Chess Room Newsletter #966 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #966

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #966


May 1, 2021

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents


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, 5/4

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 6:00-7:00PM -- NEW 6-week Specialty Class: Modern Chess Openings (MCO) with GM Nick de Firmian with FM Paul Whitehead
    Course Dates: April 5 - May 10, 2021

    Modern Chess Openings was a revolutionary text, and it has come back to life as it was featured in The Queen's Gambit. Mechanics' Institute Grandmaster in Residence GM Nick de Firmian was the editor of several editions of that book and now it will come to life as a class! This will be club players of various strengths and will focus on about 5 key openings. He will cover open game openings that reinforce fundamentals such as piece development, control of the center and king safety, and he will also cover more complex openings that need deeper understanding such as the Sicilian, Queen's Gambit, and Ruy Lopez. The purpose of this class is to gain a better understanding of the ideas behind playing these openings and what to look for. The class will be interactive and engaging. FM Paul Whitehead will also be on to facilitate the class. The class will be fluid and interaction in the class is encouraged. We hope to enlighten the student on what it means to play openings and hpw they can lay the foundation for the course of the entire game. More information:

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

    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: Current class is full.
    Next class starts June. 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 offerings start next week: Advanced Attacking Techniques by FM Paul Whitehead
    Course Dates: April 28 through June 2 (6 classes)

    Special class for players with 1800+ USCF rating to learn, discuss and improve on their attacking skills.
    $150 Mechanics' members. $180 for non-members. Few single class registrations are available -- Registration is needed to receive the zoom link.
    More information:

  5. Wednesdays 7-8PM - Tactics for the Developing Players
    Course Dates: March 31 through June 2 (10 classes)

    I am IM (International Master) Elliott Winslow, and I’ll be teaching this course! I will go over one of the greatest players (world champions, groundbreakers, players who advanced chess theory and practice) per week, including some of the history of the player and the time period in which they made their mark, and use their games to instill basic tactical and positional thinking to those in the class. I will do weekly game analysis of at least one game from the star of the week, and show how to find tactics in that game and through puzzles, and at the end of class either leave time open to go over games sent by the participants ahead of class, or for the students to play some games.

    More information:

  6. Sundays 10AM - 12PM -- Free Women's Online Chess Class by FIDE Trainer Sophie Adams

    Come join us on Sundays as we are offering a free class for women from 10am-12pm(noon) online.
    Coached by FIDE Trainer Sophie Adams, this class is for women and girls looking to develop their chess skills with a community of women. Knowledge of piece movements and mates is expected. Registration is required so we may send the links for players to join. Zoom will be required to participate, and we will include optional links to participate in online platforms like if players would like to play with each other online.

    Be sure to be a part of the Mechanics' Women's Chess Club on

    More information:
    Class is free, but must register to receive class 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:

5/11 Tuesday - May 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon
Format: 6SS G/35+2

Join Now!  May/June 2021 Thursday Night Marathon (May 13-June 10)
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]

Finishing Tactics from the World Championship Matches 12: Capablanca - Alekhine 1927

FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

Alexander Alekhine had never won a single game off the ‘Invincible Cuban’ prior to their duel in Buenos Aires.  But hard preparatory work on his part, coupled with a somewhat lackluster performance on Capablanca’s, enabled the challenger to persevere +6 -3 =25.  The opening game was a French, and the 3rd game a sort of Queen’s Indian / Owen Defense, but the rest of the games were fought in the territory of Her Majesty, the Queen’s Gambit Declined.  Alekhine was a fierce, determined competitor – he practically won this match through sheer will-power.  He also knew he’d hit the jackpot: despite some serious negotiations down the road, he successfully dodged a rematch with Capablanca, where anything was possible…


1. Capablanca – Alekhine, 1st Match Game 1927.

Black moves.  Win something.


2. Capablanca – Alekhine, 3rd Match Game 1927.

White moves.  Tear black apart.


3. Alekhine – Capablanca, 12th Match Game 1927.

White moves.  Exploit the pin.


4. Capablanca – Alekhine, 21st Match Game 1927.

Black moves.  This is a one-two shot.


5. Alekhine – Capablanca, 34th Match Game 1927 (1).

White moves.  Win a little something.


6. Alekhine – Capablanca, 34th Match Game 1927 (2).

White moves.  Win the World Championship.



GM Nick de Firmian

The Challenger to the Crown Emerges

Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia won the Candidates Tournament which finished on April 27. It was a deserved victory as he played fine, fighting chess and was in the lead for most of the event. Maxim Vachier-Lagrave and Caruana were in the race, but it was the Dutchman, Anish Giri, who chased Nepo at the end. The unlucky 13th round  ended Giri’s hope when he lost to the other Russian contender, Alexander Grischuck. (No doubt Putin was pleased with Grischuck’s show of patriotism.)

We now look forward to the World Championship match which will start late November in Dubai. Magnus has been a great world champion, and #1 rated in the world for the last 11 years. This is already a historic achievement to place him along with the all time great champions such as Capablanca and Alekhine. At 30 years old, Magnus is hardly over the hill but the question remains, how long can he continue at the top? We would normally dub Magnus the great favorite in a match, but we have gotten a very worthy challenger. In fact Nepo is one of the very few players with a plus score against Magnus in classical chess – 4 victories against 1 loss. This is slightly misleading as 2 of these victories date back 20 years when they were boys playing in the under 12 and then under 14 championships. Magnus has done well in their rapid chess encounters the last decade, but their recent rapid/blitz knockout match last month ended with victory for Nepo in the Armageddon game.  We hope the upcoming match will be as close and thrilling. One thing we can probably count on is more open, entertaining battles than the last two world championship matches.

We give below the first classical chess encounter of the champion and the challenger. This is 19 years ago when they were just boys, yet one still sees their style of play emerging.  The other game we present below is the deciding game of the Candidates Tournament. This game does not involve Nepomniachtchi, but his closest rival down the stretch. One must remember that the opponents are great players and one cannot count on a victory against them. This brings to mind the finish of the classic 1962 Candidates Tournament when Petrosian with White offered an early draw against the relatively low rated Filip, when everyone expected he would try for the victory so that Keres couldn’t catch him. Petrosian counted on the very young American opponent in that game not to lose – and Bobby Fischer didn’t disappoint him.

(1) Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2306) - Carlsen,Magnus (2214) [B04]
EU-ch U12 Peniscola (5), 03.10.2002

This was the first encounter between these two players 19 years ago when they were 11 years old playing in the under 12 world championship. 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4 dxe5 This was a frequent choice of the previous great Scandinavian chess great, Bent Larsen. 5.Nxe5 g6 6.Bc4 c6 7.Nc3 Be6 8.0-0 Nd7 9.Qf3 Bg7 10.Re1 0-0 11.Qg3?! This lets Black have a free hand. Better was to develop with [11.Bg5] 11...Nxe5 12.dxe5

12...Nxc3! 13.Qxc3 [13.Bxe6?? loses to 13...Ne2+!] 13...Bxc4 14.Qxc4 Qd5! Magnus always liked endgames even from an early age. 15.Qe2 Rad8 16.Bg5 Qe6 Black has no worries and is slightly better. This shows Magnus' positional sense even at a very early age. 17.Qe3 b6 18.a4 Rd5 19.Bf4 Qf5 20.Qe4 Qd7 21.c3 Rd8 22.h3 Qe6 23.Qe2 Rd3 24.a5 b5 25.a6! This insures White will have some active chances later on with the a-pawns. Nepo shows his dynamic instinct at this early age. 25...c5 26.Qe4 Qd5?! [Seeking the endgame too much. Black would maintain some edge with 26...R8d5!] 27.Qxd5 R3xd5 28.Ra5 c4 29.Kf1 e6 30.Be3! Typical active Nepo play. If he gets the a-pawn he will have a monster passer. 30...R8d7 31.Bd4 Bf8 32.Rb1 Be7 33.b3!
33...Bd8? This passive move hands the endgame initiative over to White. Magnus needed to play actively to keep the balance. [33...Bb4! 34.cxb4 (34.Raa1 cxb3 35.Rxb3 Bc5 is also fine for Black) 34...Rxd4 35.Rxb5 c3 36.Rc5 Rxb4 37.Rxc3 Kf8 is an equal endgam as the white queenside pawns are targets] 34.Ra2 Rxd4?! [34...cxb3 35.Rxb3 Rc7 36.Rab2 is very difficult for Black, but now it's just lost] 35.cxd4 c3 36.b4 Bg5 [36...Bb6 37.Rd1 Bxd4 38.Rc2 Rd5 39.f4 Kg7 40.g4 f6 41.exf6+ Kxf6 42.Rd3 g5 43.f5 exf5 44.Rcxc3] 37.Rd1! Rc7 [37...Bd2 38.Raxd2 cxd2 39.Rxd2 Rc7 40.d5 is a winning rook ending] 38.Rc2 Be7
39.d5! Bxb4 40.d6 Rc8 41.Rb1 1-0

(2) Grischuck,Alexander - Giri,Anish [E16]
Candidates Tournament, 26.04.2021

Sometimes the most important game isn't your's bur your rival's. At round 13 Anish Giri was half a point behind Nepo. He had Black though against Grischuck. One must remember that all these players in the Candidates are incredibly good. In this game Grischuck does a favor for his countryman. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Bb4+ The solid Bogo-Indian. 6.Bd2 c5!? Yasser Seirawan used to play this line with Black a lot. The pawns get doubled but Black gets squares. 7.Bxb4 cxb4 8.0-0 0-0 9.Nbd2 d6 10.Qb3 a5 11.a3 Na6 12.Rfd1 Qe7 13.Ne1! Bxg2 14.Kxg2 h5?! [14...Rfc8] 15.Nc2! bxa3 16.bxa3

White has somewhat better pawn structure here as the b6 pawn is weak. 16...Rab8 17.e4 e5 18.Qd3 Nc7 19.Rab1 Ne6 20.Rb5 Rfe8 21.h4 g6 [21...exd4 22.f3!] 22.f3! Keeping the e4 pawn as a solid mark in the center. 22...Nd7 23.Nf1 exd4 24.Nxd4 Ne5 25.Qe2 Both Black and White have good squares for the knights, but Black has weak pawns at both d6 and b6. With the fine d5 square under control White has a clear edge. 25...Nxd4 26.Rxd4 Nc6 27.Rd1 Qe6 28.Ne3 Ne7?! [28...Ne5] 29.Qd2 f5 [This loses, but Black was in trouble in any case, e.g. 29...Red8 30.g4 hxg4 31.Nxg4 Qxc4?! 32.Nf6+ Kg7 33.Qb2! Kf8 34.Rc1 Qe6 35.Rc7 Rbc8 36.Nh7+ Kg8 37.Ng5 wins] 30.Qxd6 Nc6

31.exf5! gxf5 [31...Qxe3 32.Qxg6+ Kf8 33.f6 Is decisive. Black has a couple checks that run out.] 32.Qxe6+ Rxe6 33.Nxf5 Two pawns up is enough for a super-grandmaster like Grischuck. The rest is just technique. 33...Ne5 34.Rd6 Ree8 35.Rd4 Nc6 36.Rd2 Rbd8 37.Rxd8 Rxd8 38.Rd5 Rxd5 39.cxd5 Ne5 40.Nd6 Kf8 41.Kf2 Ke7 42.Nb5 Kf6 43.Ke3 Kf5 44.Nd6+ Kf6 45.Ke4 Nd7 46.Kd4 Ke7 47.Nb5 Kf6 48.Nc3 Kf5 49.Ne4 Kg6 50.g4 b5 51.Nc5 1-0

Solutions to Paul Whitehead's Column

1. Capablanca – Alekhine, 1st Match Game 1927.

The challenger landed the 1st blow of the match with 1…Nxc2! exploiting white’s weak back rank. After 2.Rxc2 (2.Qxc2 Qxc2 3.Rxc2 Bxf4 amounts to basically the same thing) 2…Qxf4! And black has won a clear pawn.  After further drama, Alekhine eventually got through to Capablanca’s king: 3.g3 Qf5 4.Rce2 b6 5.Qb5 h5 6.h4 Re4 7.Bd2 Rxd4 8.Bc3 Rd3 9.Be5 Rd8 10.Bxd6 Rxd6 11.Re5 Qf3 12.Rxh5 Qxh5 13.Re8+ Kh7 14.Qxd3+ Qg6 15.Qd1 Re6 16.Ra8 Re5 17.Rxa7 c5 18.Rd7? (18.Qf3! probably holds) 18…Qe6! Now black controls the key points: the e-file and the a8-h1 diagonal. 19.Qd3+ g6 20.Rd8 d4 21.a4 Re1+ 22.Kg2 Qc6+ 23.f3 Re3 24.Qd1 Qe6 25.g4 Re2+ 26.Kh3 Qe3 27.Qh1 Qf4 28.h5 Rf2 0-1.


2. Capablanca – Alekhine, 3rd Match Game 1927.

The World Champion ripped open the black kingside with 1.Nxg7! Qg6. Capturing the knight loses after both 1…Kxg7 2.Qxf6+ Kh7 3.Qf7+ Rg7 4.Qxg7#  and 1…Rxg7 2.Qxf6 Qe4+ 3.Kg1 Qb7 4.Qxh6+ Kg8 5.Qxg7+ with a winning king and pawn ending. 2.h5. The rest is the proverbial walk in the park for Capablanca: 2…Qf7 3.Nf5 Kh7 4.Qe4 Re8 5.Qf4 Qf8 6.Nd6 Re7 7.Bxf6 Qa8+ 8.e4 Rg7 9.Bxg7 Kxg7 10.Nf5+ Kf7 11.Qc7+ 1-0.


3. Alekhine – Capablanca, 12th Match Game 1927.

Black had no resource after the straightforward 1.f4! Qg7 2.Bxe4 fxe4 3.Kf2! calmly aiming to pick up black’s rook. There is no defense, and Capablanca soon resigned: 3…Qf6 4.g3 (preventing …Qh4+) 4…g5 5.Rc1! 1-0.


4. Capablanca – Alekhine, 21st Match Game 1927.

1…e4! set in motion a powerful sequence of events: 2.Nd4 (Capablanca tries a little tactic that backfires, but there’s little hope after either 2.Nh2 or 2.Ne1) 2…Bxd4 3.Rd1. Also hopeless is 3.exd4 Qxd4 with black dominating the board and a clear pawn ahead. 3…Nxe3!! Obviously overlooked by white. 0-1.  Black is winning in every variation, as the reader can work out for themselves.


5. Alekhine – Capablanca, 34th Match Game 1927 (1).

This was the final game of the match. 1.Qa5! attacks a7 and e5. White wins a pawn after a few intricacies: 1…Nc4 2.Qxa7 Nxb2 3.Rxc8 Rxc8 4.Qxb7.  Can white convert his advantage? See the next diagram, with Alekhine still a pawn ahead 44 moves later.


6. Alekhine – Capablanca, 34th Match Game 1927 (2).

The challenger achieved his life’s ambitions with the shot 1.f5! breaking up the black pawn structure. Capablanca fought on with: 1…gxf5 2.Kh6 f4! trying to erect another barricade. 3.gxf4 Rd5 4.Kg7 Rf5 5.Ra4! White is redeploying his rook. 5…Kb5 6.Re4 Ka6. He must, as 6…Kxa5 7.Re5+ is curtains. 7.Kh6. Zugzwang. 7…Rxa5 8.Re5 Ra1. Black’s king is much too far away. The game concluded with 9.Kxh5 Rg1 10.Rg5 Rh1 11.Rf5 Kb6 12.Rxf7 Kc6 13.Re7 1-0. A classic endgame.

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