Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #391

"Sometimes it seems that Leko doesn't really like playing chess so much as striving to analyse opening positions. Probably his ideal would be to take his analyses if not to bare
kings, then at least to positions from the Nalimov database. When Peter manages to use a novelty as Black that instantly kills all life on the board, he becomes happy like a child and calls
this kind of game 'magnificent'."

Ilya Levitov and Evgeny Bareev in From London to Elista, p. 180.

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News

2) Bobby Fischer Read Here (a small excerpt) by Sara Blask

3) USCL Ratings by the Bionic Lime

4) Schein-Friedman scholarships for youth by Aviv Friedman

5) The Burning Boards in San Diego by Glenn Kaino

6) New England Masters update by Chris Bird

7) Here and There

8) Upcoming Events

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News

Former US Champion IM John Grefe will be a special guest lecturer next Tuesday night from 5:15 to 6:15 at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.

Michael Aigner writes that Bay Area player Erik Kislik, who is currently based in Spain, is improving by leaps and bounds. This FIDE lists he up 62 points to 2278.

This Saturday, during the Max Wilkerson G/45, Rebeccah Liu and Samyukta Bhat will play a match for the right to play in the next Susan Polgar High School Championship for Girls. Richard Koepcke will direct this event for Cal Chess.

The Mechanics Institute will be holding two chess camps this summer. Anthony Corrales will teach the beginner/ intermediate session from July 14-18 with IM (2 GM norms) Josh Friedel in charge of the advanced camp from July 21-25. Go to for more information.

Book and equipment donations to the Mechanics' are always welcome. All donations to the Mechanics' are tax deductible due to the M.I.'s 501(c) (3) nonprofit status. If you have any chess books or equipment that have been lying around unused for some time consider donating to the Mechanics'. You will not only get a tax write off but also the satisfaction of seeing things put to good use.

2) Bobby Fischer Read Here (a small excerpt) by Sara Blask

For the complete article go to .Thanks to Ed Labate for pointing this out.

Bobby Fischer Read Here
At the Reykjavik bookstore where the chess great spent his final, hermit-like days.

By Sara Blask

At his essence, Bobby Fischer was the outlaw biker of the chess world, a lonely, extraordinarily eccentric, extremely volatile genius — half-man, half-beast, pure will — whose moves on a chessboard and in his everyday life were as stubborn and unpredictable as the weather just outside the Reykjavik apartment where he spent his final three years.

He was a legendary recluse, an enigma who both captivated, shocked, and offended the world. Yet for all his innumerable eccentricities, iron-fisted bull-headedness, and vitriolic assaults against Jews and his own American government, during his last years, Bobby Fischer, managed to find some well-deserved solace in a place one might not expect: sitting in a wooden chair tucked in the back corner of a quiet bookstore in downtown Reykjavik.

Bókin, or The Book, is essentially a 1950s version of New York’s Strand Bookstore. Besides the books stacked head-high, under card tables, and on plywood shelves, the first thing you notice about Bókin is its smell, decayed and airless. Walking inside the 35-year-old establishment is like entering a Parisian flea market without the noise: overwhelming, a paralysis of the senses. But it was here, between narrow aisles lined with thousands of fraying biographies and history books, sitting in an ordinary chair whose varnish had worn thin, where Bobby Fischer could be alone in his thoughts. It was here where he could contemplate his place in history by poring through books on outlaws and rebels from Russia, Britain, Libya, and the Soviet Union with whom he could relate. And it was here, beneath the quiet hum of the fluorescent lights above, where Bobby Fischer could, for at least a few hours a day, seem to live a normal life.

"Bobby said he liked this kind of bookshop because it reminded him of his younger New York years. The mess everywhere, the stacks of books, the smell," says owner Bragi Kristjónsson. "He was often sitting here so long, reading from these shelves, that he fell asleep."

3) USCL Ratings by the Bionic Lime

The following article was posted at

I have independently created a
United States Chess League rating system that takes into several elements that other rating systems do not. Most importantly, the USCL ratings take into account that players are part of a team, and their strategy about how to conclude their individual games depend on the games situations of their teammates.

Here is an overview of the USCL rating system.

1. Modified Glicko

Rating calculations are based on the
Glicko system, with some minor modifications. These modifications are as follows:
(a) Maximum RD is 100 (not 350);
(b) Ratings are updated after every game;
(c) At the end of each season, each RD is modified by increasing it 1/2 its distance to 100. For example, if a player's RD is 40, then the new RD is 40+((100-40)/2) or 40+(30) or 70. This eliminates step 1b in the Glicko process.

2. Initial Ratings Based on Board

Initial ratings for each player are based on which board they played the first time they played in a USCL match. Players who were Board 1 start with an initial rating of 2550; Board 2, 2450; Board 3, 2350; Board 4, 2250. All are set with an RD (ratings deviation) of 100.

3. Expected Score Depends on Color

Expected score from each game is modified by the color each player has. An initial investigation showed that, in the USCL, the performance rating of a player with the White pieces is about 72 points higher than the performance rating of a player with the Black pieces. Therefore, when calculating expected score of a games between two players, we temporarily add 36 points to White's rating, and subtract 36 points from Black's rating.

4. All Games Rated with Equal Weight

All games, including playoff games and blitz tiebreak games, were given equal weight in the ratings.

5. Scores for Draws Depend on Team Result

In team chess, where the goal of the team is to win the match (with 2.5/4 points or more, or 2/4 in a match with draw odds), individual results can be skewed by the circumstances of the match situation. For example, if it looks like your team is about to win two games and lose one game, winning the match comes down to what happens on your board. Suppose that in your game you have a moderate advantage, but the position is dynamic and unstable. In such a case, you might decide to trade all your pieces to reach a dead drawn endgame, so that you will draw the game and clinch the match for your team. This is fundamentally a good result for your team, as your will win the match.

Therefore, the result of the team match is considered when assigning scores for individual players' draws. If the final team match is drawn, each player who drew gets 1/2 point. If a team wins, all the players on the winning team who drew their games get 2/3 point each. Conversely, all the players on a losing team who drew their games get 1/3 point each. (Wins are still 1 and losses are still 0, regardless of the team match score.) Note that these point assignments are only for rating calculations only.

Final 2007 United States Chess League Rating List

Final 2007 United States Chess League Rating List


2591 Sergey Kudrin


2589 Vinay Bhat


2586 Patrick Wolff


2581 Larry Christiansen


2580 Hikaru Nakamura


2579 Jorge Sammour-Hasbun


2576 Joel Benjamin


2571 Drasko Boskovic


2569 Gregory Serper


2566 Julio Becerra


2543 Davorin Kuljasevic


2523 Jacek Stopa


2522 Eli Vovsha


2519 John Donaldson


2505 Pawel Blehm


2495 Josh Friedel


2494 Alex Stripunsky


2491 Lev Milman


2487 Georgi Orlov


2487 Dean Ippolito


2484 Pascal Charbonneau


2481 Eugene Perelshteyn


2477 Irina Krush


2466 Jay Bonin


2463 Vince McCambridge


2460 Bryan Smith


2454 Tegshsuren Enkhbat


2453 Dmitry Schneider


2449 Denis Shmelov


2441 Eric Tangborn


2440 Ron Burnett


2433 Marcel Milat


2432 Slava Mikhailuk


2428 Sam Shankland


2423 Oleg Zaikov


2415 John Bartholomew


2415 Robert Hess


2411 Richard Costigan


2407 Dmitry Zilberstein


2406 Jonathan Schroer


2405 Keaton Kiewra


2402 Irina Zenyuk


2399 William Kelleher


2397 Blas Lugo


2389 David Pruess


2389 Francisco Guadalupe II


2388 John Readey


2387 Andrei Zaremba


2386 Aviv Friedman


2382 Mikhail Zlotnikov


2381 Marcel Martinez


2380 Todd Andrews


2366 Parker Zhao


2365 Elvin Wilson


2361 Bruci Lopez


2360 Chris Williams


2358 Katerina Rohonyan


2354 Larry Kaufman


2354 Vadim Martirosov


2353 Daniel Yeager


2343 John Rouleau


2334 Mackenzie Molner


2333 Eric Rodriguez


2327 Bayaraa Zorigt


2322 Victor Shen


2319 Miguel Espino


2314 James Critelli


2311 Marc Arnold


2309 Michael Thaler


2307 Peter Bierkens


2304 Luis Barredo


2303 Loren Schmidt


2301 Evan Ju


2301 Gregory Young


2300 Matthew Herman


2297 Alejandro Moreno Roman


2295 Craig Jones


2287 Michael Lee


2279 John Timmel


2276 Ralph Zimmer


2265 Daniel Naroditsky


2264 Udayan Bapat


2263 Ilya Krasik


2261 Tsagaan Battsetseg


2258 Josh Sinanan


2239 Matthew Bengtson


2228 Peter Bereolos


2211 Jerry Wheeler


2209 Gerald Larson


2183 James Wu

4) Schein-Friedman scholarships for youth by Aviv Friedman

Mark Schein and Aviv Friedman, in cooperation with the US Chess Trust, are happy to announce their new scholastic project.

The project is a two-tier program, designed to help some of our younger champions improve and dedicate themselves more to chess, while offsetting the financial expenses that usually come with those. Hopefully the project will reward excelling youngsters, and help them become tomorrow's best players and Grandmasters. At the same time they would be serving as role models and inspiration to the entire scholastic community.

The program is generally designed for youngsters age 7-17. Occasionally, in cases of unusual excellence (considerably exceeding the program's criterions), applications by players up to age 20 would be considered.

There are 3 annual scholarships in place:

The top recipient will get $6000; the second recipient will get $4000; and the third $2500.

Additionally, the project will run a week long chess camp for 10 or so leading juniors, with a Grandmaster instructor.

Applicants must have been US citizens or permanent legal residents for a minimum of 18 months prior to the deadline date (February 1st for 2008). They must show dedication to chess, talent and accomplishment, a will to work hard and improve, as well as good sportsmanship and a positive attitude.

The minimum ratings qualification formula is as follows:

Ages 7-14: age * 100 + 1000 for boys, and age * 100 + 800 for girls.

Ages 15-16: age * 100 + 900 for boys, and age * 100 + 700 for girls.

Age 17: 2500 for boys, 2400 for girls.

Applicants must be active tournament players. Playing in open events or sections above the lowest allowed - a bonus.

All applications should be in the form of an essay, describing the applicant's chess accomplishments, and why he or she should receive a scholarship. They should be sent via e-mail to Aviv Friedman at

5) The Burning Boards in San Diego by Glenn Kaino

I'm writing to invite you to attend an art event that I am putting together in San Diego, hosted by The Orange County Museum of Art. On April 5th, the museum will be hosting a project of mine called The Burning Boards at an art space called haudenschildGarage in La Jolla. The Burning Boards is a 32 person chess tournament played with chess sets that I have made from candles and which will be lit during play. The rules are conventional chess rules with the addition of a constant negotiation with your opponent about status of the melting pieces. Pieces that burn out are considered captured, and the dynamics of the game change constantly based upon the style of both your and your opponent's play.
This is the second installment of the performance, which was originally presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art last year at their downtown location. I have attached pictures of the first event, which included artists such as Daniel J. Martinez, Slater Bradley, and Robert A. Pruitt, curators Lauri Firstenberg, Kate Green, Larry List, and Jeffrey Uslip, writers David Levi Strauss, Barry Yourgrau, Nelly Rosario, Paul Hoffman and Neil Feineman, collector Dennis Scholl, chess professionals such as Jennifer Shahade, Irina Krush, and Pascal Charbonneau among several other interesting people.
There will again be a wide array of people playing, visual artists, writers, curators, patrons, gallerists, musicians, and other professional chess players as well, including Jennifer and Pascal. There will not be much parity in the level of play, however, The Burning Boards is primarily about the exchange of ideas in a context where winning takes second place to playing.
Coverage of last years event can be found at

6) New England Masters update by Chris Bird

Dear Chess Player,

With the April FIDE rating list just around the corner, I thought this would be a good time to remind everyone about the New England Masters, a 9 round FIDE Swiss with norm opportunities, which will take place near Providence, Rhode Island (USA), from August 11-15, 2008.

We have now confirmed our list of sponsored Grandmasters, all of whom are non-USA players. They are (with their expected April rating) Leonid Kritz (Germany, 2609), Timur Gareev (Uzbekistan, 2570), Sergey Erenburg (Israel, 2568) and Keith Arkell (England, 2495). Local Grandmaster, Eugene Perelshteyn (USA, 2552), has also agreed to play to help on the norm front.

Two other highly rated non-USA players, Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (Palestine, 2462) and IM Jacek Stopa (Poland, 2430), have also committed to participating in the event. Obviously we are hoping to confirm more such entries as soon as possible.

Non-USA players should remember that if they are an IM they will receive a free entry plus a reduced rate on accommodation, while every non-USA player not at IM level (or above) will receive a $100 discount off their entry fee. Details are at the tournament website.

Everyone should also remember that the tournament will be limited to the first 50 players that enter. So far we have 11 entries and so just 39 more to go!

We have confirmed that the weekend event that will follow the Masters, the Blackstone Chess Open, August 16-17, will be 4 rounds, with a very decent prize fund (complete details to be announced soon). All GMs and IMs will receive a free entry into this tournament, while all other Masters participants will receive a significant discount of the regular entry fee. The hotel rate ($89/night) has also been confirmed to include the weekend if you feel inclined to extend your stay.

Once again, should you have any questions regarding the tournament, please feel free to email me at, although most questions can usually be answered by visiting the tournament website at

7) Here and There

Mich Bighamian writes:

Dear chess fans,

Thanks to IM Tim Taylor and his wife, 2007 LA Masters Yearbook is almost complete.

100 of the best games of the strongest weekly tournament in the country annotated by IM Tim Taylor.

You may pre-order yours and receive it firsthand (mailed to you or pick it up at the club) once published (Price $24.95).

Go to to a follow up blog on Bobby Fischer by Dick Cavett and many responses by readers.

8) Upcoming Events

Events at the Mechanics'

Max Wilkerson Open - March 29
Walter Lovegrove Senior Open - April 5-6
Imre Konig Memorial - April 26

May. 24 Bay Area Chess Tournament (Adult/Regular)

4SS G/60. 3003 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95054. EF: $39, Juniors $35. $16 more after 5/20, $1 Cal Chess Discount, Additional discount if combined with other tournament entries. $850 b/40: Open 200-100, U1800 50, highest rating increase 50. Reserve (u1600): 200-100 U1400 50, U1200 50, highest rating increase 50. Reg: Sat 9:15-9:45 AM, Rds: 10:15-12:15, lunch, 12:50-2:50 PM, 3:00-5:00 PM, 5:10-7:10 PM. Ent: Online at or mail to Azleena Azhar, 1551 Garvey Pl. San Jose, CA 95132. Payable to Azleena Azhar or paypal to Info: NS NC W

May. 24-26 or 25-26 Bay Area Chess Tournament (Adult/Regular)

6SS 30/90 G/60 (2-day option first 3 rounds G/60 merges in round 4). 3003 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95054. EF: $55, Juniors $49. $16 more after 5/20, $1 Cal Chess Discount, Additional discount if combined with other tournament entries. $1475 b/55: OPEN 300-150, u2000 100-75, u1800 100-75, highest rating increase 50. RESERVE (u1600): 200-100 u1400 100, 75, u1200 100, 75, highest rating increase 50. Reg: Sat 10-10:30 AM, Sun 8:15-8:45 AM, Rds: 3-day = 5/24 11am, 4pm; 5/25 11am, 4:30pm; 5/26 10am, 3pm. 2-day = 5/25 9:20, 11:30am, 2pm, round 4 merges with 3-day schedule. Ent: Mail to Azleena Azhar, 1551 Garvey Pl. San Jose, CA 95132. Payable to Azleena Azhar or paypal to Info: NS NC W

March 28-30
6th Annual Western Pacific Open
5-SS, 3-day 40/2, SD/1, 2-day rds. 1-2 G/75 then merges. LAX Hilton, 5711 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045.
$$10,000 b/200, 50% of each prize guaranteed. In 3 sections:
Open: 1600- 1000-800-400-200, U2400 300-200, U2200 700-500-300. EF: $83 if received by 3/28, $95 door.
Premier (U2000): $$ 700-500-300-100, U1800 400- 200-150, U1600 400-200-150. EF: $83 if received by 3/28, $95 door.
Amateur (U1400/Unrated): $$400-200-100, U1200 100, Unr 100, unrated may win unrated prize only. EF: $67 if received by 3/28, $80 door.
On-line entry: No checks or credit card entries at door.
All: $25 Best Game prize, all sections eligible. One halfpoint bye if requested with entry, rds 4-5 cannot be revoked. SCCF membership req. of S. Cal. res., $18 reg, $10 junior.
Reg.: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Fri., 9-10 a.m.
Sat. Rds.: 3-day 7 p.m., 11-5:30, 10-4:30. 2-day: 10:30-1:30 (G/75), then merges.
HR: $109, (310) 410-4000. Be sure to mention Western Chess. Parking $10/day.
Web site:
Ent: SCCF, c/o John Hillery, 835 N. Wilton Pl. #1, Los Angeles CA 90038.
NS. NC. F. GP: 40. State Championship Qualifier.