Chess Room Newsletter #971 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #971

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #971


June 5, 2021

By Abel Talamantez

Table of Contents

Tuesday Night Marathon is Back Live at Mechanics' Institute!

Tuesday night marked a historic night in the already storied history of the chess club, with the first live event in more than a year. It was the return of the Tuesday Night Marathon, an event that continued online since last March, and kept the lineage of the event uninterrupted. Now, it returns for live over the board FIDE and USCF rated play. Our entries were limited in capacity due to our Covid Health and Safety Plan, but we have a very solid 56 players for this event. The feeling of excitement and anticipation was in the air, from both the players and staff. We saw many of our regulars return to battle on our over 100-year old wooden tables, some with our modern DGT boards on top. We also welcomed players we had only previously met online. It was great to be back, and our players who had adjusted well over the past year with shorter time controls online, were back to the traditional TNM time control of G/120;d5. Classical chess has returned!

In the top section, overall top seed by rating FM Kyron Griffith won his first round game against Mark Drury. IM Josiah Stearman had a round 1 bye, so he will be in action next week. Also winning were IM Elliott Winslow and Theo Biyiasas. Pulling mild upsets on the first night were Gaziz Makhanov against Abhishek Mallela and Gary Harris against Nicholas Weng. 

FM Kyron Griffith on Board 1 against Mark Drury

In the under 1800 section, Andrew Imbens upset the top seed Georgios Tsolias to take a point. Also getting a first round win were some Mechanics' regulars like Albert Starr, Richard Hack, and some young online players we first met online now playing at Mechanics' for the first time including Sebby Suarez and Shiv Sohal.

Sebby "sebbymeister" Suarez (right) in action at the Mechanics' Institute

Here are some games from Tuesday night, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian

(2) Drury,Mark - FM Griffith,Kyron [A03]
TNM, 02.06.2021

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 The Bird's Opening is a Dutch Defense reversed. One chooses it as a matter of taste. Objectively Black is fine. 2...Bg4 3.e3 Nd7 4.Be2 Ngf6 5.b3 The logical follow up to control the long dark-squared diagonal. 5...Bxf3 6.Bxf3 e5! As usual Kyron takes the aggressive approach. Trading away the bishop pair allows Black to break in the center immediately. 7.fxe5?! Black's pieces now jump into good central squares. 7. Bb2 would instead be about even. 7...Nxe5 8.Bb2 Bd6 9.Nc3 c6 10.Qe2 Qe7 11.0-0?! [11.e4!?] 11...0-0-0


Black has gotten a well developed, centralized position with opposite sides castling. Already White is having difficulties. 12.a3?! [12.Nd1!? h5 13.c4] 12...h5! 13.b4?! This just weakens the c4 square. The position was hard to play in any case. 13...Nc4 14.Rfb1 [14.Rab1] 14...Nxb2 15.Rxb2 g5 16.Qf2 Kb8 17.b5 c5 18.d4 This loses, but everything else is bad too. White cannot take on d5 since [18.Nxd5 Nxd5 19.Bxd5 Qe5 attackes the bishop on d5, the rook on b2 and the pawn on h2] 18...cxd4 19.exd4 Qc7!


There are too many threats for White to deal with. 20.Ne2 Bxh2+ 21.Kf1 g4 22.Bxd5 Nxd5 23.g3


23...h4! White wins the bishop on h2 but loses his kingside. 24.Qxh2 hxg3 25.Qg2 There is nothing to be done anyway. 25...Ne3+ A forceful game by Kyron! 0-1

(4) Winslow,Elliott C (2278) - Rajaram,Anika (1860) [B28]
MI June TNM San Francisco (1.2), 01.06.2021

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 The Kan Sicilian: a difficult test for both players. 5.c4 This is a less common Maroczy Bind formation, but the concept is the same: deterring Black from freeing her game with ...d5. 5...Nc6 [5...Nf6 One usually sees 6.Nc3 and now one of three moves to stop 7.e5: 6...-- (6...Qc7; 6...d6; with 6...Bb4 the longstanding main line.) ] 6.Nxc6 White tries to take some sort of advantage of the early development of that knight. [Just 6.Nc3 is far more common.] 6...bxc6 [6...dxc6 7.Qxd8+ is not to many players' taste.] 7.Nc3 Qc7 8.Be3 Bb4?! These last two moves don't make much sense. 9.Rc1?! Often in Sicilian variations the doubled pawns are less a factor than Black's dark-squared deficiencies, and this clearly one of them: [9.Bd3 can be played without fearing the exchange on c3.] 9...Nf6 10.Bd3 h6?!


Another insignificant move, and White can't stand it any longer. 11.c5!? [11.0-0! first is an important difference: 11...0-0 12.c5 d6 13.Na4! the knight is free to poke at the queenside.] 11...0-0? [11...d6; 11...d5 12.cxd6 Bxd6 13.h3 0-0 isn't ideal, but it is playable.] 12.a3+/- Now White claims a big advantage, leaving Black with one horrible bishop and an ineffective knight. 12...Bxc3+ 13.Rxc3 Qe5?! 14.f4 Qh5 15.Qxh5 Nxh5


16.e5!+- and Black's knight is never able to find a good square. 16...g6 [16...f5 17.Rg1 g6 18.g4 Ng7 19.gxf5 gxf5 (19...Nxf5 20.Rxg6+ Kh7 21.Rf6!? Rxf6 22.exf6 Kg6 23.Bxf5+ exf5 (23...Kxf5 24.f7 Bb7 25.Rb3) 24.Bd4 and Rg3+ wins handily.) Now White rolls forward: 20.Be2 Kf7 21.Bf2 Rh8 22.Rcg3 Rh7 23.Rg6 h5 24.Rf6+ Kg8 25.Bh4 Bb7 26.Bg5 Rf8 27.Bh6 Rf7 (27...Rxf6 28.exf6 Rxh6 29.Rxg7+ Kf8 30.Rxd7) 28.Rfg6


and king up to b6 (!).] 17.g4 Ng7


18.Kd2! [18.f5 right away might work, but it gets a bit messy after 18...exf5 19.gxf5 d5!? So a little preparation can't hurt.] 18...a5 [18...h5 19.h3 doesn't make it any better.] 19.f5 Kh7 20.f6 Ne8 21.h4 Ba6 22.Be4 Again playing it safe, which is fine and avoids the danger of a miscalculation. [But as before, White could just play directly 22.h5 Bxd3 23.hxg6+ Bxg6 24.Rxh6+ and doubling on the h-file will be fatal.] 22...Nc7 Black's knight finally eyes the wonderful d5 square but it's way too late. 23.h5 Rh8 24.hxg6+ fxg6 25.Bxh6 Rab8 [25...Kg8 everything works, with 26.Bxg6 Rf8 27.Rb3 (threatening, Rb8 or f7) 27...Nb5 28.a4 working the best] 26.Bg7+ Kg8 27.Rxh8+ Kf7 28.Rxb8 1-0

(5) Wilson,Stephen (1242) - Starr,Albert (1609) [A01]
MI June TNM u1800 San Francisco (1.1), 01.06.2021

1.b3 e5 2.g3 d5 Talk about battle lines drawn! Hypermodern vs. Classical. 3.Bb2 Bd6 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.d4 White recants. 5...Nc6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Nd2 e4


This works out, 8.Qe2 both players surprisingly go for queenside castling: [as 8.c4 runs into 8...Nb4] 8...Qd7 9.h4?! 0-0-0 10.0-0-0 Rhe8 11.Bh3?! This is the last piece White should be exchanging! [11.a3!? Ne7 12.c4 c6 maintains the center.] 11...Ng4!? 12.Bg2 g6 13.f3? White finally cracks. 13...exf3 14.Bxf3 Rxe3 15.Qf1 Bxg3 Two pawns, with more to come. 16.Ne2 Qd6 17.Nxg3 Qxg3 18.Bxg4 Bxg4 19.Re1 Rxe1+ 20.Qxe1 Qxe1+ 21.Rxe1 The opposite colored bishops aren't going to mean much of anything in this ending, Black's extra pawns will eventually march. 21...f5 22.Kb1 Kd7 23.Nf1 Re8 24.Rxe8 Kxe8 25.Ne3 Exchanges won't matter. 25...Ne7 26.Ba3 c6 27.Bc5 b6 28.Bd6 a6?! [28...Kd7 29.Bb8 a5 avoids giving up all the dark squares.] 29.Bc7 b5 30.c4 h5? Black is really pushing his luck though! putting every pawn on the same color as his bishop is NOT how it works. 31.Bd6 [31.c5 paves the way for K up to a5, but if Black is awake he'll notice 31...g5! 32.hxg5 Bf3! confounding the knight. White's pieces will be hamstrung by the danger the h-pawn poses.] 31...Kf7 [31...bxc4 32.bxc4 dxc4 33.Nxc4 Nd5 followed by ...f4 and after some reparations, ...g5.] 32.Bxe7? White has operated on the assumption all game that exchanges favor him, but this one is suicide. 32...Kxe7 33.cxd5


33...f4! 34.dxc6?! fxe3 Of course Black's king and bishop stop everything, including losing the e-pawn. White must be hoping now to exchange kings, but the rules won't permit it. 35.Kc1 Kd6 36.d5 Kxd5 37.c7 Kd6 38.c8Q Bxc8 39.Kd1 Ke5 40.Ke2 Kf4 41.a4 bxa4 42.bxa4 a5 43.Ke1 Kf3 44.Kf1 e2+ 45.Ke1 Bd7 46.Kd2 Kf2 47.Kc2 e1Q 48.Kb2 Bxa4 49.Ka2 Qc3 50.Kb1 Bd1 51.Ka2 a4 52.Kb1 a3 53.Ka2 Qb2# 0-1

(1) Argo,Guy - Mahooti,James [B23]
TNM, 02.06.2021

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 The Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian is a good practical choice. It avoids a lot of theory at the cost of giving Black the d4 square. Anyway White gets kingside play with the e and f pawns controlling squares on that side. 3...g6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bb5 a6?! This forces White to do what he wants to do anyway. [5...Bd7 or at least; 5...Bg7 6.Bxc6+ bxc6 7.d3 give Black reasonable chances] 6.Bxc6+ bxc6 7.d3 Bg7 8.0-0 Nf6 9.Qe1

We take a look at the result of the opening so far. White is developed and ready for kingside play while Black's doubled c-pawns make it hard to get play on the queenside or center, Already White has a clear plus, 9...e6?! This doesn't help though and allows White central play also. 9...0-0 or 9...Bg4 was better. 10.b3 Bd7?! 11.e5! Nd5 12.Na4 Nb6 13.Nb2 d5 14.c4
Strategically Black is in great difficulties. The c5 pawn is weak, the light squared bishop can't find any useful play and there is no good way to free the position. 14...0-0 15.Qa5 Qc7 16.Qxc5 Rfb8 17.Be3 Nc8 18.Qa3! White had snatched the c5 pawn for nothing but needed to be careful with the queen. This last move is ready to answer 18...Bf8 with 19. Bc5 18...Nb6 19.Qa5 Qb7 20.c5 Taking control of the queenside squares and keeping Black bottled up. 20...Nc8 21.Qd8+ Bf8 22.Qh4 A switch to the kingside prepares to make the breakthrough on that side of the board. 22...Ne7 23.g4 Be8 24.Nd4 Qd7 25.Rf3 h6
26.f5! exf5 27.gxf5 Nc8 28.Rh3 [28.fxg6 fxg6 29.Raf1 Bg7 30.Bxh6 would have been very direct] 28...Qe7! Trying at least to make the win difficult for White. 29.Qxe7 Bxe7 30.Na4 h5 31.fxg6 fxg6 32.Rf1 Alas the endgame is also lost for Black as the white pieces and pawns control too many squares. 32...Rb4 33.Rhf3 Rxa4 This is a bit desparate, but [33...Ra7 34.e6 is not much better] 34.bxa4 Bxc5 35.Ne6! Be7 [35...Bxe3+ 36.Rxe3 Ne7 37.Rf8+ Kh7 38.Nc7] 36.Nc7 Black resigned. A fine game by Argo! 1-0

Here are the current standings after round 1:

SwissSys Standings. 2021 June Tuesday Night Marathon: 1800

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 FM Kyron Griffith 12860484 2493 W22       H--- 1.0
2 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 W23         1.0
3 Theodore Biyiasas 13989054 2155 W24         1.0
4 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 X25         1.0
5 Guy Argo 12517167 1928 W26         1.0
6 Gaziz Makhanov 16828914 1855 W19         1.0
7 Gary Harris 12834452 1827 W20         1.0
8 Philip Gerstoft 12913356 1788 W21         1.0
9 David Rakonitz 12931024 1622 B---         1.0
10 IM Josiah Stearman 14006506 2484 H---       H--- 0.5
11 Abhinav Penagalapati 15467440 2087 H---       H--- 0.5
12 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 H---     H---   0.5
13 Rohan Rajaram 15739716 1929 D16         0.5
14 Andrew Guo 16192001 1925 D17         0.5
15 Kayven Riese 12572270 1900 D18         0.5
16 Max Hao 16083648 1804 D13         0.5
17 Alexander Huberts 16419664 1794 D14   H---     0.5
18 Glenn Kaplan 12680193 1776 D15         0.5
19 Abhishek Mallela 12888811 2159 L6         0.0
20 Nicholas Weng 15499404 2013 L7         0.0
21 Thomas Maser 10490936 1900 L8         0.0
22 Mark Drury 12459313 1873 L1         0.0
23 WCM Anika Rajaram 15446678 1860 L2         0.0
24 Adam Mercado 16571026 1834 L3         0.0
25 Nelson Sowell 11103405 1807 F4         0.0
26 James Mahooti 12621393 1800 L5         0.0

SwissSys Standings. 2021 June Tuesday Night Marathon: u1800

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 Albert Starr 12844781 1609 W21         1.0
2 Richard Hack 12796129 1569 W22         1.0
3 Lee Cooper 14563710 1529 W23         1.0
4 Stephen Parsons 16566932 1517 W24         1.0
5 Nursultan Uzakbaev 17137317 1513 W25         1.0
6 Kevin Sun 16898540 1491 W26         1.0
7 Joseph Roberts 16864855 1448 W27         1.0
8 Sebastian Suarez 16875347 1422 W28         1.0
9 Andrew Imbens 30102682 1253 W17         1.0
10 Shiv Sohal 30032729 1127 W18 H---     H--- 1.0
11 Nikhil Pimpalkhare 30179081 unr. W19         1.0
12 Leon Quin 30191497 unr. W20         1.0
13 Justin Stimatze 30189846 unr. B---         1.0
14 Jim Cohee 12423364 1612 D16         0.5
15 Joel Carron 16600505 1610 H---         0.5
16 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 1251 D14 H---       0.5
17 Georgios Tsolias 17266862 1679 L9         0.0
18 Nick Casares Jr 10424364 1600 L10         0.0
19 Charles James 12448028 1368 L11         0.0
20 Jacob Morgan 17099171 1365 L12         0.0
21 Stephen Wilson 12584515 1242 L1       H--- 0.0
22 Simone Pagan Griso 17322263 1098 L2 H---       0.0
23 William Thibault 16716976 1050 L3         0.0
24 Thomas Cunningham 12923340 971 L4         0.0
25 Aleksandra Singer 12853158 949 L5         0.0
26 Danny Cao 16939797 887 L6         0.0
27 Andrejs Gulbis 16741331 826 L7         0.0
28 Trent Hancock 30174249 unr. L8 H---   H---   0.0

For full information, please check the event page here:

Thursday Night Marathon Report

Four rounds are complete in the current Thursday Night Marathon online, and GM Gadir Guseinov and NM Michael Walder remain with perfect scores at 4/4. Next week will be the final round, and as it turns out, the final round in the G/60+5 format.

Starting June 24, we will be switching to a 2-round per evening G/35+5 USCF online rated format that we will stream with live commentary. It will have almost the same format as our previous online TNM, with the exception that the increment will be +5 rather than +2. We think it will be great to broadcast both the live TNM and online ThNM, bringing two regular ches sprograms weekly. Registration is open for the next Thursday marathon, join by following this link:

Here are the current standings:

SwissSys Standings. Mechanics' Institute May-June 2021 ThNM: Open (Standings (no tiebrk))

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 GM Gadir Guseinov 17343590 2700 W16 W15 W5 W4   4.0
2 NM Michael Walder 10345120 2155 W41 W9 W6 W11   4.0
3 William Kelly 30161947 unr. W7 W22 H--- W13   3.5
4 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 W8 W24 W20 L1   3.0
5 Nathan Fong 13001390 2004 W43 W36 L1 W25   3.0
6 Jeff Andersen 11296106 1643 W38 W40 L2 W27   3.0
7 Ethan Sun 16964125 1494 L3 W26 W39 W18   3.0
8 Akshaj Pulijala 16497860 1487 L4 W38 W40 X17   3.0
9 Adam Stafford 14257838 1288 W29 L2 W23 W20   3.0
10 Suhas Indukuri 16887781 1181 D13 W12 D18 W24   3.0
11 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 W26 W33 H--- L2   2.5
12 Mark Drury 12459313 1873 H--- L10 W31 W34   2.5
13 Robert Smith 12463327 1853 D10 W14 W30 L3   2.5
14 Bryan Hood 12839763 1574 H--- L13 W42 W35   2.5
15 Marina Xiao 16380642 1547 W35 L1 D33 W29   2.5
16 Kevin Sun 16898540 1491 L1 W28 D29 W30   2.5
17 Pranav Sairam 15424820 2103 W25 H--- H--- F8   2.0
18 Alexander Huberts 16419664 1794 D31 W42 D10 L7   2.0
19 Leo Wang 16061785 1765 L36 L25 W32 W33   2.0
20 Jason Ochoa 12440572 1759 W37 W34 L4 L9   2.0
21 Matthew Chan 12541333 1659 L33 W43 L25 W36   2.0
22 Samuel Agdamag 14874734 1621 W28 L3 L27 W39   2.0
23 Jacob Wang 17083655 1612 L34 W37 L9 X40   2.0
24 Nursultan Uzakbaev 17137317 1513 W39 L4 W36 L10   2.0
25 Nick Reed 16154827 1416 L17 W19 W21 L5   2.0
26 Gabriel Ngam 13553308 1350 L11 L7 W38 W37   2.0
27 Kevin Thompson 13110777 1120 H--- H--- W22 L6   2.0
28 Cleveland Lee 12814843 581 L22 L16 B--- X41   2.0
29 NM Thomas Maser 10490936 1900 L9 W32 D16 L15   1.5
30 Aaron Nicoski 12797931 1789 H--- W31 L13 L16   1.5
31 Ivan Zong 30131397 1081 D18 L30 L12 W42   1.5
32 Bruce Hedman 17344551 1043 H--- L29 L19 W43   1.5
33 Katherine Sunny Lu 16425316 1008 W21 L11 D15 L19   1.5
34 Joshua Lu 30127073 unr. W23 L20 H--- L12   1.5
35 Tobiah Rex 30164211 unr. L15 W41 H--- L14   1.5
36 Charvi Atreya 16816706 1032 W19 L5 L24 L21   1.0
37 Christopher Harris 15496280 1017 L20 L23 W43 L26   1.0
38 Andrejs Gulbis 16741331 826 L6 L8 L26 B---   1.0
39 Pratyush Bhingarkar 30015889 unr. L24 B--- L7 L22   1.0
40 Jeff Rosengarden 30105422 unr. B--- L6 L8 F23   1.0
41 Daniel Marcus 12905558 1458 L2 L35 H--- F28   0.5
42 Ian Liao 16738735 1203 H--- L18 L14 L31   0.5
43 Michael Xiao 16380636 1363 L5 L21 L37 L32   0.0

Mechanics' Institute May Online Blitz Championship Attracts 3 GM's!

The Mechanics' May Blitz Championship on attracted 38 players for this 8-round G/5+2 event. It was an open event, and it was exciting to see many club players participating in the same event as strong GM's. The GM's ruled the event, with GM Gadir Guseinov taking clear first with 7/8. GM Patrick Wolff put on a fantastic showing taking clear 2nd with 6.5/8, and GM Aleksaner Lenderman tied for 3rd place with 6/8 along with Casimir Dudek. Full results can be found at the link below:

Here is a fine win by GM Patrick Wolff against GM Alex Lenderman, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian

(3) GM Patrick Wolff (AmateurT2021) (2604) - GM Alex Lenderman (AlexanderL) (2734) [C10]
MI Blitz ch (5), 28.05.2021

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 The Rubinstein Variation of the French Defense. Black accepts a smaller share of the board, but also a solid position. 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.Be3 One sees almost everything here; this is not so common but scores as well as the others, in the high 60% range. [7.Bd3 is most popular.; 7.Bc4; 7.c3; 7.Bg5; Even 7.g3] 7...Bd6 A slightly odd square for the bishop in the Rubinstein, usually ...Be7 [And 7...Nd5 immediately targetting the Be3, has done as well as anything.] 8.Bc4 Here it is move eight and it's already rare territory. 8...b6 9.Qe2 Bb7 10.Ba6!?

The former Mechanics' President and second to Anand for his world championship match with Kasparov pursues a dry position strategy. Objectively it leads to very little, but it has advantages. 10...Bxa6 11.Qxa6 0-0 12.0-0 Qc8 13.Qxc8!? More of the same. Hardly the swashbuckling style of Patrick's younger days! But he appreciates the value of experience that comes with the years. 13...Rfxc8 14.c4 c5 15.Rac1 White does have a no-loss strategy of pressing the queenside majority, plus Black will want to pay attention to his bishop getting bad (fixed pawns on dark squares). 15...Ng4 Black trades off White's bishop, but has to be careful on the followup. [Stockfish 13 gives some tiny advantage to Black(!) after 15...cxd4 16.Bxd4 Rd8 Nothing significant, but food for thought.] 16.Rfd1 Nxe3 17.fxe3 Kf8 [17...cxd4!? 18.exd4 g5! gets Black's pawns going with some initiative. Note 19.Nxg5? Bf4 20.Rc3 Bxg5 21.Rg3 h6 22.h4 Rxc4 23.hxg5 hxg5 24.Rxg5+ Kf8 when Black's advantage isn't all that sizable, but it is real.] 18.Kf2 Ke7
19.d5!? On principle, when Black even more than before has to watch his bishop's health. 19...f5?! 20.dxe6 Kxe6 21.Rd5 h6 22.e4 [Or 22.Re1 first] 22...fxe4 23.Re1 Rf8?! [23...Rg8!? intending later ...Raf8; 23...Re8!? 24.Rxe4+ Kd7 25.Ne5+ Kc7 finally gets in ...Re6 and ...Rae8 (development in the ending!)] 24.Rxe4+ Kd7 25.h3 [25.Rg4! would be a real plus, with a number of threats. 25...g5 26.h4 Rf4 27.Rxf4 gxf4 28.Rh5 Rh8 29.Ng1!] 25...Rae8 26.Rxe8 Rxe8 27.b3 Stockfish rolls out the "0.00"s everywhere, but Black is still slightly unhappy about the pawns on the same collor phenomenon. 27...Re4 28.a4 a5 29.Nd2 Re6 30.Kf3 Ke7 31.Ne4 Be5 32.g4 Bd4 33.h4 Rc6?! A slight moving of the needle off dead even... 34.h5 Re6 35.Kf4 [35.g5!?] 35...Bb2 36.Kf3 Be5 37.Rd2 Rc6 38.Re2
38...Ke6?! It gets uncomfortable now. There were only two moves Stockfish calls at 0.00: [38...Re6; 38...Kd7] 39.Ng3?! [39.Nc3+/= and into d5.] 39...Rd6 40.Nf5 Rd3+ 41.Re3
41...Rxe3+ A tough decision. [41...Rd7 is back to a wall of zeros.] 42.Kxe3 It's hard to say which recapture is better. The computer just sees "draw"... 42...Kf6 43.Ke4 Ke6 44.Ne3 Bc7 45.Nd5 Bd8 46.Kf4 Bg5+ Not quite zugzwang! The king can't be let into f5. 47.Kf3

47...Bd8?? But this *will* be zugzwang! Surprisingly Black should let the b-pawn go! [47...Ke5!! Well, or 47...Bh4, 47...Bf6 or 47...Be7 48.Nxb6 Anything else would win -- for Black! 48...Kd4 49.Nd7 Bd2 and White draws, but it gets harrowing when Black's king gets to start taking pawns.] 48.Ke4+- Now the b-pawn goes without compensation, and there's more... 48...Bg5 49.Nxb6 Bd8 50.Nd5 Bg5 51.Nc7+ For the record, it was White 1:43 Black [51.Nf4+ is the clean win: 51...Kd6 (51...Bxf4 52.Kxf4 Kf6 53.g5+ hxg5+ 54.Kg4 with the b6 pawn gone, c5 falling will be the end.) 52.Kf5 Bf6 53.Kg6 Ke5 54.Nd5 Bg5 55.Kxg7 Kd4 56.Nf6] 51...Kd7 52.Nb5 Ke6 53.Nc3 Bd8 54.Nd1 Kf6 55.Nf2 [55.Kd5 does work of course.] 55...Kg5 56.Kf3 Kf6 [56...Be7 57.Ne4+ Kh4 58.Kf4 and into the magic square f5.] 57.Ne4+ Ke5 58.Nxc5 The second pawn seals it. 58...Be7 59.Nd3+ [59.Nb7 Bb4 60.Ke3] 59...Kd4 60.Nf4 Bf6 61.Ne6+ Kc3 62.c5 Kxb3 63.Ke4 Be7 64.c6 Bd6 65.Kd5 Bg3 66.Nxg7 Kxa4 67.Nf5 Bf4 68.Nd6 AmateurT2021 won by resignation 1-0

Tony's Teasers

Tony Lama is back, and ready to challenge us with mate in 3 problems he loves to study up on. See if you are up for the challenge!

Kenneth Howard 1926

Kenneth Howard, 1925

Solutions at the end of newsletter


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:

Our arena will return with the start of the Thursday Night Marathon on June 24!

GM Nick de Firmian/FM Paul Whitehead Arena: Thursdays 5pm-6pm, 6/24: link coming soon

See you there!

Mechanics' Institute

Summer Online Classes

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:

Monday's 6:00-7:00PM - Middle Game Strategy Through the Lens of the TNM

New session date: June 14 - July 26 (no class July 5)

Middle games can be very complex, trying to formulate plans, spot weaknesses, and developing instincts that guide when to initiate aggression or hold things static. These are just some of the topics as we discuss middle game strategy using game resources from a Mechanics' Institute tradition, the Tuesday Night Marathon (TNM). Using real games from our flagship event, we will look at concepts in middle game management to improve our game. Class will be taught by 3-time US Champion Nick de Firmian with support from FM Paul Whitehead. Relive the fun and action of the TNM, with games from our local players while learning to play better chess.
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Wednesday's 5:00-6:30PM - Free Adult Beginner Class for Mechanics' Members
New session date: June 9 - July 28

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.

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:


Wednesdays 6:30-8PM -- Next Class by FM Paul Whitehead -- Endgame Lab
Course Dates: June 30 through Aug 4 (6 classes)
For tournament players looking to solve some of toughest situations they face, here is the class to help you learn the essentials to work out and win or save games.
FM Paul Whitehead’s Endgame Lab Class will focus solely on endgame techniques and will teach you the essentials in a 6-week course meant to build endgame skills you need to get your chess to the next level.

Wednesdays 7-8PM - Introduction to Openings for Developing Players
Course Dates: June 23 through August 25 (10 classes)

IM (International Master) Elliott Winslow will be teaching this course. Opening theory in chess is a big subject! But of course there's no avoiding it, you have to step forward, and you might as well make those important first moves count. In this course, we'll look into this world, sampling the various openings, with more than a bit of history of their development, plus we'll learn the basic principles of opening play as we go: Development, the Center, King Safety, Initiative, and Stopping the Opponent (from all those). We'll see a number of standard deployments and their counters, and maybe even find out what (and why!) is happening in the games of the best players (and how it could help our games). Lastly, this dynamics class will give players the opportunity to discuss their own choices of openings, obstacles and receive advice on how to get past them.

More information:


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:


Redesigned NEW Thursday Night Marathon
Starting June 24 through July 15

Since the Tuesday Night Marathon is back to OTB, we have redesigned the Thursday Night Marathon Online to offer two games a night. Increment has been increased to 5 second to give our players a bit more time to move the mouse. This tournament will stay our online main event, and our amazing broadcast team will cover the games just like the Tuesday Night Marathon Online.
Format: one Open section with 8SS G/35+5 - 2 games a night

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
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

Starting June 2021, the scholastic news will be covered in a dedicated, monthly publication:
Scholastic Chess Highlights

Please click the following LINK to read the first inaugural edition.
All of us at Mechanics' Institute would like to thank you for your support of our scholastic chess programming.

Finishing Tactics from the FIDE World Championship Tournament 1948

FM Paul Whitehead

[email protected]

Alekhine died under rather mysterious circumstances in 1946, still holding the title he had last wrested back from Euwe nine years earlier.  After much controversial negotiation with players (notably Rueben Fine’s choosing not to play) and Federations (the USSR was a late entry into the FIDE family) a quintuple(!) round-robin tournament was finally held, the games being split between The Hague in the Netherlands and Moscow in the USSR.  The final five participants were ex-World Champion Max Euwe, the Soviets Mikhail Botvinnik, Vassily Smyslov and Paul Keres, and the always dangerous Sammy Reshevsky from the USA.

Mikhail Botvinnik, the darling and personification of the ‘Soviet Chess Machine’, took 1st place decisively with a score of 14 – 6 and was declared the new World Chess Champion.  Trailing with 11 – 9 was Smyslov, while Keres and Reshevsky totaled 10.5 each.  Euwe finished with a dismal 4 – 16.

The ex-Champ did provide some exciting chess, notably this failed effort:

Euwe – Smyslov, FIDE World Championship 1948.

The Hague, Rd. 4

Here the Dutchman played to the hometown fans with the inspired 1.Nexg6!! with the point that 1…Bxe2 is met by the very pretty 2.Nf8#! After Smyslov’s 1…fxg6 however, Euwe could not resist leaving his queen hanging for another move and plunged on with 2.Nxg6? when instead 2.Qg4! followed by 3.e5! would have given him a very strong attack.  Smyslov whacked off the 2nd knight with 2…Kxg6! (Again 2…Bxe2? 3.Nf8#) and white’s attack soon ran out of gas: 3.e5+ Kf7 4.Qh5+ Kf8 5.f4 Bb6 6.Qf5+ Ke7 7.Qh7+ Kd8 8.Bxb6+ Qxb6+ 9.Kh2 Qe3 10.Qf5 Nc6 0-1.


1. Botvinnik – Euwe, FIDE World Championship 1948.

The Hague, Rd. 2

White moves.  What’s the precise finishing tactic?


2. Smyslov – Keres, FIDE World Championship 1948.

The Hague, Rd. 7

Black moves.  Is there a simple path?


3. Botvinnik – Keres, FIDE World Championship 1948.

The Hague, Rd. 10

White moves.  Can you find the exquisite follow-through?


4. Euwe – Keres, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 11

Black moves.  Strike while your iron is hot.


5. Smyslov – Reshevsky, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 11

White moves.  A famous continuation exploits white’s lead in development.


6. Botvinnik – Reshevsky, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 14

Black moves.  Win something.


7. Keres – Reshevsky, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 18

Black moves.  Break it down.


8. Euwe – Smyslov, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 24

Black moves.  A little two-step decides.

GM Nick de Firmian

A New Rivalry Emerges

The sporting world often gains the most interest in a particular arena when there is a battle between two great teams or individuals. The classic Lakers vs Celtics in basketball (or more recently Warriors vs. Cleveland) build anticipation of an encounter well before the actual games would occur. Tennis had Federer vs Nadal, and boxing still remembers the epic Ali vs. Frazier fights. Chess has had some great rivalries such as Alekhine vs Capablanca and Karpov vs Kasparov. Those struggles continued throughout the players’ careers and each time the titans met would demand our attention. The chess world in the last decade has missed any great rivalry of classical chess. Carlsen usurped Anand’s throne and fended off different challengers that tried to steal his crown. Carlsen has been world #1 for 11 years, and though we look forward to a hard fought match with Nepomniachtchi it is just the first time that Nepo has finished first among the challengers to get a shot at Carlsen.

Yet rapid and blitz chess have been a rather different story from classical chess. Though Carlsen tends to win here too he has had difficult battles with America’s Hikaru Nakamura over the last decade.  Many times Naka had topped the FIDE rating list in rapid or blitz, and we would see close battles with Carlsen (and a few others) in the finals or semi-finals of the world’s major rapid/blitz tournaments. Alas Naka has faded somewhat in the last couple years. Perhaps he has slowed down but certainly he has focused more on his career as an “influencer” in the new on-line chess world. Though still a force in rapid and blitz, Naka is no longer the best even in the US.

A new rival has emerged in Naka’s place, and that rival has been even more of a thorn in Carlsen’s side. He is fellow American Wesley So, and Wesley takes back seat to no one in the secondary forms of chess – rapid, blitz and Fischer Random. He thumped Magnus in the last Fischer Random Championship and defeated him in two legs of the Champions Chess Tour. The third leg ended Tuesday with these two rivals in the finals for another tense encounter. This time Magnus came out on top, though the match went all the way to the Armageddon game. Clearly Wesley So is the great rival to the World Champion in rapid chess, and with a little luck he may well be the challenger in classical chess also from the next Candidates Tournament.

(1) So,Wesley - Carlsen,Magnus [C54]
FTX Crypto Cup, 01.06.2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 The Italian Game (Guioco Piano) is the hottest opening these days. 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 Wesley prefers this direct move instead of the slower 5. d3, which most GMs play these days. 5...exd4 6.e5 d5! The only good move is to counter in the center with this. 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Be3 Bg4 11.Qc2 This line has been seen for many decades, but Wesley has his own ideas for White including this move. The little nuances are what can confuse an opponent. 11...Bf5 12.Qb3 Ne7 13.0-0 c6 14.Be2 Rb8 15.Na4 Bc7 16.Nh4 f6 17.Bf3?!

The opening has gone well enough for So and he could have perhaps a small edge with 17. f4 instead, keeping a grip on the central dark squares. 17...b5! 18.Nc3 Nxc3 19.exf6!? [19.Qxc3 fxe5 20.dxe5 b4 21.Qc1 Bxe5 22.Nxf5 Nxf5 23.Qxc6 Nxe3 24.fxe3 would be about equal. Now Magnus gets some interesting chances.] 19...Be4!? 20.bxc3 [20.fxe7 Qxe7 21.g3 Rxf3! leaves Black with attacking chances] 20...Qd6 21.g3 Bxf3 22.Bf4 [22.fxe7 Qxe7 23.Nxf3 Rxf3 is even] 22...Qxf6 23.Bxc7 Rb7 24.Be5 Qf7 25.Nxf3 Qxf3 26.Qb4?! [There is danger for White on the kingside. So needs counterplay and would do better with 26.a4 to get the a1 rook into play] 26...Nf5 27.Qc5?!
27...Rbf7! It's time to go directly for the attack. All the black pieces are poised for the assualt and the black queen sits on the key square f3. 28.Rae1 h5! Just one more attacker is needed to decide the battle and Harry the h-pawn is it. 29.h3 h4 30.Qxc6
30...Nxg3 crushing. This move would also have been the reply to 30. g4. 31.Bxg3 hxg3 32.Re8 g2! 33.Rxf8+ Rxf8 White resigned as he loses at least a rook. 0-1

(2) So,Wesley - Carlsen,Magnus [B30]
FTX Crypto Cup, 01.06.2021

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e5!? 4.0-0 [Of course 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.Nxe5 Qd4 wins the pawn back (just as in the Exchange Ruy Lopez).] 4...Bd6 5.c3 This Rossolimo Sicilian has transposed to a position similar to a Ruy Lopez, but White has some edge as his moves have gotten a harmonius position. 5...a6 6.Ba4 b5 7.Bb3 Nge7?! 7...Bb7 or 7...Nf6 may offer better chances 8.d4 c4 This is an admission that something isn't right with the black position. This c-pawn should be used to exchange in the center to deny White a classic pawn center. 9.Bc2 Ng6 10.dxe5! Be7 [even worse is 10...Bxe5 11.Nxe5 Ngxe5 12.f4] 11.Nd4 Ngxe5 12.f4 Ng6 13.Nxc6 dxc6 14.Qh5 Qb6+ 15.Kh1 Qc5 16.Qf3 0-0 17.Be3 Qd6 18.Qh5 c5 19.Nd2

We take a look at the results of the opening. Black has doubled pawns on the c-file which hurt a forceful advance on that side. Meanwhile the white kingside majority with the e and f pawns is mobile and threatening. 19...Bb7 20.e5 Qc7 21.Nf3 h6? This fails to stop the white advance. The best try was [21...Rad8 22.Qh3 Bc8 23.Qg3 Rd3! when the exchange sacrifice gives Black good control of the light squares.] 22.Rae1 Qc6 23.e6! Nh4 [23...Qxe6? 24.f5] 24.exf7+ Rxf7
25.Qxf7+! cashing in for an exchange up ending 25...Kxf7 26.Ne5+ Kf8 27.Nxc6 Bxc6 28.Re2 The position is winning for White but requires some technique to unwind from the pressure of the black minor pieces. 28...Re8 29.Bc1 Rc8 30.Kg1 Bf6 31.f5 b4 32.Bd2 Rd8 33.Be1 b3!? Magnus chooses to go down with active play. That at least gives one chances to provoke an error. 34.axb3 cxb3 35.Bxb3 Bb5 36.c4 Bc6 37.Rf4 Rd4 38.Rxd4 Bxd4+ 39.Bf2 Nxf5 40.Bc2

Carlsen resigned. A forceful performance from Wesley. 1-0

Solutions to Paul Whitehead's Column

1. Botvinnik – Euwe, FIDE World Championship 1948.

The Hague, Rd. 2

1.Rxc6! is obvious, but after 1…Nxc6 2.e7+ Rf7 did you see 3.Bd5! winning the house? 1-0.


2. Smyslov – Keres, FIDE World Championship 1948.

The Hague, Rd. 7

Black won by simply trading… everything: 1….Qxc3! 2.Rxc3 Rdf8 3.Rcc2 Nxf2! 4.Rxf2 Rxf2+ 5.Rxf2 Rxf2+ 6.Kxf2 a4! Passed pawns must be pushed. White is helpless. 7.Bh3 Kf7 8.d5 exd5 9.Bd7 Kf6 10.Bc6 dxe4 11.Bxb5 a3 0-1.


3. Botvinnik – Keres, FIDE World Championship 1948.

The Hague, Rd. 10

Botvinnik ripped open black’s kingside with 1.Rxg7+!! Kxg7 2.Nh5+. Keres tried 2…Kg6 as 2…Kh8 3.Bg5 or 2…Kf8 3.Nxf6 were hopeless. 3.Qe3! however threatens mate on g5 or h6 and forced the Estonian Grandmaster’s resignation. 1-0.


4. Euwe – Keres, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 11

White is woefully behind in development – it’s no wonder black can break through: 1…Bxf4! guts the kingside, and it was soon all over: 2.gxf4 Nxf4 3.Ndf3 Ne2+ 4.Kg2 h6 5.Qd2 Qf5! 6.Qe3 There was nothing better. 6…hxg5 7.Bd2 Be4 0-1. The pawn advance to g4 is next.


5. Smyslov – Reshevsky, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 11

1.Qh4!! is a beautiful move to win the d6 pawn. Reshevsky got cute with 1…Qd7 (1…Qxh4 2.gxh4  followed by 3.Rxd6 is actually worse.) but Smyslov persisted with 2.Qd8+! Qxd8 3.Bxd8 Nd7 (3…Nc6 4.Bc7 anyway) 4.Bc7 Nc5 5.Rxd6 Rc8 6.Bb6 Na4 7.Rxe6 Nxb2 8.Rxe5 Nc4 9.Rd6. Now Reshevsky tried to prove the old adage that says ‘all rook and pawn endings are drawn’ but Smyslov says: Not so fast. 9…Nxb6 10.Rxb6 Rxc3 11.Rxb7 Rc2 12.h4 Rxa2 13.Kg2 a5 14.h5 a4 15.Ra7 Kg8 16.g4 a3 17.Kg3 Re2 18.Kf3 Ra2 19.Ke3 Kf8 20.f3 Ra1 21.Kf4 a2 22.e5 Kg8 23.Kf5 Rf1 Otherwise 24.Kg6 decides. 24.Rxa2 Rxf3+ 25.Kg6 Kf8 26.Ra8+ Ke7 27.Ra7+ 1-0. A classic ending worth studying.


6. Botvinnik – Reshevsky, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 14

Reshevsky stomped on Botvinnik before a hostile Moscow crowd with 1…Nb3! and white could not respond with 2.Rb2 as 2…Rxd3 3.Rxd3 Rxd3 4.Ke2 fails to 4…Nc1+! Botvinnik threw the knight away with 2.Nd5+ to confuse the issue, but to no avail: 2…exd5 3.Bxf5 Nxd2 4.Rxd2 dxc4! (Black would probably win after 4…Rc7 5.cxd5, but why be greedy?) 5.Bxd7 Rxd7 6.Rf2 Ke6 7.Rf3 Rd3 8.Ke2 and 0-1.


7. Keres – Reshevsky, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 18

1…Rxd3! was just what the doctor ordered. Keres played on for a few moves, but that a-pawn… 2.Rxd3 Bxb2 3.Rd5 c6 4.Rd8+ Kc7 5.Ra8 Kb7 6.Rf8 Bxe5 7.Rxf7+ Kb6 8.f4 and 0-1. The win is trivial, for example: 8…Bc3 9.f5 a3 10.Rd7 a2 11.Rd1 a1=Q 12.Rxa1 Bxa1 13.Kg3 c5, etc.


8. Euwe – Smyslov, FIDE World Championship 1948.

Moscow, Rd. 24

Smyslov put the hapless Euwe out of his misery with 1…Nc3+ 2.Ke3 Rd1! 0-1. After 3.Rxd1 Nxd1+ is CHECK, followed by queening the a-pawn. Also hopeless would have been 2.Ke1 b5 3.Bxa2 Ra4.


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