Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #481

I am not sure this will come across the way I mean it, but there some advantages to teaching kids who don't have a lot of opportunities in their lives. They are not also going to soccer games.

Elizabeth Vicary - New York Times, May 18, 2008 (page 34)

Vicary teaches chess and English at I.S. 318 in Brooklyn which is in the federal Title 1 program for schools, where many of the students are from low-income families. I.S.won the section for players in kindergarten through the sixth grade at the elementary school national championships in 2008.

1) Mechanics Institute Chess Club News
2) Jerry Spann by Frank Berry
3) Saint Louis Open by Ben Finegold
4) Bobby Fischer timeline 1958
5) Upcoming Events

1) Mechanics Institute Chess Club News

Evan Sandberg defeated Dante Argishti last night to tie with him for first in the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon. The two winners, who scored 6.5-1.5 both had excellent results. Evan, who attends high school in San Francisco, is now rated 2193, just a win or two from the Master title. Denizens of the MI Chess Club have watched Evan progress steadily through the ranks after starting out at 843 back in December of 2003. He hit a plateau after crossing 2000 but since last fall has added over 100 points to his rating. We are rooting for Evan and for Dante as well who substantially improved his rating going from 2034 to 2095.

Here is the key game from the last round.

Evan Sandberg - Dante Argishti
Winter TNM (8) 2010
French Winawer [C16]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Qd7 5.a3 Bf8 6.f4 Nc6 7.Nf3 b6 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 g6 10.Be3 Nge7 11.Qd2 Nf5 12.g4 Nxe3 13.Qxe3 0-0-0 14.b4 Kb8 15.Bb5 a6 16.Ba4 Qe7 17.Qd3 Na7 18.Bb3 Bg7 19.Na2 f6 20.exf6 Bxf6 21.Qe3 Nc6 22.c3 Qd6 23.Ne5 Rhf8 24.Rae1 Bc8 25.Nc1 Bxe5 26.fxe5 Qe7 27.Ba4 b5 28.Bd1 Qh4 29.Nd3 Ne7 30.Qg3 Qh6 31.Rf6 Ng8 32.g5 Qg7 33.Rxf8 Rxf8 34.Rf1 Ne7 35.Rxf8 Qxf8 36.Qf4 Nf5 37.Bg4 Qe8 38.Bxf5 exf5 39.Nc5 Ka7 40.e6 Qe7 41.h4 Kb6 42.Qe5 Kc6 43.Qf6 Kd6 44.Qe5+ Kc6 45.Kg2 Kb6 46.Qf6 Qe8 47.e7+ Ka7 48.Qf8 Bd7 49.Nxd7 Qxd7 50.e8Q 1-0

The following game is remarkable for the surprising 18.Rb4!!?.

Victor Todortsev - Arthur Dembling
Winter TNM (8) 2010
Nimzo-Indian Saemisch [E29]

1. d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3

The Saemisch variation was a longtime favorite of MI Trustee IM Vince McCambridge who enjoyed considerable success with it in the mid-1980s.

4... Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 c5 6.e3 0-0 7.Nf3 d6 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.0-0 b6 10.d5!? Na5 11.e4 h6?

The threat of Bg5 is serious but the traditional way of doing so with 11...Ne8 looks much better than creating a big target on h6. White's next few moves are not an energetic way to try to punish it.

12.h3 e5 13.Rb1 Ba6 14.Qe2 Qd7 15.Nh4 Qa4 16.Nf5 Rfd8 17.f4 Bxc4 18.Rb4!!?

This is a wonderfully creative move by Victor. He is still playing very interesting chess in his mid-70s and loves to mix it up. The objective soundness of the move may be in question but it is undoubtedly difficult to meet over the board. The following notes are just a quick first impression of the craziness that is about to unfold.


The motivation behind the text is a well-founded desire to simplify. The objection is that it brings the White's Queen to the third rank where it gains access to the key g3 square. Black might possibly have improved with 18...cxb4 19.fxe5 dxe5 20.axb4 Kh7.

19. Qxd3 cxb4 20.axb4

20.fxe5 looks to be more accurate to ensure that the c1-h6 diagonal is opened as quickly . For example: 20...Nb3 (20...dxe5 21.Qg3 Nh5 22.Nxh6+ Kh7 23.Qxe5) 21.Bxh6 winning.

20...Nb7? 20...Nb3 21.fxe5 Nxc1 might have refuted White's attack.

21.fxe5 dxe5 22.Bxh6

22.Qg3! Nh5 23.Nxh6+ Kh7 24.Qxe5 was cleaner but the text is difficult to meet as well.


This looks like the best defense but proves to be insufficient.

23.Bxg7 Ndxe4 24.Bxf6 Nxf6 25.Qg3+ Kf8 26.Qg7+ Ke8 27.Qxf6 Qd7 28.Qh8 mate!

Thanks to Peter Sherwood, the games for round eight are already up at . The Spring Tuesday Night Marathon begins on March 16.

Sixteen-year-old Ukrainian grandmaster Yaroslav Zherebukh of Lvov won Cappelle la Grande with the outstanding score of 7.5 from 9. MI members Vinay Bhat and Daniel Naroditsky both did well.

Vinay turned in yet another 2600+ FIDE performance in scoring 6 points while Daniel's score of 5.5 for a performance rating of 2431, was just barely short of the score needed for an IM norm. Daniel will soon return to the Bay Area (and will give a book signing on Sunday, March 14, at 2pm for his book Mastering Positional Chess) but Vinay and IM Sam Shankland start play in Cannes soon.

George Sanguinetti reports on the increasingly popular MI Wednesday Night Blitz (see the flyer for it under upcoming events below). Arthur Ismakov and Romy Fuentes won last Wednesday's event. Yefim Bukh and Manuel Santos shared third in the 15-player field. A correction from last week - it was Manuel Santos and not Hayk Manvelyan who won the Wednesday blitz on February 10th.


2) Jerry Spann by Frank Berry

The following article by Frank Berry, organizer and sponsor of the 2007 and 2008 US Championships, is on a man many consider to be the greatest President in the history of the US Chess Federation.

The piece originally ran in the Oklahoma Chess Quarterly in June of 2000. There are a few small changes in this version.

Jerry Spann
An Oklahoma Chess Legacy
by: Frank K. Berry

Jerry Spann originally hailed from North Carolina but graduated from University of Southern California in 1933, playing Trojan track and football for four years. It was at this time he met and became a life-long friend of John Wayne. He chose USC over OU because OU did not offer football scholarships in those days and Jerry wanted the scholarship. He played blocking back for the All-American Ernie Pinckert.

After WWII, where he served as a Navy officer, he moved to Oklahoma to establish a prosperous building supply firm named Bissell Builders Supply in OKC but he had shops in Norman and Tulsa too. His residence was in Norman. The specialty of his firm was a patented revolving door, which was sold to hotels and large downtown office buildings.

Jerry's successful promotion of the 1956 US Open held in downtown OKC led to his being appointed chairman of the USCF Presidency nominating committee, and when ten of the eleven people nominated withdrew; he, being the eleventh, was drafted as 1957 President of USCF, a post he held until 1960. Also around this time he served as a FIDE Vice-President.

Jerry's USCF Presidency turned the financial numbers from red to black and saw the USCF gain about 10,000 new members. He was also instrumental in the implementation of the Elo rating system for USCF. For many years his term as USCF President was affectionately referred to by Marshall Rohland and other later USCF officers as "Spannshine". In 1957, at the opening of the USA Women's Championship in Beverly Hills, Jerry made a talk which turned out to be a major policy speech. There he set out policies which guided the USCF to new successes and made failure a forgotten word. His was a personal touch, and he was as well known in California as in OKC or NYC, and in Moscow he was as respected as in Zurich. IM Walter Shipman of San Francisco described Jerry as a "real leader that inspired everyone around him and he was a terrific salesman."

My brother and I first met Jerry Spann at an OKC tournament in June, 1962. I think this was our first tournament outside of Stillwater. I think it was future USCF Master D Ballard's first tournament too as I beat him in the 2nd round. I also defeated one of Jerry Spann's 4 daughters - Susan - in the 1st round. A little known fact about Jerry is that he had a few small parts in movies made around the time of WWII. Most of his parts were just walk-ons. Susan remembers that she had seen her Dad in many of the movies he had been in. Jerry directed and organized this tournament as he had done many USCF tournaments in the Oklahoma area for many years.

Jerry was a very friendly man. Always gave encouragement to the youngsters and was very diplomatic and tactful with the older chessplayers as well. He organized many Simuls with GM's in the 1960's too. I remember GM's Benko and Gligoric playing simuls in OKC in particular. I also remember the Dec 1962 Oklahoma Open, a 5-SS tournament in downtown OKC, where GM Petar Trifunovic of Yugoslavia participated. That might have been the 1st and last time the GM ever played 5 games in 2 days! Present OCB members Jim Haley and Bill Huckin played in that tournament. This was Richard Dermer's first tournament too.

Three-time state champion D La Pierre Ballard remembers a Sunday afternoon he spent with Jerry: "Let me tell you an amazing story about Jerry Spann. Before his illness he called me because we both lived in Norman and he wanted to play some chess. I went over to his house and met his gracious wife, Alice. He played about class B strength. He was preparing to play in a tournament, which was being held just for tournament organizers. If I recall rightly, the tournament was held and Edmar Mednis won. Anyway, Jerry and I played two games. I won both fairly easily. But during that afternoon a very large package arrived while we were playing. Alice answered the door and received it from the delivery person. Jerry brought it in and began opening it. As soon as he saw what it was, he said, "Castro said he would send me one." The package contained an ornate chess table that had been used at the 1966 Havana Chess Olympiad. I was just amazed."

Pizza tycoon and former chess organizer Richard Dermer of Stillwater recalls: "I did not know Jerry Spann well--he was sort of a mystical god to me as the tournament director of the first chess events I ever played in. Those first few Oklahoma Championships I played in during the middle 1960's alternated for a couple of years between the Oklahoma City area and Tulsa. Jerry ran them himself every year. When I got up one year and suggested Stillwater, I was told to first find a playing site and its cost. The next year, I announced the OSU Student Union could hold the event at virtually no cost, so Stillwater was chosen. Jerry died before that tournament, and I wound up directing it by default (my first tournament direction, and it was the state championship!?). After it was over, I had even more respect for Jerry. The work he did for Oklahoma chess was invaluable; the fact that he was an international figure in USCF and FIDE made his local efforts even more impressive."

All Oklahomans, Americans and people around the world who met him and played in his tournaments will never forget how generous, friendly, encouraging and kind he was. He died of cancer in January, 1968 and to this day the Oklahoma Open (state championship for residents) proudly bears his name in memorial.


Oklahoman Jerry Spann was the USCF President from 1957-1960, critical years for the organization as the beginning of the rise of Bobby Fischer. Spann is regarded by many as the best president the USCF has ever had. He instituted several reforms and innovations, which included assigning Professor Arpad Elo to revamp the chess rating system and how it is administered. This created the rating system we have today, adopted in 1960 by the USCF and in 1970 by FIDE.

Spann was captain of the American team which took first place ahead of the Soviets at the 1960 World Student Championship in Leningrad . (The players were Lombardy, Mednis, Saidy, Weinstein, Kalme, and Hearst).

Spann received the Distinguished Service Award from the USCF in 1999 (posthumously).


3) Saint Louis Open by Ben Finegold

Hi all my chess friends!

I am letting you all know about the great event we are going to hold April 10-11 at the Chess Club. So far, we have GMs Nakamura, Hess, and Finegold and IM Brooks. We expect over 125 players, and we will FIDE rate the Open section!

Tell your friend, and your enemies (so you can crush them!) and come play in the Strongest Open tournament in Missouri history!!

The prize fund has been raised to $5700 Guaranteed, and $1000 for 1st place.

If you have any questions, shoot me an email.

Best wishes,


4) Bobby Fischer timeline: 1958

Bobby Fischer became a very strong player in a short period and the end of 1957 to the fall of 1958 is when it happened. Interestingly enough he did not play much chess during this period as he was still attending high school. He also spent time working on Bobby Fischer's Game of Chess for most of the first half of 1958.

- Fischer wins his first US Championship on January 8 with a score of 10.5-2.5, drawing Abe Turner in the last round.

- Bobby gives a simul at the Marshall Chess Club in February scoring 24 wins and a draw ( have any games ever been published from this event?).

- Fischer appears on "I've Got a Secret" on March 26, 1958. He receives two-round trip air tickets. He can now accept a Soviet offer to play a series of exhibition matches in Moscow in June and July and represent the US in the Interzonal in August. The May 1958 issue of Chess Review has Bobby on the cover holding a Sabena Airlines bag alongside " I've Got a Secret" emcee Garry Moore.

- Bobby and Joan travel to Moscow in June . Fischer plays blitz with Nikitin, Vasyukov and a few games with Petrosian.

- Fischer travels to Yugoslavia in early July and plays Janosevic and Matulovic matches in Belgrade. Edmar Mednis writes in How to beat Bobby Fischer (pages 3-4) how he ran into Fischer in Belgrade. Mednis was on his way back from the Student Team Championship in Varna and in the Yugoslav capital waiting for a train to Paris ( sometime around July 22 or so)

- The Portoroz Interzional, held August 5 - September 12, sees Bobby ( seconded by William Lombardy) qualify for the Candidates tournament by tying for 5th place ( out of 21) scoring 12-8.