Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Newsletter #747
May 6, 2016

Rublevsky is not a sexy player. There are younger and more gifted individuals around and he knows it. Yet he has canniness, which the greenhorns don’t. He does not engage the teenagers on the sharp end of opening theory, testing his ailing memory against the freshness of their computer-assisted analysis. Instead he heads a little off the beaten track —not exactly to the jungle, but to lesser-travelled byways where his experience counts.

—GM Nigel Short

This Saturday the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club will hold the 16th Annual Charles Powell Memorial G/45.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

International Master Elliott Winslow and National Masters Bryon Doyle and Josiah Stearman tied for first in the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon with 7–1 scores, the three winners dividing $1500. This brings Stearman and Doyle to career rating bests of 2264 and 2218 respectively, and Winslow back over 2300 (2311).

Veterans took most of the class prizes with Oleg Shaknazarov (top under 2200), Steven Krasnov (top under 2000), Charles Cunningham (top under 1600) and Daniel Weingarten (top under 1200) leading the way. The latter raised his provisional rating from 952 to 1609. The 125-player event was the second-best-attended tournament in the history of the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club. The next TNM starts Tuesday, May 24.

From round 8 of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Doyle–Critelli after 18...exd4)White to move (Shaw–Walters after 35...Ka8)
White to move (Askin–Porlares after 25...Kh6)White to move (Marcus–Melville after 31...Qd6)
White to move (Rudyak–Weingarten after 27...Qd7)White to move (Malykin–Morgan after 14...Re8)
White to move (Capdeville–Dupree after 21...Bxc4)Black to move (Erdenebileg–Erickson after 16 Nxd5)
White to move (Greene–Robertson after 6...e5)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 8.

Sam Shankland will be playing in the Edmonton International held June 17–26, 2016. Among those participating in the ten-player round robin are Grandmasters Alexey Shirov, Surya Ganguly and Bator Sambuev. Sam will also play in Biel, Switzerland.

Grandmasters Sam Shankland, Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Jacob Aagaard will be teaching at camps run by the Berkeley Chess School this summer.

Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky will be playing in the Politiken Cup in Copenhagen this July.

2) Mayhem in the Morra

Mayhem in the Morra is the title of an excellent book on the Smith-Morra Gambit by International Master Marc Esserman that received many positive reviews.

While the following game is not theoretically significant, it is an excellent example of the sort of sharp sacrificial attack White can develop seemingly out of nowhere. Two multiple Washington State Champions battle it out in the last round of the 1983 Washington Open in Seattle.

Sicilian Smith-Morra B21
John Braley (2296)–Neil Salmon (2324)
Washington Open (7) 1983

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 a6 7.0–0 Nf6 8.h3!?

8.Bg5 and 8.Bf4 are the main tries.

8...e6 9.Qe2 Bd7 10.Rd1 Qb8

Here 10...Be7 transposes to a more commonly-seen variation, where White can choose between 11.Bf4 and 11.Bg5.

11.a4 Be7 12.b4 Nxb4

12...0–0 was safer.

13.e5 dxe5 14.Nxe5 Qc8


The text is not completely correct (hence the question mark), but extremely difficult to meet over the board. The two exclamation marks are for White’s appreciation of the long-term difficulties Black’s King will face if all the sacrifices are accepted.

15...Nxd7 16.Nxf7 Kxf7?

Black had to refuse the second gift. After 16...Nb6! 17.Bxe6 (or 17.Nxh8 Qxc4 18.Qf3 0–0–0 19.Be3 Qxc3 20.Rc1 Qxc1+ 21.Bxc1 Rxh8) 17...Qxc3 18.Rb1 Qd3 Black is doing fine.

17.Qxe6+ Ke8 18.Bg5 Qc5

A good example of the long-term attack White has can be seen in the following line: 18...Nc6 19.Ne4! Kd8 (or 19...Qc7 20.Rd1 Rf8 21.Nd6+ Kd8 22.Nxb7+ Qxb7 23.Bd5 Rc8 (23...Bxg5 24.Bxc6) 24.Bxe7+) 20.Bxe7+ Nxe7 21.Rd1 Ra7 22.Nd6 winning.


Stronger was 19.Ne4! Qe5 20.Qf7+ Kd8 21.Rd1 Qxe4 22.Be6 and the game will soon be over.

19...Qxg5 20.Ne4 Qe5?

20...Qg6 was absolutely forced. 21.Nd6+ Kd8 22.Qxe7+ Kc7 23.Be6 Rad8 24.Nf7 Nc6 25.Qd6+ Kb6 26.Nxh8 Rxh8 27.Qxd7 Rd8 28.a5+ Ka7 29.Qc7 Re8 with equal chances.

21.Nd6+ Qxd6 22.Qxd6 Nc6 23.Bd5 Kd8 24.Rxe7! Nxe7 25.Be6 Ke8 26.Qxd7+ Kf8 27.Qxb7 1–0

John Braley in 1983 (Photo: Michael Franett)

3) May FIDE Ratings

The United States has never been as well-represented on the FIDE top player lists as it is for May 2016. This includes not only the list for the top 100 players, but also for the highest rated women, boys and girls.

The Top 100 list is headed by World Champion Magnus Carlsen at 2851, followed by American Fabiano Caruana at 2804. Two of Fabiano’s countrymen, Hikaru Nakamura (#6 at 2787) and Wesley So (#10 at 2775), are in the top 10 players in the World. The US has another three players in the top 100: Ray Robson (#65 at 2774), Gata Kamsky (#71 at 2670) and Alex Onischuk (#76 at 2668).

The United States is number three on the list of highest-rated countries (average of top ten players) at 2690, behind Russia (2741) and China (2713), but ahead of Ukraine (2682) and India (2670).

For the first time the US has five female players rated in the top one hundred women. They include Anna Zatonskih (#33 at 2460), Irina Krush (#42 at 2433), Tatev Abrahamyan (#88 at 2373), Nazi Paikidze (#94 at 2366) and Katerina Nemcova (#95 at 2365).

The US has eight (!) players in the list of top juniors (under 21) Jeffrey Xiong (#7 at 2624), Samuel Sevian (#10 at 2589), John Burke (#11 at 2584), Kayden Troff (#26 at 2543), Ruifeng Li (#35 at 2517), Darwin Yang (#55 at 2483), Akshat Chandra (=#79 at 2464 and Daniel Gurevich (=#79 at 2464).

Even more amazingly the US has five players on the Girls top 100 list—not so long ago the US had no players on this list. Ashrita Eswaran tops the list (# 43 at 2261) followed by Maggie Feng (#59 at 2227), Carissa Yip (#72 at 2196), Jennifer Yu (#76 at 2187) and Akshita Gorti (#78 at 2184).

4) This is the end

In this study, we see why the bishop is better than the knight. Or is it the other way around? You be the judge.

White to move

Show solution


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