Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter #123

"One of the main aims has been to highlight the differences in approach between a Grandmaster and a weaker player, and to try and narrow the gap. To some extent this comes down to technical matters - more accurate analysis, superior opening knowledge, better endgame technique and so forth; but in other respects the difference goes deeper and many readers will find that they need to rethink much of their basic attitude to the game. One example of this would be the tremendous emphasis which is placed on the dynamic use of the pieces, if necessary at the expense of the pawn structure, or even of material. This is no mere question of style; it is a characteristic of the games of all the great players."
    Peter Griffiths, Introduction to Secrets of Grandmaster Chess

1) Shabalov and Hahn win US Championships
2) Four way tie for first in Winter TNM 
3) Kurt Bendit
4) Here and There
5) Upcoming events

1) Shabalov and Hahn win US Championships

GM Alex Shabalov and WIM Anna Hahn took home the titles of US Champion and US Womens Champion at the 2003 US Championships held January 9-18 in Seattle. Organized in exemplary fashion by America's Foundation for Chess, the event featured a record prize fund of $253, 600.

1 Shabalov 6½
2 Kaidanov, Goldin, Gulko, Benjamin, Stripunsky, Ivanov, Fedorowicz 6
9 Seirawan, deFirmian, Christiansen, Yermolinsky, Akobian, Nakamura, Zaichik, Burnett, Sarkar 5½
18 Finegold, Serper, Kreiman, Fishbein, Gurevich, Foygel, Muhammad 5
25 Kudrin, Lapshun, Browne, Mulyar, Kraai, G. Shahade, Enkhbat, Paschall, J. Donaldson, Lein, Kaufman, Krush*, J. Shahade*, Hahn* 4½
39 Ashley, Perelshteyn, Pixton, Ippolito, E. Donaldson *, Watson 4
45 Baginskaite*, Pruess, Markzon, Battsetseg*, Shiber* 3½
50 Kriventsov, Esserman, Epstein*, Ross*, Groberman* 3
55 Bennett, Tsai* 2½
57 Sagalchik* 2
58 Levina*

Players in red and marked * were contenders for the Womens title.

The 35-year-old Shabalov, who lives in Pittsburgh, was a deserving winner. The leader for much of the event, he lost to Joel Benjamin in the penultimate round, but came right back to win against IM Varuzhan Akobian while his rivals were all drawing. Shabalov received $25,000 for his victory and shared a $10,000 "combativeness" prize with Akobian. Among those on 6 special mention should be made of GM Gregory Kaidanov. Despite being half a point behind "Shaba," Gregory almost the same performance rating (2678 to 2668) due to his playing a higher-rated field - a result of being the top seed. It was good to see the name of John Fedorowicz among the leaders. John was one of the top players in the US in the 1980s and early 1990s and even won the NY Open outright. Plagued by a bad cold he started slowly in Seattle but caught fire in the second half. Hopefully this result will be a catalyst for further excellent performances.

GM Shabalov in his well-spoken closing speech did a good job of pointing out some of the heroes of the Championship. He mentioned Akobian (who missed the GM norm by half a point) and Hikaru Nakamura as two of the brightest US juniors to appear in a long time and to FM Stephen Muhammad as the revelation of the tournament. According to chief Tournament Director Carol Jarecki the 41-year-old Atlanta-based Muhammad faced the highest rated opposition of any player in the Championship being paired up nine times in route to a 5-4 score for a performance rating of 2576. He easily fulfilled the requirements for his third and final IM norm. Another player who Shabalov did not mention, who also did well, was IM Justin Sarkar of New York who would have made his first GM norm if he defeated Alex Yermolinsky in the last round (they drew).

The title of US Womens Champion was decided in a three-way playoff between Jennifer Shahade, Irina Krush and Anna Hahn after they all finished at 50 percent. The vagaries of the Swiss System showed as Shahade (who made her second IM and WGM norms) played by far the strongest field of the three (2466) compared to Krush (2391) and Hahn (2279), but committed the cardinal sin of losing in round nine, while Krush was drawing and Hahn was winning. In the 15 minute game playoffs Anna defeated both her rivals to take the $12, 500 top women prize.

Five MI members played in the US Championship this year. Former Champion Alex Yermolinsky nearly took the title last year, but this time around he was handicapped by a serious cold that plagued him for much of the event. He still managed to make it to 5 1/2 and was pushing to get to 6 which would have given him a share of second. Six-time US Champion Walter Browne of Berkeley was one of the oldest players in the competition at 54 but held his own against several of the top seeds (Christiansen, Kaidanov, Gulko, deFirmian) before running out of gas at the end to finish at 50 percent. I managed to make a norm a round before the end, but alas it was of the IM rather than GM variety. A slow start and last round loss were counterbalanced by a good run in the middle which also put me on 50 percent. David Pruess made a respectable score in his Championship debut but I know that both he and Camilla will improve on their 3 1/2 scores next year. It was good to see IM John Watson, formerly of Fairfax, but now living in San Diego, participate. This was only John's second event in the last four years after suffering a life-threatening stroke but he played well in scoring four points.

There were no GM norms made this year. FM Stephen Muhammad scored his third and final IM norm. FM Igor Foygel scored his third and final IM norm. WIM Jennifer Shahade scored both her second IM and second WGM norm. Joel Benjamin won the top Paul Albert Jr. Brilliancy Prize ($1000) for his eight round win over Shabalov. I took the second prize for my round seven win over GM Sergey Kudrin and Yasser Seirawan (over Lapshun) and Gregory Serper (over Ippolito) shared the third prize.

Here was the deciding game of the Championship.

A Shabalov - V Akobian
AF4C US Ch, (9)
French Defence
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nf3 Qb6 6 a3 Nh6 7 b4 cxd4 8 cxd4 Nf5 9 Bb2 Be7 10 h4 h5 11 Bd3 g6 12 Bxf5 gxf5 13 Nc3 Rg8 14 g3 Bd7 15 Bc1 Rc8 16 Ne2 a5 17 b5 Qxb5 18 Bg5 a4 19 Rb1 Qa5+ 20 Kf1 Bxa3 21 Ra1 Qb4 22 Nf4 Rh8 23 Kg2 b5 24 Bf6 Rh6 25 Re1 Qf8 26 Qe2 Be7 27 Bg5 Rh8 28 Rec1 Rb8 29 Rab1 Bxg5 30 hxg5 Qa3 31 g6 fxg6 32 Nxe6 Bxe6 33 Rxc6 Qe7 34 Rxb5 Kf7 35 Ng5+ Qxg5 36 Rc7+ Qe7 37 Rxe7+ Kxe7 38 Rc5 Rhc8 39 Qa6 Rxc5 40 Qa7+ Ke8 41 dxc5 Rc8 42 Qxa4+ Bd7 43 Qd4 Be6 44 f4 Ke7 45 Qb4 Rc6 46 Kh3 Bd7 47 Kh4 Kf7 48 Kg5 Ke7 49 Qb3 Re6 50 Qxd5 Bc6 51 Qa2 Bd7 52 Kh6 Be8 53 Kg7 Bd7 54 Qh2 Rc6 55 Qh4+ Ke8 56 Qf6 Rxf6 57 exf6 Be6 58 c6 g5 59 fxg5 f4 60 g6 fxg3 61 f7+ 1-0

The official site for the Championship can be found at Besides offering all the games in PGN and Java format there is lots of other information including a daily heavily annotated game ( by chief commentator Jeremy Silman, who was taking a rare break from his website duties at

Those looking for even more information can find it at The Week in Chess ( where Mark Crowther has a cross table complete with performance ratings which often gives a truer idea of how players have done in a Swiss. For example on 4 1/2 points the huge swing ranged from 71-year-old veteran Anatoly Lein (defeated only by Yermo) who faced 2510 opposition to IM Larry Kaufman (2353) and Anna Hahn (2279) who essentially played in different tournaments.

On a final note the Seattle Chamber of Commerce should start donating to America's Foundation for Chess. I saw at least a dozen Bay Area players stopping by to take in the Championship including MI Trustees Mark Pinto and Vince McCambridge, former Chess Room Director Jim Eade, Dennis Waterman, Gilbert Chambers and Lloyd Stephenson.

2) Four way tie for first in Winter TNM

IM Walter Shipman, FM Frank Thornally, NM Russell Wong and Expert Alex Setzepfandt are tied for first with perfect scores after three rounds of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon.

3) Kurt Bendit

IM William Addison recently visited the Chess Room to let people know that former Chess Room Director Kurt Bendit has moved to SF Community Convalescent Hospital (Bush at Divisadero) and would appreciate visitors.

4) Here and There

X3D Technologies Corp. and from New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg offices announcing the First F.I.D.E. Official World Chess Championship, "Man Vs. Machine" to take place January 26th through February 7th 2003 in 6 matches. The matches will be broadcast on in Extreme 3D by X3D Technologies, live on the Internet at

About the end of February 2003, the first issue of a new, nationwide chess publication of 64 pages will be making its appearance. It will feature a classy cover, and many articles. It will be issued quarterly and published by Thinkers' Press, famous for their published chess books which can be found in many fine stores. Headlined as a magazine full of pictures and artwork, we think you will find it uptown, upscale, and just right for enjoying the game the way it was meant to be.

It is not patterned after any other chess magazine that we know of, featuring 64 magazine sized pages and writers from the amateur level through Grandmaster.

Rather than publish Internet chess news, politics, and meaningless games, SQUARES will be headed up by an international cast of players and writers, featuring the following articles in the first issue:

1. Louis Paulsen-Early Father of Hypermodern Chess, by Imre Konig.
2. How to Write a Chess Encyclopedia by Ken Whyld.
3. Old Guys by Dr. Ken Colby
4. Playing a Good Game without the Politics by GM Jonathan Rowson.
5. The Konig Memorial in San Francisco with notes by many of the players.
6. The Gambit Club Library featuring an advance review of "The Art of Bisguier," Gambit by Rex Stout, Ansel's Antiques, and Samurai Chess.
7. Hammond and Tykodi... about John Hammond's philanthropy and chess.
8. The King's Indian Defense Remains as Strong as Ever by IM Andrew Martin.
9. Eureka! How Chess Ideas Are Born by Amatzia Avni.
10. Rook Endgames from the International Hamburg City Championship by GM Karsten Mueller.
11. Should You Study Pawn Endings? by Val Zemitis.
12. Essaying John Hilbert, America's Chess Historian by Bob Long.
13. Uncle Fred's Gambit by ICCF-IM Jon Edwards.
14. News Bits.
15. Tournament Schedules.
16. The Lead Editorial... and more.

Also, I find most chess players like chess advertising and we will have that too. All of this for only $25.00 if you act FAST. If we get your check, money order, or credit card amount for $25 (or multiples of that for your friends!), your first issue will be to you in early March, only a few weeks away if you think about it. After that, subscription rate goes to $30 per four issue. The single copy price is $9.50.

You have several ways of contacting us.
A. Our web site at Go to the Search Engine for catalog number AA00040 (or check out AA00041, AA00042, or AA00043 for variations). You can do secure online shopping right there.
B. You can call us TOLL FREE at 800-397-7117. Have your credit card ready.
C. You can drop us a line and check at SQUARES, Thinkers' Press, 1101 W. 4th St., Davenport, IA 52802 USA.
D. Go to our Thinkers' Press website at Admittedly, this site is still being worked on, so you can send us an e-mail at

Dear Chess Friend, At the moment Chess Today newspaper has extensive coverage of the Corus tournaments in Wijk aan Zee IM Yochanan Afek send his daily reports written especially for Chess Today. I will send you the latest Chess Today issue No. 805. Please feel free to forward it to your chess friends. The paper helps to stay in touch with the latest chess news around the world and also to improve your chess. The annual subscription is only 44 euro/$ - for 365 issues! For more information about the paper please refer to With best regards,

5) 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. 

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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