Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #421
You can tell a chessplayer is maturing when he starts changing his openings.
Bent Larsen
How Chess Games are Won and Lost , page 14 by Lars Bo Hansen
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2) Sam Shankland ties for first in World Youth Championship!
3) Americans Abroad
4) A poem by Dennis Fritzinger
5) Berkeley Chess Club News by Marc Newman
6) Upcoming Events
Note MI Chess Director John  Donaldson will be leaving for Europe next week where he will Captain the US team at the Chess OIympiad in Dresden. The Newsletter will take a month break resuming in early December.
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
The Mechanics' finished the regular season of the US Chess League with a disappointing loss to the Miami Sharks who not only won the match but the Western Division title with their 2.5-1.5 victory. Miami ended on 7-3, with the Mechanics' tying for second at 6.5 with defending champion Dallas, but getting the second seed in the West in the playoffs on tiebreak. Losses to division rivals Dallas and Miami was not how we wanted to end the regular season but MI fans can take heart the team will be reinforced in the playoffs by the return to the lineup of young stars Sam Shankland and Daniel Naroditsky who were playing in the World Youth Championship the last part of the season.
Congratulations go to the new Western Division Champions the Miami Sharks. Miami has always been one of the best in the league but this year's team looks especially strong. GM Becerra is as usual the heart and soul of the team but FMs Bruci Lopez and Osmany Perea give them two strong interior boards. Because of the rating cap of 2400 Miami is not able to field these three players with one of the league's top fourth boards, Eric Rodriguez, but Matan Prilletensky has been getting the job done just fine despite being one of the lower rated players in the league.
This match brings the lifetime score between the two teams to 4.5-4.5.
Miami vs San Francisco

1. GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs GM Vinay Bhat (SF)  1/2-1/2
2. IM David Pruess (SF) vs FM Bruci Lopez (MIA)  1/2-1/2
3. FM Osmany Perea (MIA) vs FM Dmitry Zilberstein (SF)  1-0
4. NM Gregory Young (SF) vs Matan Prilleltensky (MIA)  1/2-1/2
Becerra,Julio (2640) - Bhat,Vinay (2481) [C18]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 cxd4 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 Qc7 10.Ne2 dxc3 11.f4 Nbc6 12.Qd3 Bd7 13.Nxc3 a6 14.Rb1 Na5 15.h4 Nf5 16.Rh3 0-0-0 17.h5 Nc4 18.h6 Rg6 19.h7 Rh8 20.Ne4 dxe4 21.Qxc4 Qxc4 22.Bxc4 Rxg2 23.Bxa6 bxa6 24.Rc3+ Bc6 25.Rxc6+ Kd7 26.Rxa6 Rxh7 27.Ra7+ Kc8 28.Ra8+ Kc7 29.Ra7+ Kc8 30.Ra8+ 1/2-1/2

Pruess,David (2479) - Lopez,Bruci (2486) [E92]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 h6 8.0-0 Ng4 9.Bc1 Nc6 10.d5 Ne7 11.Ne1 f5 12.Bxg4 fxg4 13.Be3 g5 14.c5 Ng6 15.a4 Rf7 16.b4 Bf8 17.Nc2 Nf4 18.Na3 h5 19.Nab5 a6 20.Na3 Qf6 21.Nc4 h4 22.cxd6 Bxd6 23.Bc5 Qh6 24.Rc1 Rh7 25.Ne3 g3 26.fxg3 hxg3 27.hxg3 Bxc5 28.bxc5 Nxg2 29.Nxg2 Qh2+ 30.Kf2 Bh3 31.Ke3 Bxg2 32.Qg4 Bh3 33.Qf3 g4 34.Qf6 Qxg3+ 35.Kd2 Bxf1 36.Rxf1 Qh2+ 37.Kd3 Rg7 38.Qe6+ Kh8 39.Rf6 Kh7 40.Qf5+ Kh8 41.Qe6 Kh7 42.Qf5+ Kh8 43.Qe6 1/2-1/2

Perea,Osmany (2453) - Zilberstein,Dmitry (2426) [E62]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nc3 c6 7.0-0 Qb6 8.h3 Qa6 9.b3 b5 10.Nd2 bxc4 11.Nxc4 Be6 12.Nd2 Nbd7 13.Bb2 Rab8 14.Nf3 Nb6 15.e4 c5 16.Qd2 cxd4 17.Nxd4 Bd7 18.Nd5 e6 19.Nxf6+ Bxf6 20.Nc6 Bxb2 21.Nxb8 Qa3 22.Nxd7 Nxd7 23.Rad1 Nb6 24.Qxd6 Qxa2 25.Qb4 Ba3 26.Qb5 Qb2 27.h4 Rc8 28.Rd3 Bc5 29.Qa6 Qc2 30.Rf3 Rc7 31.Qd3 Qxd3 32.Rxd3 Bb4 33.Rfd1 Rc2 34.e5 Kg7 35.Kf1 h6 36.Be4 Rb2 37.Rf3 a5 38.Bc6 Rc2 39.Be8 Rc7 40.Rd6 Bxd6 41.exd6 Rc1+ 42.Ke2 Rc2+ 43.Kd3 Rc8 44.Rxf7+ Kg8 45.Re7 Kf8 46.Bxg6 Rd8 47.Rxe6 Nc8 48.Kd4 Nxd6 49.Kc5 Nc8 50.Be4 Kg7 51.Rg6+ Kf7 52.Rxh6 Ne7 53.Ra6 Rd2 54.f3 Rb2 55.Kc4 Ra2 56.h5 Ra1 57.h6 Rh1 58.h7 

Young,Gregory (2232) - Prilleltensky,Matan (2116) [C10]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7 5.Nf3 Bc6 6.Bd3 Nd7 7.0-0 Ngf6 8.Ng3 Be7 9.Re1 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 c6 11.Bd2 0-0 12.c4 Re8 13.Bc3 Qc7 14.Rad1 Rad8 15.b3 Nf8 16.Bb1 Ng6 17.Re3 b5 18.Nh5 Nh4 19.Qe2 g6 20.Ng3 bxc4 21.bxc4 Qf4 22.Bc2 Rc8 23.Ne4 Qc7 24.Rh3 Nf5 25.Qd2 Nxe4 26.Bxe4 Bf8 27.d5 cxd5 28.cxd5 Qc4 29.Bxf5 exf5 30.Rd3 Red8 31.Bf6 Rd6 32.Be5 Rd7 33.Rc3 Qa6 34.Rxc8 Qxc8 35.Rb1 Qc5 36.Rd1 Qb6 37.Bb2 Bg7 38.Ba3 Qa6 39.Qb4 h5 40.Qb3 Rb7 41.Qe3 Qa4 42.Qd3 Rc7 43.Re1 Rc3 44.Qd2 Qxa3 45.d6 Rd3 1/2-1/2

Final Standings for 2008
1. IM Alex Lenderman: QNS 22.5
2. GM Julio Becerra: MIA 20
3. GM Sergey Erenburg: BAL 16
4. SM Marc Esserman: BOS
5. GM Jaan Ehlvest: TEN 15
6. FM Sam Shankland: SF 14.5
7. GM Pascal Charbonneau: NY 14
8. FM Ron Simpson: CAR 13
9. GM Hikaru Nakamura: SEA 13
10. GM Alex Stripunsky: QNS 13

Formula for MVP points:
a win on board 1 is worth 4 points, a loss on board 1 is worth -4 points
a win on board 2 is worth 3 points, a loss on board 2 is worth -3 points
a win on board 3 is worth 2.5 points, a loss on board 3 is worth -2.5 points
a win on board 4 is worth 2 points, a loss on board 4 is worth -2 points
if you draw or win with the black pieces you receive 1 bonus point.

Among the league's top performers are not surprisingly six Grandmasters who hold down board one for their teams. Curiously
the other four players are all third boards though Alex Lenderman saw a lot of action on board two. His score of 7.5 from 8 says it all.
Carolina, this year's Cinderella team,  owes a lot of its success to Ron Simpson (6 from 8) but if I had to single out the two best
values of the league it would have to be Marc Esserman of Boston (6 from 7) and our own Sam Shankland (6 1/2 from 8). The former counts as 2265
and Sam only 2248 ( by comparison Lenderman is 2463 and Simpson 2346), yet both are now rated well over 2400.
Such players not only score lots of points but also enable the team manager to add extra power elsewhere. Boston would never be able to use its
double barreled GM lineup with Larry Christiansen and Eugene Perelshteyn effectively if not for Esserman.
The playoff picture is now set.
On November 10th the following  teams meet with the top seeds having draw odds.
Miami (1)  - Seattle (4)
San Francisco (2) - Dallas (3)
Carolina (1) - New York (4)
Queens (2) - Boston (3)
Before making some observations about these eight teams I can't help but point out that one incredibly team - or to be more precise one lineup - is missing. The New Jersey Knockouts lineup
of GM Joel Benjamin, GM Boris Gulko, IM Dean Ippolito and Expert (2190) Andrew Ng looked like a monster with a current average rating of around 2500 but was rarely used. Gulko had a perfect record, but only played three games. Ippolito, who was a good second board , would have been a great third board. This points to a key ingredient for success in the USCL, typified by division winners Carolina and Miami -  have your stars available all season.
There are really only two ways to overachieve in the USCL. The first, and by far more common, is to load up on undervalued players. Since the league rules allow a team to select any rating list during the past year to determine their rating cap the trick is to find up and coming players, typically juniors, who add value ( like Esserman and Shankland for example). The other way is to have players who week in and week out perform above their ratings. You seldom see this as the league is very competitive, but Philadelphia a few years ago (pre Ehlvest and Kudrin) did this with IM Richard Costigan and NM Evan Wilson performing some miracles. This year Carolina has been the overachiever. Naysayers may point to Carolina's easier schedule (the league schedule is weighted to give harder schedules to the previous season's playoff teams to encourage competitiveness) and some luck in scheduling (Queen's never fielded one of its three 2500 player lineups against them). Despite being the division champs I will not be surprised if some prognosticators pick them as an underdog against New York despite having draw odds. A key matchup is likely to be board three where Carolina's all star Ron Simpson will likely face Gregory Braylovsky, his first opponent over 2400 in the USCL. Carolina will also count heavily on Craig Jones, the second highest rated board four in the league.
Going into the season I thought Boston, last year's runner up,  would again be one of the strongest teams, but they struggled a bit in the middle of the season. Now they seem right on track. One of the few teams that can match their fire power on the top three boards is Queens. Boston has Larry Christiansen and either fellow GM Eugene Perelshteyn or super strong Jorge Zamora Hasbun with Esserman on three. As the last match of the regular showed I don't think Queen's can afford to keep their leader GM Alex Stripunsky out of the lineup. He had 4 from 5 during the regular season. I expect to see him and Alex Lenderman and either Dmitry Schneider or Eli Vovsha occupying the top three boards. This will put pressure on board 4 as Queens only legal lineup in this situation is with 12 year-old Alex Ostrovsky who saw little action during the regular season but is rapidly improving . Facing him will be the Rodney Dangerfield of the USCL, Ilya Krasik. When Boston was struggling mid season he was part of the reason why but with three consecutive wins at the end of the season, to pull his season record to 4.5-3.5, Ilya has to have his confidence back. Queens, like most Eastern Division teams, was not strong on board 4 this season. Despite all the fire power on the top boards this match might well be decided between two Experts.
Miami will face Seattle, the only team to qualify with a record below .500 ( New York finished at 50 percent). These teams only met once ( Seattle had a subpar 2007 season) in the season opener which was won decisively by the Sharks. That was in the pre-Hikaru days for Seattle. Having him in the lineup has made the Sluggers much more competitive but without an Esserman they have ben unable to use their double GM lineup with Gregory Serper effectively. With the players Seattle has doing so leaves them vulnerable on boards three and four - especially the former where they scored only 2 points all season. One ace they do have is SM Slava Mikhailuk who reeled off four wins and a draw after losing early in the season. Putting him on two allows them to play former USCL All Star Michael Lee on board four. US Women's Olympiad member Katerina Rohonyan filled in successfully on board three a couple of times when the Slugger's tried this lineup late in the season but she is an alternate on their roster so expect to see experienced FM John Readey in action. He will definitely have his hands full but has scored some clutch upsets for them in the past. If he avoids time pressure he will be competitive. Don't be surprised if this match sees Miami put in more firepower on board four and plays Rodriguez.
The defending Champion Dallas Destiny have a balanced team with many weapons. The unsung hero of the team is Bayaraa Zorigt who not only has been one of the best board fours in the league (4 1/2 from 6 this season) but counts as only 2179 ( 2219 minus the 40 point bonus for using female players) - definitely good value! Team manager John Bartholomew deserves a lot of credit for consistently fielding strong teams. While Dallas seems tailor made for the USCL with a steady stream of foreign and domestic talent drifting through, Bartholomew also has the handicap of players with heavy academic loads that put school first. As the two matches in the regular season showed ( each team won 2 1/2 - 1 1/2) this will be a hard fight.  
NM Nicholas Nip and Class A players Hovik Manvelyan and Steven Krasnov are the only players with perfect scores after three of the 10 rounds of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon. Those interested in seeing game of this event should go the MI website,, where the games are available in pgn format thanks to Peter Sherwood.
Welcome to the Bay Area's newest GM, Jessie Kraai. El Cerrito ( population 23,000) must now be a strong contender for the top US chess city per capita or maybe anywhere with GMs Kraai and Vinay Bhat, GM-elect Josh Friedel and IM David Pruess all calling it home.
Thanks to Colin Ma for his donations to the MI Chess Club
Congratulations to longtime Mechanics' member NM Robert Burgar. The noted author and chess composer took fourth place in the recent Three-Mover section of the World Chess Composing Tournament.
The Mechanics' was the top scoring team at the Western States Open in Reno and led by Expert Igor Margulis and soon to be Expert Hayk Manvelyan. The money the club won will be used to buy news sets and sponsor more classes for strong junior players.
GM Vinay Bhat and GM-elect Josh Friedel will be competing in the Pan American Championship in Boca Raton, Florida, that starts this weekend.
2) Sam Shankland ties for first in World Youth Championship!
The Bay Area has a new International Master. 17-year-old Orinda High School student Sam Shankland tied for first in the just finished World Youth Under 18 section in Vietnam. Seeded 16th going in, Sam scored 8 out of 11 to take the bronze medal on tiebreak and with it the automatic IM title for the top three finishers.
NM Michael Aigner gives the details of Sam's dramatic come from behind victory.

The final game was far from perfect. It began as a Dragon Sicilian, but the queen trade on move 17 produced an even endgame. The draw would have no doubt been acceptable to Sam at that point, but probably not to his higher rated opponent. From then on, Sam got slowly outplayed and he was losing after 38... Nxh3 and 39... Kg5. His opponent missed the decisive blow and allowed Sam to generate tricky counterplay with 45.c5! and 46.d6! By move 53, Sam is miraculously winning despite being down a pawn! The game could have ended 53... Ke6 54.Kc4 e4 (if Rxd7 then b8Q wins) 55.Kxc5 Rh8 56.Kc6 Rd8 57.Rh1 and Black can neither capture d7 nor defend h2. Instead, Black tried the desperado 53... Rxd7 and resigned after Sam found the refutation 54.Rf1+ (to be followed by b8Q).


IM Shankland, Sam (2436) vs GM Quang Liem Le (2583)
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Kb1 Qc7 12. h4 Rfc8 13. h5 Qa5 14. hxg6 fxg6 15. a3 Rab8 16. Bd3 Bf7 17. Ne2 Qxd2 18. Rxd2 a6 19. Re1 Nd7 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Nc3 b5 22. Bf1 Rc5 23. Rd4 Ne5 24. Nd5 Bxd5 25. exd5 g5 26. Re3 h5 27. g3 Rf8 28. Be2 Rf5 29. b4 Rc8 30. a4 Rh8 31. axb5 axb5 32. f4 gxf4 33. Rxf4 Rxf4 34. gxf4 Ng6 35. Bxb5 Nxf4 36. c4 h4 37. Bd7 Kf6 38. Bh3 Rg8 39. Bd7 Rh8 40. Bh3 Rb8 41. b5 Nxh3 42. Rxh3 Kg5 43. Kc2 Kg4 44. Re3 Re8 45. c5 dxc5 46. d6 e5 47. b6 h3 48. d7 Rd8 49. b7 h2 50. Re1 Kf5 51. Rb1 Rb8 52. Rd1 Rd8 53. Kc3 Rxd7 54. Rf1+ 1-0

Sam faced two of the four players who tied with him, scoring 0.5/2. He played against two Grandmasters (1.5/2), two International Masters (1.0/2) and a total of seven opponents rated above 2300 FIDE (4.0/7). With a final score of 8.0/11 (+7 =2 -2), Sam's performance rating was 2552, incredibly a full 100 points above the IM norm threshold! His post tournament FIDE rating will be above 2450.


This marks the second time in two years that a Mechanics' member has medalled in the World Youth competition. Last year Daniel Naroditsky won the Boys Under 12 division and this year competing in the next age group, Boys Under 14, he did quite well after a poor start, scoring 5.5 from his last 7 games to tie for 6th-9th with 7.5 points. Conditions in the playing hall were difficult with high humidity and sweltering heat which provided a real challenge to both Sam and Daniel who are use to the mild Bay Area climate, but they both answered the challenge.


Michael Aigner notes in his blog that American players did very well over all:


Six American representatives ended the 11 day championship in the top 10 for their age group, including our own IM Shankland and FM Naroditsky. Despite struggling with 1.0 in the last three rounds, FM Darwin Yang of Texas finished 3rd in U12 and also earned a bronze medal! Young Jonathan Chiang, also from Texas , took 5th place in U8. Two young girls finished in the top 10 as well: Hannah Liu of Texas in Girls U8 and Simone Liao of Southern California in Girls U10. No doubt the future of American chess remains bright, especially in scholastic hot spots such as Texas and California !


3) Americans Abroad
Americans shined in the preliminary stage of the elite rapid event in the south of France with Fabiano Caruana clear first and Hikaru Nakamura tying for first in their sections.
Cap d'Agde, France

Group A, Final Standings:
1. Caruana – 5½/7;
2. Ivanchuk – 5;
3-4. Vachier-Lagrave and Bu Xiangzhi – 4½;
5. Cheparinov – 4;
6-7. Kosteniuk and Lahno – 2;
8. Sebag - ½.

Group B, Final Standings:
1-2. Carlsen and Nakamura – 5½/7;
3. Radjabov – 5;
4-5. Karpov and Hou Yifan – 3½;
6-7. Koneru and Feller – 2;
8. Skripchenko - ½.
Magnus Carlsen in
Norwegian Chess Festival

Magnus Carlsen will face Peter Svidler (Russia), Hikaru Nakamura (USA) and Simen Agdestein in a Super rapid
tournament in Gjøvik, Norway from January 2nd to 5th. The tournament has about the same format as the
Mainz Classic, with a double round tournament followed by final and bronze final games. The Norwegian
audience will be eager to see Magnus Carlsen on home ground again, since he did not play a single tournament
game in Norway in 2008.
The rapid contest is part of a chess festival with a big and varied program, held on occasion of the 100th
anniversary of the Gjøvik chess club. The festival starts on December 29th, and the main tournament is a 9 round
GM-Swiss open to players with a rating above 2100. Reigning European champion Sergei Tiviakov (NED,
2686) is the highest rated player of the preliminary list of participants. There is also a parallel group open for all
players rated below 2100.

Gjøvik has been hosting some big chess events in the past, and Simen Agdestein played an important role in
several of them. In 1983 when at 16 he beat Spassky in the 75th anniversary tournament and became an IM. In
1985 he became Nordic champion and Grandmaster at 18, then the youngest in the world. In 1991 Simen drew a
classical mini-match with Karpov 2-2.The home page of the festival (in Norwegian, English and German) is

Øystein Brekke, chairman of the organizing committee Gjøvik International Chess Festival

4) A poem by Dennis Fritzinger


the pieces
are set up
on their original squares;
the clock
is set at
one minute each.
suddenly you start
as someone punches
a button.
pawns and pieces start flying:
it's a street fight.
opening soon over,
middlegame attack and defense,
combination, sacrifice, no mate,
the endgame looming, chop chop:
wood gets eliminated, you're queening
pawns, hunting the king, moving frantically,
your enemy time, the physical slowness
of your body,
clumsiness: knocking over a pawn,
or a piece, having
to retrieve it, set it up again.
suddenly the clock decides.
or it's mate.  breathless,
you open your mouth and draw in
a lungful of oxygen,
you're like an olympic swimmer:
holding your breath
the length of the pool, the length
of the sixty-four squares.

5) Berkeley Chess Club News by Marc Newman

Last year we revived the Berkeley Chess Club after its short hiatus. This year we have brought back the Club Championship tournament, which started last Friday night.  Seven rounds remain and we encourage you to sign up.  Up to three half-point byes are available for any round you miss.

The permanent BCC page is right here:

As always, all games played are put on the website so even if you can't come, you can still enjoy the tournament from afar.  The games for the 2008 Berkeley Chess Club championship are here:

6) Upcoming Events

Mechanics' Events


in BayFair Mall

15555 E. 14TH STREET


November 1, 2008  (Saturday)  


Booster Section (UNR- U600)



ROUNDS G/30: Boosters & U1000 – 10:00, 11:45, 1:15, 2:30, 3:45

ROUNDS G/45: U1300  – 10:00, 12:00, 1:45, 3:30

ROUNDS G/60: OPEN SECTION – 9:30 AM, 11:45, 2:00, 4:15 


Trophies will be awarded to top winners and Medals will be given away as well; THERE WILL ALSO BE SPECIAL PRIZES FOR THOSE WHO WILL WEAR THEIR HALLOWEEN COSTUMES! 


A donation of $ 25.00

Please come early. Byes can also be taken. 


BayFair Mall, Newark Chess Club, and 


TED CASTRO  415-756-1204  Email: 


Aamir Aazhar, Matthew Benson, and Ted Castro


Cupertino Open Chess Tournaments!

November 16, 2008

December 14, 2008

January 25, 2009

February 22, 2009

OPEN TO all USCF members.

Directions: From S.F. Take I-280S to De Anza Blvd, turn right. From Oakland take I-880S to I-280N to De Anza Blvd turn left. Take De Anza Blvd South to 10675 S. De Anza Blvd. Suite #4. We are located across the street from Taco Bell.

  • $500 Prize Funds!! 1st Place overall $100

  • U2000 $100, U1800$100, U1600$100, U1400 $100

  • Prizes based on 32 paid entries. 50% of all prizes guaranteed.

  • One single section. 4 round Swiss System, G/60!

  • Space limits participation to the first 32 entries.

  • Bring your equipment. Some sets are provided.

  • EF: $30 mailed in, $40 for late registration.

  • Sunday: November 16, 2008

  • Sunday: December 14, 2008

  • Sunday: January 25, 2009

  • Sunday: February 22, 2009

  • Rounds: 11am, 1:30pm, 3:45pm, 6pm.

  • Late Registration is from 10 to 10:30am.

  • TD discretion may be used in assigning ratings.

  • USCF Rated. USCF membership required.

  • TD: Albert Rich; send all questions to