Chess Clubs From Around the Country: Bernal Heights San Francisco
by Abel Talamantez
The Mechanics' Institute women's chess class has been going on for several years. Originally taught by Lina Krubnik, it has since been taken over by FIDE Developmental Instructor Sophie Adams. Sophie gets a loyal following every Sunday, and her dynamic and passionate approach to teaching keeps the class engaging and fun. The class, until March 2020, met live at MI on Sunday mornings. We were fortunate that during the pandemic we were able to transition the class online, and we received support from the US Chess Women's Program to fund the class through 2020-2021 year. We are very excited to announce that we received a donation to fund the class for yet another year from Alexandra and Roddy Lindsay, with the aim of supporting more diversity in the chess community through an increased participation of women and girls in chess.
The impact of such support, to give an example, can be seen by the efforts of Juliana Gallin. She has participated in the women's class, and has since participated in some of our other offerings like the Monday Chess Cafe https://www.milibrary.org/chess/chess-cafe. More importantly, she has organized a chess group that meets every Saturday afternoons at 3pm in Bernal Heights in San Francisco. Here is a brief description of the club from Juliana along with pictures.
The Bernal Chess Club meets on Saturdays from 3-6 in the outdoor back patio at Progressive Grounds
in Bernal Heights, SF. All levels and ages are welcome. People are encouraged to buy something to eat, drink, or take home for later. We want to make sure Progressive Grounds feels our appreciation and looks forward to having us back. BYO chess set.
In addition, when the Bernal library eventually reopens for public events, we’ll have use of their community room on the 4th Wednesday evening of every month. We’ll use that time for a special presentation, followed by games for anyone who wants to play.
Calendar and mailing list at www.bernalchess.com
Chess clubs come in many varieties, and a coffee house chess club is a very common form of meeting. The participants get a venue in which to play while the business benefits through the patronage of the customers and the raised awareness of the location, with referrals for future business. It is a win-win situation not just for chess players and business owners, but for the community at large as well.
It is exciting to see a gathering like this take flight to help bring a community together through chess, in this case, every Saturday. You never know what support of one program can yield in spurring growth in other areas. Thanks to Juliana and the Bernal Heights Chess Club for spreading the joy and love of chess.
TNM Round 1 Report
by Abel Talamantez
The last Tuesday Night Marathon of 2021 began last Tuesday with the largest first round attendance since we reopened in June. Over 70 players have begun this event, with 8-rounds of FIDE rated action to close out the year. There were some surprising results in the top section, but still plenty of time for players to bounce back. On board 2 Lucas Lesniewski grinded out a knight and pawn endgame against 2nd seed Christophe Bambou to come away with a big win. Adam Stafford used a blistering attack to defeat Nicholas Weng. Under 1800 TNM winner Daniel Wang showed he's ready for the top section with an upset win against Steven Sveboda. David Askin returned to the Mechanics' TNM with a win, as did top seed IM Elliott Winslow.
In the under 1800 section, there will certainly be a struggle to pull away, as there is solid parity in strength across most of the section, but certainly the favorite has to be Adam Mercado, he got a 1st round win against Cloe Chai. Mercado is coming of the heels of winning the Mechanics' Online Triathlon, as looks in solid form.
Former Mechanics' Chess Director IM John Donaldson gave a lecture before the start of round 1. It was a great treat for the participants and a nice way to kick off the tourney. We will have a special guest next week for the lecture, as GM Evgeny Schtembuliak will be in town visiting and had agreed to give the lecture and join the broadcast for a bit.
Here are some games from the 1st round, annotated by GM Nick de Firmian.
(1) Gimelfarb,Ilia (1760) - Estolas,Brandon (2003) [B22]
MI Nov-Dec TNM 1800+ San Francisco (1.4), 02.11.2021
1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 The most straightforward response to the 2. c3 Sicilian. 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 e6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Be2 cxd4 7.cxd4 Bb4+ 8.Nc3 0-0 9.0-0 Bxc3 Black may do a bit better moving the queen instead of bringing a defended to White's isolated pawn. 10.bxc3 Nc6 11.Bf4 Qa5 12.Qd3 Nd5 13.Bd2 Qc7
A good move though [Perhaps the simple 14.g3 to keep the black knight off of f4 would be the simplest way to get an edge.] 14...f5!?
This creates a backward e-pawn but fights for squares on the kingside. 15.Qh4 Nce7 16.Ne5! Ng6 17.Nxg6 hxg6 18.c4 Nf6 19.Bf4 Qd7 20.Be5 b6 21.Rfb1 Bb7 22.Rb3 Kf7!?
[23.Rg3! Qd8!? 24.Qg5 Ng4 25.Rxg4! (25.Qxd8 Raxd8 26.Bxg4 fxg4 27.Rxg4+-
but less so)
25...fxg4 26.Qxg4 with Bd3, Black's king is in trouble (even worse than that ending above).; 23.a4!?] 23...Rh8!+/= 24.Qg3 gxf6
[25...exd5 26.cxd5 Rhd8! and ...Qd6, holding the line.] 26.a4! f4 27.Qd3
[27...Qd6 28.h3] 28.f3?
[28.Bf1; 28.a5; 28.h3] 28...Qd6!= 29.a5??
Suddenly: [29.h3 must be played, unsavory as it might appear. 29...Bc8 30.Bf1 Qc5+ 31.Kh1 Bf5 32.Qd2 e4 33.fxe4 Bxe4 34.a5=] 29...Qc5+ 30.Kh1 Rxh2+!
and mate! 0-1
(2) Chai,Cloe - Mercado,Adam [B33]
Nov-Dec TNM, 02.11.2021
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 The aggressive Sveshnikov Variation (played also by Magnus Carlsen) puts pressure on the white side player from the start. 6.Nb3 [6.Ndb5 is the usual (and best) response for White] 6...Bb4!
The pin equalizes right away. White now has to worry about the e-pawn. 7.Bd3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 d5 9.Qe2?!
[9.exd5 Nxd5 10.0-0! Nxc3 11.Qh5 is fair compensation for the pawn] 9...dxe4 10.Bxe4 Nxe4 11.Qxe4 0-0 12.0-0 Be6
Now White has the crippled queenside pawn while Black has a nice mobile pawn majority on the kingside. 13.Ba3 f5 14.Qe3 Rf6 15.Rfd1 Qe8 16.Rd3?!
[16.Nc5 b6 17.Nxe6 Qxe6 18.Rd6 Qf7 leaves Black with clearly better pawn structure, but the white pieces are at least active] 16...f4 17.Qd2?!
[17.Qe4 was needed] 17...e4!
The black pawns are rolling and create attacking opportunities against the white king. 18.Rd6 f3?!
[18...Ne5 keeps all options for Black and also threatens ...Nc4 forking.] 19.g3?
[19.Nd4 Qg6 20.g3 saves an important tempo for the defense. Now Adams charges to the kingside with heavy threats.] 19...Qh5
Threatening of course 20...Qh3 20.Qe1 Rh6 21.h4 Qg4 22.Qf1 e3!
[22...Rxh4 23.Rxe6! Qxe6 24.gxh4 gives hope for the defense] 23.Bc5
There's nothing to be done. Black has far too many attackers. 23...e2
White resigns as the queen must move and the black queen comes into h3. 0-1
(3) Leniewski,Lucas - Bambou,Christophe [D15]
Nov-Dec TNM, 02.11.2021
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 a6 5.c5 Bf5 6.Bf4 Nbd7 7.e3 Nh5 8.h3 Nxf4 9.exf4 e6 10.Bd3 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 Be7 12.0-0 0-0
The opening has been well played by both sides and chances are even in the middle game. 13.b4 b6 14.Rab1 a5 15.a3
[15.b5!? bxc5 16.bxc6 c4 17.Qe3 Nb8 18.f5] 15...axb4 16.axb4 Qc7 17.Ne5 Rfb8 18.Qc2 Bf6 19.Ra1 b5 20.Ra2 Nf8 21.Rfa1 Qb7 22.Nf3 Ng6 23.Ne2 h6 24.Ra5 Rxa5 25.Rxa5 Bd8 26.Ra3 Ra8 27.Qa2 Rxa3 28.Qxa3 Bc7 29.g3
Accurate and careful play by both players. The game is still very level. 29...Nf8 30.Ne5 f6 31.Nd3 Nd7 32.h4 Nb8 33.Kg2 Qa6 34.Qxa6 Nxa6 35.Ng1 h5 36.Nf3
Now we are in the endgame and it is even. Christophe being the higher rated player decides he must push for the win. 36...Kf7 37.Kf1 Kg6 38.Ke2 Nb8 39.Ke3 Nd7 40.Nd2 Kf5 41.Nb3!
Na5 becomes a possibility for White. If Black captures the passed a-pawn can be hard to stop. 41...Nb8 42.Kf3
Pushing for the win, but it's hard to gain an edge with the black knight back on b8. 43.fxe5 fxe5 44.dxe5 Bxe5 45.Ke3 Bc3 46.f3 Kf6
[46...Nd7 47.Nd4+ Bxd4+ 48.Kxd4 g6 is completely level] 47.Nd4 g6 48.g4 Kg7? 49.Ne5
[49.g5! Bxd4+ 50.Kxd4 Nd7 51.f4 Kf7 52.Ne1 Ke6 53.Ke3 Kf5 54.Kf3 Nf8 55.Nc2! Ke6 56.Nd4+ Kd7 57.Ke3 Ne6 58.Nf3 and White wins as the knight comes to e5 with decisive effect, winning a pawn and the game] 49...Bxd4+?
The game should be a draw after 50...hxg4 51. fxg4 Kf6. Seems some time issue decided the game. 1-0
(4) Winslow,Elliott (2252) - Mahooti,James (1867) [B55]
MI Nov-Dec TNM 1800+ San Francisco (1.1), 02.11.2021
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3
The Prins Variation has the advantage of avoiding a mountain range of theory: Najdorf, Dragon, Classical, Scheveningen. And in fact it's not all that easy for Black to claim true equality. And sometimes Black doesn't realize what's going on, and lets White set up a Maroczy Bind against a Hedgehog without any compromises. [5.Nc3 leads to all those main lines.] 5...e5
The problem with the Prins: less control of the center, namely d5. Black intends that move shortly. 6.Bb5+!?
The old main move. [But it's been superceded in popularity by the move favored by GM Michael Adams and, lately, Wesley So: 6.Nb3 and keep things quiet. Black can still go for ...d5, but if it's a blitz game and your opponent isn't nicknamed "Micky," you might try 6...a5 7.c4? (7.Bb5+!)
7...Nxe4! 8.fxe4 Qh4+ 9.Kd2 (else disaster) 9...a4! and Black wins back the piece! White's ridiculous king makes this definitely in Black's favor.] 6...Bd7?!
[6...Nbd7! 7.Nf5 d5! Black has to remember this move or he's just worse. 8.exd5 a6 9.Bxd7+! (9.Ba4 b5 10.Bb3 a5!
was Aagard's preference in his supplement to Ftacnik's Grandmaster Repertoire book on the Sicilian, which had inexplicably left the Prins out!)
9...Qxd7! 10.Ne3 b5 11.c4?! (11.Nc3!
and Black has to be careful not to fall into the worse position.)
11...Bc5 12.Nc3 0-0 13.b3?? Bd4-+ 14.Bd2 Qa7! 0-1 29, Burnett,R - Winslow,E, Senior Tournament of Champions, Cherry Hill 08.02.2021.] 7.Bxd7+ Qxd7
[7...Nbxd7!? could well be better, but the text is consistent.] 8.Nf5 d5
This line has been known for over half a century, but Black's next is fairly popular -- and awful. 9...dxe4?
[9...d4!? scores pretty well (plus at least), but not so well vs. 10.c3 (10.Bxf6!?)
10...Nc6 11.0-0 0-0-0 12.cxd4 and here 12...Nxd4! puts the question to the knight on f5.] 10.Bxf6 Qxd1+ 11.Kxd1 gxf6 12.fxe4 Nc6
[12...Rg8!?] 13.c3 0-0-0+ 14.Kc2
[14.Ke2!?] 14...Bc5 15.Nd2
[15.b4! Bxb4 16.cxb4 Nxb4+ 17.Kb3 Nc6 18.Nc3 just wins.] 15...Rd7
[15...Ne7 16.Nxe7+ Bxe7 17.Nf3] 16.Rad1 Rhd8 17.a3 Ne7
Perhaps Black doesn't imagine that even as a lot of pieces trade off, there are still problems. [17...b5 18.b4 Bb6 19.Nf3] 18.Nxe7+ Bxe7 19.Nf3
A knight on f5 is all this game is about. 19...Kc7 20.Nh4 Kc6 21.Nf5 Bf8 22.Rxd7 Rxd7 23.Rd1 Rxd1 24.Kxd1
This ending is torture for Black. 24...a5 25.a4!?
Doing White's dirty work for him (that is, creating a passed pawn with White's majority) 26.axb5+
[26.b3!? White was concerned with 26...b4 27.c4 but this is actually winning, so White didn't have to worry.] 26...Kxb5 27.b3 a4 28.bxa4+ Kxa4 29.Kc2 Ka3 30.Ne3 Be7 31.Kd3 Kb3 32.Nf1
Still good, but [32.Nd5 Bd8 33.c4 Ka4 34.Kc3 Black is in Zugzwang and will be repeatedly pushed back.] 32...Ka4 33.Kc4 Ka5 34.Ne3 Ka6 35.Nd5 Bd8 36.Kc5 Kb7 37.Kd6 f5!?
Black at least sets up some pitfalls, but White falls for nothing. 38.exf5 e4 39.Ke5 e3 40.Nxe3 Bc7+ 41.Kf6 Bxh2 42.Kxf7 Be5 43.Nd5 Kc6 44.Ke6 Bg7 45.f6 Bf8 46.Ne7+ Kc5 47.Nf5
The dominating square one last time. 1-0
(5) Parsons,Stephen (1611) - Chambers,Don (1219) [A28]
MI Nov-Dec TNM u1800 San Francisco (1.14), 02.11.2021
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e4 Not as common as the older moves but the top players have been trying it out, including World Championship Challenger (starts in 3 weeks!) Ian Nepomniachtchi. [4.g3; 4.e3; or the even older than older 4.d4] 4...d6 Why not bring out the bishop first? Those moves account for 80% of the games in this position. [4...Bc5; 4...Bb4] 5.d3 Both sides are cautious in the center. [5.d4 is most common (by a lot), and the computers support it; 5...Bg4 6.d5 Nd4 7.Be2!? (7.Be3) 7...Nxe2!? leads to King's Indian sorts of positions after 8.Qxe2 g6; 5.h3!? and *then* d4 has done pretty well in practice.] 5...h6 No master has been *this* cautious. 6.Be2 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Rb1 a6 9.h3 Nd4 10.b4 Nxe2+ 11.Qxe2 Be6 12.Be3 Qd7 13.Nd5
[13...Bd8 followed by ...c6 keeps some balance (in fact, Stockfish 14 likes 14.Nc3 here!).] 14.cxd5 Bxh3 15.gxh3
[15.Nh2 is a sort of "free move" in that the bishop is trapped anyway; 15...f5 (15...Bxg2 16.Kxg2
keeps the Black queen out.)
16.gxh3 f4 17.Bd2 Qxh3 18.Qf3+-] 15...Qxh3 16.Nh2 f5 17.f3!
Fine defense. Now Black clearly is down from the bishop sacrifice. 17...f4 18.Bd2 Rf6 19.Rf2
Black's attack amounts to nothing, since White is getting to all the defensive moves in time. 19...g5 20.Qf1?!
Still good -- [but 20.Ng4! Rg6?! 21.Rh2 Qg3+ 22.Kh1 traps the queen to Be1.] 20...Qh4?
[20...Qxf1+!? is, according to the stubborn computers, the best try.] 21.Rg2 h5? 22.Be1
Total disaster. 22...Qxh2+
[22...Qh3 23.Rxg5+ Kh7 24.Qxh3] 23.Kxh2 Rh6 24.Bh4 Kf7 25.Bxg5 Bxg5 26.Rxg5 Rah8 27.Qh3 h4 28.Qd7+ 1-0
(6) Anderson,Benjamin (1172) - Casares Jr,Nick (1600) [C36]
MI Nov-Dec TNM u1800 San Francisco (1.15), 02.11.2021
1.e4 e5 2.f4 The fearless King's Gambit. An opening only for the bold. 2...exf4 3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 [4...Nf6!] 5.Nc3 Qd8 6.Bc4 The position is tricky for Black. He needs to develop but not with.. 6...Bg4?
7.Bxf7+!+- Kxf7 8.Ne5+ Ke8 9.Nxg4
[9.Qxg4! is a much bigger advantage.] 9...Qh4+ 10.Nf2 Bd6
[11.Nce4+-] 11...Qe7+ 12.Kf1?!
Black has gotten right back in the game. Chances are equal again. 13.d3?! Nc6 14.c3? Kd7-/+ 15.Nxd6 Qxd6 16.Qf3 Rae8
[16...g5!] 17.Bxf4 Qe6 18.g3
[18...Rhf8=/+] 19.d4 Nd5 20.Nd3= Nxf4 21.Nxf4 Qf5
[22.Kg2+/=; 22.h4+/=] 22...Qf7?
[22...Re4!-+ is crushing as ...Rxf4+ as well as ... g5 coming.] 23.Kg2
[23.Qf3+/=] 23...g5 24.Nh3 Qd5+=/+
[25.Qf3 Re2+ 26.Nf2 Qxf3+ 27.Kxf3 Rxb2 28.Ne4=] 25...h6-+
[25...Rhf8!] 26.Nf2 Rhf8 27.Ng4?! h5 28.Ne3 Qf3! 29.Rf1 Qxe3+ 30.Qxe3 Rxf1+ 31.Kxf1 Rxe3
Black should be winning this knight up ending. 32.Kf2 Re4 33.Kf3 Re7 34.h3 Nd8 35.Rh2 Nf7 36.h4 g4+ 37.Kf4 Nd6?!
[37...Kd7 38.Kf5 Re6 39.d5 Nd6+ 40.Kg5 Re5+] 38.Kg5!
The white king is getting active, giving some chances. 38...Rh7
[38...Kd7 39.Kxh5 Rg7] 39.Re2 Kd7?!
[39...Rh8; 39...Rg7+] 40.Kg6 Rh8 41.Re5 Ne8?
Some pawn move on the queenside would still be winning 42.Rxh5
[42.c4! c6 43.c5=/+] 42...Rxh5?
[42...Rg8+-/+] 43.Kxh5 Nf6+ 44.Kg6+/= Ke7?
[44...Nd5 45.h5 Ke6 46.Kg7!? (46.h6 Ne7+ 47.Kh5 Kf7 48.Kxg4 Nd5 49.Kg5 b5
White doesn't seem to have any way to proceed.)
46...Ne7 47.a4!? Certainly it's White with the chances, but how...] 45.h5+-
and mysteriously, it's White by a mile (+5.5 in computer speak). 45...c6 46.h6 b5 47.h7 Nxh7 48.Kxh7 Kf7 49.b3 a5 50.c4 b4 51.Kh6 Kf6 52.Kh5 Kf5 53.c5 Kf6 54.Kxg4 Kg6 55.Kh4 Kh6 56.d5 cxd5 57.c6
A very topsy-turvy game! 1-0
(7) Gu,Thomas (997) - Allen,Ronald (1501) [B90]
MI Nov-Dec TNM u1800 San Francisco (1.21), 02.11.2021
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 The English Attack against the Najdorf. Young Thomas is learning his opening theory. 6...e5 7.Nb3 Be7 [7...Be6 8.Be3 h5] 8.Be3 Be6 9.Qd2 h5 A sensible move to slow White down on the kingside. It can be slightly weakening but the pluses balance the minuses. 10.0-0-0 [10.Nd5] 10...Nbd7 11.h3 Rc8 12.g4? Too quick with this! It just loses a pawn now. 12...hxg4 13.fxg4 Bxg4 14.Be2 [14.hxg4 Rxh1] 14...Be6 15.Rdg1 g6 16.Kb1
Castling into it! The white pieces are well placed for the attack now. [16...Rh4-/+; 16...Nb6-/+; 16...b5!-+ 17.h4 b4 18.Nd5 Nxe4] 17.Bh6
[17...Rxc3 18.Qxc3 Nxe4 19.Qe3 d5 20.Bxf8+/-] 18.h4
[needed was 18...Rxc3 19.Qxc3 Nxe4+/-] 19.h5+-
+6.7! 19...b4?! 20.Nd5
[20.hxg6! total collapse] 20...Nxe4 21.Nxe7+
[21.Qd3! Bf5 22.Qf3!] 21...Qxe7 22.Qd3?=
[22.Qe3!+- would leave White a winning position with so many attacking pieces] 22...Nf2=
23.hxg6! Nxd3 24.gxf7+ Kxf7
The wrong check! [25.Bh5+! Kf6 26.Bg5+ Kf5 (26...Kg7?? 27.Bxe7+
27.Bg4+! Kg6 (27...Kxg5 28.Bxe6+ Kf4 (28...Kf6 29.Rh6#)
29.Rg4+ Ke3 30.Rh3+ Kf2 31.Nd2!+- Where has Black's king gone??) 28.Bxe7 Bxg4 29.Rxg4+ Kf5 30.Rg7+/- Nf4 31.Bxd6 Nb6 32.Bxb4 and -- White is up a pawn! And Black's king is still not comfortable, ending or not (not really, to many rooks flying around).] 25...Kf6 26.Rxe7 Rxe7 27.Bxd3 Bxb3-+ 28.axb3 Rh8?!
[28...Ke6] 29.Bg5+ Kxg5 30.Rxh8 Nc5 31.Rg8+ Kf4 32.Bc4 e4 33.Rg2 e3 34.Re2 Kf3 35.Kc1? d5! 36.Kd1 dxc4 37.bxc4 Rd7+ 38.Ke1 Rh7 39.Kd1 Rh1+ 40.Re1 e2+ 41.Kd2 Ne4+ 42.Kd3 Rxe1 43.c3 Rd1+ What an epic! Thomas played way over his rating, and so did Ronald! It was so close, the adrenaline may have clouded Thomas's calculations! 0-1
SwissSys Standings. Nov-Dec 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: 1800+
SwissSys Standings. Nov-Dec 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: Under1800
SwissSys Standings. Nov-Dec 2021 Tuesday Night Marathon: Extra Games
The Perfect Gift: Mechanics' Institute Commemorative Chess Set from House of Staunton
Jose Raul Capablanca visited the Mechanics' Institute in 1916, and a famous picture of him playing inside the chess room against AJ Fink shows the pieces that were a symbol of the Mechanics' Institute. The House of Staunton has made a high quality commemorarive edition of their chess set, which is availbale for sale. There is no better gift for a chess enthusiast these holidays, particulalry if you want to support the Mechanics' Institute as 10% of all proceeds from the purchase of this set goes back to the Mechanics' Institute!
To purchase your own set or to get one as a special gift, please follow this link HERE
Thank you for all your support!
Tony is switching it up this week, asking readers to find the variation that saves the game. White to move and draw!
Mechanics' Institute Events Schedule
Don't Miss our Exciting Upcoming Events!!
The Mechanics' Institute will continue to hold regular and online events. Here is our upcoming schedule for players:
Mechanics' Institute November/December TNM: FIDE Rated. Nov 2- Dec 21, 6:30PM PT. G/120;d5: https://www.milibrary.org/chess-tournaments/tuesday-night-marathon-2021-nov-dec-person
20th Carroll Capps Memorial Championship: USCF Rated. November 6, 10AM PT. 4SS G/45;d5: https://www.milibrary.org/chess-tournaments/49th-carroll-capps-memorial-championship-g45-person
Mechanics' Institute November Quads: November 13, 3PM PT. 3 Games G/30;d5: https://www.milibrary.org/chess-tournaments/mechanics-championship-quads
Mechanics' Institute Thanksgiving Gobbler Open: FIDE Rated. November 26-28. 6SS G/90+30: https://mechanics-institute.jumbula.com/Tournaments2021/MechanicsThanksgivingGobblerOpenInPersonFIDE
Mechanics' Institute Class Schedule
Click HERE to see our full slate of specialty chess classes, we offer something for everyone!
Scholastic Chess Bulletin
The scholastic news is covered in a dedicated publication:
Mechanics' Institute Scholastic Chess Bulletin
Scholastic Chess Bulletin #6 is out!
In this issue:
- Monthly Scholastic In-Person Tournament - 2021 October Report with Player Highlight: Justyn Klot
- Chess Enrichment Highlight: Alta Vista School
- Chess Camps on October 11 - Report
- ChessKid Style by Andrew Ballantyne
- Special Event: Halloween Tournament @ Mechanics' Institute on Oct 30
- Understanding Tournaments - Tiebreaks
- Upcoming Tournament Schedule
- Tournament Results & Featured Games analyzed by GM Nick de Firmian
Please click the following LINK to read our latest edition.
Interested in reading the past issues? Click here to see the list of all issues.
All of us at Mechanics' Institute would like to thank you for your support of our scholastic chess programming.
Alireza Firouzja and the ghost of Mikhail Tal
FM Paul Whitehead
The FIDE Grand Prix is underway in Riga and the phenomenal 18 year old Alireza Firouzja leads with 6.5 – 1.5 with three rounds to go. He seems assured of a spot in the next Candidates Tournament in 2022. There’s a large group tied a full point behind, a group that includes Americans Fabiano Caruana and Samuel Sevian. The second place finisher also gets a spot in the Candidates, so there’s a lot at stake.
This tournament was originally the fabled Isle of Man tournament – cancelled because of Britain’s strict Covid quarantine. Ironic then that Latvia also went into a strict lockdown, yet decided to hold the event anyway. Some top Grandmasters bowed out due to concerns about Covid, including Hikaru Nakamura and Alexander Grischuk.
With Firouzja on a tear in Mikhail Tal’s hometown of Riga, it’s only fitting that the fearless play of this rising star resembles, in no small manner, the artful power of the 1960 World Champion.
The transplanted Frenchman (Firouzja is originally from Iran) made an early statement in round one:
Firouzja – Abasov, Riga Grand Prix. Round 1.
Despite an early exchange of queens white has piled on enormous pressure. He broke through with 24.e6! eyeing the rook at b8 and the f7 square. Black tried 24…Rab7 but 24…fxe6 25.Rxc5! Bxc5 26.Nxe6! would have been no better. 25.exf7+ Kf8 26.Be5! Calmly defends b2. Black is 2 pawns down and desperate: 26…Nd7 27.Rxd7! Bxd7 28.Rh1! 1-0.
In round two the American Darius Swiercz was overwhelmed in a freewheeling tactical slugfest that came down to this:
Swiercz – Firouzja, Riga Grand Prix. Round 2.
With 57…Re4! Black finally got through to the white king. 58.Qc7 (58.Qxe4 Qxh2#) Nxh2! 59.Kg1 (59.Qxh2 Ng3+ 60.Kg1 Ne2+ 61.Kh1 Qxh2+ 62. Kxh2 Rh4# - Anastasia’s Mate) Nxf1 60.Rxf1 Rxc4 61.Qe5+ Qf6 0-1.
In round three he ground out a nice endgame:
Firouzja – Predke, Riga Grand Prix. Round 3.
53.Nc6! Counter-intuitive. 53…g3 The opposite colored bishop ending would also lose for black. 54.b5 Bc7 55.Kc5 Kg5 56.e5! Kf4 57.Bf3 Ke3. If 57…Bxc6 58.Kxc6 and the b-pawn will cost black his bishop. 58.b6 Bb8. Desperation. 59.Nxb8 Bxf3 60.Nc6! Very cute. 60…Bxg2 61.b7 Be4 62.b8=Q g2 63.Qb2! Not the only winning move, but good enough. If 63…g1=Q 64.Qd4+. 1-0.
Alireza drew his next 3 games: with black against Yu Yangyi, with white against Vachier-Lagrave, and with black against the ageless Alexi Shirov. Then another couple of wins, first a lucky break in a rook ending:
Firouzja – Najer, Riga Grand Prix. Round 7.
Black erred with 50…f1=Q? Black gives up the f-pawn for nothing, when instead the simple 50…Kg6! (heading for the h-pawn) would have drawn: 51.a8=Q Rxa8+ 52.Kxa8 Kg5 53.Rf1 Kh4 54.Rxf2 Kxh3 55.Kb7 h5b 56.Kc6 h4 57.Kd5 Kg3 =. Instead this happened: 51.Rxf1 Rb2+ 52.Ka8 Rb3. Perhaps black thought this was drawn, but… 53.Rc1! Kg6 54.Rc7 h5 55.Rb7 Rxh3 56.Rb6+! Kg5 57.Kb7 Ra3 58.Ra6! Rb3+ 59. Kc7 1-0. The Rook runs out of checks when the king reaches h7.
And today superior opening preparation seems to have made the difference in White’s crushing victory over co-leader Sasikaran:
Firouzja – Sasikaran, Riga Grand Prix. Round 8.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. O-O d5 7. exd5 Nxd5 8. Re1 Bg4 9. Nbd2 Nb6 10. h3 Bh5 11. Bb3 Kh8 12. Ne4 Nd7 13. Bd5 f5 14. Neg5 h6 15. Ne6 Qf6 16. Nxf8 Rxf8.
White has won the exchange, and soon sacrifices his queen for a decisive material advantage.
17. d4 e4 18. dxc5 Nde5 19. Nxe5! Bxd1 20. Nd7 Qd8 21. Bxc6 Re8 22. Rxd1 bxc6 23. Bf4 Qh4 24. Bxc7 e3 25. fxe3 Rxe3 26. Rd4 Qe7 27. Bf4 Re2 28. b4 Qe8 29. Rf1 Qe6 30. Rf2 Rxf2 31. Kxf2 Qxa2+ 32. Bd2 Qe6 33. c4 a6 34. Bf4 Qe7 35. b5 axb5 36. cxb5 Qe6 37. b6 Qb3 38. Kg1 g5 39. Bd2 g4 40. Rb4 Qd1+ 41. Kh2 g3+ 42. Kxg3 f4+ 43. Kh2 1-0.
There must be some old-timers in Riga right now wondering if this Alireza Firouzja is the reincarnation of somebody that they used to know…
Nick de Firmian’s Column
When we say this word in the chess world most players immediately think of the highly respected, fighting opening that has produced many brilliant games in the last 70 years (for both the White side and the Black side). Bobby Fischer was the quintessential Najdorf player – one who plays highly aggressive, daring chess that walks the edge of defeat in pursuit of the absolutely best continuation. Many love the opening for the extremes it compels one to undertake. Garry Kasparov was another Najdorf devotee, as were many others of the very best – Gelfand, Anand, Maxim Vachier-Lagrave and occasionally Magnus Carlsen. In our own Mechanics’ world we see wonderful Najdorf games from Mike Walder and Elliott Winslow.
We take this opportunity to write about the man whom the opening is named after – Miguel Najdorf , who was born Mojsze Najdorf before he immigrated from his native Poland to Argentina during World War II. He was playing in the 8th Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires when World War II began. Najdorf was Jewish and most of his family was killed by the Nazis in Poland during the war. Najdorf became an Argentine citizen in 1944 and would win the Argentine championship 8 times as well as making a great mark internationally. He died in 1997 at age 87, having often said “I hope to die at a chess tournament.”
My own experience with Najdorf was extremely pleasant. He sponsored a tournament in Buenos Aires in 1995 that I played in (he sponsored many chess events since he had made millions in the insurance industry). At 85 years old he would battle the best young international masters of Argentina in blitz, to which I would be a very entertained spectator. Many evenings we would go out to dinner. I remember one time a very distinguished man came to our table, bowed, clicked his heels and presented to “Don Miguel” a fine bottle of Argentine wine. It was then I realized how highly respected he was in the Buenos Aires community. When the man left Najdorf said, “This is too much wine, should we send it back?” I felt useful when I told him, no Miguel, I don’t want to insult your friend so I will do my best to make use of it. Below we give two of “Don Miguel’s” best games.
(1) Glucksberg - Miguel Najdorf [A85]
Warsaw Warsaw POL, 1929
1.d4 f5 The Dutch Defense is an imbalanced, fighting opening. It can be risky but it will avoid any drawish lines. 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.Nf3 d5 The Stonewall Variation stakes out the center. It takes the light squares but can leave dark square weakenesses. 5.e3 Somewhat passive. 5. Bf4 is better. 5...c6 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.Ne2 Nbd7 9.Ng5?
Crudely going after the e6 pawn, but there is a flaw. 9...Bxh2+! 10.Kh1!?
[10.Kxh2 Ng4+ 11.Kg1 Qxg5 is a clear pawn ahead] 10...Ng4 11.f4?!
[11.Nh3 is a retreat, but more promising defense] 11...Qe8 12.g3 Qh5 13.Kg2
The bishop seemed to be trapped, so Najdorf gives it up to start the attack in earnest. 14.Nxg1
[14.Nf3 Bxe3 is two pawns ahead and winning without complications] 14...Qh2+ 15.Kf3
This incredible move fires up the attack on the white king. Everyone now joins in the king hunt. 16.dxe5 Ndxe5+! 17.fxe5 Nxe5+ 18.Kf4 Ng6+ 19.Kf3
No draw by repitition! This forces White's continuation 20.exf4
[20.Bxg6 Bg4+ 21.Kxg4 Qxg3+ 22.Kh5 hxg6+ 23.Kxg6 Rf6+ 24.Kh5 Rh6#] 20...Bg4+! 21.Kxg4 Ne5+! 22.fxe5 h5#
A fabulous masterpiece. 0-1
(2) Miguel Najdorf - Robert James Fischer [A72]
Second Piatigorsky Cup Santa Monica, CA USA (7), 27.07.1966
Najdorf was never a world championship challenger, but could beat the best. Here he beats the second best player in the world (at the time, of course Fischer would go on the be arguably the greatest ever). This elite Piatigorsky Cup was a double round-robin of the world's best players. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Nf3 h6 9.Bh4 exd5 10.cxd5 This King's Indian Defense has transposed into a Benoni variation. With two such fighting players the game was bound to be a real slugfest. 10...g5 11.Bg3 b5!? 12.Nd2 [12.Bxb5 Nxe4 13.Nxe4 Qa5+ 14.Qd2 Qxb5 15.Nxd6 Qa6 would be very sharp.] 12...a6 13.0-0 Re8 14.Qc2 Qe7 15.Rae1 Nbd7 16.a4! hitting Black on the queenside gives some squares for the white pieces. Najdorf isn't afraid to sacrifice a pawn. 16...b4 17.Nd1 Ne5 [17...Nxe4?! 18.Bh5 Ndf6 19.Nxe4 Nxe4 20.f3 Bd4+ 21.Nf2!] 18.Ne3 Ng6 19.Nec4 Nf4 20.Bxf4 gxf4
21.e5! sacrificing a pawn to sieze the initiative 21...dxe5 22.Bf3 White has won the opening battle. Black is clearly on the defensive. 22...Qf8 23.Nxe5 Bb7 24.Ndc4 Rad8 25.Nc6 Rxe1?! [25...Rxd5 is relatively best] 26.Rxe1 Re8 27.Rd1! White controls the board. It is very difficult to do anything for Black, even for Bobby Fischer. 27...Rc8 28.h3 Ne8 29.N6a5 Rb8 30.Qf5 Nd6? A blunder, though Black was lost anyway. 31.Nxd6 Fischer resigned since 31...Qxd6 32. Nxb7 Rxb7 33. Qc8+ picks up the rook. 1-0
Solution to Tony's Teaser
1. e7+!! Kxe7 2. b7 Rf3 3. b8+Q Rf8+ 4. Qxf8 Kxf8 5. Ba2 h3 6. Bg8!! h2 7. Bh7! h1=B (since making a rook or queen is a stalemate). 8. Be4! Bxe4 stalemate
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