Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter #121

"What distinguishes a Grandmaster from a master? Chess-lovers often ask questions like that. To many people it seems that Grandmasters simply calculate variations a little deeper. Or that they know their opening theory slightly better. But in fact the real difference is something else. You can pick out two essential qualities in which those with higher titles are superior to others: the ability to sense the critical moment in a game, and a finer understanding of various positional problems."

1) University of Maryland, Baltimore County B wins Pan-Am
2) Three-way tie in Bob Burger Open
3) US Championship starts Thursday
4) Winter Tuesday Night Marathon starts tomorrow (January 7)
5) Here and there
6) Upcoming events

1) University of Maryland at Baltimore County B wins Pan-Am

The University of Maryland at Baltimore County B , led by GM Alex Sherzer and IM Eugene Perelshteyn, won the 2002 Pan Am Intercollegiate held in Miami immediately after Christmas. UMBC B's other team members were: FM William Morrison, NM John Rouleau, and Battsetseg Tsagaan. The winners, who were seeded number three, scored 5 1/2 from 6, drawing only with second seed University of Texas at Dallas. UTD, led by GMs Yury Shulman and Marcin Kaminski, tied for second with pre tournament favorite UMBC A (GMs Alex Onischuk, Alex Wojtkiewicz and Pavel Blehm) at 5-1. Because of the rules of the competition, the two University of Maryland schools did not compete against each other. Stanford did not send as strong a team as in years past and finished in the middle of the 30 team field which came from as far away as Peru and Puerto Rico.

2) Three-way tie in Bob Burger Open

Win Aung Ye, Ben Haun and Anthony Rozenvasser tied for first in the Bob Burger Open held January 4 at the Mechanics' Institute. The three winners scored 4 1/2 from 5 to finish on top of the 42 player field. Anthony Corrales directed for the MI.

3) US Championship starts Thursday

The US Championship starts this Thursday afternoon. The MI will have five representatives. They include six-time US Champion Walter Browne, former US Champion and current MI GM-in-residence Alex Yermolinsky, 2000 US Womens Champion Camilla Baginskaite, MI Chess Director John Donaldson and NM David Pruess.

US Championship Press Secretary John Henderson recently sent out the following notice:

SEATTLE -- For the third year running, hip Seattle plays host to the cerebral challenge of the prestigious US Chess Championships, as 58 of the country's top chess masters battle it out over nine rounds (9-18 January) for the biggest prize in chess history for a national title.

Since taking over the ailing historic championships in 2000, the America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C) has now boosted the prize fund to make the event the biggest annual prize in chess anywhere in the world. With an increase this year of a further $50,000, the prize fund increases to an unprecedented $250,000, with $25,000 slotted for the winner - all a far cry from 1966 when Bobby Fischer, after winning his record-breaking eighth US title, took home only $2,500.

Twenty top-rated players (12 men, 8 women) - including the 2002 U.S. Champions Larry Christiansen and Jennifer Shahade, and the 2001 and 2002 U.S. Junior Champions, Hikaru Nakamura and Aaron Pixton - were automatically seeded into the event. Also competing will be 36 players (32 men, 4 women) who survived the qualifying events held at the U.S. Masters, the National Open, Foxwoods Open, the Chicago Open, the World Open and the U.S. Open.

In our search to find the new Bobby Fischer, this new open-competition format has allowed many young, non-titled players to compete for the first time for a cherished spot in the national championship. And in addition to the above field, the AF4C board, in furthering their mission of promoting chess among young people, has allocated their two wildcard entries to 16-year-old Laura Ross, as well as the winner of the prestigious 2002 Samford Fellowship, 18-year-old Varuzhan Akobian.

The full playing field (including pictures and biographies) for the championship and details of the AF4C can be found on our website at The nine-round event, starting daily at 1.30 pm to close of play at 7.30pm, will run from January 9-18 (rest day Tuesday, 14th January) at the Seattle Center, home to Seattle's famous landmark, the Space Needle.

4) Winter Tuesday Night Marathon starts tomorrow (January 7)

The Winter Marathon, which starts tomorrow evening (Tuesday) at 6:30 PM, looks like it will be the best attended event in the series which dates back to the early 1970s. IM Walter Shipman and FM Frank Thornally head the list of 60 pre-registered entrants.

Tuesday Night Marathon + Lecture Series Announcements

Due to the participation of Alex Yermolinsky and John Donaldson in the US Championship the schedule for the next few weeks will be altered.

1. There will be a lecture on Tuesday, January 7, by John Donaldson. There will be no lectures on January 8, 14 and 15. Alex will resume his regular lecture schedule on January 21.

2. Anthony Corrales will direct round two of the Marathon on January 14.

3. The MI will be closed on Monday, January 20, in recognition of the Martin Luther King Junior holiday. Accordingly the pairings for round 3 (January 21) will be posted at noon on the 21st.

4. Steve Brandwein will be updating the pairings and standings for the TNM during Alex's absence. This will be the only new material appearing on the website during this time.

5) Here and there

Bay Area IM Elliott Winslow, who is one of the strongest backgammon players in the world, is now living in Paris, home to American players IM Kamran Shirazi and NM Marty Appleberry. We wish Elliott well in his new home!

Chess FM ( will host a live interview (conducted by Fred Wilson) with GM Alex Baburin on Tuesday (7th January) at 9:00 PM ET (New York time). A wide range of topics will be discussed, including how to make progress in chess. Everyone is welcome to listen to the show or call in with questions!

Former Bay Area resident and MI member, IM Jeremy Silman, will be the head commentator for the 2003 US Championship. Jeremy is now finishing up a book on the life and games of GM Pal Benko. His website,, is full of free chess material.

6) Upcoming events

Note: The MI will be starting monthly scholastic quads on Saturdays starting in January. See below.

Upcoming Tournaments at the MI

Henry Gross Memorial: February 1, 2003
A.J. Fink Amateur: February 28, March 1-2, 2003
Max Wilkerson Open: March 15, 2003
Walter Lovegrove Senior Championship: April 12-13, 2003
Imre Konig Memorial: April 26, 2003
Scholastic Quads: January 18 and February 22. 

National Events

International Events


The 1st Pan American Amateur Championship will be held at the elegant Fairmont Southampton from 27th January to 5th February 2003. It will be nine rounds plus a rest day and will be held alongside two GM Invitational Tournaments (Cat XV and X). The rate of play will be 150 plus 30 seconds per move. It is open to players under 2000 FIDE or no FIDE rating at all. Each Federation in the Americas is allowed to nominate two players who do not have to pay an entry fee, otherwise entry fee is $150 per player. It will be followed by the 20th Bermuda Open from 6th to 9th February.

Rooms are $125 per night plus taxes etc. for one or two people, a third person in a room would be an extra $30 plus taxes. etc To book rooms contact the Fairmont Southampton on 1-800-441-1414 or 1-441-238-8000, mentioning "PanAmerican Amateur Chess."

Details/Info: or Nigel Freeman 441-234-2322, or Carol Jarecki 917-690-8566,

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