Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #504


"The austerity of one's interactions with a computer is something that appealed to me," It is like chess - chess is very austere, in that you don't have many rules, there is no randomness, and the problem is very hard."


Julian Assange (WikiLeaks)- The New Yorker, June 7, 2010, page 46-47.



1) Mechanics' Institute Chess News

2) Americans in Europe

3) Chess Columns in San Francisco

4) Upcoming Events


1) Mechanics' Institute Chess News


The 61-player field in the Peter Grey Tuesday Night Marathon is starting to separate after three rounds. Leading the way are FM Andy Lee, NM Romulo Fuentes and Expert Steven Gaffagan, the three remaining perfect scores, but the real highlight so far was 93-year-old Dan Litowsky's win over 1940 rated George Sanguinetti. Litowsky has been on his rating floor at 1700 for awhile so this was a real upset. It's still not to late to enter this nine round event with half point byes for rounds 1-3.


The San Francisco Mechanics' start the 2010 US Chess League season this coming Wednesday, August 25th, against the Dallas Destiny. The 2006 champs, who hold the all-time USCL records for best match and individual winning percentages, the Mechanics' will be missing two of the League's great performers this season in GM Vinay Bhat and IM Sam Shankland, but welcome 2010 Denker Champion Steven Zierk to the team. This season the MI will be using a much more balanced lineup approach than in season's past.


It was Vinay Bhat versus the Cubans in Badalona, Spain, with Vinay finishing 6th in a strong open behind the Cuban quartet of Bruzon, Quesada, Almeida and Corrales. Vinay writes about the event which had an unusual format:


I played better in Balaguer, but then I regressed a bit in Badalona. The overall finish was fine (6th), but I wasted a lot of chances. The tournament format was also tough, as it started as a 6-round swiss after which the top 8 broke off to form their own little KO-style bracket. The rest of the tournament continued for 3 more rounds. The problem was that I lost to Bruzon after getting a double black in the main event (I played quite well and then had two ways to make him force a draw and instead gave him my queen) and ended up as the #8 seed in the playoff.

In every game of the playoff, the higher seed gets the white pieces (there's only one classical game before rapid tiebreaks), so as the #8 seed, I got the black pieces in the final 3 games. I ended up losing in the 7th round, winning in the 8th round (a win in the rapid tiebreaks), and lost again in the 9th round. Amazingly, in none of my losses was I worse before I was better - I threw away advantages (sometimes large ones) in all 3 games. I think my formerly good record with black has disappeared this year. =)

I played in a pretty strong rapid tournament yesterday (August 14th) and finished in a tie for 3rd (4th on tiebreaks). Bruzon won that event as well. My final event starts on the 20th.

The Mechanics' will be hosting the 6th Annual Bernardo Smith Memorial this weekend. The two day tournament, open to players under 1800, is named after the Mechanics' organizer and tournament director from the first quarter of the 20th century.


Book and equipment donations to the Mechanics' are always welcome and are tax deductible due to the M.I.'s 501(c) (3) nonprofit status. If you have any chess books or equipment that have been lying around unused for some time consider donating to the Mechanics'. You will not only get a tax write off but also the satisfaction of seeing things put to good use.



2) Americans in Europe


This summer many Americans are playing in Europe. Leading the way are Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana who respectively have 3.5 and 3 from 6 in helping Youth to a 15.5-14.5 lead over Experience in the NH tournament in Amsterdam. Four rounds remain in the 6 player aside Scheveningen event.


Congratulations go to Turkish GM Suat Atalik who had a fantastic result in winning the Negroponte Open in Chaldiki, Greece, with a score of 8 from 9. Atalik, seeded 7th at 2607, turned in a performance rating of 2849! American GM Robert Hess, who lost only to Atalik, also had a great tournament in scoring 7.5, good for clear second and 12 FIDE rating points which puts now puts him at 2600. MI member Josh Friedel was undefeated with 6 points but drew too many games to contend for the top spots.


Alisa Melekhina turned in one of the best results ever for an American in the World Girls Under 209 Championship held in Poland, scoring 8.5 from 13 to tie for 6th place. Marc Arnold, the US representative in the World Junior, scored 7.5-5.5 to tie for 22nd.



3) Chess Columns in San Francisco


San Francisco is blessed with having three regular chess columns. The first, by Shelby Lyman which is syndicated, appears daily with local news on Thursdays. Lesser known but with much more space is Victor Todortsev's long running column in the SF Russian language newspaper Kstati (To the Point). Victor, who is a fixture in the Tuesday Night Marathon, writes a fine column taking advantage of the newspaper size page he is allotted, filling it with news, games (typically three per column), photos and problems to solve. Issue # 799 for August 5, 2010 was devoted to Daniel and Alan Naroditsky.


Last and certainly not least Frisco Del Rosario, well-known to Bay Area chess community for over thirty years, is the chess columnist for the online version of the San Francisco Examiner. Go to for his latest column an in depth look at the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon including a picture of James Jones and two of his games from the event with annotations.



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