Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #456


There are quite a lot of people around with great chess skills. Not very many of them are that bloodthirsty - in a good way.

Peter Svidler talking about Hikaru Nakamura, his teammate in the French League. ( Chess Life, August 2009, page 25)


1) Mechanics's Institute Chess Club News

2) Alex Shabalov and Fidel Corrales tie for first in the Continental Absolute Chess Championship Americas

3) Some Grandmasters are older and wiser, but weaker

4) Hikaru Nakamura wins 6th Chess 960 Rapid World Championship

5) Four way tie for first in Silicon Valley Challenge #7 by Charles Sun

6) Here and There

7) Upcoming Events

Note the Newsletter will take a two week break for summer vacation resuming August 26th.


1) Mechanics's Institute Chess Club News

The Max Wilkerson Memorial  Tuesday Night Marathon started last night with NM Andy Lee as the top seed. It's still possible to enter the nine round event with a half point bye for the first round.

George Sanguinetti writes: Last week's Wednesday Night Blitz tournament had an attendance of 10 players. 1st place going to new Champion Rey Salvatierra, who scored 7 out of 9 points. Congratulations Rey!  Wednesday Night Blitz Winners for the Week of 07/29/2009 are:

1st : Rey Salvatierra $ 25.00 (7 points) 2nd & 3rd : Fuentes, Bukh and Traub $ 8.33 1/3 each (6 points)

The Mechanics' roster for the 2009 US Chess League is almost filled. The top boards will be manned by GMs Patrick Wolff, Josh Friedel, Jesse Kraai and Vinay Bhat.

MI member Evan Sandberg of San Francisco played in the Denker Invitational for High School State Champions in Indiana last weekend. He scored 4.0/6 and tied for 5th.

Samyukta Bhat finished tied for 4th in the Polgar Championship for Girls.

Thanks to Colin Ma who has been donating many excellent new chess books to the Mechanics' Institute Library.

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.

This Saturday the Mechanics' will host the 9th Annual VBladimir Pafnutieff Memorial , a 5 round Swiss ( G/45) starting at 10 am.

2) Alex Shabalov and Fidel Corrales tie for first in the Continental Absolute Chess Championship Americas

GMs Alex Shabalov of the United States and Fidel Corrales of Cuba tied for first in the Continental Absolute Chess Championship Americas  held July 25th to August 2nd in Brazil with scores of 9 from 11. The remaining four World Cup Qualifying spots were taken by Gilberto Milos, Diego Flores, Julio Granda Zuniga and Alexander Ivanov who edged out Mauricio Flores Rios and Josh Friedel. The six players all finished on 8.5 from 11 and then played a series of tiebreak games to produce four qualifiers. This was especially unlucky for Josh who also missed qualifying  from the US Championship by one spot.

3) Some Grandmasters are older and wiser, but weaker

A fascinating article in the Los Angeles Times (,0,5390170.story) by longtime columnist IM Jack Peters compares cyclist Lance Armstrong, golfer Tom Watson and grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, who  each challenged much younger rivals last month. Peters notes that only Karpov failed miserably -- a dreadful score of 1.5-.7.5, his worse performance since the late 1960s. One could argue that Karpov was quite out of practice having played little chess aside from rapid and blitz events the past decade. Still the question remains. Can chess, not a physically demanding sport, really be so difficult for its aging champions?

Peters' conclusion is aabsolutely!  He points to the rating lists to provide conclusive evidence that the ability to play chess at a very high level declines sharply after age 50. Even those rare grandmasters who remained successful in their mid-50s, such as Viktor Korchnoi and Sammy Reshevsky, were markedly weaker than in their prime years. For most grandmasters, the drop is between 100 and 200 rating points. Others, though, retire rather than let their rating plummet.

Peters questioned seven titled players, all in their late 40s or older, how they had been affected by aging. Most of the respondents cited fatigue as a significant factor, particularly playing two games a day ( by far the norm in the US). Interestingly all but one claimed to assess positions better than in their 20s and 30s despite the fact that one picked age 27 as his peak year and the  others their late 30s.

IM Peters, who came within one game of the GM title and was over 2500 FIDE for much of his career, has some interesting conclusions:

I suspect that most of the rating drop is caused by impaired calculation. Computers have shown that processing speed matters far more than chess wisdom. For many players, loss of calculating speed means that they cannot foresee far enough ahead to land the knockout punch in a favorable position. However, those who were exceptionally fast at calculating in their youth (such as Korchnoi and Reshevsky) may retain enough tactical ability to finish games decisively. Also, the highest-rated stars seem better at making adjustments to capitalize on their strengths and conceal their weaknesses.


4) Hikaru Nakamura wins 6th Chess 960 Rapid World Championship

Hikaru Nakamura added to an outstanding list of achievements in 2009 ( moved into the World Top 20, US Champion, =1st World Open) by winning the Chess 960 Rapid World Championship in Mainz, Germany. Hikaru defeated Levon Aronian 3.5-.5 in the final.

5) Four way tie for first in Silicon Valley Challenge #7 by Charles Sun

The following excerpted article comes from NM Michael Aigner's blog. Go to  to read the full report.

The Silicon Valley Challenge #7 held on the August 1st, 2009, attracted a total of 43 players to the Century Arts Alliance Foundation near the Great Mall in San Jose. The Open section was filled with 32 players. Master players include Steven Zierk (2319), Emmanuel Perez (2267), Michael Aigner (2263), Rohan Agarwal (2227) and Richard Koepcke (2222). Three Expert-players rated 2000 to 2200 and seven A-players rated 1800 to 2000 also joined in fierce competition. After acing his first three games, NM Aigner lost the last round to one of his students, FM-elect Zierk. At the end, Zierk, Koepcke, Kyle Shin (2070) and Samuel Sevian (2055) tied the first place and shared the top prizes.

5) Here and There

Mention strong brother combinations and the Bolbochans ( Julio and Jacobo), the Byrnes ( Robert and Donald) and the Horvaths ( Joszef and Csaba) are three families sure to be mentioned but IM Jack Peters points out that the Zhigalko brothers from Belarus are strong contenders for the title of all time strongest siblings and are still young enough to continue improving . Andrey (born 1985) is 2600, and Sergei (born 1989) is 2621.

Top-seeded grandmaster Melikset Khachiyan scored 4.5-.5 to win the Westwood Summer Open July 26 at the Los Angeles Chess Club. Joel Banawa, who drew Khachiyan in the final round, and Ryan Porter shared second place at 4-1. IM Tim Taylor was among those on 3.5.

Michaell Goeller has a nice feature on chess in New York City ( ) on his website. One of the spots he recommends as a must-visit is Fred Wilson's Chess Books ( 80 East 11th Street, Suite 334 New York, New York 10003 , 212-533-6381 Hours: Monday thru Saturday 12-7, ) which has been in operation for over 40 year. Fred, who started out in there business when famous New York booksellers like Albrecht Buscke and Walter Goldwater were still around, provides the sort of knowledge and experience you won't find on E-bay. Check him out online or in person!

Chess players at all levels may curse Silicon oracles for making opening theory unmanageable and beating up on the World's best but sometimes they unearth something that alters our fundamental conception of the game. Many pawn up endgames are drawn but two healthy connected pawns? Even worse could there be positions where split pawns are better than connected ones? Chess Today ( had a report by Alex Baburin based upon the game Nepomniachtchi - Anand from the World Rapid Chess Championship in Mainz which caught more than one IM's attention. Anand, who has dominated rapid chess competitions the past decade, desperately needed a win against "Nepo" and two connected pawns up in a Queen ending looked to have it but the game ended in a draw. It turns out that White with best defense draws the position-  W:Kg2, Qe3 versus B: Kh7; Qf7; Ps h5,g4.

Of course every six piece ending has been completely solved and is available on DVD lookup tables (Nalimov Tables) but this sort of knowledge has not filtered down and the "solutions" are often not easy to comprehend. Baburin looked at this ending with Black pawns on their starting position, with Black's queen on d7 and king on g8 for convenience, and White's still on Kg2 and Qe3, Black pawns on h7 and g7 still draw! Whereas Black pawns on f7 and g7, or f7 and h7 win. So the split f- and h-pawns win and connected h- and g-pawns draw.
The CalChess Board of Directors has selected Sunday, August 16th as the date of the next CalChess Annual General Meeting. The meeting will start at 2:30PM at the San Mateo Marriott located at 1770 South Amphlett Blvd., San Mateo, CA 94402.  During this meeting the elections for the CalChess Board of Directors will take place.  Candidates and voters must be members in good standing to be placed on the ballot or to vote.   The current Board has defined “good standing” to include being a member 30 days prior to the election.  This means you must be a member by July 17th.  If you are interested in being a candidate for one of the 4 open positions on the Board, please send an e-mail to President Tom Langland at  If you need to check your membership status, please view the CalChess Membership List.  This list will be updated before July 17th (and prior to the meeting), so if you would like to become a member, please fill out the Application Form soon!

Also voted on at the recent board meeting was the CalChess Open State Championship will be held over Thanksgiving weekend.  This will be in addition to the annual Labor Day Chess Tournament held in San Francisco.  See information for both these tournaments under upcoming events.


 6) Upcoming Events


Vladimir Pafnutieff Memorial - August 8
Bernardo Smith Memorial - August 22-23
Howard Donnelly Memorial - September 19
J.J. Dolan Memorial - October 10
Carroll Capps Memorial - November 7-8
Pierre Saint-Amant Memorial - November 21
Guthrie McClain Memorial - December 5

Labor Day Chess Festival
September 5 - September 7 2009, San Francisco, California

A Six Round Swiss System Tournament in Six Sections
Master $700-$400-$250 B $380-$200-$150
U2400: $250 C $380-$200-$150
Expert $380-$200-$150 D/E $380-$200-$150
A $380-$200-$150 U1200: $150
Unr: Trophy First
Trophy to top player in Each Section
Prize fund based on 160 fully paid entries, not counting free entries and unrated entries.
Registration: Sat 9/5 8-9:30 am, Sun 9/6 8-9
Sets and boards provided. Please bring clocks. USCF membership required
Rounds: 2-Day Schedule: Sun 9:30, 11:45, 2:00, 4:45; Mon 10:00, 3:30
3-Day Schedule: Sat 10:00, 4:00; Sun 11:00, 4:45; Mon 10:00, 3:30
1/2 pt byes Available for any round upon request, rds 5 or 6 must be requested before rd 1.
Time Control: 2-Day Schedule: Rounds 1-3, G/60; Rounds 4-6 30/90, G/60.
3-Day Schedule: 30/90, G/60 all rounds.
Entry Fee Postmarked by 8/31 $70 (jrs $60). On site: $80 (jrs $70). USCF required, $5
CalChess discount (must be current). Players may play up one section for $10
(jrs $5). GM/IM free entry. Unrated players, $20 in D/E section or may play in
the Master section for the regular fee.
Re-entry fee: $40. After rounds 1-2 of 3 day schedule, new start in 2-day schedule.
Location: Golden Gateway Holiday Inn, Van Ness at Pine San Francisco
Hotel: Golden Gateway Holiday Inn (415-441-4000), limited number of rooms at the
CalChess rate ($125) if booked by 8/2/2006. Hotel may sell out.
If so, try nearby hotels: Cathedral Hill (415-776-8200), Richielieu(415-673-
4711), Majestic (415-441-1100), Vagabond Inn (415-776-7500).
Information: Richard Koepcke 650-224-4938: Email:
Entry Form Name _______________________________________ Entry Fee: ________________
Address: _____________________________________ Play up 1 section ($10) ______
City/State/Zip _________________________________ Cal Chess Discount __________
Section: ____________ Phone#:___________________ USCF renewal ($42) ________
Rating _____________ 1/2 pt bye Rds 1 2 3 4 5 6 Total: ___________________-
USCF ID _________________ Schedule 2-Day _____ 3-Day ______
Make checks payable to Richard Koepcke P.O. Box 1432, Mountain View, Ca 94042

Oct 31-Nov1 Adults Only Open (17 and older only) 4SSx30/90 G/60 at BayAreaChess Center,

4423 Fortran Ct, Ste 160, San Jose, CA 95134.

Rounds: Both days 11am-4pm. Free lunch – donations welcome.

EF: $49 bef 9/19, $57 bef 9/29. $65 onsite. Prizes: $1,000 based on 38 paid entries.

2 sections. Open (1800+): $200-100-50 (u2000: 100-50)

Reserve (u1800): $150-100-50 (u1600: 100, u1400: 50, u1200: 50)

ENT: BayAreaChess, 4423 Fortran Ct, Ste 160, San Jose, CA 95134.

More info Info. & Orientation Email: NS NC W.

Oct 31-Nov1 Fall Open 4SSx30/90 G/60 at BayAreaChess Center,

4423 Fortran Ct, Ste 160, San Jose, CA 95134.

Rounds: Both days 11am-4pm. Free lunch – donations welcome.

EF: $55 bef 10/17. $63 bef 10/27. $71 onsite. Prizes: $2,002 based on 66 paid entries.

2 sections. Open (over 1800): $300-200-100-60-60 (u2000: 150-100-55-55) –

Reserve (u1800): $200-150-101-60 (u1600: 100-55, u1400: 100-55, u1200: 100-55)

ENT: BayAreaChess, 4423 Fortran Ct, Ste 160, San Jose, CA 95134.

More info Info. & Orientation Email: NS NC W.

A State Championship Event!

Nov. 27-29 or 28-29, GPP: 40 California Northern

CalChess Annual State Championship 2009 6SS 40/2, SD/1 (2-day

option, rounds 1-3 G/60). Hotel: Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, 5101 Great

America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA 95054. Free parking. Prizes: $8,010

based on 166 paid entries. 7 sections. Master/Open (FIDE rated): $1000-

500-300-200, (u2300 $201-101) - EXPERT: $500-200-100-100 (u2100: 201-

101) -- A: $500-200-100-100 (u1900: 201-101) -- B: $500-200-100-100

(u1700: 201-101) -- C: $500-200-100-100 (u1500: 201-101) -- D: $300-200-

100-100 (u1200: 201-100). Unrated may enter any section but prize limit of

$200 in all u2000 sections; balance goes to next player(s) in line. EF: $85 3-

day, $79 2-day mailed or online by 11/13. Add $15 for 11/14-11/25, add $25

onsite, add $19 for play-up, and subtract $45 for BayAreaChess Pass. GMs &

IMs free before 11/7 (entry feed deducted from prize). Re-entry $39. TD may

assign ratings. 3-day schedule: Reg.: Fri 10-10:30a, Fri/Sat 11a 5:15p, Sun

10a, 4:15p. 2-day sched: Reg.: Sa 9-9:30a, Sat 10, 12:15, 2:30, 5:15p. Sun

10am, 3:15pm. Tel 408-786-5515. Byes must commit before rd 3. Max 2 byes.

Hotel $99 BayAreaChess rate, 800-233-1234. reserve by 11/13 or rate may

increase. Ent: BayAreaChess, 4423 Fortran Ct., Ste. 160, San Jose, CA

95134. $20 service charge for refunds. Questions:, Info & Entries: More

info: NS NC W. WCL JGP