Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #689
November 21, 2014

Kasparov crushed everyone in the opening—in his best years he was head and shoulders above the rest and it was simply impossible to play him as Black. He gave chess an incredible number of ideas. He worked a lot and deserved his results, but when people began to approach him in terms of knowledge, with the help of computer programs, Garry stopped playing. I’d like to have seen how he would have played when everything leveled out and he no longer had such an advantage. Would he have won tournament after tournament? I think not. He probably realized that and quit. He says something else, but I think that’s the way it was.

—Rafael Vaganian, talking to Sergey Kim in July 2014

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

11-year-old Expert Hans Niemann and Class A player (and soon to be Expert) Michael Askin are the surprise leaders of the 101-player Fall Tuesday Night Marathon with 4–0 scores. Niemann maintained his perfect score when International Master Elliott Winslow blundered in a winning rook and pawn ending, while Askin outplayed National Master Uyanga Byambaa.

From round 4 of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Shaw–Doyle after 34...Qb7)Black to move (Sahin–Stearman after 18 Bg4)
White to move (Wong–Lkhagvasuren after 27...Qh7)Black to move (Chea–Thornally after 30 b3)
Black to move (Abraham–Tsodikova after 24 Rh1)White to move (Anderson–Lin after 9...Qxc5)
White to move (Casares–Eastham after 24...Qd8)For the solutions, see the game scores (when available) for round 4.

The Mechanics’ entry in the US Chess League won its match in the first round of the playoffs defeating Connecticut 2.5-1.5, but lost in the quarterfinals to Dallas 3-1. The score in the latter obscures the fact that it was a tough battle that could have gone either way (Vignesh Panchanatham lost a completely winning ending in one move but by that point the score was 2-1 Dallas and they would have advanced on a tie match due to their better regular season record).

One consolation for the Mechanics’ was Daniel Naroditsky winning the USCL playoff Game of the Week for his victory over fellow GM Conrad Holt.

Daniel Naroditsky (San Francisco)–Conrad Holt (Dallas)
U.S.C.L. Quarterfinals 2014

1.c4 c6 2.e4 d5 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nxd5 6.Nf3 e6 7.d4 Bb4 8.Qc2 Nc6 9.a3 Ba5 10.Bd2 0-0 11.Bd3 h6 12.0-0 Bd7 13.Bc4 Nce7 14.Ne5 Bc6 15.Ba2 Nf6 16.Be3 Rc8 17.Qd3 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Be4 19.Qd2 Nf5 20.f3 Bd5 21.c4 Nxe3 22.Qxe3 Bc6 23.f4 Qd6 24.f5 Rcd8 25.fxe6 fxe6 26.Rad1 Rfe8 27.Bb1 Rf8 28.Ba2 Rfe8 29.Rf4 Qc7 30.Rdf1 Rf8 31.Qg3 Nd7 32.Ng4 Rf6 33.Nxf6+ Nxf6 34.Bb1 b5 35.Qe3 Qf7 36.c5 Nd5 37.Rxf7 Nxe3 38.R1f4 Nxg2 39.Rf2 Nh4 40.R7f4 Nf5 41.Bxf5 exf5 42.Rxf5 Rxd4 43.Rf8+ Kh7 44.Rc8 Bd5 45.Rc2 Rg4+ 46.Kf1 Rf4+ 47.Ke1 Re4+ 48.Kd2 Bb3 49.Rc3 Bc4 50.c6 Re6 51.c7 Rc6 52.Re3 b4 53.axb4 Ba6 54.Rce8 Rxc7 55.R8e7 Rc4 56.Rg3 1-0

The following game appeared in MI Newsletter #664, but Eduardo Bauzá Mercere has pointed out there were some problems with the game score as given. We believe the following reconstruction is quite plausible and takes into account possible errors in the game score published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

King’s Gambit C30
Emmanuel Lasker–G.P. Woodward
San Francisco (simul), December 28, 1902

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5 3.Nf3 Nc6?


4.fxe5 a6? 5.d4?


5...Nxd4! 6.Nxd4?


6...Qh4+ 7.Ke2 Qxe4+

7...Qg4+! wins back the piece, as 8.Nf3 Qxe4+ leads to mate.

8.Be3 d6 9.Qd3 Qxe5 10.Nc3 Nf6 11.Kd2 0–0 12.Be2 Bd7 13.Nf3 Qe6 14.Bxc5 dxc5 15.Rae1 Qb6 16.Kc1 Be6 17.Ng5 c6 18.Rd1 Qa7 19.Bf3 Bd5 20.Kb1 Rad8 21.Bxd5 cxd5 22.Qf3 d4 23.Ne2 b6 24.Ng3 h6 25.N5e4 Nd5 26.Rde1 Ne3 27.Ne2 f5 28.N4g3 Qf7 29.Rc1 g5 30.Rhe1 Rde8 31.Nf1 f4 32.Nxe3 dxe3 33.Qh3 h5 34.Rf1 g4 35.Qh4 Re4 36.Ka1 Qf5 37.Ng3 1–0

Source - San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 1903.

Jason Childress regained his Expert’s title by winning the 14th Pierre Saint-Amant G/45 held November 15. Childress, who drew top seed NM Paul Gallegos in round 4, defeated Hans Niemann in the final round to finish on 4½.

Tying for second at 4 in the 29-player event were Gallegos, Niemann, Jessica Lausser and Aghilan Nachiappan. The final MI G/45 event of the year will be held on December 6.

2) Capablanca at the Mechanics’ Institute (Part Two)

Two of Capablanca’s three draws from the simul he gave on April 11 are known. The first has an error in the score as commonly given.

Jose Raul Capablanca–A.J. Fink
San Francisco (simul) April 11, 1916

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 a6 7.Rc1 0-0 8.Bd3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Na5 10.Bd3 c5 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.0-0 Nc6 13.Ne4 Be7 14.Qc2 Nb4 15.Nxf6 gxf6 16.Bxh7 Kg7 17.Qb1 f5 18.Rfd1 Qe8 19.Bxf5 exf5 20.Nd4 Nd5 21.Nxf5+ Bxf5 22.Qxf5 Nxf4 23.Qxf4 Rh8 24.Rc7 Rd8 25.Rxd8 Qxd8 26.Qg4 Bg5 27.Rxb7 Rh4 28.Qf3 Be7 29.b3 Rh6 30.g3 Qd6 31.h4 Rf6 32.Qg4+ Rg6 33.Qe4

33.Qf4 and 33.Qf5 have been given, but the text is almost certainly correct.

33…Qd1 34.Kg2 Bxh4 35.Qf3 Qxf3 36.Kxf3 Bf6 37.Rb6 Bc3 38.Rxg6 Kxg6 39.Kg4 Kf6 40.f4 Ke6 41.e4 f6 42.Kf3 a5 43.Ke3 Be1 44.g4 Kd6 45.g5 fxg5 46.fxg5 Ke5 47.g6 ½–½

Jose Raul Capablanca–George Hallwegen
San Francisco (simul) April 11, 1916

1.e4 e6 2.d4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Bd3 Ne7 5.Bg5 d6 6.Qd2 Nd7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bh6 Nf6 9.Bxg7 Kxg7 10.Nc3 Nc6 11.e5 Nd7 12.Qf4 d5 13.Ne2 Ne7 14.Ng3 c6 15.Qg5 Ng8 16.Qg4 Qe7 17.Ng5 Re8 18.f4 Nf8 19.f5 exf5 20.Bxf5 Nh6 21.Qh4 Bxf5 22.Nxf5 Nxf5 23.Qf4 Ne6 24.Nxe6 Qxe6 25.Rf3 h5 26.Raf1 Qe7 27.h3 Rf8 28.g4 hxg4 29.hxg4 Nh6 30.Kg2 Qe6 31.Qf6 Kg8 32.Rg3 Nxg4 33.Qxe6 fxe6 34.Rxg4 Kg7 35.Rh1 Rh8 36.Rxh8 Rxh8 37.b4 Rf8 ½–½

Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) found the game below (from a 32-board simultaneous display) on page 4 of Section Two of the Portland Oregonian, 13 May 1917. We take it from Edward Winter’s “Chess Notes” (number 8428).

Jose Raul Capablanca–Frank Sternberg
San Francisco (simul) April 11, 1916

1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bc4 d6 4 d3 Nc6 5 f4 Bg4 6 Nf3 Nd4 7 O-O Nxf3+ 8 gxf3 Be6 9 Kh1 Qd7 10 f5 Bxc4 11 dxc4 O-O-O 12 b4 Qc6 13 Qd3 g6 14 Bg5 Be7 15 Bxf6 Bxf6 16 Nd5 Bh4 17 f6 Qd7 18 b5 Qe6 19 a4 Bxf6 20 a5 Bg5 21 b6 axb6 22 axb6 c6 23 c5 Kd7 24 Ra7 Rb8 25 Nc7 Qe7 26 Rd1 Rhd8 27 cxd6 Qf6 28 Na6 Ke8 29 Nxb8 Rxb8 30 d7+ Kf8 31 Rda1 Kg7 32 Ra8 Qd8 33 Rxb8 Qxb8 34 c4 c5 35 Qd5 Be7 36 Ra7 1-0

Stephen Wright of Vancouver, British Columbia, who has a great site on British Columbia Chess History— , produces the British Columbia Chess Federation - Email Bulletin and maintains a large British Columbia chess database. He supplies the following games, which also came from the Portland Oregonian.

Jose Raul Capablanca–H.W. Simpkins
San Francisco (simul) April 11, 1916

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 Na5 9.Bc2 0–0 10.d4 Nc6 11.Nbd2 Bg4 12.h3 Bh5 13.d5 Nb8 14.Qe2 c6 15.dxc6 Nxc6 16.a4 b4 17.Bd3 a5 18.Bb5 bxc3 19.bxc3 Qc7 20.Nb3 Bd8 21.Ba3 Ne8 22.Qd3 Bf6 23.Nfd2 Na7 24.Nc4 Nc8 25.Ne3 Nb6 26.c4 Be7 27.Nf5 Nc8 28.Nxe7+ Qxe7 29.g4 Bg6 30.Rad1 Qg5 31.Kg2 h5 32.f3 1-0 Remaining moves unavailable. Capablanca won in 62 moves.

Source: Portland Oregonian, May 21, 1916.

E.J. Clarke, who would write a chess column for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1920s, was at the time of this game the Secretary of the San Francisco Chess Club.

Jose Raul Capablanca–E.J. Clarke
San Francisco (simul), April 11, 1916

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 c6 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Rc1 0–0 8.Bd3 Re8 9.0–0 Nf8 10.Ne5 Ng6 11.Bg3 dxc4 12.Bxc4 Nxe5 13.Bxe5 Nd5 14.Ne4 f6 15.Bg3 f5 16.Nd2 Bd6 17.Nf3 Bxg3 18.hxg3 Qf6 19.Ne5 Nb6 20.g4 Nd7 21.f4 g6 22.gxf5 gxf5 23.Qh5 Re7 24.g4 Rg7 25.Kf2 Nxe5 26.dxe5 Qg6 27.Qxf5 Qxg4 28.Qxg4 Rxg4 29.Rg1 Rxg1 30.Rxg1+ Kf8 31.Rh1 Kg7 32.Rd1 b5 33.Bb3 c5 34.Rd8 c4 35.Bc2 a5 36.f5 exf5 37.Bxf5 Bxf5 38.Rxa8 b4 39.Rxa5 c3 40.bxc3 bxc3 41.Rc5 c2 42.a4 h5 43.a5 h4 44.a6 Be4 45.a7 h3 46.Kg3 1–0

Source: Portland Oregonian, May 28, 1916.

3) Rafael Vaganian speaks

Armenian Grandmaster Rafael Vaganian was one of the elite players in the world from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. Despite being in his mid-50s, Vaganian was still among the top 50 players in the world at 2670 on the January 2005 FIDE rating list.

Long recognized as a great natural talent, Vaganian has let his play speak for itself, rarely writing about his games. This is a pity, as he played many brilliancies over the course of a distinguished career. While this state of affairs is unlikely to change, we are able to appreciate his insights into contemporary chess, which he recently shared in a talk with Sergey Kim at the Russian language website ChessPro. An English language translation is available at

We share a few highlights.

Both at the board and simply in life you met all the Soviet world champions from Botvinnik to Kasparov. The world champions of the twentieth century – of your generation—and the champions of the third millennium—first and foremost, Carlsen: how do they differ?

Rafael Vaganian: It’s hard to compare, because the chess is totally different. Those champions worked in another setting, playing another kind of chess. With no computers, they worked and created on their own, and their creativity was immense. If they found something it was with their own minds, while now there are these amazing programs. Theory has “grown” to 30-35 moves, and you simply can’t compare the two types of chess. Frankly speaking, I don’t like modern chess, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. After all, a person isn’t capable of remembering so much, so they simply suffer because of it. They need to remember and learn it all, but then what of creativity? They barely play at the board, but at home, and that’s bad.

I consider those champions to have been greats, though perhaps that’s natural, since I’m a chess player of that generation—the Soviet School—and it all means a lot to me. I find modern chess alien, so it’s possible I’m not objective. Botvinnik, Karpov, Kasparov: they beat everyone for 10–12 years in a row, while for me the thirteenth champion is a separate topic. The way Kasparov and his group worked was incredible. They were a class above the rest and therefore he crushed everyone. Garry won a huge number of games in the opening. His preparation was colossal! But he found moves himself at the board rather than the computer coming up with them. Back then people still beat computers, while now even the world champion can’t beat a computer.

And among the champions, who would you nevertheless rank above the rest?

For me the number one was Fischer, and after him I’d put Karpov. Karpov played very subtly. In his best years he would outplay opponents in an incredible manner. It was class of the very highest level!


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