Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #655
January 22, 2014

I think for me, the most important thing was the passion to learn, to have fun—obviously to win, but most of all to learn. And growing up—I still am—but I was pretty used to doing basically the things I wanted to do, and most of the time that was chess. And so I would constantly be sitting at my board reading some chess books, playing online, playing in tournaments whenever I could. And I think to become really good in chess, you really need that. To become one of the best, it’s not enough to go to the chess club a few times a week, play a tournament now and then, as you would in other sports. You shouldn’t just go to practice. You should be, in a sense, living chess all the time.

—Magnus Carlsen, in reply to the question “what it takes to become the best”.
Mountain View, California, January 16, 2014

The 14th Annual Henry Gross Memorial G/45 will be held on February 1.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Room News

Steven Gaffagan, Ashik Uzzaman, Steven Krasnov and Billy Gray are leading the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon after three rounds with perfect scores. The event, which includes 2 IMs and 5 NMs playing, set a TNM attendance record when Brendan MacIntyre became the 91st player to enter the eight-round Swiss. It’s still possible to play with half-point byes for the first three rounds.

From round 3 of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Krasnov–Royzen after 6.Nd2)White to move (Krasnov–Royzen after 33...Rdd4)
White to move (Odondo–Askin after 21...Nxf6)White to move (Anderson–Drane after 19...Rc8)
White to move (Ostrovsky–Sahin after 13...cxd5)White to move (Casares–Hilliard after 26...g6)
White to move (Casares–Hilliard after 28...Re7)White to move (Kirkwood–Agdamag after 9...Ba6)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 3.

Jules Jelinek, Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator, writes:

Hi everyone,

First off—mark your calendars. The big annual Ray Schutz Memorial Blitz is scheduled for Sunday May 4, 2014.

The new Swiss format continues to be a success. Last week we had 12 players and had time to play 6 rounds. Coming late will no longer prevent you from being able to play in the Wednesday Night Blitz (obviously, the later you arrive, the fewer rounds you will be able to play in and hence the lower the total number of Swiss points you will be able to accumulate).

So, for the remainder of January, it has been decided that we will continue with the new Swiss format. Assuming no unforseen problems develop, this format will be made permanent in February.

So, here is a recap of the new format once again. Here is how it works:

Same entry fees as before. Same 50%-30%-20% prizes, with all players being eligible as before, but here is what will be different:

The first round will start at 6:45 pm. Trial run will continue through the entire month of January; there is no 6:45 pm entry cut-off time. Late entries accepted.

It will be either 5- or 6- (# of players–1 rounds; not to exceed 6 rounds) round Swiss System, with each player playing two games (one black; one white) with each opponent they are paired against. At the start of the tournament, the strength of each player will be estimated and the players ranked accordingly. If the player is a new participant in the Wednesday Night Blitz, they will be placed at the end of the initial pairing list unless their strength is known or they are a titled player. Then, pairing in each round of the Blitz Tournament will be made according to the Swiss System pairing method. At the end of each round, each player is expected to clearly tell the organizer what their results were for the round. Then the organizer will announce the pairings for the next round. This will repeat until either 5 or 6 rounds have been played (depending on time available)

Odd (extra) player out at the beginning of any round will be paired with the next player to enter. Round ends when all initially-paired players for that round have finished (not to be less than 20 minutes). If extra player has completed two games, the result is recorded; if only one game was completed, the extra player gets that result plus a 1-point bye so they are not penalized; if no game was played or finished, then the extra player gets a 2-point bye. The player arriving late only gets their score in that round. If a player enters late during the round and cannot be paired, at the end of the round they will be awarded a 2-point bye if they are less than 5 minutes late to that particular round; awarded a 1-point bye if between 5 and15 minutes late for that particular round; and awarded no bye if they arrived more than 15 minutes late for that particular round.

Last blitz tournament results were:

1st – IM Odondoo Gandolo
2nd - Jules Jelinek
3rd - Hans Niemann and IM Elliott Winslow

See you tonight!

2) John Grefe (1946-2013) Part Three

A Memorial for John Grefe will be held Saturday, February 8 from 1 to 5 pm at the Mechanics’ Institute. All are welcome to attend.

John played almost all his chess in North America, with tournaments in Bulgaria, England, Australia and Sweden the exceptions. He represented the United States in one official FIDE event, the 1971 World Student Team Championship, held in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. John was the second reserve on the silver-medal-winning team, which included Andy Soltis, William Martz, Ken Rogoff, Greg Defotis and James Tarjan. Grandmaster Lubosh Kavalek served as both captain and analyst.

The following game, though far from perfect, is a fascinating struggle that is well worth playing over. There were no bulletins for this event, and if not for Andy Soltis, who included it in his report on the event which appeared in Chess Life and Review in 1971(page 553), it would have been lost forever. It’s sad to think how many interesting games have been lost. This is particularly true of American weekend Swiss events, where the scoresheets are often thrown out soon after being played.

Fortunately this is not always the case. Many of John’s games played in Northern California in the late 1970s and early 1980s have been preserved because of the efforts of Max Burkett, who produced many bulletins during this time.

Reti D11
John Grefe–Olafur Olafsson
Student Team ch (finals) Mayaguez 1971

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bf5 4.0–0 e6 5.b3 Bd6 6.Bb2 0–0 7.c4 c6 8.d4 Nbd7 9.Nbd2 Ne4 10.Nh4 Nxd2 11.Nxf5?

Correct was 11.Qxd2 with a roughly equal position, but if that move had been played none of the wild adventures that are soon to occur would have happened.



This is going too far. John should have resigned himself to the loss of the exchange with 12.a3 Ba5 13.Ne3.

12...Kxg7 13.a3 Nxf1?

Black misses 13...Ba5! which would have won a piece.

14.axb4 Nxh2 15.Kxh2 h5 16.Qd3 f5 17.Rh1 a5 18.b5 Qg5 19.Ba3 Rh8


It was essential to play 20.Bc1. Now Black launches a very dangerous attack.

20...h4! 21.Kg1 Qc1+ 22.Bf1 Nf6

Black had equally strong continuations in 22...dxc4 23.bxc4 hxg3 24.Qxg3+ Kf7 and 22...hxg3 23.Qxg3+ Kf7, both of which should win fairly easily.

The play up to this point might make you wonder why this game was selected for the Newsletter but fear not, things are going to soon heat up!



Was this divine inspiration or did Black overlook his queen was attacked? We will likely never know but can state the Icelander was a Master and 23...Qe1 was winning.

24.Bxc1 gxf2+ 25.Kg2

White hangs on to his extra material but 25.Kxf2, getting rid of the pesky pawn on f2 was worth a thought. It’s really a question of taste.

25...Ne4 26.Rxh8 Rxh8 27.bxc6 bxc6 28.Bf4 Kf7 29.e3 Rg8+ 30.Kf3 Rg1 31.Bg2 dxc4

Black can initiate a combination with 31...f1Q+ but it falls short: 32.Bxf1 Rxf1+ 33.Qxf1 Nd2+ 34.Ke2 Nxf1 35.Kxf1 and White is winning.

32.bxc4 a4 33.Bd6 Rb1 34.Ke2 Rb2+


35.Kf1 was correct as 35...Rb1+ wins the queen but loses the game after 36.Qxb1 Nd2+ 37.Kxf2 Nxb1 38.Bxc6+.


This works but objectively 35...f1Q+ 36.Bxf1 Nf2+ 37.Kc1 Nxd3+ 38.Bxd3 Rb3 should have been played.


36.Qc2 was still winning.


The point!

37.Qf1 Rb1+ 38.Ke2 Rb2+ 39.Kd1 Rb1+ ½–½

3) Magnus Carlsen visits the Bay Area

The World Champion’s visit to the Bay Area last week attracted widespread interest from both the local chess community and general public.

For a selection of photographs from an invitation-only dinner at Joe Lonsdale’s home taken by Richard Shorman go to

Thursday, January 16, the Churchill Club of Silicon Valley hosted an event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, which consisted of a small simul followed by a talk moderated by NM Peter Thiel.

This event sold out and was attended by several hundred people, including GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Vinay Bhat. The latter were in the minority, as most of the audience appeared to be non-chess players who came to see a famous celebrity.

They were not disappointed as Magnus, who speaks English quite fluently, was an excellent interview, with a dry sense of humor delivered in a deadpan manner. The talk is given in its entirety at and runs a little over an hour. Those who want to only check out some of the highlights may wish to go to

4) Here and There

Congratulations to FM Andy Lee for winning the Berkeley Chess Club Championship last December with a score of 6½ from 8. Tying for second a half-point back in the 43-player event were NM Roger Poehlmann, Walter Lesquiller and Alan Glascoe.

Eduardo Bauza Mercere has unearthed the following game played in the Western Chess Association Championship (now US Open) of 1905 in Excelsior, Minnesota.

French Exchange C01
Magnus Smith–Louis Fitzgerald
6th Western Chess Association Championship, Excelsior, 1905

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 Bd6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Nc3 0–0 7.0–0 Nc6 8.Bg5 Bg4 9.Kh1 Re8 10.Ne2 Nb4 11.c3 Nxd3 12.Qxd3 c6 13.Ng3 Bc7 14.Rae1 Qd6 15.Ne5 Be6 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Nh5 fxe5 18.dxe5 Qc5 19.f4 Kf8 20.f5 Bc8 21.Qg3 Ke7 22.Qg5+ Kd7 23.Nf6+ Kd8 24.Nxe8+ Kxe8 25.e6 Qf8 26.Qh5 Ke7 27.exf7+ Kf6 28.Re8 Qxf7 29.Qh6+ 1–0

source: Winnipeg Tribune, 24 Aug 1905, p. 5


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