Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #717
August 28, 2015

If you watch it, you should watch it with other players and try to find moves, like it was before. Now on many sites you watch together with the computer and the pleasure is gone.

—Boris Gelfand, on watching games broadcast live on the Internet.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

International Master Elliott Winslow, FIDE Master James Critelli and Expert Bryon Doyle have the only remaining perfect scores after four rounds of the Leighton Allen Tuesday Night Marathon. The 94-player field has five more rounds left to play.

From round 4 of the Leighton Allen Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Krasnov–Marcus after 26 Rd2)Black to move (Casares–Vickers after 5 Nf3)
Black to move (Kondakov–Handler after 29 Rf1)White to move (Bayaraa–Simpkins after 44...Re4)
Black to move (James–Allen after 21 Be2)Black to move (Hilliard–Otterbach after 21 Nc6)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 4.

Grandmaster Timur Gareev will be the special guest lecturer on Tuesday, September 1. His talk, which will go from 5:15 to 6:15 pm, is free to all.

The Mechanics’ drew their first-round match with defending US Chess League Champion St. Louis, played on August 26.

St. Louis Arch Bishops San Francisco Mechanics
GM Varuzhan Akobian: 2721 1 0 GM Daniel Naroditsky: 2711
GM Alejandro Ramirez: 2670 1 0 FM Andy Lee: 2392
NM Nick Karlow: 2251 0 1 FM Vignesh Panchanatham: 2386
Shawn Swindell: 2088 0 1 NM Siddharth Banik: 2258
Average Rating: 2433 Average Rating: 2437

2105 US Chess League

SF Mechanics’ Roster

1. GM Daniel Naroditsky 2600 (2711)
2. GM Vinay Bhat 2575 (2575)
3. IM David Pruess 2416 (2416)
4. FM Cameron Wheeler 2391 (2447)
5. FM Andy Lee 2378 (2405)
6. Vignesh Panchanatham 2344 (2381)
7. Siddarth Banik 2243 (2268)
8. Rayan Tagizadeh 2224 (2219)
9. Uyanga Byambaa 2168 (2204)

The Mechanics’ will use the March 2015 rating list. The maximum lineup allowed is an average of 2400.75 for the four players competing each week. The ratings in parenthesis are current as of August 2015. All players rated over 2600 USCF, like Daniel Naroditsky, count as 2600 for the rating average.

2) Celebrities who have played USCF rated tournaments

Several of the Memorial Day Classic/Lina Grumette Memorials held in Los Angeles in the late 1980s/early 1990s had celebrity chess tournaments in which (primarily) Hollywood B list actors and actresses (think Erik Estrada of CHiPs fame) competed. The instances in which real stars have competed in U.S.C.F. tournaments under their own name are rare.

One who did was the Canadian singer-songwriter and painter Joni Mitchell, who played part of the 1972 American Open, earning a rating of 1133 for five games (source Chess Life and Review January 1973). This was the American Open where Bobby Fischer made a brief appearance, and chess was extremely popular in the United States.

San Francisco born Walter Tevis, the author of six novels, three of which were made into movies (The Hustler, The Color Of Money and The Man Who Fell To Earth) was a serious tournament player. Those who read The Queen’s Gambit might guess he was well-acquainted with the game, and they would be right.

During his time teaching at Ohio University, Tevis played in numerous U.S.C.F. tournaments between 1973 and 1978. Chess Dryad’s Kerry Lawless has found the following activity for him. The USCF rating supplements are the source unless otherwise indicated.

Walter Tevis     1166/7  OH  (November 1973)
Walter Tevis     1264/16  OH  (February 1974)
Walter Tevis     1268  OH  (May 1974)
Walter Tevis     1297  OH  (June 1974)
Walter Tevis     1309  OH  (December 1975)
Walter Tevis     1421  OH  (10274991 1978 USCF Yearbook - 1977 Annual)

Tevis wrote about his experience playing in the 1974 National Open for The Atlantic Monthly (October 1974). Unfortunately the five-page article, which features three diagrams (likely the first and only time in the history of The Atlantic Monthly), doesn’t appear to be available online.

Tevis writes about the top players in the event, especially Walter Browne and his game with a master by the last name of Fletcher, but he also gives detailed descriptions of his own games that reveal he took his chess seriously but with a dose of humor.

Typical is the following paragraph near the end of the article:

Two days later I’ve lost four chess games and fifty dollars. I’ve been beaten by a boy from California, a blackjack dealer from the hotel (with a rating of 1580), and a tight-lipped, pretty girl named Mary Lasher, who forced me to resign after the eleventh move. The fifty went to roulette. I am making excuses to myself like crazy: I have jet lag; I have an article to worry about writing; chess isn’t all there is to life. But it hurts like hell. Especially that girl. She wouldn’t even let me smoke!

Lasher, who would have been roughly in her mid-twenties when the game was played, is remembered in the chess world as a former editor of Northwest Chess and the translator of Averbakh’s Pawn Endings and Bishop Endings. The later were part of Batsford’s great endgame series, published in hardback about the time the article by Tevis was written.

3) Tan–Naroditsky

Chess Evolution, a highly-respected weekly publication, produced by Arkadij Naiditsch and Csaba Balogh with support from fellow Grandmasters Etienne Bacrot and Kamil Miton, recently featured two games of Daniel Naroditsky from the Politiken Cup held a few weeks ago. The annotator, French 2700 rated Etienne Bacrot, notes that Daniel is currently the tenth-rated player in the World Under 21. We published the first game in Newsletter #716. Here is the second, with abridged notes.

Ruy Lopez C84
Justin Tan (2417)–Daniel Naroditsky,D (2622)
Politiken Cup 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a3 0–0 9.Nc3 Nb8 10.Ng5 h6 11.f4

11.Nh3 with a later f4 is also a possibility, but I don’t think it can bring an advantage.


11...exf4 seems good, but White has the strong move 12.Nf3! g5 13.h4 Bg4 14.hxg5 hxg5 15.g3! The black king will soon be in trouble. 15...Nc6 16.gxf4 Nd4 17.Be3 with a crazy position which should be in White’s favor.

12.fxg5 Ng4!

12...Bg4 runs into a mating attack: 13.Qe1 Nfd7 14.Qh4 Be6 15.Rf3.


Not the best move after Black’s strong opening play. 13.h3 is the most obvious move. Black equalizes comfortably after 13...Bxg5 14.hxg4 Bxc1 15.Rxc1 Be6!=; 13.Qd2 Defending g5 before catching the g4 knight. But Black has a fine defense: 13...c6 14.h3 Nd7 15.hxg4 Nc5 16.Ba2 Be6 and Black will get his knight to e6 and win back the pawn.; 13.g6 is met by counterblow 13...d5! 14.d4! fxg6 With crazy complications.

13...Bxf5 14.exf5 Bxg5 15.Qxg4 Bxc1 16.Rxc1

Looks tempting, but White is not fast enough to get enough compensation.

16...Nd7 17.Rf1 c6

17...Nf6 is the most obvious move, but maybe Black didn’t want to allow 18.Qh4 Nh7 19.f6!?.

18.Rf3 Nf6


Now it is all easy. White should have tried 19.Qg5 d5 20.Rg3 Ne8 21.Qh5 Qd6 22.Nd1 with some compensation.

19...Qb6+ 20.Kh1 Qd4 21.Qg5 Qg4 22.Qd2 d5

Black easily converted his big material advantage.

23.Nd1 e4 24.Ne3 Qh4 25.g3 Qh5 26.Rf4 d4 27.Nf1 e3 28.Qe1 Rfe8 29.Kg2 Rad8 30.h3 Nd5 31.Bxd5 Rxd5 32.g4 Qh6 33.Rf3 Rc5 34.c3 e2 35.Ng3 dxc3 36.bxc3 Rxc3 37.Ne4 Qc1 0–1

4) Here and There

Fred Wilson, the noted chess historian and book seller (, writes about his quest to reach 2200 before he turns 70 (Fred is 69 and currently rated 2156).

I just had another mediocre tournament yesterday (7/12/15) in New Jersey, playing in a four round, G/60 (increment 10 seconds, ugh!), at Magesh Panchanathan’s nice place in Edison, NJ (very good playing conditions). Although I only scored 2½ points, and played very poorly in my first two games, I did play the following instructive trifle—almost a miniature:

Sicilian (4. Qxd4 variation, by transposition!)
Fred Wilson–Jonathan Chin (1850)
New Jersey 2015

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 d6 4. Bb5 Bd7 5. Bxc6(!) Bxc6 6. d4 cxd4 7. Qxd4 Nf6 8. Bg5 h6

Probably premature

9. Bh4 Qa5 10. 0-0-0 Qc5(?) 11. Qxc5!

Exchanging queens is the best way to disprove this plan.

11…dxc5 12. Rhe1

Develop all your pieces!

12… Rd8 13.Ne5! Rxd1+ 14. Rxd1 Bxe4?

He missed my next move, although he probably has insoluble develop problems. Maybe he thought I was just blundering a pawn like in my first two games in this tournament where I was giving them away right and left!

15. Nb5!

And after a 15–20 minute think he accepted the fact that he had to lose a piece to stop mate.


If 15…e6 16. Nc7+ Ke7 17. Rd7#! Nothing like using all your pieces!

16. f3 a6 17. fxe4 axb5 18. Rxd5 g5 19. Rxc5 e6 20. Rc8+ Ke7 21.Bg3 h5 22. Rc7+ Ke8 23. Nxf7 Rg8 24. Nd6+ Bxd6 25. Bxd6 Kd8 26. Rxb7 1-0

Another cautionary tale.

One of the last games Walter Browne annotated was his 1971 battle versus Arnold Denker from the 1971 US Open in Ventura, which can be found at http://!Classic-example-of-Good-Knight-vs-Bad-Bishop/c20gi/D46DD44F-6B81-435E-9770-60B0AAE88C49, or, more directly, /2015/2/26/Game42397811.html.

Andy Ansel sends along the following “lost” game, one of many played between Walter Browne and John Grefe.

Sicilian Taimanov B46
Walter Browne–John Grefe
Las Vegas March 15, 1973 (round 6)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 a6 6. g3 Nge7 7. Nb3 Na5 8.Qh5 Nec6 9. Bg2 Be7 10. O-O d6 11. Nxa5 Nxa5 12. e5 d5 13. Qg4 Kf8 14. Bf4 Bd7 15. Rad1 Rc8 16. Qh5 Rxc3 17. bxc3 Bb5 18. Rfe1 Bc4 19. Rd4 Kg8 20. Bh6 g6 21.Qg4 b5 22. Bh3 Qd7 23. Rf4 Nc6 24. Qf3 Nd8 25. Rb1 Qc7 26. Re1 a5 27. a3 a4 28.Bg4 Bxa3 29. Rxc4 bxc4 30. Qf6 Bf8 31. Bxf8 Kxf8 32. Qxh8+ Ke7 33. Qf6+ Ke8 34.Ra1 1-0

And another by John Grefe, played at the age of 17.

French Winawer C19
John Grefe–S. Linn
Poughskeepie October 1964

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Nf3 Bd7 8.a4 Ne7 9.Bd3 Nbc6 10.0–0 b6 11.Ba3 Na5 12.Ng5 h6 13.Qh5 g6 14.Qh3 Kf8 15.f4 Kg7 16.Nf3 Bxa4 17.g4 Bd7 18.Nh4 f5 19.exf6+ Kxf6 20.f5 exf5 21.gxf5 g5 22.Ng6 Rh7 23.Rae1 Re8 24.Re6+ Bxe6 25.fxe6+ Kg7 26.Rf7+ Kg8 27.Nxe7+ Rxe7 28.Bxh7+ 1-0

Source: Chess Life November 1964, page 285.

5) This is the end

In this study, Black’s knight is separated from his king. Can he get back safely to draw?

White to move

Show solution


You can browse through our archived newsletters using the "next" and "previous buttons".

Alternatively, you can select a newsletter to read from this list:

Want to save this newsletter for reading at a later time? Click here to learn how.