Chess Room Newsletter #979 | Mechanics' Institute

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Chess Room Newsletter #979

Gens Una Sumus!

Newsletter #979

July 31, 2021


Table of Contents

Tuesday Night Marathon Round 3 Report

by Abel Talamantez

The top section of the Tuesday Night Marathon was still wide open entering the evening's round, as already there were no perfect scores remaining after two rounds. However, three players delivered decisive results to create a little seperation in the competition. 

NM Siddharth Arun won an impressive game against Nicholas Weng on the top board, and Richard Liu showed amazing defensive poise in holding what looked like an inferior position for much of the game against Christophe Bambou to find his opportunity and get the win. Abhi Pebagalapati, fresh off a dominant 5/5 win in the open section at the San Jose Chess Club Summer Championship the previous weekend, won a quick game against Anthony Acosta. All three of those players lead the section with 2.5/3. 

In the under 2000 section, Kevin Sun won the battle of unbeatens as he defeated Leon Quin. Adam Stafford had a quick decisive result against Albert Starr, leaving Sun and Stafford as the only remaining perfect scores in the section. 

In the under 1600 section, Isaac Sterling won against Sebby Suarez in what was the final completed game of the evening after over four hours. David Nichol defeated Dominic Zirbel on the broadcast board, leaving Nichol and Sterling as the only perfect scores in that section. 

With four rounds still left to play, there is plenty of time for players to make a move up the standings. It was a great atmosphere inside the Mechanics' Institute, as for the first time in well over a year, the Chess Annex was alive with blitz, game analysis, and plenty of conversation. It was great to see Tuesday nights regain the lively vibe of chess play and discussion, the re-emergence of the spirit of San Francisco chess.

Earlier in the afternoon right before the round, Paul and I took a walk to North Beach, where he gave me a brief tour of some of the cafes, restaurants, and bars that have been part of the local city chess scene. San Francisco has a great deal of cultural chess history, from local policeman playing on the street, to the Market street chess tables, to regular gatherings for casual play around the City simply for conversation, comaraderie, and for the pure enjoyment and love of the game. This chess scene, seperate from the world of rated games and competition, is of particular interest to me and something I would love to learn and share. If anyone would like to write something about this for the newsletter, or has some good stories to tell about the San Francisco non-tournament chess scene, please let me know by reaching out to [email protected]

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

(1) NM Arun,Siddharth (2253) - Weng,Nicholas (2013) [A47]
Mechanics' Jul-Aug TNM 2000+ San Francisco (3.1), 27.07.2021
[de Firmian]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.b3 The Nimzovich/Larsen Attack is a good alternative to the usual center pawn advances. 2...g6 3.Bb2 Bg7 4.e3 c5 5.d4 Siddharth switches to classical central control. This is fully justified by opening principles. 5...b6 6.Nbd2 Bb7 7.Bd3 0-0 8.c4 e6 9.Rc1 d6 10.Qe2 Nbd7 11.0-0 Qc7


12.Ne1?! There is nothing too wrong with this move, but knights don't belong in the back. 12...Rad8 [12...cxd4 13.exd4 e5! would be a direct way to take advantage of White's knight move] 13.Nc2 d5 14.f4 Qb8 15.Nf3 Ne4!? 16.Bxe4 dxe4 17.Ne5 cxd4 18.exd4 f6! 19.Nxd7 Rxd7 Black has an edge due to the bishop pair and a bit more pawn control of the center. 20.c5 Rfd8 21.Qb5 bxc5 [21...Bd5! immediately wouldn't give White the d4 square to use. 22.c6 a6!] 22.dxc5 Bd5 23.Qa6 Rc7 24.Ne3 Qb4? Oops. A blunder losing an important pawn. Instead Black would be fine after [24...Qc8] 25.Nxd5 exd5 26.Bxf6 Bxf6 27.Qxf6 Re8 28.Qd6 Qd4+ 29.Kh1 Rec8


30.b4 This trades the b-pawn for the black d-pawn and keeps a clear edge. 30 f5 was also good. 30...Qxb4 31.Qxd5+ Kg7 32.Rc4 Qb7 33.Qxe4?! allowing a rook and pawn ending with many drawing chances [33.Qe5+ Kg8 34.Qe6+ Kg7 35.f5 is strong] 33...Qxe4 34.Rxe4 Rxc5 35.Re7+ Kh6 36.Rxa7 Rc2 37.h3 Rd8 38.Re1 Rf2 39.Rf7 Rd4


40.Ree7 Rdxf4 41.Rxh7+ Kg5 42.Ra7 Rd4 43.Ra5+ Kf6 44.Ra6+


44...Ke5? Nicholas gives up his g-pawn, and with it all drawing chances. The double rook ending is tricky and White would have a lot of work to do to win after [44...Kg5] 45.Re7+ Kd5 46.Rd7+ Ke4 47.Rxd4+ Kxd4 48.Rxg6 With the two connected passed pawns on the kingside it is an easy win. The rest needs no comment. 48...Rxa2 49.Rf6 Ke5 50.Rf1 Rb2 51.Kh2 Rb3 52.h4 1-0

(2) Bambou,Christophe (2121) - Liu,Richard (1824) [B22]
Mechanics' Jul-Aug TNM 2000+ San Francisco (3.2), 27.07.2021
[de Firmian]

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d6!? 3.d4 cxd4 [3...Nf6] 4.cxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Nf3 Bg7 7.Bb5+ White has the classical pawn center and would have an edge after simple moves such as 7. Be2 or 7. h3. Instead Chrisopher immediately seeks complications. 7...Bd7 8.e5


8...dxe5 9.dxe5 Ng4 10.Bf4 Qb6 11.Bxd7+ [11.Qe2! is a good alternative, keeping the cramping pawn on e5] 11...Nxd7 12.0-0 A reasonable pawn sacrifice for a lead in development 12...Ngxe5 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 14.Bxe5 Nxe5 15.Nd5 Qd6 16.Qa4+ Kf8 17.Rad1 Kg7 18.Rfe1 f6 19.Qb3


with both rooks already mobilized White has good value for the pawn. 19...Qc5?! [19...Rhc8 20.Qxb7 Rab8 21.Qxe7+ Qxe7 22.Nxe7 Rc2 is active play that would hold the balance] 20.Rc1 Qa5 21.Qxb7 Rae8 22.Nxe7 White has gotten two pawns back for the one invested. Richard is in trouble. 22...Nf7 23.b4 Qxa2 24.Rc7 Rhf8 25.h3 Rb8 26.Qe4 Qd2 27.Qe6! Rb6 28.Nc6 Qc3?! Now the other white rook comes into play with tempo 29.Re3 Qc1+ 30.Kh2 Qc2


31.Qd7? [31.Rf3 f5 32.Qe5+ Kh6 33.Qe7 Kg7 34.Ne5 should win for White. Giving away the f2 pawn makes the white king insecure] 31...Qxf2 32.Rf3 Qb2 33.Nd8?! [33.Rxa7 still keeps the edge] 33...Qe5+ 34.Kg1?


Suddenly White is in big trouble. 34. Rg3 would have kept even chances. 34...Rd6! Now White loses the knight on d8. The aggressive looking white position just doesn't hold together. 35.Rd3 [35.Qe7 Qxe7 36.Rxe7 Rfxd8; 35.Nxf7 Qd4+ 36.Kh2 Rxd7] 35...Rxd7 36.Rdxd7


36...Rxd8! The clean way to win! Richard is not afraid of a few checks. 37.Rxf7+ Kh6 38.Rxh7+ Kg5 39.Rc5 Rd1+ 40.Kf2 Rd2+ 41.Kf3 Rd5 Black saves the queen and the rest is easy. 42.h4+ Kf5 43.g4+ Ke6 44.Rc6+ Rd6 45.Rxd6+ Qxd6 46.h5 Qd3+ 47.Kg2 gxh5 48.Rxh5 Qd2+ 49.Kg3 Qxb4 50.Rf5 Qc3+ 51.Kh4 Qe1+ 52.Kh3 Qh1+ 53.Kg3 Qe4 54.Rf2 Qe3+ 55.Rf3 Qxf3+ very simple and decisive 56.Kxf3 a5 57.Ke3 Ke5 0-1

(3) Zhou,Chelsea (1879) - Guo,Andrew (1885) [E61]
Mechanics' Jul-Aug TNM 2000+ San Francisco (3.5), 27.07.2021
[de Firmian]

1.c4 Nf6 2.d4 c5 3.e3 Chelsea chooses a restrained opening instead of 3. d5 which leads to a Benoni or Benko Gambit. This is a very practical choice. 3...cxd4 4.exd4 d6 5.Nc3 g6 6.g3 Bg7 7.Bg2 0-0 8.Nge2 Nc6 9.0-0 Bf5


We have a King's Indian style position. Black has all the minor pieces out and stands equal. 10.a3 Qb6 11.b4 Rac8 This rook should be more effective on the d-file as 12. c5 is coming. 12.c5 dxc5 13.dxc5 Qd8 14.Bb2 Qc7?! Too many move with the black queen give White the initiative. 15.Nb5 Qb8 16.Nbd4 Be4 17.Nxc6 [slightly better is 17.Bxe4 Nxe4 18.Qc2] 17...Bxc6 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.Qa4 Rfd8 20.Rfd1 Nd5 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.Rac1 Qe5 23.Re1 Rc7 24.Nf4 Qf5 25.Nxd5 Rxd5 26.Rcd1 Rcd7 27.Rxd5 Qxd5 28.Qc2 e6 29.a4 Rb7?!


30.Rd1 [30.b5! cxb5 31.c6 Rc7 32.Qb2+ f6 33.axb5 is a nice edge to White] 30...Qe5 31.Rb1?


31...Rxb4! 32.Rxb4 Qe1+ 33.Kg2 Qxb4 Andrew has scored a pawn with the tactic. Now Chelsea must try to hold a pawn down queen ending. 34.h4 h5 35.a5!? Qxa5?! 36.Qb2+ Kh7 37.Qb7! Qxc5 38.Qxf7+ Kh8 39.Qf6+ Kh7 40.Qf7+ Kh6 41.Qf4+ [41.Qf6!] 41...Kg7 42.Qc7+ Kf6 43.Qf4+ Ke7 44.Qc7+ Ke8 45.Qc8+ Kf7 Black stops the checks as 46. Qc7+ Qe7 blocks. It's still a long way to a win but Black won here (presumably on time). 0-1

(4) Sun,Kevin (1517) - Quin,Leon (1611) [B23]
Mechanics' Jul-Aug TNM u2000 San Francisco (3.7), 27.07.2021
[de Firmian]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.d3 d5 6.Qe2 Nf6 7.e5 Nd7 8.Nf3 Be7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Re1 Rb8 11.b3 Nb6 12.Bb2 Ba6 13.a3 Qc8 14.Qd2 c4!


Trading off the doubled pawn ensures Black at least equality. The bishop pair is a plus here. 15.b4 cxd3 16.cxd3 c5 17.b5 Bb7 18.a4 d4?! This advance gives White the e4 square. It was better to be more restrained and wait for the right time to advance in the center. 19.Ne4 Bxe4 20.Rxe4 Nd5 21.Rc1 Qb7 22.Ba1?! The bishop is not very active here. 22. Rg4 was more aggressive. 22...a6! 23.Rb1 axb5 24.axb5 Nb4 25.Rg4 f5?! Opening the kingside gives White play. More solid was [25...Qxb5] 26.exf6 Rxf6 27.Qg5 Rf7 28.Qe5 Qxb5 29.Qxe6


29...Qxd3?? Oh no! With 29...Bf6 Black maintains an edge. After playing an excellent stratgic game Leon falls for a knight fork. 30.Qxf7+! Kxf7 31.Ne5+ Black resigned as he ends up a whole rook down. 1-0

(5) Rex, Tobiahs (1569) - Thibault,William (1050) [A36]
Mechanics' Jul-Aug TNM u1600 San Francisco (3.28), 27.07.2021
[de Firmian]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 c5 5.e4 Richard plays the Botvinnik System of the English. (Perhaps we'll get some Botvinnik quotes next week from Richard at the Chess Cafe.) 5...e5 This move works better with the king's knight on e7 rather than f6. 6.Nge2 Nc6 7.0-0 0-0 8.d3 d6 9.Be3 Be6 10.h3 Qd7 11.Kh2 a6


12.Nd5 [12.f4 would be more aggressive. 12...b5? 13.f5! gxf5 14.exf5 Bxf5 15.Bxc6 wins a piece] 12...Bxd5 [12...Rab8!?] 13.cxd5 Nd4 14.a4 White could get a slight edge on the queenside with [14.Nxd4 cxd4 15.Bd2 Qb5 16.Qb3] 14...b5 15.Bxd4 The dark-squared bishop is a good piece, so I would have preferred to capture on d4 with the knight. 15...cxd4 16.axb5 axb5 17.Qd2 Rxa1 18.Rxa1 Qb7 19.b4 [19.Qb4!? Would have the virtue of annoying Black with the defense of the d-pawn.] 19...Ra8 20.Rxa8+ Qxa8 21.f4 Qc8 22.g4?!


22...h5 [22...exf4! 23.Qxf4 Nxd5 24.Qxd6 Qc7 25.Qxc7 Nxc7 26.Nc1 Na6 27.Na2 Be5+ 28.Kg1 Bd6 wins a pawn. White should try to bail out to a bishops of opposite color ending with 29.e5! Bxe5 30.Bc6] 23.f5?! hxg4 24.fxg6 fxg6 25.Ng3 Kf7 26.Qa2 Bh6 27.Qa7+ Qd7 28.Qxd7+ Nxd7 29.hxg4 Bf4 30.Kh3 Bxg3 [30...Bd2 nets a clear pawn, but the game move is also good] 31.Kxg3 g5 32.Kf2


The players agreed a draw, but White is in trouble. The knight is better than the bishop, and 32...Nb8! followed by 33...Na6 wins a pawn. William was probably happy to draw his experienced opponent, but objectively had all the chances to win. 1/2-1/2

To watch the broadcast of round 3, please follow this link:

Here are the current standings:

SwissSys Standings. Jul-Aug 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: 2000+

# Place Name Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Total Prize
1 1-3 NM Siddharth Arun 2253 W12 D5 W6     H--- H--- 2.5  
2   Abhi Penagalapati 2078 W9 D4 W10 H---       2.5  
3   Richard Liu 1824 H--- W11 W5         2.5  
4 4 IM Elliott Winslow 2278 W7 D2 H--- H---       2.0  
5 5-10 Christophe Bambou 2121 W8 D1 L3         1.5  
6   Nicholas Weng 2013 H--- W13 L1   H---     1.5  
7   Kristian Clemens 1997 L4 W12 D8         1.5  
8   Kayven Riese 1900 L5 B--- D7         1.5  
9   Andrew Guo 1885 L2 H--- W13         1.5  
10   Anthony Acosta 1818 H--- W14 L2         1.5  
11 11-14 Ako Heidari 1964 H--- L3 D14         1.0  
12   Guy Argo 1928 L1 L7 B---         1.0  
13   Chelsea Zhou 1879 B--- L6 L9     H---   1.0  
14   Andre Persidsky 1828 H--- L10 D11         1.0  

SwissSys Standings. Jul-Aug 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: Under2000

# Place Name Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Total Prize
1 1-2 Kevin Sun 1517 W25 W18 W7 H---       3.0  
2   Adam Stafford 1473 W26 W9 W8         3.0  
3 3-4 Samuel Brownlow 1795 D4 W23 W15         2.5  
4   Daniel Perlov 1555 D3 W12 W13   H--- H---   2.5  
5 5-8 Luiz Uribe 1856 L8 W14 W18         2.0  
6   Amitoj Singh 1819 W20 L7 W19         2.0  
7   Leon Quin 1611 W21 W6 L1         2.0  
8   Albert Starr 1609 W5 X19 L2         2.0  
9 9-16 Adam Mercado 1879 D23 L2 W21         1.5  
10   Ted Porlares 1789 D14 H--- H---         1.5  
11   Max Hao 1761 H--- H--- H---         1.5  
12   David Rakonitz 1622 H--- L4 W24         1.5  
13   Nikhil Pimpalkhare 1577 W17 H--- L4       H--- 1.5  
14   Stephen Parsons 1532 D10 L5 W22         1.5  
15   Nursultan\ Uzakbaev 1513 W22 H--- L3         1.5  
16   Anvi Penagalapati 1485 L18 D22 W23 H---       1.5  
17 17-21 James Mahooti 1800 L13 H--- H---         1.0  
18   Marty Cortinas 1720 W16 L1 L5         1.0  
19   Frederick Hope 1646 W24 F8 L6         1.0  
20   Nick Casares Jr 1600 L6 H--- H--- H---       1.0  
21   Aaron Craig 1408 L7 B--- L9         1.0  
22 22-24 Gregory Rousso 1745 L15 D16 L14         0.5  
23   Joel Carron 1610 D9 L3 L16         0.5  
24   Jerry Morgan 1483 L19 H--- L12         0.5  
25 25-26 Glenn Kaplan 1776 L1 U--- U---         0.0  
26   Jim Cohee 1612 L2 U--- U---         0.0  

SwissSys Standings. Jul-Aug 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: u/1600

# Place Name Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Total Prize
1 1-2 Isaac Sterling 1236 X--- W19 W7         3.0  
2   David Nichol 435 B--- W22 W6         3.0  
3 3-5 Valerie Jade 1490 W10 H--- X20         2.5  
4   Claudio Bastiani-Fonck 1377 W30 D20 W23 H---       2.5  
5   Paul Reed 1322 W25 H--- W21         2.5  
6 6-12 Dominic Zirbel 1481 W12 W23 L2         2.0  
7   Sebastian Suarez 1433 W15 W9 L1         2.0  
8   Charles James 1368 W18 H--- H---         2.0  
9   Tobiah Rex 1013 W21 L7 X24         2.0  
10   Andrejs Gulbis 826 L3 W27 B---         2.0  
11   Pratyush Hule 825 H--- H--- W26         2.0  
12   Romeo Nehme 795 L6 W25 W22       H--- 2.0  
13 13-20 Andrew Imbens 1296 H--- H--- D15   H---     1.5  
14   William Thibault 1050 L20 D30 B---         1.5  
15   Thomas Gu 660 L7 W28 D13         1.5  
16   Yuri Meseznik unr. H--- H--- H---         1.5  
17   Thomas Dobbs unr. H--- L21 W30         1.5  
18   Tony Kachakji unr. L8 W31 H---         1.5  
19   Iven Yarovoy unr. W31 L1 H---         1.5  
20   Ambrogino Giusti unr. W14 D4 F3         1.5  
21 21-27 Samuel Agdamag 1586 L9 W17 L5         1.0  
22   David Olson 1400 W27 L2 L12         1.0  
23   Andrew Ballantyne 948 W28 L6 L4         1.0  
24   Kevin Nguyen unr. H--- H--- F9         1.0  
25   Trent Hancock unr. L5 L12 B---         1.0  
26   Ian Atroshchenko unr. D29 H--- L11         1.0  
27   Jabez Wesly unr. L22 L10 W31 H--- H---     1.0  
28 28-30 Richard Hack 1569 L23 L15 H---         0.5  
29   Peter Borah 1232 D26 U--- U---         0.5  
30   Tyler Johnson unr. L4 D14 L17         0.5  
31 31 Richard Ahrens 1228 L19 L18 L27         0.0  

SwissSys Standings. Jul-Aug 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: Extra Games - JulyAugTNM

# Place Name Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Total Prize
1 1-8 Kayven Riese 1900 U--- W4 U--- 1.0  
2   Alex Chin 1811 U--- U--- W11 1.0  
3   Abel Talamantez 1800 U--- L5 W14 1.0  
4   Juan Cendejas 1718 W12 L1 U--- 1.0  
5   Albert Starr 1609 U--- W3 U--- 1.0  
6   Andrejs Gulbis 826 U--- U--- W16 1.0  
7   David Nichol 435 W15 U--- U--- 1.0  
8   Kevin Nguyen unr. U--- W13 U--- 1.0  
9 9-10 William Thibault 1050 U--- U--- D10 0.5  
10   Tobias Rex 1013 U--- U--- D9 0.5  
11 11-16 Guy Argo 1928 U--- U--- L2 0.0  
12   Chelsea Zhou 1866 L4 U--- U--- 0.0  
13   Pratyush Hule 825 U--- L8 U--- 0.0  
14   Tony Kachakji unr. U--- U--- L3 0.0  
15   Benjamin Grant unr. L7 U--- U--- 0.0  
16   Yuri Meseznik unr. U--- U--- L6 0.0  

Thursday Night Marathon Round 1&2 Report

The first 2 rounds are complete in the Thursday Night Marathon online, and the top players made it through the opening rounds. Kudos to Katherine Sunny Lu for a great performance in upsetting Sanjeev Anand and holding a draw against Nikunj Oza in a tough position. 

To watch the entertaining broadcast of the first 2 rounds, please follow this link:

Here are the current standings:

SwissSys Standings. July-August Thurdsay Night Marathon Online: Open

# Name Handle ID Rating Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Total Prize
1 GM Gadir Guseinov gguseinov 17343590 2635 W15 W12             2.0  
2 IM Bala Chandra Prasad Dhulipalla Swarnapuri 30100858 2513 W24 W11             2.0  
3 NM Michael Walder FlightsOfFancy 10345120 2171 W16 W14             2.0  
4 Cailen Melville Mangonel 14006141 1940 W25 W17             2.0  
5 Cleveland W Lee vincitore51745 12814843 569 X7 W21             2.0  
6 Nikunj Oza Motif 12497585 1851 W26 D9             1.5  
7 Jeff Andersen zenwabi 11296106 1643 H--- W23             1.5  
8 Michael Xiao swimgrass 16380636 1554 D23 W22             1.5  
9 Katherine Sunny Lu 2Nf31-0 16425316 1152 W13 D6             1.5  
10 Robert Smith maturner 12463327 1853 L17 X20             1.0  
11 Rithwik Narendra rukja 14903560 1849 W18 L2 H--- H---         1.0  
12 Aaron Nicoski KingSmasher35 12797931 1789 W19 L1             1.0  
13 Sanjeev Anand chessp1234 14436451 1753 L9 W25             1.0  
14 Bryan Hood fiddleleaf 12839763 1584 W27 L3 H--- H---         1.0  
15 Akshaj Pulijala Loltheawesomedude 16497860 1531 L1 W26             1.0  
16 Paul Krezanoski pjkrizzle 16897133 1360 L3 W27             1.0  
17 Ivan Zong ivanzong 30131397 1335 W10 L4             1.0  
18 Sarvagnya Brahmanapally bsarvagnya 16466227 1287 L11 W24             1.0  
19 Austin Jin austinjin666xd 17144712 1153 L12 B---             1.0  
20 Tobiah Rex tobiahsrex 30164211 1013 H--- H---             1.0  
21 Christopher Nelson LudiMagisterJosephus 13742111 1700 D22 L5             0.5  
22 Bruce Hedman Bruce_Hedman 17344551 1055 D21 L8             0.5  
23 Jonathan Rice ricejonathanc 30205348 unr. D8 L7     H--- H---     0.5  
24 Marina Xiao programmingmax 16380642 1398 L2 L18             0.0  
25 Gabriel Ngam boozerrip 13553308 1350 L4 L13             0.0  
26 Andy Xu vivianandy 16732301 1312 L6 L15             0.0  
27 Jimolee Gray jgray43 30172836 unr. L14 L16             0.0  


Tony's Teasers

Here is a mate in three from longtime Mechanics' Institute player Tony Lama. This should occupy a good chunk of your time this weekend!

White to move and mate in 4

Mechanics' Institute Events Schedule

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

Mechanics' Institute Thursday Night Marathon Online: July 29-August 19, 6:30PM PT. 8SS G/35+5:

20th Pafnutieff Memorial Championship: July 31, 10AM PT. 4SS G/45;d5:

20th Bernardo Smith Memorial Championship: FIDE Rated. August 21-22, 9AM PT. 5SS G/120;d5:

Mechanics' Institute Class Schedule

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

Scholastic Bulletin

The scholastic news will be covered in a dedicated publication:
Scholastic Chess Bulletin

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.

FM Paul Whitehead's Column

[email protected]

Finishing Tactics from the World Championship Matches 21: Botvinnik – Tal 1960

Botvinnik’s next challenger was the crowd-pleasing attacking genius Mikhail Tal, the “Magician from Riga”.

The challenger took the first game in his signature flashy style and never looked back, with the final score a convincing +6 -2 =13.

The youngest World Champion in history (until Kasparov in 1985) at the age of 23,

Tal’s wonderful attacking play was nowhere more evident than in the following game, and his electrifying twenty first move:

Botvinnik – Tal, 6th Match Game 1960.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 O-O 5.d4 d6 6.Nc3 Nbd7 7.O-O e5 8.e4 c6 9.h3 Qb6 10.d5 cxd5 11.cxd5 Nc5 12.Ne1 Bd7 13.Nd3 Nxd3 14.Qxd3 Rfc8 15.Rb1 Nh5 16.Be3 Qb4 17.Qe2 Rc4 18.Rfc1 Rac8 19.Kh2 f5 20.exf5 Bxf5 21.Ra1.

 21…Nf4!! 22.gxf4 exf4 23.Bd2 Qxb2 24.Rab1 f3 25.Rxb2 fxe2 26.Rb3 Rd4 27.Be1 Be5+ 28.Kg1 Bf4 29.Nxe2 Rxc1 30.Nxd4 Rxe1+ 31.Bf1 Be4 32.Ne2 Be5 33.f4 Bf6 34.Rxb7 Bxd5 35.Rc7 Bxa2 36.Rxa7 Bc4 37.Ra8+ Kf7 38.Ra7+ Ke6 39.Ra3 d5 40.Kf2 Bh4+ 41.Kg2 Kd6 42.Ng3 Bxg3 43.Bxc4 dxc4

44.Kxg3 Kd5 45.Ra7 c3 46.Rc7 Kd4 47.Rd7+ 0-1

Do yourself a favor: find Tal’s book of the match for a deep analysis of this game.  It remains one of the finest chess books ever written.


1. Tal – Botvinnik, 7th Match Game 1960.

White moves.  It’s Tal’s knight out.


2. Botvinnik – Tal, 8th Match Game 1960.

White moves.  1.b7? Or something else?


3. Tal – Botvinnik, 11th Match Game 1960.

White moves.  Win a little something.


4. Botvinnik – Tal, 12th Match Game 1960.

Black moves.  Can he trade the queens with 1…Qf7+?


5. Tal – Botvinnik, 17th Match Game 1960.

White moves.  School the champ.


6. Tal – Botvinnik, 19th Match Game 1960.

White moves.  A classic theme dispels all threats.


GM Nick de Firmian's Column

Sam Shankland Soars to the Top

American athletes are striving for gold at the Tokyo Olympics and have the focus of the world’s attention. Yet in Soci, Russia another American is bringing glory to the USA – the Bay Area’s own Sam Shankland. The World Cup started with 200 of the best players in the world and is now down to just eight. All of the other Americans have been eliminated, including an early exit by the number 2 player on the FIDE rating list, Fabiano Caruana. Sam has defeated former challenger Sergey Karjakin with the White pieces and seems set to advance to the semi-finals. He will be in the next Candidates Tournament if he can win that match and advance to the finals (the top 2 finishers of the World Cup become Candidates).

This performance is a tremendous boost to Sam’s career. Indeed, it may have looked like his chess career was fading away a few months ago. The United States had imported top ten players Wesley So and now seemingly Levon Aronian to add to the star power of Caruana. Then there is world #15 Lenier Dominguez who came from Cuba 2 years ago and super-GM Hikaru Nakamura, the world’s highest rated blitz player. This is already the top five players which make up the US Olympic team, and waiting in the wings is young Jeffery Xiong from Texas who is a 2700 player at only 20 years old. Thus at 29 years old it seemed Sam would never be able to catch up to the other top Americans.

The World Cup has drastically changed that. Sam’s rating has jumped to 25th in the world and he is close to becoming one of the eight Candidates for the next World Championship cycle. Caruana, So and all the rest have not qualified for the Candidates and there are only a couple of spots left. We may soon see Sam as the leading American hope to become World Champion.

(1) Shankland,Sam - Karjakin,Sergey [A20]
World Cup, 28.07.2021

1.c4 e5 2.g3 c6 This English Opening is like a 2.c3 Sicilian reversed. 3.Nf3 e4 4.Nd4 d5 5.cxd5 Qxd5 6.e3 Bc5 7.Nc3 Qe5 8.d3 exd3 9.Qxd3 Nf6 Karjakin is a very solid player with the Black pieces. His pawn structure is strong and there are no problems developing. 10.Bg2 0-0 11.0-0 Rd8 12.Nf3!?

An interesting choice. Sam is playing for the win but just trades the queens into a level ending. 12...Rxd3 13.Nxe5 Rd8 14.b3 Be6 15.Bb2 Na6 16.Rad1 Be7 17.Ne2! A good regrouping. Black can hold the balance, yet Karjakin starts to feel some pressure from the white knights. 17...Nb4 18.Nd4 Bd5 [18...Nxa2?! 19.Nxe6 fxe6 20.Bh3!] 19.a3 Na6 20.b4 Bxg2 21.Kxg2 c5 Actice play is best. If Black is passive White will slowly creep up on the kingside. 22.Nf5 Bf8 23.b5 Nc7 24.a4 Nfd5 25.Nc4 g6 26.Nh4 Nb6 27.Rxd8 Rxd8 28.Nxb6 axb6 29.Nf3 So far Karjakin has played accurately and seems in little danger. 29...Ra8 30.Be5 Ne8 31.Ra1 f6 32.Bc3 Kf7 33.Nd2 Bd6 34.Kf1 Ke6 35.Ke2 h5 36.Kd3 Bc7 37.f4 Nd6 38.e4
Black has countered all of White's plans to go forward. Sam wants to press on the kingside but Black could play make waiting moves or try 38...g5 38...f5? It is desireable to put your pawns on the opposite color of your bishop, but here this is clearly outweighed by the protected passed pawn White gets on e5. 39.e5 Nf7 40.Kc4 Ke7 41.Nf1! headed for the great central location at d5. 41...Nd8 42.Ne3 Ne6
43.a5! Starting the breakthrough with a temporaty pawn sacrifice. 43...bxa5 44.b6 Bd8 [44...Bxb6? 45.Nd5+] 45.Rd1 Nd4 [45...a4 46.Rd6 a3? 47.Nd5+ Kf7 48.Rd7+ Ke8 49.Rxb7 a2 50.Ra7 wins for White] 46.Nd5+ Kf7 47.Bxd4 cxd4 48.Rxd4 Rc8+
49.Nc7! Bxc7 50.Rd7+ Ke6 51.Rxc7 Rxc7+ 52.bxc7 Kd7 Though tricky, the pawn ending is a win for White with the protected passed e-pawn. 53.Kb5 Kxc7 [53...b6 54.Kxb6 a4 55.Kb7] 54.Kxa5 Kc6 55.Kb4 Kb6 56.Kc4 Kc6 57.Kd4 b5 58.h3 Kajakin resigned. Black is in zugswang and must give ground. On 58. ..Kb6 59 Kd5 b4 60. Kc4 either wins the black b-pawn or queens the e-pawn. 1-0

(2) Shankland,Sam - Svidler,Peter [E60]
World Cup, 27.07.2021

Svidler is an 8 time Russian champion and a highly respected player by all the world's elite. He has beaten Carlsen a couple of times and would have been considered the pre-match favorite against Sam. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4!? This move has been played several time before. It has ideas to get attacking chances when Black castles kingside, but Sam likely choose this to avoid 3. Nc3 d5, as Svidler loves the Grundfeld Defense and has tremendous experience with it. 3...Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 Nc6 6.Nge2 0-0 7.f3

We have reached a Saemisch King's Indian, though White has played h2-h4 instead of the usual developing move Be3. 7...e5 8.d5 Nd4 9.Be3 [9.Nxd4 exd4 10.Qxd4 Nxe4! 11.Qxe4? Re8 wins the queen] 9...c5 10.dxc6 bxc6 Svidler plays for activity and sacrifices a pawn. This is reasonable play since White lags in development and his king is in the center. 11.Nxd4 exd4 12.Bxd4 Rb8 13.Qc2 c5 14.Bf2 Be6 15.0-0-0
Svidler sacrifices a second pawn to bring forces over to the queenside where the white king lives. The two black bishops along with the knight, rook and queen make for a dangerous force. 15...Nd7 16.Rxd6 Qa5 17.Be1 Ne5 18.f4!? Sam forces the central action to clarify the position. He could have played 18. b3, which may have been better but leaves the dangerous Black forces ready to pounce. 18...Nxc4 19.Bxc4 Bxc4 20.e5 Thus the dangerous King's Indian bishop is shut off from the queenside. 20...Rfd8 [20...Bxa2?! 21.Nd5 Qb5 22.Ne7+ Kh8 23.h5 Bb3? 24.hxg6! is a mating attack] 21.Rxd8+ Rxd8 22.h5 Bxa2 23.hxg6 hxg6 24.Ne4 Qb6?
Svidler retreats the queen to the wrong square and White is able to get everything working. With 24...Qb5 Svidler could have held the game. 25.Bh4! suddenly the bishop runs back to the kingside with deadly effect. 25...Rd4 [25...Bb3 26.Bxd8 attacks the black queen. This is one of the problems with 24...Qb6] 26.Nf6+ Kf8 27.Bf2! Bxf6 [The other problem is that 27...Rc4 28.Nd7+ is a fork] 28.exf6! Calmly recapturing. The threat is 29. Rh8 mate. 28...Qxf6 29.Qxc5+ Rd6 30.Qc8+

Black resigned. After 30...Rd8 31. Rh8+! Qh8 33. Qd8+ Kg7 34. Bd4+ wins 1-0

Solutions to FM Paul Whitehead's Column

1. Tal – Botvinnik, 7th Match Game 1960.

After 1.Rxd7+! White will emerge from the exchanges with 2 knights for a rook: 2…Nxd7 3.Rxd7+ Kxd7 4.Nf6+. The point. 4… Kd6 5.Nxg8. Now Botvinnik offers stiff resistance for a while, but ultimately succumbs to the challenger’s accurate technique. 5… Rc5 6.Nh6 f6 7.Ng4 Bxc2 8.Nxf6 Bxb3 9.axb3 Rb5 10.Nxg5 Rxb3 11.f4 Rb1+ 12.Ke2 Rb2+ 13.Kf3 Rb3+ 14.Kg4 Rb2 15.g3 b5 16.Nfe4+ Kd5 17.f5 b4 18.f6 Ra2 19.f7 Ra8 20.Nh7 b3 21.Nd2 b2 22.Kf3 Kd4 23.Ke2 c5 24.f8=Q Rxf8 25.Nxf8 c4 26.Ne6+ Kd5 27.Nf4+ Kd4 28.Nb1 1-0


2. Botvinnik – Tal, 8th Match Game 1960.

1.Nf7+! 1-0. Tal resigned here at the adjournment, as 1…Kg7 (1…Kh7 2.d6 queens a pawn by force)  2.b7 Rb3 3.Nd8! wins in all variations, for example: 3…Kf6 (Or trying to push the a-pawn: 3…a5 4.d6 a4 5.d7 a3 6.Ne6+ wins easily) 4.d6 a5 5.d7 Ke7 6.Nc6+ Kxd7 7.b8=Q Rxb8 8.Nxb8+ Kd6 9.h5, and it’s all over.

1.b7? would have been a terrible mistake, as after 1…Rb3 2.Nf7+ Kh7! Is the move that makes all the difference here: Now 3.Nd8 a5 4.d6 a4 5.d7 a3 6.Ne6 (Without check!) 6…a2 and black wins!


3. Tal – Botvinnik, 11th Match Game 1960.

White snatched a pawn with 1.Bxh7+! Rxh7 2.Qg5+ Kh8 3.Qd8+ Kg7 4.Rxh7+ Kxh7. Then he regained his piece: 5.Qxc7+ Kg6. Then he took another pawn with 6.Qxb7. This was all too much for the defense, and again the challenger’s technique was more than sufficient to bring home the point: 6… Qe4 7.Qa6 Qb1+ 8.Kg2 Qe4+ 9.Kf1 Qb1+ 10.Ke2 Qc2+ 11.Kf3 Qf5+ 12.Ke3 Qg5+ 13.Ke2 Qh5+ 14.Kd2 Kf6 15.Qxc6 Qa5+ 16.Qc3 Qxa2+ 17.Ke3 Kf7 18.d5 exd5 19.Qc7+ Ke6 20.Qc6+ Ke7 21.Qxd5 Qa1 22.Qe4+ Kf7 23.Kf4 Qc1+ 24.Kg4 Qa1 25.Qd5+ Kf8 26.Kf5 Qb1+ 27.Kf6 1-0


4. Botvinnik – Tal, 12th Match Game 1960.

Tal played 1…Qf6+ and the game was drawn 21 moves later with Botvinnik having made almost zero progress: 2.Ke3 Kf8 3.Kd3 Qf1+ 4.Ke4 Qg2+ 5.Ke5 Qg5+ 6.Ke6 Qe7+ 7.Kf5 Qc7 8.Qa8+ Ke7 9.Qe4+ Kd8 10.Qh4+ Kc8 11.Qh8+ Kb7 12.Qe5 Qf7+ 13.Ke4 Qg6+ 14.Qf5 Qd6 15.Qf7+ Kc8 16.Qf5+ Kd8 17.Qa5+ Ke8 18.d5 Kd7 19.Qa7+ Kd8 20.Qa8+ Kd7 21.Kf5 Ke7 1/2-1/2

1…Qf7+?? Would have been a grave error: 2.Qxf7+ Kxf7 3.Kf5! takes the opposition and wins for white: 3…Ke7 4.Ke5 Kd7 5.Kd5! etc.


5. Tal – Botvinnik, 17th Match Game 1960.

In mutual time-pressure Tal knocked Botvinnik out with the crushing 1.Rxa6+! Kb8 (If 1…Kxa6 2.Qb6#. Or 1…bxa6 2.Qb6+ Ka8 3.Qxa6+ Ra7 4.Qxc8#.) 2.Qa4 1-0. White’s threats are overwhelming.


6. Tal – Botvinnik, 19th Match Game 1960.

Faced with the dire threat of 1…Rc1+ Tal uncorked the brilliant “interference” 1.Bc7!! maintaining his material and positional advantage. Botvinnik could not take the bishop: 1…Rxc7? 2.Qe8+ Kg7 3.Qf8# and so found himself with little to play for: 1…Bf8 2.Qb5 Qe6 3.Be5 Qc6 4.Qa5 Ra8 5.Qd2 Rc8 6.Kg2 Qd7 7.h4 Qg4 1-0. Botvinnik resigned at the adjournment, perhaps prematurely, but his position is quite bad: 8.Qd3 sets up queenside infiltration with Qa6 combined with possible king-side action. A non-forced but fun continuation might be 8…Qd7 9.h5 gxh5 10.Rf5 and black is falling apart.


Solution To Tony's Teaser

1. Rg4+!!  Kd3  2. Qf5+  Ke2  3. Nd4+  Ke1  4. Qb1#


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