Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter #134

"Objectivity consists in understanding that the only one who never makes a mistake is the one who never does anything."
   Vladimir Kramnik

The ChessBase attachment is for the games from John Hilbert's article on California Chess 1858. You will need ChessBase to open it. The games are also given below.

1) Thornally win 2nd March Masters
2) Margulis and Ossipov leads Spring Tuesday Night Marathon
3) Vox Populi
4) Our Man in Europe - Nick deFirmian
5) California Chess Congress 1858-Part One
6) Three-way tie at Central California Chess Congress
7) Here and There
8) US Open
9) MI Chess History CD: Volume 1 
10) Upcoming events

1) Thornally win 2nd March Masters

FM Frank Thornally won the 2nd March Masters held March 24-April 4 at the MI with an undefeated score of 4 1/2 - 1 1/2. NM Peter Thiel was second in the four player double round with 4 followed by NMs Igor Margulis and Mark Pinto with 2 and 1 1/2 points respectively. The games for the event are available at The Week in Chess -

The following players have announced their intention of playing in the Thursday Masters Tournament starting April 17. Full details are on the MI website at

Roger Poehlmann
Adrian Keatinge-Clay
Frank Thornally
Mark Pinto
Bela Evans
Peter Thiel
Eric Schiller (tentative)

This event was envisioned as a 6 player round robin, but there is no reason we can't have two running concurrently.

Thursday afternoon USCF rated chess for non-Masters will also start on April 17. Each Thursday interested players with similar ratings will be paired. There is no cost for this activity.

The MI will be running a Master/Expert event on May 3-4. Go to for more information.

2) Margulis and Ossipov leads Spring Tuesday Night Marathon

Veterans Igor Margulis and Victor Ossipov share the lead with fellow National Master Egle Morkunaite of Lithuania at 4-0 with four rounds remaining in the Tuesday Night Marathon.

3) Vox Populi

Tuesday Night Marathon stalwart Larry Snyder passed out a questionnaire last evening at the TNM polling players as to their preference for a 2 week (current practice) or 1 week break between TNMs. The people have spoken, but somewhat inconclusively. 28 for a 1 week break, 22 for 2 weeks, 6 no preference, and 18 non-voters out of 76 people playing last night is a much higher percentage than voted in the last Presidential election. Thought is being given to having alternating one week and two week breaks between TNMs.

4) Our Man in Europe - Nick deFirmian

Congratulations to Grandmaster Nick deFirmian for helping his team win the prestigious Bundesliga competition. A graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in Physics with longtime ties to the Mechanics', Nick is currently based in Copenhagen.

Last week's Newsletter mentioned that Nick was a winning member of the Luebeck team in the Bundesliga. Here is one of his efforts from that competition.

De Firmian - Van Beek
Ruy Lopez C72
Bundesliga 2002-3

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.0-0 Bd7 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 Nxd4 8.Nxd4 exd4 9.c3 d3 10.Qxd3 Be7 11.Qg3 Bf6 12.f4 Ne7 13.Nd2 0-0 14.Nf3 Ng6 15.Bd2 c5 16.f5 Ne5 17.Bd5 Bc6 18.Bxc6 Nxc6 19.Bf4 Re8 20.Rad1 Ne5 21.Rd5 Qc7 22.Rfd1 Rad8 23.Nxe5 dxe5 24.Bg5 Rxd5 25.Rxd5 Bxg5 26.Qxg5 Qb6 27.Qe3 Qa5 28.a3 Qa4 29.Qd3 b4 30.cxb4 cxb4 31.Qc4 a5 32.h3 h5 33.Kh2 h4 34.Rd6 Ra8 35.f6 g6 36.Rc6 Re8 37.b3 Qxa3 38.Rc8 1-0

Nick is currently playing in the Gaudal Chess Classics where he is running away with the top section. He has 6 1/2 from 8 with three rounds remaining. Go to for updates and games.

5) California Chess Congress 1858 - Part One

The names of Englishmen Kenneth Whyld and Edward Winter are well-known as two of the world's great chess historians, but America also has some of the finest in the field. Jeremy Gaige of Philadelphia is indisputably the best chess archivist and John Hilbert of Buffalo one of the greatest researchers. The latter has produced a series of outstanding works including books devoted to Shipley, Napier and Whitaker, to name but a few. Recently he has unearthed a find that Kerry Lawless calls one of the best articles he has ever seen on the history of chess in California. We thank Mr. Hilbert for his permission to run this important piece in the Newsletter.

If you have trouble reading this article or can't wait until next week for part two, go to I have attached the games in a ChessBase cbv file for those who would like to add them to their database.

California Chess, 1858 - 1859

by John S. Hilbert

Interest in chess spread rapidly across the United States following Paul Morphy's sensational victory at New York 1857, followed by his triumphant European tour. New chessplayers and new clubs sprang up across the land, and the clubs already in existence gained greatly by the Morphy boom. California was no different. In its May 1858 issue The Chess Monthly, edited by Morphy and Daniel W. Fiske, reported that the chess bug had indeed hit the West Coast, and that a California Chess Congress inspired by Morphy and New York 1857 was being planned. Curiously enough, while The Chess Monthly detailed the course of the event, it did not provide any games from the tournaments. That detail was left to the pages of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, which published five games from the top tournament. Coverage of the Congress on the East Coast was of course delayed by the lengthy distances such news had to travel.

Three San Francisco chess clubs joined together to host the Congress: the Mechanics' Institute, the German Chess Club of San Francisco, and the Pioneer Chess Club. A committee of management was formed to take charge of the event, its members being Selim Franklin (President of the Congress), W. Schleiden, D.S. Roberts, Wm. R. Wheaton, Geo. Pen Johnston, Willard B. Farwell, Thomas Bryne, B.F. Voorhies, Edward Jones, Charles Mayne, M. Eilas, and H.R. Bacon. Entrance was fixed at five dollars, and players were to be divided into classes according to ability. A problem tourney was to be held as well, although that event does not appear to have materialized.

The California Chess Congress began on Monday evening, March 22, 1858, at the Hall in Hunt's Building, San Francisco. Congress President Franklin opened the proceedings with a short address, and play began with eight players in the First Class, twenty-six in the First Division of the Second Class (who would have received knight odds from First Class Players) and twelve in the Second Division of Second Class (who would have received rook odds from First Class Players). Players were paired within classes. The First Class Tournament saw the following pairings for play:

Selim Franklin vs. Charles Sutro
Edward Jones vs. E. Justh
Daniel S. Roberts vs. Wilhelm Schleiden
John Shaw vs. Philip Kalkman

Play at the Congress began on Tuesday, March 23, and continued each day until midnight. The twenty-three games simultaneously in progress drew large crowds of spectators, including members of the bar, judges, clergymen, physicians, merchants and literary men, although "men of all ages and conditions" were present to witness the historic event as well.

The event was modeled after New York 1857, with the eight players engaging in a knockout tournament, the player winning three games eliminating his opponent from play. In the first round Edward Jones defeated E. Justh 3-1, while Selim Franklin, one of the tournament's fa-vorites, handled Charles Sutro easily, 3-0. The Chess Monthly for June 1858 added that "Mr. President Franklin's second encounter with Mr. Sutro, which took place on Thursday the 25th, is spoken of as resulting in one of the finest games ever played in California," although neither then nor later was the game published in the journal. John Shaw also ran the table on his oppo-nent, finishing 3-0. Among the games between these two gentlemen was the following:

Kalkman - Shaw [C52]
California Chess Congress
First Class Tournament, Rd. 1
March 1858

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.0-0 Nf6 7.d4 0-0 8.Ba3 d6 9.dxe5 Nxe4 10.exd6 Nxd6 11.Bb3 Qf6 12.Bb2 Bg4 13.Qd3 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Ne5 15.Qe2 Nxf3+ 16.Kh1 Rae8 17.c4 Qf4 0-1
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, July 10, 1858

Daniel S. Roberts, who prior to moving to California had been elected President of the Brooklyn Chess Club, in 1856, was considered another of the favorites in the event. He had been required to move to California just before play began at New York 1857, and his presence on the West coast and his chess connections back east were largely responsible for coverage of the California Chess Congress making its way to The Chess Monthly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Indeed, as reported, Roberts was at the time of the California Congress still president of the Brooklyn organization. Roberts defeated his first round opponent, Wilhelm Schleiden, of San Francisco, by a score of 3-1. Two of the games from this match have survived.

Schleiden - Roberts [C44]
California Chess Congress
First Class Tournament, Rd. 1
March 1858

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.0-0 d6 6.Ng5 Ne5 7.Bb3 h6 8.f4 hxg5 9.fxe5 Be6 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Qg4 Qd7 12.Bxg5 dxe5 13.Nd2 Nh6 14.Qh4 Be7 15.Qh5+ Kd8 16.Bxh6 Rxh6 17.Qxe5 Bf6 18.Qc5 Qd6 19.Qxd6+ cxd6 20.Nc4 Kd7 21.Rad1 Rc8 22.b3 b5 23.Na3 a6 24.Rf3 Rc5 25.h3 d5 26.exd5 Rxd5 27.g4 a5 28.Re1 e5 29.Rd3 Bh4 30.Re2 Kd6 31.c4 dxc3 32.Rxc3 Re6 33.Nc2 Rc5 34.Rd3+ Ke7 35.Ne3 Bf6 36.Nf5+ Kf8 37.Re4 Rc1+ 38.Kf2 Rc2+ 39.Re2 Rec6 40.Rde3 a4 41.h4 g6 42.g5 gxf5 43.gxf6 e4 44.Kg3 Kf7 45.Kf4 Kxf6 46.h5 Rxe2 47.Rxe2 Rc3 48.Rf2 Rh3 49.Rf1 Rxh5 50.Rc1 Rh4+ 51.Kg3 Rg4+ 52.Kf2 Rg7 53.Rc5 Rb7 and Black won after several more moves. 0-1
Frank Leslie's Illustrated News, June 26, 1858

Schleiden - Roberts [D30]
California Chess Congress
First Class Tournament, Rd. 1
March 1858

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.a3 Nf6 4.e3 c5 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.f4 b6 7.Nf3 Bb7 8.Be2 cxd4 9.exd4 Bd6 10.0-0 0-0 11.b4 Rc8 12.c5 Bb8 13.Ne5 bxc5 14.bxc5 Nxe5 15.fxe5 Ne4 16.Bb2 f5 17.Rf3 g5 18.Rh3 g4 19.Bxg4 fxg4 20.Qxg4+ Kh8 21.Nxe4 dxe4 22.Qxe6 Rc6 23.Qg4 Rc7 24.d5 Rg8 25.e6+ Rcg7 26.Qxe4 1-0
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, July 10, 1858

According to The Chess Monthly for June 1858, "Rain and unpleasant weather occasionally reduced the number of persons in attendance, but on the fair days sometimes nearly two hundred people were to be seen in the Hall at once."

Pairings for the second round of the First Class Tournament were as follows:

Selim Franklin vs. Daniel S. Roberts
John Shaw vs. Edward Jones

This round, which began on Saturday, March 27, 1858, brought together the tournament's two favorites, Franklin and Roberts. The former was "some years ago, a well-known frequenter" of chess circles in California, and his meeting with Roberts was hard fought. The first game ended in a draw, and although Franklin took the second and third games, the fourth was drawn and the fifth went to Roberts. The second week of play had seen the tournament move from Hunt's Hall to the rooms of San Francisco's Pioneer Club, with public play ceasing on the evening of Saturday, April 3, 1858. Interested readers of The Chess Monthly following the progress of the Congress had to wait until the July number to learn the conclusion of the event, which in fact did not conclude until May Day of that year.

Although the only two games from the Second Round of the First Class Tournament that have survived were won by Roberts, who no doubt sent the games back East for publication, Franklin emerged the winner of their second round match. The final score is unknown, although clearly, given the games that follow, it was 3-2, with at least 2 draws.

Franklin - Roberts [A34]
California Chess Congress
First Class Tournament, Rd. 2
March 1858

1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.b3 b6 6.Bb2 Bb7 7.Rc1 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Nc6 9.Qe2 0-0 10.g3 d5 11.Bg2 Rc8 12.cxd5 exd5 13.d3 d4 14.Ne4 Nxe4 15.Bxe4 Bf6 16.0-0 g6 17.Kg2 Bg7 18.Bxc6 Rxc6 19.e4 f5 20.f3 Re6 21.b4 cxb4 22.Rc4 a5 23.Rfc1 Qd6 24.Qc2 Rd8 25.Rc6 Qxc6 26.Qxc6 Rxc6 27.Rxc6 fxe4 28.fxe4 Rb8 29.Kf3 Rf8+ 30.Ke2 Rf6 31.Rc8+ Rf8 32.Rc6 Rf6 33.Rc7 Rd6 34.Kf3 Rf6+ 35.Kg4 Rf2 36.Rxg7+ Kxg7 37.Bxd4+ Rf6 38.Bxf6+ Kxf6 39.Kf4 a4 40.d4 b3 41.e5+ Ke7 42.axb3 a3 43.d5 a2 44.d6+ Ke6 0-1
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, August 21, 1858

Roberts - Franklin [D30]
California Chess Congress
First Class Tournament, Rd. 2
March 1858

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 a6 5.a3 Nc6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.h3 Be6 9.Bd3 h6 10.b4 b5 11.Bb2 Bd6 12.Rc1 Ne7 13.Qc2 c6 14.Ne5 Rc8 15.f4 g6 16.Qf2 Nh5 17.g4 Ng7 18.Ne2 f5 19.Qh4 Bxe5 20.dxe5 g5 21.fxg5 Ng6 22.Qf2 hxg5 23.Bxf5 0-0 24.Ng3 Qc7 25.Bxe6+ Nxe6 26.Qc2 Nxe5 27.Bxe5 Qxe5 28.Nf5 Ng7 29.Qc3 Qxc3+ 30.Rxc3 Nxf5 31.gxf5 Rxf5 32.Rf1 Rxf1+ 33.Kxf1 Rf8+ 34.Kg2 Rf6 35.Kg3 Kf7 36.Kg4 Kg6 37.Rc5 Re6 38.Rc3 Re4+ 39.Kf3 Rc4 40.Rd3 Kf5 41.Rb3 Ke5 42.Rd3 Re4 43.Rc3 Kd6 44.Rd3 c5 45.bxc5+ Kxc5 46.Rd1 Kc4 47.Rc1+ Kb3 48.Rc6 Ra4 49.Rg6 Kxa3 50.Rxg5 b4 51.Rxd5 b3 52.e4 b2 53.Rd1 Ka2 54.Kf4 Rb4 55.Re1 b1Q 56.Rxb1 Kxb1 1-0
Frank Leslie's Illustrated News, December 25, 1858

Unfortunately, with Roberts's elimination from the tournament, his interest in supplying games to Frank Leslie's Illustrated News appears to have ended. What is known, though, from The Chess Monthly for July 1858 is that Edward Jones defeated John Shaw, and that Franklin eliminated Jones in the final round, to win the first prize "of a costly gold watch." Second prize, earned by Jones, was "an inlaid rosewood chess-table." The final night of the Congress, after prizes were awarded in all three sections, "the evening was concluded by a social festival." All in all, the California Chess Congress of 1858 was considered a wonderful success.

As it turned out, The Chess Monthly added a little more regarding happenings in the far distant west. Franklin, "the winner of the first or grand prize, is a gentleman well-known for his powers as a player and for the warm interest he has so long taken in the game. He has been challenged by Mr. John Shaw to a match of twenty-one games, and as the present champion of Pacific chess we presume he will accept the challenge. The games, proceedings, etc., are to be published in a pamphlet, whose appearance we shall gladly hail as the first production of the chess-press west of the Rocky Mountains. One of the consequences of the Tournament had been the formation of a new and enlarged club, in the capital of California, under the name of 'Cosmopolitan.' Its influence will of course be felt in many other directions. We congratulate the chess lovers of the Golden State upon the entire success of their first general assemblage."

6) Three-way tie at Central California Chess Congress

Filipino IMs Ricardo De Guzman and Enrico Sevillano and IM-elect Ron Cusi shared first place at 3 1/2 - 1/2 in the Central California Chess Congress held March 29-30 in Stockton. More information can be found at

7) Here and There

GM Alex Baburin's award winning online daily Chess Today is coming up fast on its 1000th issue. If you would like to check out a free issue go to

MI Chess Director John Donaldson will be the featured guest on Fred Wilson's weekly show next Tuesday night (April 15) on Chess FM starting at 6:30 PM (PST). You can hear the interview at The show will be immediately rebroadcast at 8:00 PM (PST) and then again at 9:00 AM the next morning (PST).

Francisco Sierra, who ran so many chess events in San Jose in the 1970s and 80s is still alive and very well. The San Jose Mercury News of April 1, 2003, in its reporting of the Mercury News 10 K (6.25 miles) race lists the winner of the Mens 70 and over division as Francisco Sierra with a time of 51:51. Well done Francisco!

8) 2003 US Open in Los Angeles

The US Open will return to the West Coast from August 3-15 at the LAX Radisson. The 12-round tournament features the second highest guaranteed prize fund ($55,000) in the history of the event. This will be only the eighth US Open hosted in California (Long Beach 1955, San Francisco 1961, Ventura 1971, Palo Alto 1981, Pasadena 1983, Los Angeles 1991 and Concord 1995) and promises to be the strongest ever and the longest US Open in recent memory. The US Open always use to be 12 rounds but that hasn't been the case for many years. Full details below under upcoming events.

9) MI Chess History CD: Volume 1

The staff of the Mechanics' Institute recently completed the first of a two volume series on the history of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Room. The fruits of their research are available on a CD which includes almost 90 pages of text, approximately 10 photos from the MI archives and over 150 games in ChessBase format. Visits of World Champions Lasker (twice), Capablanca, Alekhine (twice), and Euwe, are among the highlights. The price of the CD is $10 + $1 for shipping. To order, send a check payable to the Mechanics' Institute for $11 to: Mechanics' Institute, Room 408, 57 Post Street, San Francisco, CA, 94104.

10) Upcoming events

Upcoming Tournaments at the MI

Full details at

Walter Lovegrove Senior Championship: April 12-13, 2003
Imre Konig Memorial: April 26, 2003

Scholastic Quads: April 19, May 31

Southern California

April 11-13. Western Pacific Open
40 Grand Prix Points

5SS, 3-day 40/2, SD/1, 2-day Rds. 1-2 G/75 then merges. LAX Radisson Hotel, 6225 W. Century Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045. $$10,000 b/200, 50% of each prize guaranteed. In 3 sections: Open: $1500-1000-800-400-200 plus $200 (G) bonus for clear 1st, U2400 $400-200, U2300 $200, U2200 $750-500-300. EF: $79 advance, $95 door, $30 more if rated U1800. Premier: (U2000) $750-500-300-100, U1800 $500-300-200. EF: $79 advance, $95 door, $30 more to U1400, no unrated. Amateur: (U1600) $400+trophy-250-100, U1400 $100+trophy-50, U1200 $100+trophy, Unr. $100+trophy, unrated may win unrated prize only. EF: $64 advance, $75 door. Reg: 5:30-6:30pm 4/11, 8:30-10am 4/12. Rds: 3-day 7 p.m., 11-5:30, 10-4:30. 2-day: 10:30-1:30 (G/75), then merges. All: $50 Best Game prize, all sections eligible. One 1/2-pt. bye Rds. 1-3 if requested with ent. SCCF membership req. of rated S. Cal. res., $12 reg, $7.50 Jr. No credit card entries. No checks at door. HR: $84, 310-670-9000, mention chess. Parking: $5/day. Info: Mike Carr, 949-768-3538,; John Hillery Web site: Ent: SCCF, c/o John Hillery, 835 N. Wilton Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90038. State Championship Qualifier. FIDE.


LAX Radisson 6225 W. Century Blvd. · Los Angeles, CA 90045 · (310) 670-9000 $89 Chess Rate - Lowest in years!

A USCF National Championship

A Heritage Event!

Tournament Format
A one-section tournament with class prizes.
12 Round Swiss System. Several Schedules Available!
Traditional Schedule: One round daily at 7:30 pm 8/43-8/8 & 8/10-8/15.
Matinee 1st half: One round daily at 11 am 8/3-8/8, then 7:30 pm 8/10-8/15. Merges with Traditional after Round 6; 8-day option: All games 40/2, SD/1. Rounds 8/8-8/11 at 11 am and 7:30 pm, 8/12-15 at 7:30 pm. 6-day option: Rounds 1-7 are G/60. Rounds 8/10 12:30-3-6-9, 8/11 10:30-1:30-4, 7:30, 8/12-8/15 7:30 pm. 8-day and 6-day both merge with others after Round 7. Busy person special: Play only rds 7-12 at 7:30 pm 8/10-15. Over 2399 starts with 4 pts, 2200-2399 3.5, Expert 3, Class A 2.5, Class B 2, Class C 1.5, Class D 1, Under 1200 0.5, Unrated 0.5. Time Control 40/2, SD/1 except 1st 7 rounds of 6-day schedule are G/60. The August rating list will be used. 1/2 point byes are available. Maximum 2 byes available rds. 1-10. Half-point byes available in round 1, and in any round if player would have been rated above opponent. Bye counts zero if player would have been rated below opponent. Round 2-9 byes must be requested at least 3 hours before round; round 10 byes must be requested before round 9 and are irrevocable. No byes last 2 rounds. Players may not receive more bye points during the first 6 rounds than the busy player score for their class.

$55,000 unconditionally guaranteed - second largest ever prize fund ever at a U.S. Open. Top places: $8000-4000-3000-2000-1500-1200-1000-800-600-400.
Qualifier for the 2004 U.S. Invitational Championship.
2449-2300: $2000-1000. 2299-2200: $2000-1000.
Expert: $2000-1000-600-500-300.
Class A: $2000-1000-600-500-300.
Class B: $2000-1000-600-500-300.
Class C: $2000-1000-500-400-300.
Class D: $1500-1000-500-400-300.
Class E: $1000-500-400.
Under 1000: $1000-400.
Unrated: $1000-400.
Unrateds are ineligible for Expert through Under 1000 prizes.
Elegant trophy for each class winner.
Biggest upset by non-prizewinner: $100.
Best games: $200-100-100 (one reserved for non-master).


If mailed by 7/26 or paid by phone, fax or online with credit card by 7/30.
$190 Traditional
$189 Matinee 1st half
$187 8-day
$186 6-day
$185 Busy Player
On site $220.
Registration closes 2 hours before 1st round in each schedule.
USCF Membership is required and must be current. You may pay USCF membership with your entry or on site. Regular Adult Memberhip, $49/year includes CHESS LIFE (12 issues) Senior Membership Age 65 & over, $36/year includes CHESS LIFE (12 issues) Youth Membership Age 19 and under, $25/year includes CHESS LIFE (12 issues) Scholastic Membership Age 14 and under, $19/year, includes CHESS LIFE (5 issues + Yearbook) Other membership categories available. Advance entries must include player's name and all fees to be accepted. Mail Entries to
U.S. Open Championship
U.S. Chess Federation
3054 RTE 9W
New Windsor, NY 12553.
Make Checks payable to USCF.
To enter by phone call (800) 388-KING.
Secure On Line Registration will be available soon.
All entries received will be posted here.
Advance registration is strongly encouraged.

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