Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #661
March 19, 2014

“I think, over time, I’ve probably learned more from the games I lose. Usually whenever I lose … I have a pretty good idea of what I’ve done wrong, and I usually thought it was a concrete mistake that was my own doing. But over time, I think I’ve realized that probably there was something more profound there, that I actually made more mistakes than I thought I had, and I evaluated some position mistakenly, and so on. So I think over time you’ll definitely learn more from your losses, even if you’re someone like me, who doesn’t like to go the old Soviet style of painstakingly analyzing your loss. I think over time, you learn from them anyway.”

—Magnus Carlsen, Jan. 16, 2014, during a Churchill Club talk
with Peter Thiel at the Computer History Museum
in Mountain View, California

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

The Spring Tuesday Night Marathon started last night. All current USCF members are welcome to enter the 8 round event with a half point bye for round 1.

From round 1 of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Lee–Hack after 21...Kd7)White to move (Tsodikova–Simpkins after 10...g6)
Black to move (Otterbach–Hakobyan after 20 dxe5)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 1.

Grandmaster Alex Onischuk, number three in the US behind Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky, will be giving a free lecture before round five of the Spring TNM. All are welcome to attend the talk, which will run from 5:15 to 6:15 pm.

Belated congratulations to SM Gregory Young, who made an IM norm in the North American Open last December in Las Vegas. This was Young’s first tournament in over a year, and only his fourth since winning the U.S. Junior Closed in 2011, but that hasn’t stopped his rating from rising. It’s now 2477 for the busy college student.

M.I. Wednesday Night Blitz director Jules Jelinek won the March 6 blitz with 10½ points from 12, just ahead of Arthur Ismakov (10) and IM Elliot Winslow (9½).

Elliot Winslow, who teaches the M.I.’s free Saturday-morning class for beginners and intermediates, won the Reuben Fine Marathon held January 10 to February 21 at the Berkeley Chess Club. The Alameda IM was a point ahead of the field, with a score of 5½ from 6, drawing only with NM Roger Poehlmann in round 5. 11-year-old Josiah Stearman was second at 4½ in the 32-player field, raising his rating to 2123, with Poehlmann, Farid Mark Watson and Anthony Acosta sharing third with 4 points.

GM Patrick Wolff, US Champion in 1992 and 1995, was interviewed in Barron’s last week (March 10, pages 36-37). The Harvard-educated philosophy major, who has played several seasons for the Mechanics’ entry in the US Chess League, is running Grandmaster Capital Management, a hedge-fund firm in San Francisco overseeing about $230 million. In recent years Wolff, playing blindfold, has taken on all comers at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting.

Expert Steven Gaffagan had an excellent result in the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon, tying for second with a 6-2 score, which improved his rating from 2028 to 2089. Here he annotates his last-round draw against top seed NM Hayk Manvelyan.

Old Indian A55
Steven GaffaganHayk Manvelyan
Winter Tuesday Night Marathon
Annotations by Steven Gaffagan

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.Nf3 e5 5.g3 c6 6.Bg2 Be7 7.0–0 0–0 8.Qc2 Qc7 9.e4 Re8 10.h3 a5

A rare move. More common are 10...Bf8, 10...Nf8, or even 10...a6.

11.Be3 exd4

11...Nf8 12.Rad1 Ne6 13.Rc1 the problem of “where do the rooks go?” vexes even the greatest strategic players.

13...Bd7 14.Rfd1 Rac8 (14...b6 looks safer considering White’s next move.) 15.c5! A typical lever, often employed against the KID. For example, see Yusupov–Kasparov, Linares 1990, 0–1 (63).

15...exd4 16.cxd6 intermezzo attacking Black’s queen.

16...Bxd6 17.Nxd4 White has achieved an extra pawn in the center. 17...Be5 18.Nde2 Nf8 19.f4 Bxc3 A pity, now White will dominate on the dark squares. (19...Bd6 20.e5) 20.Nxc3 Qb8 21.Qf2 b5 22.Ba7 harassing Black’s queen, and forcing it onto the h1–a8 diagonal, where it is x-rayed by bishop g2. 22...Qb7 23.e5 Nd5 24.Ne4 Re6 25.Nd6 Rxd6 26.exd6 with a decisive advantage 1–0 (35) Petrosian–Lipnitsky, Tbilisi 1947

12.Nxd4 Bf8 13.Rac1?!N

Overly cautious. This rook belongs on d1.

13...Nc5 14.b3 g6 15.Rfe1 Bg7 16.Rcd1

Correcting the inaccuracy committed on move 13. White’s game is more pleasant. All his pieces are centralized and he has no weaknesses. Black suffers a bit on d6 and b6 and has to figure out how he will mobilize his queenside.


Offering White a tempting continuation. I thought for 23 minutes on my next move. What would you play here?


17.Nxe6 Rxe6 18.f4 is reasonable for White, but usually when your opponent is cramped you should not exchange pieces. Besides, the bishop on e6 is not that great a piece (yet!). 18.Bxc5?! dxc5 19.f4 Nh5! looks faulty. Giving up the queen’s bishop and following up with f2-f4 (mobilizing the pawn majority) exposes the dark squares.

The idea that caught my fancy was 17.Ndb5!? cxb5 18.Nxb5 Where does the queen go? 18...Qb8 19.Nxd6 Qc7 defending the unguarded knight.

White confronts a choice, but the natural move is (19...Rd8? 20.Bxc5 Bf8 21.e5 Nd7 22.Bd4+-) 20.Nxe8 (20.e5 Nfd7 21.Nxe8 Rxe8 22.f4) 20...Rxe8 I figured White had some slight edge here, but wondered just how the subsequent moves would unfold.

White has pawn majorities on either wing. One or both majority would likely be mobilized. Black has plenty of pieces and two knights(!). I wondered if this could quickly get chaotic, which is fine, but I felt that White had just a pleasant enough position not to go for this. I would love to sink a knight into d5, but I don’t have one!

17...Rad8 18.Bf2 Bc8 19.Re2 Re7 20.Rde1 Rde8 21.a3

Setting a little trap. The bait is the pawn on b3. At the same time, White prepares to kick the knight away from its attack on e4.


21...Qb6 22.e5! dxe5 23.Nf3! Watch out for Nc3-a4.

22.b4 axb4 23.axb4 Na6 24.Qb3 Qc8!?

This may be Black’s best move. Even if it is not, it poses White some problems over the defense of his kingside.


25.Kh2 Nxb4 26.Qxb4 (26.e5! looks good for White.) 26...c5 27.Qb3 cxd4 28.Bxd4 Ng4+ 29.hxg4 Bxd4 I thought this was Black’s idea, but White may have 30.Nd5.

25...h5 26.g5 Nh7

I didn’t believe in 26...Bxh3 because I have so many options. I planned to play 27.gxf6 (Unfortunately 27.Nd5 doesn’t work 27...cxd5 28.Bxh3 dxc4!; I did not bother with 27.Nf5 since Hayk retreated his knight after a short thought. 27...Bxf5 28.gxf6 Bxf6 29.exf5 Bxc3 30.Rxe7 Bxe1 31.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 32.Bxe1 Qxf5) 27...Qg4 28.Bg3.

27.Na4 Nxb4 28.Nb6! Qd8 29.Qxb4 c5 30.Qb2

White voluntarily steps into a pin. I thought this was a fine move, but Qb3 may have been better. One virtue of Qb2 is that the immediate Bc6 is met by Nxc6. 30.Qb3 cxd4 31.Nd5 and the knight reaches a beautiful square. 31...Re6 32.Qxb7!

30...cxd4 31.Bxd4 Bxd4+ 32.Qxd4 Bc6

Time to take stock: the tactics have abated, and the time control reached. I thought, and still suspect, that White has the advantage. Statically, Black has weaknesses at b7, d6, and the a1–h8 diagonal. Also, the knight appears stranded on h7; but given time, that knight will find a good square on c5 or e6. It is difficult to find a convincing continuation for White.

I thought of all kinds of plans, some of them just crazy: Bf3, Kh2, Rg1, and Bxh5, followed by g6. Another idea: transferring a rook to d5!? How about playing c4-c5? Also: h3-h4, with the idea of Bh3 and perhaps Nc8!? I think that White’s dilemma is that the knight on b6, in order to participate must move, and going to d5 will lead to its immediate exchange.

White would love for the light-squared bishops to magically disappear, when he could play Nd5, with an overwhelming position. Therefore, e4-e5 looks tempting. Hayk told me after the game that he feared this move (perhaps on move 35), thinking it would leave him in a passive position. I looked at it during the game, but just wasn’t convinced.


More or less a waiting move. 33.Bf3 Nf8 34.Kh2 Ne6; 33.e5 dxe5 34.Qxd8 Rxd8 Black is not going to play Bxg2, so 35.Nd5 Red7 36.Rxe5=; The computer prefers 33.Nd5 Of course, no prejudice. 33...Bxd5 34.cxd5 Nf8 35.Qb4 (35.e5 dxe5 36.fxe5 Why does the computer think that White has only a half-pawn advantage here? You cannot trust those computers!)

33...Nf8! 34.Nd5

Finally acknowledging the sad truth: the knight will be exchanged!

34...Bxd5 35.cxd5 Qa5 36.Qd4


36...Nd7 37.Ra1

White is drifting.


The position is now equal, but White will face the burden of securing e4, whilst not succumbing to a knight fork on d3.

38.Rd1! b5!= 39.Kh2 b4 40.h4?! Qxd4 41.Rxd4 b3 42.Rb4 Nc5 43.Rb2 Nd3

43...Nxe4 44.Bxe4 Rxe4 45.R2xb3=

44.R2xb3 Nxb4 45.Rxb4

I thought this would be safe for White. In reality, both players were now under 5 minutes, so this is dangerous. The following moves are based on memory.

45...Ra7 46.Kg3 Ra2 47.Rb6 Rc8 48.Rb3!

48.Rxd6? Rc3+

48...Rca8 49.Bf3 R8a3 50.Rxa3 Rxa3 51.f5

Perhaps safer is 51.e5 dxe5 52.fxe5

51...Kf8 52.Kf4 Ra4 53.Bd1

Both players were very low on time and unable to keep score. Hayk’s father Hovik has the final moves as 53.f6 Ke8 54. Bd1 Rb4 55.Be2 Kd7 56.Bf1 Kc7 57.Bh3 Rb7 58. Bf1 Kb6 59.Bh3 Kc5 60.Bc8 Ra7 61.Be6 Kd4 62.Bh3 Rc7 63.Be6.

53…Rb4 54.Bf3 Ke8 55.f6 Kd7 56.Bg2 Kc7

I am unsure if this exact position occurred, but if it did, Black missed 56…Rb2.

57.Bh3 Rb7

57...Rb2 58.Kg3 Rb3+ 59.Kh2 Re3 58.Ke3 Kb6 59.Kf4 Kc5 60.Be6 Kd4 61.Bh3 Rc7 62.Be6 Rb7 63.Bh3 Rc7 64.Be6 Rb7 ½–½

Alexander Kassil won the 14th A.J. Fink Amateur held March 8 and 9 with a score of 5½ from 6. Tying for second in the 40-player Swiss, a point back of the winner, were John Ebert, Craig Andries, Chiguun Bayaraa and Jeffrey Zhang. Shanak Maruvada and John Edwards-El both turned in excellent results, winning the Top Under-1600 and Top Under-1400 prizes.

MI Wednesday Night Blitz – February 25

Last week, we had 11 players and the results were

1st - Arthur Ismakov, 10½ pts
2nd / 3rd tie – Ashton Anderson and IM Ray Kaufman, 8 pts

2) Daniel Naroditsky 2014 Samford Fellow

The FRANK P. SAMFORD, JR. CHESS FELLOWSHIP, marking its twenty-eighth annual award, has selected Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky of Foster City, California, as its 2014 Fellow. The Samford is the richest and most important chess fellowship in the United States. It identifies and assists the best young American chess masters by providing top-level coaching, strong competition and access to study materials. The Fellowship also supplies a monthly stipend for living expenses so that the winners may devote themselves to chess without having financial worries. The total value of the Fellowship has been increased several times over the years and is now $42,000 annually. The prize is awarded for one year and can be renewed for a second year. The winner’s term begins July 1st, 2014.

All in all, it gives these brilliant young American Grandmasters the support and resources necessary to enhance their skills and reach their full potential.

Currently rated 2632 USCF and 2543 FIDE, Daniel Naroditsky was awarded the GM title last fall, shortly before his 18th birthday. His career highlights include winning the World Under-12 championship in 2007, and the US Junior Closed last summer.

The latter was followed by Grandmaster norms (+2600 FIDE performance) in four consecutive events. Naroditsky has been ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in his age category for the past eight years and is the youngest published chess author in history, having his first book published at age 14.

The winners were chosen by the Samford Fellowship Committee, consisting of Frank P. Samford III (son of Samford Fellowship founder Frank P. Samford, Jr.), former U.S. Chess Champion Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier and International Master John Donaldson. The winner’s potential was determined based on his chess talent, work ethic, dedication and accomplishments. The Fellowship is administered by the U.S. Chess Trust, with particularly valuable services provided by Barbara DeMaro.

The Samford Chess Fellowship was created by the late Frank P. Samford, Jr. of Birmingham Alabama. Mr. Samford was a distinguished attorney and CEO of Liberty National Life Insurance Company (now Torchmark). He was active in civic, business, political, educational and cultural affairs. Mr. Samford was also an enthusiastic competitor in chess tournaments. After providing financial support for several chess projects he decided to do something significant for American chess. The result was the Samford Fellowship.

Since its inception the Fellowship has proven very successful. Many Samford Fellows have become strong Grandmasters, members of the United States Olympiad team and US Champions. America’s top two players, Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky, are former Samford Fellows.

Generous contributions from the late Mrs. Virginia Samford and the Torchmark Corporation support the Fellowship. The Samford Fellowship is a fitting memorial to an extraordinary man. The dedication, creativity and achievement that marked Mr. Frank P. Samford, Jr.’s life are examples for all chess players to admire and emulate.

Samford Winners:
1987 Joel Benjamin
1988 Maxim Dlugy
1989 Patrick Wolff
1990 Alex Fishbein
1991 Ilya Gurevich
1992 Alex Sherzer
1993 Ben Finegold
1994 Gata Kamsky
1995 Josh Waitzkin
1996 Tal Shaked
1997 Boris Kreiman
1998 Dean Ippolito
1999 Greg Shahade
2000 Michael Mulyar
2001 Eugene Perelshteyn
2002 Varuzhan Akobian
2003 Dmitry Schneider
2004 Rusudan Goletiani
2005 Hikaru Nakamura
2006 David Pruess
2007 Josh Friedel
2008 Irina Krush
2008 Vinay Bhat
2009 Ray Robson
2010 Robert Hess
2011 Alex Lenderman
2012 Timur Gareev
2012 Alejandro Ramirez
2013 Sam Shankland
2014 Daniel Naroditsky

3) Jerry Hanken interviews Tony Miles (Part Four)

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

J.H. -Another question . . . that’s always asked of people who play primarily international tournaments. “What do you think of the Swiss system?”

A.M. - Well, you know, I’ve played many, many Swiss system tournaments in England, that was my education so to speak, but, I haven’t played any for a while. I mean, I don’t mind the Swiss system, I’m used to having to play three rounds in a day in England, so, this sort of casual Swiss system, where you even have rest days, as at Lone Pine, doesn’t bother me too much.

J.H. - You feel that the winner of the great Lone Pine tournament of 78, Bent Larsen, played a representative schedule?

A.M. - Well, it’s well-known that he lost in the first round and he scored seven-and-a-half out of eight, he had slightly easier opposition than several people, but, if you score 7½ out of 8, you deserve it.

J.H. - The person who beat him was an English player, Jon Speelman, who got his I.M. title at Lone Pine. You’ve been acquainted with him for some time now, haven’t you? You have any ideas on how far you think that he can go in chess?

A.M. - Who knows? He certainly seems to have enough potential to get the Grandmaster title.

J.H. - Let me ask you about some of the players in the Lone Pine tournament in which you just participated, not asking you to do any hatchet jobs on anybody at all, (A.M. laughs wickedly), just give me your impressions of their style of play and as world class players. Let’s start with the Russians . . . their potential. You’ve played Petrosian?

A.M. - No, I haven’t. He’s about the only world-class player I haven’t played.

J.H. - Have you watched his games at all, with any impressions of them?

A.M. - As I say, I don’t study people’s games much.

J.H. - Polugaevsky?

A.M. - I played him once . . . I think . . . in Swiss systems, he is somewhat better than Petrosian. A little bit sharper, he has a rather better repertoire for trying to win the game.

J.H. - The Swiss system requires you win at all costs.

A.M. - Yes.

J.H. - A draw can often knock you out of contention for prize money. Do you think your style is suited for the Swiss system?

A.M. - I think you shouldn’t overdo it. I think I really overdid it against Zaltsman. I tried a bit too hard and lost.

J.H. - You lost the game to Zaltsman . . . but you had previously lost a game to Portisch, how would you characterize that one?

A.M. - I played an opening innovation, which has been widely known but never played, and Portisch practically refuted it, so that can happen to anyone.

J.H. - Among the American players, who do you think are the most promising . . . or dangerous to you?

A.M. -Dangerous to me . . . well, I don’t really know much about many of them . . . let me see . . . Seirawan is obviously very promising . . . how old is he now?

J.H. - 17.

A.M. - Well, he’s getting I.M. norms. He has some promise. It’s much like England, you have a lot of good juniors.

J.H. - What do you think of Peters?

A.M. - Yes, he is quite good. He looks like a late developer. I think he’s very good, I think he has a very good temperament. He went through his opposition undefeated. Yes, he’s good. A good customer. (Laughs)

J.H. - A good customer you say?

A.M. - He used to be.

J.H. - You’ve beaten him before?

A.M. - Very nicely . . . two years ago.

J.H. - Two years ago you won two games?

A.M. -Yes. One at the National Open and one at Lone Pine. (Peters was present at the interview, which explains the byplay).

J.H. -Tell me how you feel about the lifestyle of a chess master? You like traveling around?

A.M. -Well, a certain amount but not too much. I mean, I like traveling around, I also like to go home for a while, you know, I don’t like to be away from home much more than a month at a time. You need a reasonable rest and I would like one now. (Laughter) I don’t think I could put up with a 9:00 to 5:00 job . . . I’m so accustomed to doing what I like when I like, I don’t have much choice anymore (Laughter).

J.H. -What I was going to ask you about is, have you ever considered the possibility of raising a family, having children.

A.M. -Who knows!

J.H. -Is this the kind of thing that would interfere with the lifestyle that you presently follow?

A.M. -I don’t know. There are a lot of strong Grandmasters who have families and still manage to play a lot . . . it seems possible.

J.H. -What would you say to be the most satisfying single tournament that you ever played in?

A.M. -I think probably the World Junior Championship I won, you know, some people said it was a cheap way of getting around the I.M. title, but I like the World title much more. I think I like also, the fact that I won it with a very nice game in the penultimate round.

J.H. -Who was the game against?

A.M. -The Russian, Kochiev.

J.H. -Were there sacrifices in the game?

A.M. -Lots of sacrifices. It’s very nice. I think I played an opening innovation which I spent 20 minutes thinking up about a year-and-a-half before. Got a good position and sacrificed, very effectively.

J.H. -But would you say that was your favorite game, or are there other games you like as well?

A.M. -That one was very nice, it came when I needed it. It was a nice way to clinch a World title. That was really a very nice game. I also liked my game against Peters at Lone Pine two years ago, it was a hilariously funny game.

J.H. -It was an interesting game, yes!

A.M. -You remember it?

J.H. -I remember it well.

A.M. -”Mr. Toad’s wild ride!”

J.H. -That was my description, “Mr. Toad’s wild ride” as the king marched forward into the heat of battle, the queens still on the board! Have you ever beaten a player who has held the World Championship?

A.M. -I beat Smyslov.

J.H. -That didn’t have any particular significance at the time or did it?

A.M. -It seemed fairly easy at the time. (Laughter)

J.H. -After you play at Las Palmas in two weeks and take a month off, do you have any general, or specific plans or the rest of the year?

A.M. -I’m not quite sure.

J.H. -Do you think you might return to Lone Pine next year?

A.M. -Well, who knows? I’m not sure . . . it’s possible . . . (Laughter)

J.H. - Even with the fact that you didn’t do well in the tournament, did you have a good time?

A.M. -Oh, it was O.K.

J.H. -What is your impression of the Stathams, their hospitality?

A.M. -I think it’s very good. The two times I’ve played here before I’ve played in Las Vegas first . . . it seemed a nice contrast. You know, I could recover from the jet lag in Las Vegas . . . whatever time I get up I can go and have breakfast, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the afternoon, that was nice . . . very good recovering from jet lag. And then after a week of Las Vegas, you go to Lone Pine and it’s nice and peaceful, I think I miss not playing Las Vegas first. So, if you can arrange to have the National Open . . . in Las Vegas . . . (Laughter) . . . I will surely return.

J.H. -As a matter of fact, I myself, had played in every National tournament for four years until the National Open went south. Tony, I appreciate your taking the time to give this interview, I wish you good luck in your chess career.

A.M. -That will be ten guineas please!!! (Both laugh heartily)


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