgstar3 W13 L8         1.0
23 Max Hao 16083648 1761 Joseph_Truelsons_Fan W14 L5         1.0
24 Linu John Alex 13836822 1652 ibalek L17 B---         1.0
25 Ethan Guo 16761994 1644 LightningDragon8 W26 L7         1.0
26 Cailen J Melville 14006141 1940 mangonel L25 D29         0.5
27 Thomas F Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf L3 H---         0.5
28 Nicholas Ar Boldi 15088356 1883 nicarmt D9 L10         0.5
29 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1795 3Ke31-0 L11 D26         0.5
30 Sanjeev Anand 14436451 1784 chessp1234 D10 L9         0.5
31 Ashik Uzzaman 13178575 1940 ashikuzzaman L1 L21         0.0
32 Patrick John Kut 15898438 1843 pkutchess L6 L13     H---   0.0
33 Adam Mercado 16571026 1831 A-boy415 L7 L14         0.0
34 Ranen A Lardent 12614986 1820 dashrndrx L8 L18         0.0
35 Roger V V Shi 16191192 1751 1-h4-1-0 L15 L19         0.0
36 Kevin Babb 15480497 1724 Babbaliath L16 L20         0.0

SwissSys Standings. Jan 2021 TNM Online: u1800 

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total
1 Aaron Mic Nicoski 12797931 1789 KingSmasher35 X20 W19         2.0
2 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 1057 andrewballantyne W22 W10         2.0
3 Ethan Sun 16964125 1040 sfdeals W9 W11         2.0
4 Jerry Li 16551291 977 figsnoring W12 W16         2.0
5 Shiv Sohal 30032729 861 dribbler23 W14 W18         2.0
6 Sebastian Suarez 16875347 811 Sebbymeister W17 W13         2.0
7 Bill J Day 30060498 782 mrbillstunes1 W23 W15         2.0
8 Nicholas M Brown 12446259 1495 nmbrown2 H--- W22         1.5
9 Ahyan Zaman 15035222 1699 ahyanzaman L3 W24         1.0
10 Mateo Hansen 14907254 1687 mateosh W24 L2         1.0
11 David Rakonitz 12931024 1622 MechAnjin X25 L3         1.0
12 Marina Xiao 16380642 1551 maxskiff L4 W27         1.0
13 Reka Sztaray 14656444 1533 rekasztaray W26 L6         1.0
14 Leon Diaz Herrera 17355661 1520 Aeqetes L5 W28         1.0
15 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1519 rimus11 W21 L7         1.0
16 Valerie Jade 17168772 1490 Evariel W27 L4         1.0
17 Rama Krish Chitta 17350313 1475 draidus L6 W26         1.0
18 Michael Hilliard 12279170 1446 Echecsmike W28 L5         1.0
19 Ian Liao 16738735 1105 victor6688 W29 L1         1.0
20 Elliott Regan 15032065 1079 TTVchessmaster F1 W29         1.0
21 Bruce Hedman 17344551 851 Bruce_Hedman L15 W23         1.0
22 Christophe Nelson 13742111 1700 ludimagisterjosephus L2 L8         0.0
23 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L7 L21         0.0
24 Justin Brunet 30055583 1026 night_breeze L10 L9         0.0
25 Chaitanya Atreya 14126671 1017 catreya F11 U---         0.0
26 Charvi Atreya 16816706 944 Charvii L13 L17         0.0
27 Cleveland W Lee 30037403 812 Vincitore51745 L16 L12         0.0
28 Pablo Jose Hansen 14971067 797 Dragonslayer470 L18 L14         0.0
29 Samuel Tsen Brown 16380615 662 ComfyQueso L19 L20         0.0


Here are some games from the first two rounds, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(5) GM Guseinov,Gadir (GGuseinov) (2700) - Busch ,Jonah (Kondsaga) (1934) [C11]
MI January TNMO (1.2), 12.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 Round One. With the big ratings differences, many of the titled players duck theoretical battles -- or try to. 2...e6 A curious move order. [2...e5 would be a Vienna.; 2...d5 is most common, when 3.e5 (3.exd5 is more the sort of thing you'd see when it's a 1500 vs. a 2000.) 3...Nfd7 4.d4 e6 is back to the game.] 3.d4 [3.e5 Nd5 has done fine for Black (maybe on move two?).] 3...d5 Everything and then some has been played here, but it's best to head for normalcy -- and the French Defense. 4.e5 Nfd7 Who is happier with this turn of events? Black did try to play an Alekhine... 5.Nf3 [5.Nce2 (to support the center with c2-c3) is fairly often seen, even at the highest levels.; But 5.f4 still is the big move, by a factor of 10 to 1. 5...c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3] 5...c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 [6...Nc6 7.Bf4 Bxc5 (7...Nxc5!?) 8.Bd3] 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Bf4

8...0-0? Black had a solid three-minute think on this! Were Busch really a French player through and through his "sentiment de danger" would have kicked in and stopped this move. [8...h6 toys with winning the e-pawn again, via ...g5-g4. 9.-- (White can stop it straight up with 9.h4; or anticipate it with 9.Bg3; 9.Qd2 was a blitz game by the ever-enterprising Indian superstar: 9...a6 10.h4 b5 11.Rh3 Nb6 12.Rg3 b4 13.Ne2 Kf8 14.b3 Bd7 15.Kf1 a5 16.Kg1 0-1 (38), Adhiban,B (2659)-Kalezic,B (2448) 2020.) ; Black can also proceed on the queenside with 8...a6; But most to the point is 8...f6 (probably why nobody really plays like this for White any more) 9.exf6 Qxf6 10.Bg5 Qf7 11.Qe2 0-0 12.0-0-0 h6 13.Bh4 a6 14.Bg3 Nb6 15.Kb1 Bd7 0-1 (70) Morozevich,A (2723)-Bareev,E (2679) Sarajevo 1999. It's possible Guseinov has some interesting novelties to this line, but just as possible he was just developing pieces while half awake. (Remember it's a twelve hour difference in Baku!) In any case, he is rewarded:]
9.Bxh7+!+- The classic bishop sacrifice! Sometimes it's unsound, sometimes it's unclear. In this case, it's a win. But as often, there are some subtleties. 9...Kxh7 [9...Kh8!? Interesting that more people have declined than accepted! And, Stockfish 12 makes the choice very close! White should just grab and run: 10.Bd3 And when the computer says Black's best is now 10...Kg8 you can pretty much not worry about it. ( 11.Bh7+ draw !?)] 10.Ng5+ Kg6 [10...Kg8?! loses to a continuation worth knowing cold: 11.Qh5 Re8 (11...Qxg5 is the "play on, sort of" line.) 12.Qxf7+ Kh8 13.Qh5+ Kg8 14.Qh7+ Kf8 15.Qh8+ Ke7 16.Qxg7#] 11.Qd3+ f5 12.Qg3 12...Qe7?!
It's hard to think clearly at this point, but if Black really wants a game he should try [12...Ndxe5 although 13.Nxe6+ Ng4 -- counterattack! -- 14.Nxd8 Bxf2+ 15.Qxf2 Nxf2 16.Nxc6 Nxh1 17.Ne5+ (17.Nd4) 17...Kh5 18.Be3! White is going to eventually win that knight for nothing, with a won game.] 13.0-0-0!?N A whole minute thought! (He did put almost three into move 11.) Now the game drags on, the result not in doubt, but there was a nice finish now that in fact happened in a game: [There is no mate after 13.Qh4?? Ndxe5!-/+; But look at this: 13.Nxe6+! Kh7 (13...Kf7 14.Ng5+ Ke8 15.Nxd5 Qd8 16.Ne6 Qa5+ 17.c3+-) 14.Ng5+ Kg8 (14...Kg6 15.Nxd5) 15.Nxd5 Qe8 16.Qb3! A moment ago this diagonal was filled with Black pawns -- now it's a brand new avenue for a crushing double check! 16...Rf7 17.Nc7 Qe7 18.Nxf7 1-0 Martorelli,A (2284)-Marvulli,D (1931) Montesilvano 2015 (18.Nxf7 Qxf7 19.Qxf7+ Kxf7 20.e6+!) ] 13...Bxf2?! Stockfish is not amused. [13...Ndxe5 is the least worst, but 14.Nxe6+ Ng4 15.Nxf8+ Qxf8 16.h3 Bxf2 17.Qf3 nabs a piece for an exchange up.] 14.Qxf2 Ndxe5 15.Qh4 Bd7?! 16.Rxd5?! [16.Qh7+! Kf6 17.Rxd5!] 16...Rh8 (Black has some fight now) 17.Qg3
(but not enough) 17...Ng4?! [At least take the rook: 17...exd5 18.Nxd5 Qe8 19.Re1 Rh5 20.Nf3+ Kh7 21.Bxe5 Nxe5 22.Rxe5+- Black is doing all right materially, but White's pieces swarm the kingside. 22...Qg6 23.Qxg6+ Kxg6 24.Re7] 18.Rd6 and material is even. But Black's king is stuck in an absurb position. 18...Rh5 19.Nd5 Qf8 20.Nc7 Rxg5 21.Rxd7 Rh5 22.Nxa8 Qxa8 23.h3 e5 24.Bd2 Qc8 25.Rd6+ Kh7 26.Rd1 If you believe Stockfish, then White's advantage has dropped considerably. But it's still won. 26...Nd4?! with huge threats! Alas, [26...Nf6] 27.Rxd4! The only, but crushing, move. 27...exd4 28.hxg4 The rest of the moves could just as well have not happened. White: 22:07, Black: 9:29. Neither side's clock situation explains it. 28...fxg4 29.Qd3+ Rf5 30.Rf1 g6 31.Rxf5 gxf5 32.Qxd4 Qc6 33.Qf2 Kg6 34.c3 a6 35.g3 Qh1+ 36.Qe1 Qxe1+ 37.Bxe1 f4 38.gxf4 Kf5 39.Bg3 1-0

(6) GM Lenderman ,Aleksandr (AlexanderL) (2704) - Gaffagan, Steven (carbon64) (2058) [A45]
MI January TNMO (2.1), 12.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.e3 This has become the orthodox line for both sides in an opening that used to be anything but. 4...Bf5 [4...c5 is another correct approach;; 4...e6 can't be bad, either.] 5.Nd2 [During the Tropowski's "Wild West" days White would sling pawns with 5.f3 and g2-g4. Black has yet to recover the points lost from those times.] 5...Nxd2 6.Qxd2 e6 7.Nf3 Bd6 8.Bg3 0-0 9.c4 White does show some aggression, with this sort of delayed Queen's Gambit. Lenderman had this in an important game just last month in the US Championship against Naroditsky.

9...c6 Steven accepts a structure appropriately orthodox, but this might have been the time to take a stand. [Daniel played more actively: 9...dxc4 10.Bxc4 Be4 11.0-0 Nd7 12.Qc3 Bxg3 (now that White has castled, else the h-file could be a problem) 13.hxg3 c5 14.Rfd1 Qf6 15.Be2 White has some advantage, but was unable to increase it. ½-½ (39), Lenderman,A (2624) -Naroditsky,D (2621) USA-ch qf, 12.16/0 ] 10.Rc1N [10.Be2 Re8 11.0-0 Bxg3 12.hxg3 Nd7 13.b4 dxc4 14.Bxc4 e5 15.Qb2 e4 16.Nd2= 1-0 (35) Schussler,H (2465)-Ost Hansen,J Gjovik 1985; A case could be made (and is, by Stockfish 12) for 10.c5 looking for a queenside spatial advantage.] 10...Qe7 11.Bxd6 Qxd6 12.Be2 Nd7 13.0-0 Having the bishop outside of the chain has to be better than not, but even so Black is slightly uncomfortable. 13...Bg4 Black is happy to trade that bishop off, what with the light-square pawn structure. 14.Rfd1
14...Rad8?! Is it really so bad? [The computer wants Black to expand a bit with 14...a5; or maybe with the trade first: 14...Bxf3 15.Bxf3 a5] 15.Qc3 Meanwhile one could get the impression that Lenderman is waiting for a mistake, without making any move on his own. 15...g6 [Some kingside aggression with 15...f5 perhaps?] 16.b4!? Nf6 17.c5 Finally! [He could still restrain himself, say with 17.a4] 17...Qe7 18.a4 Ne4 19.Qb2 Qf6 20.b5 Now White has a real initiative brewing on the queenside. 20...Rb8?! 21.Rb1 Bf5?
White 27:04 Black 12:21 [21...Rbe8!?] 22.Bd3?! [Perhaps with a bit more time expended (and he had plenty of time) Lenderman might have played 22.bxc6!+- Nxf2 (22...bxc6 23.Qxb8) 23.Kxf2 (or 23.cxb7) 23...Bxb1 24.cxb7!] 22...cxb5? [22...Qd8; 22...Bg4 23.Be2] 23.axb5 Now White's advantage is significant if not just winning. Can't argue with the "wait and see" approach when it's so successful! 23...Bg4 24.Be2 g5 25.Rf1 Rfd8 26.Rbc1 Bxf3?
[26...Rbc8 but the positional advantage isn't going away.] 27.gxf3! Black must have overlooked that his knight was trapped! (GM Lenderman didn't.) 27...Kh8 28.fxe4 Rg8 29.e5 Qf5 30.Qc2 Qh3 31.Kh1 Rg6 32.Rg1 Rh6 33.Rg2 f5 34.exf6 Rf8 35.Bg4 Qh4 36.c6 bxc6 37.bxc6 Rhxf6 38.c7 Rc8 39.Qc6 Rf7 40.Qxe6 Rcxc7 41.Rxc7 Rxc7 42.Qf6+ Kg8 43.Be6+ 1-0

(7) Boldi, Nicholas (nicarmt) (1883) - IM Winslow, Elliott (ecwinslow) (2278) [A35]
MI January TNMO (1.5), 12.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c4 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.Nxc6 On the one hand, hardly critical, but like so many "untrendy" lines in the Sicilian it's not intrinsically bad. Still, Black shouldn't mind seeing it. 7...bxc6

8.Bd3 [8.Be2 is the more sensible square: 8...Nf6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Be3 Bb7 11.f4 Nd7 12.Qd2 f5 13.exf5 gxf5 14.Bf3 Nf6 ½-½ (37), Velicka,P (2413)-Butkiewicz,L (2432) Czechia 2014] 8...Nf6 9.Bd2 0-0 10.0-0 Rb8 [10...Nd7 right away, would be the awake plan.] 11.Rb1
[11.b3] 11...Ng4N Black tries to upset the balance, maybe going a bit too far. [Predecessor: 11...Qc7 12.Qe2 Nd7 13.f4 Nc5 (13...e6!) 14.Bc2 Ne6 15.Qd3 f5 16.Be3 fxe4 17.Qxe4 Nc5 18.Qf3 e5 0-1 (31) Boucher,B-Garau,B (2036) ICCF email 2013] 12.Be2 f5 13.b4 Nf6?! [13...Ne5=/+] 14.Bd3?! e5?! [14...Nd7! 15.f4 e6] 15.a4 fxe4 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.Bxe4 d5 18.cxd5 cxd5 19.Bc2 Kh8 [19...Be6] 20.b5 e4 21.Bb4
21...Rf7?? Trying to avoid a blockade on d4, Black blunders! [21...Re8 22.Bc5 d4! appears to keep a balance (but no advantage).] 22.Bxe4! Really too easy. Now not only did Black lose a pawn, but it sends his position into a tailspin. 22...Be6 23.Bd3 Qh4 24.Bd6 Rd8 25.Bg3 Qf6 26.a5+- White is pressing smoothly. 26...h5 27.h3 h4 28.Bh2 Qg5 29.Qc1 [29.Qe2 Bxh3? 30.f4 Qg4 31.Rf3] 29...Qh5 [29...Qxc1 30.Rfxc1 Bd4 is the computer acquiescing to disaster.] 30.Qd1 Qg5 31.Qc1 Qh5
Perhaps a three-fold repetition? 32.Bf4 No, but [32.b6! axb6 33.axb6 Bc8 34.Bc7 Rdd7 35.Re1 is all but resignable.] 32...Bd4 33.Qd2 Rdf8? 34.Be2 Well, that should do it. 34...Rxf4 35.Bxh5 gxh5 And Black has an extra piece! Seriously, White dodges any tactical problems nicely. 36.Qe2 [36.Rb4!] 36...Bf7 37.b6 axb6 38.axb6 Bg6 39.Rbc1?! That b-pawn really should be a queen. [39.Rb4; 39.Rb5; 39.Rb3] 39...Bxb6 40.Rc6 Rxf2
41.Rxf2 Bxf2+ [41...Rxf2 42.Qe5+] 42.Kh1 Kh7 43.Rc7+ Black is preparing to resign. 43...Kg8
44.Qe6+?! [44.Qe5 Rf7 (44...Bf7 45.Qg5+ Kh7 46.Rc6) 45.Qe6] 44...Bf7 45.Qe5 Bg3?! [45...Re8 46.Qg5+ Kf8 47.Rxf7+ No blockade.] 46.Qg5+ Kh8 47.Qh6+ [47.Rc6 Be6 48.Qh6+ Kg8 49.Qxe6+] 47...Kg8 48.Qg5+ Kh8 49.Qf6+ Kg8 50.Qg5+? Falling into a repetition can't be explained by the clocks: White 4:32 Black 5:07. A gift. But still an upset, and credit to Nick, starting to rival his higher-rated brother Ethan. 1/2-1/2

(8) Hao, Max (Joseph_Truelsons_Fan) (1761) - Yan, Ruiyang (jij2018) (2242) [E04]
MI January TNMO (2.5), 12.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 [1...d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 0-1 (27) Srebrnic,A (1910)-Sebenik,M (2150) Ljubljana 1998] 2.c4 e6 3.g3 [3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 dxc4 1-0 (51) Panesso Rivera,H (2423)-Vera Siguenas,D (2503) Havana 2018] 3...d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 The Catalan Gambit Accepted. When Black is the significantly higher rated player, it follows to head for these very unbalanced positions. 5.Nf3 a6

Getting ready to "hold on". [5...Nc6 6.0-0 Rb8 7.a4 1-0 (51) Panesso Rivera,H (2423)-Vera Siguenas,D (2503) Havana 2018] 6.a4 This didn't really catch on. [Usually White plays the gambit all the way with 6.0-0 Nc6 7.e3; Or, a quick pawn recovery while opening up the long diagonal pressure: 6.Ne5 when one of the two replies 6...c5 puts up adequate counterplay. (or 6...Bb4+) ] 6...Nc6 7.0-0 Rb8!
A sophisticated reply, vacating the danger on the long diagonal.. Black's not going to let go of that pawn so readily. 8.Na3?! This just hasn't turned out too well, regardless of Black's reply. [The first game to get here went 8.a5 Bb4 9.Qc2 Nxa5 10.Qa4+ Nc6 11.Ne5 Nd5 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Qxc6+ Bd7 14.Qxc4 0-0 15.Qc2 Be7 16.Nc3 Nb4 17.Qd1 Qc8! 18.e4 Rd8 19.Qe2 ½-½ (19) Alburt,L (2515)-Portisch, L (2655) Valetta ol 1980 19...c5! completely equalizes.; 8.Nc3 was a recent game involving two superstars: 8...Be7 9.a5 0-0 10.Qa4 Nb4 11.Bg5 Bd7 12.Qd1 Bc6 Black is doing well 13.Ne5 Bxg2 14.Kxg2 Nc6 15.Nf3 Nd5 16.Bxe7 Qxe7 17.e4 Ndb4 18.b3 Rfd8! 0-1 (72), Maghsoodloo,P (2676)-Dominguez Perez,L (2758) INT 2020.] 8...Bxa3 Maybe not the best. [8...Na5!? and; 8...b5!? both have plus scores in practice.] 9.bxa3!? [9.Rxa3 b5!? and it's hard for White to focus anywhere. (9...0-0) ] 9...0-0 10.e3N [10.Qc2 b6 (10...b5!? 11.axb5 axb5 12.Bb2 Na5) 11.Qxc4 Na5 12.Qc2 Bb7 13.Bf4 Rc8 Certainly Black is fine, but no longer up a pawn as well. 14.Rac1 Be4 15.Qb2 Qd7 and Black went on to win: 1-0 (51) Panesso Rivera,H (2423)-Vera Siguenas, D (2503) Havana 2018] 10...b5 consolidation 11.Rb1
11...Bd7?! [The computer flashes out with 11...e5! 12.axb5 (12.dxe5 Qxd1 13.Rxd1 Ne4!-/+) 12...exd4! and Black assumes some advantage.] 12.axb5 axb5 13.Qc2 Ne7 [13...Qe7! keeps moving forward] 14.e4 [14.Ne5 obviously; or 14.a4 firing the second a-pawn] 14...Bc6 15.Re1 h6?! [15...Ng6 16.Bb2 Re8 with ...Ra8 coming] 16.Bb2 Ba8 17.Rbd1 Qc8 18.d5! Now White's got an initiative. 18...Ne8 19.Bh3! creating a target 19...Qa6 20.dxe6 fxe6 21.Ne5!? [21.Nd4!? Rf6 (21...Rb6 22.a4! bxa4 (22...Qxa4 23.Qc3 Qa6 24.Ba3 Black is cracking under the pressure) 23.Ba3+- and here, the extra pawns can't help Black at all.) ] 21...Nf6 22.Nd7 Nxd7 23.Rxd7 Rf7 24.Red1! [24.Rxc7?! Qa5 25.Qc3 Qxc7 26.Bxe6 Nf5! 27.exf5 Kh7 28.Bxf7 Qxf7 and miraculously Black comes out of it with drawing chances.] 24...Rbf8 25.Qc3 Bxe4 26.Qe5 Bf5
White 17:29 Black 8:57 27.Bxf5? [White just needs to toss that last log into the fire: 27.g4! Bd3 (27...Nc6 28.Qxg7+!! Rxg7 29.Rxg7+ Kh8 30.Rdd7! e5 31.gxf5 Rg8 32.f6!+- comes through.) 28.g5! Bf5 29.g6!] 27...Nxf5 28.g4? Too late! [28.Qxc7 looks like it holds a draw.] 28...Ne7-/+ 29.Qxc7?! [29.Rxc7 Qa4=/+] 29...Nd5 and Black is winning 30.Rxf7 Rxf7! (better than getting mated!) 31.Qe5 Qa7 32.Bd4 Qe7 33.Ba1 Qh4 34.f3 Qe7 [34...Nf4!] 35.Re1 Qxa3 36.Rf1 Qe3+ 37.Qxe3 Nxe3 38.Rf2 b4 39.Bd4 Nd5 40.Rc2 c3 41.Kf2 b3 42.Rxc3 Nxc3 43.Bxc3 Rc7 Max came close to realizes his opportunity when it arose, but was off by one move. Otherwise, a subtle win by Ruiyang. 0-1

(1) Ballantyne, Andrew (andrewaballantyne) (1057) - Hansen, Mateo (mateosh) (1687) [B01]
MI January TNMO (2), 12.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 This is playable but a rather passive retreat for the queen. The more common choices of 3...Qa5 or 3...Qd6 keep the queen in play. 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.0-0 Bg4 7.b3?! White takes his focus off the center. [7.h3 Bh5 8.d4! gives White immediate play in the center while Black's development is behind. 8...e6 9.d5 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 Ne5 11.Bb5+ c6 12.Qe2 cxb5 13.Qxe5 is an edge] 7...e6 8.h3 Bh5 9.Bb2 Nd4 10.Be2 Nxe2+ 11.Qxe2 Be7 12.d4 [12.Qb5+ c6 13.Qxb7 Bxf3 14.gxf3 0-0 is great compensation for the pawn] 12...0-0 13.Ne4 Qd5 14.Rfe1?! [14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15.g4 avoids doubled pawns and would be even] 14...Nxe4 15.Qxe4 Bxf3 [15...Qxe4 16.Rxe4 Bxf3 17.gxf3 Rfd8 is a safe endgame advantage] 16.gxf3 Qg5+ 17.Qg4 Qf6?! This is on the same diagonal as the white bishop. Instead 17. ..Rad8 would keep the edge 18.Kh2 Bd6+ 19.Kh1 g6 20.Rab1 h5 21.Qg2 a5 22.d5 e5 23.Re4 b5?

[Black needs to get out of the pin. He would still have an edge after 23...Qf5] 24.f4! This really hurts. White gets rid of the doubled pawn and creates a powerful central pawn duo. 24...Rfe8 25.Rbe1 Bb4 26.fxe5 Qe7 27.d6 [27.Rg1 keeps options of many breakthroughs that would problably require little tactics] 27...cxd6?! [27...Qe6 28.R1e2] 28.exd6 Qd7 29.Re7 Rad8?
[29...Bxd6! gives some hope to Black 30.R1e6! (30.Rxd7? Rxe1+) 30...Qxe7 31.Rxe7 Bxe7 32.Qg3! b4 33.Qe5 f6 34.Qe6+ Kg7 35.c4 is still a good endgame advantage for White] 30.Rxd7! Rxe1+ 31.Kh2 Rxd7 32.Qa8+ Kh7 33.Qh8# 1-0

(2) FM Griffith, Kyron (KyronGriffith) (2504) - Liou, Arthur (artliou) (2034) [A80]
MI January TNMO (2.3), 12.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 f5 2.Bg5 A direct way to deal with the Dutch Defense. 2...g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.e3 c6 6.Bd3 d6 7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1

Kyron has developed rapidly and is ready for the thematic break e3-e4. Black has one more move to get ready for it. 8...Qc7?!N This doesn't slow White down much. [Predecessor: 8...Na6 9.e4 fxe4 10.Nxe4 Nc7 11.Qd2 Bg4 12.Nh4 Rf7 13.Ng3 Qd7 14.h3 Be6 15.c4 Raf8 16.Be3 d5 17.Nf3 Nfe8 18.Ng5 dxc4 19.Nxf7 Rxf7 20.Bf1 Bd5 21.Bf4 Ne6 22.Be5 Nd6 23.b3 b5 24.Qc3 Qc7 25.Bxg7 Rxg7 26.bxc4 bxc4 27.Re5 Rf7 28.Rae1 Nf4 29.f3 Nb5 30.Qe3 Nxh3+ 31.gxh3 Rxf3 32.Qg5 Nxd4 33.Bg2 e6 34.Ne2 Nf5 35.Nf4 Rg3 36.Qf6 Bxg2 37.Qxe6+ Kg7 38.Nxg2 Douglas,S (2391)-Arnold,G (2306) ICCF email 2009 1-0; 8...b5!? is worth a look. Black could stop central play with 8...d5 but that lets White take have the e5 square.] 9.e4 fxe4 10.Nxe4 Bg4 11.h3 [11.Ned2! looks even stronger. White has clearly won the opening battle.] 11...Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Nbd7 13.Nxf6+ exf6 14.Bf4 Rfe8 [14...Ne5! is the best chance. White will lose the f4 bishop if 15. dxe5 fxe5, White is better after 15.Qg3 Nxd3 16.Bxd6 Qd8 17.cxd3 Re8 but Black will haave pawn targets.] 15.Qg3 Bf8? This gets run over. Black needed to try [15...Qb6 16.Bxd6 Qxd4 with some chances, though the active white bishops make life hard] 16.Rxe8 Rxe8
17.Bxg6! Rd8 nothing helps [17...hxg6 18.Qxg6+ Bg7 19.Qxe8+ Nf8 20.Re1 is over] 18.Bf5+ Kh8 19.Qh4 Nb6 20.Bxh7 Bg7 [20...Qxh7 21.Qxf6+ Kg8 22.Qxd8] 21.Bg6+ Kg8 22.Qh7+ Kf8 23.Bh6 23...Bxh6 24. Qh8+ Ke7 25. Re1+ is mate in two 1-0

(3) Li, Eric Yuhan (kingandqueen2017) (1966) - Zhou, Chelsea (mwncklmann) (1941) [D36]
MI January TNMO, 12.01.2021
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 c6 7.Bd3 Nbd7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.Qc2 Re8 10.h3 Nf8 11.0-0 Be6 12.Rab1 a5 13.a3 Classical play by both sides in this Queen's Gambit Exchange Variation. White prepares 14. b4 with the minority attack, Black seeks exchanges to be prepared. 13...N6d7 14.Bf4 Rc8

15.Rfc1 [15.b4 axb4 16.axb4 b5 17.Ne5 Nb6 and the knight heads to c4 to maintain equality] 15...c5?! This break gives White squares in the center. Better was to continue to be patient with [15...Nb6] 16.dxc5 Nxc5 17.Nd4 [17.Bb5! Nfd7 18.Qd1 keeps even more pressure on Black] 17...Nxd3 18.Qxd3 Qd7 19.Ncb5 Rxc1+ [19...Rc4 would hold more ground] 20.Rxc1 Rc8 21.Rc3 Bc5 22.Qc2 Bxd4 23.Nxd4
White has a classic advantage against the isolated black d-pawn. Capablanca reveled in such positions. 23...Rxc3 24.Qxc3 a4 25.Qb4 h6 26.Nb5 Qc6 27.Kh2 Bd7 28.Nd4 Qc8 29.Bd6 Nh7 30.Be7 f6 31.Qd6 Bc6 32.f4! This restricts the black knight. 32...Kf7 [32...Nf8? 33.Nxc6 bxc6 34.Bxf8 Qxf8 35.Qxc6 is a winning queen ending] 33.Bd8 Qd7 34.Qb8 Nf8 35.Ba5 Ne6 36.Nf5 b5? [36...Kg6 37.g4 Kh7 would keep Black's disadvantage to a minimum.] 37.Bb4 [37.Nd6+! Ke7 (37...Kg6 38.f5+) 38.Bb4 sets up a lethal discovered check] 37...Qd8 38.Qa7+ Qd7 39.Qa6 Kg8? The pressure of time and the position led to this blunder. Black is still only somewhat worse after [39...g6 40.Nd6+ Kg7] 40.Ne7+ Kf7 41.Qxc6 Qxc6 42.Nxc6 There's no hope for Black in this piece down endgame. 42...Nc7 43.Nd4 Ke8 44.Ba5 1-0

 Thursday Night Marathon Report

The Thursday Night Marathon began on Thursday January 14th. This is a five round event that will stretch through January and February with one round per week with a time control of G/60+5 in one open section. Here are the standings after round 1. 

SwissSys Standings. Jan-Feb 2021 Thursday Night Marathon: Open (Standings (no tiebrk))

# Name ID Rating Fed Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 GM Gadir Guseinov 17343590 2700 gguseinov W22         1.0
2 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 ecwinslow W23         1.0
3 FM Allan G Savage 10014999 2200 duchamp64 W24         1.0
4 NM Mike Walder 10345120 2106 FlightsOfFancy W25         1.0
5 Arthur Liou 12906142 2034 artliou W26         1.0
6 Daniel Lin 15176393 2009 SmilyFace4 W27         1.0
7 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 kclemens W28         1.0
8 Jonah Busch 12469525 1934 kondsaga W29         1.0
9 Stewart Katz 12458563 1835 knvsback W30         1.0
10 Kagan Uz 16434922 1809 uzkuzk W31         1.0
11 Vishva Nanugonda 16380312 1795 3Ke31-0 W32         1.0
12 Alexander Huberts 16419664 1794 cccalboy W33         1.0
13 Aaron Nicoski 12797931 1789 KingSmasher35 W34         1.0
14 Christopher Nelson 13742111 1700 LudiMagisterJosephus W35         1.0
15 Kevin Sun 16898540 1158 kevin_mx_sun W20         1.0
16 Alexander Casassovici 30101063 unr. zatmonkey W21         1.0
17 Edward Pernicka 30097683 unr. copernickas B---         1.0
18 Philip Gerstoft 12913356 1766 pgstar3 H---         0.5
19 Jacob S Wang 17083655 1560 jacobchess857 H---         0.5
20 NM Thomas Maser 10490936 1900 talenuf L15         0.0
21 Linu John Alex 13836822 1652 ibalek L16         0.0
22 Jeff C Andersen 11296106 1643 zenwabi L1         0.0
23 Bryan Hood 12839763 1574 fiddleleaf L2         0.0
24 Marina Xiao 16380642 1551 maxskiff L3         0.0
25 Nursulta Uzakbaev 17137317 1519 rimus11 L4         0.0
26 Yali Dancig-Perlman 16280288 1428 noydan100 L5         0.0
27 Nicholas Reed 16154827 1416 NXBex L6         0.0
28 Akshaj Pulijala 16497860 1406 loltheawesomedude L7         0.0
29 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 swimgrass L8         0.0
30 Andrew Fu 16403798 1152 geese L9       H--- 0.0
31 Rahim Dharssi 12693378 1018 rahimftd L10         0.0
32 Adithya Chitta 16695036 954 adichi L11         0.0
33 Jake Chi Hang Li 17144246 946 TanFlatPupet L12         0.0
34 Bruce Hedman 17344551 851 Bruce_Hedman L13         0.0
35 Danny Cao 16939797 843 caodanny L14         0.0

History Found! Scoresheet From 1924 Simul by World Champion Alexander Alekhine at Mechanics'

Future world champion Alexander Alekhine giving a simul at the Mechanics' Institute in 1924

A gentleman by the name of Stephen Koehler reached out to me last week to let me know that he has a hand-written scoresheet from the simulatneous exhibition given by Alexander Alekhine at the Mechanics' Institute from 1924. It was a game played Mr. Fisher, and it was found inside an 1878 copy of Staunton's The Chess Player's Handbook at the Lafayette Library book sale in the early 1970's. Presumably, this book was previously owned by Mr. Fisher. This is a historic find because there was not previously known to be a game record of that simul. 

I included John Donaldson in the correspondence, who offered this regarding Mr. Fisher:

This is a great discovery!
Alekhine made two official visits to the Mechanics' Institute in 1924 and 1929 - he may have also dropped by in early 1933 on his way to Honolulu. The events of 1929 are well documented but little is known about his earlier visit beyond the results of the exhibition (32 games - +23, -4, =5) and an exhibition game played (2/25/1924) between Lovegrove and Gruer in consultation against Alekhine that A.A. included in his book On the Road to the World Championship. That's it so the game with Fisher is indeed a find.
Who was Fisher? Good question. I checked the Mechanics' Chess Club's old guestbook which can be found online at (it may take awhile to download) you will find Alekhine's signature on page 6 but unfortunately none of his adversaries in the simul signed in. There is no Fisher in CalBase that is a good match. I think he was a local player, but certainly not a master. He played the first half of the game poorly but then came up with some ingenious moves.
Noting the starting and ending time is a nice touch. It could be Fisher agreed to a draw as he had to go to work the next day! - (2/27/24 was a Wednesday). It's also interesting to note Alekhine was playing two blindfold games on the side which might partly explain his poor result. The MI had a tradition of doing well against visiting masters and this exhibition was no exception.
John Donaldson
Mr. Koehler has very gratiously and generously donated this scoresheet to the Mechanics' Institute. Here is the copy:
Here is the game, annotated by IM John Donaldson.

(9) Alekhine,Alexander - Fisher [C13]
San Francisco (simul), 27.02.1924

1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Bxf6 [5.Nxe4] 5...Qxf6 [5...gxf6 6.Nxe4 f5] 6.Nxe4 Qd8 7.Nf3 h6?! 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.Qd2 Be7 10.0-0-0 Nb4 11.Bc4 b5? 12.Bxb5+ c6 13.Bc4 Qb6 14.c3 Nd5 15.Ne5 f5? 16.Bxd5 cxd5

17.Nc5! Bxc5 18.dxc5 Qxc5 19.Rhe1? [19.Ng6 forces Black's king to live in the center.] 19...0-0 20.Qd4 [20.f4] 20...Qd6 21.f4 Ba6 22.Rd2 Rfc8 23.g4 [23.h3 and then g4.] 23...fxg4 24.Rg1 Rc7 25.Rxg4 Bf1 26.Rg3 Rf8 27.Rf2 Qa6 28.Kb1 Rf5 29.Ng4 Kh7
30.Ne3 [30.b3 giving the king a place to hide on b2, kept some advantage. The text is text is a serious mistake.] 30...Bd3+! 31.Ka1 [31.Kc1 e5!] 31...e5! 32.Qb4
[32.Qxd5 exf4 with a decisive material advantage.] 32...Rxf4 Not bad but [32...Rff7 33.Nxd5 Bc4 and; 32...Bc4 33.b3 Rxf4 34.Rfg2 Bd3 were both winning.] 33.Rxf4 exf4 34.Qxf4 Re7! 35.Rg1 Qe6 36.Qd4
36...Be4? [36...Qe4! 37.Qxe4+ Rxe4 38.Nxd5 (38.Rg3 Rh4 39.h3 Bg6 40.Nxd5 Bf5 and Black captures on h3 when the passed pawns and bishop versus knight on an open board should prove victorius.) 38...Rh4 39.Rg2 Be4 40.Rd2 Bxd5 41.Rxd5 Rxh2 and Black's h-pawn is much too fast.] 37.a3 Qe5 38.Qd2 a6 39.Ng4?! [39.Rd1] 39...Qe6 [39...Qh5] 40.Qd4 Rc7? [40...Bg6!] 41.h4? Rc4! 42.Qa7 Bg6! 43.Ne3 Rxh4 Black is easily winning but decides not to tempt fate against the future World Champion. 1/2-1/2

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 extraoridinaire 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, 1/19:

GM Nick de Firmian Arena Thursdays 5pm-6pm, 1/21:

See you in the arena!

Dr. Alexey Root

Alexey Root and Mike Walder wrote Grandmaster Chef: Kirill Alekseenko for ChessBase. The Grandmaster Chef series will continue with Mike as sole author. Alexey is cutting down on freelance writing to draft a book proposal about the U.S. Women's Chess Champions. MIke and Alexey wrote 15 articles together, beginning in June of 2020 with Chemo Brain and Chess: One Master's Story. That first article happened after Mike contacted Alexey via Facebook regarding her appearance on the Mechanics' Chess Social. Alexey emailed, "Thank you Mike Walder and the Mechanics' Institute!"

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 - Game Review Class with FM Paul Whitehead

Course Dates: Ongoing

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

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:

1/19 Tuesday - January 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon
Format: 6SS G/35+2

1/21 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

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 ratings). 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 with 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 Jr. 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

(4) topmadhat10 (1404) - zzng (1486) [A07]
Live Chess
[de Firmian,Nick]

1.Nf3 Nc6 2.g3 e5 3.Bg2?! d5 [3...e4! 4.Ng1 d5 grabs the center] 4.0-0 Nf6 5.d3 h6 6.Nfd2?! Be6 7.e4 d4 [Black has the advantage in the middle and may prefer to keep the game fluid with 7...Qd7] 8.Nc4 b5 9.Ncd2 g6 10.b3 Bg7 11.Ba3 b4?! This brings the pawn up where White can initiate queenside play. The game is back to even. 12.Bb2 0-0 13.a3 bxa3 [13...a5 keeps the space advantage on the queenside] 14.Rxa3 Re8 15.c3? dxc3 16.Bxc3 Rb8?! [Why not take a pawn with 16...Qxd3] 17.Nc4 Nd4 18.Bxd4 [18.Nxe5 Bxb3 19.Rxb3 Rxb3 20.Bxd4 Qxd4 21.Qxb3 Qxe5 is about equal] 18...exd4?! [18...Qxd4] 19.e5 Nd7 20.f4

20...Ra8!? This is objectively not best, but the exchange sacrifice gives a lot of practical chances. 21.Bxa8 Qxa8 22.Qc2 Bh3 23.Re1 [23.Rf2 is safer, keeping the rook on defense for the white king] 23...Nc5 24.Re2 Qf3

25.b4?? Qf1# zzng won by checkmate 0-1

FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

The San Francisco Endgame


The “San Francisco Endgame” is this mind-boggling composition by J.J. Dolan from 1904:

White to move: is it a win?

Dolan was the Mechanics’ Institute Club Champion in 1898, and elected “President” of the club in 1909.

He was an internationally recognized chess problem composer.

This problem was featured on the cover of the California Chess Reporter of January / February 1975:


 As I was a very frequent (every day) visitor to the club at that time, I saw this problem on the board more than once, with everyone trying to figure the darn thing out. Mechanics’ trustee Robert Burger had just published his terrific book, The Chess of Bobby Fischer, and it was reviewed in the Reporter by yet another MI trustee, Guthrie McClain!

McClain loves the book but takes issue with the printing, and goes on to say that: “A famous position, the San Francisco Endgame, has frustrated chess-players at the Mechanic’s Institute for generations.  Burger wanted to include it in his book.  Alas, there was no solution available to him.  So he solved it.  The solution in the book takes up five pages.”

I find it mildly hilarious that Mr. McClain misplaced the apostrophe in the name of the Institution that provides safe harbor for the Chess Room, and also amused that “The San Francisco Endgame” takes up five pages in a book about… Bobby Fischer.

Those were the days!

As I flipped through the rest of that copy of the Reporter (found as a .pdf on that excellent – priceless – website, I ran across this old picture taken by my Dad at one of the LERA tournaments in Sunnyvale of my brother Jay and I back in 1974:

Those were the days, indeed. McClain also notes that “The San Francisco Endgame” is in the 1975 edition of Tattersall’s 1000 Chess Endings.  I have to admit it, right here and now: I don’t have Burger or Tattersall’s book.  And, if I did, I just might not have the patience to try to work out the solution to a problem that confounded “generations” of chess-players.

I’m leaving that up to you.

GM Nick de Firmian

Live Chess begins – Tata Steel

The pandemic has lasted longer than most expected, and it seems it will continue for months despite the vaccines that have been developed around the world. Yet we have entered a new year and most of us have great expectations that 2021 will bring back all the good things we miss. Thus it is a pleasure to chess fans that the tournament with the longest tradition will be played live, just like last year and every year since 1938 (except 1945). The tournament in Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands starts Saturday and once again has the biggest stars of the chess world – Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri along with young stars Firoujza, Duda and eight other strong grandmasters.

The tournament organizers decided on playing conditions like the Altibox Norway Chess event played in October last year (the last major event to be played live). There won’t be plexiglass over the board and face masks won’t be mandatory during play but tables will be wider apart and more distance between opponents. What is really good is that the games are played at classical time control (100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves then 15 minutes for rest of game plus 30 second increment from move 1). That will be a refreshing change from the standard rapid time control of all the online tournaments and should provide really excellent chess games.

Let us hope that  we will be seeing more live tournaments soon. Personally I can’t wait to see the Tuesday Night Marathon back live in it’s rightful place at the Mechanics’ club room. Now we take a look below at a couple of games from the great history of the Wijk aan Zee event.

(1) Botvinnik,Mikhail - Ree,Hans [A29]
Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (2), 15.01.1969

1.c4 Botvinniks favorite opening with White. He won many a brilliant game with the English. 1...e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 Bb4 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nf3 Re8 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Nd5 Bc5 Probably the bishop would do better to retreat to e7 or f8. 8.d3 Nxd5 9.cxd5 Nd4 10.Nd2 d6 11.e3 Nf5 12.Nc4 Bd7 13.Bd2 a6 14.b4 Ba7 15.Na5!

Botvinnik has gotten some queenside pressure out of the opening. 15...Bc8 16.Rc1 Nh6?! This knight on the rim would be better in the center. [16...Ne7 17.Qc2 Bb6 18.Nc4 Ba7 19.a4 is only slightly better for White.] 17.Rc3 f5 18.Qc2 Re7 19.Rc1 Bb6 20.d4!? Ng4?! This allows the game to open up. The pressure White has on the c-file gets combined with other active white pieces. [20...e4] 21.dxe5 Nxe5 22.Nc4 Nxc4 23.Rxc4 Bd7 24.a4! Threatening to drive the bishop off the defense of the c7 pawn. 24...a5 25.bxa5 Bc5
26.Rxc5! A strong exchance sacrifice. Botvinnik's dark-squared bishop soon becomes as strong as a rook. 26...dxc5 27.Qxc5 c6 28.Rb1 Be8 29.Bb4 Rf7 30.Rd1 Rc8 31.d6 Bd7 32.h3 White has control of the position and can slowly improve things (such as king safety) before making a decisive breakthough. 32...h6 33.Kh2 Qg5 34.Rd2 Re8 35.f4 Qf6 36.Bc3 Qe6 37.Be5 Qb3 38.Rb2 Qxa4 39.Rxb7 Ra8 40.Bc3 Qc2
Black played this move and resigned as he reached time control and was able to see how hopeless his position is. After 41. Qc4 Raf8 42. a6 there is nothing Black can do. 1-0

(2) Browne,Walter S (2540) - Sunye Neto,Jaime (2415) [E12]
Hoogovens Wijk aan Zee (11), 28.01.1980

Walter Browne won this prestigious tournament in 1980. Browne was the best American player in the late 1970's, and of course an icon of Bay Area chess. 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.a3 Petrosian's line against the Queen's Indian is ironically the sharpest way to play. Tigran was know for his great defense and positional play, but here made his mark on opening theory. 4...Bb7 5.Nc3 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.e3 Nd7 8.Bd3 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Bd6 10.e4 e5 11.Bg5 f6 12.Bh4 Browne has the classic pawn center and a slight edge in the opening. 12...0-0 13.0-0 Kh8 14.a4! It's little moves like this that add up to a big difference. The a-pawn moves from being a target on a3 to a potential attacking unit on the queenside. Even though White's main plan is a central/ kingside attack it makes a difference to keep track of the queenside. 14...Qe8 15.Re1 exd4? This lets the White center pawns become mobile. That's simply asking for trouble. 16.cxd4 Qh5 17.Bg3 Bxg3 18.hxg3 c5 19.d5 Ne5 20.Nxe5 Qxe5 21.Bc4 f5

22.f4! Qc3 23.Rc1 Qxg3 24.e5! Browne sacrifices two pawns. He may not even be able to stay in the middle game, but his passed d and e pawns are a tremendous force together. 24...Qxf4 25.e6 Qd6 [25...Qd4+ 26.Qxd4 cxd4 27.e7 Rfe8 28.d6 Bc6 29.Bb5 wins a rook] 26.e7 Rfe8 27.Re6 Qd7 28.d6 Bc6 29.Rc3! Getting the final piece into the attack. 29...Be4 30.Rh3 h6

31.Rexh6+! Black resigned. It is mate in 4 - 31...gxh6 32. Rxh6+ Kg7 33. Qh5 f4 34. Qg5+ Bg6 35. Qxg6 mate. 1-0


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