Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #718
September 4, 2015

Any attempt to emulate the engines and their 2,000,000 moves a second is doomed to fail. We need to supplement calculation with all other weapons available. And one of these is intuition, which is strongly rooted in pattern recognition. When you have “uploaded” a lot of chess patterns to your brain in your childhood, you will often have a very strong suspicion regarding what the right move is in a position, even though you have no idea why.

—Boris Gelfand: Positional Decision Making in Chess, Quality Chess 2015

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

International Master Elliott Winslow, National Master Uyanga Byambaa and Expert Bryon Doyle are tied for first in the Leighton Allen Tuesday Night Marathon with 4½ points from 5. Four rounds remain for the 94 competitors.

From round 5 of the Leighton Allen Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Critelli–Byambaa after 10...b5)Black to move (Porlares–Wong after 38 Rdxe7)
White to move (Paquette–Bayaraa after 17...Nd7)Black to move (Andries–Koga after 25 fxg3)
Black to move (Nassif–Gomez after 22 Kg2)Black to move (Simpkins–Hilliard after 30 h5)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 5.

San Francisco won its second-round match in the US Chess League, beating San Diego 2½–1½ on September 2.

San Francisco Mechanics San Diego Surfers
GM Daniel Naroditsky: 2711 1.0 0.0 IM Keaton Kiewra: 2518
GM Vinay Bhat: 2570 1.0 0.0 NM Stevan Djordjevic: 2366
NM Siddharth Banik: 2258 0.0 1.0 FM Ali Morshedi: 2328
WFM Uyanga Byambaa: 2204 0.5 0.5 Alex Costello: 2137
Average Rating: 2436 Average Rating: 2337

The Mechanics’ are tied for first in their division.

Western Division

Team W L Game Points Opps Avg Rating
Dallas 1.5 0.5 4.5/8 (56%) 2401
San Francisco 1.5 0.5 4.5/8 (56%) 2385
Rio Grande 1.5 0.5 4.5/8 (56%) 2379
Seattle 1.0 1.0 4.5/8 (56%) 2406
St. Louis 1.0 1.0 4.0/8 (50%) 2420
Las Vegas 1.0 1.0 4.0/8 (50%) 2414
Arizona 1.0 1.0 4.0/8 (50%) 2394
Minnesota 1.0 1.0 3.5/8 (43%) 2393
Lubbock 0.5 1.5 3.5/8 (43%) 2387
San Diego 0.0 2.0 3.0/8 (37%) 2409

Jules Jelinek, Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator, writes that the series, which starts every Wednesday at 6:30 pm, is back in action.

Results from August 26:
1st – National Master Tensing Shaw
2nd – Jules Jelinek
3rd – National Master James Sun

2) Walter Browne annotates two of his last games – Part One

Walter Browne played in tournaments right up until his death. His last event was the 2015 National Open, but just before that he played two Bay Area events in late May, tying for first in the Berkeley Senior Championship with International Master Elliott Winslow, and sharing third in the Best of The West in Santa Clara. Here is the first of two games played by Walter from these events, with his notes. Note they were done Chess Informant style and some words have been added to make it easier to follow the games.

The first game sees Walter employ one of his old favorites, the Classical Variation (Nf3, Nc3 and Be2) against the Pirc Defense. When Walter made his international debut in the late 1960s he was a committed 1.e4 player, but even when he made the switch to 1.d4 he still liked to play this variation when he got the chance—after 1.d4 d6 and 1.d4 g6 he would play 2.e4.

Pirc Classical B08
Walter Browne (2480)–Nicholas Yap (2341)
Santa Clara (Best of the West - round 4) May 24, 2015

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 0–0 6.0–0 c6 7.h3 Nbd7

An important alternative is 7...b5!? 8.e5 Ne8 9.Bf4 Nd7, when White does best to continue with the natural 10.Qd2 dxe5 11.dxe5 Nc7 12.Rfd1 Ne6 13.Bh6 Qc7 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.Qe3 a5 16.Rd2 Ndc5 17.Rad1 with a slight pull.

The more ambitious 10.Re1 Bb7 11.Qd2 a6 12.a4 leads to unclear play after 12…b4 13.Ne4 c5 14.Bd3 cxd4 15.Qxb4 Rb8 or 14.exd6 Bxe4 15.dxe7 Qxe7 16.Ng5 Rd8 17.Bd3 f5 18.Nxe4 fxe4.

8.a4 Qc7 9.Be3 e5 10.dxe5 dxe5

10...Nxe5 11.Nxe5 dxe5 12.Bc4 Rd8 13.Qf3 Nh5 14.Ne2 Re8 15.Rfd1 leaves White with a slight but persistent pull. Walter won many games in this structure where his minor pieces are more active than their counterparts, particularly the dark-squared bishops.


11.Bc4 Nb6 12.Bb3 Qe7 13.Qe2 Be6 14.Bxe6 Qxe6 15.a5 Nbd7 16.Rfd1 was an attractive alternative.

11...Re8 12.Rfd1 Nh5?!

12...Bf8 was more to the point, trying to get rid of the bad bishop. White stays on top with 13.Bc4.

13.Bc4 Nf4?!

Having said A (12…Nh5!?) Black follows with B (13…Nf4?!), but he would have done better trying to complete his development with 13...Nf8 14.Qd6 Qxd6 15.Rxd6 Be6, although after 16.Bxe6 Rxe6 17.Rd2 Ree8 18.a5 White has the small but persistent positional squeeze that Walter was so adept at exploiting.

14.Ng5 Re7 15.g3 Nh5

15...h6? 16.Nxf7 Nxh3+ 17.Kg2 Rxf7 18.Bxf7+ Kxf7 19.Kxh3 when White’s extra material tells, as Black has no effective discovered check.


This move, heading into a superior endgame, is typical in such positions, but even stronger was 16.Qe2!, when Black must be extremely careful, as White now has serious threats against f7. If the White queen arrives on c4 with check Nc3-b5 (exploiting the unprotected queen on c7) followed by Nd6 can be very powerful as Black’s queenside pieces are bottled up.

16.. Bf8 (best, as alternatives lose quickly)

 a) 16...h6? 17.Bxf7+ Rxf7 18.Nxf7 Kxf7 19.Qc4+ Ke7 (or 19...Ke8 20.Qe6+ Kf8 21.Rxd7 Qxd7 22.Bc5+) 20.Nd5+ both win quickly. Walter beat Larry Evans in Sparks in the early 1970s in similar fashion.

 b) 16...Bf6 17.Bxf7+ Rxf7 18.Nxf7 Kxf7 19.Qc4+ Kg7 20.Nb5 Qd8 21.Nxa7 with a large advantage.

17.a5 b5 18.axb6 Nxb6 19.Bb3 h6 (if 19...Bh6 then 20.Nxf7 should win) 20.Bxb6 Qxb6 21.Rd6 Kg7 22.Nd5 Qc5 23.Nxe7 Bxe7 24.Nxf7 Bxd6 25.Qd2 Bc7 26.Qxh6+ Kf6 27.Nh8! is a pretty finish.


16...Nf8? 17.Nxf7 wins on the spot.

17.Rxd6 Nhf6

This puts up stiffer resistance than 17...Bf8, which runs into the thematic 18.a5 Kg7 19.a6!, when Black has serious, perhaps insurmountable problems to solve after 19…Nb6 20.axb7 Rxb7 21.Rxc6 Nxc4 22.Rxc4 f6 (23… Rxb2 23.Nd5!) 23.Nf3 Bxh3 24.b3 a5 25.Nd5.

18.Rad1 h6

Or 18...Bf8 19.R6d2 h6 20.Nf3 Re8 21.g4 when the threat of g5 is looming. Note the price that Black pays for playing …h6 is difficulty in trading the dark-squared bishops, which he would dearly love to do. 

19.Nf3 Kh7 20.Kg2

White takes time out to safeguard his h-pawn, keeping moves like a4-a5 and Nd2 (intending to come to c4 later) in reserve.

Another way to handle the position was 20.g4 Ne8 21.R6d3 b6 22.g5 h5 23.a5.

20...Ne8 21.R6d3 Nc7

Black can try to hold his ground on the queenside with 21...a5, but the price is too high. After 22.Bb3 b6 23.Nd2 Nc5 24.Bxc5 bxc5 25.Nc4 Be6 26.Rd8 Raa7 27.Nb6 Rab7 28.Nc8 Bxc8 29.Rxc8 the win is in sight.


The knight begins preparations to come to c4, but 22.a5!? was an attractive alternative.


The more active 22...f5 doesn’t solve Black’s problems: 23.f3 Nf6 24.Bc5 Rd7 25.Rxd7 Bxd7 26.Be7 Re8 27.Bd6 Rc8 28.Nb3 fxe4 29.fxe4 when the desired 29…Be6 drops a pawn to 30.Bxe6 Nxe6 31.Bxe5.

23.h4 Kg7 24.Ba2 Na6 25.Rd6! g5?!

Black had better chances in 25...Ndc5, but after 26.a5 (not 26.Bxh6+? Kxh6 27.Rxf6 Be6 28.Bxe6 Nxe6 29.Nc4 Kg7 30.Rf3 Nd4=) 26...Be6 27.Bxe6 Rxe6 28.Nc4 Rxd6 29.Rxd6 Rd8 30.b4! Ne6 31.Na2, White retains a considerable advantage.

26.hxg5 hxg5

As 26...Bxg5 27.f4 exf4 28.gxf4 Bh4 29.Nf3 Bf6 30.e5 and 28...Bf6 29.e5 are both winning for White.


White had a quicker win with the more exact sequence 27.Nf3! g4 28.Ng5 Nf8 29.Rh1 Nc7 30.Nxf7! Rxf7 31.Bh6+ Kg6 32.Bxf7+ Kxf7 33.Rxf6+ Kxf6 34.Bxf8.

27...Ndc5 28.R6d2 Ne6 29.Ne2

Or 29.Nd6 Kf8 (29...Nd4? 30.f4 gxf4 31.gxf4 Bg4 32.fxe5 Bxe5 33.Rxd4 ends resistance) 30.Bxa7 winning.

29...Nec5 30.Nc3

Or 30.Nd6!? Nxa4 31.Nxc8 Rxc8 32.g4 Nxb2 33.Rb1 Na4 34.Ng3 Kg6 35.Rd6 N4c5 36.Rh1 with a big advantage.

30...Ne6 31.Nd6 Nd4

White is winning after 31...Kf8 32.Nf5 Re8 33.Rh1 Nac7 34.Rh6 Bg7 35.Rh5 Bf6 36.Rd1.


32.f4 was also strong: 32…gxf4 33.gxf4 c5 34.f5 Nb4 35.Rh1 Nbxc2 36.Bh6+ Kg8 37.Nd5 winning.


32...c5 33.c3 Bg4 34.cxd4 exd4 35.Bxd4 cxd4 36.f3 Be6 37.Bxe6 effectively end the game.

33.Bxd4 exd4 34.f3 Rd8 35.Nxf7 Rxf7 36.Bxf7 Kxf7 37.fxg4 Nc5

Or 37...c5 38.c3.

38.Nxd4 Nxe4 39.Re2 Nc5 40.c3 Nxa4 41.Rf1! Rd6

41...Nc5 42.b4 Nd3 43.Re6 Nf4+ 44.gxf4 Bxd4 45.f5 Bxc3 46.Rh1 and White is winning.

42.Nf5 Rd7 43.Nh6+

43.Ra1 b5 44.Rh1 Nb6 45.Rh7+ Kf8 46.Rxd7 Nxd7 47.Re6 was another way to victory. 

43...Kg7 44.Re6 Bd8

If 44...Kxh6 then 45.Rfxf6+ Kh7 46.Rh6+ Kg8 47.Reg6+ Kf7 48.Rh7+ winning.

45.Nf5+ Kf7 46.Nd4+ Kg7 47.Re8

Equally good was 47.Re5 Kg6 48.Re8 Bb6 49.Rg8+.

47...Bf6 48.Ne6+ Kf7 49.Rf8+ Kxe6 50.R8xf6+ Ke5 51.Rf7 Rd2+ 52.R1f2 Rxb2

52...Rxf2+ 53.Rxf2 Ke4 54.Kf1 b5 55.Ke1 Ke3 56.Rf5 Nxb2 57.Rxg5 Nd3+ 58.Kd1 Kf3 59.Kc2 and White wins.

53.Rxb2 Nxb2 54.Rxb7 Nd1 55.Rg7! Nxc3 56.Rxg5+ Kd6

If 56...Kf6 then 57.Rc5.

57.Ra5 Nb5 58.g5 Ke6 59.Kh3 Kf5 60.Kh4 Kg6 61.Kg4 Kf7 62.Kh5 Kg7 63.g6 Kf6 64.Kh6 Nd4 65.g7 1–0

3) Here and There

Thanks to First Move chess columnist John Henderson for bringing to our attention a great video on the USSR-USA radio match, which celebrated its 70th anniversary on September 2. Go to to see the match from the Soviet perspective. You can find a recent column by John at

National Master John Blackstone of Las Vegas passes along the following win by Capablanca (16 at the time) in a friendly game played against Joseph Redding, one of the best California players of the late 1800s and early 1990s and son of Benjamin, for whom the town in Northern California is named.

Petroff C43
Jose Capablanca–Joseph Redding
New York (casual) January 5, 1905

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Bxe4 dxe4 6.Nxe5 Bd6 7.Qe2 Bxe5 8.dxe5 Bf5 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Nxe4 Nc6 11.0-0 Re8 12.f4 Nd4 13.Qd3 Nxc2 14.Qxc2 Qd4+ 15.Qf2 Qxe4 16.Be3 Re6 17.Rac1 Rg6 18.Rfd1 h5 19.Rxc7 Bh3 20.g3 h4 21.b3 hxg3 22.hxg3 Rh6 23.Rd4 Qh7 24.Qc2 g6 25.Rd6 Bf5 26.Qg2 Bh3 27.Qxb7 Re8 28.e6 Bxe6 29.Rxe6 1-0

Source: New York Tribune, January 8, 1905, page 12 and later reprinted in the Christian Science Monitor, April 7, 1956, page 18.

Noted chess historian, book collector and Alaska state champion (1961) Robert Moore of San Francisco writes:

Just read Chris Impey’s Beyond: Our Future In Space (New York, Norton, 2015), in which the nuclear engineer Robert Zubrin, an advocate on the human exploration of Mars, apparently developed a type of “three-person chess.” See page 166.

Mark Anthony Wilson wrote Frank Lloyd Wright On The West Coast (Layton, Utah, Gibbs Smith, 2014. On page 106 in the library of the Hanna House (Honeycomb House) completed in 1937 in Stanford there’s an impressive chess set shown. Paul Hanna was a professor at Stanford. The budget was $15,000.

Writing in response to the piece on chess and celebrities in Newsletter #717, Mike Schemm of Seattle shares his memories of the 1972 American Open:

I am sure you remember me saying I sat next to Joni Mitchell, but did not remember her. I do remember Bobby Fischer. He took a circle of the room. I was at the end of a row at the edge of the room. He stopped and spent perhaps 5 or 10 seconds looking at my game. A small thing, but I will never forget. I had a worse position in a gambit opening I had played, but I won the game. I don’t remember them being the same tournament, but my memory is not great, so it certainly could have been the same tournament. I do remember the sound was like a beehive when Fischer walked in. He took a tour of the room and left.

He was only there for a few minutes.

This was indeed the 1972 American Open, which might have been Fischer’s last public appearance. The event was played November 23–26, while San Antonio 1972, the scene of another Fischer sighting, ran November 19 to December 11. We are not sure if Fischer was in San Antonio before or after the American Open.

The report in Chess Life & Review on the 1972 American (published in the February 1973 issue, pages 71–73) includes a photo of Fischer signing an autograph, and the actor Peter Falk talking with Senior Master Dennis Waterman, one of the strongest players to grow up in Oregon. Falk was gathering information for his performance in the Columbo episode “The Most Dangerous Match”, which aired March 4, 1973. The plot revolves around a chess player who murders his opponent before a big match and Columbo’s attempts to discover how he did it. Chess was very much in the public eye in the early 1970s.

4) This is the end

It’s good to know how to play rook-and-pawn endings. For instance, what should be the result of this one?

Black to move

Show solution


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