Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #482

Chess is a very easy game; all you need to do is calculate lines, and everything will be OK.

Alexander Beliavsky after winning Alicante 1978 with 13 points from 13 games. (A Course in Chess Tactics by Bojkov and V. Georgiev, page 5)

1) Mechanics Institute Chess Club News
2) Leningrad Student Team Championship 1960
3) Here and There
4) Upcoming Events

1) Mechanics Institute Chess Club News

George Sanguinetti reports that the MI Wednesday Night Blitz on February 24th was the strongest to date. Arthur Ismakov, Jorge Lopez and Carlos D'Avila tied for first with 12-2 scores in the 15 player round robin with IM IM Vladimir Mezentsev was fourth with 10.5 points.

Mechanics' Chess Club supporter Colin Ma has posted the following information on about Daniel Naroditsky's upcoming book signing.

Daniel Naroditsky will talk about his new book, Mastering Positional Chess: Practical Lessons of a Junior World Champion, at this event at the Mechanics' Institute on March 14th ( Sunday) from 2-3 pm. Mastering Positional Chess was recently published by New in Chess.

Daniel, age 14, is the youngest published author of a chess book. He holds the title of FIDE Master. He won the World Youth Chess Championship (under age 12) in 2007. This event is open to the public, and admission is free. There will be copies of the book available for purchase at the event. It is an opportunity to get a copy signed by the author. The Mechanics' Institute is the oldest chess club in the United States. It is located at 57 Post Street in San Francisco, California. It can be reached via BART. Exit the Montgomery Street BART station and walk a few paces to the Mechanics' Institute building. The event will be held on the fourth floor of 57 Post Street. For more information about the book and the opportunity to download excerpts, go to:

Mechanics' Institute Chess Director John Donaldson tied for first at 4.5 from 5 with NM Satyajit Malugu in the 64-player David Collyer Memorial held February 27-28 in Spokane.

2) Leningrad Student Team Championship 1960

The following is the second part of our tribute to the late Jerry Spann. This issue of the Newsletter is also dedicated to the US Student Team members who took home the gold medal at Leningrad 1960.

Note: Since this article was published, the US team finished ahead of Russia in the 1993 World Team Championship and the past two Olympiads but never did it against the Soviet Union except Leningrad 1960. We did beat them in our individual match at the Dubai Olympiad in 1986 but were passed in the last round and finished third.

Thanks to Frank Berry for the following article.

Jerry Spann Captains Victorious 1960 USA Student Team

(Editor's Note - FB: -- Most of the direct quotes in this article are taken from an interview in the Norman Transcript , names of the USA team members and their scores taken from Chess Review, Sept 1960. See also: 1961 Oklahoma Almanac and State Encyclopedia. Thanks to IM Anthony Saidy for proof-reading and adding the names of the Soviet Team.)

America won a significant victory in the cold war propaganda battle at Leningrad, Russia when their student team won the World Student Championship Team Tournament which was held July 16 - August 1, 1960. This American student team, which sent the Russian students down to a rare defeat, was captained by our own Jerry G. Spann of Norman.

The American student team consisted of: (In board order)

  • Bill Lombardy, St. Philip Neri School of Boston who scored (12-1)
  • Charles Kalme, U of Penn, Philadelphia (11.5 - 1.5)
  • Ray Weinstein, Brooklyn College, NY (7.5 - 2.5)
  • Anthony Saidy, Cornell Medical College, NY, (4.5 - 2.5)
  • Edmar Mednis, NYU Graduate School, NY (4.5 - 2.5)
  • Elliot Hearst, Grad Res Center of St. Eliz Hosp, Arlington, VA (1 - 1)

"The tournament was nip and tuck all the way," Spann recalled. "It was a tremendous relief when it was over. We were ahead only half a point until late when we met the Soviets. It was obvious that the match with Russia in the next-to-last round would determine the championship. The final tournament score was 41 - 11 for the United States and 39.5 - 12.5 for the Soviets (followed by the Yugos, Czech-Slovaks, Bulgarians, Romanians, E. Germans, etc - Editor) (IM Saidy reports Soviet Team was: Spassky, Gurgenidze, Nikitin, Nikolaevsky, Klovans and Savon). The Russians were good sports and the fans gave us a standing ovation. We played in the Leningrad Palace of the Pioneers, formerly the Palace of the mother of the Czar, which is tremendously large. When the U.S.A and U.S.S.R. teams met, several thousand spectators had to be turned away.

"The Soviet people play chess a lot more than we do here. It is the national pastime and promoted by the government, so our victory was a crushing one. We arrived in Moscow July 11, and stayed until the 14th as guests of the U.S.S.R. chess federation before the tournament began in Leningrad. Our mission was to negotiate a team match in New York next May. {Ed note: This was set up but never happened} We stayed at the same hotel as the Russians, the 'Baltic', and relations were very friendly. We spoke freely in discussion along controversial lines but no tempers were lost. None of our team members spoke Russian, but had gotten a bit of the vocabulary from reading Russian chess books. We always keep up with each other and read each other's books, because the opening systems are constantly changing. Most of the Russians spoke German, the international language of chess.

"Our team was obviously the most popular. The members were a swell bunch of kids, well-dressed, perfect gentlemen and fine ambassadors. They made a lot of friends. The similarity between Americans and Russians is striking," Jerry said. "From my experiences in Germany a couple of years ago (He also captained the U.S. Olympic chess team in Munich in 1958) I feel there is a bigger difference between Americans and Germans. The Russians are a very enthusiastic, optimistic, robust people. They have an awful lot of initiative and a tremendous curiosity about things and people. We had complete freedom. There were no restrictions, and I even took pictures at the airport, which I understand is verboten.

"I will hate to see what I think is going to happen. Judging by what I read, I think there will be a return to complete vigilance. I think Khrushchev feels the Americans are too popular a people. I know we were treated wonderfully and the people cheered us. There is a complete misconception of life in America. They think there is starvation and that minorities are lynched every day. The only ones who are not sold on the Soviet System are the members of the satellite countries, such as Latvia, which were swallowed up after WW2. The satellites are the big chink in the Russian armor."

Turning to daily life in Russia, Spann noted that clothing was expensive with styling below par, food costs about the same as in the United States and lodging costs less, about one hundred rubles or ten dollars a month for a flat. "Their hospitals were well equipped and very clean with plenty of help - a lot of young doctors," said Spann, "A person can get medical care immediately unless he wants to wait for a certain doctor. The books and records are cheap. A long-play record of the best artist playing Chopin might cost six or seven rubles (60 or 70 cents). Van Cliburn is still the rage of the bobby sox set. People read Pravda and Izvestia but the most popular paper is Sport. Sports are part of their everyday life and the government gives a Master of Sports award. Of course they are all pointing toward the next Olympics, and expect to win."

3) Here and There

IM Ricardo DeGuzman won the Spring Chess Festival held February 27-28 in South San Francisco with a score of 5.5-.5. His only draw was with second place finisher Vladimir Mezentsev who finished with 5 points. James Jones was third with 4 in the multi-section event, organized by Felix Rudyak and directed by Payam Tanaka. The turnout was lower than expected with 50 players, but not bad for a first time event.

Nikolai Brunni points out that in Newsletter #481, in Bobby Fischer timeline 1958, Bobby's simultaneous exhibition on television is missing from his list of activities that year.

"Bobby Fischer conducted a simultaneous exhibition on Channel 13 Television, Sunday, May 11. He scored 12.5 - .5. Ken Harkness was the announcer. I believe the show made a very favorable public impression. There were some technical flaws. Harkness was stationed where he found it very difficult to see the boards to follow the play. It is true the camera itself could hardly keep up with the racing Bobby. Harkness was also announced as an official of the "American" Chess Federation.

Oh, well Morton Siegel,
Chess Life in New York, Chess Life, June 5, 1958, pg. 4."

Fischer - Walter Harris
Danish Gambit Declined
Live Television Simultaneous
May 11, 1958

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 d5 4. Qxd4 c6 5. exd5 Qxd5 6. Qxd5 cxd5 7. Nf3 Nf6 8. Bf4 Nc6 9. Nbd2 Bf5 10. Nb3 Be7 11. Bb5 O-O 12. Bxc6+ bxc6 13. O-O Rfc8 Rfc8 14. Rfe1 Ne4 15. Nfd4 Be6 16. f3 Nc5 17. Nxe6 Nxe6 18. Nd4 Bc5 19. Be3 Bxd4 20. Bxd4 Nxd4 21. cxd4 Re8 22. Kf2 Rxe1 23. Rxe1 Kf8 24. Rc1 Rc8 25. Ke3 g5 26. Rc5 f5 27. b4 f4+ 28. Kd2 Ke7 29. Ra5 Rc7 30. a4 Kd6 31. Ra6 Ke7 32. Ra5 Kd7 33. g3 Kd6 34. gxf4 gxf4 35. Rc5 a6 36. Ra5 Ra7 37. b5 cxb5 38. axb5 Kc7 39. Rxa6 Rxa6 40. bxa6 Kb6 41. Kc3 Kxa6 42. Kb4 Kb6 43. Ka4 Ka6 44. h3 h6 45. Kb4 Kb6 46. Ka4 Ka6 47. h4 h5 draw.