Chess Room Newsletter #967 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #967

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #967


May 8, 2021

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Mechanics' Institute vs. Royal Dutch Chess Club Saturday May 8 9:00am PT

The Mechanics' Institute plays its 3rd match this Saturday morning in its Spring Club Match Series against the Royal Dutch Chess Club from The Hague, Netherlands. We will have more than 20 players for Mechanics' Institute, led by the top board matchup of GM Patrick Wolff playing for Mechanics' against GM John Van der Wiel for the Royal Dutch Club. We will also have some of the players from our scholastic programs participate against their scholastic players, so the competition will be from grandmaster to novice. Join us this Saturday morning starting at 9am PT with live coverage on our Twitch channel HERE. We will have live commentary with GM Nick de Firmian, FM Paul Whitehead, WCM Allyson Wong, and Abel Talamantez. Judit Sztaray will be the Chief TD, pairing the games on See you all Saturday - Go Mechanics'!

Mechanics' Institute and SG Zurich Split Club Match

The Mechanics' Institute split a club match last Saturday against the oldest continuously running chess club in the world: SG Zurich. Mechanics' won the matchup of scholastic players 14.5-5.5, and Zurich won the main event 16-12. GM Jim Tarjan led the charge for the Mechanics' Institute, in a match the had players from grandmasters to scholastic beginners. It was a great to see our scholastic players, many of whom compete in our weekend scholastic events on, participate in a club match like this, with an opportunity to compete against other scholastic players from Zurich. Although Mechanics' lost the main event, we did have a very spirited comeback in the 2nd round of the match, highlighted by an incredible comeback upset by Clarence Lehman and Ethan Boldi delivering a checkmate with king, bishop, and knight in the final game of the match with seconds left on his clock. Congratulations to all the participants, and we would like to thank SG Zurich for helping organize this historic event. Full results for the match can be found by clicking HERE. To watch the broadcast of the match, please follow this link:

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

(1) Ambroise Labelle [Frambi] Zurich (2340) - Clarence Lehmann [FrankJamesMarshall] Mechanics' (1866) [C55]
Mechanics' vs. Zurich (2.10), 01.05.2021
[de Firmian, Nick]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.Re1 d6 7.a4 Na5 8.Ba2 c5 Expansion common in Italian and Spanish circles (the openings, not the countries). 9.Bg5 Nd7 10.Be3 Nc6 11.Nc3 Nb4 12.Bc4 Nb6 13.Bb3 Bg4 14.a5 Nd7 15.h3 Be6 16.Bxe6 fxe6 17.Ne2 d5 18.c3 Nc6 19.a6+/=

Both players have been big on one-move threats, but now it gets more complicated. 19...d4? Ignoring the threat to b7 isn't a good idea! [19...b6; 19...Rb8] 20.axb7 Rb8+/- 21.Bd2? [White should hold on to the pawn for a bit with 21.Qb3! dxe3 (21...Rf6 22.Bg5! Rg6 (22...Qb6 23.Qxb6 Nxb6 24.Bxf6 gxf6 25.Ra6 Rxb7 26.Rea1+-) 23.Qb5!+-) 22.Qxe6+ Kh8 23.Qxc6 exf2+ 24.Kxf2 Rf6 25.Qd5 Rd6 26.Qb3 Rb6 27.Qc4 when even if Black wins both b-pawns, White has a positional advantage.] 21...Rxb7 22.Qa4 [22.Ra6 Ndb8 23.Ra2; 22.Bc1] 22...Qb6 23.Reb1+/=
23...c4? When it comes to either solid positional play or setting a trap, well, Clarence goes for the latter! [23...Qb5; 23...Rfb8] 24.dxc4? [24.Qxc4! Na5 25.Rxa5! Qxa5 26.Qxe6+ Rf7 27.cxd4 and White has a big, even winning advantage.] 24...Nc5 25.Qb5?? [25.Qa3 Nb3! wins a fairly healthy rook for knight.; 25.Qd1! was the only move to stay out of trouble. 25...Nxe4 26.Be1=] 25...Qc7! There goes the queen. 26.cxd4 Rxb5 27.cxb5 Then again, when the choice is complications or just winning, the familiar Bay Area player keeps the game "fun"... 27...Nb4?? [Clarence must have gotten dizzy from the jungle of lines: 27...Nxd4-+ is just a queen for a rook.; Also good: 27...Nxe4 28.bxc6 Rxf3-+; Or even 27...Nb3 28.bxc6 Qxc6-+] 28.Bxb4 Nb3 29.Bxe7 Rxf3 [29...Qxe7 isn't really anything either.] 30.gxf3= Qxe7 [30...Nxa1 31.Rxa1 Qxe7 32.d5 when White has enough going for him to avoid defeat.] 31.Ra3 Qg5+ 32.Ng3 Nd2?
[32...Nxd4 33.Kg2 Nxb5 34.Ra5 a6 35.Rxa6 Nd4 is still something for White, but this...] 33.Rd1+- h5 34.h4! Qh6 [34...Qxh4 35.d5!] 35.dxe5 Kh7 36.Kg2 Qf4 37.b4?! Nc4 38.Rxa7 Nxe5 39.Ra3 Ng6 40.Nxh5?! [40.b6] 40...Nxh4+ 41.Kh3 Qg5 42.Ng3 Ng6 43.Kg2= Nf4+ 44.Kf1 Qxb5+ 45.Kg1 Qxb4 The queen and knight coordinate well, well enough to find a perpetual. 46.Ra7 Qb3 47.Rdd7 Qxf3 48.Rxg7+ Kh8 49.Rh7+ Kg8 50.Rag7+ Kf8
White can just take the draw, but instead overlooks... 51.Nf1?? Ne2+ and Black finds a winning ending! 52.Kh2 Qxf2+ 53.Kh3 Qxf1+ 54.Kh2 Qf2+ 55.Kh3 Ng1+! 56.Kg4 Qg2+ 57.Kf4
57...Qxg7 and wins. The rest is probably a time scramble, but Clarence isn't letting go now. 58.Rxg7 Kxg7 59.Ke5 Kf7 60.Kf4 Ne2+ 61.Ke3 Ng3 62.Kf4 Nh5+ 63.Ke5 Ng7 64.Kf4 Kf6 65.e5+ Kg6 66.Kg4 Ne8 67.Kf4 Nc7 68.Ke4 Nd5 69.Kd4 Kf5 70.Kd3 Kxe5 71.Kc4 Ke4 72.Kc5 e5 73.Kc4 Nf4 74.Kc3 Ke3 75.Kc4 e4 76.Kc5 Nd3+ 77.Kd5 Nf2 78.Ke5 Kd3 79.Kf4 e3 80.Kg3 Kd2 81.Kf3 Nd3 82.Ke4 e2 83.Kf5 e1Q 84.Kf6 Qe5+ 85.Kg6 Qf4 86.Kg7 Ne5 87.Kh8 Qg3 88.Kh7 Nd7 89.Kh8 Ke3 90.Kh7 Ke4 91.Kh8 Kf5 92.Kh7 Kf6 93.Kh8 Qg7# Mr. Lehmann enjoys hanging on cliffs -- for the spectators' enjoyment as well! 0-1

(2) GM James Tarjan [Tirantes] Mechanics' (2348) - GM Christian Bauer [crazyboy26] Zurich (2476) [A20]
Mechanics' vs. Zurich (2.1), 01.05.2021
[de Firmian, Nick]

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.Nc3 a6!? Yes, Carlsen has played it. Right away Black secures a retreat for the bishop. 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 Ba7 The waiting game continues. Will Black put his pawn to f5 before developing his knight, White must ask himself. 7.e3 Nf6 8.h3 White continues a restraining strategy and is slightly better. 8...0-0 9.d4 h6 10.dxe5 GM David Howell's concept, endorsed in the recently published "Iron English" by Simon Williams and Richard Palliser. It clarifies the pawn structure and the black bishop's plight on a7, but White isn't without weaknesses as well. [10.b3 keeps the center open to various transformations.] 10...dxe5

[10...Nxe5 11.Nxe5 dxe5 12.Qxd8 Rxd8 13.b3 c6 14.Ba3 Bf5 (A game that missed the book, by a former (but still very impressive) superstar: 14...Be6 15.Rfd1 Rac8 16.Be7 Rxd1+ 17.Rxd1 Ne8 18.Na4 Rc7 19.Bc5 Bxc5 20.Nxc5 Bc8 21.f4 exf4 22.exf4 Kf8 23.Kf2 h5 24.b4 Ke7 25.Re1+ Kf8 26.Rd1 Ke7 27.Re1+ Kf8 28.Rd1 1/2-1/2 (28) Hambleton,A (2484)-Bareev,E (2642) Kingston 2019) 15.g4 Bd3 16.Rfd1 Bc2 17.Rdc1 Bg6 18.Rd1 Bc2 19.Rxd8+ Rxd8 20.Be7 and White headed for a favorable minor piece imbalance in the ending: 1-0 (51) Fressinet,L (2702)-Grandelius,N (2647) Douglas 2015] 11.b3N [11.Qxd8 was the original idea by David Howell, seen in a couple games. 11...Rxd8 12.g4!? This later game had White's containment strategy working out rather well (In the first all the major pieces came off quickly. But not the kings -- the game went on for quite a while. 12.b3 Be6 13.Ba3 Rd7 14.Rfd1 Rad8 15.Rxd7 Rxd7 16.Rd1 Rxd1+ 17.Nxd1 1/2-1/2 (41) Howell,D (2676)-Ponomariov,R (2694) Riadh 2017) 12...Rd3 13.Ne1 Rd8 14.b3 Ne7 15.Ba3 Ng6 16.Nd5 Ne8 17.Ne7+ Nxe7 18.Bxe7 Rd7 19.Ba3 c6 20.Nf3 Bb8 21.Nh4 Bd6 22.Bb2 Rd8 23.f4 Be7 24.Nf3 e4 25.Nd4 c5 26.Ba3 Bf8 27.Ne2 f5 28.gxf5 Rd3 29.Rad1 Rxe3 30.Kf2 Rd3 31.Ng3 Rb8 32.Bxe4 Rxd1 33.Rxd1 Nf6 34.Rd8 b6 35.Bb2 Nxe4+ 36.Nxe4 Kf7 37.f6 gxf6 38.Bxf6 Ra8 39.Bh4 Rb8 40.f5 Ra8 41.f6 b5 42.Bg3 bxc4 43.bxc4 a5 44.Bd6 Bb7 45.Rd7+ 1-0 (45) Howell,D (2682)-Dzagnidze,N (2522) Caleta 2018] 11...Qe7 12.Bb2 Rd8 (d3 has emerged as a problem square.) 13.Qc2 Inviting a knight entry? [13.Qb1!?=] 13...e4
[The computer offers 13...Nb4!=/+ 14.Ba3 and after a while 14...Bc5 (at first preferring 14...c5 15.Bxb4 cxb4 16.Ne4 Ne8 17.g4 f5=) ] 14.Nh2 Not a happy placement. [The precarious 14.Nh4!?= heads for complications 14...Nb4 (14...g5 15.Nd5! Nxd5 16.cxd5 Rxd5 17.Bxe4 Rc5 18.Bh7+ Kf8 19.Ng6+!!) 15.Ba3! g5 16.Nxe4 a5!? 17.Nxf6+ Qxf6 18.Bxb4 axb4 19.Nf3 Bf5 with more than adequate compensation for the pawn.] 14...Bf5
The consensus on positions like this has softened. It used to be throught that, as Black is plagued with a paperweight of a bishop on a7, he must be worse. But otherwise everything is pretty good, and like the Sozin Bishop on b3 or the Slav Bishop on g6/h7, it's not death, just hibernation. In fact, Stockfish gives Black the edge. [14...Nb4!? 15.Ba3 Nxc2 16.Bxe7 Rd7 17.Bxf6 Nxa1 and now it is White with not quite enough for the Exchange.] 15.g4?! [Trading h-pawn for e-pawn with 15.Ng4=/+ doesn't quite happen: 15...Nb4! 16.Ba3 a5 17.Bxb4 axb4 18.Nxf6+ Qxf6 19.Nb5 (19.Nxe4?! Qe7 is too much of an obligation, dealing with the pin.) 19...Qe5 20.Nxa7 Rxa7 21.Rfd1 dries up the play and holds a draw.] 15...Bg6 So now Black has two "bad" bishops, but as before, only temporarily -- and d3 remains a tender spot. 16.Rad1?! [16.a3 Ne5 17.Nxe4 Nxe4 18.Bxe4 Nf3+ 19.Nxf3 Bxe4 is, again, certain compensation, this time in the weakened light squares around White's king.] 16...Nb4-/+ 17.Ba3 Bc5 The Return of the Bishop. [Not 17...Nxc2 18.Bxe7 Re8 19.Bxf6+/-] 18.Bxb4 Bxb4 19.Ne2 Bd6 20.Rfe1 h5 Black gets right on softening up the kingside, but provides the knight on h2 a square. [The computer goes for piece play with 20...Nd7 21.Nf4 Bh7] 21.Nf4 Qe5|^ Black is more active, with latent threats on White's king. [21...hxg4 22.Nxg4 Bxf4 23.exf4 has to favor Black, but the Swiss grandmaster prefers to play more directly.] 22.Nf1 hxg4 23.Nxg6 fxg6 So both bishops didn't make it out, but the opening of the b8-h2 diagonal is the price. 24.hxg4 Rf8 25.Ng3! With counterpressure on e4 and g6. 25...Nxg4
26.Rd5? This costs White the game. [26.Qxe4=/+ is still a clear advantage for Black but there are still chances to hold. 26...Rxf2 27.Qxg4 Qxg3 28.Qxg3 Bxg3 29.Bxb7 Raf8 30.a3 a5 31.b4 axb4 32.axb4 Kh7 both sides play around the possibility of Rf1 (but not 33.Rf1?? Bh2+-+ winning)] 26...Qe7 [Or even 26...Rxf2!? 27.Qxf2 Qe7] 27.Qxe4?!

[27.Nxe4 Qh4 28.Re2 is an attempt to hold the fort, when 28...Bh2+ 29.Kf1 Rae8 looks a good try to bring White to the brink.] 27...Qh4-+ And it's over. 28.Qe6+ Kh8 29.Re2 Bxg3 Weighted Error Value: White=0.56/Black=0.18 0-1

(5) FM Jonathan Rosenthal (OneLastBreath) Zurich (2410) - FM Kyron Griffith (kyrongriffith) Mechanics' (2371) [E27]
Live Chess, 01.05.2021

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Nh5 As usual Kyron plays an active, entertaining move. He threatens 7...Qh4+ 7.Nh3 f5 8.e3 c5 9.Bd3 Nc6 10.0-0 d6 11.Rb1 b6 [11...e5!] 12.g4?

12...Qh4! Kyron jumps at the opportunity to make use of the weakened white kingside. 13.Nf2 [13.gxh5 Qxh3 loses at least a pawn] 13...Nf6 14.gxf5 exf5 15.Kh1?!-/+ [15.Nh1 with ideas of Rb2 and Ng3 is a much better defense] 15...Nh5 16.Kg2 Rf6 17.Rh1 Ba6 18.f4 Na5
This position is worth a diagram. Black's pieces attack from both sides of the board. On the queenside they pressure the c-pawm and on the kingside they attack the white king. 19.Qf1 Re8 20.d5?!

[The only chance was to fight the exchange down after 20.Rg1 Rg6+ 21.Kh1 Ng3+ 22.Rxg3 Rxg3] 20...Nxf4+! 21.exf4 Rg6+ 22.Ng4 Rxg4+ 23.Kf3 23...Bxc4! 24.Bxc4 Nxc4 25.Qxc4 There was no defense anyway. 25...Qh3+ White resigned. It's mate after [25...Qh3+ 26.Kf2 Qg2#] 0-1

(7) Mike Hilliard (echecsmike) Mechanics' (1280) - Karl Dulli (oharot) Zurich (1056) [D02]
Live Chess, 01.05.2021

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Bf5 oharet plays the London System reversed! 3.e3 e6 4.Be2 Bd6 5.Nbd2 Nd7 6.b3 Ngf6 7.Bb2 0-0 8.0-0 c5 8...c6 is the soldi "London" style move. 8...c5 is equaly good and more aggressive. 9.Rc1 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Bg6 11.c4 a6 12.cxd5 Nxd5 So far this has been excellent opening play by both players. The game is even here. 13.e4!? aggressive yet somewhat loosening 13...N5b6?! [13...Nf4 would be at least equal for Black] 14.Bd3 [14.f4!] 14...Ne5 15.N2f3 Rc8 [15...Qf6!] 16.Rxc8 Qxc8 17.Nxe5 Bxe5 18.f4 Bxd4+?+/- This gives up the bishop for knight and causes tactical problems. The game would still be equal after 18...Bf6 19.Bxd4 Qd8 20.Bb1? [20.Bc5 Re8 21.f5! would win a piece. 21...Nd7 (21...Bh5 22.Qxh5 Qxd3 23.fxe6) 22.fxg6] 20...h6?!+/- [Material stays even after 20...Bh5!] 21.Rf2? [White wins an exchange after 21.Bc5 since the queen trade would remove the defender of the b6 knight] 21...Qc7?+/-

[21...e5! 22.fxe5 Nd7 would be about even] 22.f5! exf5 23.exf5 Bh7 24.Rc2 Qd8 25.Rd2 Well played by echecsmike! Black's bishop on h7 is completely out of play and the white pieces dominate the center. 25...Nd5?! [Even best play leaves White a huge endgame edge after 25...Qc7 26.Qc2 Qxc2 27.Bxc2 Rd8 28.Be4 a5 29.g4] 26.g3?! [26.Bf2 wins a knight with the pin] 26...Nf6?!+/- 27.g4?! [27.Bc5! wins material] 27...Re8 28.h3 g5?+/- This leaves the knight on f6 without support, which ends up costing the piece. 29.Bc5 Qc8 30.b4 Kg7 31.Rd6 Bg8 [(+5.40) The best move was 31...Qc7 32.Qd4 Qe7 33.Bd3 h5 34.Kg2 hxg4 35.hxg4 Bg8 36.a4 Bh7 37.Rb6 Qd8 38.Qxd8 Rxd8 39.Be7 Nxg4 40.Bxd8 Bxf5 41.Bxf5 Ne3+ 42.Kh3 Nxf5 43.Bf6+ Kh7] 32.Bd4

The deadly pin finally gets the knight. 32...Kf8 33.Bxf6 echecsmike won by resignation 1-0

2021 Schutt/Brandwein/Jay Whitehead Memorial Blitz Online Report

The annual Ray Schutt/Steve Brandwein/Jay Whitehead Memorial was played on this year, with a talent rich field and a local legend taking a share of first place. NM Michael "fpawn" Aigner drew his final round game to score 9.5/12 and a share for first with NM Linden Lee from Minnesota. IM Elliott Winslow finished in clear 3rd place with 8.5/12, and NM Jules Jelinick and Austin Mei round out the top 5 with 8/12. 50 players participated in all, full results can be found on event page here: 

Free Tuesday Night Online Results

We organized a free blitz tournament during the TNM off week on Tuesday March 4th. Christophe Bambou (HasDisconnected) won the event with an impressive 5/6 in a tough field. There was one particularly epic and exciting game between Kevin Zimmerman (chefkez) and Sos Hakobyan (sacrificeandcrush) that is well worth a look. Full results can be found here: You can watch the replay of the broadcast for some fun lighthearted entertainment by clicking here: 

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

(4) Christophe Bambou (HasDisconnected) (2243) - FM Eric Li (kingandqueen2017) (2316) [B22]
Live Chess, 04.05.2021

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 d6 5.exd6 Qxd6?! [5...e6 is safer] 6.d4 cxd4 7.Na3! Nc6 8.Nb5 Qd8 9.Nbxd4 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 This is simple but just better for White. 10...e6 11.Bc4 Nb6 12.Qxd8+ Kxd8 13.Bb3 f6 14.Be3 The endgame is simply better for White with a lead in development and the uncastled black king. 14...Kc7 15.Nd4 [15.a4!] 15...e5 16.Nb5+ [16.Ne6+! Bxe6 17.Bxe6 Is a clear edge due to the bishop pair] 16...Kc6!

That is a fighting king, leading the army on the battlefield. Here it is risky but best. 17.a4 a6 18.Na3 Bf5 19.a5 Nd5?! [19...Bxa3! 20.Rxa3 Nd5 is only slightly worse for Black] 20.Ba4+?! [20.Nc4! Nxe3 21.Nxe3 is a big edge for White] 20...Kc7 21.Bd2?! retreating gives Black the initiative. Again Nc4 was called for. 21...Rd8 22.Nc4 Bc5 23.b4 Ba7 24.f3?! [24.Bb3] 24...Kb8 25.0-0-0
25...Rc8? [25...Nxb4! 26.cxb4 Rc8 27.Bb3 Be6 wins a very nice pawn] 26.Bb3? [26.Nd6! would win material] 26...Bd3? [26...Nxb4! 27.cxb4 Be6] 27.Nb2! Bg6? oops. This just away the knight and the game. HasDisconnected needs nothing more after this gift. Black was in trouble but [27...Rxc3+ 28.Bxc3 Be3+ 29.Rd2 Nxc3 30.Nxd3 Rc8 gives Black some hope] 28.Bxd5 Rhd8 29.Be4 Bxe4 30.fxe4 Bd4 31.Kc2 Ba7 32.Kb3 Rd7 33.Rhe1 Rcd8
34.Be3! Rxd1 [34...Bxe3 35.Rxd7 Rxd7 36.Rxe3] 35.Bxa7+ Kxa7 36.Rxd1 Rg8 37.Rd7 It's completely over now with the dominant rook plus the extra knight. 37...Kb8 38.Nc4 Kc8 39.Nb6+ Kb8 40.c4 h5 41.c5 h4 42.h3 g5 43.Kc4 g4 44.Rh7 gxh3 45.gxh3 Ka7 46.Rxh4 Rd8 47.Rh7 Kb8 48.Rf7 Ka7 49.Rxf6 Rd1 50.Re6 Rh1 51.Rxe5 Rxh3 52.Re7 [52.Re8? would give stalemate tries] 52...Rh4 53.Nc8+ Kb8 54.Nd6 Ka8 55.Nxb7 Rh8 56.Nd6 Rh1 57.Kd5 Kb8 58.Kc6 Rh8 59.Re8+ Rxe8 60.Nxe8 Kc8 61.Nd6+ Kd8 62.Kb6 1-0

(6) Kevin Zimmerman (chefkez) (1441) - Sos Hakobyan (SacrificeandCrush) (1734) [C02]
Live Chess, 04.05.2021

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nc3?! This doesn't deal with the strategic threat to the white central pawn chain. Once the d4 pawn is removed the e5 pawn becomes weak. 4...Nc6 5.Nge2?! Qb6 [5...cxd4 6.Nxd4 Nxe5 is simply a pawn to the good] 6.Na4 Qa5+ 7.c3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 [8...Bd7 causes a lot of problems also] 9.Qxd4 f6?! [9...Ne7! comes out effectively to the c6 square] 10.Bf4?! [10.b3] 10...Bd7! 11.b3 Bxa4?! This is too soon as it gives up the light squares [11...Rc8] 12.bxa4 Bc5

13.Bb5+! Kf7? [13...Qxb5 14.axb5 Bxd4 15.cxd4 is equal material. The game move gives away the bishop.] 14.Qxc5 a6?! 15.0-0?? [15.Be8+! wins the queen on a5. Now Black gets right back in the game.] 15...axb5 16.axb5 Ne7 17.exf6 gxf6 18.Bd6?! [18.Rfe1] 18...Rhe8 [18...Nf5] 19.a4 Rac8 20.Qe3 Qxc3?! [20...Nf5! 21.Qf4 Qxc3] 21.Qh6 Rh8?! [21...Nf5 22.Qxh7+ Ng7] 22.Rac1 Qd3 23.Rxc8?! [23.Bxe7! Kxe7 24.Qg7+ Kd6 25.Qxb7 would be a winning position with two passed pawns and the safer king] 23...Nxc8 24.Bc7 Qg6 25.Qd2 Rg8 26.g3 Qe4 27.b6?! [27.a5! is still good for White with a strong passed a=pawn to come] 27...h5?! [27...Qxa4] 28.Re1?! Qxa4 29.Qh6 Qg4! Back for defense 30.Qh7+ Rg7 31.Qh8 Rg8 32.Qh7+ Rg7 33.Qc2?! Brave to play on instead of repeating moves, but this hands the advantage to Black. 33...Qb4 [33...Ne7! 34.Bd6 Nc6 is very good for Black] 34.Rb1 Qe7 35.Bb8 Nxb6? Giving away the knight. 36.Rxb6 h4 37.Bd6 Qd7 38.Qb2 Kg6 39.Bf4 hxg3 40.fxg3 d4 41.Rd6 Qa4 42.Qe2 Re7 43.Qg4+ Completely winning for White, but it can be difficult to finish with little time on the clock. 43...Kf7 44.Qh5+ Kf8 45.Qh8+ Kf7
46.Rd8? [46.Qh7+ Kf8 47.Rd8+ Re8 48.Bh6#] 46...Qd1+ 47.Kg2 Qe2+ 48.Kh3 Kg6 49.Rg8+ Kf5 50.Qh6 Qf1+ 51.Kh4 Ke4!

The best try in the position, 52.Qxf6?? [52.Qg6+ Kf3 53.Rc8 A time induced blunder going from won to lost. White is still easily winning after.] 52...Rh7+ 53.Kg4?! [53.Kg5 Qb5+! 54.Be5 Qxe5+ 55.Qxe5+ Kxe5 is a winning ending] 53...Qh3+ 54.Kg5 Qh5# Some mistakes, but an epic battle. 0-1

May 2021 TNM Begins Tuesday May 11

The May 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon begins next Tuesday May 11 with a 6SS G/35+2 in 2 sections, 1800+ and u/1800. Two games per evening starting at 6:30pm PT, games will be manually paired on and will be USCF online rated. We will broadcast all rounds of the tournament with live commentary. Register NOW by following this link:

Full tournament information can be found by clicking here:

 Thursday Night Marathon Begins Thursday May 13

For those wanting the challenge of a longer time control, our Thursday Night Marathon will begin its May-June edition this Thursday May 13th. This is a 5SS G/60+5 with one game per evening. Round starts at 6:30pm PT on Register for the ThNM HERE.

Full tournament information can be found by clicking 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:

GM Nick de Firmian/FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Tuesdays 5pm-6pm, 5/11:

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]


Scholastic Corner

By Judit Sztaray

Spring Session of our Virtual Chess Classes are starting
March 22 through May 31
Not too late to join - Prorating is available!

  • All Girls Class with Coach Colin -- Mondays 4-5PM - Register HERE
  • Intermediate Class with Coach Andrew -- 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

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 on the weekends

More information:

5/8 Saturday - 4SS G/20+10 affecting USCF Online Regular rating.
Register online:

5/16 Sunday - 8SS G/5+2 affecting USCF Online Blitz rating.
Register online:

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

(3) RichTenderClove (1475) - ArcherTBayAreaChess (1622) [A00]
Live Chess
[de Firmian, Nick]

1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 e5 3.d4 White doesn't forget the center, but this is going to put his queen where it can get hit around. [Other ways to pick on the center are 3.c4; and 3.d3 (intending maybe e2-e4 after getting castled)] 3...exd4 4.Qxd4 Nf6 5.Bg5

5...c5? [5...Be7 is much more sensible, since 6.Bxf6?! Bxf6 7.Qxd5?? Qxd5 8.Bxd5 Bxb2] 6.Qh4?? [6.Bxf6!+/- wins one pawn right away, with the rest of Black's pawns in disarray.] 6...Be7 And now Black's on top. 7.Qa4+ This is not going well. 7...Bd7 8.Qb3
8...c4! In fact, the computer thinks this is second best! [8...0-0! 9.Qxb7? Nc6 10.Qb3 c4-+ gives Black a winning development advantage, which will lead to dividends shortly.] 9.Qc3 [9.Qxb7? Bc6 wins the queen] 9...Nc6 That's a nasty threat to the queen! 10.a3 h6 [10...Qb6!?] 11.Bf4-+
11...d4?! Even losing a pawn Black is better -- but why give it up at all? 12.Qxc4 Be6 13.Bxc6+ The best move, but now White walks a tightrope with the weakened light squares. 13...bxc6 14.Qxc6+ Bd7 15.Qg2? [15.Qa6!] 15...Rc8! 16.c3 dxc3?! This just develops White's queenside. [16...Bc6 right away! 17.Nf3 g5-+] 17.Nxc3 Bc6 18.Nf3? White doesn't see what's coming. [18.f3] 18...g5 19.Rd1 Qb6 20.Bc1?! Undeveloping. [20.Be5!? g4 21.0-0 0-0 22.Bd4 Qb7 23.Rfe1 looks for compensation] 20...g4 21.0-0 gxf3 Premature -- it's not going anywhere. [21...Qb7!; 21...0-0!] 22.exf3
Black is a piece up, until you start counting pawns. And where is that king going to go? After a bumpy start White now goes into attack gear and plays very well for a C-player, or any player for that matter! 22...Rg8 [22...Kf8; 22...Qb7! 23.Rd3 0-0 24.Bxh6 Rfd8] 23.Rfe1 h5? [23...Rg6!? saves the h-pawn so that a RxR on d8 can be met with ...Qxd8.] 24.Be3 Qxb2? Indeed this poisoned pawn is just that. Black had to think about defense. [24...Qb7 25.Bc5 Rc7 26.Bd6 Rd7 27.Bc5 is a perpetual out of nowhere, and even 27...Rxd1 28.Nxd1 Bxf3 29.Rxe7+! Qxe7 30.Qxf3 Qxc5 31.Qxf6 Rg6 32.Qf4= should be okay for White.] 25.Bc5 [even better is 25.Bd4!] 25...Rc7 26.Qh3 Bd7 [26...Ng4; 26...Kf8 27.Bxe7+ Rxe7 28.Qc8+ Kg7 29.Qxc6] 27.Rxe7+ [27.Bxe7!! Bxh3 28.Rd8#] 27...Kd8 28.Bb4! White just keeps it together, but Black is not going to be able to do the same with his king like this. 28...Kc8 29.Qh4 Rg6 30.Rb1 [Better is just 30.Rxf7 Qb3 31.Rxf6 Rxc3 32.Rf8+ Kb7 33.Rxd7+ Ka6 34.Rxa7+! Kxa7 35.Qe7+ Ka6 36.Ra8+] 30...Qd2 [30...Qc2 might be better, keeping an eye on the rook.] 31.Ba5 Rxc3 32.Bxc3 Qxc3 33.Qf4 with one of those threats... 33...Qxa3?! 34.Qb8# Despite the mistakes this was quite an excellent attacking game. The main thing was Black's king caught in the center, with no way to take precautions. 1-0

Finishing Tactics from the World Championship Matches 13: Alekhine – Bogoljubov 1929

FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

Alekhine decided to give his old friend Efim Bogoljubov a shot at the title rather than risk a rematch with Capablanca - even though the money wasn’t as good.  Bogoljubov was no pushover, however: he had won the great Moscow tournament of 1925 ahead of Lasker and Capablanca, and was the newly formed 1928 F.I.D.E. Champion after winning two matches against Max Euwe.  Nevertheless, the only top player who thought Bogoljubov had a chance was… Bogoljubov.

The games were interesting, and despite the challenger’s reputation for tactics he had absolutely nothing over Alekhine in that department.  The final score of +11 -5 =9 for Alekhine indicates the fight it was: loose and entertaining.


1. Alekhine - Bogoljubov, 1st Match Game 1929.

White moves.  This should be easy.


2. Bogoljubov – Alekhine, 8th Match Game 1929.

Black moves.  Time to crash the party.


3. Bogoljubov – Alekhine, 10th Match Game 1929.

Black moves.  A calculated finish.


4. Alekhine – Bogoljubov, 13th Match Game 1929.

Black moves.  One move and it’s over.


5. Bogoljubov – Alekhine, 18th Match Game 1929.

White moves.  A nifty little combo.


6. Bogoljubov – Alekhine, 22nd Match Game 1929.

Black moves.  Shut the door.



GM Nick de Firmian

Victory for the Old Guys

Mechanics' Institute Trustee GM Patrick Wolff played in the US Senior Invitational last year, which is for players aged 50 and up. Elliott Winslow remarked, “ Over 50 is a senior?”  It’s not that long ago that the World Champions would be in their 50’s – Lasker, Alekhine, Botvinnik. Other players were great late in their life, e.g. Keres, Korchnoi and Smyslov (who made it to the finals of the Candidates at 63). This questions the notion that players over 50 needs a separate tournament to make up for their age.

The flip side has a compelling argument – youth will be served, and anyone past 30 is over the hill. It was only a few years ago that the world’s top players were in their teens and twenties. We all looked for the future challenger by watching the World Cadet Championship and the 13 year old grandmasters. We gave up hope on former Chinese prodigy Wei Yi. He was such a talent four years ago when he passed the 2700 rating mark, but his rating hasn’t improved in four years and he’s reached the venerable age of 21 years. Time for the Chinese to develop someone else!

The last week has brought hope to the old guys. The most recent major world tournament was the New in Chess Classic, with most of the top players. The final featured two old combatants past the age of 30 (the time when people would be “renewed” (i.e. recycled) in the classic movie Logan’s Run.  One of these players was the world champion, Magnus, who had not been able to win any event since he passed his critical 30th birthday. The other was our old American, Hikaru Nakamura. Naka seems to have given up on classical chess at his ripe old age of 33, but he remains a potent force in blitz and rapid chess. His career seems to be focused on streaming and blitz chess, making him a notable e-sports figure. The final between these two old guys was great entertainment and we give two of their critical games below.

(1) Carlsen,Magnus - Nakamura,Hikaru [C54]
New in Chess Classic, 01.05.2021

We give this third to last gameof the match particularly for its psychological points. The match was two four game rapid sets and Magnus won the first of those. Hikaru struck back in the first game of the second set and so only needed to draw out to win the second set. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 This Guico Piano is all the rage these days, more popular than the Ruy Lopez. 5...0-0 6.0-0 d5 The aggressive way to play. Black takes central space, even if it means his e-pawn becomes a target. 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.Re1 Bg4! 9.h3 Bh5 10.b4 Be7 11.b5 Na5 12.Rxe5 Nf6

A highly interesting pawn sacrifice. It is exactly in the spirit of the position since the 6...d5 move. How much compensation does Black have? 13.Nbd2 Bd6 14.Re1 Re8 15.Bb3 Qd7 16.Rxe8+ The computer prefers 16. c4, but that is a strange move to play particlarly in rapid chess where one counts on intuition. 16...Rxe8 17.Bc2 Nd5 All the Black pieces are active. While the position is objectively equal it is much for fun to have the Black side. 18.Ne4
18...Nxc3! 19.Nxc3 Bxf3
20.Qd2?! [20.gxf3 Qxh3 21.f4 Re6 22.Ne4 Rg6+ 23.Ng3 Rxg3+ 24.fxg3 Qxg3+ is only a perpetual check for Black. Magnus should have chosen this variation.; 20.Qxf3? Re1#] 20...Qe6 21.Qe3 Qd7 22.Qd2
Just looking at the diagram you know things are wrong with White's position. Material is even and White is in disarray. A move like 22...Bh5 or 22.b6 would leave Black a clear advantage. So if you are Black do you go for the win or repeat the moves? 22...Qe6?! 23.Qe3 Qd7 24.Qd2 Game drawn by repetiion. This left Nakamura ahead in the second mini-match needing only to draw the next two games to win it. I must call his decision to repeat the choice of an old man. He should have played on and put it away. *

(2) Nakamura,Hikaru - Carlsen,Magnus [D31]
New in Chess Classic, 01.05.2021

Two games to go in the mini-match. Naka wants to draw both to even the set score and head to an armaggeddon final. If Magnus ties this second mini-match he wins the touranment. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 a6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 Bd6 7.Bxd6 Qxd6 8.Bd3 Bg4 9.Qb3 Nc6 10.h3 [Risky but probably good is 10.Qxb7 0-0 11.Qb3 Rfb8 12.Qa3 Nb4 13.Bb1] 10...Bh5 11.Nge2 Bxe2 12.Nxe2 0-0 13.Rc1 Nd8 14.Qa3 Qd7 15.0-0 g6 16.Nf4 Re8 17.Bc2 c6 18.Nd3 Ne6 Thus far Naka has gotten what he should be looking for. A small edge in a solid position. Yet all the blitz and entertaining streaming he does leads him to choose a sharp continuation. 19.f4!? Ng7 20.f5?! g5! [20...Nxf5 21.Nc5 Qc8 22.Bxf5] 21.Ne5 Qc7 22.h4?!

22...g4! Magnus continues to keep the game solid and static where the knights do better than bishops. Here he starts to take over the initiative. 23.Qc3 Ngh5 24.Qe1

24...Rxe5! 25.dxe5 Qxe5 The powerful exchange sacrifice leaves Black in control. The white bishop and rooks cannot find anything to target while the black knights move smoothly around the board. 26.Qc3 Qg3 27.Qe1 Qd6 28.Qf2 Re8 29.Rcd1 Qe5 30.Rd4 c5 31.Rd2 Ng3 32.Rfd1 Kf8 33.Rd3 Nfe4 34.Qe1 Qf6! The black queen finds a way to the kingside to get to the white king. White is busted. 35.Rxd5 Qxh4 36.Bxe4 Qh1+ 37.Kf2 Nxe4+ 38.Ke2 Qxg2+ 39.Kd3 Nakamura resigned. There are many ways to win for Black, e.g. 39...b5, 39...Qxb2 or 39...c4+. Magnus easily drew the final game to win the tournament. He felt great relief at finally winning an event in his now old age. *

Solutions to Paul Whitehead's Column

1. Alekhine - Bogoljubov, 1st Match Game 1929.

The challenger started the match off terribly, and Alekhine put him out of his misery with 1.Ne5+! 1-0.  If 1…Nxe5 2.Ra7+ Kc6 (or 2…Kd8/c8 3.Rxa8+ winning) 3.Qe4#.


2. Bogoljubov – Alekhine, 8th Match Game 1929.

Another brutal finish: 1…Ng3+! 2.hxg3 (if instead 2.Kg1 then 2…Bg4! wins the queen) 2…hxg3+ 3.Nxh3 Bxh3 4.gxh3 (there’s nothing else) 4…Rxh3+ 5.Kg2 Rh2#. 0-1.


3. Bogoljubov – Alekhine, 10th Match Game 1929.

1…Rh5+ seals white’s fate. Bogojubov tried 2.Kg4, as 2.Rh4 Rxh4+ 3.gxh4 Qf3# is a quick mate. But the inevitable occurred anyway after 2…Qe2+ 3.f3 (if 3.Rf3 Rf5 and either …c2 or …h5+ coming is hopeless for white as well) 3…Rg5+ 4.Kh3 (4.Kh4 Qxh2#) 4…Qf1+ 0-1. Bogoljubov resigned as 5.Kh4 Rh5+! 6.Kxh5 (6.Kg4 Qh3#) 6…Qh3+ 7.Rh4 Qf5# would have been the pretty finish.


4. Alekhine – Bogoljubov, 13th Match Game 1929.

1…Qe4! is a tactic worth remembering. Black exploits the weak back rank and wins a piece. Alekhine capitulated after a few short moves: 2.Qd2 (2.Rxe4 Rc1+ 3.Re1 Rxe1#) 2…Qxa4 3.d6 Qd4 4.Qxd4 exd4 0-1.


5. Bogoljubov – Alekhine, 18th Match Game 1929.

It all comes together for white after the ‘petit combination’ 1.Rxc7+! Qxc7 2.Nc5+ Kb6 3.Qxc7+! transposing into a winning king and pawn ending: 3…Kxc7 4.Nxe6+ Kd7 5.Nxd8 Kxd8 6.b4 (also winning was 6.Kc2) 6…Kd7 7.Kc2 Kc6 8.Kb3 Kb5 9.Kxa3 Kc4 10.b5! Kxb5 11.Kb3 Ka5 12.a4 Ka6 13.Kb4 Kb6 14.a5+ Kc6 15.Ka4 1-0.


6. Bogoljubov – Alekhine, 22nd Match Game 1929.

Black kept the white king in custody with the straightforward 1…Nxf3+ 2.gxf3 Ree1! threatening 3…Rh1+ 4.Kg2 Rdg1#. White tried to escape out to g4 with 3.Kh3, but 3…h5! turned the key. 0-1. Mate cannot be stopped.


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