Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #424
We calculate: he does this then I do that. And Tal, through all the thick layers of variants, saw that around the 8th move, it will be so and so. Some people can see the mathematical formula, they can imagine the whole picture instantly. An ordinary man has to calculate, to think this through, but they just see it all. It occurs in great musicians, great scientists. Tal was absolutely unique. His playing style was of course unrepeatable. I calculated the variants quickly enough, but these Tal insights were unique. He was a man in whose presence others sensed their mediocrity.
Garry Kasparov
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2) 2008 Berkeley International
3) Dresden Chess Olympiad
4) Kasparov on Tal
5) Here and There
6) Upcoming Events
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
Oleg Shakhnazorov won the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon with a score of 9-1, defeating Igor Traub in the last round. Larry Snyder was second at 7.5 followed by Dante Argishti and Hayk Manveleyan with 7. The Winter Tuesday Night Marathon, an 8-rounder, starts January 6.
IM Ricardo DeGuzman won the 8th Annual Guthrie McClain Memorial G/45 last Saturday with a score of 4.5 from 5. Tying for second at 4 in the 30-player field were NM Paul Gallegos and Experts Dmitry Vayntrub and Yian Liou.

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) 2008 Berkeley International
Thank to IM David Pruess for organizing the strongest tournament in the East Bay since the 1984 US Championship. The ten round, one day event, held at the Berkeley Chess School ( 1581 Leroy - just off Cedar with the bus #65 leaving from the downtown Berkeley BART station going within one block of the tournament) on the old Hillside School site, is open to spectators with rounds daily starting at 2pm and running until about 8. Games are also being broadcast live on ICC thanks to the efforts of Arun Sharma.The website for the event is . Go to and for daily reports, games and analysis on the event. Thanks to the Berkeley Chess School and especially Elizabeth Shaughnessy for their help in making this event possible.
Standings after Round 3
 1-2.  GM Zviad Izoria, FM Daniel Rensch  2.5
 3-7.  GM Giorgi Kacheishivili, IM Irina Krush, IM Justin Sarkar,GM Dashzegve Sharavdorj, FM Marc Esserman 2
 8-12  GM Josh Friedel, GM Vinay Bhat, IM David Pruess, FM Bela Evans, FM Dale Haessel 1.5
13-15  GM Jesse Kraai, FM Daniel Naroditsky, WIM Iryna Zenyuk 1
16-19.  IM Lev Milman, IM Sandor Kustar, FM Shivkumar Shivaji, Salar Jahedi .5

3) Dresden Chess Olympiad

The Olympiad ended three weeks ago but thanks to the publicity generated by Vasily Ivanchuk failing to take a drug test the event is still very much in the public eye. That there was no way for him to actually fail the test short of gulping down anabolic steroids on a regular basis is another matter as is FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's zero tolerance for late arrivals to the games. Yes, the old rule was you had 60 minutes to arrive before you were forfeited -in Dresden it was zero seconds. FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulus and others pointed out that this was neither fair (some teams like the US were staying less than a minute from the hall and others five miles away) nor practical but Kirsan's argument was when do you see a sporting event start with players absent. One of the world's best known organizers and arbiters, Stewart Reuben, mentioned that in over 50 years "he had only once forfeited a player other than after one hour and hardly even then." He pointed out poor Bill Hook, the oldest player in the Olympiad who won four games in Dresden by default, three because of late arrivals by his opponents. The last round match between Azerbaijan and France for a place in the top ten was ultimately decided when GM Tkachev showed up for his game a few minutes late and was forfeited.


Fortunately most of the Olympiad was decided at the board and not away from it. The big news was the well-deserved repeat victory for the Armenian men who were led by top board Levon Aronian but supported by tremendous performances by Vladimir Akobian 8/11 (2813 performance) and Gabriel  Sargissian   9/11 (2869 performance). The latter had the best overall result in the Olympiad repeating his sensational performance at Turin 2006. The Armenian team was flown home on the Armenian presidentĘs personal jet and met by a huge reception at the airport in Yerevan . The five team members each received from the government $25,000 and a new BMW. Fourth board Tigran Petrosian, who replaced 2006 team member Karen Asrian who died tragically in 2008 at the age of only 28, also received another prize given to all the members of the team that won in 2006 - an apartment in a nice area of Yerevan. It helps when the President of the country and the chess federation are the same person!


Israel, the only team to defeat Armenia in the event, was second, medaling for the first time in an Olympiad after a near miss in Turin where they shared third but lost on tiebreak. The bronze medal winners in Dresden , repeating their performance from 2006, but against much stronger opposition (7 of 11 opponents rated in the top 16), was the United States . This was my eighth time as US Olympiad team captain but I can't recall anything similar to the last round or the sprint down the stretch reminiscent of Dave Wottle at the 1972 Olympics. 


A tough 2.5-1.5 loss to Russia in round 8 put us around number twenty with three rounds to go and with match points rather than game points used as the primary determiner it looked almost impossible to medal. Things got better with a 3.5-.5 victory over an Indian team averaging 2650. A 2.5-.1.5 victory in round 10 over host Germany , who had been playing remarkably well, left us placed for a very fine performance in Dresden . Still, when we saw our last round pairing, winning a medal was not our first thought. Up to that point the second seeded Ukrainians had not lost a single match and out rated the US team on average by 56 points a board. Tied for first with Armenia , a last round victory might well allow them to repeat their victory in 2004 in Calvia. Instead the unthinkable happened as the US team won 3.5-.5. The victory lifted us team to a tie for third with Ukraine and the bronze medal on tiebreak.


The US team had very balanced scoring with the top three boards - Gata Kamsky, Hikaru Nakamura and Alex Onischuk - all scoring 6.5 from 10. US Champion Yury Shulman had 5 from 8 on board four and reserve Varuzhan Akobian 4 from 6. All team members performed above their ratings but special mention has to go to Gata Kamsky who was sensational the last half of the Olympiad. Five rounds into the Olympiad, Gata met with Topalov to iron out the details of their match, an endeavor which was successful thanks to a great extent to Emil Sutovsky, Gata's second and manager. Once this burden was lifted from his shoulders Gata played out of this world scoring four and a half points from his last six matches against opposition averaging 2725. His victims were Svidler, Sasikiran and in the last round Ivanchuk who he crushed.


The US team really was a team and this could be seen in the efforts of the bottom two boards. Yury and Varuzhan were both struggling to find their form the first half of the tournament but never let their disappointment and frustration keep them from having a positive outlook. Going into a platoon system for the middle stretch of the event where they each played two games then stepped aside for the other guy; they both spent much of their free time preparing other players. Between the last free day (after round 10) and the start of the last round Varuzhan must have spent at least 10 hours preparing Yury and Alex.


The US team played phenomenally well with the White pieces but did it in different ways. Hikaru took theoreticians Harikrishna and Khenkin out of their comforts zones in rounds 10 and 11, defeating both his opponents with 1.g3. Hikaru has now scored 5.5 from 6 in the last three rounds in his two Olympiads- a good guy to have on your side at crunch time!   Four years ago in Calvia Alex led the US team to fourth place defending board one like a rock. One important key to our success was having a world class player like him on board three. He was very difficult for most teams to match up against, especially when he was White (5.5 from 6!).


Dresden marked the third consecutive time the US team has overachieved at Olympiads. This was the norm back in the 1980s and 1990s when the US  always finished in the top five and often medaled but disasters in 2000 and 2002 didn't welcome the new century in a positive way. This changed at Calvia ( 4th place, seeded 10th) continued at Turin (third place, seeded 7th) and into Dresden (third place, seeded 10th out of 146 teams) where 23 teams had average ratings over 2600.


The US Men were not the only American team to perform well - the women had a sensational event winning the bronze medal The team of Irina Krush, Anna Zatonskih, Rusa Goletiani , Katerina Rohonyan and Tatev Abrahamyan with Michael Khodarkovsky as captain and Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov as coach, were seeded seventh (out of 114) going into the event and became the only the second ever US womens team to medal. Irina Krush defended the first board ably against the world's best which allowed her teammates to get better match ups further down and they really responded.  Anna Zatonskih earned a gold medal for the best performance on board two with 8/10 while Rusudan Goletiani earned a silver medal for scoring 9/11 on board three.  Anna narrowly missed a GM norm while Rusa made what looks to be her last IM norm. 


Both teams qualified for the 2009 World Teams Championships which will be held in Turkey for the men and likely China for the women. The US finished third in the battle for the Gaprindashvili Cup (highest combined match points for combined men and womens teams) behind Ukraine and Armenia .


Special thanks go to the Kasparov Chess Foundation, official sponsor of the 2008 Olympiad teams, and to the USCF and Frank Berry who also helped get the team to Dresden . Thanks go also to Jerry Nash at the USCF for making early arrangements for the US team to stay at the Maritim hotel. This was most helpful!


4) Kasparov on Tal
Go to to read a translation of a tremendous one-hour radio feature about Mikhail Tal, aired on the radio "Echo Moskvy" on November 30th. Garry Kasparov not only talks about the "Wizard from Riga" but also recent developments such as the failure of the Russian team to win the gold medal (or even medal) in the last two Olympiads.
Garry was interviewed by Eugeny Kiselev.
Here is Gary, whose Kasparov Chess Foundation was a title sponsor of the US Team, giving his interpretation of why the top-rated Russian team ( FIDE average over 2750 for boards 1-4) didn't succeed in their goal.
Who won the men's Olympics? Armenia. Twice in a row. Before that, Ukraine won in 2004. Different determination. They need to win. And I think there's no need to remind where did the whole Israel team, who claimed second place, come from.

Even though there are many young players there. Determination for a result. There was an understanding that in USSR any place except the first is a failure. There's nothing like that now. I don't know how to explain that. But still, the Soviet chess history is something we can be proud of. It's worth noting that our relationship with Karpov could be very tense, but when we played for our country, we understood that we're pursuing a common goal and worked together quite well.
Incidentally Russian Team Captain Alexander Bach had a different take on what happened in Dresden.
ChessDom translated a few quotes from a Sport-Express interview with the executive director of the Russian
Chess Federation, Alexander Bakh. Below is what he said about failure of the men's team:
"Everything was decided in those two matches with Armenia and Ukraine . We had six better and two worse positions. It was enough to win one of them, to fight for the first place in the
last round. But we lost both weaker positions, and didn't win a single one of the six games where we held the advantage."
5) Here and There
Congratulations to Fabiano Caruana who won his second consecutive Italian Championship with 8 from 11. Fellow GM Michele Godena was second at 7.5 in the 12-player round robin averaging 2448.
Fans of  the history of chess in the Pacific Northwest will find the site Northwest Chess Articles  to be just their cup of tea.
NM Max Burkett of Missoula, Montana, sends in the following game he lost to the late William Addison in the fifth round of the 1969 Stamer Memorial.

San Francisco 1969

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 c5 8.O-O Nc6 9.a3 Bxc3 10.bxc3 Qc7 11.Bb2 e5 12.Be2 Rd8 13.Qc2 e4 14.Nd2 Bf5 15.Nb3 cxd4 16.cxd4 Nd5 17.Rfc1 Qe7 18.Qd1 Qg5 19.Kh1 Rd6 20.a4 Re8 21.Ba3 Rh6 22.Nc5 Bc8 23.Qg1 Kh8 24.Rab1 Qe7 25.Rb3 Qc7 26.Rb5 b6 27.Nxe4 Nxe3 28.Nd6 Rxd6 29.Bxd6 Qxd6 30.fxe3 Ba6 31.Re5 Nxe5 32.dxe5 Rxe5 33.Bxa6 h5 34.Bb5 Qd2 35.Re1 Qc3 36.h3 Qc8 37.Qf1 1-0
Mike Goodall points out a very good documentary on the 1972 Fischer-Spassky at .
6) Upcoming Events

Bob Burger Open - January 10
Henry Gross Memorial - February 7
A.J. Fink Amateur Championship - March 14-15
Max Wilkerson Open - March 28
Walter Lovegrove Senior Open - April 4-5
Imre Konig Memorial - April 18