Chess Room Newsletter #960 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #960

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #960


March 20, 2021

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Think, Move, Play Scholastic Tournament and Arena Brings 158 Kids Together!

The Thompson Family Foundation and the Mechanics' Institute came came together in support of the power and benefits of chess to children by offering a free 5-round, non-rated scholastic swiss tournament, which was followed by a G/5+2, 60 minute arena with special guests participating. In total, 158 players participated in the tournament, with player strengths ranging from new learner to master playing in one open-section event. In the end, three players finished with perfect scores, with NM Sriram Krishnakumar, Rohan Rajaram, and Callaghan McCarty-Snead finishing in this tiebreak order with 5/5. Congratulations to them and to all the participants!

The Thompason Family Foundation, founded by Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson and his family, has a mission of enriching the lives of youth through sport and fitness. It was an honor for us to partner with them and combine our goal of bringing communities together through chess. All participants will receive a free chessboard with the Thompson Family Foundation logo on it and chess set. In addition, the first 90 participants will receive a free Think, Move, Play t-shirt, subject to size availability. 

We also received support from the Golden State Warriors Foundation's e-sports department, as we had Golden Guardian streamer Zain and Bay Area Super Smash Brothers streamer Toph join us for the event. Toph joined us on the broadcast for the arena coverage with Zain as one of the guest players playing. Also participating in the arena were former professional basketball player Mychel Thompson (Klay Thompson's older brother), Seth Tarver (Director of Programs and Partnerships with the Thompson Family Foundation), Adam Cheyer (co-founder of Siri), and local talents IM Josiah Stearman and WCM Allyson Wong. 

In the arena, as in the tournament, NM Sriram Krishakumar put in a dominant performance, including a sharp win against Stearman to take first. It was fun to watch our local kids, especially our developing young players play against these top juniors and adults. These young players have, as they really took it to the celebs showing no fear on the chessboard. Win or lose, they played with passion and determination, all with fun. Here are some of the games from the tournament and arena, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian.

(5) NM Sriram Krishnakumar (2008king) (2297) - IM Josiah Stearman (josiwales) (2579) [B01]
Live Chess, 14.03.2021
[de Firmian]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Be3!? Slightly unusual development. White has a small edge after the more normal [6.Bd3] 6...Be7 7.Qd2 0-0 8.0-0-0 b6 9.Be2 [9.h4 Bb7 10.h5 as White plays in the Petrov's would be a good plan] 9...Bb7 10.h4 Nbd7 11.h5 Bb4 12.a3? getting into trouble [12.Qd3 would keep a slight edge] 12...Ne4!


13.Nxe4!? The queen sacrifice may be the best practical chance [13.Qd3 Nxc3 14.axb4 Nxd1 15.Bxd1 would be a little play for the exchange in a still complex game] 13...Bxd2+ 14.Nexd2 Nf6?! [Josiah has won the queen and gets careless, allowing White serious play. He should close down the kingside with 14...h6 15.g4 f6] 15.h6! g6? [15...Ng4 16.hxg7 Kxg7 17.Rh3 f6 18.Rdh1 Rh8 19.Ne5 fxe5 20.Bxg4 Bxg2 21.Bh6+ Kg6 22.Bxe6 Bxh3 23.Rxh3 exd4 looks scary but would be winning for Black with accurate play] 16.Bg5!


The pin is really annoying, The game is even again now. 16...Re8? [needed was 16...Bxf3 17.gxf3 Qxd4 18.Ne4 Nxe4 19.Rxd4 Nxg5 20.f4 e5! 21.fxe5 Rad8 with even material] 17.Nc4?! [17.Rh4! c5 18.Ne5 cxd4 19.Ng4 would win the knight and give White a huge advantage] 17...Ba6?! [17...b5 18.Nce5 b4 19.axb4 a5 20.b5 a4 21.Ng4 Nxg4 22.Bxd8 Rexd8 23.Rdf1 is a nice pawn up for White but Black would still be in the game] 18.Rhe1? [18.Nfe5 Bxc4 19.Bxc4 b5 20.Be2 and White will win the knight on f6 (after Rh3-f3) with a winning game. The three minor pieces are much more powerful than the black queen in that position] 18...Kf8? [missing the chance to get out of the pin with 18...Bxc4 19.Bxc4 Qd6! as 20.Bxf6 Qf4+ wins the bishop back on f6] 19.Nce5 Now Black is in a bind again with no way out 19...Bxe2 20.Rxe2 Qe7?! [20...Kg8 21.Nd2 Qxd4 22.Ndc4 Qxd1+ (22...Qc5 23.Bxf6 is a completely winning bind for White) 23.Kxd1 Nd5 24.Ne3 is still a huge edge for White] 21.Bxf6 Qd6 [21...Qxf6 22.Nd7+] 22.Ng5


2008king won by resignation. A great comeback and a very entertaining battle. [22.Ng5 Kg8 23.Ne4 Qf8 24.Bg7 and Nf6 is the end] 1-0

(6) Adam Cheyer (acheyer) (1279) - Gogosf (1621) [A00]
Live Chess, 14.03.2021
[de Firmian]

The Orangutan. An unusual opening that's not so bad. White offers the b-pawn to get a center pawn. 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.e3 0-0 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bb2 Bg4 7.Be2 Nbd7 8.h3 Bxf3?! [8...Bh5] 9.Bxf3


This is the kind of position Orangutan players should be seeking when they play this opening. 9...Ne5 10.Bxb7 risky. White would have the two bishops and some edge after the simple retreat 10 Be2 10...Rb8


11.Bd5?? Oh no! [11.Ba6 Bxd2+ 12.Nxd2 Rxb2 is equal] 11...Nxd5 12.0-0 Bc5 13.d4 Rxb2 14.dxe5 dxe5 15.Nd2


15...Bxe3!? [15...Nc3 16.Qe1 Rxc2 is the most straightforward win] 16.Nf3 [16.fxe3 Nxe3 17.Qe1 Nxf1 18.Nxf1 Qd4+ would be an easy win with the extra material] 16...Bb6 17.Re1 Nf4 18.Nxe5 Qxd1 19.Raxd1 Rxc2 20.a4?! [20.Rf1 Rxa2 is quite lost anyway] 20...Bxf2+ 0-1

(7) jwiejoo (862) - Mychel Thompson (TrygaMyke) (544) [C20]
Live Chess, 14.03.2021
[de Firmian]

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 h6? [2...Nc6 3.Bc4 g6] 3.Bc4 [3.Qxe5+ is a clear pawn ahead] 3...g6?


[3...Qe7 4.Nc3 Nf6 stops the threatened checkmate and drives White back] 4.Qxe5+ Be7 [4...Qe7 is a little better, but 5.Qxh8 Qxe4+ 6.Be2 Qxg2 7.Bf3 wouldn't save material for Black] 5.Qxh8 a whole rook! This trap that has been played thousands of times. 5...d6? [5...Kf8 guards the knight] 6.Qxg8+ Kd7 7.Bb5+ c6 8.Bxc6+?! Still winning but there is no reason to give the piece back. [8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Be2 is nine points ahead] 8...Nxc6 9.Qxf7 Ne5 10.Qd5 a6 11.Ne2 Qc7 12.Nd4 b5!? One may as well mix it up when you are losing. 13.Qe6+ [13.Qxa8 Bb7 14.Qh8 Bxe4 gives Black a little play before the huge amount of material takes its toll] 13...Kd8 14.Qg8+ Kd7 15.0-0 Nc4 16.Qe6+ Ke8 17.Qxg6+ Kd7 18.Qg4+ Kd8 19.Ne6+ Bxe6 20.Qxe6 Ne5 21.d4 Qxc2 22.Bxh6?! [22.dxe5] 22...Qxe4 23.Nc3??


[23.dxe5 is way ahead] 23...Qxd4?? [Black could have gotten right back in the game with 23...Nf3+! 24.gxf3 Qxe6 winning the queen with roughly even material] 24.Qg8+ Kd7 25.Qxa8 Now there's no coming back 25...Ke6 26.Qc8+ Kf7 27.Rfd1 Qh4 28.Qf5+ Bf6 29.Qh7+ Ke6 30.Ne4 Qh5 31.Nxf6 [31.Rxd6#] 31...Qe2 32.Bg5 Nf7 33.Qg8 Kf5 34.Rd5+ Ne5 35.h3 Qf3 36.Qh7+ jwiejoo won on time, though mate would be soon anyway 1-0

(11) Luke Widjaja (lukewidjaja) (1893) - NM Sriram Krishnakumar (2008king) (2175) [C54]
Live Chess, 14.03.2021
[de Firmian]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.a4


Threatening to trap the black bishop. This modern move keeps play on both sides of the board. 6...a5 7.0-0 Bg4 8.Nbd2 0-0 9.h3 Be6 the other retreat would also give White a small edge after [9...Bh5 10.Re1 h6 11.Nf1 Bb6 12.Ng3] 10.Re1 Qd7 11.Bxe6 [11.Bb5! Bxh3 12.gxh3 Qxh3 13.Nf1 Qg4+ 14.Kh1 Bxf2 15.N1h2 Qh3 16.Re2 Ng4 17.Qf1 is quite good for White] 11...fxe6 12.Nc4 Ba7 13.Be3 Bxe3 14.Nxe3 h6 15.Rc1 Qf7 16.Qc2?! [16.Rc2] 16...Nh5 17.d4?! [17.Ng4] 17...exd4?! allowing White the opportunity to capture on d4 with the knight. White declines this generous offer which would have kept the disadvantage small. [17...Nf4! 18.dxe5 Nxh3+ is a big advantage for Black] 18.cxd4?


18...Nf4! Black has many threats such as ...Nxg2 and ...Nxh3+. If White moves the Nf3 then d4 hangs. 19.d5 [19.Kf1 Nxg2] 19...exd5 20.exd5 Nb4 21.Qxc7 Nbd3 22.Qxf7+ Rxf7 23.Nc4? losing a whole rook. After [23.Rcd1 Nxe1 24.Nxe1 White is down the exchange for a pawn, but it would be a very hard ending as the black rooks have good, active lines.] 23...Nxc1 24.Nxd6 [24.Rxc1 Ne2+] 24...Rd7 25.Nf5 Ncd3 26.Rd1 Rf8! 2008king plays accurately, avoiding the tricky white knights. There is no hope for White without a black blunder. [26...Rxd5? 27.Ne7+ would give back the whole rook] 27.Ne3 Nxb2 28.Rb1 Nxa4 29.Ne5 Re7 30.N3c4 Nc3 31.Ra1 b5 32.d6 Re6 33.Nd7 bxc4 34.Nxf8 Kxf8 35.d7 Rd6 36.Rxa5 Rxd7 37.Rf5+ Rf7 38.Rc5 Nce2+ 39.Kf1 Ra7 40.Rf5+ Kg8 0-1

We would like to thank the Thompson Family Foundation for sponsoring this event. Special thanks to Seth Tarver from the Thompson Family Foundation for working with us to organize the event, Christina Pederson and Daniel Biery from the Golden State Warriors, and streamers Zain and Toph for coming on the broadcast. Thanks also to our special guests who joined us on the commentary including Adisa Banjoko, GM Patrick Wolff, WCM Allyson Wong, and Mechanics' Institute CEO Kimberly Scrafano. Lastly, thank you to the chess team at the Mechanics' Institute - Dr. Judit Sztaray as Chief TD and running the Zoom HelpDesk, along with commentators GM Nick de Firmian and FM Paul Whitehead. It was a fun free event for the kids, and we hope this event will help continue to inspire the kids playing and learning and promote more interest in chess.

To watch the broadcast of the tournament and arena, please follow this link:

You can also click to our YouTube channel for the video and past videos HERE

Full results from the tournament are here:

Full arena results here:

March 2021 TNM Report

Fireworks were abound in rounds 3&4 of the Tuesday Night Marathon, as there was plenty of action to entertain viewers, two of these games provided by IM Josiah Stearman. Stearman won an incredibly sharp game against Nicholas Weng in round 3, where Weng's king marched to the b5 square by move 14. Stearman then went on to win another action game in round 4 against IM Elliott Winslow. GM Jim Tarjan survived a scare in round 3 against Abhinav Penagalapati, taking advantage of time pressure to come back from the brink of defeat. He was not so fortunate in round 4 against GM Gadir Guseinov. Tarjan appeared to be in a losing endgame, then found a resourceful continuation to get the position to his 2 rooks, bishop and pawns against Guseinov's queen, rook and pawns where it appeared even. But one miscaluclation opene the position enough for Guseinov to convert the win. IM Brian Escalante also had some great games, including a nice positional win against FM Eric Li. 

After 4 rounds, GM Guseinov, IM Escalante and IM Stearman are the only perfect scores at 4/4, with FM Kyron Griffith and NM Mike Walder at 3.5/4. 

Watch the broadcast by clicking here:

Here are some games from a great Tuesday night, annotated by GM Nick de Frimian.

(1) IM Josiah Stearman (josiwales) (2598) - Nicholas Weng (ninjaforce) (1984) [A34]
MI March TNMO (3.3), 16.03.2021
[de Firmian, Nick]

1.c4 Nf6 The "symmetrical" English opening is a transpositional jungle, with plenty of opportunities for both sides to inject asymmetry into the battle. [1...c5 is the immediate mirror move, but don't think that means it's boring. The most famous example of symmetry gone wild was R.Byrne-R.Fischer, 1963 U.S. Championship, which you must know if you have learned the moves. NOT Donald Byrne (as in New York 1956, "The Game of the Century") but his brother Robert. The story of what happened after the last move can easily be found online or in books. 2.Nf3 (2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 (3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nc7 is Rubinstein's Variation, when it could be Black setting up what was later known as the Maroczy Bind with ...e5) 3...d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5) 2...Nf6 3.Nc3 d5] 2.Nc3 d5 This has a sort of flaw, see below. [2...c5 3.Nf3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 is the more common move order.] 3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.Nf3 Not trying to take advantage of Black's early central play. [4.g3!? picks on the knight before Black is ready to do something with it. The idea is if Black plays ...Nxc3 then bxc3 and a bishop on g2 and a rook on b1 will make Black's development difficult.; 4.e4!? also might set up a big center before Black is ready to oppose it. 4...Nxc3 5.bxc3 g6 It's curious to watch the game count jump from a few hundred... (5...c5 6.d4 g6) 6.d4 over 33,000 -- transposition! (into the Gruenfeld Variation)] 4...c5 On the other hand, with this knight on f3 blocking the long diagonal, there has been a proliferation of interest in this position. To be fair, most of the recent games (involving Wesley So, Giri, Nepomniatchi, Dubov, Radjabov as White, Vachier Lagrave, Caruana, Mamedyarov, Fedoseev as Black) have started: 1.Nf3. Worth noting. 5.e4 Everything under the sun has been tried: [5.g3; 5.d4; 5.e3; Even 5.Qa4+] 5...Nc7?! This relinquishes the opening initiative to White. [The Big Move is 5...Nb4 when in the early 1980s Yasser Seirawan had quite a run with 6.Bc4!? Nd3+ (6...Be6!? 7.Bxe6 Nd3+ 8.Kf1 fxe6 9.Ng5 Qb6 10.Qe2 c4 11.b3 h6 12.Nf3 Nc6 13.bxc4 0-0-0 with just the sort of wild position the Black player revels in: 0-1 (28) Polugaevsky,L (2625)-Tal,M (2615) Riga 1979 -- but Seirawan and everyone since must have a good line here.) 7.Ke2 Nf4+ (7...Nxc1+ isn't so bad after all) 8.Kf1! Ne6 (8...Nd3!? 9.Qe2 Nxc1 was, among others, played by So in 2016: 10.Rxc1 e6 11.h4 a6 12.e5 Nc6 13.Rh3 b5 14.Bd3 Bb7 15.Be4 Qd7 ½-½ (37) Aronian,L (2785)-So,W (2794) London 2016) 9.b4!? was the old move, still seen; (9.h4!? the new move, not only as a reaction to ...g6 but here preempting it!) ] 6.d4! cxd4 7.Nxd4 [7.Qxd4!? is just as good] 7...e5!? Very challenging! And actually first seen on move 8 (that is, with e2-e3 and ...e7-e6!). 8.Bb5+!? [The computer confirms what has been known for almost forty years: 8.Ndb5! is the way to go. 8...Nxb5 (8...Qxd1+ 9.Kxd1 Nxb5 10.Nxb5 Na6 11.Be3 and White has the jump on Black.) 9.Bxb5+ Nc6 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.Be3 Be6 12.0-0-0+ 1-0 (37), Tregubov,P (2612) -Flear,G (2503) France 2003.] 8...Nxb5N [Perhaps 8...Bd7 as played in a game between a couple B players (!) is best.] 9.Ndxb5 Qxd1+? Maybe Black was too concerned with who could castle and who couldn't. [Equality was to be had with 9...a6 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.Na3 Be6 12.0-0 Nd7] 10.Kxd1 Na6 11.Nd5 Kd8 So now Black's king is center-bound as well -- and White's knights are most uncomfortable. 12.Bg5++/= Kd7? [Black had to see 12...f6! 13.Be3 (13.Nxf6?? h6 14.Bh4 Be7-+ turns it completely around) 13...Bd7 14.a4 Nb4 (or 14...Bc5 trading off a bishop to smooth the way for the errant knight. White has some advantage but Black is in it.) 15.Nbc3!] 13.Ke2 White is winning. 13...Kc6 14.Rhc1+?! Flashy but sometimes a quiet move is even better: [14.a4! is attacking the king: 14...b6 15.Rhc1+ Kb7 16.Nbc7 Rb8 17.a5! Nc5 18.b4! Nxe4? 19.a6#] 14...Kxb5 15.a4+ Ka5 16.Bd2+ Nb4 17.Nxb4 Bxb4 18.Rc5+ Kb6 [18...Ka6 19.Bxb4 b6 is a little better, clear advantage for White but it's not over.] 19.Rb5+ Kc7? [19...Ka6 20.Bxb4 Re8 21.Ra5+ Kb6 22.Rd5 Ka6 refuses to go under!] 20.Rc1+ Kd8?! [20...Kb8 21.Bxb4 Rd8 22.Be7 wins the pawn and Black's king still is a liability.] 21.Bxb4 but this is even worse. 21...Be6 22.Rxb7 Re8? (♔ Mate in 1) 23.Ba5# A fun win for Josiah -- and for Nick, a reminder that even the flank openings can get sharp and require theoretical preparation! 1-0

(2) IM Elliott Winslow (ecwinslow) (2249) - IM Josiah Stearman (josiwales) (2604) [E15]
MI March TNMO (4.3), 16.03.2021
[de Firmian, Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 The Queen's Indian Defense. 4.g3 Not quite the oldest reply but close. And first played by the great Akiva Rubinstein. One hundred and one years ago! 4...Bb7 [4...Ba6 is much more the modern move, although Nimzovich made it his own starting in 1925. It's hard for White to be happy with any defense of c4. And no, the first game with this exaggerated fianchetto, his opponent did not play 5.Bg2?? Bxc4 -- but a sleepy opponent did fall for that against Nimzovich in 1934.] 5.Bg2 d5!? A favorite of Moiseenko, who scores quite well with it, but it seems a bit heavy with e4 already well controlled. 6.Ne5


So the text move might seem counter to principles of development, but this was the big move, putting on the pressure right away now, a hundred years ago! The first game in the database is Alekhine-Vajda, and many of the greats of the era also found themselves playing it. Gruenfeld. Botvinnik. Saemisch. Najdorf. [The late Ljubomir Kavalek simply played 6.0-0 against Ljubo Ljubojevic in Montreal 1979, and after 6...Be7 7.Ne5 0-0 8.Nc3 Na6!? 9.cxd5 exd5 10.Nd3 c5 11.dxc5 bxc5 12.Bg5 with textbook pressure against the hanging pawns.1-0 (39) Kavalek,L (2590)-Ljubojevic,L (2590) Montreal 1979.; But in all likelihood Josiah would play, as Moiseenko is fond of, 6.0-0 dxc4! and the bishop is back in light. He's shown himself in similar positions to be at home.; 6.cxd5!? could well be the best way of dealing with Black's blunt pawn move, when any recapture has its problems.] 6...c6?! [6...Nbd7 was Moise's move the one time anyone played the old 6.Ne5 against him: 7.Qa4 Bd6 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Nxd7 Qxd7 10.Qxd7 Nxd7 11.cxd5 Bb4! 12.0-0 Bxc3 13.dxe6 Bxg2 14.Kxg2 Bxd4 15.exd7 Rad8 16.Rd1 Be5 17.Bf4 Bxf4 18.gxf4 f5 19.Rd5 Rf7 20.Rad1 g6 and Black somehow kept White from that one little last pawn move to the eighth. ½-½ (36), Fridman,D (2633)-Moiseenko,V (2501) St Petersburg 2018; 6...c5!? was the choice of the first British grandmaster and brief American player Tony Miles, with success: 7.Qa4+ Nbd7 8.cxd5 Bxd5 9.Bxd5 Nxd5 10.Nc3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Bd6 12.0-0 cxd4 13.cxd4 Bxe5 14.dxe5 0-0 and it was good knight bad bishop: 0-1 (45) Goodman,D (2230)-Miles,A (2510) Portsmouth (Southsea) 1976] 7.cxd5 cxd5 Best, keeping the bishop less indirectly controlling e4 than after ...exd5. But now ...c5 has gone away. 8.0-0 Bd6 [8...Nfd7!? 9.f4 Nxe5 10.fxe5 Nc6 had Black building up nicely on the queenside, French-style: 0-1 (42) Demina,J (2355)-Eismont,O (2470) Novosibirsk 1998] 9.Nc3


9...0-0N [9...Nbd7 10.Bf4 Qe7 11.Nb5 Bb8 12.Rc1 went horribly wrong in Otte,M (2173)-Suligoy,A (1818) Munich 2006:1-0 (33).] 10.Bf4 Nc6 11.e3?! [11.e4!? tries to take advantage of the moment to make something of the long diagonal. But 11...Nxe4 12.Nxe4 dxe4 13.Bxe4 Rc8 14.Rc1 Bxe5 15.dxe5 is about even whether either side trades queens or not.; 11.Nb5!? Bb8 12.Rc1 Nxe5 13.Bxe5 tries to take over c7, so 13...Ne8! denies White.] 11...Bxe5 [11...Rc8!? 12.Rc1 Qe7 continues with development (with b8 for the bishop if need be)] 12.Bxe5 White has to return the bishop pair, to have f2-f4 guarding the pawn. 12...Nxe5 13.dxe5 Nd7 14.f4 Ba6?! This could have started going bad. [14...Rc8; 14...Nc5] 15.Rf2 b5?!


Now it's White fumbling his development. [15...Qe7 16.e4 d4 17.Qxd4 Rfd8 18.Rd1 is some advantage still for White] 16.Rd2? [16.Qd4!+/- covers a lot of dark squares; 16...Qb6 17.a3 and White is ready to think about f5.] 16...Qb6! 17.Rd4 Rac8 Black has solved his problems and is thinking about going forward. 18.Qd2? [18.a4 is Stockfish's best move, pretty much keeping it equal. 18...b4 19.a5 Qc5 20.Na4! Qxa5 21.e4 with a sharp forcing line: 21...Nb6 22.exd5 Nxd5 23.Bxd5 exd5 24.Nc3 Qc5 25.Rxa6 bxc3 26.bxc3 Qxc3=] 18...Nb8!


A close to decisive redeployment. 19.Bxd5?! Desperation or oversight, in any case a dreadful attempt to change the direction of the game. 19...exd5 20.Nxd5 Qe6 [20...Qb7 was also a big plus.] 21.f5?! Now this is definitely desperate. 21...Qxe5 If it was any consolation, this was the only move. 22.f6 Nc6 There were other defenses; every attempt to attack falls flat. 23.Rg4 g6 [Even 23...g5 works, when after 24.h4 Kh8 25.Rxg5 Qe4 the g-file could just end up leading to checkmate -- by Black!] 24.Rd1 [When the computer recommends 24.e4 Qd4+ you know it's over.] 24...h5 25.Rf4 Rcd8 26.e4 Kh7 27.Qe3 Nb4 When ahead: trade. 28.Rf5!? Nxd5?! [28...Qe6! and White has nothing.] 29.Rxd5 Rxd5 30.Rxe5 Rxe5 31.Qa3 White was quite short on time but still fires a bullet or two. But objectively the rooks are going to run over the queen. 31...Rfe8?! [31...Kg8 32.Qxa6 Rxe4 33.Qxa7 Re2 Once the rooks start threatening mate, it will be done.] 32.Qxa6 R8e6 33.Qxa7 Stockfish only gives it minus over plus, but with the time disadvantage White just won't put up resistance for long. 33...Rxf6 34.Qd4? [34.Qb7] 34...Rfe6 Back to -+ 35.Kf2 Rxe4 36.Qd3 R4e5 37.a3 Kh6 38.b3 Rf5+ 39.Kg2 Kh7 40.a4 bxa4 41.bxa4 Rfe5 42.Kf2 Re4 43.a5?! R4e5 44.a6 Ra5 45.Qd7 Rf6+ 46.Ke3 Raxa6 47.h3 Ra3+ 48.Ke4 Rxg3 0-1

(3) GM Jim Tarjan (Tirantes) (2443) - GM Gadir Guseinov (GGuseinov) (2621) [E60]
MI March TNMO (4.1), 16.03.2021
[de Firmian, Nick]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nc3 c5 with Panno or Benoni a possibility, but they "agree" to head for a popular line with no clear name, a sort of fianchetto Maroczy Bind (White hasn't played e4, but the control of the light squares is there.). 6.Nf3 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Nc6 8.0-0 Qa5 [8...Nxd4 9.Qxd4 d6 was for years the main way to play. There is even a Fischer-Spassky game from their world championship match in this line: 10.Bg5 (10.Qd3 was up til then the main line) 10...Be6 11.Qf4 1-0 37, Fischer,R. - Spassky,B., Reykjavik (8) 1972; 8...d6 is a gambit that's not so easy to crack, but it seems to have had its day.] 9.Nc2 [9.Nb3; and 9.e3 are two major alternatives.] 9...Qh5 10.e4 Qxd1 White has done quite well here, but it's still anyone's game. And Guseinov seems to handle these typical positions quite well. [10...d6 is another way to go, but note the White player's name: 11.Qxh5 Nxh5 12.Nd5 Bd7 13.Bg5 f6 14.Bd2 1-0 (37) Guseynov,A (2399)-Ozgur,I (1930) Kesan 2017] 11.Rxd1


11...d6 12.h3 A bit sluggish, but the computer is okay with it. White has various more pointed moves: [12.Rb1; 12.b3; 12.Ne3] 12...Be6 13.b3


[13.Nd5!? Rac8 14.Rb1 Rfe8 15.b3 Nd7 16.Nf4 catches the bishop for knight: 1-0 (48) Arkell,K (2424)-Pleasants,A (2103) Cardiff 2017; 13.Ne3 Rac8 14.Rb1 Nd7 15.Ne2 Nc5 16.b3 a6 17.Bb2 regroups and neutralizes Black on the long diagonal: 17...Bxb2 18.Rxb2 b5 19.Nf4 g5 20.Nfd5 1-0 (42) Ragnarsson,D (2391)-Duong,T (2230) Montreal 2019] 13...Nd7N [Previously played was 13...Rfc8 14.Rb1 Nd7 15.Ne2 (15.Nd5!?+/=) 15...Nc5 (15...a6=; 15...a5=) 16.Bb2 (16.Nf4+/=) 16...Bxb2 (16...a5=; 16...Rab8) 17.Rxb2 a5 18.a4?! (18.f4) 18...Kg7=/+ 1-0 (31) Arnold,F (2583)-Krivoshey,S (2434) Eupen 2000] 14.Bb2 [14.Bd2 Perhaps just moving off the long diagonal is a better plan, when Black's dark-squared bishop could become ineffective.] 14...Nc5 15.Rab1 a5 Black's standard queenside counterplay is often a real problem for White. 16.Nd5?! [16.Ne3] 16...Bxd5 17.Rxd5 The pawn captures turn in Black's favor. 17...Nb4 18.Nxb4 axb4 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 And somehow Black has come up with good knight bad bishop, a frequent motif in the Maroczy bind positions, only made worse with the bishop doing not a lot on g2. 20.e5 a calculation that doesn't quite work out. [Perhaps it's time to go into a defensive mode with 20.Rb2] 20...Rxa2 21.exd6 exd6 22.Rxd6


22...Ra6! Still with some minor initiative. 23.Rbd1 Offering to trade b-pawn for b-pawn, but Gadir looks for his own terms. 23...Rc8 24.h4 Ra3 25.Rb6 Rxb3 26.Rb5 Rc7-/+ 27.Rd5? [27.Bd5 is still a hard nut to crack.] 27...Na4! Black is winning -- he's going to try to escort the passed pawn to queening. 28.Rd2 Rb1+ [28...b6! intending ...Rc5, cleaning up his extra pawn and squelching counterplay.] 29.Kh2 b3 30.Bxb7 b2? Too soon. [Perhaps 30...Rxc4 31.Bd5 Rc2 32.Rd4 Nc5!? (32...Nc3 33.Rxb3 Rxf2+ 34.Kh3 Rxb3 35.Bxb3 Ne2 is good chances as well.) 33.Kg2 b2 34.Be4 Nxe4 35.Rxe4 Rd1 36.Reb4 Rdd2 37.Rf4 h5 Can Black win this? Perhaps there is no way to queen after all.] 31.Bd5 Re7 32.Rb4 h6?! [32...Rbe1 33.Rdxb2 Nxb2 34.Rxb2 R1e2 35.Rxe2 Rxe2 36.Kg2 Kf6 Of course Black is better, but the win might not be there.] 33.Rxa4 Rh1+ 34.Bxh1 b1Q Here the clocks read: 9:17 10:40. White is close to equality, what with the bishop stronghold on d5. 35.Raa2 [35.Bd5] 35...g5


36.hxg5? It's not clear why this is a disaster for White yet, but Stockfish is adamant. [36.Bd5 lets Black split White's pawns, but there's no way in to them.] 36...hxg5 37.Rac2? Tarjan used half his time but didn't see the point. [He had to try 37.Re2 but it's still lost: 37...Re6! (Black had to find this) 38.Rxe6 Qxa2 39.Rd6 Qxf2+ 40.Bg2 f5] 37...Re8 Guseinov had let the rope slip almost completely, but he snared Tarjan anyway. 0-1

(4) FM Eric Li (kingandqueen2017) (2135) - IM Brian Escalante (BrianEscalante) (2401) [D31]
MI March TNMO (4.2), 16.03.2021
[de Firmian, Nick]

1.d4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.Nc3 c6 The Noteboom? 4.e3 Invitation to a Meran 4...f5 A Stonewall! 5.f4 A Double Stonewall!! 5...Nf6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.Bd3 0-0 8.0-0


8...dxc4!?N Taking a page from the Noteboom notebook: the Stonewall looks like it wants to maintain, what else, a stone wall, but at any moment it could come crashing down. Black expects to get in ...c5 when he'd be no worse than White. [8...b6 9.Bd2 Ba6 10.Qe2 Nbd7 11.cxd5 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Nxd5 13.Rac1 N7f6 14.Be1 Qd7 15.Bh4 Rac8 16.Bxf6 Nxf6 17.Rfd1 b5 18.Ne5 Qb7 19.Qe2 a6 20.Nd3 c5 21.dxc5 Bxc5 22.Na4 Ba7 23.Nac5 Qe7 24.b4 Ne4 25.Qc2 Rfd8 26.Qb3 Nxc5 27.Nxc5 Rxd1+ 28.Rxd1 Bxc5 29.bxc5 Rc6 30.Rc1 Rxc5 31.Rxc5 Qxc5 32.Qxe6+ 1/2-1/2 (32) Berkes,F (2665)-Bartel,M (2641) Budapest 2014] 9.Bxc4 b5 10.Bb3 a5 Queenside expansion "for free" (since White's bishop has to keep moving) 11.a4 b4 12.Ne2 Nd5 13.Bd2 Nd7 14.Rc1 Bb7 15.Qe1 Rc8


In the Stonewall Black's key square is e4 -- but here it's as if he doesn't care about that square at all. But neither does White it seems. 16.Qf2? [16.Ng3= Square e4!] 16...Qe7 17.Ne5 c5 18.Nd3? Now Black plays a winning sequence, leaving White's position in ruins. [18.Nxd7 Qxd7 19.dxc5=/+] 18...Ba6! 19.Bc4 Bxc4 20.Rxc4 N7b6 21.Rcc1 c4


Any questions? 22.Ne5 Bxe5 23.fxe5 Nxa4 24.Ra1 Nxb2 25.Rxa5 c3


Curiously it looks like a Noteboom again, gone very right. 26.Bc1 Nc4 27.Ra6 b3 28.Nf4 Nxf4 29.exf4 b2 Who could blame Eric if he switches to 1.e4 after this! 0-1

(10) Abhinav Penagalapati (qing29) (2113) - GM Jim Tarjan (Tirantes) (2455) [A80]
MI March TNMO (3.4), 16.03.2021
[de Firmian]

This was a complicated game! Once the fireworks started, the players kept making sure they didn't stop. 1.d4 f5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 The old adage "Knights before Bishops" is often ignored by todays London System practitioners. [Even another game: 4.Be2 Nc6 5.Nf3 Ne7 6.0-0 Ng6 7.c4 And then there's the one about bishops being worth a bit more than knights? 7...b6 8.Nc3 Bb4 9.Rc1 Bb7 10.Nb5 Nxf4 11.exf4 a6 12.Nc3 0-0 13.Ne5 d6 14.Nf3 Bxc3 15.Rxc3 Ne4 1/2-1/2 33, Ni,H (2668)-Maghsoodloo,P (2656) Abu Dhabi 2019] 4...g6N This move seems to invite White to use his lead in development to either develop an initiative or grab space.


[The other classical development got a rough treatment: 4...Be7 5.c4 0-0 6.Nc3 d6 7.h3 Qe8 8.Nf3 Bd8 9.g4 Nc6 10.Bg3 e5 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Bxf5 Bxf5 13.gxf5 e4 14.Ng5 Ne7 15.Ne6 Rf7 16.Ng5 Rf8 17.Qb3 Nxf5 18.c5+ Kh8 19.Ne6 Nxg3 20.fxg3 Rg8 21.Qxb7 Qxe6 22.Qxa8 Qa6 23.c6 Be7 24.Qb7 Qd3 25.Qxa7 Bd6 26.Rg1 Qc2 27.Qd4 Qxb2 28.Ne2 Qa3 29.Kf1 Qa5 30.Rb1 Qxa2 31.Qb2 Qf7 32.Nf4 Qc4+ 33.Kg2 Qxc6 34.Rgc1 Volkov,S (2627)-Esipenko,A (2523) Sochi 2017 1-0 (67)] 5.c3 White chooses to play his solid set-up before engaging his opponent's forces. [5.Nc3 Nc6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.e4 d6 9.Qd2|^; 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.c4 d6 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Re1+/=] 5...Bg7 6.Nd2 d6 7.Qc2 Nc6 8.0-0-0 White could still go the other way: [8.Ngf3 Qe7!? (8...0-0 9.0-0) 9.e4 e5 but Black is already causing some trouble in the center.] 8...Qe7 9.f3 Bd7 10.h4 h6 White is all set up to play in the center... 11.g4?! ...but then launches the g-pawn! Perhaps he thought Black was castling queenside, perhaps he wanted to encourage Black to castle queenside! [11.Ne2 0-0-0 12.e4=] 11...0-0-0 12.gxf5 gxf5 13.Ne2


13...Nh5?! [Black had an opportunity to take the initiative right now with 13...e5! 14.dxe5 (14.Bh2 Nd5 15.Nf1 exd4 16.exd4 Qxh4; 14.Bg3 Nd5 15.Nf1 f4) 14...dxe5 15.Bg3 Nd5-/+ 16.Nc4 Ncb4! 17.cxb4 Nxb4 18.Qb3 Be6 when it's not certain Black quickly recovers the piece, but there are problems with White's king as well; in any case computers like Black.] 14.e4?!


[14.Bh2 keeps a tenuous balance.] 14...e5!? initiating mass confusion! [Simply 14...fxe4 15.fxe4 (15.Bxe4 d5 16.Bd3 e5) 15...e5 achieves an advantage without the complications.] 15.dxe5 fxe4! 16.exd6 Qf8! 17.dxc7 exd3? [Better was 17...Re8 with a plus -- something will be coming back to Black shortly. 18.Bxe4 Nxf4 19.Nc4 Re7 20.Ng3 Kxc7 21.Qb3 Kb8 22.Nd6 Be6 23.Qb5 Nd8 24.Ngf5 Rc7 25.Kb1 Bxf5 26.Nxf5] 18.cxd8Q+ Kxd8[] The only move to keep the balance. [18...Nxd8? 19.Qxd3 Nxf4 20.Qc4+] 19.Bg5+?! Maybe too tricky. [19.Qxd3 Nxf4 20.Nxf4 Qxf4 21.Rhg1 and Rg4 (the bishop can't take), White would stand no worse.] 19...hxg5 20.Qxd3 Ne5 [20...Nf4!? 21.Nxf4 Qxf4 is more sensible] 21.Qe3 (on the a-pawn) [21.Qd5!? (on the b-pawn!?)] 21...Nf4 [21...g4!?] 22.Nxf4 [or 22.hxg5] 22...Qxf4 23.Qxa7


23...Nd3+? This goes nowhere and just turns the plus over to White. A lot of other moves kept the balance, [while Stockfish is adamant that 23...Kc8! is the only path to any advantage for Black.] 24.Kb1!+/- Rxh4?! [24...Nxb2? 25.Qa5+! (25.Kxb2?? Qb4+) ; 24...Kc8 is still the best shot, but now White has 25.Qa8+ Kc7 26.Qa5+ and 27.Qxg5.] 25.Rxh4 [More was offered by 25.Rhg1 Kc8 26.Qa8+ Qb8 27.Qxb8+ Kxb8 28.Ne4+/-] 25...gxh4 26.Ne4 Finally White gets the d-file going! 26...Ne5 The biggest think of the game (seven minutes), and the grandmaster finally admits he had to regroup. 27.Qb8+ Ke7 v 6:58 28.Nc5= White thought for three minutes and stayed calm; [28.Rxd7+!? could send it into an interesting ending: 28...Kxd7 29.Qxb7+ Kd8 (29...Ke6!? 30.Qxg7 Nxf3) 30.Qxg7 Qxf3 31.Qf6+ Qxf6 32.Nxf6 h3= it's looking like Black's mighty h-pawn compensates for White three connected passed pawns. (Quality vs. Quantity!)] 28...Bf5+? [28...Qxf3 doesn't lose material, and in fact was the equalizer. 29.Qd6+ Ke8 30.Nxd7 Qf5+ 31.Ka1 Nxd7 achieves the run of "0.00" on White's best moves.] 29.Ka1 v 4:39 29...Qxf3? This should lose. Various king or bishop moves still favor White but less so. 30.Qd8+? [30.Qc7+ was a winner. 30...Bd7 (30...Kf6 31.Rd6+) 31.Qd6+ (no longer a check on f5 -- it's already been taken!)] 30...Kf7 31.Qc7+ Everything has gone from roses to ruin; [31.Rg1 Ng6 32.Qc7+ Kg8 33.Qxb7 Qxb7 34.Nxb7 Be5 and the h-pawn is well escorted.] 31...Kg6! 32.Qd6+ [32.Rg1+ Ng4] 32...Kh7 33.Qd2 It's hard to suggest a plan for White now 33...Nc4 [33...h3 is an easy to suggest plan!] 34.Qd8 Qf2 vs. 2:05 35.Nd3 Qh2?! getting in the way of the h-pawn? [35...Qg3] 36.Rf1 0:17.9 vs. 1:45 36...Ne3??


[36...Qg3 and other win] 37.Rc1?? A final mistake, Black now drives home the point. [37.Qg5! draws! There's always some perpetual.] 37...Qg3 and that's that. Tarjan thought for half a minute on this and saw it through from there. 38.a3 h3 39.Rh1 h2-+ 40.Ka2 Be6+ 41.b3 Qg2+ 42.Nb2 Qxh1 43.Qh4+ Kg6 44.Qg3+ Ng4 45.Qd3+ Kh6 46.Qh3+ Kg6 47.Qd3+ Kf7 48.Qe2 Qg1 49.Qf3+ Ke7 50.Qxb7+ Kf6 51.Qf3+ Kg5 52.Qe4 h1Q As so often, the grandmaster ends up being the tougher fighter in the crunch. 0-1

Current standings after 4 rounds are here:

SwissSys Standings. March 2021 TNM: Open

# Name Handle ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Total Prize
1 GM Gadir Guseinov gguseinov 17343590 2738 W40 W32 W10 W6     4.0  
2 IM Brian Escalante BrianEscalante 16836558 2544 W29 W16 W11 W7     4.0  
3 IM Josiah Stearman josiwales 14006506 2505 W30 W22 W18 W8     4.0  
4 FM Kyron Wa Griffith KyronGriffith 12860484 2500 H--- W65 W21 W9     3.5  
5 NM Michael Walder FlightsOfFancy 10345120 2127 W44 D36 W23 W31     3.5  
6 GM James Edwa Tarjan tirantes 10991820 2469 W57 W17 W31 L1     3.0  
7 FM Eric Yuhan Li kingandqueen2017 15688436 2344 W41 W24 W12 L2     3.0  
8 IM Elliott Winslow ecwinslow 10363365 2278 W51 W33 W20 L3     3.0  
9 Austin R Mei TitanChess666 16090452 2149 W42 W25 W14 L4     3.0  
10 FM Max Gedajlovic MMSanchez 14947382 2141 W43 W34 L1 W35     3.0  
11 Pranav Sairam chesspilot01 15424820 2084 X45 W35 L2 W34     3.0  
12 Arthur Liou artliou 12906142 2037 W58 W60 L7 W39     3.0  
13 David Askin David_Askin 13776967 2023 L46 W59 W41 W36     3.0  
14 Nathan Fong nathanf314 13001390 2015 W47 W50 L9 W45     3.0  
15 Cailen J Melville Mangonel 14006141 1940 L60 W58 W57 W50     3.0  
16 Thomas F Maser talenuf 10490936 1900 W62 L2 W42 W46     3.0  
17 Chelsea Zhou mwncklmann 15239016 1875 W64 L6 W44 W47     3.0  
18 Nicholas Ruo Weng ninjaforce 15499404 2055 W53 W39 L3 D29     2.5  
19 Alan Finkelstein stratus_junior 14958842 2054 D54 W52 D36 D24     2.5  
20 Daniel Lin SmilyFace4 15176393 2000 W59 W46 L8 D26     2.5  
21 Jonah Busch kondsaga 12469525 1934 W61 W69 L4 D28     2.5  
22 Jeffery Wang twangbio 16291100 1878 W63 L3 D51 W48     2.5  
23 Adam Mercado A-boy415 16571026 1831 H--- W54 L5 W52     2.5  
24 Aaron Mic Nicoski KingSmasher35 12797931 1789 W71 L7 W43 D19     2.5  
25 Kevin M Fong chessappeals 17254586 1783 W67 L9 D53 W51     2.5  
26 Sanjeev Anand chessp1234 14436451 1753 W75 L31 W65 D20     2.5  
27 Roman Gurovich heyitsroman 14173406 1716 L50 D55 W70 W53     2.5  
28 Cal McCarty-Snead DoctorBanner 14948275 1700 H--- H--- W60 D21     2.5  
29 Vedant Talwalkar serverbusy 16408266 1644 L2 W62 W32 D18     2.5  
30 Patrick Donnelly thedarkbishop 12716964 1635 L3 D71 W54 W56     2.5  
31 Abhi Penagalapati Qing29 15467440 2082 X70 W26 L6 L5     2.0  
32 Kapil Karunakaran kapilank 15495877 1907 W55 L1 L29 W58     2.0  
33 Ranen A Lardent dashrndrx 12614986 1815 W66 L8 L46 W59     2.0  
34 Max Hao Joseph_Truelsons_Fan 16083648 1785 W73 L10 W61 L11     2.0  
35 Sos Hakobyan SacrificeandCrush 14452712 1771 W74 L11 W69 L10     2.0  
36 Pranav Sathish championps 16464655 1770 W68 D5 D19 L13     2.0  
37 Bryan Lynch nycsheep 15493651 1769 L69 L61 W71 W60     2.0  
38 John R Hartmann john_hartmann 12552251 1765 H--- H--- L45 W61     2.0  
39 Ethan Guo LightningDragon8 16761994 1726 W76 L18 W49 L12     2.0  
40 Georgios Tsolias GiorgosTsolias 17266862 1679 L1 W63 L50 W62     2.0  
41 David Rakonitz MechAnjin 12931024 1622 L7 W67 L13 W63     2.0  
42 Nursulta Uzakbaev rimus11 17137317 1513 L9 W68 L16 W65     2.0  
43 Marina Xiao programmingmax 16380642 1484 L10 W73 L24 W69     2.0  
44 Ethan R Mei erm999 16090467 1482 L5 W75 L17 W68     2.0  
45 Jahaan Ansari jah23 21004356 1446 F11 W74 W38 L14     2.0  
46 Sebastian Suarez Sebbymeister 16875347 1343 W13 L20 W33 L16     2.0  
47 Prescott Yu prescott00000 16009618 1296 L14 X72 W73 L17     2.0  
48 Paul Krezanoski pjkrizzle 16897133 1293 H--- H--- X72 L22     2.0  
49 Justin Brunet night_breeze 30055583 933 H--- H--- L39 W57     2.0  
50 Rajtilak Indrajit rtindru 30109752 unr. W27 L14 W40 L15     2.0  
51 Joel Carron bigchampionofchess 16600505 1610 L8 W66 D22 L25     1.5  
52 Nicholas M Brown nmbrown2 12446259 1495 H--- L19 W55 L23     1.5  
53 Pranav Pradeep ppra06 15871762 1445 L18 W76 D25 L27     1.5  
54 Ethan Sun sfdeals 16964125 1417 D19 L23 L30 W71     1.5  
55 Michael Jannetta GM_Fobby_Bischer 15172933 1165 L32 D27 L52 W70     1.5  
56 Aidan Cumbo worsepot 30118987 unr. H--- H--- H--- L30     1.5  
57 Kenneth S Wells shoshonte 14960218 1626 L6 W64 L15 L49     1.0  
58 Michael Xiao swimgrass 16380636 1363 L12 L15 W66 L32     1.0  
59 Andrew Ballantyne andrewaballantyne 17079795 1206 L20 L13 W67 L33     1.0  
60 Ian Liao victor6688 16738735 1205 W15 L12 L28 L37     1.0  
61 Leon Diaz Herrera Aeqetes 17355661 1175 L21 W37 L34 L38     1.0  
62 Shiv Sohal dribbler23 30032729 1102 L16 L29 X74 L40     1.0  
63 Bruce Hedman Bruce_Hedman 17344551 1032 L22 L40 W76 L41     1.0  
64 Charvi Atreya Charvii 16816706 1020 L17 L57 L68 W73     1.0  
65 Adam For Stafford aanval22 14257838 1014 W72 L4 L26 L42     1.0  
66 Adithya Chitta adichi 16695036 966 L33 L51 L58 W76     1.0  
67 Samuel Tsen Brown ComfyQueso 16380615 739 L25 L41 L59 B---     1.0  
68 Ivan Zong ivanzong 30131397 unr. L36 L42 W64 L44     1.0  
69 Tyler Wong tdubchess 30135235 unr. W37 L21 L35 L43     1.0  
70 Michael Hilliard Echecsmike 12279170 1446 F31 H--- L27 L55     0.5  
71 Sean Han Wu dum2020arEEEWS 16802870 952 L24 D30 L37 L54     0.5  
72 Christian Jensen Christianjensen23 12780890 1844 L65 F47 F48 U---     0.0  
73 Cleveland W Lee Vincitore51745 12814843 826 L34 L43 L47 L64     0.0  
74 Aaron Peredia GoodKnightmyQueens 16443747 486 L35 L45 F62 U---     0.0  
75 Austin Bourdier austin809 30032406 unr. L26 L44 U--- U---     0.0  
76 Rehaan Malhotra MrRap9 30118209 unr. L39 L53 L63 L66     0.0  

 Thursday Night Marathon Report

After 4 rounds of the Thursday Night Marathon, GM Gadir Guseinov remains as the sole perfect score, a half point ahead of IM Elliott Winslow and NM Mike Walder. Gadir was victorious in round 4 from the challenge of Theo Biyiasas. Here are the current standings heading into next weeks final round.

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 W13 W16 W5 W4   4.0
2 IM Elliott Winslow ecwinslow 10363365 2278 W20 W9 W15 H---   3.5
3 NM Michael Walder FlightsOfFancy 10345120 2107 W22 W17 W26 H---   3.5
4 Theo Biyiasas tabiyiasas 13989054 2175 W30 W8 W12 L1 H--- 3.0
5 Arthur Liou artliou 12906142 2034 W36 W18 L1 W10   3.0
6 Kristian Clemens kclemens 13901075 1997 W23 L26 W34 W22   3.0
7 Ako Heidari ako_h 15206848 1980 W35 L15 W14 W20   3.0
8 Kagan Uz uzkuzk 16434922 1812 W37 L4 W21 W24   3.0
9 Robert Smith III maturner 12463327 1853 W32 L2 D13 W23   2.5
10 Adam Mercado A-boy415 16571026 1831 H--- W38 W11 L5   2.5
11 David Flores playercreate1 14799653 1812 H--- W39 L10 W31   2.5
12 Alexander Huberts cccalboy 16419664 1794 W40 X27 L4 D15   2.5
13 Jeff C Andersen zenwabi 11296106 1643 L1 W35 D9 W28   2.5
14 Rama Chitta draidus 17350313 1475 H--- W28 L7 W27   2.5
15 Adam For Stafford aanval22 14257838 831 W19 W7 L2 D12   2.5
16 Jonah Busch kondsaga 12469525 1934 W31 L1 L20 W30   2.0
17 Aaron Mic Nicoski KingSmasher35 12797931 1789 W25 L3 L24 W35   2.0
18 Roger V V Shi 1-h4-1-0 16191192 1776 W43 L5 L22 W36   2.0
19 McCarty-Snead-Cal doctorbanner 14948275 1700 L15 D24 D25 W37   2.0
20 Patrick Donnelly thedarkbishop 12716964 1635 L2 W40 W16 L7   2.0
21 Bryan Hood fiddleleaf 12839763 1574 L27 W43 L8 W38 U--- 2.0
22 Nursultan Uzakbaev rimus11 17137317 1513 L3 W37 W18 L6   2.0
23 Yali Dancig-Perlman noydan100 16280288 1442 L6 W41 W29 L9   2.0
24 Akshaj Pulijala Loltheawesomedude 16497860 1392 D28 D19 W17 L8   2.0
25 Katherine Sunn Lu 2Nf31-0 16425316 938 L17 D31 D19 W42   2.0
26 Austin Bourdier austin809 30032406 unr. W33 W6 L3 U---   2.0
27 Brandon Xie swift_breeze 14961610 2130 W21 F12 H--- L14   1.5
28 NM Thomas F Maser talenuf 10490936 1900 D24 L14 W32 L13   1.5
29 Leo Wang mu3tang 16061785 1765 H--- H--- L23 D32   1.5
30 Jacob S Wang jacobchess857 17083655 1629 L4 D36 W39 L16   1.5
31 Marina Xiao programmingmax 16380642 1511 L16 D25 W33 L11   1.5
32 Kevin Sun kevin_mx_sun 16898540 1356 L9 W33 L28 D29   1.5
33 Christopher Nelson ludimagisterjosephus 13742111 1700 L26 L32 L31 X43   1.0
34 Jason Romsak zer0chills 12841181 1681 H--- H--- L6 U---   1.0
35 Nicholas Reed NXBex 16154827 1416 L7 L13 W40 L17   1.0
36 Michael Xiao swimgrass 16380636 1363 L5 D30 D38 L18   1.0
37 Kevin M Chui Kchui999 16998580 1290 L8 L22 W43 L19   1.0
38 Danny Cao caodanny 16939797 895 H--- L10 D36 L21   1.0
39 Tyler Wong tdubchess 30135235 unr. H--- L11 L30 D40   1.0
40 Charvi Atreya Charvii 16816706 944 L12 L20 L35 D39   0.5
41 Judit Sztaray juditsztaray 14708926 827 U--- L23 H--- U---   0.5
42 Cleveland Lee vincitore51745 12814843 619 H--- U--- U--- L25   0.5
43 Jake Chi Hang Li TanFlatPupet 17144246 866 L18 L21 L37 F33   0.0


March 2021 Blitz Championship

The Mechanics' Institute held its monthly blitz championship last Saturday, with a very tough field joining the action. 29 players in total participated in this 8 round USCF rated G/5+2 battle, which was won by IM Christopher Yoo with a perfect score of 8/8. Congratulations to him and thanks to all the players for partivipating! Here is a victory by Christopher against Austin Mei.

(9) IM Christopher Yoo (ChristopherYoo) (2923) - Austin Mei (TitanChess666) (2306) [A53]
MI March Blitz (3.1), 13.03.2021
[de Firmian]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d6 3.c4 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e4 h6 7.Be3 e6 8.Be2 b6 9.d5 [9.h3 Bb7 10.Qc2 Is a little edge due to more space.] 9...Nc5 10.Nd2 a5 11.0-0 0-0 12.Qc2 Re8 13.h3 Qe7 14.Rfe1 Bb7 15.Bf1 An interesting King's Indian . White has a small edge with more space, but the black pieces are active. 15...Rad8 16.a3 Ra8 17.b4?!


[17.b3] 17...axb4?! [Black had the nice shot 17...Ncxe4! 18.Ncxe4 Nxe4 19.Nxe4 axb4 with an edge. He will get at least one more pawn and the black bishops are excellent.] 18.axb4 Rxa1 19.Rxa1 Ncxe4


20.Ra7! Not falling for trouble on the long black diagonal. White gains the pawn back with advantage. 20...Nxd2 21.Qxd2 Rb8 22.dxe6 Qxe6 23.Bxh6 Ne4 24.Nxe4 Qxe4 25.Bxg7 Kxg7 26.Qc3+ Kg8 27.c5 [27.Qf6!] 27...bxc5 28.bxc5 Bd5?! losing a pawn. Black would stay equal after [28...Qc6!] 29.Rxc7 dxc5 30.Rxc5 Ba8?! [30...Be6 is a better defensive square] 31.Rc4?! [31.h4! Kh7 32.Rh5+ gxh5 33.Bd3 should win for White] 31...Qd5?! [31...Qe7!] 32.h4?! [32.Rh4! Threatening mate on h8 is a knockout blow] 32...Kh7 33.h5 Qxh5


34.Qg3! Qb5?! Black loses material in any case. 35.Rh4+ Kg8 36.Bxb5 Rxb5 37.Qc3 Rb2 38.Rh8# 1-0

Final standings are here:

Mechanics Montly Blitz Championship - March 2021

# Name Handle ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Total Prizes
1 IM Christopher W Yoo ChristopherYoo 15244943 2592 W11 W12 W6 W5 W2 W4 W7 W14 8.0 1st Place: $68
2 FM Jason Liang Marty435 16041488 2425 W16 W8 W26 W3 L1 L5 W14 W7 6.0 2nd Place: $45;
3rd Place: $45;
3-way split of $90: $30 each
3 NM Eric Hon microbear 13778105 2202 W17 W7 W4 L2 D6 W12 D5 W16 6.0
4 Shaashw Sivakumar Dontmesswithme_2 15089302 2092 W24 W14 L3 W13 W12 L1 W16 W5 6.0
5 FM Eric Yuhan Li kingandqueen2017 15688436 2344 W15 W13 W19 L1 W26 W2 D3 L4 5.5  
6 Austin R Mei TitanChess666 16090452 2149 W23 W21 L1 W14 D3 L7 W9 W12 5.5  
7 NM Michael Aigner fpawn 12595730 2207 W9 L3 D16 W10 W20 W6 L1 L2 4.5  
8 Alan Finkelstein stratus_junior 14958842 2054 W25 L2 L15 W22 D16 L9 W24 W18 4.5  
9 Davi Flores Gomez PlayerCreate1 14799653 1812 L7 D25 W17 L20 W21 W8 L6 W19 4.5 1st u2000: $45;
1st u1800: $45;
1st u1600: $23;
3-way split of $113: $38 each
10 Kr Gopalakrishnan KRGchess2010 16545130 1578 L19 W23 D21 L7 W18 L16 W25 W15 4.5
11 Ethan R Mei erm999 16090467 1482 L1 L18 W27 W25 D19 W13 L12 W20 4.5
12 NM Michael Lei Wang coalescenet 13605850 2098 W27 L1 W18 W19 L4 L3 W11 L6 4.0  
13 Daniel Lin SmilyFace4 15176393 2000 W28 L5 W29 L4 L15 L11 W22 W24 4.0  
14 Javier Silva III J3Chess24 16089208 1889 W22 L4 W28 L6 W24 W15 L2 L1 4.0  
15 Sanjeev Anand chessp1234 14436451 1753 L5 W22 W8 L26 W13 L14 W20 L10 4.0  
16 Sebastian Suarez SebbyMeister 16875347 1343 L2 W27 D7 W21 D8 W10 L4 L3 4.0  
17 Patrick Donnelly thedarkbishop 12716964 1635 L3 D24 L9 L23 B--- W28 L18 W29 3.5  
18 Roger V V Shi 1-h4-1-0 16191192 1782 L26 W11 L12 W29 L10 D25 W17 L8 3.5  
19 Michael Xiao swimgrass 16380636 1484 W10 W20 L5 L12 D11 L24 W21 L9 3.5  
20 Vishva Nanugonda 3Ke31-0 16380312 1794 L21 L19 W23 W9 L7 W27 L15 L11 3.0  
21 Marina Xiao programmingmax 16380642 1363 W20 L6 D10 L16 L9 W23 L19 D28 3.0  
22 Pranav Pradeep ppra06 15871762 1445 L14 L15 B--- L8 L23 W29 L13 W27 3.0  
23 Stewart* Katz knvsback 12458563 1835 L6 L10 L20 W17 W22 L21 D27 D25 3.0  
24 Daniel Robert Perlov Daniel_Perlov 16465203 1567 L4 D17 D25 W28 L14 W19 L8 L13 3.0  
25 Kevin Sun kevin_mx_sun 16898540 1377 L8 D9 D24 L11 W29 D18 L10 D23 3.0  
26 IM Elliott* Winslow ecwinslow 10363365 2278 W18 W29 L2 W15 L5 U--- U--- U--- 3.0  
27 Clarence E Lehman FrankJamesMarshall 10497272 1904 L12 L16 L11 B--- W28 L20 D23 L22 2.5  
28 Andrew Ballantyne andrewaballantyne 17079795 1206 L13 B--- L14 L24 L27 L17 W29 D21 2.5  
29 Aneesh Mardikar AneeshDaBoss 16115542 604 B--- L26 L13 L18 L25 L22 L28 L17 1.0  

FIDE Chess in Education Spotlight

by Abel Talamantez

I had the privilege of participating in a pilot program by FIDE, which was designed to train elementary school teachers to use chess as a learning tool in their classrooms. There were 20 people selected from many different countries, and I was one of two Americans, Jonathan Lee Singler from Alaska being the other. It was a three-day seminar, held 5am-10am Friday-Sunday. In many countries around the world, chess is taught in schools and used as a tool in teaching critical thinking. This is very different from teaching chess specifically for improvement or for competition. It involves teaching the rules of chess to a teacher, using the language of educators, who will then teach their students who do not yet know the game. This involves a slightly different skill set, one more focused on theories of learning combined with instruction in chess. It is an exciting initiative and while it will be a challenge expanding this on a broader level in the United States, it is nonetheless a tool that can be used by educators to teach learning and decision making on a new, fun level. 

Participants who complete the program will then be assigned by FIDE as lecturers to provide seminars to teachers to earn the title of School Instructor (SI). It was an honor to participate with chess professionals from other countries, many of which have chess more incorporated into the learning culture, and hear about their experiences and persoectives. I'll continue to write on my experience with this program as it develops, as I believe this is a great initiative and opportunity to enhance ways children learn in an actively fun and engaging way.

Reciprocity Partnership With Marshall Chess Club

The Mechanics' Institute and the Marshall Chess Club entered into a partnership last year in which we agreed to recognize each organization's 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 courses at the Marshall member rate. Marshall has also promoted this reciprocity agreement with Mechanics' Institute 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!

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:

GM Nick de Firmian/FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, 3/23:

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:

3/23 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

Spring Classes starting week of March 22
Spring Camps
Tournament Report from last weekend
Upcoming Tournament Schedule

Scholastic Game of the Week


Spring Session of our Virtual Chess Classes are starting
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

SAVE YOUR SPOT - Sign your child up for some fun virtual chess camp during their spring break!
Monday through Friday, 
Two weeks offered: Mar 29 - Apr 2 and Apr 5-9
9AM - 12PM


Last weekend's USCF Online Rated event

While Saturday's free event had close to 200 players, this did not stop many of our regulars to play in Sunday's USCF online rated tournament - 18 players came online to participate in the six rounds, G/15+2 time control tournament.
Congratulations to our winners: Jashith Karthi (CoolPowerulGhoul) and Alex Smirnov (OpenPeskyBird) for the tied first place, with Jashith taking 1st place with a slightly better tiebreak score. Shared third place goes to Eric Japson (SafeRelaxedKite) and Archer Troy (ArcherTBayAreaChess).

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

3/28 Sunday - Fun, Fast & Furious Blitz: 8SS G/5+2 affecting USCF Online blitz rating.
More information:
Register online:

4/1 - Friday 6:30PM PT: 8SS G/5+2: Monthly Scholastic Blitz Online Championships
More information:

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

(8) CoolPowerfulGhoul (1572) - OpenPeskyBird (1413) [C42]
Live Chess
[de Firmian]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Qe2 Qe7 6.d3 Nf6 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.Qxe7+ Bxe7 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 Re8

The game begins as a dry Petrov's Defense, but turns into a real battle. 11.Re1 Bg4 12.Bg5 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 h6 14.Bh4 Nd4! 15.Rac1?! [15.Bd1] 15...Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 g5 17.Bg3 Bf8 18.Ne4 Nd7 19.Nc3 f5?! [19...c6!] 20.f4 g4 21.Nd5 Rxe1+ 22.Rxe1 c6?! [22...Kf7!] 23.Ne7+ [23.Ne3! will win a pawn 23...Re8 24.Kf1 Kf7 25.Nxf5] 23...Bxe7 24.Rxe7 Nc5 25.d4?! The game begins to turn here. White would hold a good advantage with either [25.Bh4 Rf8 26.b4 Na6 27.a3; or 25.b4 Na4 26.Rxb7 would keep the black knight off the strong central square] 25...Ne4 26.Rxb7 Re8! now Black gets good play for the pawn 27.Bh4?! [27.Rxa7 Nd2 28.Kg2 Nf3 is dangerous as the black rook and knight become an attacking force but 29.h3 Re1 30.hxg4 fxg4 31.Bh2 seems to hold the game] 27...Kf8 28.Rh7? [28.Kg2 Nd2 29.h3 is worse for White but not too bad] 28...Nd2 29.Rh8+ Kf7 30.Rxe8 It's even worse now if White doesn't exchange the rooks. The black rook and knight would be deadly. 30...Kxe8 31.Kg2 Nf3
White is a pawn ahead in this bishop vs knight ending, but in deep trouble. The black knight is able to get to the white pawns. 32.Bf6 Kf7 33.Bd8 [33.Bh8 Nh4+ 34.Kg3 Ng6 wins the bishop] 33...Nxd4 34.Bc7 Ke6 35.Bb8 a6 36.c3 Ne2 37.f3 h5 38.fxg4 hxg4 39.c4 Nxf4+ 40.Kg3 Nd3 41.b3 Ke5 [also good is 41...Nc1 winning a second pawn] 42.Kg2 f4 43.h3 gxh3+ [43...f3+ 44.Kg3 f2! 45.Kg2 gxh3+] 44.Kxh3 Nc1? [44...c5 first would win. Now White gets counterplay with a pin.] 45.c5! Nxa2 46.cxd6 now White is able to draw 46...Ke6 47.Kg4 Nc1 48.Kxf4 Nxb3 49.Ke3 Na5 50.Kd4 Nb7 51.Kc4 Nxd6+
amazingly White has escaped to a drawn position. [51...Kd7 52.Kb4 Kc8 53.Ba7 Nxd6 54.Kc5 Kd7 55.Bb8 Nc8 56.Bg3 holds the draw despite being two pawns down] 52.Kc5 Nb7+ 53.Kxc6 a5 54.Kxb7 a4 55.Bf4 a3 56.Bc1 a2 57.Bb2 just in time! 57...Kd5 58.Bh8 Kc4 59.Kc7 Kb3 60.Kc6 Kc4 61.Kb6 Kb4 62.Kc6 Kc4 63.Kb6 Kb4 64.Kc6 Kb3 65.Kb6 Kb4 Game drawn by repetition1/2-1/2

FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

Finishing Tactics from the World Championship Matches 6: Lasker – Steinitz 1896.

The Lasker - Steinitz rematch was a truly lop-sided affair, with an improving Lasker dominating the aging Steinitz +10 -2 =5.  Four weeks after declaring Lasker the greatest player who ever lived, Steinitz offered God pawn and move… and was soon admitted to a psychiatric hospital.


1. Lasker – Steinitz, 2nd Match Game 1896.

White moves.  Drive the king out.


2. Lasker Steinitz, 6th Match Game 1896.

White moves.  Break down the walls.


3. Lasker – Steinitz, 12th Match Game 1896.

Black moves.  Win something.


4. Steinitz – Lasker, 13th Match Game 1896.

White moves.  Take the knight?


5. Lasker – Steinitz, 16th Match Game 1896.

White moves.  Cut to the chase.


6. Steinitz – Lasker, 17th Match Game 1896.

Black moves.  Win something.

GM Nick de Firmian

New World Chess

The US Chess Federation is starting to advertise live chess tournaments. They write “There are several in-person, over the board events coming up that are filling out fast!” One of these is the Texas Golden Open played April 9-11 in Dallas and a second is the Missouri Grand Championship in Columbia Missouri on May 5-9. Certainly we are all looking forward to the live Candidates Tournament in Russia starting April 18. In June, we will likely see the classic National Open in Las Vegas as well as the 2021 US Women’s Open there. August will bring the 121st US Open Chess Championship live to Cherry Hill New Jersey.

Thus, chess players, owning a millennium-old tradition, may think the world will return quite to normal as we enter the late stages of the pandemic. We are not at the end yet, though judging by the late events of the chess world, we may not return to normal as before, even when the pandemic is completely over. Right now we have the online “Magnus Carlsen Invitational.” This is a rapid-play, super-elite event which has become an easier thing to do in the required state of online tournaments. Players don’t have to travel halfway around the world to participate and expenses for the organizers are drastically reduced. Therefore, chess fans get to see more tournaments to entertain themselves. It is true that the events seem to have less gravitas as the players have less time and energy invested in their participation. Also, the time controls are rapid rather than classical and this leads to more mistakes. Yet, the games are still great battles and very entertaining. I predict in the future we will have a new kind of tournament circuit in the world. Half the tournaments will be the classic live events of the last century, and the other half will be the new rapid, online events more like rest of the e-sports world.

We give a couple of entertaining games below from current big online event, the Magnus Carlsen Invitational.

(1) Carlsen,Magnus - Firouzja,Alireza [B23]
Magnus Invitational, 15.03.2021

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 This is the Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian. It was made popular by British players in the 1980s. Their idea was to avoid the complications of the open Sicilian and get into less charted territory (which they had analyzed). This variation is not something Magnus would play in classical time control, but in quick play an opponent can easily go wrong against it. 3...g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.a3 e6 Yound Firouzja plays the classical response to the Grand Prix. Objectively Black is completely equal. 7.0-0 Nge7 8.d3 0-0 9.Ba2

The bishop hides away here on a2. Magnus has created a little twist in the variation. The idea is not that powerful, but it is a bit confusing. 9...Rb8 10.Qe1 b5 11.f5!? The typical pawn sacrifice White makes in the Grand Prix which open the lines for White. Still, a pawn is a pawn. 11...exf5 12.Qh4 Ne5? Firouzja makes a critical mistake, trying to trade off the attacking knight on f3. He was afraid of [12...fxe4 13.Ng5! when White has good attacking chances. Best was to play; 12...c4 13.dxc4 bxc4 14.Bxc4 h5 with a very solid position for Black.] 13.Bg5! Rb7 14.Nd5 Re8
15.exf5! Magnus could have won the exchange, but rightfully presses the attack. 15...Bxf5 16.Rae1 All the white pieces are in play. Black is in deep trouble. 16...h6 17.Nf6+ Kf8?! [17...Bxf6 18.Bxf6 Ng4 19.Bc3 b4 20.h3! bxc3 21.hxg4 is some improvement , but still lost for Black] 18.Bxh6 Ng8 ending the misery 19.Nh7#

(2) Giri,Anish - Vachier-Lagrave,Maxim [B06]
Magnus Invitational, 15.03.2021

Anish Giri has been playing great chess since the start of 2021. He used to be considered a very solid player who would draw most of his games, yet he is winning a lot lately. 1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be3 a6 5.Nc3 MVL plays the Robatsch Defense. Black has a very flexible position, though White controls more of the center and is objectively better. 5...b5 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.0-0 Bb7 8.a4! Forcing action on the queen side claifys the position 8...b4 9.Nb1 Ngf6 10.Nbd2 c5 11.c3 0-0 12.a5

This fixes the black a-pawn on a6 where it cannot help the rest of the black pawn chain. White is winning the opening battle. 12...cxd4?! [12...bxc3 13.bxc3 Qc7] 13.cxd4 e5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 [14...dxe5] 15.Nxe5 dxe5 16.Qb3 Qe7 17.Ra4 Rfb8? getting into a terrible pin. [17...Rfd8 18.Rd1 Bf8 holds on] 18.Rxb4 Bf8 19.Rb6 Ng4 20.Bc4!
Black resigns. The terrible pin on the b-file and the pressure on f7 win more material. 20...Nxe3 21. fxe3 lets the white rook come to f7. 1-0

(3) Nepomniachtchi,Ian - Nakamura,Hikaru [C67]
Magnus Invitational, 14.03.2021

The favorite now to win the Candidates Tournamnet is Ian Nepomniachtichi. Here he plays very sharply against the solid Berlin Defense to the Ruy Lopez. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 Be6

This has all been seen many times in grandmaster play. 11.g4 Ne7 12.Nd4 Bd7 13.f4!? White aggressively advances the king side pawns. This was thought to be suspect because of Naka's next move. 13...h5 14.f5 hxg4

15.e6! fxe6? This leads to big trouble as it opens the f-file. Black would be ok after the careful retreat 15...Bc8 16.fxe6 Bc8 17.Bg5! gxh3 18.Kh2 White is two pawns down in the endgame but is attacking. Most of the black pieces are on their original squares. 18...Ng6 19.Ne4 Rh5 20.Rg1 a6? This move is too slow. White is able to get the last rook developed with threats. 21.Rad1! looking to get to d8 to deliver mate 21...Ne7 22.Rdf1 c5 23.Rxf8+! Naka resigned, seeing he is destroyed after 23...Kxf8 24.Bxe7+ Kxe7 25.Rxg7+ Kf8 26.Rf7+ Kg8 27.Nf6+ 1-0

Solutions to FM Paul Whitehead's Column

1. Lasker – Steinitz, 2nd Match Game 1896.

1.Nec5+! Pulls the black king out from safety like a strong magnet. 1…dxc5 2.Nxc5+ Kd6 3.Bf4+ Kd5 4.Re5+ Kc4 (And 4…Kd6 5.Rxe7+ is also unacceptable.) 5.Rc1+ Kxd4 6.Re4+ Kd5 7.Rd1+! 1-0. It is checkmate after 7…Kxc5 8.Be3#.


2. Lasker – Steinitz, 6th Match Game 1896.

1.Rxf6! is the decisive breakthrough. After 1…Rxf6 2.Rxf6 Qxf6 3.Qxc7 black is helpless, and can only wait for the axe to fall:  3…Qh8 4.Qc6+ Rb7 5.Nb5 Kb8 6.Qxd6+ Kc8 7.Qc6+ 1-0. Which it has. If 7…Kb8 9.Nc5 and mate in a few moves.


3. Lasker – Steinitz, 12th Match Game 1896.

1…Nxe4! wins a pawn in the middle of the board.  2.Bb2 (Not 2.fxe4? Rf2#!) Steinitz wound it up with vigor: 2…Nd6 3.Rf1 Nc4 4.Bc1 Ne7 5.Bg5 Nd5! Black switches to attack. 6.Bxd8 Nf4+ 7.Kd1 Rd7+ 8.Kc2 Ne3+ 9.Kb2 Nxf1 10.Bg5 Ne3 11.Bxf4 exf4 12.Rc1 e5 0-1. It’s hopeless, but Lasker might have played on a move or two here.


4. Steinitz - Lasker, 13th Match Game 1896.

1.Rxc5! called black’s bluff. Lasker gave it the old schoolboy try, but was rebuffed at every turn: 1…Qh4 2.Ne4 f5 3.Ng3 Rxf2+!? Throwing more fuel on the fire. 4.Kxf2 Qh2+ 5.Kf1 Qxg3 6.Rxc3 Qxf3+ 7.Ke1 f4 8.Qd3 Qg3+ 9.Kd2 f3 10.Kc1! f2 11.Qc4+ Kh8 12.Qf4! A nice finish puts Lasker out of his misery. 1-0.


5. Lasker – Steinitz, 16th Match Game 1896.

1.Nbc3! was the move that tripped black up. He loses the exchange, and Lasker’s technique is merciless: 1…bxc3 2.Nxc3 Qxb2 3.Nxe4 Qxc2 4.Nf6+ Kh8 5.Nxd7 dxc5 6.Qf3 Rc8 7.Ne5 Nxe5 8.fxe5 c4 9.bxc4 Qxc4 10.Kh1 a5 11. Rd7 a4 12.Rxf7 Bb4 13.Rf4 Qc5 14. Qg4 Ba3 15.Rxa4 Re8 16. Qf3 Bb2 17.Ra8 1-0.


6. Steinitz – Lasker, 17th Match Game 1896.

1…Bxg2! Wins a pawn and effectively ended the match. Steinitz puzzled the spectators by later playing on a whole rook down before resigning: 2. Kxg2 Qc6+ 3.Re4 (3.Qf3 is hardly better. White plays on with 2 bishops vs Rook + Knight, but it’s not good.) 3…Rxe4 4.Rxe4 Qxe4+ 5.Kg1 Qb7 6.Bc5 Rd8 7.Be2 e4 8.b4 Ne5 9.Be3 Nd3 10.Bb6 Rc8 11.Qd4 h6 12.Kh2 Ne5 13.Qd1 Rc3 14.Qd6 Nf3+ 15.Kg2 Qf7 16.g4 Qa2 17.Bf1 Nh4+ 18.Kg1 Rc1 19.Be3 Nf3+ 20.Kg2 Rxf1! Decisive. If now 21.Kxf1 Qb1+ leads to mate. 21.Qxa6 Rg1+ 22.Kh3 Qd5 23.Qc8+ Kh7 24.a6 Rh1+ 25.Kg2 Rg1+ 26.Kh3 Rh1+ 27.Kg2 Nh4+! Black is tired of fooling around. 28.Kxh1 Qd1+ 29.Kh2 Qf1 0-1


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