Chess Room Newsletter #958 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #958

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #958


March 6, 2021

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

The Mechanics' Institute is partnering with the Thompson Family Foundation, founded by Klay Thompson and his family,
with the mission of enriching the lives of youth through fitness and education.

Program: Saturday March 13, 2021

The Mechanics' Institute is proud to partner with the Thompson Family Foundation with the Think, Move, Play initiative. Join us next Saturday for an afternoon of FREE fun, friendship, and competition in a celebration of the power of chess in bringing communities together. 

3PM - 5PM: FREE tournament for scholastic players on
5 rounds of G/10+2 game
Players must be part of the Mechanics' Institute Scholastic Club on​

5:30-6:30PM: 60-minute G/5+2 game Arena
with very special guests participating.

The event will be broadcast live via Mechanics' Twitch channel:
with commentary by 3-time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian, FM Paul Whitehead and Chessroom Director, Abel Talamantez. Chief TD will be Dr. Judit Sztaray.
We will have special guests on throughout the tournament and the arena, stay tuned for more details.

Special event teeshirt for the first 100 participants.
Special chess set for all participants.
All materials will be picked up after the event at announced dates.

This event is limited to 250 players. To register, click HERE

Come join us next Saturday for this very special online event at the Mechanics' Institute!

March 2021 TNM 

The March 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon begins next week March 9th with an 8-round open section event. As usual, games will be manually paired on and will be USCF rated with a time control of G/35+2, two games per evening. We will broadcast the games on our Twitch channel with commentary from GM Nick de Firmian, FM Paul Whitehead, and Chess Director Abel Talamantez. Dr, Judit Sztaray is the Chief TD and will start the games. We anticipate a strong tournament, and we are already seeing new TNM participants register. 

Register for the tournament by clicking here:

Full tournament information can be found on this page:

Don't miss the fun and excitement of Tuesday nights at the Mechanics' Institute!

 Thursday Night Marathon Report

The Thursday Night Marathon has completed two rounds, and we have eight players with perfect 2/2 scores. Current standings are below, but here are a few games from the first round, annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.

(1) Kristian Clemens (kclemens) (1837) - Yali Dancig-Perlman (noydan100) (1726) [A13]
MI Feb-Mar ThNMO (1.7), 25.02.2021

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.b3 Nf6 4.Bb2 c6 5.g3 Nbd7 6.Bg2 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.d4 Qc7 9.Qc2 A typical Catalan move. Alternatively White can try [9.Nbd2 Ne4? 10.Nxe4 dxe4 11.Ng5 Nf6 12.Nxe4 1-0 (23) Hejazipour,M (2319) -Netra,P (1534) INT 2021; The "deep" move here is 9.Nc3 intending a line-up on the queen. 9...Re8 10.Rc1 and, as Black really doesn't want to allow 11.cxd5 and 12.Nb5, trading knight for bishop, Black has to move again: 10...Qb8 11.Nd2!? (in fact, 11.e4! even works) 11...e5? Black "lashes out" 12.cxd5! exd4 13.Nce4 (13.dxc6! dxc3 14.cxd7 Bxd7 15.Bxc3! works, since 15...Ba3 16.Rc2 Bf5 17.e4! Nxe4 18.Nxe4 Bxe4 19.Qd4! Qe5! 20.Qa4!) 13...cxd5 (13...Nxd5 14.Nxd6+/-) 14.Nxd6 Qxd6 15.Bxd4 1-0 (42) Kaidanov,G (2572)-Gamboa Alvarado,O (1913) Caleta 2017] 9...Ne4 [9...dxc4!? 10.bxc4 c5 11.e3 e5 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Nbd2 Bd7 14.Ng5 h6 If only his knight was c3 instead of d2, he'd have 15.Nd5! +- But he's still doing well. 15.Nge4 Nxe4 16.Nxe4+/- ½-½ (24) Golonka,S-Ball,Michigan ch, E Lansing 1987] 10.Nbd2 f5


11.a4?!N A well meaning plan, to trade the dark-squared bishops. [11.Rac1 Rf6 12.e3 Rh6 13.c5+/- No, there is no double piece sac on g3:1-0 (36) Srbis,J (2303)-Muskardin,M (2211) Topusko 2012; In another game White executed the textbook Anti-Stonewall knight maneuver: 11.Ne1! Ndf6? (11...Nxd2 12.Qxd2 dxc4 13.bxc4 e5!?) 12.Ndf3 Qf7 13.Nd3 Qh5 14.Nfe5 followed by further lessons in How to Push Back: 14...Bd7 15.f3 Ng5 16.h4 Nf7 17.Bc1 Black's queen is cut off from the retreat! 17...g5? 18.hxg5 Nxg5+- 1-0 (40) Devcic,D (2191)-Frank,V (2243) Velika Gorica 2002] 11...a5 [11...b6+/=; 11...Bb4!? 12.Ba3 a5+/=] 12.Ba3?! [12.Nxe4 fxe4 13.Ng5 Nf6 14.c5 Be7 15.f3+/-] 12...b6 It's a nice thought, to trade off Black's "good" bishop, but it takes time. And time matters even in closed positions. 13.Bxd6 Qxd6=


When Black gets .. Bb7 and ...c5 in it's all good: the Modern treatment of the Dutch Stonewall. 14.Rac1 Ba6 [14...c5!? first and foremost] 15.Rfd1 [15.cxd5!? cxd5 16.Qc7 Bxe2! comes out okay] 15...Rac8 Every rook move had something to be said for it; this one is fine. 16.e3 [16.Qb2!?] 16...Rf7?!+/= [16...c5 -- you can't wait forever!] 17.Qb2


17...g5? Just an oversight, losing a big pawn. 18.Nxe4 fxe4 19.Nxg5+- and Kristian wraps it up well enough. 19...Rg7 20.Nh3 Nf8 21.Bf1 [21.Nf4 keeps an eye on f2-f3.; 21.c5! perforates the queenside as well.] 21...Ng6?? oops,losing a piece 22.c5! Qc7 23.Bxa6 Rf8 24.cxb6 Qxb6 25.Bf1 Nh4 26.Qc2 Nf3+ 27.Kg2 Rc7 28.Nf4 Ng5 and resigned (29.h4 and 30.Nxe6) 1-0

(2) Walder FlightsOfFancy,Michael (2084) - Uzakbaev rimus11,Nursultan (1490) [C70]
MI Feb-Mar ThNMO (1.5), 25.02.2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Bc5 Rather unusual here; [Usually seen after 4...Nf6 5.0-0 Bc5 (or with 5...b5 6.Bb3 thrown in 6...Bc5) ] 5.c3 Preparing d2-d4 5...Nge7 Now it's rarified ground, from the thousands of games to the dozens. [5...b5] 6.0-0 Still not quite ready for d2-d4 -- and it's transposed into "hundreds" of games. [6.d4 exd4 7.cxd4 Bb4+ intending to follow up with ...d5, isn't so bad at all.] 6...0-0?! Nine moves have been played here at least a few times, [including 0-3 with 6...h6 (but not the highest ratings); 6...b5 is most played: White wanted that extra option for his bishop, now he has to commit! 7.Bb3! anyway still makes sense. (7.Bc2) ; 6...Ng6!? 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 and all three sensible retreats have held their own.] 7.d4 Bb6?!


[7...exd4 8.cxd4 Ba7 9.d5 and Black risks being pushed back badly.] 8.d5! Na5?! The liabilities are compounding -- first the e-pawn and now the knight. [8...Nb8 appeared in one game, which Black won; his chances right now are pretty bleak. 9.Nxe5 d6 10.Nc4 (10.Nf3!+-) 10...Ba7 11.Bc2 Ng6 (11...b5!?+/-) 12.Be3 Nd7 13.Bxa7 Rxa7 14.Nbd2 White is just up a pawn for nothing. But 0-1 (51) Gosio,D (2164) -Pelagatti,A (2082) INT 2006] 9.Nbd2! More disruptive than just taking the e-pawn right away. 9...Ba7 10.b4 b5 11.Bc2 Nb7 [After 11...Nc4 12.Nxc4 bxc4 White gets to play a Knight's Tour taking pawns.] 12.Nxe5 Ng6 13.Nxg6 fxg6 Hoping for counterplay along the f-file to f2, but 14.e5


The Dream Center. 14...Qh4 15.Nf3 Qe7


16.d6! A little combination to fire up those bishops, while making laughingstocks out of Black's. 16...cxd6 17.Bg5 Qe8 18.exd6 Nd8 This loses material, but Black's position was quite gone anyway. 19.Bxd8 [19.Qd5+ Ne6 20.Qxa8 Rxf3 21.gxf3 Nxg5 22.Qxa7 is the computer wipe-out.] 19...Bb7 [19...Qxd8 20.Qd5+ Kh8 21.Qxa8] 20.Be7 Bxf3 21.gxf3 Rf4 22.Qd2 Rxf3 23.Qd5+ Rf7 24.Bb3 Now it'll be a whole rook. Black gets to play to mate, as is his right. 24...Rc8 25.Qb7 Rc4 26.Bxc4 bxc4 27.Qxa7 Material gains material. 27...Rf4 28.f3 g5 29.Rae1 h6 30.Re4 Rf5 31.Qxa6 Kh7 32.Qxc4 [32.Qb7 followed by a2-a4-5-6-7-a8=Q?] 32...h5 33.Qd3 Kh6 34.f4 gxf4 35.Rexf4 Qg6+ 36.Qg3 Rd5 37.Qxg6+ Kxg6 38.Rd4 Re5 39.a4 Re2 40.Rd3 h4 41.Rf4 Re1+ 42.Kf2 Rh1 43.Kg2 Ra1 44.Rdf3 Rxa4 45.Rg4+ Kh7 46.Rxh4+ Kg6 47.Rg4+ Kh7 48.Rh3+ Kg8 49.Rf4 Ra2+ 50.Kf3 g6 51.Rf8+ Kg7 52.Rhh8 Ra8 53.Bf6# Walder played a number of excellent moves to control cashing in his advantage. And Nursultan: hang on to those center pawns! 1-0

(3) Michael Xiao (swimgrass) (1475) - Arthur Liou (artliou) (2199) [B22]
MI Feb-Mar ThNMO (1.6), 25.02.2021

1.e4 c5 2.c3 A good practical choice against the Sicilian for anyone who doesn't want to study much opening theory. 2...Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 e6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Nc3 Nb6?! This retreat loses time. Preferable is [7...d6 or; 7...Nxc3 8.bxc3 d6] 8.Bg5! Qc7 [8...Be7 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Ne4 Qb4+ 11.Qd2 is an excellent endgame for White] 9.Nb5 Qb8


10.Bf4?! This gives back a tempo. White would have a fine position after the natural developing move [10.Bd3] 10...Nd5 11.Bg3 Bb4+ 12.Nd2 a6 13.Nd6+ Bxd6 14.exd6 Nxd4 15.Ne4 Nf5 16.Rc1?! [White should get the kingside developed. 16.Bc4 Nb4 17.a3 Nc6 18.Qh5 would be good play for the pawn sacrificed] 16...b5 17.Qg4 Bb7 18.Nc5 Bc6 19.Bd3 Nf6 20.Qh3 Nxg3 21.Qxg3 0-0


Now Black is a clear pawn ahead with a solid position. 22.0-0 a5 23.a3 Qb6 24.Rfe1 Rac8 25.Re5 Bd5 26.Qe3?! [26.Rg5 g6 (26...Rxc5? 27.Rxg7+ Kh8 28.Rxc5 Qxc5 29.Qf4! would be enough to draw, e.g. 29...Ne4 30.Rxh7+ Kxh7 31.Qh4+ Kg7 32.Qg4+ Kf6 33.Qf4+) 27.b4 would support the knight and give some chances for kingside play] 26...Qxd6 now it's two clean pawns and a solid position. 27.Qd4 Qb8 This is alright but far from the kingside. Safer is [27...Qe7] 28.Rg5 e5! 29.Qe3 [taking the pawn loses directly 29.Rxe5 d6 30.Rg5 h6 31.Rg3 dxc5 32.Qxf6 Qxg3!] 29...d6?


[Oh no! One careless move can ruin it all. Taking time for defense with 29...g6 would let Black have time to calmly win with the extra pawns] 30.Na6? [White misses a golden opportunity - 30.Rxg7+! Kxg7 (30...Kh8 31.Qh6) 31.Qg5+ Kh8 32.Qxf6+ Kg8 33.Bxh7+ Kxh7 34.Rc3 is mate in 3 moves] 30...Rxc1+ 31.Qxc1 Qb7?


Once again not seeing the danger. [31...Qd8! 32.Bxb5 Ne4 33.Rg4 Qb6 would be back to complete control] 32.f4? This was the last chance, [32.Rxg7+! works again 32...Kxg7 33.Qg5+ Kh8 34.Qxf6+ Kg8 35.Qg5+ Kh8 36.Qh6 f5 37.Qxf8+] 32...Qxa6 Now its all over. 33.Qf1 Qb6+ 34.Kh1 Bc4 35.fxe5 dxe5 An extra piece and 2 pawns with a safe kingside. The rest needs no comments. 36.Bxc4 bxc4 37.Qxc4 Qxb2 38.h3 Qxa3 39.Qc6 Qa1+ 40.Kh2 e4 41.Qd6 a4 42.Qg3 Ne8 43.Qe3 Qf6 44.Rg3 Qc6 45.Qa3 f5 46.Qa2+ Kh8 47.Qa1 f4 48.Rg4 f3 49.Qa3 Qd6+ 50.Qxd6 Nxd6 51.Rg5 f2 0-1

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

# Name Handle ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 GM Gadir Guseinov gguseinov 17343590 2680 W20 W15       2.0
2 IM Elliott Winslow ecwinslow 10363365 2278 W21 W16       2.0
3 Theo Biyiasas tabiyiasas 13989054 2175 W29 W17     H--- 2.0
4 NM Michael Walder FlightsOfFancy 10345120 2107 W23 W18       2.0
5 Arthur Liou artliou 12906142 2034 W31 W19       2.0
6 Alexander Huberts cccalboy 16419664 1794 W38 X12       2.0
7 Adam For Stafford aanval22 14257838 831 W28 W14       2.0
8 Austin Bourdier austin809 30032406 unr. W35 W13       2.0
9 Adam Mercado A-boy415 16571026 1831 H--- W33       1.5
10 David Flores playercreate1 14799653 1812 H--- W34       1.5
11 Rama Chitta draidus 17350313 1475 H--- W27       1.5
12 Brandon Xie swift_breeze 14961610 2130 W22 F6       1.0
13 Kristian Clemens kclemens 13901075 1997 W24 L8       1.0
14 Ako Heidari oka_ako 15206848 1980 W36 L7       1.0
15 Jonah Busch kondsaga 12469525 1934 W30 L1       1.0
16 Robert Smith III maturner 12463327 1853 W26 L2       1.0
17 Kagan Uz uzkuzk 16434922 1812 W37 L3       1.0
18 Aaron Mic Nicoski KingSmasher35 12797931 1789 W32 L4       1.0
19 Roger V V Shi 1-h4-1-0 16191192 1776 W39 L5       1.0
20 Jeff C Andersen zenwabi 11296106 1643 L1 W36       1.0
21 Patrick Donnelly thedarkbishop 12716964 1635 L2 W38       1.0
22 Bryan Hood fiddleleaf 12839763 1574 L12 W39       1.0
23 Nursultan Uzakbaev rimus11 17137317 1513 L4 W37       1.0
24 Yali Dancig-Perlman noydan100 16280288 1442 L13 W40       1.0
25 Akshaj Pulijala Loltheawesomedude 16497860 1392 D27 D28       1.0
26 Kevin Sun kevin_mx_sun 16898540 1356 L16 W35       1.0
27 NM Thomas F Maser talenuf 10490936 1900 D25 L11       0.5
28 McCarty-Snead-Cal doctorbanner 14948275 1700 L7 D25       0.5
29 Jacob S Wang jacobchess857 17083655 1629 L3 D31       0.5
30 Marina Xiao programmingmax 16380642 1511 L15 D32       0.5
31 Michael Xiao swimgrass 16380636 1363 L5 D29       0.5
32 Katherine Sunn Lu 2Nf31-0 16425316 938 L18 D30       0.5
33 Danny Cao caodanny 16939797 895 H--- L9       0.5
34 Tyler Wong tdubchess 30135235 unr. H--- L10       0.5
35 Christopher Nelson ludimagisterjosephus 13742111 1700 L8 L26       0.0
36 Nicholas Reed NXBex 16154827 1416 L14 L20       0.0
37 Kevin M Chui Kchui999 16998580 1290 L17 L23       0.0
38 Charvi Atreya Charvii 16816706 944 L6 L21       0.0
39 Jake Chi Hang Li TanFlatPupet 17144246 866 L19 L22       0.0
40 Judit Sztaray juditsztaray 14708926 827 U--- L24       0.0


Reciprocity Partnership With Marshall Chess Club

The Mechanics' Institute and the Marshall Chess Club entered into a partnership last year where we agreed to recognize each others members so that our players can enjoy the benefits our respective clubs. Now that there are so many course offerings and USCF online rated events, we wanted to let our chess community know again that if you are a member of the Mechanics' Institute, meaning you have a membership card and paid the annual fee, you may enjoy playing at Marshall or taking one of their course at the Marshall member rate. Marshall has also promoted this reciprocity agreement with Mechanics' in their newsletter the Marshall Spectator. To subscribe to their newsletter, please follow this link:

To see their list of events, click this link:

If you are a member and wish to be added to the list of members to participate in Marshall events, please send an email to [email protected] and list your USCF number. We will verify membership and place you on the list.

We look forward to this partnership between our two historic clubs in an effort to continue bringing communities together through chess!

Chess in Art 1100-1900: Peter Herel Raabenstein

I was given the privilege of obtaining a copy of the newly released book Chess in Art 1100-1900 by Peter Herel Raabenstein, and I'll say that it is a must have for any chess collection. Many of us have often searched for chess depicted in paintings and other works of art, and this book compiles them all in one spot, chronicled by year, dating back to 1100. It's a coffee table book, but one that is difficult to put down. The reader sees chess depicted in so many ways by so many artists, through the centuries, capturing different themes and emotions, as well as social, political and religious change. More importantly, you see the great game of chess impact society for 800 years. The book is pricey, but the collection within the pages provides great value. If you would like to order a copy, please click 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 extraordinaire 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:

GM Nick de Firmian/FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, 3/9:

See you in the arena!

Mechanics' Institute Regular Online Classes

  1. Monday's 4:00-5:30PM - Mechanics' Chess Cafe
    Ongoing casual meeting to talk about chess, life, and pretty much everything else of interest. 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:

  2. Monday's 6:30-8:00PM - Game Review Class with FM Paul Whitehead
    Course Dates: Starting Feb 1 - Monday and ongoing
    Registration Fee: $20/class for Mechanics' member, $25/class for non-member
    More information:

  3. Wednesday's 5:00-6:30PM - Free Adult Beginner Class for Mechanics' Members
    New session started 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:

  4. Wednesdays 6:30-8PM -- NEW 6-week Specialty Class: The Art of Defense! with FM Paul Whitehead
    Course Dates: March 3 through April 7 (6 classes)
    We all want to attack, but to be comfortable and skillful at defense is just as important.
    Learn how to safeguard your king and drum up counter play using chapters and examples taken from The Art of Defense in Chess, by Polugaevsky and Damsky (1988).
    Stalemate, Blockade, Trench Warfare, Counterattack, Traps: these are just a few of the concepts we will take up in this six-week course.
    Be prepared for a little homework - and become a chess player who's hard to beat!
    $150 Mechanics' members. $180 for non-members. Few single class registrations are available -- Registration is needed to receive 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:

3/9 Tuesday - March 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon
Format: 8SS G/35+2

Join Now! Starts February 25: February/March 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

Scholastic Chess Town Hall - March 17th Wednesday 7:00-8:00PM Pacific Time
Question & Answer session for the 2021 San Francisco Scholastic Chess Championship Online

Join us Wednesday, March 17th at 7PM Pacific Time to hear a brief presentation about the upcoming 2021 San Francisco Scholastic Online Championship, a free event for any K-12 player. Have an opportunity to ask any questions regarding the event, sections, platforms and fair play.

You'll also have an opportunity to share any feedback about online scholastic chess, online rated chess, and engage in a community discussion about what our scholastic players need, and how to move forward towards a common goal.

Join Mechanics' Institute Chessroom Director Abel Talamantez, who has been leading Mechanics' Institute's chess programs, and Dr. Judit Sztaray, member of the USCF Scholastic Council and part of the USCF Online Play Task Force which developed the USCF Chapter 10 rules for Online chess. We have been organizing online rated events on the state and national level for almost a year and we would love to share our experience in answering any questions.

We hope that this townhall and the 2021 San Francisco Scholastic Championship will serve as an opportunity to celebrate the power of chess in bringing communities together. More information with a tentative agenda:

2021 San Francisco Scholastic Championship Online
March 20 - Saturday - All day event
via ChessKid and Chesscom

Continuing the tradition and a Mechanics' Institute annual event: the San Francisco Scholastic Championship will be hosted virtually again this spring for scholastic players from the Bay Area and beyond. Join us online for this FREE Event, where players can choose to play in a non-USCF rated section based on their grades, or compete in the Championship sections based on their rating and have their games USCF online rated.
Chess Director Abel Talamantez, GM Nick de Firmian, and FM Paul Whitehead will be covering the event live on our twitch channel!

More information:

Virtual Chess Classes - Spring Session
March 22 through May 31

  • All Girls Class with Coach Colin and Coach Abel -- Mondays 4-5PM - Register HERE
  • Intermediate Class with Coach Andrew -- Tuesdays 3-4PM - Register HERE
  • Intermediate Class with Coach Andy    Thursdays 4-5PM - Register HERE
  • Advanced Class with Coach Andy    Thursdays 5-6PM - Register HERE
  • Tactics, Tactics, Tactics with Coach Andrew for players rated 1000+ (ChessKid rating)    Friday 3-4PM - Register HERE

Spring Break Virtual Chess Camp
Monday through Friday, 
Two weeks: Mar 29 - Apr 2 and Apr 5-9
9AM - 12PM


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 - Event registration and USCF membership is needed!
More information:
3/7 - Sunday 3PM: 6SS G/10+2 

3) NEW: Monthly Scholastic Blitz Online Championships - run on & LIVE BROADCAST via
More information:
4/1 - Friday 6:30PM PT: 8SS G/5+2

Scholastic Game of the Week: Annotations by GM Nick de Firmian

(4) SafeRelaxedKite (1367) - CuteDynamicGargoyle (1697) [D40]
Live Chess

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.cxd5 exd5 4.e3 This locks in the dark squared bishop and is a little passive. Developing one of the knights would be preferable. 4...Nf6 5.Nc3 c5 6.Nf3 a6 7.dxc5 Nc6 8.Bd3 [8.Be2] 8...Bxc5 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bc2 Bg4 we have transposed to a Semi-Tarrasch defense. Black has active pieces for the isolated pawn (which is ready to be pushed soon). White's bishop would stand better on e2 here. 11.h3 Bh5 12.Bb3 d4 13.exd4 Nxd4

14.Be3?! [14.g4 Nxg4 15.Nxd4 Qh4 16.hxg4 Bd6 (16...Bxg4 17.Qd3) 17.f4 Qg3+ 18.Kh1 Qh3+ 19.Kg1 Qg3+ would be a draw] 14...Nxf3+ 15.gxf3 Bb4?! [Black should keep the queens on with White's damaged kingside pawn structure. 15...Qe7 would be a clear advantage] 16.Qxd8 Raxd8 17.Kg2 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Nd5 19.Bd4? [19.Rad1! Nxc3?! 20.Rxd8 Rxd8 21.Rc1 Nb5 22.a4 Nd6 23.Rd1 is active play for the pawn] 19...Nf4+! 20.Kg3 Ne2+ 21.Kh4 Bxf3 The white king is brave but in an unhealthy spot up the board. 22.Bd1
22...Rd5 [22...g5+! 23.Kxg5 Rd5+ is a mating attack. e.g. 24.Kf6 Re8 25.Rg1+ Nxg1 26.Bxf3 Re6#] 23.Bxe2 Bxe2 24.Rg1 Rh5+ 25.Kg3 Black has an extra pawn and this is a winning position with perfect technique, but that is still a lot of work. 25...f5 26.Kf4 g6 27.Rab1 b5 28.a4! trying to get open lines and counterplay. 28...Kf7 29.Kg3 [29.axb5] 29...h6?! [29...Rg5+ 30.Kf4 Rxg1 31.Rxg1 bxa4] 30.axb5 axb5 31.Rh1 Bc4?! 32.h4! Be6 33.f4 now the Black rook is stuck on h5 and the position should be a draw 33...Bc4 34.Ra1 Re8 35.Ra7+ Re7 36.Rxe7+ Kxe7 37.Re1+ Kd6 38.Rh1 g5
39.Rh2! nice defense.This should be an easy draw now. 39...gxf4+ 40.Kxf4 Bd5 41.Be5+ Ke6 42.Rh3 Be4 43.Rh2 Kd5 44.Rh3 Kc4 45.Rh2 Bd3 46.Bd4? after great play White commits an error that allow the black b-pawn to advance, Most any other move such as [46.Bf6 is a dead draw] 46...b4! 47.Be3 bxc3 48.Bc1 Kb3 49.Kg3 f4+ freeing the black rook at the cost of a pawn. [49...c2 would also be reasonable] 50.Kxf4? [50.Bxf4 works better] 50...Rf5+ 51.Kg4 Rf6 [51...h5+!] 52.Kh5 Be2+?? It's almost mate, but unfortunately the bishop is en pris here. [52...c2!] 53.Rxe2 Rf1 54.Bxh6 now White should be winning 54...Rf5+ 55.Bg5 c2 56.Kg6?? [56.Re1 wins] 56...Rxg5+ 57.hxg5 c1Q 58.Re6 Kb4 59.Rf6 Kc5 60.Rf5+ Kd6 61.Rf6+ Ke7 62.Kg7? Qxg5+ 63.Rg6 queen vs rook is a theoretical win but can be tricky sometimes 63...Qe5+ 64.Kh7 Kf7 65.Kh6 Qf5 66.Rg7+ Kf6?

67.Rg8? [67.Rf7+! Kxf7 is stalemate] 67...Qh3# CuteDynamicGargoyle won by checkmate 0-1

FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

Finishing Tactics from the World Championship Matches 4: Steinitz – Chigoran 1892


The return match between these two titans was held again in Havana, and although Steinitz emerged triumphant +10 -8 =5 Chigoran missed a chance to tie it up 9-9 by blundering horribly in the 23rd game:

Chigoran – Steinitz, 23rd Match Game 1892.

1.Bb4?? has gone down in history as one of the worst blunders in a World Championship Match.  Poor Chigoran resigned after 1…Rxh2+! (oops!) and mate next move.  Instead, 1.Rxb7! would have kept a winning advantage.

Indeed, the match was a slugfest, and both players landed some heavy blows.  Steinitz seemed out of form and dodged a bullet: but isn’t that what champions do?


1. Chigoran – Steinitz, 1st Match Game 1892.

White moves.  A nice series of moves, and black is doomed.


2. Steinitz – Chigoran, 4th Match Game 1892.

White moves.  Recapture on d4 or…?


3. Steinitz – Chigoran, 10th Match Game 1892.

Black moves.  No clues for this one!


4. Chigoran – Steinitz, 15th Match Game 1892.

White moves.  Find the cleanest win.


5. Chigoran – Steinitz, 17th Match Game 1892.

White moves.  A few precise moves, and it’s all over.


6. Steinitz – Chigoran, 18th Match Game 1892.

White moves.  Again, find the cleanest win.

GM Nick de Firmian


Have you gotten your Covid-19 vaccine yet? Probably not unless you are over the age of 65, but the good news is that it will be coming before too long, and you and the rest of the world will be able to restart life again as it used to be - or something like it.

The defining start of the coronavirus pandemic for the chess world was the interruption of the Candidates Tournament last March. The eight challengers to the throne bravely traveled to Ekaterinburg, Russia at the start of the outbreak and played seven games - the first half of the double round robin. Of course we know the players were sent home at the end of March. Now after a year’s delay, the Candidates Tournament is set to resume in Ekaterinburg, Russia on April 18th. The eight participants will return to the scene of last year’s battle with the score from a year ago, with Ian Nepomniachtchi and Maxim Vachier-Lagrave (MVL) in the lead at 4.5/7.

America’s Fabiano Caruana is a point behind the leaders and will face MVL in the first game of the second half. He needs a restart with fresh energy to catch up to the leaders and become the challenger again. Judging from his form of the last months he is back to his old self. We give Fabiano’s last encounter with MVL from January, a truly brilliant effort.

Another of the participants who has reverted to his good form is Anish Giri, who tied for first earlier this year in the super tournament at Wijk aan Zee. As a reminder of where we came from this last year I include his epic battle from last year against the other Candidates leader, Nepomniachtchi, The players now get a restart in this second half. The results may be different this time around.

(1) Fabiano Caruana (2823) - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2784) [B97]
Tata Steel Masters Wijk aan Zee NED (7), 23.01.2021

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 MVL is devoted to the Najdorf. This was much more common among top players 20 years ago (and of course the great Bobby Fischer would play almost nothing else in responce to 1.e4). Nowadays fewer players will brave the sharpest Sicilians as their opponents can prepare extreme complications with computer analyses. I applaud MVL for his courage, but he will be a target for the highly prepared opponent. 6.Bg5 Fabiano chooses the very sharpest line in response. No doubt he was prepared to the hilt. 6...e6 7.f4 Qb6 Just like Fischer, MVL doesn't back down and plays the uber-aggressive Poisoned Pawn variation. 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.Be2 Nc6 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.e5 Nd5 13.Nxd5 exd5?

[13...cxd5 14.0-0 h6 would be more normal and a roughly balanced game.] 14.e6! A terrific and unexpected shot! Fabi tosses a second pawn to keep Black's position bottled up. 14...f6 [14...fxe6 15.f5 exf5 16.Bh5+ g6 17.Qd4 Rg8 18.Qf6 is a winning attack, e.g. 18...gxh5 19.Qd8+ Kf7 20.Rb7+! Bxb7 21.Qf6+ Ke8 22.Qe6+ Be7 23.Qxe7#] 15.Bh5+ Kd8 [15...g6 16.Bxf6] 16.Bh4 d4 [16...Bxe6 17.0-0 is too large a lead in development for Black to survive. e.g. 17...d4 18.Rfe1 Bd7 19.Bf2 c5 20.Qe2 Rc8 21.Be8 Qa4 22.Bxd7 Qxd7 23.Qxa6 Be7 24.Rb7 etc.] 17.Bf2 Qc3 18.f5!
The protected passed pawn on e6 is a real thorn in the side even in the endgame. Black's extra pawn doesn't compensate for White's extra mobility. 18...Qxd2+ 19.Kxd2 c5 20.Bf3 Ra7 21.g4 g6 22.Bh4 Be7 23.Rb6 h5 24.h3! maintaining the white pawn chain is key. Black cannot make use of the pin on the h-file - 24...Ke8 [24...hxg4 25.hxg4 g5 26.Bg3 Rxh1 27.Bxh1 wins the black pawn on d6] 25.Bg3 Rc7
26.Kd3! Not rushing to capture on d6. Black is tied up so Caruana first brings his king into the battle. This subtle touch reminds one of Capablanca. 26...hxg4 27.hxg4 Rxh1 28.Bxh1 gxf5 29.gxf5 Bf8 30.Kc4 Rh7 31.Be4 Be7 32.Bxd6 Now White cashes in and the win is easy with the help of the active king on c4. 32...Bxd6 33.Rxd6 Bb7 34.Bxb7 Rxb7 35.Rxa6 Rb2 36.Kxc5 Rxc2+ 37.Kxd4
Black resigned. Two pawns ahead with the super pawn on e6 make the win trivial. A great game from Caruana. If he can play like this for the second half of the tournament he will win. 1-0

(2) Anish Giri (2763) - Ian Nepomniachtchi (2774) [A33]
World Championship Candidates Yekaterinburg RUS (1.3), 17.03.2020

One of the key battles from the first half of the tournament last March. 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 e6 6.g3 Qb6 7.Ndb5 Ne5 8.Bf4 Nfg4 9.e3 a6 10.h3

This very sharp opening is known theory. Though it is hard for normal chess players to navigate these complications it is normal for the elite players of this tournament. 10...axb5 11.hxg4 Nxc4 12.Rc1 d5 13.b3 Bb4! 14.bxc4 Ra3 15.Be5 f6 16.Bd4 Qa5 Black is getting his piece back. 17.Be2 Bxc3+ 18.Rxc3 Rxc3 19.Kf1! b4! the initiative is worth more than the exchange here 20.g5 e5 21.Bxc3 bxc3 22.gxf6 gxf6 23.Qb1?! [Both players have played extremely well through the complications, but Giri makes a slight error, Just 23.cxd5 keeps it fully balanced] 23...Qc7 24.Qd3 b5! 25.Qxc3 bxc4 26.e4 dxe4 27.Rh4 Be6 28.Rxe4 0-0 29.Bxc4 Kg7 30.Qb3?! [30.Qb4 Rb8 31.Bb5 Bxa2 32.Qd2 Be6 33.Bd3 is a pawn more for Black but White should be able to hold the draw here.] 30...Rb8
31.Bxe6 The queen sacrfice is the best chance [31.Qa4 Bd7 32.Qd1 Bf5 wins the exchange] 31...Rxb3 32.Rg4+ Kf8 33.Bxb3 The position has clarified to a hard ending. It looks like White should hold, but Nepo keeps up the pressure. 33...Qc1+ 34.Kg2 Qc6+ 35.Kg1 h5 36.Rg8+ Ke7 37.Rg7+ Kd6 38.Rh7 Qf3 39.Rh8 e4 40.Rd8+ Ke7 41.Bd1 Qc3 42.Rd5
42...h4! 43.gxh4 f5! Wonderfully energetiv play from Nepo causes White great trouble. Now the black pawns become a dangerous force. Giri makes a practical decision to try for a fortress by giving up the bishop. 44.Rxf5! Qe1+ 45.Kg2 Qxd1 46.Rg5 [46.Re5+?! Kf6 47.Rxe4 Qd5 48.f3] 46...Qa1 47.Rg4 Qb1 48.Rg3 Qxa2 49.Rh3 Qd5 50.Kf1 Qd1+ 51.Kg2 Qg4+ 52.Rg3 Qh5! [52...Qxh4 53.Kf1! allows the white king to get to the other side of the f-pawn. With the white king on e1 or e2 the white rook can just shufffle between g3 and e3 to hold the draw] 53.Ra3 Qd5 54.Kg1 Kf6 55.Rg3 Qd1+ 56.Kg2 Kf5 57.Rg5+ Kf4 58.Rg3 Qd5 59.Kf1 Qd2 60.Kg2 Qd1 61.Re3 Kf5 62.Rg3 Kf6 63.Rh3 Kg6 64.Rg3+ Kh5 patient and careful play by Nepo gathers up the h-pawn 65.Rh3 Qb1 66.Re3 Kxh4 67.Rg3 Kh5 68.Rh3+ Kg4 69.Rg3+ Kf4 70.Re3 Qd1 71.Ra3 Ke5 72.Rg3 Kd4 73.Re3 Qd3!

Giri resigns. He cannot take on d3 as the black pawn would queen. Black threatens a winning king ending with 74....Qxe3 and if 74. Rg3 Kc3 followed by bringing the black king to e2. A great battle and tremendous effort by Neponiachtchi. This year we will see if Giri can get his revenge. 0-1

Solutions to FM Paul Whitehead's Column

1. Chigoran – Steinitz, 1st Match Game 1892.

1.Nxf7! was a wonderful combination to start off the match. After 1…Kxf7 2.e6+! Kxe6 3.Ne5! was the brilliant follow up. Black’s king is caught in the center. Steinitz did not survive the challenger’s surgical finish: 3…Qc8 4.Re1 Kf6 5.Qh5 g6 6.Bxe7+ Kxe7 7.Nxg6+ Kf6 8.Nxh8 Bxd4 9.Rb3! Qd7 10.Rf3 Rxh8 11.g4 Rg8 12.Qh6+ Rg6 13.Rxf5+ 1-0.


2. Steinitz – Chigoran, 4th Match Game 1892.

1.Rxh7+! was the spectacular finish to this famous game. Chigoran’s king did not survive the walk of shame: 1…Kxh7 2.Qh1+ Kg7 3.Bh6+ Kf6 4.Qh4+ Ke5 5.Qxd4+ 1-0.


3. Steinitz – Chigoran, 10th Match Game 1892.

Steinitz has just blithely put down 1.g5?? but had to lose his queen after 1…Ne7! 0-1


4. Chigoran - Steinitz, 15th Match Game 1892.

1.Qxd5! is certainly cleaner than 1.Ng6+ Rxg6, and black survives a move or two. 1-0.


5. Chigoran – Steinitz, 17th Match Game 1892.

1.Bxg7+! destroyed the defenses. After 1…Kxg7 2.Qe7+! black lost his queen and soon the game: 2…Kg6 (Black would meet the same fate after 2…Kg8 3.Ne6+) 3.Ne6+ Qxg3+ 4.hxg3 R8f7 5.Qe8 b3 6.axb3 axb3 7.g4 Re5 8.Qg8+ 1-0. If 8…Kf6 then 9.g5+ Ke7 10.Qd8#.


6. Steinitz – Chigoran, 18th Match Game 1892.

1.Qxg7+! was the elegant finish. 1-0. If 1…Rxg7 then 2.e7+ wins shortly.




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