History of the MI Chess Room


After the Fire

Part One - The Rebuilding

The 1906 earthquake destroyed the Mechanics' Institute, but it didn't take long for chess activity to spring up.  The Mechanics' Institute erected a temporary building at Grove and Polk Streets, where it had bought a block of land in 1881 on which now stands the Civic Auditorium.   The Institute's Office opened on May 23, 1906, construction was begun on June 4th, and after many trials of delayed materials and a scarcity of construction workers, the new building opened its doors in August, about four months after the fire.

During May, in response to the requests of many members, a chess room was provided in the building.  By July 1910, the new nine-story building at 57 Post Street was completed which means the following account from the San Francisco Chronicle of January 12, 1909, was about an event held at the temporary facility. Incidentally the Chess Room was housed on the 3rd floor of 57 Post Street until it was moved to its present location in 1923 when the Library needed room to expand.

Dr. Henry Epsteen Wins Big Chess Tournament - Only Gold Medal Winners to Compete -

Games at Mechanics'-Mercantile Library Arouse Great Interest

Dr. Henry Epsteen of this city is the winner of the gold medal in the chess tournament held under the management of the Mechanics'-Mercantile Library.  Dr. Epsteen won 14 of his games, lost 1 and 1 resulted in a draw.  M.Farragut was the winner of the silver medal and G. Legler the bronze medal. Arrangements for a tournament in which only winners of gold medals of previous tournaments will be permitted to compete are being made by the Mechanics'-Mercantile Library.  Such a tournament would arouse the interest of all chess players on the Pacific coast as several of the most brilliant chess players in the United States can be found in San Francisco.

The final score of the 17 contestants follows:

Dr. Epsteen    +14-1=1

M. Farragut    +12-3=1

G. Legler        +12-4=1

Rosenblat      +12-4=0

Simon            +11-5=0

Fink                +10-4=2

Ford               +10-6=0

Palmer            +9-7=0

Sternberg       +8-9=0

Harding          +7-9=0

Bergman        +7-9=0

Spaulding      +6-10=0

Dr. Seager     +6-9=1

Suttin             +4-12=0

Bamberger   +1-15=0

Rawling         +1-15=0

The MI recently acquired a reprint of the 1909 American Chess Bulletin which provided the following information.

"The Mechanics' Institute Chess and Checker Club of San Francisco, which flourished before the earthquake, has been reorganized, with J. J.  Dolan as president, J. L. Jaunet as secretary and treasurer, and Messrs. A. B. Stamer, L. A. Rosenblatt, H. Jones and Dr. G. Gere as other members of the executive committee.  The annual tournament for the gold medal was duly revived, and in a field of eighteen players, Dr. Henry Epstein proved the winner, with A. Ferragut and Dr. Legler, second and third respectively.  The brilliancy prize was won by Lawrence A. Rosenblatt for his game against Dr. Sternberg, on the award of Dr. W. R. Lovegrove".

ACB 1909, p 138

Telegraph Match - San Francisco versus Portland  October 12, 1921

Earlier Newsletters covered San Francisco's matches by telegraph against Vancouver and Victoria from the

1890s, as well as touching upon the LA-SF rivalry which lasted from 1913-1925, before transforming into the

annual face to face Northern California-Southern California battles. These were not the only long distance

competitions held at the MI which also faced Chicago, Portland and Seattle.

The following account from the American Chess Bulletin (Page 192, November 1921) covers a victory over a

northern neighbor with a rich chess tradition.

San Francisco 9½ - Portland 2½

The team of the Mechanics' Institute Chess, representing San Francisco, earned another splendid victory

in the intercity match by telegraph with Portland, Oregon, on October 12, wining to the tune of 9½ - 2½ . It

was considered the strongest side that had ever played for the Golden Gate and the Oregonians knew they had been in a real fight when all was over.

Portland did have the consolation of the following victory over the well-known problem composer A.J. Fink.

A.J. Fink - O. Goldman

French Winawer [C15]

San Francisco-Portland (Telegraph Match) 1921

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd3 c5 5.a3 cxd4 6.axb4 dxc3 7.bxc3 dxe4 8.Bxe4 Qxd1+ 9.Kxd1 Nf6 10.Bf3

0-0 11.Be3 Rd8+ 12.Kc1 a6 13.Kb2 e5 14.Bb6 Re8 15.Rd1 e4 16.Be2 Be6 17.h4 Nbd7 18.Bd4 Rac8

19.Nh3 Bc4 20.Rhe1 Bxe2 21.Rxe2 h6 22.Nf4 Ne5 23.f3 Nc4+ 24.Kb3 exf3 25.Rxe8+ Nxe8 26.Nd5 Kf8

27.Bc5+ Ned6 28.gxf3 Ke8 29.Rd4 b5 30.Nf4 Nf5 31.Rd5 Nxh4 32.Nh5 f6 33.Nxg7+ Kf7 34.Rd7+ Kg6 35.f4

Rc6 36.Ne8 Nf5 37.Bd4 h5 38.Bxf6 Rxf6 39.Nxf6 Kxf6 40.Ra7 h4 41.Rxa6+ Nfd6 42.Ra8 Kf5 43.Ka2 Kxf4

44.Kb1 Ne4 45.Kc1 h3 46.Kd1 h2 0-1

The California Chess Reporter Obituary.

A.J.Fink (1890-1956)

A.J.Fink was born on July 19, 1890 and died on December 15, 1956, at the age of 66 in San Francisco. An internationally-known problem composer, Fink had more than a thousand problems published during his lifetime and won on the order of one hundred prizes. His first problem was published in 1908; and between that date and 1922 he published more than 300 problems, of which approximately 40 were prize-winners.

Fink was one of the top over-the-board chessplayers at the Mechanics' Institute until his recent illness. During the last three or four years he was necessarily inactive because of the effects of a cerebral hemorrage. He was a Life Master of the United States Chess Federation. He first won the Master title in the Chicago Masters' Tournament of 1922; the requirements was to score 40% against a strong field which included Frank Marshall, Isaac Kashdan, Edward Lasker and Carlos Torre. Fink scored 42%.

Fink won the California State Championship three times (1922, 1928,1929) and was a co-champion once (1945, with Herman Steiner). Twice he was second to S.Mlotkowski, who then was residing in Los Angeles.

In 1923 when the Western Chess Association tournament was played in San Francisco, Fink was fourth behind Mlotkowski, N.T.Whitaker (the two tied for first) and S.Factor of Chicago, but ahead of other Californians.

In 1925 Fink was second with a score of 6.5-1.5, behind Mlotkowski, who won the title with 7.5-.5.

In 1926 Fink tied with Elmer W.Gruer of Oakland but lost the play-off; in 1928 he tied with Henry Gross of San Francisco and won the play-off. Fink was invited to the international tournament at Pasadena, 1932, where finished last, but with the creditable score of 3-8 against Alexander Alekhine, Isaac Kashdan, Arthur Dake, Sammy Reshevsky, Herman Steiner, Harry Borochow, J.Bernstein, Samuel Factor, Reuben Fine, Fred Reinfeld and J.J. Araiza.

Adolph was a collector of stray bits af analytical chess positions. There was nothing he liked better than to find a missed opportunity in someone's published game, and we wish we possessed a tenth of the remarkable collection of problem-like moves he presented almost daily to his fellow-members of the Mechanics' Institute, for they would make a book. He also was available for consultation on anybody's post-mortem - in which he delighted in defending so-called "lost positions" and reviving attacks which had supposedly gone astray.

An endgame wizard as most problemists are, Fink served as adjudication expert for all Northern California team matches and tournaments for many years. "Send it to Fink" was the way to settle the argument - in Sacramento and San Luis Obispo as well as in San Francisco. He never required payment and, as far as we know, he never made a mistake in his decisions.

Fink was kind to the California Chess Reporter. When we started out we were repeatedly balked in our search for chess diagram type. Fink quietly waylaid us one day in the Mechanics' Institute, a small but heavy box held out in his hand. "I heard you were looking for chess characters," he said, "here is a set you can have." He had saved the type from the days when he was problem editor of E.J.Clarke's chess column in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Visits by World Champions to the MI

This past century the MI has hosted many World Champions including Lasker (1902 and 1926), Capablanca (1916), Alekhine (1924 and 1929), Euwe (1947!?), Fischer (1964), Smyslov (1976), Petrosian (1978), Spassky (??) and Karpov (1999). The MI Chess Room is currently working on a project to preserve it's history. Any games, recollections or photos from simuls by World Champions at the MI would be most appreciated. Does anyone know the exact year that Euwe visited? Spassky was a guest at the Paul Masson tournament in the late 1970s/early 80s. Did he ever actually visit the MI?

On March 20, 1976 Former World Champion Vassily Smyslov faced strong opposition when he visited  the MI immediately after the 1976 Lone Pine tournament. Facing 30 boards, he scored won 18, lost 3 (Victor Baja, Randy Fong, and Jay Whitehead - all teenagers at  the time!), and drew 9 (Russell Bartoli, Gary Berry, Mike Dyslin, Pam Ford, Barry Kraft, Charles Moore, Rodney Phillips, Peter Stevens, and Ted Zwerdling) in an exhibition lasting 4 hours. Can anyone add to this?

Jose Raul Capablanca
We continue our look at visits by world champions to the Mechanics'. Thanks to Steve Brandwein for digging into the Chess Room's past.

"Capablanca At The Golden Gate By E.J. Clarke When Jose R. Capablanca stepped off the Shasta Limited at Oakland on Monday evening, April 10, and boarded the ferry for the city by the Golden Gate, he made history personally, as it was his first visit to the Golden Gate. It may have been a matter of clairvoyant knowledge that he was soon to make chess history in San Francisco, but of course, that was hidden from the sight of the normal-visioned committee of chess players from the Mechanics'Institute who met the world famous Cuban and escorted him across the bay and to his hotel in San Francisco. The following evening the youthful master made his bow at the Institute, when he faced thirty-two opponents, among whom were the best players of the bay cities (and, of course, some who just moved the pieces around with their hands). When Capablanca vanquished his final opponent shortly after midnight, the score stood: Capablanca, won 29, drawn 3. Messrs. Hallwegen, Chilton and Fink were the three who saved the Institute from a whitewash. Chilton, perhaps, had a win, but he thought any old thing would do. It didn't and the Cuban got away with a draw.

Wednesday afternoon Capablanca and Dr. Lovegrove sat down to an exhibition game, the latter offered his favorite Ruy Lopez, with which he defeated World Champion Lasker several years ago. But he skill of the Pan-American champion was too much for the local expert, and the latter resigned after forty-eight moves. In the evening Capablanca showed his skill at ten-second chess, playing two games apiece with the following and winning every game: Messrs. Stamer, Fink, W.Smith, De Long, Professor Ryder, Hallwegen and Gruer. Thus he played fourteen games in forty-five minutes, an average of about game in three minutes, not counting delay in putting in a fresh opponent. This was probably Capablanca's most impressive exhibition, and providing the liveliest entertainment for the spectators. It was a matter of observation that the master never faltered, never was at a loss for a plausible continuation, and never, so far as could be noticed, made a move solely because of call of time. His play apparently was the result of a plan and possessed coherence and objectivity. Neither were the Institute players on wholly unfamiliar ground, as the lightening game is quite a favorite here. A.B. Stamer defeated Marshall at five-second chess on the occasion of his last visit to the coast.

At the conclusion of play the international master played against two teams in consultation at thirty moves an hour. Thus, Capablanca in reality made his moves at the rate of sixty moves an hour. At board No.1, E.J. Clarke, A.J. Fink and Bernardo Smith had charge of the White pieces, assisted by Dr. Haber, Judge De Long, W. Smith and others. Capablanca defended with the French and turned it into a McCutcheon. The allies resigned on their thirty-eighth move. At Board No. 2, the master was pitted against Club Champion E.W. Gruer, B. Forsberg, the young Finnish expert, recently from the Czar's domain, where he was secretary of the Abo Chess Club, Professor A.W. Ryder, a former Harvard University star, now at the University of California, and several other lesser stars also threw the weight of their advice in the White side of the balance, all, however, to no purpose, as Capablanca forced their surrender in thirty seven moves of a Queen's Pawn opening.

That concluded Capablanca's engagement in San Francisco. Thus he played all told, 49 games, winning 46, while 3 were drawn. Except for the charm of Capablanca's personality, his entire lack of the "swelled head," and his gentlemanly, courteous bearing, it would have been a far more bitter pill for the Institute players to swallow. During the history of the Mechanics' Institute it has entertained Zukertort, Lasker, Pillsbury, Marshall and several lesser lights of the chess world, but never before has a master been able to get away without the loss of several games during blindfold, simultaneous exhibitions or rapid chess. American Chess Bulletin, May-June 1916"

Jose Capablanca - A.J. Fink

San Francisco (simul) 1916

Queen's Gambit [D07]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 a6 7.Rc1 0-0 8.Bd3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Na5 10.Bd3 c5 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.0-0 Nc6 13.Ne4 Be7 14.Qc2 Nb4 15.Nxf6 gxf6 16.Bxh7 Kg7 17.Qb1 f5 18.Rfd1 Qe8 19.Bxf5 exf5 20.Nd4 Nd5 21.Nxf5+ Bxf5 22.Qxf5 Nxf4 23.Qxf4 Rh8 24.Rc7 Rd8 25.Rxd8 Qxd8 26.Qg4 Bg5 27.Rxb7 Rh4 28.Qf3 Be7 29.b3 Rh6 30.g3 Qd6 31.h4 Rf6 32.Qg4+ Rg6 33.Qf4 Qd1 34.Kg2 Bxh4 35.Qf3 Qxf3 36.Kxf3 Bf6 37.Rb6 Bc3 38.Rxg6 Kxg6 39.Kg4 Kf6 40.f4 Ke6 41.e4 f6 42.Kf3 a5 43.Ke3 Be1 44.g4 Kd6 45.g5 fxg5 46.fxg5 Ke5 47.g6 1/2-1/2

Jose Capablanca - G. Hallwegen

San Francisco (simul) 1916

Irregular [C00]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Bd3 Ne7 5.Bg5 d6 6.Qd2 Nd7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bh6 Nf6 9.Bxg7 Kxg7 10.Nc3 Nc6 11.e5 Nd7 12.Qf4 d5 13.Ne2 Ne7 14.Ng3 c6 15.Qg5 Ng8 16.Qg4 Qe7 17.Ng5 Re8 18.f4 Nf8 19.f5 exf5 20.Bxf5 Nh6 21.Qh4 Bxf5 22.Nxf5 Nxf5 23.Qf4 Ne6 24.Nxe6 Qxe6 25.Rf3 h5 26.Raf1 Qe7 27.h3 Rf8 28.g4 hxg4 29.hxg4 Nh6 30.Kg2 Qe6 31.Qf6 Kg8 32.Rg3 Nxg4 33.Qxe6 fxe6 34.Rxg4 Kg7 35.Rh1 Rh8 36.Rxh8 Rxh8 37.b4 Rf8 1/2-1/2

Emanuel Lasker
World Champion Emanuel Lasker visited the Mechanics' on two occasions. In 1902 he gave a small simul and lost a well-known game for stakes against the strong San Francisco amateur Dr. Walter Romaine Lovegrove. Walter R. Lovegrove - Emanuel Lasker

San Francisco (Stakes Games) 1902

Ruy Lopez Open Variation [C82]

( Notes by IM Imre Konig )


In meeting over the board the greatest tactician of all time, Dr. Lovegrove holds his own -- even after having drifted into an inferior position.

1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3 Bc5 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.Qe2 Nxd2 12.Bxd2 f6 13.Rad1

With the threat of 14 exf6 Bxf6 15 Bg5 Qf7 16 Rxe6.

13... Nxe5 14.Nxe5 fxe5 15.Qxe5 Qd6 16.Qxd6 Bxd6 17.Rfe1 Kf7

On 17...Rae8 18. Rxe6 Rxe6 19.Bxd5 wins. Black could have met the threats with 17...Bf7, but with 18.Bg5 White would have obtained the initiative. With the text, a typical Lasker move, Black gets the upper hand. 18.Be3 c6 19.Bc2 Rae8 20.a4 Bg4 21.f3 Bd7

Not 21...Rxe3 22.Rxe3 Bc5 23.Rd4 Bxd4 24.cxd4, for then Black's pawn majority would be immobile.

22.Kf2 Re7 23.axb5 axb5 24.Bg5 Rxe1 25.Rxe1 b4 26.Bd2 Rb8 27.Bc1 Be7

With the threat of ...Bf6. White's position looks hopeless. If 28.Bxh7, then 28...Bf6 would follow. However White finds a saving manuever.

28.Bf4 Ra8 29.Be5 Bf6 30.Bxf6 Kxf6 31.Ke3 Ra2 32.cxb4 Rxb2 33.Bxh7!

The point of ther combination initiated with the 28th move. The locked-in Bishop will be a dangerous prisoner. 33...g6 34.h4 Rxb4 35.g4 Kg7 36.Kf2 Rb7 37.Re7+ Kf6 38.Re1 Bc8 39.Re8 Bxg4 40.Bxg6

Showing excellent judgment, White allows Black two united passed pawns rather than choosing the variation 40.fxg4 Rxh7 41.Rc8 Rxh4 42.Rxc6+ Kg5 which would have caused him more difficulties.

40... Bd7 41.Rg8 Be6 42.Re8 c5 43.h5 c4 44.h6 Kxg6 45.Rxe6+ Kf5 46.Re8 Rh7 47.Ke3 Rxh6 48.Kd4 Rd6 49.Rf8+ Kg5 50.Ke5 d4?!

Black should have been satisfied with a draw. The text-move loses in all variations, but Dr. Lasker can scarcely be blamed for not seeing the problem-like ending which now ensues.

51.Kxd6 d3 52.Ke5 d2 53.Rg8+ Kh4

If 53...Kh5 54.Kf5 Kh6 55.Kf6 Kf7 56.Rg7+ Kh8 ( 57...Kh6 58.Rg2) 57.Rd7 f3=20 58.Kg6 wins.

54.Kf4 Kh3 55.Rd8 c3 56.Ke3 1-0

California Chess Reporter , August 1956, pages 11-12.

Lasker scored eight wins, one draw and two losses in his 11 board simul.

Emanuel Lasker - N. Manson Scotch [C45]

San Francisco (simul) 1902

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Nxd4 Qh4 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nf3 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Nf6 8.0-0 Bxc3 9.bxc3 0-0 10.Bd3 Qg4 11.h3 Qh5 12.Rb1 a6 13.Bg5 d6 14.Re1 Ne5 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Be2 Qh6 17.Rb4 Kh8 18.Qc1 Qxc1 19.Rxc1 Rg8 20.Kf1 b5 21.Rf4 Kg7=20 22.Nd4 Be6 23.Re4 Bxa2 24.f4 Bd5 25.Re3 Nc4 26.Re7 Bxg2+!

Lasker overlooked this shot that clinches the win for Manson . Does anyone know anything about Manson? 27.Kf2 c5 28.Ne6+ Kh8 29.Rxf7 Bd5 30.Bg4 Rxg4 31.hxg4 Bxe6 32.Rxf6 Bxg4 33.Rh1 h5 34.Kg3 Kg7 0-1

Lasker's second visit came 24 years later, after he had relinquished the crown to Capablanca. On March 22, 1926 J.F. Smyth of Oakland was the only winner against Dr. Lasker at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, where play stopped at 12:30 am. The judges adjudicated a win on the 48th move. Draws conceded by Dr. Lasker were credited to W.P. Barlow, H.J. Ralston, and Arthur Feldman. Adjudicated draws went to A.J. Fink and E.W. Gruer, both former state champions; E.O. Fawcett, Hugo Legler and H.O. Sjoberg. The adjudicators were Bernardo Smith, captain of the M.C.C. team, and L.B. Zapoleon, formerly of Washington D.C. American Chess Bulletin, page 51, 1926

The Mechanics' is trying to preserve its chess history and the Newsletter will be printing some of the results. If you have any information (games, photos, anecdotes, newspaper clippings, etc.) pertaining to visits by Vassily Smyslov and Tigran Petrosian to the M.I. please contact John Donaldson.

Alexander Alekhine 1924 and 1929
Alexander Alekhine visited the Mechanics' Institute twice. His first trip to San Francisco came in 1924, a few years before he was to become world champion. Statistics published in the American Chess Bulletin have Alekhine giving a simul on February 27, scoring 23 wins, 4 losses and 5 draws on 32 boards. No games seem to have surfaced from this exhibition, but A.A. chose to include the following exhibition game in his book, On the Road to the World Championship.

W. Lovegrove and E.W. Gruer - A. Alekhine

San Francisco (exhibition game) 1924

Ruy Lopez [C78]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Bc5 6.c3 Ba7 7.d4 Nxe4 8.d5 Ne7 9.Bc2 f5 10.Nxe5 d6 11.Nf3 0-0 12.c4 Ng6 13.Nbd2 Nf6! 14.Nb3 Ne5 15.Nbd4 Ne4 16.b3 Qf6! 17.Bb2 Nxf3+ 18.gxf3 Ng5 19.f4 Bxd4! 20.Bxd4 Qxd4 21.fxg5 Qf4 22.Kh1 b5! 23.Qd3 bxc4 24.bxc4 a5! 25.a4 Ba6 26.Bb3 Rab8 27.Rac1 Rfe8 28.Rg1 Re4 29.Qg3 g6! 30.Rc3 Qd2 31.c5 f4 32.Qf3 Re1! 33.h4 Be2! 34.Qh3 Rxg1+ 35.Kxg1 Qe1+ 36.Kh2 Re8! 37.cxd6 cxd6 38.Bc4 Bxc4 0-1

Alekhine returned to the M.I. in the spring of 1929 as World Champion and his activities were well-documented by M.I. member E.J. Clarke in the San Francisco Chronicle. The clock simul on three boards went reasonably well, but A.A. received very rough treatment by club members in the simul. The exhibition held on May 11 was in fact one of the worst A.A. ever suffered, scoring 27 wins, 8 draws and 8 losses - barely over 70 percent! Not only that, Alekhine didn't race through the exhibition as it ran from 8:30 pm to 2:30 am. Clarke poses the question to Chronicle readers, "Was Alekhine off his game or is it true, as rumored, that we have an unusually strong group of chess players in San Francisco and the Bay Cities." Guthrie McClain in his account of the M.I.'s history in Chess Life in 1981 mentions the legendary hospitality of the Institute. What does he mean by "hospitality"? Legend has it that right before the simul A.A. was treated to an excellent meal with plenty of spirits.

Max Euwe
Continuing our series on World Champions at the MI we move from Alexander Alekhine to Max Euwe. The information on Dr. Euwe's visit is incomplete, but we hope to rectify this at a later date with the assistance of MI Trustee Neil Falconer who drew with the Dutch World Champion. Here is what we have so far.

Max Euwe: 1949 (!?) maybe 1947 January 22, 1949  +16, -3, =3

On January 22, at 8pm, Dr. Euwe was the guest of the Mechanics Institute Chess Club. It was a real gala affair. It took Euwe four hours to finish the show and over 200 spectators watch the battle which ensued during that time. He won 16, lost three (to Herbert Dashel, 17year old San Francisco high school boy; Robert T. Konkel,  Richmond,  and Paul Wolf, San Francisco) and drew three ) Charles Bagby, San Francisco; Neil T. Falconer, Berkeley; and Charles Svalberg, Russian Chess Club.

Max Euwe - Robert Konkel

San Francisco Simul  1949

Ruy Lopez C 90

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 Na5 9.Bc2 c5 10.d4 Qc7 11.Nbd2 0-0 12.Nf1 Bd7

Since White has omitted h3, Black might want to consider 12...Bg4.

13.dxe5 dxe5 14.Ne3 Rad8 15.Nd5 Qd6 16.Nxe7+ Qxe7 17.Bg5 Nc4 18.Rb1?

18.b3 and  18.Bc1 are both superior to the text .

18...h6 19.Bc1 b4 20.Bb3 Na5 21.Bd2 Bc6 22.Qc2 c4! 23.Ba4 b3! 24.axb3 cxb3

25.Bxb3 Bxe4 26.Rxe4 Nxe4 27.Bxf7+ Qxf7 28.Qxe4 Rxd2 29.Nxd2 Qxf2+ 30.Kh1

Qxd2 31.Qxe5 Qxb2 0-1

Source: California Chess News ???