Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #489

One cannot say that we are equal, we are different. He is a complex player and has only slightly noticeable weaknesses, which show depending on the situation. Sometimes also he makes mistakes.

Veselin Topalov comparing himself with World Champion Viswanathan Anand in an interview at ChessDom.

1) Mechanics Institute Chess Club News
2) Field finalized for 2010 U.S. Chess Championship by Mike Wilmering
3) Smyslov-Gufeld, USSR 1967
4) Upcoming Events


1) Mechanics Institute Chess Club News

FM Andy Lee defeated tournament leader NM Peter Zavadsky last night to turn the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon into a race with two rounds to go. Lee (who took byes in the first two rounds), IM John Grefe, NM Romy Fuentes and Expert Hayk Manvelyan are tied for first with 5-1 scores in the 57-player event.

NM Keith Vickers won the annual Walter Lovegrove Senior Open held at the Mechanics' Institute last weekend with a score of 3.5 from 4. IM Walter Shipman and visiting Filipino Expert Warly Guinto tied for second with three points.

Mechanics' members GMs Vinay Bhat and Jessie Kraai and IM Sam Shankland will play in the US Championship in Saint Louis next month. SM Daniel Naroditsky is qualified to play in the US Junior Closed this summer and it appears likely SM Steven Zierk will as well.

John Blackstone sends in the following game from the match between Herman Steiner and A.J. Fink held at the Mechanics' Institute in May of 1930. Steiner won the planned three game match 2-0.

A. Fink - H. Steiner
San Francisco (2)1930

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 d6 7.c3 0-0 8.h3 b5 9.Bc2 Ne8 10.d4 Bf6 11.d5 Ne7 12.Kh2 Ng6 13.Be3 Nf4 14.Bxf4 exf4 15.Nd4 Be5 16.Qf3 g6 17.Nd2 Qh4 18.Nc6 g5 19.Ne7+ Kh8 20.Nxc8 Rxc8 21.Qg4 Qxg4 22.hxg4 Nf6 23.f3 h5 24.Bd1 Kg7 25.Kg1 Rh8 26.gxh5 Rxh5 27.Kf2 c6 28.dxc6 Rxc6 29.Bb3 b4 30.Nc4 bxc3 31.Nxe5 dxe5 32.Rac1 Rd6 33.Rxc3 Rd2+ 34.Ke1 Rxg2 35.Rc7 Rhh2 36.Rxf7+ Kg6 37.Ra7 Rxb2 38.Rxa6 g4 39.fxg4 Kg5 40.Rg1 Nxg4 41.Bd1 Rb1 42.Re6 f3 0-1

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle May 15,1930, p.28

The Ray Schutt Memorial Blitz, featuring the participation of 6-time US Champion Walter Browne is coming up soon.

4th Annual Ray Schutt Memorial Blitz Tournament

A chance to remember and pay tribute to an old friend
May 2 (Sunday)

When: Sunday, May 2nd from 1 to 5 pm. The blitz tournament will be held from 2 to 4 pm. There will be a chance to reminiscence about Ray over light refreshments both before and after the event.

Where: Mechanics' Institute, 57 Post St, San Francisco (Montgomery BART)

Format: Five Double-Round Swiss or Roundrobin depending on entries.

Prizes (guaranteed):
1st $300
2nd $200
3rd $100
4th $75
5th $50
6th $25

Entry Fee: $10. Free to IMs and GMs. Enter at tournament from 1pm to 1:45. Entries close at 1:45 pm please take note. No phone entries. Come honor Ray's memory and help make this the largest and strongest blitz tournament in the history of Northern California chess!

Young Senior Master and author Daniel Naroditsky was featured in a lengthy story in last Sunday's San Jose Mercury News which mentioned the Mechanics' Institute as the oldest chess club in the United States.


2) Field finalized for 2010 U.S. Chess Championship by Mike Wilmering

SAINT LOUIS, April 20, 2010--The final four spots have been filled for the 2010 U.S. Championship, which is set for May 13-25 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL).

The 24-player field was finalized today with the four, official wildcard selections: Grandmaster Alexander Stripunsky (NJ), Grandmaster Vinay Bhat (CA) and International Masters Irina Krush (NY) and Sam Shankland (CA). This year's championship will feature a purse of more than $170,000, the largest per-capita prize fund in the tournament's history.

"Our four wildcards represent many aspects that are important to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis," said CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich. "By nurturing America's top juniors and women and inviting the top contenders, we have created an incredibly strong and dynamic field for this year's championship."

Stripunsky, 39, missed out on qualifying by rating for the 2010 U.S. Championship by a single point. On the February 2010 rating list used to invite rating qualifiers, he was rated 2615, right behind CCSCSL GM in-residence Ben Finegold, who was rated 2616. Last year, he also missed out by just one spot on the rating list. Stripunsky has an excellent record in U.S. Championships. In 2005, he was runner-up and lost in a playoff to reigning champion GM Hikaru Nakamura. In 2006, he had another strong run and finished in third place. Stripunsky also just tied for first in the Philadelphia Open.

Bhat may be the strongest eligible American who has never played in a U.S. Championship. The 25-year-old lives in the Bay Area and has been a chess professional ever since receiving the Samford Scholarship in 2008. Bhat maintains a blog, "An Unemployed Fellow," where he gives insightful analysis on his recent games and thoughts on the tournament circuit (

Krush is a renowned team player. The former Samford Fellowship winner led the 2008 bronze medal Olympic team in Dresden, Germany, and was part of the 2004 silver medal Olympic team in Mallorca, Spain. Krush, 26, hails from Brooklyn, NY, where she manages the New York Knights U.S. Chess League team. She is also a two-time U.S. Women's Champion and will be the only woman in this year's mixed event. Krush plans to play in the 2010 U.S. Women's Championship, set for Saint Louis from July 9-19.

Shankland, 18, is the top rated player under 21 who was not already slated to play in the U.S. Championship. GMs Robert Hess, Aleksandr Lenderman and Ray Robson qualified by rating and winning the U.S. Junior, respectively. Shankland won a gold medal for the U.S. at the 2008 World Youth Championship in Vietnam. He currently has two grandmaster norms, and is ardently searching for his third, which will qualify him for the title. The incoming Brandeis University freshman called the U.S. Championship his "dream tournament for the year." He maintains a blog ( and website (

Another recent addition to the U.S. Championship field is IM Levon Altounian of Arizona, who bested competitors from all over the country by winning the ICC Tournament of State Champions. Altounian wrote a story on Chess Life Online about his quest to qualification.

"It is very exciting to play at the U.S. Championship, the most important event of the year," Altounian said. "I am very proud to be a part of this elite group."

The complete list of players includes the following:

  • The defending U.S. Champion: GM Hikaru Nakamura
  • The winner of the 2009 U.S. Senior Open Championship: GM Larry Christiansen
  • The winner of the 2009 U.S. Junior Championship: GM Ray Robson
  • The top five qualifiers from the 2009 U.S. Open Championship: GMs Aleksandr Lenderman, Sergey Kudrin, Alex Yermolinsky, Dmitry Gurevich, and Jesse Kraai
  • The winner of the 2010 ICC State Champion of Champions: IM Levon Altounian
  • The top 11 U.S. players by rating of the United States Chess Federation:
    • GM Gata Kamsky
    • GM Alexander Onischuk
    • GM Varuzhan Akobian
    • GM Yury Shulman
    • GM Jaan Ehlvest
    • GM Alexander Shabalov
    • GM Gregory Kaidanov
    • GM Robert Hess
    • GM Melikset Khachiyan
    • GM Joel Benjamin
    • GM Ben Finegold
  • Four wildcard spots:
  • GM Alexander Stripunsky
  • GM Vinay Bhat
  • IM Irina Krush
  • IM Sam Shankland

The 2010 U.S. Championship is open to the public and will feature live grandmaster commentary by GM Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade. Spectators can access the event by purchasing a membership to the CCSCSL, which costs just $5/month for students and $12/month for adults. The championship quad finale will take place May 22-24 and will culminate with the $10,000 U.S. Championship Blitz Open at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 24, an event that will feature U.S. Championship competitors and some of the top players from across the country. For more information, please call 314-361-CHESS (2437) or visit


3) Smyslov-Gufeld, USSR 1967

Thanks to Frank Berry for sending the following game with notes by the late GM Gufeld.

Smyslov,V - Gufeld,E
USSR Team Championship 1967
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.b4 This unusual method of development seldom employed by Smyslov was a surprise for me. It is interesting to note that it is identical to the classic game Reti - Capablanca (New York, 1924) in which the World Champion from Cuba suffered a sensational loss after an undefeated 8-year run! This is how Alekhine commented on b2-b4: "This is Nimzovich's move (Carlsbad, 1923) which White can use quite successfully. However, we believe that it is easier for Black to get counterplay than in the case of the symmetrical 3.g3 and Bg2; in the latter case White has a tempo which is extremely important in the forthcoming struggle for the center. Besides, White weakens his pawn structure to secure an outpost on b5, which may be used immediately by the opponent to get counterplay."Frankly speaking, I got to know this game and the annotations much later. I had to solve all the problems over the board. 3...Bg7 4.Bb2 0-0 5.e3 Smyslov chooses the plan which seems more promising to him. But the organic drawbacks of White's development still remain. White has no advantage. I wish to add a few words to Alekhine's analysis. White can afford many things in the opening without getting inferior play; at worst, he might lose the minimal advantage he gets with the first move. But what price is too high for an interesting experiment? I will not criticize my opponent, but only state that the chances are now equal. [In the game Reti - Capablanca Black equalized easily after 5.g3 b6 6.Bg2 Bb7 7.0-0 d6 but lost the game as a result of mistakes in the middlegame. 5...b6 6.d4 Too aggressive and risky. But Black has to face the difficult problem of finding the right plan, or else be stifled in the center. 6...c5! That's it! Until White has castled, opening up the files gives Black counterplay. 7.dxc5 bxc5 8.b5 a6 9.a4 So having involved White in queenside operations, Black diverts his attention from the normal mobilization of forces and as compensation can fight successfully all over the chess board. The simple 9...Bb7 would be good here. But I preferred a sharper continuation involving material sacrifices so as to "speak heart to heart" with White's King stuck in the center. 9...Ne4! Now White gets the chance to bring his Queen into play, but in return Black has a lot of potentially thrilling combinations. 10.Bxg7 Kxg7 11.Qd5! 11.Bd3 Qa5+ 12.Nbd2 Nxd2 13.Qxd2 axb5! 14.cxb5 d5 followed by ...N-d7-b6 and Black is better. 11...Qa5+ 12.Ke2! This is necessary. After 12.Nbd2 Nxd2 13.Nxd2 axb5! Black has the advantage. Now after the text 12.Ke2! arises an extremely interesting position which attracted tremendous interest from all participants in the tournament. All of them and probably Smyslov too believed that Black would want to save himself by means of 12...Nc3+ 13.Nxc3 Qxc3 and both Rooks are en prise. Now after 14.Qxa8 Qxa1 it is dangerous for White to win a piece with 15.Qxb8 because after 15...d6! Black can hope, as a minimum, for perpetual check. But Smyslov was ready for that. Instead of 14.Qxa8 he planned the subtle 14.Rd1! and after 14...Ra7 15.Qxc5 and 16.Qd4+ White's superiority is obvious.Noticing the anxious faces of my friends I knew they thought I had miscalculated. You can imagine their surprise when I then sacrificed two pieces in a row! 12...Bb7!! After this unexpected move Smyslov, known for his tranquility, could not conceal his astonishment. He frowned and plunged into meditation. I was trying to control my excitement, checking my calculations and not paying attention to the people around me. Easier said than done! It seemed to me that all the other games had finished, so the area around our chess board was overcrowded! Suddenly I felt as if I were electrocuted. I saw the piercing eyes of Mikhail Moiseevich Botvinnik. 13.Qxb7 This is definitely forced. Nevertheless, Smyslov took a long time to make this capture. 13...Nc6!! At this moment I saw Botvinnik again. He studied the position on the chess board, then he looked at my face, after that he went over to Geller (who was playing Petrosian) and they whispered about something . . . many years later Geller told me what he said."Efim Petrovich," asked Botvinnik, "what sort of punk is playing on our team?"Once I happened to read in a Soviet encyclopedia that one of the features of art is the "association of the unassociated." So I understood why Botvinnik had asked such a question. Black's play runs contrary to generally accepted "rules of behavior'' on the chess board and so may be associated with . . . street gangsterism.The positional foundation of the two sacrifices lies in White's poor development, the exposed position of his king and the possibility to hunt down White's queen. The post-mortem showed that the sacrifices were sound, giving Black at least equal chances. 14.Nfd2! Smyslov is up to the mark. He could capture the second piece 14.bxc6 Rab8 15.Nfd2! with the same position as in the game. (but excessive greed with 15.Qxd7 could cost White quite a lot: 15... 15...Rfd8 and in spite of the trememdous material advantage, White is defenseless.) 14...Ra7 The queen is trapped. But the material compensation, a rook and two minor pieces, is more than sufficient. All things considered, it would have ensured White's victory. But it is important to realize that the position is tremendously unbalanced. Black's king is absolutely safe, whereas all of White's pieces are either underdeveloped or badly protected. 15.bxc6! 15.Qxa7 Nxa7 16.Nxe4 axb5 17.cxb5 Nxb5 15...Rxb7 16.cxb7 The storm has subsided somewhat. White has his material advantage but Black possesses the initiative. Which is more important? 16...Qb4 I had thought that Black had good chances after 16...Nd6 17.g3 Nxb7 18.Bg2 Nd6 19.Rc1 Rb8 and White is on the defensive. But I didn't like this variation (it turned out later that I was right) because here attack and defense are neatly balanced. It may objectively have been the best continuation and in an individual tournament I would have been content with equality against my formidable opponent. But this was a team match, the positions on the other boards were quite favorable, so why not take a risk? 17.Nxe4! But here Smyslov got carried away. He was probably also affected by the character of team play. He decided to give up the exchange, keeping the pawn on b7. [After the successful queen hunt Black wants to shoot down the enemy rook. However, Smyslov had a strong move in 17.Ra2! A) It is true that Black could have played 17...d5!? However it was next to impossible to evaluate the consequences of such n aggressive move over the board. For example A1) 18.Rc2 d4! (...19...Nc3+, 19...d3+) 19.exd4 cxd4 20.Nxe4 Qxb1 21.Kd3 Qb3+ 22.Kd2 Qb4+ 23.Ke2 (23.Kd1 Qb1+) 23...Qb1=; A2) 18.g3! 3 A2a) 18...d4 19.Bg2 Nd6 (19...Nc3+ 20.Nxc3 dxc3 21.Rb1; 19...d3+ 20.Kxd3 Nxf2+ 21.Kc2 Nxh1 22.Bxh1 Rb8 23.Ra3! (... 24.a4; 25.Bc6; 26.Ra4) 23...a5 24.Rb3 Qxa4 25.Kc3 Qd7 26.Bg2!) 20.Rc1 Nxb7 21.Rcc2! Nd6 22.a5! Qb8 23.Rcb2 Qc7 24.Rb6; A2b) 18...dxc4 19.Bg2 Nd6 20.Rc12; A3) 18.cxd5?! 18...Qxb7 19.f3 Qxd5 20.Ra3 (20.Rc2 Rd8 21.Rb2 Nxd2 22.Nxd2 c4) 20...Nxd2 21.Nxd2 Rd8 ; B) 17...Qxb7 might be followed with B1) 18.f3! Nxd2 19.Nxd2 Rb8 20.Kf2 (20.Ra1 Qc6!) 20...Qb4 21.Be2 Qc3 22.a5 f5; B2) 18.Nxe4?! Black has a choice of knights to take 18...Qxb1 19.Nc3 Qc1 20.Kd3 d5!! (20...Rb8 21.Rc2 Qa1 (...22...Rb3 3) 22.Ra2! Qc1 23.Rc2=) 21.cxd5 (21.Nxd5 Qb1+ 22.Rc2 e6-+; 21.g3 e5! 22.Nxd5 e4+!-+) 21...c4+! 22.Kd4 e5+-+; American GM Yasser Seirawan, who entertained me in Seattle in May, 1987, considered the text 17.Nxe4?! a fatal mistake and suggested the alternative 17.g3 but after the simple 17... 17...Qxb7 18.Bg2 Qb2 he agreed that Black's chances were preferable. 17...Qb2+ 18.Nbd2 Qxa1 19.Nxc5 A new transformation. White has a material advantage but in a different form. The trouble is that the position of the king and the kingside pieces are still bad. Assessing the position, Smyslov was probably content with the fact that his king could be safe. "After all," he probably thought, "I can develop my rook and bishops while my opponent is busy with the pawn on b7." [19.g3 Qb2 20.Nxc5 Qb6 (20...d6? 21.Ncb3) 21.Nxd7 Qxb7 22.Nxf8 Qxh1 23.Nd7 Qc6 with dynamically equal position 19...Rb8 20.g3 Qa3! This is the tactical surprise! After the "natural" 20...d6? 21.Nd7 Rxb7 22.Bg2 Qb2 23.Rb1 White wins. Black evacuates his queen from the first rank just in time. 21.Nxd7 This always happens when a chess player falls into a precipice. A few moves back Smyslov thought that he stood better, but now after the logical 21.Nd3 Rxb7 22.Bg2 Rb8 he loses the pawn on a4. White seeks chances in a double-edged game. 21...Rxb7 22.Bh3 Qd6 23.c5 Qd5 24.f3 Rb2 This is what Smyslov envisioned. The threat 24...Qh5+ has been repelled, the kingside is mobilized, the pawn on a4 is alive. Of course, Black can win two pieces for the rook, but after 24...Rxd7 25.Bxd7 Qxd7 26.Rc1 White, who has the rook, the knight and the passed c5-pawn, can hope for a draw. But there is one factor in this position which White has ignored. The knight is stuck on d7! 25.Rd1 e6 26.c6 At the expense of pawn sacrifices White could salvage the knight, but 26.Nb6 Qxc5 27.a5 Qxa5 (or 27...Qh5 ) 28.Nbc4 Qb5 was in Black's favor. 26...Qc4+ 27.Ke1 Qd3! It is important to capture the pawn on e3. 28.Bf1 Qxe3+ 29.Be2 It seems that Black must now play 29...Qc3 and after 30.Bxa6 Qxc6 31.Bb5 White can put up a stubborn resistance. But ... 29...a5!! At my chess classes with young chess players I sometimes offer this position for analysis, betting that none of them will be able to find the best and only move in this situation. All junior players usually start with attacking continuations yielding no positive results. And although I sometimes give them a hint, playing a4-a5 and Nd7-b6, nobody understands that Black should prevent White from bringing his knight back into play.Now the ring around the springer on d7 gets tighter. Black's queen is on guard by White's king and Black's rook is hunting down the c6-pawn. 30.f4 f6! 31.c7 Rc2 32.Kf1 Rxc7 33.Nc4 Smyslov brings the game to an abrupt end. I expected 33.Nf3 hoping to play 33... 33...Kf7! For instance: 34.Ne1 Ke7 35.Bb5 h5! 36.Rd3 Qe4 37.Kf2 Rc1 38.Nf3 Rc2+ 39.Rd2 (In case of 39.Nd2 the game boils down to a prosaic pawn ending: 39... 39...Qxd3! 40.Bxd3 Rxd2+ 41.Ke3 Rxd3+ 42.Kxd3 Kxd7) 39...Rc3 40.Be2 Qxa4 and the passed a-pawn decides the game in Black's favor. 33...Rxc4 34.Bxc4 Qf3+ 35.Ke1 Qc3+ 0-1