Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #719
September 11, 2015

He is not the most talented or the strongest player but certainly the most inconvenient player in the world! His ambition is not to play actively, but to paralyze his opponent’s intentions. I personally did not succeed in adapting to his style, mainly because one is not able to change one’s play easily at my age.

—Mikhail Botvinnik, writing about Tigran Petrosian. Quoted in
Winning with Chess Psychology by Pal Benko and Burt Hochberg, page 63.

The 15th Annual Howard Donnelly Memorial G/45 will be held this Saturday, September 12 from 10 am to 7 pm at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

National Master Uyanga Byambaa has defeated top seeds National Master James Critelli (USCF 2376) and International Master Elliott Winslow (USCF 2328) in rounds 5 and 6 of the Leighton Allen Tuesday Night Marathon and leads the 96-player field with a score of 5½ from 6 (round one half-point bye). Critelli and Experts Bryon Doyle and Josiah Stearman are tied for second with 5 points.

From round 6 of the Leighton Allen Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Critelli–Grey after 17...fxe6)White to move (Wong–Alvarez after 37...Qxc3)
White to move (Askin–Vickers after 23...Kc6)Black to move (Ochoa–Lagrotta after 19 Nh4)
White to move (Drane–Paquette after 18...Nxc4)Black to move (Tokatyan–Sherwood after 12 exd4)
White to move (Rakonitz–Rothman after 22...Rcf8)White to move (Hilliard–Nyangar after 19...Rc8)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 6.

The Mechanics’ entry in the US Chess League is in first place after three rounds, having just defeated the Rio Grande Ospreys 2½–1½. Senior Master Cameron Wheeler and National Master Rayan Tagizadeh lead the way, winning their games.

Jules Jelinek, Weekly Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator, reports on the results for September 2.

1st / 2nd – James Sun & Jules Jelinek
3rd – Alfonso Cheng

The Wednesday Night Blitz will be held every week until Thanksgiving.

Daniel Naroditsky and Christian-Ioan Chirila tied for first in the 2015 CalChess State Championship, held September 5–7 in Burlingame. The two Grandmasters, who never met, were both undefeated with 5–1 scores, but the real story of the event was the performance of Rayan Taghizahdeh. The 13-year-old National Master started the event rated 2231 and, after beating Grandmaster Jesse Kraai, Senior Master Konstantin Kavutskiy and FIDE Master Vignesh Panchanatham, as well as drawing with Chirila, he played and lost to Naroditsky in the last round. Rayan’s new rating is 2301.

Tying for third at 4½ in the 239-player event were Rayan, Grandmaster Georgi Margvelashvili and Senior Master Cameron Wheeler, who is now playing consistently at 2450 USCF, and should be an International Master in the next year.

The team of Tom Langland, Richard Kopecke, John McCumiskey and Judit Sztaray organized and directed this event for Cal Chess, the governing body for chess in Northern California.

2) Walter Browne annotates some of his last games – Part Two

One of the last emails we received from Walter was on June 4, in which he included two games annotated Chess Informant style (i.e. no words). We have added some text for readability. The first game appeared in Newsletter #718. As far as we know the following game was the last Walter annotated.

English A25
Michael Walder (2119)–Walter Browne (2480)
Berkeley Senior Championship (2) May 30, 2015.

An amazing game! Similar structure on the kingside as in Lombardy–Fischer, Monte Carlo 1967.

1.c4 e5

Walter was loyal to his opening choices. Rising up through the ranks he played 1.e4, and met 1.e4 and 1.d4 with the Najdorf Sicilian and Kings Indian respectively. He answered 1.Nf3 and 1.c4 with 1…c5, followed by a Kingside fianchetto. Yes, exactly as Bobby did.

Later, when Walter became a strong Grandmaster. he made some changes. He stayed with the Najdorf but switched to playing 1.d4 and defended against it with the Nimzo/Queens Indian. He also started meeting 1.Nf3/2.c4 with the Hedgehog, but against 1.c4 favored a reversed Closed Sicilian, with which he won many nice games.

In the mid-2000s, finding it hard to gain an advantage against the Slav/Semi-Slav/QGA/Queen’s Gambit Declined, he switched back to 1.e4 and replaced his beloved Najdorf with the Sveshnikov.

2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.e3 f5 6.d3 Nf6 7.Nge2 0–0 8.0–0 d6 9.Rb1 a5 10.a3 Ne7 11.f4 h6 12.b4 axb4 13.axb4 g5

13...c6!? 14.b5 Be6 15.Bd2 with equality.

Walter often handled the reversed Closed Sicilian with a central pawn center (…c6 and …d5) strategy. Here he plays for White’s king.

14.b5 Ng6 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.Bxd5+

16.cxd5 exf4 17.exf4 Re8 offers equal chances.

16...Kh7 17.Bb2 h5

Alternatively 17...gxf4 18.exf4 c6 19.bxc6 bxc6 20.Bf3 Be6 21.Bc3 Qd7 22.Qd2 Rfb8 with equality.


Better was 18.Bc3 h4 19.Qd2 with a slight pull for White.

18...g4 19.Qd2 h4 20.Rfe1 h3 21.Kf1?! Qe8 22.Ra1

22.Ne2 c6 23.bxc6 bxc6 24.Bh1 Be6 25.Bc3 Ra6 favors Black slightly.

22...Rxa1 23.Rxa1 c6 24.bxc6 bxc6 25.Bh1 Be6 26.Ra6 e4! 27.Bxe4

27.Kg1 d5 28.cxd5 cxd5 29.dxe4 dxe4 30.Nxe4!? fxe4 31.Bxg7 Kxg7 32.Qd4+ Kh6 33.Bxe4 is unclear.


27...Ne5 28.Ra7 Qb8 29.Rxg7+ Kxg7 30.Ke2 Qb4 31.Bh1 (31.fxe5? fxe4 32.Nxe4 Qxd2+ 33.Nxd2 d5 favors Black) 31...Nxd3! 32.Kxd3 Qxc4+ with Black slightly better.

28.Nxe4 Ne5 29.Ng5+?

Time pressure. 29.Ra7! Nd7 (29...Bd7 30.Qc3 d5 31.cxd5 cxd5 32.Ng5+ Kg6 33.Qc7=) 30.Ng5+ Kg8 31.Bxg7 Kxg7 32.Qa5 Kg8 33.Nxe6 Qxe6 34.Qg5+ Kh7 35.e4 Rf7 with mutual chances.

29...Kg8 30.Qc3 Qg6

Missing a win by 30...Bf5 31.e4 Bf6! 32.c5 d5 33.Qa3 Bxg5 34.Bxe5 Bxe4.

31.Ke2 Bf5?!

Both sides are now in time pressure and Black misses another win by 31...Rb8! 32.Nxe6 Qxe6 33.Ra7 Qg6 34.e4 (34.fxe5 Bxe5 35.d4 Qe4 36.Bc1 (36.dxe5 Rxb2+ winning) 36...Bxg3 37.hxg3 Qg2+ 38.Kd3 Qf1+ 39.Kc2 h2 40.d5 Qf5+ 41.Kd2 Qe5 again winning) 34...Nf7 35.Qxg7+ Qxg7 36.Bxg7 Kxg7.

32.e4 Bc8 33.Ra7 Bh6 34.c5

34.fxe5 Qxg5 35.exd6 Qe3+ 36.Kd1 Rf1+ 37.Kc2 Qf2+ 38.Kb3 Qb6+ 39.Kc2 Rf2+ 40.Kb1 Rxb2+– and Black should win shortly.

34...Bxg5 35.fxe5?

The final mistake. White could have saved himself with 35.fxg5! Qxg5 (35...Be6 36.cxd6 Nd7 37.Qxc6 Qxg5 38.Bd4 Ne5=) 36.cxd6 Be6 37.Rb7 (37.Qxe5?? Rf2+! 38.Kxf2 Qd2+ 39.Kf1 Qxd3+ 40.Kf2 Qf3+ 41.Ke1 Qe3+ 42.Kf1 Bc4 mate!) 37...Rf3 38.Rb8+ Kf7 39.Qc5 Rxd3 40.Rb7+ Kg8 41.Rb8+! with a draw by perpetual check.

35...d5! 36.e6 Bf6 37.e5 Bg7 38.e7 Re8–+ 39.d4 Qe6 40.Rc7 Ba6+ 41.Kd1 Rxe7 42.Qa5 Rxc7 43.Qxc7 Bb5 44.Qd8+ Kf7 45.Bc1 Qf5 46.Qc7+ Kg6 47.Qd6+ Kh7 0–1

3) Here and There

Going into the final Grand Chess Tour event Veselin Topalov continues to lead in the overall standings, but his pursuers have breathing down his neck after the end of the second event in St. Louis.

Topalov has 17 points, with Hikaru Nakamura second with 16, followed by Levon Aronian on 15 points, Magnus Carlsen on 14 and Anish Giri at 13.

The final leg of the tour, with $300,000 in prizes, will be held in London from December 3-15.

International Master Eric Tangborn has a new chess blog which emphasizes book reviews. Go to to check it out.

4) The fall of the Soviet chess armada

During the recent Sinquefield Cup Garry Kasparov was interviewed by commentators Jennifer Shahade and Yasser Seirawan, and had interesting things to say about the development of chess talent in 2015. While Kasparov is undoubtedly right that Russia is no longer dominating the game the way the Soviet Union did—note that it has a much smaller population—a quick glance at the list of the top ten juniors (under 21) in the world shows it is still producing many promising young talents. What is surprising is that Ukraine has no players on the list, and China only one.

Of course making this list is no guarantee that a player will reach 2700 (Wei Yi being the exception). Arguably the biggest challenge facing American chess today is the lack of appropriate tournaments for players rated over 2625 FIDE who are trying to reach 2700. Except for the U.S. Championship and the Millionaire Open there are none. Such players will find themselves continually playing down (probably 90 percent of the time) playing in other US events and elsewhere (Gibralter and Qatar Masters being two exceptions). One place to continually face first-rate opposition (players rated in the top 100 in the world) is various chess leagues in Europe and Asia, but this generally requires the individual to live outside the United States.

Top-10 juniors:
1. Wei Yi 1999 CHN 2734
2. Artemiev 1998 RUS 2675
3. Dubov 1996 RUS 2661
4. Fedoseev 1995 RUS 2659
5. Bukavshin 1995 RUS 2657
6. Rapport 1996 HUN 2649
7. Duda 1998 POL 2645
8. Cori 1995 PER 2637
9. Naroditsky 1995 USA 2628
10. Anton Guijarro 1995 ESP 2628

GK: In the Soviet Union, chess was a very important factor. A social, cultural, and also political factor. There was a huge investment by the communist state to make sure the great talents were found. That’s why there was the network… Not chess and education, let’s not confuse these two things, but to make sure the talent, from almost anywhere could be noticed and eventually brought into the system, and given the opportunity to realize his or her potential. It is gone with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it’s happening now in other countries. (Jennifer and Yasser gesture to indicate the United States) Absolutely.

YS: like China….

GK: But China is more like the Soviet model. Here in America it’s different, but the game is gaining ground. (…) Now, chess has become a factor. So parents are looking at chess as a potential opportunity for their kids, which means more kids, especially from the Asian families, where the parents are looking for every chance for their kids. This is a country with 310 million people, so there is so much talent, and it creates big opportunity. The moment chess is being considered by 5% of this population…

Kasparov noted that England, a force in international chess, currently does not even have an International Master under 18.

YS: …15 million people.

GK: Yes, the advantage of the Soviet Union was that millions of kids went through the network. If you look at the former Soviet Union, one of the most successful countries was Armenia with only 3.5 million people because chess was mandatory in the schools for a few years. And Armenia with such a small population won three Chess Olympiads, Ukraine won two…. And Russia won none since I left the Russian team. So it just tells you that what’s important is not having a massive population like China, it’s about the number of kids that are interested in the game, and parents that would love their kids to have this extra opportunity.

5) This is the end

In this study, it looks as if White has all the winning chances. Unless Black can capture the pawn, and draw with a minor piece against a rook. Or maybe...use your imagination.

White to move

Show solution


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