Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson


 

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #609
November 28, 2012


In chess you have fixed rules and unpredictable results. In [Russian politics] it’s the opposite.

—Garry Kasparov, quoted by the Daily Beast, on why he’s not running for political office.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The four leaders going into round 7 of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon Elliott Winslow, Romy Fuentes, Todd Rumpf and Uyanga Byambaa drew each other in hard-fought games (Winslow–Fuentes and Byambaa–Rumph), enabling Andy Lee to catch up to them, at 5½ points. Several others have five points, including the ever-dangerous James Jones, making the tournament completely wide open with two rounds to go.

French Winawer C19
Andy Lee–Igor Traub
Fall Tuesday Night Marathon (7) 2012
Notes by FM Andy Lee
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 c5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Nc6 7 Nf3 Nge7 8 a4 Qa5 9 Bd2 Qc7 10 Bb5 0-0 11 0-0 Bd7

After a few move order inversions, we have reached a common French Winawer position. I had reached this position twice before, but with the important difference that my bishop was still on c1 (Black had played Qc7 rather than Qa5-c7), and could play Ba3 with an advantage. With White’s bishop misplaced on d2, Black is doing fine.

12 Re1 b6 13 Bd3 Nf5

This move doesn’t appear in my database—normally Black opts for 13 ... h6 to stop White’s main threat: 14 Bxh7+ Kxh7 15 Ng5+ Kg8 16 Qh5 Rfd8 17 Qxf7+ Kh8 18 Re3 Ng8 19 Rh3+ Nh6 20 Rxh6+ gxh6 21 Qh7#.

14 g4!?

Committing myself to an attempt at violence on the kingside.

14 ... Nfe7 15 Ng5

Unfortunately, 15 Bxh7+ no longer works, as the queen’s path to h5 is blocked.

15 ... Ng6

I hadn’t quite realized how simply this move solves Black’s problems when I played 14 g4. I had been hoping for something like 15 ... h6 16 Nh7 Rfc8 17 Qf3!, when the threat of Nf6+ is crushing: for example, 17 ... c4 18 Nf6+! Kh8 19 g5, and White wins.

16 Re3 c4

This seemed like the logical way to blunt White’s attack, since if I retreat the bishop, Black’s f6 break is going to be very strong. My computer likes a more complicated approach: 16 ... h6 17 Nxf7 Kxf7 18 g5! (I had planned 18 Rf3+? Kg8 19 Bxg6, but then 19 ... cxd4 20 cxd4 Nxd4 21 Rxf8+ Rxf8 22 f4 and Black is better) 18 ... hxg5 19 Rf3+ Nf4 20 Rxf4+ gxf4 21 Qh5+ Ke7 22 Qh4+ with a perpetual.

17 Bxg6 fxg6

Forced, since 17 ... hxg6 loses to Qf3-h3.

18 Rg3 h6 19 Nh3 a6

Black should have more useful moves here, and weakening the b6-pawn seems unnecessary.

20 Qc1

I wanted to play 20 g5 very badly, with the idea of 20 ... h5 21 Nf4 Kh7 22 Nxh5!. However, if Black instead plays 21 ... Rxf4!? 22 Bxf4, I am not sure how I can possibly win, as White’s pieces have few prospects in the closed position. After the game, I noticed that Black can also simply play 21 ... Ne7, since 22 Nxg6? Nxg6 23 Qxh5 Be8 24 Rh3 Rf5 25 Qh7+ Kf8 26 Bc1 Bf7 27 Ba3+ Ke8 allows the king to escape to the queenside.

20 ... Kh7

Correctly avoiding 20 ... Ne7? 21 Bxh6! when White’s attack finally crashes through.

21 Qa3 Rf7 22 Rb1 Rb8 23 Kg2

After some thought, I could not think of a move that served any purpose. 23 Qd6 Qxd6 24 exd6 e5 is premature, and I could not see an advantage in a convoluted maneuver such as Qa2 and Bc1-a3, when the queen is misplaced, the bishop attacks nothing, and White’s control over the f4 square is diminished.

23 ... Ne7 24 Qd6 Qxd6 25 exd6 Nc8 26 Bf4

Had I seen the position coming a few moves down the road, I might have played 26 a5 instead.

26 ... Rxf4!?

Black does not have to sacrifice the exchange here, but it seems perfectly reasonable. White has to be a little careful that he does not let the position slip away.

27 Nxf4 g5 28 Nh5 a5!

Fixing the weak a-pawn. Now I realized that I could not speak of any advantage.

29 f4!?

Trying desperately to open some lines for my rooks, but Black grabs the initiative.

29 ... Nxd6 30 fxg5 hxg5 31 Re3 Ne4 32 Ng3?!

I was worried about 32 Ra1 Rf8 33 Ng3 Rf2+, but after 34 Kg1 Rxc2 35 Nxe4 dxe4 36 Rb1 White is clearly better.

32 ... Bxa4 33 Nxe4 dxe4 34 Re2

The pawn is safe thanks to the unfortunate position of my king.

34 ... Bc6 35 Rf1 Kg6 36 Kg3 Rh8?!

Black should get his queenside pawns rolling with 36 ... b5, since then plan in the game, 37 Ref2 b4 38 cxb4 axb4 39 Rf8 Rb7 is much too slow. The position is still equal after 37 Ra1, but White cannot hope to win.

37 Ref2 Rc8 38 Rf7

A tough choice between this and 38 Rf8 Rc7 39 Rb8 Bb7, when White can press, but Black seems to hold with best play. Still, this might have been a better winning attempt than playing to the seventh rank.

38 ... e3!

A defensive move of surprising strength.

39 Re7 Bd5 40 Re1

If 40 Rff7, 40 ...Rg8 holds everything together.

40 ... Rf8 41 Rxe3 Rf1 42 R3xe6

White has nothing better than to bail out of the position, as Black’s pieces are on the verge of generating devastating counterplay.

42 ... Bxe6 43 Rxe6+ Kf7?

A blunder, as we were playing quickly and getting a little low on time. 43 ... Rf6 44 Re8 is of course a draw, as White’s more active rook amounts to little unless Black gets careless.

44 Rxb6 Re1 45 Kf3 Re6?!

This makes life easier for White; the position should still be won after 45 ... Rh1 46 Rc6 Rxh2 47 Rxc4 Rxc2, but a good deal of technique is required.

46 Rxe6 Kxe6 47 Ke3 Kd5 48 Kd2 Kc6 49 Kc1 Kb6 50 Kb2 Kc6

I was briefly horrified that I might have blundered into a draw via corresponding squares—that is, Black’s king moves back and forth on the sixth rank, only touching b5 when I play Ka3, and responding to h3 with g6. Fortunately, White can just eke out a win.

51 Ka3 Kb5 52 h3

Saving a tempo later on, although 52 d5 also wins.

52 ... g6 53 d5 Kc5 54 Ka4 Kxd5 55 Kxa5 Ke4

The key trick is that 55 ... Kc5 56 Ka4! breaks the opposition: 56 ... Kc6 57 Kb4 Kd5 58 Kb5, and wins.

56 Kb4 Kf3 57 Kxc4 Kg3 58 Kd5

This is simpler than 58 Kd3 Kxh3 59 c4 Kxg4 60 Ke4! Kh4 61 c5 g4 62 c6 g3 63 Kf3! Kh3 64 c7 g2 65 c8=Q+

58 ... Kxh3 59 c4 Kxg4 60 c5 Kf3 61 c6 g4 62 c7 g3 63 c8=Q g2 64 Qh3+ Kf2 65 Qh2 Kf1 66 Qf4+ Kg1 67 Ke4 g5 68 Qxg5 Kf1 69 c4 1-0


Hello everyone,

The Blitz is on tonight . . .

It is time for the weekly blitz tournament at Mechanics Institute Chess Club. As always, the last entry is accepted at 6:40 pm, with sign-up beginning at 6:20 pm. Entry is $10 with clock, or $11 without clock. Prizes are 50%, 30%, 20% of entry fees. Time control preferably is 3 minute, increment 2 seconds; otherwise 5 minutes, no increment.

Last week’s winners were:

1st - Ray Kaufman
2nd - Carlos D’Avila
3rd - Jules Jelinek

Look forward to seeing you tonight.
Jules Jelinek
Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator


Brooklyn Castle is still playing daily at the Opera Plaza Theater (601 Van Ness) at 2:30, 4:45 and 7:15.

One of the great gentlemen of American chess, Walter Shipman, only received his International Master title in 1982 when he was 53 years old, but he had long been one of the top American players, despite working full-time as a lawyer. Firm evidence for this claim can be seen in his performance in the 1972 Atlantic Open held July 1-4 in New York City. Rated 2401 going into the event, Shipman took first on tiebreak over Norman Weinstein. His 7-1 score included wins over Orest Popovych (rated 2442 at the time) and Walter Browne, and draws with Julio Kaplan and Arthur Bisguier.

Shipman, who is an expert on the history of American chess and in particular that of the
Manhattan Chess Club, of which he was a long-time member, moved to San Francisco in 1995, and has been a welcome addition to the Mechanics’ Institute and Bay Area chess ever since.

2) A.J. Fink (1890-1956)

The world-famous Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club problemist and endgame expert A.J. Fink was also one of the first two recognized Masters to develop in San Francisco (the other being Dr. Lovegrove).

Born in 1890, Fink learned to play a few months before the earthquake, and a few years later was among the best players at the Institute. The next few decades he would win the California State Championship in 1922, 1928, 1929and 1945 (tied for first with
Herman Steiner at 8/9) and finished second on four other occasions. Fink was the champion of the Mechanics’ in 1913, 1916 and 1919 and runner-up three other times.

Fink earned his master title by scoring over 40 percent (5-7) in the 1922 Chicago Masters, won by
Marshall, ahead of Torre and Maroczy.  He was the top-finishing Californian in the 1923 Western Chess Association Championship (later re-classified as the 1923 US Open), held at the Mechanics’ Institute, where he finished fourth with a score of 7-4. Fink occupied the cellar at Pasadena 1932 at 3-8, but beat Steiner and Araiza.

His last major event was the
1946 US Championship held in New York City. Fink confided to H.J. Ralston that he found the conditions for the event challenging, but for a 56-year-old his 4-14 score was nothing to be embarrassed about.

3) Marshall Chess Club

Frank Marshall, writing in My Fifty Years of Chess in 1942, has the following to say about the famous chess club which bears his name.

One event ... took on added importance as the years went on. This was the founding of Marshall’s Chess Divan at Keene’s Chop House, 70 West 36th Street, New York, in 1915. The object was to establish in New York a central meeting place for lovers of chess, much on the same lines as such famous resorts as Simpson’s Divan in London and the Café de la Regence in Paris. It was my idea to make the Divan a place of instruction where young players would be encouraged and where all chess players could feel free to gather.

The friends who visited us at the Divan formed the nucleus of the present Marshall Chess Club, with its notable membership and palatial quarters. We occupied various premises from 1915 to 1922, when we decided to incorporate the club. Alrick H. Man was the first President and our first club house, purchased by a group of members, was at 135 West 12th Street. In 1931 ... the club’s present quarters and also my home, was purchased.

A recent visit to the famous
John G. White Collection at the Cleveland Public Library, the largest collection of chess literature on the planet, was quite productive. Among the finds was a letter on the Marshall Chess Club’s stationary dated November 24, 1922. The club had recently moved into its new home at 135 West 12th Street only three blocks from its current location and, like it, a handsome brownstone. The letter mentions the property was purchased, not rented; this makes one curious why nine years later a decision was made to move. Perhaps the Great Depression had something to do with it. The letter suggests that the financing of the club was similar to its present location at 23 West 10th Street—membership dues and renting out apartments on the upper floors.

Incidentally for those who have recently won the lottery the penthouse of the present location of the Marshall—a 1200-square-feet, 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment with 14-feet ceilings—is rented for $6,250 a month.

Dues were $30 a year in 1922 (roughly $400 in 2012, when adjusted for inflation) with a special price of $15 for those residing 30 or more miles away.


4) Franklin Mercantile Chess Club

The Mechanics’ Institute (founded 1854) and the Marshall Chess Club (which began as Marshall’s Chess Divan in 1915) are two of the most prominent clubs in the United States but there is another famous institution in American chess—Philadelphia’s Franklin-Mercantile. While the Franklin Chess Club was officially founded in 1885, its origins date back to the Philadelphia Chess Club, which ran from 1859–1885. A booklet produced for the centennial celebration of the Franklin-Mercantile notes it started on October 26th, 1885, with essentially the same group of officers as was in charge of the Philadelphia Chess Club when it ended earlier in the year.  Remove this break and the Franklin Chess Club, which merged with the Mercantile Library Chess Association (founded in 1896) in 1955, precedes any in New York City, including the fabled Manhattan (1877–2002).

The
Franklin-Mercantile is still going strong. Witness its performance in the 2012 US Chess League, where it dominated the Eastern Division during the regular season and won its quarter-final and semi-final playoff matches in convincing fashion. Grandmaster Sergey Erenburg is the star of the team, playing first board in all twelve matches (8/12, for a 2696 performance), but the most valuable player on the team has to be FIDE Master Dov Gorman. Playing primarily on third board against higher-rated opposition, Gorman has scored 8.5 from 10 for a 2624 performance, and done this with a rating of only 2294. The USCL has a maximum rating average of 2400 per match, so Gorman has not only had a tremendous individual performance, but also allowed Philadelphia to play higher-rated players on the other boards throughout the season. He’s definitely on the shortlist of candidates who have helped their team the most.

Facing the Philadelphia Inventors in the USCL final on December 1st are the
Seattle Sluggers.  Despite finishing only fourth in the Western Division during the regular season, the Sluggers have won both rounds of the playoffs without being pressed. They have a strong first board, just like Philadelphia, in Varuzhan Akobian, who has scored 4 from 5 (2758), and, again like the Inventors, they have an overachieving third board in Josh Sinanan (6.5/9 for a 2464 performance). The match may be decided on board four, where Philadelphia will likely field veteran IM Rick Costigan, while Seattle will field one of two youngsters that are less than a third his age.

 

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