Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News #659
February 19, 2014

Intuition is the ability to assess a situation, and without reasoning or logical analysis, immediately make the correct decision. An intuitive decision can arise either as the result of long thought about the answer to the question, or without it.

—Valeri Beim, The Enigma of Chess Intuition page 10

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

Going into the last round of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon no fewer than 11 of the 101 participants have a chance to tie for first. Leading the field are IM Odondoo Ganbold and Experts Steven Gaffagan and 10-year-old Hans Niemann with 5½ from 7. Half a point back are top-rated NM Hayk Manvelyan, IM Elliott Winslow, NM Russell Wong, Class A players Brendan Lacounte, Hovik Manvelyan, Sergey Ostrovsky and Ashik Uzzaman, plus the tournament surprise, Ehkmaa Nyangar. Rated only 1641, she has scored three big upsets. Her young daughter Enkhjin (Cindy) is also having a great tournament. Rated only 1320 going in, she has 4½ points, with three big upsets as well.

From round 7 of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Manvelyan–Odondoo after 19...Qc7)White to move (Wong–Gaffagan after 43...Nb4)
Black to move (Tsodikova–Uzzaman after 20 Nf3)White to move (Nyangar–Maser after 14...a5)
Black to move (Steger–MacIntyre after 32 Nd2)Black to move (Poling–Potharam after 26 Rxb7)
White to move (Sherwood–Drane after 20...Bxh4)White to move (James–Newey after 21...Na5)
White to move (Gomboluudev–Vazquez after 21...Nb4)White to move (Oyuntseren–Simpkins after 8...dxe5)
White to move (Oyuntseren–Simpkins after 15...Qe7)White to move (Locke–Furukawa after 12...Bh5)
White to move (Frank–Schlosberg after 14...Nd7)Black to move (Hilliard–Gandhi after 51 Kg2)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 7.

Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator Jules Jelinek writes:

Last week (February 12th) we had 9 players (and growing) and the results were

1st - Arthur Ismakov 10 pts
2nd – Elliott Winslow and Jules Jelinek 8½ pts

The US Chess School, for the most promising juniors in the country, had a session at the MI in early January 2013. They will be back again April 14–17, and at least 8 of the 12 attendees will be Bay Area juniors. This includes Cameron Wheeler, Kesav Viswanathan, Vignesh Panchanatham and Siddarth Banik, who all played on the 2013 MI US Chess League team.

2) A Chess Poem (on John Grefe) by Dennis Fritzinger


gray walrus mustache,
low laugh
(like an affable sea captain),
that was john.
last time i saw him
he was sitting at a table
outside strada,
trying to remember
(as he put it)
“how the horsies move.”
i used to see him there
more often,
with a newspaper, a chess game,
and a pocket chess set.
now, never again
(but i’ll still have my memories).
in vonnegut world
he’s still there,
smiling, friendly,
playing over a chess game,
with a cup of coffee
for company.
same walrus mustache,
same sea captain
and in vonnegut world
he’s much younger,
tearing up tournaments,
being the tough competitor
that he was.

3) Jerry Hanken interviews Tony Miles (Part Two)

Jerry Hanken’s Interview With Grand Master Anthony Miles—April 13, 1978

J.H. -You first received your certificate as a British Master under some rather unusual circumstances.

A.M. -The British Master title. Yes, that’s a mysterious institution. You have to appear on the British grading list so high for so many years or alternatively get an international title.

J.H. -What year was that?

A.M -1974. Six months after that I got this nice little note from the secretary of the federation saying that I had now been made a British Master. I was very proud of this prestigious paper. I chucked it in the bin. Another meanings title, that just goes with the rating.

J.H. -You also had an interesting experience with the federation when you got our Grandmaster’s title.

A.M. - No that’s not the British Federation, It’s this mysterious idea FIDE has. When people get the G.M. title they wire you this marvelous certificate from Amsterdam to certify that you are a fully fledged Grandmaster. The only problem is you have to pay some ridiculous price for it. I don’t know what it was. It was something absurd. They sent it to the British Federation to pass on to me for about $100 - I’m not sure what it was. I told them to send it back. That I wouldn’t need a certificate to prove I was a Grand Master.

J.H. -When you achieved this title it was a rather big event for England. Was it 1976?

A.M. - I think you’re right. I think it was just before I came here. . .last.

J.H. -It was rather a large event for England. . .

A.M. - One small step.

J.H. -“One small step for man”. . . (laughter) Do you feel that your earning the Grand Master title has done anything specifically for English chess?

A.M. - Well, I think it improved the publicity. It also seems a lot easier when someone has done it, I think.

J.H. -You were followed by Keen and Steen and now probably Mestel.

A.M. - I think the Grand Master title is now getting much easier to get than it used to be, I mean, it wasn’t so much harder for me but, I mean, five or 10 years ago, it was infinitely harder to get than it is now. Now you can’t count the number of “Grand Master” around. I think the whole title system you see, is far too much abused these days. I think the way the system is going at the moment, we’ll reach the stage where International Masters and the Grand Master titles will be meaningless and the whole thing will revert to what it started off as, everyone will know who the real strong players are and the titles won’t have any significance at all.

J.H. -Some Grand Masters’ performances don’t live up to their title.

A.M. - Well, you know. . . there is a FIDE proposal to re-introduce active and inactive Grand Master. I heard one story that this had been passed, I don’t know . . . I heard another that it hadn’t, so I am not sure. These things are never publicized.

J.H. -This would require a Grand Master to confirm his rating periodically?

A.M. - Any Grand Masters rating which is below 2500 couldn’t be counted as a Grand Master in tournaments, so you have to have a number of Grand Masters rated over 2500. Any rated below 2500 wouldn’t count . . . I don’t know if they have done that or not.

J.H. -Let’s talk a little bit about chess organization in Great Britain as compared to America, specifically about the British Chess Federation.

A.M. - You want me to say nasty things? (Laughs wickedly)

J.H. -No, I just want you to give me your impressions . . .

A.M. - I think both countries, America and Britain, have their problems. The basic problem is chess is very cheap and amateurish in its organization. I mean, to become a member of the British Chess Federation or play in our tournaments, you have to pay an annual fee of about a dollar. I think it starts at about 15 (dollars) here.

J.H. -15.

A.M. - This is something vaguely more realistic. Maybe something higher would be better. If you charge members a dollar a year, you have no money and you can’t finance anything. Rather small, small, small. There is a word for it . . . “small time.”

J.H. -Perhaps you can answer this? Is membership in the federation required to play in graded tournaments? As it is in the United States?

A.M. - Not always. I think it depends on the tournament. You can require this but you needn’t.

J.H. -There’s no monopoly, such as the USCF rating system gives.

A.M. - They are trying to encourage it with things like, the Cutty Sark Grand Prix that we have in England. Your tournaments are then more important if you require all the players to be members of the British Chess Federation.

J.H. -You mean, people who are members can be rated in tournaments even though non-rated people play?

A.M. - Oh, yes!

J.H. -You see, in America, we have an artificial monopoly . . .

A.M. - Yes.

J.H. -With the Federation, because the tournament can’t be rated unless all players are rated. Has anyone proposed this radical idea in England?

A.M. - I don’t really know. I don’t have much contact with the powers that be.

J.H. -You don’t play in England much.

A.M. - No. Hardly at all. I haven’t played in England in over two years.

J.H. -Is this because you’re mad at the organizers?

A.M. - No. In England they all became Swiss tournaments. I rather stopped playing those I think the technique required is rather different from international tournaments, I haven’t much to gain from playing them, apart from a bit of cash, the incentive is not very much, if someone offered me a large appearance fee, I would play. Now, in the British Championship, that’s not so good either. Of course, all the British Championships I have played I have done terribly, but you know I have vague ambitions of proving myself the best in the world rather than going back to demonstrate that I am the best in England. They have put the prizes up to being almost respectable size now, but that would be a step backward, I think. The only other things are International tournaments, which, in my opinion, are very badly run in England.

J.H. -You alluded to the World Championship cycle.

A.M. - Yes.

J.H. -During the last cycle you were not in the zonal tournament? What was the reason for that?

A.M. - Because I was not given a place by the powers that be in the British Chess Federation. There were two places and my rating was marginally lower than Hartston’s and Keene’s and they don’t think ahead too much. Well we know that. I think Larsen once said about the Danish Federation, “Oh well, they’re only amateurs, what do you expect? . . . ” I don’t mean that so badly.

J.H. -I presume you expect to be included in the current zonal?

A.M. - Well, there was a move to have me barred because I didn’t play in the European Team Championship but I think they’ll probably let me have a place. They sent me a circular awhile ago, saying please let us know if you are available for the selection for the Zonal. Apply not later than, I think, it was April 14th.

J.H. -Which is tomorrow . . .

A.M. - Which is tomorrow, and that otherwise, it will be considered that you are not available. Only by chance I was back in the country for a couple of days before April 14th.

J.H. -I see . . .

A.M. - So I very nearly didn’t get a place this time.

J.H. -You feel you are a serious contender for the World Championship?

A.M. -Well, the World Championship. I think, you need to be very lucky to win. You’ve got to be fairly lucky even to get by the zonal stage. If I play in the zonal, it will be half a dozen good players and 12 players from somewhere like the Channel Islands, Luxembourg and Andorra, you know, it could depend on if anyone drops a point to a complete idiot, then that cold get you knocked out at the zonal stage, I mean . . . survive that, you have to hit top form for the Interzonal matches to survive and you’ve got three candidates and then you’re supposed to have some ideas let to play your World Championship match . . . I think it’s a million to one against anyone winning the World Championship. But you know, I’ll take that as it comes.

J.H. -There are some players that are considered more obvious candidates than others.

A.M. - Yes, of course.

J.H. -There is a class which Kashdan, the American organizer, Isaac Kashdan, is taken to referring to as the “super Grand Masters.” He generally classifies these as players rated over 2600, on the ELO scale. Have you reached that rating yet, or close to it?

A.M. - I am very close. In the last half of the year, I was about 2650, but, I played so badly in the first half of last year, it about evened-out. I think on my better days I have chances.

J.H. -You’ve played Karpov?

A.M. - Yes, too many times.

(to be continued)

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