Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson


 
Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #782
April 7, 2017

It has been said that man is distinguished from animal in that he buys more books than he can read. I should like to suggest that the inclusion of a few chess books would help to make the distinction unmistakable.

—Edward Lasker, in The Adventure of Chess

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

National Master Tenzing Shaw and Expert Arthur Ismakov are the only remaining perfect scores after four rounds of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon. National Master Conrado Diaz, winner of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon, is among those with 3½ points. Four rounds remain for the 112 contestants.


From round 4 of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Kim–Diaz after 10 Nd4)White to move (Fuentes–Mays after 9...Qe7)
White to move (Melville–Gaffagan after 24...Bf8)White to move (McKellar–Krasnov after 15...dxe5)
Black to move (Malykin–Turner after 12 Rg1)White to move (Anderson–Eastham after 31...Kf8)
White to move (Brown–Abraham after 4...Bf5)White to move (Simpkins–Rakonitz after 46...Rxb6)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 4.

Wesley So and Yaroslav Zherebukh lead the 2017 US Championship with 4½ from 7. Bay Area Grandmasters Sam Shankland and Daniel Naroditsky are tied for 5th–9th with 3½ points, with four rounds remaining.


Jules Jelinek, Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator, provides the following information.

March 22 (9 players)
1. Jules Jelinek
2-3. Kristian Clemens and Carlos D’Avila

March 29 (10 players)
1. Carlos D’Avila
2. Jules Jelinek
3. Oleg Shaknazarov

Sunday May 7 is when the big annual Ray Schutt Memorial Blitz tournament will be held at Mechanics Institute this year. 1st $400, 2nd $250, 3rd $120, 4th $100, 5th $75, 6th $50; everyone gets a free chess book for entering. Registration will be from 12:00 to 12:45 pm. No phone entries. The rounds will be at 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30, 3:00 and 3:30 pm.


The United States will be represented by Grandmasters Sam Shankland, Jeffrey Xiong, Ray Robson, Alex Onischuk and Varuzhan Akobian in the World Team Championship, which will be held June 16–28 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Director John Donaldson will serve as US team captain.


Donations of books, sets, magazines and clocks to the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club are always welcome, and will be put to good use. The Mechanics’ Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization, so donations are tax-deductible. Saving money on equipment and books allows the MI Chess Club to have strong Grandmasters give guest lectures on Tuesday nights. Among those who have done so the past few years are Wesley So, Sam Shankland, Daniel Naroditsky, R.B. Ramesh (GM and captain of the Indian Olympiad team), Jacob Aaagard, Alex Lenderman, Christian Chirila and Jesse Kraai.

2) Walter Shipman (1929–2017)

American chess has suffered a great loss with the death of International Master Walter Shipman at the age of 87. Shipman, who died on February 28 in San Francisco, had been ill for some time.



Walter Shipman at the Mechanics’ Institute in 2009. (Photo: Richard Shorman)

Walter Shipman was born in New York on April 18, 1929, and first received national attention when he finished near the top of the field in the 1946 U.S. Open. This was the debut not only for him, but a golden generation of players including Robert and Donald Byrne, Larry Evans and Arthur Bisguier, who would soon transform American chess. Unlike most of them Shipman never played professionally, despite being one of the top dozen players in the United States for most of the 1950s. He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and worked as a lawyer his entire professional life.

Shipman was quite active as a player throughout the late 1940s and 1950s and competed in two strong events during that time, performing creditably in both. He scored 4/10 (+1 –3 =6) in the 1955-56 Rosenwald, a six-player double round robin that was a de facto U.S. Championship. His win, on the black side of the Budapest Defense against Sammy Reshevsky, was one of the key games of the tournament. Shipman was 4–5 in the 1959 Log Cabin Invitational (Lombardy, Benko, Evans, Bisguier, R. Byrne, etc.) that had many of the same players who competed in the U.S. Championship later that year.

The Manhattan Chess Club was Shipman’s home base from the beginning of his career until he moved with his wife Mary to San Francisco in the mid-1990s. He first made a name for himself in the weekly blitz tournaments, and not long after became a fixture in its lineup in the Metropolitan team league, an important competition before the rise of weekend tournaments. Shipman also competed regularly in the championship of America’s strongest club winning it six times (1972, =1974, 1984, 1985, = 1994, 1995).

Walter Shipman will be remembered as more than a player. His intelligence, wit, friendliness and sense of fair play will not be forgotten. Nor will his contributions away from the board. During the 1950s, before family life (his son Joe and daughter Judy are both accomplished tournament players) and career stepped in, Shipman was active as an administrator for the U.S. Chess Federation and the Manhattan Chess Club. It was in the latter capacity that he persuaded his fellow directors to make an exception and waive the age requirement to allow 12-year-old Bobby Fischer to join the M.C.C. in August 1955.

Almost exactly two years later Fischer and Shipman would draw in the last round of the 1957 U.S. Open in Cleveland, the scene of Bobby’s first great triumph. Shipman would finish equal fourth, one of many high placings over the years in U.S. Opens—equal third in 1950 and tied for second forty-five years later.

The two would meet again in an invitational blitz tournament held in August 1971 at the Manhattan Chess Club to honor the club’s new quarters and Fischer’s 6–0 victories over Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen. Bobby ran away with the event, scoring 21½ out of 22, drawing only Walter Shipman. The latter was winning that game but simply ran out of time against the super speedy Fischer. It was Shipman who perhaps best expressed what it was like to play Fischer as he got stronger and stronger; “It began to feel as though you were playing against chess itself.”

Shipman set the record for the oldest American player to become an International Master when he received the title at 52. Despite being of that strength for three prior decades, he did not formally receive the title until 1982—there were simply no prior opportunities for earning the title for American players who weren’t willing to travel abroad. Subsequently this record was broken by Joe Bradford who made his last norm when he was 56½, and later by Ilye Figler, who made his first norm when he was 51 and his last when he was 63.

Few could match Shipman’s knowledge of American chess history, particularly that of the Manhattan Chess Club. Thanks to him a complete list of winners of the club’s annual championship dating back to 1883 is available, as is a record of the Manhattan’s many locations in its over one hundred year existence.

Shipman was unfailingly generous in sharing information. Noted American chess historian John Hilbert, author of Shady Side: The Life and Crimes of Norman Tweed Whitaker Chess Master, wrote that when he approached Walter about his remembrances of Whitaker, Shipman not only provided it, but also asked many questions about the work in progress, helping to stimulate further research.

Fair and objective were two words that accurately described Walter. When asking about a player from the past that Shipman personally knew, one could be sure they were getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A case in point is the late Abe Kupchik, who was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 2014. The chapter on Kupchik in Arnold Denker and Larry Parr’s The Bobby Fischer I Knew is titled “The Frightened, Little Rabbit” and the conclusion of the former is that “Kupie” had a passive style and played as if he was afraid. Certainly Denker, who was known for his love of attacking play would not have found the games of Kupchik, generally remembered as a grinder par excellence, to be particularly interesting, but was he fair in his assessment?

Shipman (who knew both men well) did not think so, believing “solid” a much accurate description of Kupchik’s playing style. He added that “Kupie”, in his opinion the second best American player after Marshall from roughly 1915 to the late 1920s, beat Denker in a very nice game in the 1936 US Championship and had a lifetime plus score against him.

This was not the only piece of unwritten American chess history that Shipman had tucked away. Everyone remembers the U.S. team did not attend Buenos Aires 1939 after winning the previous four Olympiads, but why not? The answer is not to be found in the pages of Chess Review or the American Chess Bulletin.

Walter explained that George Emlen Roosevelt (yes, one of those Roosevelts), was willing to pay the travel for the U.S. team, but balked when the players asked for a modest honoraria to cover a month’s lost wages attending the event. Roosevelt, a banker and philanthropist who was one of the most prominent railroad financiers of his day, felt the players should be honored to play for the flag. The players, who had already demonstrated their patriotism countless times that decade, but had families to feed during the Depression, felt otherwise. Sadly, with Walter’s passing, much insider knowledge has been lost.

Shipman was a player who went his own way in the opening. Long before its recent revival, he championed the Cozio Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nge7) to the Ruy Lopez and for many years opened 1.d4 Nf6 2.g3 as White. Like Kupchik, he was a fine positional player who picked up more than his share of points in the endgame, but also like “Kupie” he could attack quite vigorously when the situation called for it. A case in point is the following miniature played against fellow IM Kongliang “Ben” Deng at the 2004 American Open in Los Angeles. Walter was 75 when this game was played.

Walter Shipman will be missed by many.

Dutch A80
Walter Shipman (2247)–Kong Liang Deng (2510)
Los Angeles 2004

1.d4 f5 2.Bg5 h6 3.Bh4 g5 4.e4 Rh7

First played by Grzegorz Gajewski of Poland and later championed by fellow Grandmasterr Simon Williams of England, the text wins material at the cost of king safety.

5.Qh5+ Rf7 6.Bxg5 hxg5 7.Nf3 fxe4

7...Nf6 8.Qg6 Nxe4?! (8...e6 9.Nxg5 Qe7 10.e5!) 9.Ne5 Nd6 10.h4! favors White - Moskalenko.

8.Nxg5 Nh6 9.Nc3 c5?

9...e6 10.d5!

10.0–0–0 cxd4 11.Rxd4 Qa5 12.Rd5 Qb6 13.Rf5 1–0

3) Chess Room Chair Donations

Last year the Mechanics Institute replaced all its chairs for the first time in 80 years. To help pay for the cost of them the M.I. is running a chair donation program.

Take advantage of this opportunity to commemorate a loved one, or honor a person, family, or business, by naming a chair in either the world-renowned Chess Room or the Meeting Room of the Mechanics’ Institute.

Your gift will entitle you to an engraved, brass, personalized nameplate mounted on the back of a Mechanics’ Institute chair.

This opportunity is available for a donation of $500 per chair.

When you sponsor a seat, we will acknowledge your gift to the recipient of your choice. Chair donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

You can dedicate a chair

• As an individual, couple, or family
• For your children, grandchildren, or parents
• In memory of a loved one
• With the name of your business or organization
• Marking a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion
• To honor an employee, friend or colleague
• Or with your favorite quotation

More information.



4) This is the end

This position occurred in a recent game. Black’s objective is clear—stop that pawn. Is it even possible?

Black to move

Show solution



 

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