Mechanics Institute Chess Room Newsletter #225

"The art of treating the opening stage of the game correctly and without error is basically the art of using time efficiently."

Svetozar Gligoric

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2) Arnold Denker 1914-2005
3) University of Texas at Dallas wins PAN AM
4) Four way tie for first in North American Open
5) Lindsborg in the New York Times
6) USCF Executive Board Elections
7) John McCumiskey resigns from Cal Chess Board
8) Here and There
9) Upcoming Events

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News

The Mike Franett Memorial has started. The early leaders with 1.5 from 2 are IM Vinay Bhat, WGM Kamile Baginskaite and FM David Pruess. Rounds are being held daily at the Mechanics' Institute and up-to-date standings and games can be found at the Mechanics' website under Franett Memorial on the front page. Players are fighting for IM norms, place prizes, and special awards for best opening novelty (donated by Lawrence Totaro), best game, and best endgame (donated by Ron Gross).

This Saturday the MI hosts the 5th annual Bob Burger Open. Next Tuesday the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon begins. The MI's Wednesday Night Blitz resumes this evening.

2) Arnold Denker 1914-2005

Arnold Denker has died at the age of 90. Born on February 20th 1914 in New York City, Denker died January 2nd 2005 in his home in Fort Lauderdale after a brief struggle with brain cancer. Denker led a full chess life. He was US Champion in 1944 and retained it in 1946 after beating Herman Steiner in a match. In 1945 he played Botvinnik on top board in the US vs USSR Radio match and then traveled to Moscow the following year for the return match over the board where he played Smyslov. He was 3rd at Hastings 1945/46. His most important tournament was Groningen 1946 where he finished 10th.

Denker authored two editions of his best games - If You Must Play Chess (1947) and My Best Chess Games 1929-1976 (1981). He also co-authored The Bobby Fischer I Knew and other Stories with Larry Parr. During the last decades of his life he served as USCF Zonal President to FIDE, as a member of the USCF Policy Board and on the US Chess Trust. His proudest chess accomplishment may have been founding the Arnold Denker High School Tournament of Champions.

Denker, who became an IM title in 1950 and received the Honorary GM title from FIDE in 1981, was never a full-time professional. Hooper and Whyld in their Oxford Companion to Chess remark, "Denker was unfortunate in that he was perhaps at his best at a time when, because of war, little chess was being play. and American chess was dominated by Fine and Reshevsky."

3) University of Texas at Dallas wins Pan Am

Cindy Tsai, who has represented the United States in numerous international youth world championship and participated in the US Championship, has not had many opportunities to play since beginning her studies at Stanford but did extremely well at the recently concluded PAN AM intercollegiate held in Wichita and organized by Mikhail Korenman. We are pleased to see that after the terrible year suffered by the Raiders and 49ers, at least one Bay Area coach, Stanford's chess trainer Alex Yermolinsky, is no in danger of getting sacked!

Hi Alex and John,

Just wanted to update you on how Stanford did at the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Team Championships, which finished on the 30th in Wichita... I'm very proud to report that the Stanford A team (average rating: 2160) made it into the Final Four! We actually had our own little showdown against Yale in the last round for the fourth spot. I scored an upset point against Matt Traldi on board 2, but Pat Mihelich was upsetted on board 3. So we ended up tieing the match since Anish Das Sarma won on board 4 and Nate Solon lost on board 1. We beat Yale on tiebreaks by almost 5 points to take the 4th spot. Overall, we tied for 7th, but lost to Catholic University of Peru on tiebreaks to finish 8th.

The President's Cup will be held in Lindsborg sometime in April. Not surprisingly, the other three teams are UTD, UMBC and Miami-Dade Community College. UTD upsetted the pre-tournament favorite UMBC to take first place. There were several strong Canadian and Peruvian teams. The B Team, which had an average rating of 1850, scored some upset points, but finished 16th out of 23 teams. The tournament was nicely organized by Mikhail Korenman.

Personally, I had one of my best touranments in a long time by scoring 5 out of 6-- I was winning in my two drawn games, including one against GM Blehm. Dan Ben-Moshe, who was first board on the B team, scored a win against WGM Rohonvan from UMBC.

Hopefully, this is just the beginning of the return of Stanford chess! I couldn't have imagined that this would have happened two years ago... I chose Stanford, knowing that the Stanford club was at rock bottom after the retirement or graduation of several masters, whereas Harvard and MIT had strong chess teams. Ironically, Harvard and MIT chess seemed to have declined, especially since neither of them participated this year. I'm very excited that this year we've considerably strengthened chess at Stanford.

Happy New Year!


4) Four way tie for first in North American Open

The North American Open, held December 26th to 29th in Las Vegas ended in a tie for first between GMs Moiseenko, Akobian, Miton and Serper at 5-1. Tying for 6-11 at 4.5 were GMs Shabalov and Kudrin, IMs Milman, I. Ivanov and Sevillano and FM Tate.

MI and Bay Area players were very successful further down.

Under 2000 =1st Kofi Tatum 5/6
Thomas Maser 4.5/6

Under 1800 Jared Wood =2nd 5 out of 6

Under 1600 Davis Xu =1st 5.5/6

5) Lindsborg in the New York Times

Dr. Mikhail Korenman continues to amaze with his energy and ability to promote chess. His most recent accomplishments (Lindsborg Open 1-2. Moiseenko and Ibragimov) , Lindsborg Knockout (Onischuk winning ahead of 15 other GMs and the 2005 PAN AM - see news item number 3 above) were not only noticed by this Newsletter. The New York Times, on Christmas Day, ran a full page story with two photos on page A10! It's a great pity that Mr. Korenman was not elected to the USCF Executive Board last year. His proven abilities to organize, attract national publicity and cultivate sponsors are qualities sorely lacking in the current Executive Board

In One Kansas Town, the End of the Year Game Is Chess

December 25, 2004

LINDSBORG, Kan., Dec. 21 - Fifteen chess grandmasters, including present or former national champions from five European countries, are spending the last days of December in a windswept Kansas town that has suddenly become a world chess center.

"I never thought it would go this far or get this big," said Mikhail Korenman, a Russian émigré who has brought his passion for chess to a most unlikely place.

Like countless other small towns across the Midwest, Lindsborg, which has a population of 3,500, is struggling to survive as rural life becomes more difficult and people move to cities or suburbs. Until a few years ago, it relied on its niche as Little Sweden, a place where tourists could buy Swedish crafts and eat pancakes with lingonberry sauce.

Swedish flags are still visible around town, but now the banners along Main Street say, "Welcome Anatoly Karpov School of Chess."

The school, which Mr. Korenman runs, opened last year, paid for with donations from local business people and a $216,000 economic development grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing. It has already staged several important competitions. This year, both the United States junior championship and the Final Four collegiate championship were held here.

Mr. Korenman has brought Mr. Karpov, a former world champion from Russia who is considered one of the best players of the last century, to Lindsborg three times. Mr. Karpov has given the school his official sanction, something he has previously done only for schools in big cities like Damascus and Istanbul.

In September, Mr. Karpov played an exhibition match here against Susan Polgar, the first ever between former male and female world champions. For that event, which he billed as "Clash of the Titans," Mr. Korenman staged a parade through the center of town, complete with floats and a marching band. Both players spent hours signing autographs and posing for pictures, he proudly recalled.

"If a kid here is interested in football, what he really wants is to see the Kansas City Chiefs or maybe Denver Broncos in real life," Mr. Korenman said. "The chance to meet and talk to a world champion in chess is also something special. It has an effect on these kids, believe me."

Mr. Korenman's enthusiasm, imagination and web of contacts have been crucial to the burgeoning appeal of chess here, but this is also a town that was ready to accept what he had to offer. Lindsborg's Swedish heritage has given it a cosmopolitan identity. It stages several festivals every year, and people here are used to welcoming outsiders.

Mr. Korenman arrived in 1999 to teach chemistry at Bethany College here. His interest in chess has overtaken his interest in chemistry, and he recently quit the college faculty to devote his full time to it.

This month Mr. Korenman is staging three tournaments in succession, with the last ending on Dec. 30. A grandmaster who is playing, Anna Zatonskih, 26, a former women's champion in her native Ukraine who is now one of the top-ranked American women players, said Lindsborg had "a great reputation" among chess players.

"It's amazing what has happened here," Ms. Zatonskih said. "You can understand this kind of enthusiasm in New York, because there are 20 grandmasters living there. But even in New York, there isn't this kind of huge attention to us and what we do."

Some local people are amazed, too.

"Here's a guy who lands here with his wife and starts this chess thing," said Jim Richardson, a local photographer. "We're all going, 'Right, sure.' Next thing you know, Anatoly Karpov is in town."

"The Midwest still does have this inferiority complex," Mr. Richardson said. "We really do think that things happen somewhere else. Now they're happening here. A world champion is coming down the street, and we're part of the bigger world."

This year the United States Chess Federation named Lindsborg as its "chess city of the year," a title that in past years it has given to large cities like New York, Seattle and Miami. It also chose Mr. Korenman, who is 44, as its "chess organizer of the year."

Mr. Korenman began staging tournaments soon after he arrived in Lindsborg, and at one of them he met a player who knew Mr. Karpov. That gave him the connection that turned this town into an elite chess center.

The tournaments have an important economic impact. Kathy Malm, executive director of the Lindsborg Chamber of Commerce, estimated that about 1,000 people will attend the three this month.

Becky Anderson, owner of the Swedish Country Inn, where several grandmasters are staying this month, said chess was good for business and also good for the town's young people.

"The best impact I see is the number of people from abroad, especially from the former Soviet Union, that chess has brought here," Ms. Anderson said. "When you're as far from the coasts as we are, that's wonderful. I employ a lot of high school and college kids at the inn, and it's a great experience for them to meet people, often very young, who have distinguished themselves so much."

More than 100 local schoolchildren take regular chess lessons from Mr. Korenman, who is a serious player, though not a grandmaster. On one recent afternoon, he hovered above half a dozen of them as they clustered around a table. Several mothers sat nearby and watched.

"How can black protect, and not let white take this little pawn?" Mr. Korenman asked with a distinct Slavic accent, which seemed to add to his authority the way a Viennese accent suits a psychoanalyst.

There was a long silence as the boys and girls concentrated. Suddenly, 9-year-old Christian Hansen broke it. "I know!" he cried out. "I see it! Rook to G-6."

"Excellent," Mr. Korenman replied with a satisfied smile.

There was a brief interruption as a visitor brought Mr. Korenman up to date on plans to bring a Brazilian exchange student to the high school - a chess champion, needless to say. Then it was back to the children.

"Now white has to come up with an idea," he told them. "Let's try not to make a move without an idea. You want to create something. What can you create?"

Mr. Korenman built on the work of Wes Fisk, a Lindsborg chess fan who started a club in 1997. Their work has already shown results in local schools.

"If you go to our trophy cabinet at the middle school, you'll see four trophies, two for basketball and two for chess," said Bill Nelson, a former assistant principal of the local high school. "Has it caught on in every family? No, it hasn't. But there does seem to be an academic advantage for many of those who play. It helps kids learn how to think."

The success of chess here has also changed some views of how small towns can improve their economies.

"It's taught us something about growth," Mayor Ron Rolander said. "We can't compete with towns that are offering tax breaks and utilities and everything else to attract some company to come here and bring us jobs. What we should try to do instead is look around, find people who are already here who have interesting ideas and support them."

Among the happiest tournament participants was Azeez Sanusi, a 19-year-old Nigerian who came from Louisiana, where he attends college, to compete. He said he had played chess "since I was me."

"In the last couple of days, I got to play two grandmasters," Mr. Sanusi said with an air of wonder. "I lost, of course, but how often do you get to do that? Only in Lindsborg."

6) USCF Executive Board Elections

The January 10 deadline for filing for the 2005 USCF Executive Board elections is looming. On that note we will start to take a look at some of the issues that are likely to become lightning rods in the upcoming campaign. One that is going to be near the front is the present Board's animosity towards America's Foundation for Chess which has sponsored the US Championship since 2000.

In Newsletter #223 I wrote:

"Since then the AF4C has done a fantastic job of running the US Championship, one of the core responsibilities of the USCF, without any expense to the USCF." A reader writes in: "Well that was a bit of an understatement. The USCF MAKES MONEY on the US Championships. The AF4C pays the USCF $7,500 for each event. The idea was that the USCF would be able to "afford" to send a representative Unfortunately none of the USCF Executive Board made it to La Jolla."

Former USCF President John McCrary adds:

It is worth noting that the prize fund of the US Championship was almost equal to USCF's positive bottom line, but the former was achieved by only a few wealthy donors; by contrast, the latter required over 85,000 members and a volunteer Executive Director. However, USCF President Beatriz Marinello reportedly told the Board that she sees "no need to negotiate now" with AF4C. She did not send a statement for the US Championship program, and canceled her personal appearance there. She did send a statement to be read at the Final ceremony, but I noted that it avoided any reference to even the possibility of enhanced cooperation between the entities.

7) John McCumiskey resigns from Cal Chess Board

December 25, 2004

Public Letter of Resignation to CalChess Board

Dear CalChess Board members,

In late October and early November I contemplated resigning from the CalChess Board because my workload at CSUS kept me from attending scheduled meetings. At that time, I was asked to stay on the board, but recent events have caused me to reconsider my position.

Last weekend I was informed about the withdrawal of the original lawsuit against Richard Peterson. At another time during the weekend, I was informed about the new legal strategy that had been devised to recover the $26,000 that had been taken. Further, I was informed that Peterson had made a settlement offer and it had been rejected. None of this information was provided to me through the normal communication channels of the CalChess Board, but informally by two board members.

While I understand the reasoning behind these decisions and that there may have been a need to make them quickly and without Board input, I find it unacceptable that I, as a CalChess Board member, was not notified immediately afterward, nor was Board input solicited. To date, I have not received any official word from CalChess President Elizabeth Shaughnessy about:

  1. the status of the Peterson lawsuit;
  2. the change in legal strategy;
  3. an offer of a settlement.

The only news from Elizabeth regarding these issues was Peterson's request for a restraining order on December 22, 2004 which had been denied. Unfortunately, Peterson's two e-mail messages of December 23, 2004, have been more informative that anything I have received in an official capacity from CalChess. I considered resigning immediately when I heard about all of this last weekend, but I decided it would be wiser not to act on a snap judgement. However, after a week of thinking about it, I have not changed my mind. My problem is not with any individual on the CalChess Board nor with the situations that are being dealt with. The problem is not being given timely information about CalChess operations and lack of Board input.

Effective immediately, I resign from the CalChess Board. Even though I will no longer be a member of the CalChess Board, I will continue to be an active organizer and tournament director in CalChess. This letter may be distributed to anyone who requests to see it.


John P McCumiskey

Mr. McCumiskey's resignation was the second in the past few months by a well-known Bay Area chess worker (Michael Aigner was the other) in a trend that does not bold well for CalChess.

8) Here and There

Kudos to FM Eric Schiller for producing the first electronic issue of the CalChess Journal. Go to and look on the upper right-hand corner of the front-page.

The 31st Eastern Open, held over the Christmas holidays in Washington D.C. was won by GM Alexander Ivanov with a score of 7 from 8, good for $1500. IM Stanislav Smetankin was second at 6, earning him $1000.

All those who have followed Bobby Fischer's career remember that 1958 was a breakout year for him. The famous trip to the Soviet Union and later Yugoslavia, where he played in the Interzonal and qualified for the Candidates tournament, is well known.

Newsletter reader Rusty Miller has sent in an article from the August 1958 Washington Chess Letter that sheds further light on Bobby's first trip to Europe. Larry Finley, a chess-playing high school student from Lake Oswego, Oregon, in Europe for the summer and reporting about his adventures for the Portland paper the Oregon Journal, befriended Bobby and wrote about it. Bobby and his sister Joan had a few days in Belgium before flying on to Moscow, and Larry heard that Bobby would be spending the weekend in Brussels. The World's Fair was being held there and Larry, who was working as a guide, offered to show Bobby and his sister around. Finley mentions that the Soviet exhibit with its emphasis on technology and big machines was a hit with Bobby. He concludes his report by noting that they played a game at the end of Bobby's stay which Fischer won easily.

Congratulations to MI member Shivkumar Shivaji who had an excellent result in Lindsborg a few weeks ago. Shiv played a strong field and defeated IM Anna Zatonskih (the second time in six months) and FMs John Bick and Movses Movsesian while drawing with GM Nikola Mitkov and IM Ron Burnett. His only losses were to GM Yury Shulman and IMs Jesse Kraai and Renier Gonzalez.

9) Upcoming Events


Upcoming Tournaments at the MI

Bob Burger Open - January 8
Henry Gross Memorial - February 5th
A.J. Fink Amateur - March 5-6
Max Wilkerson Open - March 12


Jan 8. EBCC Scholastic Quads. 3RR, G/60. EF: $10, $15 after 12/1. $5 EBCC discount. Trophy to winner of each quad. Reg: 9-9:45 AM. Rds: 10-12:15-2:30. Info:; 510 845-1041.

Jan 15-17
EBCC New Year's Swiss. 6SS, 40/2, SD/1. East Bay Chess Club 1940 Virginia St., Berkeley, CA, 94709. EF: $35, $40 after 1/8. $5 EBCC discount. $$1100 b/50 2 sections: Open: 200-150-100, top u2100 100, top u1900 100. Reserve (u1700): 150-100-50, top u1500 75, top u1300 75. Reg: 9-9:45. Rds: 10-4:30 daily. Info:;; 510 845-1041.


12th annual


Jan 14-17, 15-17 or 16-17, 2005 - Martin Luther King weekend at Los Angeles Airport Hilton


Jan. 14-17, 15-17 or 16-17       Southern California Grand Prix Points: 60

12th annual Western Class Championships. 6SS, 40/2, SD/1 (2-day option, rds 1-3 G/50), Los Angeles Airport Hilton, 5711 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles 90045. $15,000 prize fund, all unconditionally guaranteed! In 7 sections.

Master (over 2199): $1400-700-400-200, clear winner bonus $100, top U2300 $500. If tie for first, top 2 on tiebreak play speed game for title & bonus prize. FIDE rated.

Expert (2000-2199): $1200-600-400-200.

Class A (1800-1999): $1200-600-400-200.

Class B (1600-1799): $1000-500-300-200.

Class C (1400-1599): $1000-500-300-200.

Class D (1200-1399): $800-400-200-100.

Class E (Under 1200): $700-400-200-100.

Rated players may play up one section. Unrated must play in A or below with maximum prize A $500, B $400, C $300, D $200, E $100; balance goes to next player(s) in line.

4-day entry fee, if mailed by Jan 6: Master, Expert or A $109, B or C $89, D or E $69.
3-day entry fee, if mailed by Jan 6: Master, Expert or A $108, B or C $88, D or E $68.
2-day entry fee, if mailed by Jan 6: Master, Expert or A $107, B or C $87, D or E $67.
All entry fees online at by Jan 12: Master, Expert or A $106, B or C $86, D or E $66.
All entry fees phoned by Jan 12 (406-896-2038, entry only, no questions): Master, Expert or A $110, B or C $90, D or E $70.
All entry fees at site: Master, Expert or A $130, B or C $110, D or E $90.

Special entry fees: All $30 less to unrated. Re-entry (except Master) $50. Advance EF $10 less if paid with $49 USCF dues. SCCF memb. ($14, jrs $9) required for rated Southern CA residents. Advance EF minus $5 service charge refunded for withdrawals who give notice at least 1 hour before rd 1 (no service charge if fee applied to future CCA tmts).

4-day schedule: Reg. Fri to 6 pm, rds Fri 7, Sat 6, Sun 11-6, Mon 10-4:15.
3-day schedule: Reg. Sat to 10am, rds Sat 11-6, Sun 11-6, Mon 10-4:15.
2-day schedule: Reg Sun to 9am, rds Sun 10-12:30-3-6, Mon 10-4:15.
All schedules: Bye all, limit 2, rd 4-6 byes must commit before rd 3.

Hotel rates: $89-89-89-89, 310-410-4000, reserve by Jan 7 or rate may increase. Parking $6/day. Car rental: Avis, 800-331-1600, use AWD #D657633. Questions: 845-496-9658 or 845-234-0386.

Entry: Continental Chess, c/o Goichberg, Box 661776, Arcadia CA 91066. Advance entries will be posted at 1/13.

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