Chess Room Newsletter #972 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #972

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #972

June 12, 2021


Table of Contents

Tuesday Night Marathon Round 2 Report

by Abel Talamantez


Round 2 of the Tuesday Night Marathon is complete, and we have four players with perfect scores in the top section: FM Kyron Griffith, IM Elliott Winslow, Theo Biyiasas, and Gary Harris. Abhishek Mallela pulled off a miracle draw against Anika Rajaram, as he forced an exchange in a completely losing position that would either create a stalemate or cost her the rook and a losing position. She opted for the stalemate. Both players had stopped recording as they were under 5 minutes so we don't have a record of the finish. 

In the under 1800 section, 6 players have perfect scores, which includes Nursultan Uzakbaev, Kevin Sun, Sebby Suarez, Andrew Imbens, and Nikhil Pimpalkhare. 

Please visit our event page for full event information HERE.

Here are some annotated games from round 2, from GM Nick de Firmian:

(3) FM Griffith,Kyron (2493) - Makhanov,Gaziz (1855) [A25]
MI June TNM San Francisco (2.1), 08.06.2021

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bc5 This at first naive-looking development has quite a bit of subtlety to it -- such that it being named the Karpov System isn't so surprising after all. Unfortunately for Black, he missed that there were dangers lurking, and succumbed to a classic positional pitfall. 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.e3 Greatly preferred over other moves -- White blunts the bishop's action, opens up e2 for a safe knight development, and eventually prepares d2-d4. 5...0-0 6.Nge2 a6 Black secures a seemingly safe refuge to keep pressure on the center, but it's a tricky business. [6...d6 is most common, when among others Carlsen has played 7.0-0 (while Karpov -- this time as White! -- played the immediate 7.d4) ; 6...Re8 is more flexible (and stops 7.d4 for a move), but White can maybe not panic either: 7.0-0 e4 8.d3 scores very well. But at least the bishop's retreat is still on, hoping for better use later.] 7.0-0 d6 8.a3 Bf5 9.d4 Ba7 10.b4 [10.h3 holds up any restraint Black might plan with ...Qd7.] 10...Rb8?! Slightly suspicious -- and in fact that square could well be used by quite a few other pieces!


Black's problem is obvious to us humans -- that dark-squared bishop risks burial alive. The computers of old would innocently play for White d4-d5 and e3-e4, gaining space but freeing the bishop. Nowadays they're strong enough to try to keep the center. But look what happens in our game: [10...h6 was by far the highest level game to get this far: White decided to grab the space like the computers above: 11.d5 Ne7 12.e4 Bh7 13.Qd3 Nd7 14.Be3 Qb8!? 15.Rac1 1-0 (40) Fridman,D (2653)-Ter Sahakyan,S (2578) Plovdiv 2012] 11.Bb2 Qd7?!N [11...exd4 12.exd4 Qd7 still keeps the fight alive.] 12.Nd5!? Ne8?! Black might be dreaming of ...Bh3 and ...f5 with an attack, but probably it's just a dream. 13.b5 Na5?!


[13...Ne7 permits White to cash in with a positional plus with 14.dxe5 dxe5 15.b6 cxb6 16.Bxe5 but this is the lesser evil.] 14.Qa4! Exposing the fragility of Black's defenses. 14...b6?! Black absolutely had to avoid this! His bishop and a few other pieces are all but dead. Again, computers see the material on the board, but have some trouble seeing that those pieces are permanently out of the game. 15.Rfd1 f6 [15...c6?? 16.bxc6 Nxc6 17.Qxc6] 16.Rac1 Bg4 17.Re1 Rd8 18.Nb4 [18.Bc3! is pretty good, too.] 18...axb5 19.cxb5 Bb8 20.Nc6 Nxc6 21.Bxc6


White might as well be up a piece. 21...Qe6 22.f3 Bh5 23.g4 Bg6 24.e4 So long as there is a breakthrough available on the kingside or the d-file, Black is totally lost. 24...Kh8 25.Ng3 Bf7 26.d5 No ...d5 for Black; White is sure he can crash through. 26...Qc8 27.Nf5


Black begs White to "just" win the Exchange (else Ne7 wins Black's queen) -- but why even bother... 27...Rd7 28.Rc2 g6 29.Bxd7 Qxd7 30.Nh6 Kg7 31.Bc1 Kh8 32.Qc4 Ng7 33.Nxf7+ Qxf7 34.Bh6 g5 35.h4 Qg6 36.Bxg7+ Qxg7 37.Rh2 gxh4 38.Rxh4 f5 39.exf5 Rxf5


40.Rxh7+ A nice tactic to snap Black's resistance, but still a few more moves. 40...Kxh7 41.Qe4 Qg6 42.Qxf5 Qxf5 43.gxf5 Kg7 44.Kf2 1-0

(4) Gerstoft,Philip (1788) - IM Winslow,Elliott C (2278) [B22]
MI June TNM San Francisco (2.2), 1983

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bc4 [5.d4 is most common, 5...cxd4 6.cxd4 d6 7.Bc4 (7.a3) when Black can try 7...dxe5 8.dxe5 (8.Bxd5 Qxd5 9.Nc3 Qd6! 10.d5 Nd4! 11.Nxd4 exd4 12.Qxd4 e5 13.Qd3 Bd7 when Black's pawn are more mobile, with the plan ...f5 and ...Kf7!) 8...Ndb4! can get complicated, but Black winds his way out of trouble and hopes to leav White with a week pawn on e5 after exchanges.] 5...Nb6 [5...e6 seems to hold up well.] 6.Bb3 c4!? An odd pawn to push White around. White will soon have breaks with the b- or d-pawn, but Black hopes in the meantime to use his artificial central majority. 7.Bc2 d6 8.exd6


8...e5 The top players are pretty evenly divided between this [and 8...Qxd6] 9.0-0 Bxd6


Now Black is ready to castle, but in fact... 10.h3?!N Unnecessary. [Michael Adams is the big hero of this line, championing 10.d3 on numerous occasions.] 10...0-0? is also too relaxed: [10...f5! would show up White's previous lapse, rendering the break possible but still problematic. 11.d3 cxd3 12.Qxd3 e4 13.Qe2 Be6 14.Rd1 and Black has the certain upper hand after 14...Qe7 (14...Bc4 is not so good.) ] 11.d4 cxd3


[11...exd4!? 12.Nxd4 Re8= lets White mess up Black's pawns, but they're relatively secure -- and they control some useful squares.] 12.Qxd3 It looks like Black has kept the better center pawn, but this mate threat is more than a little annoying. 12...g6?! [12...f5 13.Bb3+ Kh8 14.Rd1 Bc7 15.Qxd8 Rxd8 16.Rxd8+ Bxd8 is some advantage for White -- he develops more smoothly and Black's queenside comes under fire.] 13.Bh6?! White tries too hard to make something of the dark squares, unsuccessfully. [13.a4!?+/= is the computer's choice.] 13...Re8? [13...Bf5! 14.Qe2 Re8 The bishop trade actually favors Black.] 14.Nbd2!+/- Now White is out and causing trouble while Black struggles still. 14...Be7?! [14...Bf8 right away] 15.Qe2!


Queens on the board for maximum annoyance. 15...Bf8 [15...Bf5 16.Ne4 Be6 17.b3 f6] 16.Bg5 f6 17.Bh4 The bishop is offsides a bit, but Black is always concerned with pressure on all sorts of squares. 17...Be7 18.Rad1 [18.Rfd1!?] 18...Qc7 19.Ne4 Kg7 20.Rfe1? [20.g4!? is a striking but possibly effective blow. 20...g5?? 21.Nexg5!! fxg5 22.Qe4! is just the sort of thing Black must avoid.] 20...f5!-/+ and Black takes over the initiative with healthy pawns on the march. 21.Ng3 Bxh4 22.Nxh4 e4? They've marched enough for now!


[Time to bring up reinforcements: 22...Be6 Here the sacrifices on f5 don't quite cut it.] 23.Nf3 White tries to get that knight back in the game, provoking Black into a daring avalanche of pawns. 23...Be6 24.Nd2


24...e3!? Black couldn't bring himself to stop the flow of the pawns. [24...Rad8! keeps a winning grip on the center.] 25.Nb3 Curious that not only can't White take the pawn either way, but he still can't. 25...Bc4 [25...a5! is the Alpha-Zero-inspired "final straw" (although here White still can fight on). Maybe ...h5 next.] 26.Bd3 f4?!


Black presses forward, hoping to confound White with fright if nothing else. [26...exf2+ 27.Qxf2 Rxe1+ 28.Qxe1 Rd8 29.Bxc4 Nxc4 30.Rxd8 Qxd8 does a nice job of controlling squares, with a healthy but not overwhelming advantage.] 27.Nf1! Cool defense. [Note that 27.Bxc4 exf2+ 28.Qxf2 fxg3 29.Qc5 Na4! wins the b-pawn and the game, if you believe Stockfish's numbers.] 27...f3!? Nothing objectively, but a scary and disconcerting assault! [27...exf2+ 28.Qxf2 Rxe1 (28...Bxd3 29.Rxd3 Rxe1 30.Qxe1 Qf7 in fact nothing special.) 29.Qxe1 Bf7 is some vague pull, but hardly decisive.] 28.gxf3! This must be played. 28...exf2+ 29.Qxf2 Rxe1 30.Qxe1 Bxd3?! White has a reply: [30...Rd8 would maintain equality but no more. 31.Be4 for example.] 31.Rxd3 Ne5


32.Re3? [32.Qg3! stops Black cold for long enough to get into position -- White has some advantage (still a pawn).] 32...Nbc4 This was Black's vision -- the Exchange is won, still for a pawn, and the white knights have a hard time coordinating. 33.Nfd2 Nxe3 34.Qxe3 Nc6 35.Kg2 Qe7 [35...Qe5 could be better, but Black wants that square for knight advancement.] 36.Ne4 Rd8 37.Nbd2 b6 38.a3?! Ne5 39.c4 Nd3 40.b4 Qe5 [Even more effective is 40...Qh4] 41.h4 Nf4+ 42.Kf2?! [42.Kg3!?] 42...Rd3 More effective than this? 43.Qe1 Qd4+ 44.Kg3 Nh5+ 45.Kg2 Re3 46.Qf2


46...Re2 Black didn't see a crusher so claims the queen. [46...Nf4+! is that crusher.] 47.Qxe2 Nf4+ 48.Kf1 Nxe2 49.Kxe2 Qb2 50.c5 bxc5 51.bxc5 Qxa3 52.Nc4 Qb3 53.Ne3 a5 0-1

(5) Heidari,Ako (1980) - Harris,Gary (1827) [B06]
MI June TNM San Francisco (2.4), 08.06.2021

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 g6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Na3 cxd4 7.Bc4 Qe4+


8.Be3! e6? [8...Nh6; 8...dxe3?? 9.Bxf7+! (9.0-0+- is surprisingly crushing as well, but not as "obvious") ] 9.cxd4? [9.Nb5! Kf8 (Really? The best try?) 10.0-0! is Ako's "What Might Have Been"] 9...a6 [9...Ne7 Black really ought to get castled.] 10.0-0 b5


Black shouldn't see the light of day. 11.Bd3?! But there are tactical possibilities everywhere: [11.Bxb5+!; 11.Ng5!! Qb7 12.d5!!] 11...Qd5 12.Rc1 Bb7


Black tries to put his position in order when the pertinent features are the isolated queen pawn (more weak than strong here) and the misplaced knight on a3 (it should be temporary!). Oh, and the pawn at a2, if Black dares. The problem is it's White's move. 13.Qd2? Wrong plan. [13.Rc7! disrupts Black in more than one way. 13...Nf6 14.Nc4!! Nbd7 (14...bxc4 15.Bxc4 Qd6 (15...Qe4 16.Re1 is more than Black can handle. e.g. 16...Bd5 17.Bg5 Qf5 18.Qa4+ Nbd7 (18...Kf8 19.Qb4+ leads to mate!) 19.Bxf6) 16.Rxb7 0-0 17.Ne5 is a pawn and all sorts of other advantages.) 15.Na5 Rb8 16.Nxb7 Rxb7 17.Rc8+ when Black's king will be caught up in the battle.] 13...Nf6 [13...Qd8?! 14.Nxb5 axb5 15.Bxb5+ Kf8 16.d5 is still disorder.] 14.Bh6? [14.Rc7 0-0= and the worst has passed.] 14...0-0 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 Now more than the worst has passed -- it becomes all about the weak d-pawn. 16.Rfe1 Nc6 17.Rc5? Just a liability as it turns out. [17.Bb1 Rfd8 18.Nc2 Qd6-/+] 17...Qd6 18.Nc2


18...Nxd4!-+ and White's house of cards tumbles. 19.Qc3 Nxf3+ 20.gxf3 Bxf3 21.b4 Qf4 22.Ne3 Rad8 Two pawns and a nasty danger on the a8-h1 diagonal. 23.Be2 Ba8 Sensible humans! [23...Kg8 was even better, claims the machine.] 24.a4 Rd4 25.axb5 axb5 26.Rxb5 e5 27.Rd1?


[27.Ng2 Bxg2 28.Kxg2 Re8 secures a won pawn-up something, middlegame or endgame.] 27...Qxf2+! Who is going to miss playing this? [But 27...Ne4! was far more deadly! 28.Qe1 Ng5 goes immediately for the royal throat.] 28.Kxf2 Ne4+ 29.Ke1 Nxc3 30.Rxd4 exd4 31.Nc2 Nxb5 32.Bxb5 d3 [32...Rd8! of course] 33.Bxd3 f5 34.Kf2 Re8 35.Nd4 Kf6 36.b5 Rd8 37.Ke3


37...f4+ 38.Kd2 Rxd4 39.Kc3 Rxd3+ Merci! But some people insist that they suffer... 40.Kxd3 f3 41.Ke3 Kf5 42.b6 Bb7 43.h3 Ke5 44.Kf2 Kf4 45.h4 h5 46.Kg1 Ke3 47.Kh2 Kf4 48.Kg1 Kg3 49.Kf1 Ba6+ 50.Ke1 f2+ 51.Kd2 0-1

(6) Clemens,Kristian - Hao,Max [D58]
TNM, 08.06.2021

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 c5?! 10.dxc5 bxc5


11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.Nxd5! Fine opening play by Kristian. The knight is immune because of Bh7+. White doesn't win a pawn but gains the valuable black d-pawn for the b-pawn. Thus the black c-pawn becomes isolated and weak, 12...Bxb2 13.Rb1 Bf6 [13...Qa5+? 14.Qd2 Qxd2+ 15.Nxd2 Be5 16.Ne7+ Kh8 17.Be4 wins] 14.Nxf6+ [even stronger is 14.Be4 Nc6 15.0-0 Rb8 16.Nxf6+ Qxf6 17.Qd5] 14...Qxf6 15.Qc2 Na6 16.a3 Rb8 17.Rxb8 Nxb8 18.0-0 Nd7 19.Rd1 Ne5 20.Nxe5 Qxe5 21.Qa4 Bg4? oops. A sad oversight by Max just drops the bishop. 22.Qxg4 Qc3 23.Qe4 g6 24.Bc4 Kg7 25.Qd3 Qb2 26.g3 h5 27.h4 Qf6 28.Qd5 Rb8 29.Qd6 Qf3 30.Qe5+ Kh7 31.Qxb8 Qxd1+ 32.Kg2 Kg7 33.Qe5+ Kf8 34.Qxc5+ Kg8 35.Qe5


Black resigns as there is no swindler potential in this position (even for Kyron Griffith). 1-0

(7) Mercado,Adam - Drury,Mark [B78]
TNM, 08.06.2021

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.h4 h5


A classic Yugoslav Attack against the Dragon. Sure to be fireworks sometime in the game. 13.Rhg1?! This could end up being a little slow. 13. Rdg1 would keep an attacking rook on the h-file. 13...Nc4 14.Bxc4 Rxc4 15.Qe2 Rxc3! The common Dragon exchange sacrifice. Play against the white king is worth at least the material invested. 16.bxc3 Qa5 17.Kb2 Rc8 18.Bd2 b5 19.Qe3 Rc4 Black has the more dangerous attack. White has yet to get anything going on the kingside. 20.Nb3 Qa4 21.Kb1 Be6 22.Bc1 Nd7 [22...Nxe4? 23.fxe4 Rxc3 24.Rd3 defends. Black is right to build the attack patiently.] 23.Bb2 Nc5?! [23...Nb6 is more useful as the knight can get to the important c4 square] 24.Rd4! Good defense to offer the exchange back. White will be happy if Black gives up the Dragon bishop and straightens the pawns out. 24...a5 25.Rgd1 [25.g4!] 25...b4 26.Rxc4 Bxc4 27.Nxc5? [27.cxb4 is a simple defense giving White the edge] 27...Qxa2+ 28.Kc1 dxc5 Now the black attack is extremely dangerous with the pawns and queen near the white king 29.Rd8+ Kh7 30.e5 a4 31.cxb4 Bh6?


The simple 31...cxb4 leaves Black with a powerful attack. 32.Rh8+! Siezing the moment! Suddenly White gets a crushing attack. 32...Kxh8 33.Qxh6+ Kg8 34.e6 f6 35.Qxg6+ It's not just the pawn. There is no way out of the mating attack. 35...Kh8 36.Qe8+ Kh7 Black resigns as 37. Qxe7+ Kg8 38. Qf7+ Kh8 39. Bf6 is mate. 1-0

Here are the standings after 2 rounds:

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 W24 W12     H--- 2.0
2 IM Elliott Winslow 10363365 2278 W20 W15       2.0
3 Theodore Biyiasas 13989054 2155 W13 W17       2.0
4 Gary Harris 12834452 1827 W9 W10       2.0
5 Abhinav Penagalapati 15467440 2087 H--- W19     H--- 1.5
6 Kristian Clemens 13901075 1997 H--- W21   H---   1.5
7 Rohan Rajaram 15739716 1929 D21 W22       1.5
8 Guy Argo 12517167 1928 W14 H---   H---   1.5
9 Nicholas Weng 15499404 2013 L4 X25       1.0
10 Ako Heidari 15206848 1980 X25 L4       1.0
11 Andrew Guo 16192001 1925 D22 D16       1.0
12 Gaziz Makhanov 16828914 1855 W18 L1       1.0
13 Adam Mercado 16571026 1834 L3 W24       1.0
14 James Mahooti 12621393 1800 L8 B---       1.0
15 Philip Gerstoft 12913356 1788 W23 L2       1.0
16 Glenn Kaplan 12680193 1776 D19 D11       1.0
17 David Rakonitz 12931024 1622 B--- L3       1.0
18 Abhishek Mallela 12888811 2159 L12 D20       0.5
19 Kayven Riese 12572270 1900 D16 L5       0.5
20 WCM Anika Rajaram 15446678 1860 L2 D18       0.5
21 Max Hao 16083648 1804 D7 L6       0.5
22 Alexander Huberts 16419664 1794 D11 L7 H---     0.5
23 Thomas Maser 10490936 1900 L15 U---       0.0
24 Mark Drury 12459313 1873 L1 L13       0.0
25 Nelson Sowell 11103405 1807 F10 F9       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 Nursultan Uzakbaev 17137317 1513 W20 W19       2.0
2 Kevin Sun 16898540 1491 W21 W22       2.0
3 Sebastian Suarez 16875347 1422 W29 W11       2.0
4 Andrew Imbens 30102682 1253 W10 W12       2.0
5 Nikhil Pimpalkhare 30179081 unr. W30 W14       2.0
6 Leon Quin 30191497 unr. W15 W13       2.0
7 Joel Carron 16600505 1610 H--- W26       1.5
8 Lee Cooper 14563710 1529 W28 H---       1.5
9 Tobiahs Rex 30164211 unr. H--- X25       1.5
10 Georgios Tsolias 17266862 1679 L4 W23       1.0
11 Albert Starr 12844781 1609 W18 L3       1.0
12 Richard Hack 12796129 1569 W27 L4       1.0
13 Stephen Parsons 16566932 1517 W31 L6       1.0
14 Joseph Roberts 16864855 1448 W32 L5       1.0
15 Jacob Morgan 17099171 1365 L6 W31       1.0
16 Paul Henry Reed 13373197 1322 H--- H---       1.0
17 Andrew Ballantyne 17079795 1251 D23 H---       1.0
18 Stephen Wilson 12584515 1242 L11 W32     H--- 1.0
19 Shiv Sohal 30032729 1127 W24 L1 H---   H--- 1.0
20 Aleksandra Singer 12853158 949 L1 X30       1.0
21 Danny Cao 16939797 887 L2 B---       1.0
22 Justin Stimatze 30189846 unr. B--- L2       1.0
23 Jim Cohee 12423364 1612 D17 L10       0.5
24 Nick Casares Jr 10424364 1600 L19 D28       0.5
25 Jerry Simpkins 14479154 1404 H--- F9       0.5
26 Richard Ahrens 16953298 1228 H--- L7       0.5
27 Simone Pagan Griso 17322263 1098 L12 H---       0.5
28 William Thibault 16716976 1050 L8 D24       0.5
29 Trent Hancock 30174249 unr. L3 H---   H---   0.5
30 Charles James 12448028 1368 L5 F20       0.0
31 Thomas Cunningham 12923340 971 L13 L15       0.0
32 Andrejs Gulbis 16741331 826 L14 L18       0.0

SwissSys Standings. 2021 June Tuesday Night Marathon: Extra games

# Name ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Total
1 Nicholas Weng 15499404 2013 W5         1.0
2 Danny Cao 16939797 887 W6         1.0
3 Paul Henry Reed 13373197 1322 D4         0.5
4 Tobiahs Rex 30164211 unr. D3         0.5
5 James Mahooti 12621393 1800 L1         0.0
6 Aleksandra Singer 12853158 949 L2         0.0

Thursday Night Marathon Report

by Abel Talamantez


The Thursday Night Marathon concluded in more than one way, as NM Michael Walder was able to hold a draw against GM Gadir Guseinov to share 1st place with him at 4.5/5. IM Elliott Winslow handed William Kelly his first loss and finishes tied for 3rd place with 4/5 along with Adam Stafford.

Full results can be found here:

We will start our next Thursday Night Marathon online June 24th under a different format. We will have 2 games per evening with a time control of G/35+5, USCF online rated. We will also broadcast the games with commentary on our Twitch channel. We thought it would be great to offer to our chess community two regular broadcasts per week, one for our live and one for our online marathons. 

Registration is open, please click here to see the event page with registration details:

Tony's Teasers

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

Mate in 3, white to move. Kenneth Howard 1928

Solution at the end of the 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 Events Schedule

The Mechanics' Institute will continue to hold regular and online events. Here is our upcoming schedule for players:

June 13: Mechanics' Summer Kickoff Blitz; 12 rounds G/3+2 USCF online rated - Online:

June 24- July 15: NEW Thursday Night Marathon; USCF online rated, 8 rounds, G/35+5 - Online: 

June 26: 1-day USCF rated; 4 rounds, G/45;d5 - Live @ Mechanics' :

July 13-August 24: Tuesday Night Marathon Live; 7 rounds, FIDE & USCF rated, G/120;d5 - Live @ Mechanics':

Mechanics' Institute Class Schedule

Click HERE to see our full slate of specialty chess classes, we offer something for everyone!

Scholastic Bulletin

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

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

Finishing Tactics from the World Championship Matches 17: Botvinnik – Bronstein 1951

by FM Paul Whitehead

Botvinnik’s first challenger for the title was the creative genius David Bronstein, and the circumstances surrounding the final result - a drawn match with 5 wins apiece and 14 draws – are still not properly understood.  Bronstein felt that upsetting the established order: “…could seriously harm me, which does not mean that I deliberately lost.”

Although Botvinnik retained his title, Euwe declared Bronstein the “Co-World Champion” which seems about right.  Bronstein was certainly more talented, and his chess was imaginative and modern.  But Botvinnik was tenacious and disciplined – the qualities he needed to squeak out a tie, in a long and grueling match.

The chess was exciting and complex, with Bronstein the intellectual psychologist using Botvinnik’s own opening systems against him. 

But ultimately Bronstein proved to be his own worst enemy: he lost three drawn endings, including the famous ‘Blunder of the Century’:

1. Bronstein – Botvinnik, 6th Match Game 1951.

White to move and draw.  Bronstein played 1.Kc2??  What should he have played instead?  And what was Botvinnik’s reply, forcing instant resignation?


2. Botvinnik – Bronstein, 3rd Match Game 1951.

White moves.  Can he play 1.Rxd5?


3. Botvinnik – Bronstein, 11th Match Game 1951.

Black moves.  Take Botvinnik out bowling.


4. Botvinnik – Bronstein, 17th Match Game 1951.

Black moves.  1…Kh8?


5. Botvinnik – Bronstein, 19th Match Game 1951.

Black moves.  Anything wrong with 1…Nxb2?


6. Bronstein – Botvinnik, 20th Match Game 1951.

White moves.  Is 1.Nc6+ followed by 2.Nxa5 possible?


7. Bronstein – Botvinnik, 22nd Match game 1951.

White moves.  Find the path.

GM Nick de Firmian

Chess in Romania

Chess is the game that pervades the world perhaps more than any other. You find it in Greenland, Somalia, Fiji, and most any place on earth you can think of. One country that has had relatively few significant tournaments has been Romania, and that is a bit of a surprise as it is in Europe, the center of modern chess for centuries. Yet, Romania is somewhat cut off from the rest of Europe. One thinks more of Transylvania and Bram Stoker’s count Dracula.

Yet right now (for this week at least) Romania is the center of the chess world. The Grand Chess Tour Romania has many of the world’s best players including America’s Fabiano Caruano, the World #2 by rating. Fabiano is of course disappointed not to have won the Candidate’s Tournament that finished in April. His number two ranking is not nearly as important as being the challenger, with the chance to take the chess crown in a match with Carlsen. Nonetheless any tournament with Fabi is notable, and when you also have Anish Giri, Radjabov, Grischuk and MVL you have got a super tournament.

I had opined on the dearth of significant chess tournaments in Romania at our wonderful Chess Café (Mondays 4-5:30). I was slightly corrected by a welcome guest, the MI’s own chess director from 1998-2018, John Donaldson. “No you must remember the great Bucharest Tournaments of 1953 and 54,” said John. (I must confess I hadn’t remembered.) Of course John was right. There were two great tournaments with many of the best Soviet players there soon after World War II. This was about half the years back to Stoker’s Dracula, but I don’t have any recording of the count’s chess games. Perhaps John recalls a few -  we can ask him in the Chess Café.

Below we give a couple of games from the current Grand Romanian Chess Tour.

(1) Caruana,Fabiano - Lupulescu,Constantin [C13]
Grand Romanian Chess Tour, 06.06.2021

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Nbd7 6.Nf3 h6 7.Bxf6 Nxf6 8.Bd3 Nxe4 9.Bxe4 c5 This is a very solid line for Black. It's hard for White to get an opening edge. 10.Qe2 Qa5+ [10...cxd4 11.0-0-0] 11.c3 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Be7

13.0-0-0! This fine move makes some troubles for Black. 13...0-0 [13...Qxa2 14.Qb5+ Bd7 15.Qxb7 Rd8 16.Nb3] 14.Kb1 Rd8 15.Bc2 Bd7 16.Qe4 g6 17.h4! [17.Qxb7 Rab8 18.Nc6 Bxc6 19.Rxd8+ Rxd8 20.Qxc6 Rd2 is active play for the pawn] 17...Ba4?! [17...e5! 18.Nb3 Qc7 is the best plan to keep White's edge to a minimum.] 18.Bxa4 Qxa4 19.h5 g5 20.Qxb7 Now this works better than earlier. 20...Bc5?
[20...Bf6 21.Qf3 Bg7 is clearly better for White but Black is still well in the game. Fabi now makes a great transition.] 21.Qc6! Qxc6 22.Nxc6 Rxd1+ 23.Rxd1 Bxf2 It seems White has just given back the pawn and traded to an endgame. Yet the endgame is simply winning. One important factor is the white pawn on h5. It is on the oppositie color of the black bishop and advanced to cause trouble on the kingside. 24.Rd7 The other factor is the powerful rook that now takes its post on the seventh rank. The coordination of the white rook and knight attackes both sides of the board. 24...f6 25.Nd8! Bb6 26.Nf7 going for the h-pawn keeps complete control 26...Rf8 27.Nxh6+ Kh8 28.Kc2
Lupulescu resigns as there is no constructive move. On 28...f5 29. Nf7+ wins at least one more pawn. 1-0

(2) So,Wesley - Caruana,Fabiano [A20]
Grand Romanian Chess Tour, 07.06.2021

The player who has been on a tear recently is Wesley So. Here he meets the number one American, the world number 2, and Wesley has no fear. 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.d3 c6 5.Nf3 d6 6.0-0 0-0 7.Nc3 a5 8.d4 exd4 9.Nxd4 a4 10.Rb1 Re8 11.e3 Qa5 12.Bd2 Bg4 13.f3 Bh5 14.Ne4 Qd8 15.Nxc5 dxc5 16.Ne2 Qd3 17.Nf4! Qxc4 18.b3

18...axb3 19.axb3 Qb5 20.e4 Bg6 21.Bc3 This is an inspired pawn sacrifice. Black has no serious weakenesses and near complete development, yet White has the dark-squared bishop and kingside pawn majority. Wesley causes trouble with these tools. 21...Na6 22.h4 h5?! [Fabi gets in real trouble now. He needed to find the creative 22...Rad8 23.Qc1 Nd5! 24.exd5 Bxb1 25.Qxb1 cxd5 When Black is only slightly worse.] 23.Qc1 Kh7 24.Rd1 Rad8 25.Qb2! The pressure on the diagonal adds to the kingside assualt. 25...c4 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27.Qxf6 Rxd1+ 28.Rxd1 Qc5+ 29.Kh2
There is no time to take the pawn on b3 as 30. Rd7 is a deadly threat. 29...Qe7 [29...cxb3? 30.Rd7 Rg8 31.Nxg6 Rxg6 32.Qxf7+] 30.Qxe7 Rxe7 31.bxc4 White is one pawn ahead and the black pieces are inactive. 31...Kg7 32.Bh3 Nc5 33.Rd6 f6 34.Ne6+ Nxe6 35.Bxe6 Be8 36.c5 Bf7 37.Bc8

There is no salvation for Black in this endgame. 37...Re5 38.Bxb7 Rxc5 39.Rxc6 Rb5 40.Ba6 Rb2+ 41.Kg1 Be8 42.Rc5 Kh6 43.Kf1 Bd7 44.Be2 Be8 45.Kf2 Rb3 46.Rd5 Ra3 47.Bd3 Kg7 48.Ke3 Rb3 49.Kf4 Rb4 50.Rc5 Bf7 51.Rc7 Kg6 52.g4 1-0

Solutions to Paul Whitehead's Column

1. Bronstein – Botvinnik, 6th Match Game 1951.

1.Kc2?? threw the draw away. After the (somewhat) surprising 1…Kg3! there was no stopping the f-pawn, and 0-1.  Instead the simple 1.Ne6+ brings the knight back just in time to sac for the f-pawn: 1… Kg3 (or 1…Kf3 2.Nd4+) 2.Nd4 Kf2 3.Ka4 e2 4.Nxe2 Kxe2 5.Kxa5 Kd3 =.


2. Botvinnik – Bronstein, 3rd Match Game 1951.

1.Rxd5? would lose on the spot: 1…Rd1+ 2.Kh2 Qf4+! 3.g3 Qf3, a common sequence, with 4…Qh1# or 4…Rh1# next.  Botvinnik chose 1.Qd3 instead, and after 1…Rd8 the game was drawn many moves later.


3. Botvinnik – Bronstein, 11th Match Game 1951.

1…Re4! hits the queen and knight, and it’s a strike: 2.Bxe4 Bxe4+ 3.Qxe4 fxe4 4.Nf5 Qb4 5.Rxe3 Rd1+ 6.Kg2 Rd2+ 7.Rxd2 Qxd2+ 8.Kh3 Qf2 9.Kg4 f6! 0-1. Decisive will be 10…h5+.


4. Botvinnik – Bronstein, 17th Match Game 1951.

1…Kh8? 2.Nxe8 Rxe8 and black has dropped the exchange.  Bronstein’s 1…Qxf6! was the ticket. 0-1.  After 2.exf6 Rxe1+ 3.Qxe1 Rxe1+ 4.Kf2 white is a piece down and mated into the bargain: 4…Nd3#.


5. Botvinnik – Bronstein, 19th Match Game 1951.

1…Nxb2? gets that piece trapped after 2.Qe2! Nd3 3.Rad1.  Bronstein instead played 1…Bg4 but still ended up losing a heart-breaker on the 60th move.


6. Bronstein – Botvinnik, 20th Match Game 1951.

The game was agreed drawn after 1.Nc2 Nb2 2.Nd4 Nd1 3.Nc2 Nb2 4.Nd4  ½ - ½ . Instead 1.Nc6+? would have led to disaster. After 1…Kd6 2.Nxa5 Kc7 the knight is trapped and lost.


7. Bronstein – Botvinnik, 22nd Match game 1951.

Bronstein is the exchange ahead for a pawn, and trading queens with 1.Qxg8+ might not be enough. But the brilliant 1.Bg3!! wins on the spot.  Now 1…Qxb3 2.Bxe5+ Kg8 3.Rg7+ Kh8 4.Rf8# is no good, and 1…Bxg3 2.Qc3+! is hardly better. Botvinnik tried the snarky 1…Bg7, hoping for 2.Bxb8? Qxb3! winning, but the simple 2.Qxg8+ before taking the rook forced resignation. 1-0.

Solution to Tony's Teaser

1. Ba1!!  Oc3+ 2. Kf5  Qxa1 3. R6h7#

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