Mechanics Institute Chess Room Newsletter #177

"Strategy requires thought, tactics require observation."

   Max Euwe

The 4th Annual Henry Gross Memorial (5 rounds, G/45) will be held this Saturday at the MI starting at 10 am.

1) Thornally and Shipman lead Winter Tuesday Night Marathon
2) Jamie Brett wins the Western Region Women's Chess Championship
3) Bonin-Shabalov - 2003 Marshall Chess Club Championship
4) US Women's Olympic Team Challenge
5) IM Silman vs The Rest of the World
6) Upcoming Events

1) Thornally and Shipman lead Winter Tuesday Night Marathon

Top seeds FM Frank Thornally and IM Walter Shipman share the lead at 4.5 from 5 and will face off in round six of the Mechanics' Institute's Winter Tuesday Night Marathon. Tied for third at 4-1 in the eight round event are NMs Egle Morkunaite, Igor Margulis, Victor Ossipov, Russell Wong and Nicolas Yap plus Experts Alex Setzepfandt and Larry Snyder.

2) Jamie Brett wins the Western Region Women's Chess Championship

Mea Culpa! Last week in the Newsletter it was reported that Teresa Haun won the Western Region Women's Chess Championship in Menlo Park the weekend of January 24-25. In fact it was 15-year-old Jamie Brett. Jamie is ranked #80 among all women in the United States at 1729 and we expect it won't be long before she finds herself a Class A player.

3) Bonin-Shabalov - 2003 Marshall Chess Club Championship

2003 will go down in American Chess as the Year of Alex Shabalov. The Pittsburgh base GM won the US Championship as well as practically every other significant event held in the country. One of the few titles to escape his grasp was that of Marshall Chess Club Champion. This rare slip for Shaba can be partly attributed to the following loss to the indomitable Jay Bonin. The veteran New York IM is well-known for his love of the game and annually ranks among the most active players in the nation.

In the following game Jay tries an interesting novelty in the Semi-Slav variation of the Queen's Gambit in which he sacrifices a pawn for pressure. Does he more than enough compensation for the pawn? Did Shaba over estimate his chances? I'm not certain what the answer is in this fascinating game.

NOTE - Just before sending out this Newsletter I went out to the mailbox and found the Winter 2004 issue of Chess Life waiting for me. Inside I found that GM Michael Rohde had beat me to the punch and already annotated the game! I encourage you to check out his excellent annotations on page 37 . I have added a few of his comments to my annotations in critical positions.with attribution in bold and a larger font size.

Bonin,J - Shabalov,A [D46]
Marshall Club Championship 2003

1.d4 Nf6

It's interesting that Shaba uses 1...Nf6 as a way to reach the Slav. One reason might be that he wants White to commit a Knight to c3 or f3 in the event of an Exchange Slav - 1...d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.Bf4 (4.Nc3 e5!?) 4...Nc6 5.e3 Nf6 6.Bd3 e6 7.Nc3 circumventing Botvinnik's old favorite 1...d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bf4 e6 7.e3 Nh5 . Another possibility - and more likely - is he wants to avoid something like 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 or 3.Bg5.

2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 4...e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2

As we will soon see the game continuation could also arise from Zvaginsev's line of the Meran: 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.0-0 Bd6 10.Qc2. In this line White would not necessarily choose to play Qc2, but if Jay's novelty proves to be of long-term worth he will have killed two birds with one stone.

6...Bd6 7.Be2 0-0 8.0-0 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5 10.Bd3

The text is well-known but 10.Be2 is more popular here.

Bb7 11.e4 e5 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 14.h3

White would like to grab space and get the Kingside pawns rolling but the text is necessary preparation. In Tuzan-Mukhametov, Moscow 1990, Black got excellent play after 14.f4 with 14...Bd4+ 15.Kh1 Ng4 16.g3 Qc7 17.Nd1 f5 18.h3 Nf6 19.e5 c5+ 20.Kh2 Nd5 21.Qd2 c4 22.Bb1 Rad8.

14...b4 The theoretical move that has been responsible for putting 10.Bd3 out of favor. Earlier continuations did not fare so well and ilustrate Bonin's great experience in this variation:

(A) 14...Qe7 15.Be3 Rfe8 16.Rae1 a6 17.Ne2 Bd6 (17...c5! 18.Bxc5 Qc7 19.Bd4 ½-½ Portisch-Tukmakov, Reggio Emilia 1987 was correct) 18.Nd4 g6 19.Nb3 Nd7 20.Na5 Ne5 21.Nxb7 Qxb7 22.Be2 Rac8 23.f4 Nd7 24.Bg4 Rc7 25.e5 Bb4 26.Rd1 Nf8 27.Bf3 Rcc8 28.Rc1 Re6 29.Bd5 and White went on to victory in Bonin-Shabalov, New York 1992.

(B) 14...Re8 15.Be3 Qe7 16.Ne2 Bc7 17.Rad1 Bb6 (why not 17...Nxe4 18.Bxe4 Qxe4 19.Qxe4 Rxe4 20.Rd7 Rc8 ?) 18.Nd4 and White had a clear advantage, Bonin-Alexopolous, New York 1994.

(c) Rohde suggest 14..Rc8! as Black's best meetin 15.Be3 with 15...c5! and 15.f4 with 15...Bd4+ 16.Kh1 c5! 17.e5 Ng4 18.Bxh7+ with a messy position.

I'm not sure I totally agree with this. After 14...Rc8 (played by Portisch against Z. Varga in the 1993 Hungarian Team Championship) 15.Be3 c5 (Portisch played 15...b4 16.Na4 c5 and lost) I thing White came claim some advantage with 16.Bxb5 and now:

(C1) 16...Bxc3 17.Qxc3 Nxe4 18.Qc2; (C2) 16...Qa5 17.Bc4 Bxc3 18.Qxc3 Qxc3 19.bxc3 Nxe4 20.Rab1 Bc6 21.Rb3. In both cases White's Bishops should give him some pull.


Here 15.Ne2 c5 16.f3 c4! (16...Rc8 17.Bc4) 17.Qxc4 Qb6+ 18.Kh1 Rfd8 is Illescas's great idea which gives Black good play.


Black intends ...c5, ...Qe7 and ...Rfe8 with strong counterplay.


This is Jay's very interesting new idea in which he cripples his pawn structure in return for activity. Odds are strong that he will lose the front e-pawn but compensation will come in the form of more active pieces. Previously seen was 16.Rd1 Qe7 17.Bf4 c5 18.e5 Nh5 19.Bh2 f5 20.Be2 Qg5 21.Bf3 Bxf3 22.Qb3+ Kh8 23.Qxf3 f4 ½-½ Gutman-Goloshchapov, Alushta 1999. Note that 16.e5?! fails to 16...Bxe5 17.Nc5 Bc8 and Black's position is superior to the game continuation as he has no weakness on e6.

16...Bxe3 17.fxe3 Nd7 18.e5 h6 19.e6

Another possibility was 19.Rad1 Qe7 20.Bh7+ Kh8 21.Bf5 Nxe5 22.Nc5, but I prefer Jay's choice.

19...fxe6 20.Bc4 Qe7 21.Qg6 Rf6 22.Rxf6 Nxf6 23.Rc1 Rd8

This certainly looks natural. An alternative was 23...Kh8 trying to keep White's Knight from coming to c5. Rohde then suggests 24.Rf1! intending to play Bc4-d3.

24.Nc5 Bc8 25.Nd3 Rf8 26.Nf4 Bd7

White definitely has compensation for the pawn, but probably no more. One could easily imagine Shaba playing White in such a position!

27.Qd3 Rf7 28.Ng6 Qc5 29.Qd4 Qg5 No doubt Shaba was playing for a win here, but I wonder if the text overreaches. Maybe it was time to consider trying to bail out with 29...Qxd4 30.exd4 Nd5 31.Bxd5 exd5 32.Ne5 Re7 33.Nxd7 Rxd7 34.Rxc6 Re7. GM Rohde gives 29...Qxd4 30.exd4 Nd5 31.Ne4 as the way for White to play. He continues 31...Re7 32.Bb3 Be8 and White can keep improving with Rc1-c5, Bb3-a4, Kg1-f2, etc. while Black watches.

30.Ne5 Re7 31.h4 Qg3 32.Rf1

White could reach an attractive ending after 32.Qf4 Qxf4 33.exf4 but Jay, sensing blood, correctly keeps the Queens on.

32...Nd5 33.Rf3 Qe1+ 34.Kh2 Be8 35.Rg3 h5

It's difficult to suggest an improvement here. Trying to anticipate Qd4-c5-d6 with 35...Rb7 runs into 36.Nd3 Qd2 37.e4.

36.Qc5 Rb7 37.Qd6 Nf6 38.Bxe6+ Kh7 39.Bf5+ Kg8 40.Nd3 1-0

4) US Women's Olympic Team Challenge

President's Day Weekend is known in the Bay Area as time for the Peoples Open and elsewhere in the country for the regional Amateur Team Championships but the Heartland will have also a major event this year. Noted Arbiter Frank Berry will be bringing some of the best female players in the country (GM Polgar, WGM Goletiani, WGM Zatonskih, IM Krush and WIM Shahade) to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for a unique event. Details follow:

Feb. 14-16, 2004. Oklahoma: US Women's Olympic Team Challenge and GM Susan Polgar Simul. One section 7-SS, (modified-see below), G -100 + 15 sec a move, Holiday Inn, 2515 W. 6th Ave (Hwy 51), Stillwater, Oklahoma 74074. HR: $60 (1-4) 405-372-0800. EF: $50+15 OCF mem if mailed before 2-7, $60+15 at site ($15 OCF mem required of all). No phone entries. Tournament size limited to first 75 players. Guaranteed $$5,000 prize fund: $600, 500, 400, X-300, 200, 100, A-300, 200, 100, B-300, 200, 100, C-300, 200, 100, 100, D-under 300,200,100,100, Unr-200, 100. Reg: Noon-1:30 Sat. Rds: 2-6, 9-1-6, 9-1; 2 half-pt byes available rd 1-5, Free Parking, -- GM Susan Polgar Lecture and Simul 11AM Sat $25 limited to 25 players; Dream Team (includes GM Polgar, WGM Goletiani, WGM Zatonskih, IM Krush and WIM Shahade) will not be paired against each other and will not compete for announced prize fund as they will be available to play against all in the one section but for a separate prize fund: Frank Berry, 402 S. Willis St, Stillwater, OK 74074; 405-372-5758, LS, NC, W. No comps available.

5) IM Silman vs The Rest of the World

Former MI member Jeremy Silman, now based in Los Angeles, has come out of retirement to take on the world. writes: is hosting a "Rest of the World" match against IM Jeremy Silman. This is a voting game where the "Rest of the World" (ROW) votes for the moves against Silman, and the highest voted move played after five days. The match has inspired the largest ROW team ever at ChessWorld, well over 300 players at last count. IM Silman opened the game with 1. d4 and the voting is underway. You can get in on the game at - head for Play!..World team games after logging in. The up to date position is also available on the TWIC front page.

6) Upcoming Events

Upcoming Tournaments at the MI

Henry Gross Memorial - Feb. 7
A.J. Fink Amateur - March 6-7
Max Wilkerson Open - March 20
Lovegrove Senior - April 3-4
Imre Konig Memorial - April 24

The Mechanics' Institute Scholastic Quads Tournaments: January 24, February 21, and March 13 Open to players age 18 and under (Limited to first 80 players) Game/45

People's Open February 14-16 in Berkeley - You can download a flyer for this event at

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