Mechanics Institute Chess Room Newsletter #220

"Though most people love to look at the games of the great attacking masters, some of the most successful players in history have been the quiet positional players. They slowly grind you down by taking away your space, tying up your pieces, and leaving you with virtually nothing to do!"

Yasser Seirawan

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2) Stripunsky leads US Championship
3) Chess and Celebrities
4) A Chess Poem by Dennis Fritzinger
5) Here and There
6) Upcoming Events

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News

Mechanics' Institute Chess Room 150th Year Celebration December 4th 2004 from 10am -5pm

Come celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Room and Institute with a fun-filled day of activities. Highlights will include: Children's Chess Class - 10-11amFree simul by teenage stars Nicolas Yap and Ewelina Krubnik - 11am-1pmBlitz Tournament - 5 double round Swiss - $10 entry fee if you bring a clock, $15 without. Guaranteed Prizes - $100 first; $60 second, First Under 2000 $40. More per entries. 1-3pmLive analysis of US Championship by International Master John Donaldson. Come watch the games of Bay Area stars Alex Yermolinsky and Walter Browne. 3-5pm Mechanics' Institute - 57 Post Street, 4th Floor, (415) 421-2258,, Montgomery BART

IM Odondoo Ganbold is in clear first after six rounds of the Fall Tuesday Night Marathon. Odondoo has 5.5 from 6, a half point ahead of FM Frank Thornally who beat USCF 2300 Batchimeg Tuvshintugs and Expert Michael Becco who defeated NM Nicolas Yap.

2) Stripunsky leads US Championship

GM Alex Stripunsky of Brooklyn leads the US Championship after six round with 5 points. Right behind him on 4.5 are GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Gregory Kaidanov, Yury Shulman and Gregory Serper. Top scores for the women are IM Anna Zatonskih and WGM Rusa Goletiani on 3.5. Top scorer among Bay Area participants is FM Dmitry Zilberstein at 3.5. His result is tremendous as he has faced an all GM-field and has yet to lose a game. Here is his spectacular round two victory.

The following notes are by IMs Donaldson and Watson with assistance by FM Zilberstein. They come from the official site - . Additional coverage is available at and The two Johns are doing live commentary for the audience at the US Championship and are also being broadcast live over the ICC's Chess.FM. Many of the players have also been commentating on their games. Coverage is from 1:30 pm to approximately 6:30 pm PST.

Ivanov,A (2582) - Zilberstein,D (2379) [C78]
US Championship 2005 San Diego USA (2), 25.11.2004

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.a4 Rb8 8.c3 d6 9.d4 Bb6 10.Na3

A line that was popular about 5 years ago among the world's elite.


Black gambits a pawn for activity and pressure on the center. Games between players like Shirov, Leko, and Anand eventually seemed to show an advantage for White, but recently this verdict is being challenged again.

11.axb5 axb5 12.Nxb5 exd4 13.cxd4 Bg4 14.Ra4 Re8 15.Bc2!?

Not the normal move. White usually plays Re1 or Bg5.


Indirectly attacking the N on b5 and as we shall see, allowing the queen to infiltrate White's position.

16.Nc3 Bxf3 17.gxf3

17.Qxf3? Nxd4

17...Qh3 18.Be3

This seems very solid and it's hard to believe that Black has any attack. But with a series of brilliant moves, Dmitry Zilberstein shows otherwise:

18...Re5!! 19.Re1

19.dxe5 Nxe5 and suddenly White has no defense against ...Nxf3+.

19...Rh5 20.Bf4

With a bishop coming to g3 it looks like Ivanov has successfully defended.

20...Rh4! 21.Bg3 Nh5!

A key move. On 22.Bxh4, 22...Nf4 mates next move.


To defend along the 2nd rank but also with hopes of stopping the attack by Qf1.


Beautiful. Now there are too many pieces in the attack. To begin with Black threatens ...Nxf3+.


23.dxe5 Nxg3 and White has no way to recapture because of the pin on f2.

23...Nf4 24.Bxf4

Giving up the queen is forced, in view of [24.Qf1 Nxf3+ 25.Kh1 Qxh2+ 26.Bxh2 Rxh2#

24...Nxf3+ 25.Qxf3 Qxf3

Black has a queen for two pieces, plenty to win.

26.Bg3 Rh6 27.Nd5 Re6

or 27...Qg4

28.Ra3 Qh5 29.Kg2 Ree8 30.Bf4 c6

30...f6 was easier, giving the queen an escape square on f7.

31.Rh3 Qg4+ 32.Rg3 Qh4 33.Bg5

This seems to trap Black's queen due to 33...Qh5 34.Nf4, but Black cashes in some of his material:

33...Qxg3+ 34.hxg3 cxd5 35.exd5 Ba5! 36.Rd3 Rxb2

Now the 2 rooks dominate. The rest is easy to understand:

37.Bd1 Be1 38.Be3 Ra8 39.Kf1 Bb4 40.Bg4 Rb1+ 41.Kg2 Ra2 42.Bf4 Ra3 43.Rxa3 Bxa3 44.Be2 Kf8 45.g4 Ke7 46.Kf3 Bc1 47.Bd3 Ra1 48.Bg3 Ra4 49.Bxh7 g6 50.Bh4+ Kf8 51.Bf6 Bh6 0-1

The top board board pairings for round 7 which will be played Thursday (Wednesday is a free day).

1 GM Alex Stripunsky GM Yury Shulman
2 GM Gregory Kaidanov GM Hikaru Nakamura
3 GM Boris Gulko GM Gregory Serper

3) Chess and Celebrities

Chess: the new rook'n'roll?

Madonna's influence has helped the game become cool

Stephen Moss
Saturday November 20, 2004
The Guardian

"Chess is the game which reflects most honour on human wit" - Voltaire.
Chess has had an image problem. It conjures up thoughts of bespectacled men in anoraks hunched over boards in the upstairs rooms of grotty pubs, or spotty, gangly schoolboys who can't get a girlfriend and make do with the Sicilian Defence (Winawer variation).

"Dysfunctionality" is the word that springs to mind. As former British champion Bill Hartston said: "Chess is not something that drives people mad; it is something that keeps mad people sane." The board's 64 squares are so much less challenging than life.

Chess was not something you could admit a passion for - until now. For Tesco has announced that sales of chess sets are booming and that its new own-brand set is selling at double the rate forecast. It attributes the sales spurt to the fact that celebrities such as Madonna play, and makes a startling claim: chess is trendy.

"Chess, of all the really traditional board games, has undergone an image transformation," said Karen Harris, Tesco's senior buying manager. "Being able to play chess is fast becoming a very cool skill for young people." At last, we chess lovers can out ourselves.

"The celebrity factor is important," said Gerry Walsh, president of the British Chess Federation. "They are role models for the young and encourage them to take up the game. When chess was featured in the first Harry Potter film, we noticed a sudden upsurge in interest."

Madonna and her husband, Guy Ritchie, who have taken chess lessons from former Scottish champion Alan Norris, are the best-known celebrities. But a surprising number of famous names enjoy the game: former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis; Andrew Flintoff, the superstar of English cricket, who used to play chess for Lancashire; former snooker world champion Steve Davis; and pop stars Bono, Moby and Sting.

British chess has, however, yet to unearth anyone to rival the Norwegian Simen Agdestein, who is both a chess grandmaster and played football for Norway. If only Wayne Rooney knew the intricacies of the Modern Benoni. "Anything that can get us away from this nerdy image of chess has got to be good," said John Saunders, editor of the British Chess Magazine. "That image has never been true in countries outside the UK and US. In Russia and much of Europe, it's a mainstream sport."

Here, the government has refused to put chess on its list of recognised sports (a move that would have tax advantages). Walsh said his priority was to convince the government to change its mind. The artist and chess obsessive Marcel Duchamp had no doubts. "Chess is a sport, a violent sport," he insisted. "If it's anything at all, it's a fight."

Saunders believes that in the UK the nerdy stereotype dates from the immediate post-war period, when chess was a middle-class, grammar school activity. "If you flick through back copies of the British Chess Magazine from the 1940s and 1950s," he said, "you see an endless succession of elderly men in horn-rimmed spectacles and tweed jackets."

Chess is now played well beyond the confines of grammar schools. According to Walsh, there has been a huge increase in the number of primary-school pupils playing - up to a hundred in every school. Last year's British Land UK Chess Challenge, a nationwide knockout competition for pupils of all ages, attracted 71,000 entries. "The interest in primary schools is enormous," said Walsh, "though there is a big falling off when they go to secondary school, and we don't know why." He added that chess was no longer seen as a boys-only activity. "At primary level it's about 50-50," he said.

It is helping the chess-in-schools cause that the education secretary, Charles Clarke, is a keen player - he lists it as a recreation in Who's Who. Clarke's father, the senior civil servant Sir Richard Clarke, was an excellent player and invented the British chess rating system (every player registered with the British Chess Federation has an official rating for tournaments.)

"Chess is a mind game," Mr Clarke told the Times last year. "It forces you to think. If you tried to prove that playing chess helps you with GCSEs, that would be difficult, but it forces thinking. It's a game which develops logic and strategy."

The growth in the number of sets being bought has been fuelled by the encouragement of chess in primary schools. But Saunders, whose magazine sells 3,000 copies a month, said he had seen no evidence of a boom in top-level chess. There are around 18,000 registered players in the UK - players who have ratings and compete in tournaments - but the figure does not appear to be rising.

The internet has encouraged more people to play. There are many sites, both subscription-only and free, on which it is possible to play one-to-one games against players all round the world. But, said Walsh, that could act as a disincentive to players to join their local club.

Saunders said there was an inevitable lag between an increase in popular interest in the game and the emergence of top players. The boom in the mid-1970s, driven by the world championship match in Reykjavik in 1972 between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, produced a generation of strong British players 10 years later. But now the UK is lagging again. In the recent chess olympiad in Spain, England had one of their worst ever results, and Scotland, Wales and Ireland also finished well down.

The question now is: can Madonna and Bono have the same effect as Fischer and Spassky did 30 years ago, producing a generation of cool chess players who can challenge the Russians and Ukrainians? Anyone fancy some rook'n'roll?

Queen's gambit

  • Madonna plays chess in two of her music videos
  • U2 frontman Bono said: "At 12 I studied the grandmasters, and I was fascinated"
  • World boxing champion Lennox Lewis was said to play chess as part of his build-up to bouts.
  • Sting and his band took on champion Garry Kasparov simultaneously at a charity match in New York in 2000 - they were defeated.
  • Jude Law was a keen player at primary school.

4) A Chess Poem by Dennis Fritzinger

chess books

the chess books i used to pick up
from the small, crowded store
across the street from where
they sold russian pastries,
small jewels mad with preserves
of apricot and fig,
the chess books had hard backs
like their subjects, and thin pages
almost as thin as rice paper,
with careful diagrams etched on them
and words in cyrillic, the russian
alphabet, faint and exotic.
the positions blew me away--
so much raw energy there,
so much beauty and artistry,
even heartbreak--
you could see the history
of a people recorded in chess moves,
this time the thunder of knights
instead of mongol horses,
and western bishops instead
of bearded patriarchs.

Dennis Fritzinger

5) Here and There

Melik Khachiyan had an excellent result in winning the American Open over Thanksgiving in Los Angeles. The Glendale IM scored 6.5 from 8, defeating fellow IMs David Vigorito and Kong Deng while drawing GM Boris Kreiman, IM Andranik Matikozian and FM Alexander Kretchetov. Tying for second at 6 were Kreiman and Matikozian while Vigorito and Kretchetov were fourth at 5.5. IM Walter Shipman was the top scoring MI member at 4.5 which included a win over IM Kong.

Ted Castro of San Leandro will not be in the A class much longer after scoring 7 from 8 to win the Under 2000 section. The MI regular finished a point ahead of the competition in his section.

196 players competed in the 4 day event with another 59 competing in scholastic sections.

GM Lubosh Kavalek is doing the commentary at the Alexey Shirov-David Navara match in Prague.

The Berkeley Chess Club is moving.
Starting December 3rd, the BCC's Friday Marathon will now be run by the East Bay Chess Club
NM Andy Lee will give a free lecture to club members from 7-7:45 PM, and games will begin at 8 PM
Friday events are free for club members, $5/night drop-in fee otherwise

The official 2005 CalChess Scholastic championships will be held in beautiful Fort Mason, San Francisco, in the Herbst Pavilion, May 7-8, 2005.

6) Upcoming Events

Upcoming Tournaments at the MI

Guthrie McClain Memorial - December 5 (Sunday)
Jim Hurt Under 1800 - December 11-12

Mechanics Institute Scholastic Quads 2004 Tournaments:

December 18
Open to players age 18 and under
(Limited to first 80 players) Game/45

Rounds : 10:30am, 12:15pm, 2:00pm Late Registration: 9:30am - 10:15am Open: to the first eighty players Note: Quads based on rating. USCF Rated. Unrated players face each other. You must be a USCF member to play in the quads. Time Control: Game in 45 minutes Entry Fee: $20 / $30 day of tournament/ $15 for MI members Checks payable to Mechanics' Chess Club Prizes: Trophies for the winners of each quad.

Southern California

A Heritage Event!
An American Classic!
Nov. 25-28 or 26-28 40th Annual American Open GPP: 80 S. California 8SS, 40/2, SD/1. LAX Renaissance Hotel, 9620 Airport Bl, Los Angeles, CA 90045. $$30,200, 60% of each prize guaranteed. 8 sections (Unr. must play in U1000/Unr. or Open). Open: $3000-1500-700-500-300, U2450/Unr $1200-600, U2300/Unr $600. U2200: $2000-1000-500-300-200. U2000: $2000-1000-500-300-200. U1800: $2000-1000-500-300-200. U1600: $2000-1000-500-300-200. U1400: $1700-900-500-300-200. U1200: $1000-500-250-150-100. U1000/Unr: Trophies to top six. EF: Sections 1-7, $129 if rec'd by 11/23, $30 less for jrs. Under 15 if playing up, $50 more for players rated under 2000 playing in Open. Section 8, $39 if rec'd by 11/23. All: $20 more at door. SCCF memb. req'd ($12, $7.50 jrs. Under 19, includes Rank & File magazine), OSA. Elegant trophy each section winner. Best game prizes gtd: $100-50-50 (one must be from Sections 2-8). No checks at door - cash, credit card, or money order only. 4-day schedule: Reg closes noon 11/25, 12:30-7:30, 12:30-7:30, 10:30-5, 10-4:30. 3-day schedule: Reg closes 11:30am 11/26, 12-2:30-5-8 (G/1), schedules merge in Rd 5 & compete for common prizes. Byes (2 max) with advance notice. CCA minimum ratings & TD discretion will be used to protect you from improperly rated players. October Rating Supplement used. Sturdy, reliable Saitek clock provided for top boards. HR: $89, (310) 337-2800, mention chess. Info: Chief TD Randy Hough (626) 282-7412, Ent: American Open, PO Box 205, Monterey Park, CA 91754 or NS, W, FIDE Rated.

National Events

Mark these two events down on your calendar. The PAN AM Intercollegiate will be held in Kansas right after Christmas.Email Mikhail Korenman for more information at

4th Annual Lindsborg Open December 17-22

GM & IM norms are available; $4,000 guaranteed prize fund!

Rapid Knock-out Tournament Lindsborg, Kansas December 23-25, 2004 $11,500 guaranteed prize fund! 9SS;

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