Mechanics Institute Chess Room Newsletter #241

   Chess isn't 99% tactics, it's just that tactics takes up 99% of your time.

Rashid Ziatdinov

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News 
2) MI Member Larry Snyder in the New York Times 
3) Igor Ivanov: Master Alchemist 
4) Chess.FM - Jeremy Silman 
5) American Players Abroad 
6) Chess And Drugs 
7) SF Masters Postponed 
8) Upcoming Events

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News

NM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs defeated Expert Igor Traub in round four of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon and has the only perfect score. IM John Grefe, FM Frank Thornally and NMs Igor Margulis and Victor Ossipov are tied for second in the 68-player, nine round competition. Go to for complete standings.

Former MI Chess Kurt Bendit and MI Life Member Roger Creet are both living at the San Francisco Community Convalescent Hospital (2655 Bush St., SF, CA 94115 - corner of Bush and Divisadero, (415) 922-4141) and are looking for new opponents to play.

Congratulations to MI member NM Nicolas Yap who is the Northern California High School State Champion by virtue of his first place finish in Oakland a few weeks ago. This victory earns Nicolas the right to represent Northern California in the Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions which will be held alongside the US Open this August in Scottsdale, Arizona. Congratulations also go to Nic's longtime coach IM Guillermo Rey. Elisha Garg and MI member Louiza Livshitz tied for the top finishing girl in Oakland and will play a two game match in May at the Mechanics' to decide who will represent Northern California in the Susan Polgar Girls Championship, also in Scottsdale. The Mechanics' Institute was the top finishing team in the High School and placed second 2nd in K-8 and K-6.

The same weekend as the State Championship there was another Scholastic event in San Jose, organized by Alan Kirshner's Success Chess that attracted more than twice as many entrants as Oakland. The High School events in Oakland were stronger than San Jose because they were qualifiers for the Denker and Polgar but not the lower sections. MI member Daniel Naroditsky repeated his triumph from the previous week's Nationals, but this time the Foster City 9-year-old moved up to the Grade 6 and under Elementary section. The San Jose event is well covered at both (photos and games) and (standings).

Speaking of Chess Dryad. This website, run by Kerry Lawless with support by Mark Shelton and Richard Shorman, continues to get better and better. Go for historical Shorman photos of Tigran Petrosian's simul at the Mechanics' on April 16, 1978. It's impossible to accurately measure Richard Shorman's contributions to Bay Area chess. His skills as a photographer are well known as is his excellence as a teacher. Berkeley Chess School leader Elizabeth Shaughnessy swears by Richard's teaching syllabus and believes that it is so good that an adult, newly introduced to the game, can teach beginning kids immediately if they follow Richard's script to the letter. How far do Richard's contributions go? I have a Xerox copy of the nicely produced 1960 Oakland YMCA Invitational won by Arthur Wang ahead of Julius Loftsson. Who produced it? Richard Shorman.

MI Chess Director John Donaldson will join GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Goldin and Gregory Serper plus IMs Stanislav Smetankin and Josh Friedel on the staff of the Wisconsin Chess Academy June 19-24th in Milwaukee. Consult Newsletter 238 (under MI Newsletter archives) or contact Camp Director Alex Betaneli at or or Internet Chess Club (ICC) handle: Aristophones or telephone 608-233-0923 for more information.

Phillip Pereplitsky is looking for match opponents rated from 2000-2200. If you are interested contact him at .

Mea Culpa - Last Newsletter's quote mistakenly referred to the John Steinbeck novel as Sweet Tuesday but as Max Burkett kindly reminded me it's Sweet Thursday ( I did write the Newsletter on Tuesday). Thanks Max.

2) MI Member Larry Snyder in the New York Times

For an American chess player probably the closest thing to getting your picture on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine is having one of your games appear in the chess column of the New York Times. You would be correct if you guessed that Mechanics' Institute Grandmaster-in-Residence Alex Yermolinsky has received that honor many times, but can you think of another Chess Club regular? One hint, he is a Tuesday Night Marathon veteran. Another, he was a whiz kid back in his native Philadelphia in the late 1950s. Give up?

Expert Larry Snyder of Berkeley was featured in the New York Times of July 4, 1963 and May 1963 issue of Chess Life for his win over Sergei Goregliad in the New Jersey Amateur Championship. The victory helped Larry tie for second place in the event, a half point behind Stewart Reuben's winning score of 5.5 from 6, and also earned him the best game prize as judged by the veteran master and director William Ruth.

Al Horowitz had these words to say about the prize winning game.

The criteria by which "best-played" games are evaluated ought to be revamped. It is common practice to award an honorarium for the "best-played" game to the winner. The loser also should share the booty; not the lion's share, perhaps, but a modest portion, for contributing to an outstanding performance.

William Ewart Napier, a former British champion and an original writer on chess, always asserted that his best game was the one he lost to the world champion Emanuel Lasker, at Cambridge Springs. This was an epic battle of attack and counterattack, thrust and parry, where the outcome was in doubt until the last few moves.

The following game, Larry Snyder versus Sergei Goregliad, won the "best-played" prize in the recent New Jersey amateur tournament at Camden.

A King's Indian Defense shapes up in Sicilian garb. White exercises restraint in not playing 12.Bxe5. This would have led to extensive liquidation and a tame draw. White hopes for more.

Black later could have played 17...Qb8, but believed that the ensuing exchange of two pieces for Rook and two pawns was not to be feared. White was the better strategist here. The winning sequence is logically clear.

Larry Snyder - Sergei Goregliad

King's Indian E79

New Jersey Amateur Championship 1963

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.f4 c5 7.Nf3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Nc6 9.Be3 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 e5 11.fxe5 dxe5 12.Be3 Qa5 13.0-0 Be6 14.a3 Rfd8 15.Qc2 Nd7 16.b4 Qc7 17.Nb5 Qc6 18.Nxa7 Rxa7 19.Bxa7 b6 20.Rfd1 Ra8 21.Bxb6 Qxb6+ 22.c5 Qc6 23.a4 Bf8 24.Bb5 Qc7 25.Kh1 Nb8 26.Bc4 Bxc4 27.Qxc4 Nc6 28.b5 Nd4 29.c6 Qb6 30.Qd5 Nc2 31.a5 Rxa5 32.Rxa5 Ne3 33.Qd8 Qc5 34.Ra8 Nxd1 35.Qxf8+ Qxf8 36.Rxf8+ Kxf8 37.c7 1-0

Chess Life, May 1963 and The New York Times, July 4, 1963

3) Igor Ivanov: Master Alchemist

Play over this game, ably annotated by GM Shamkovich at the time, but if you really want to know what was going on get the April 25th edition of the Washington Post (page C10) where GM Lubomir Kavalek really gets to the heart of things.

GM Kavalek writes:

A quarter-century ago, a young Russian chess player decided he would defect from the Soviet Union. Returning from a tournament in Havana, he would attempt to dash for freedom during a refueling stop at the Gander, Newfoundland, airport. A few people who knew about his idea nicknamed him the Eagle and when he had landed successfully, they rejoiced. Igor Ivanov was the strongest Soviet master who made North America his new home. He played for Canada before he moved to the United States. He now lives in Utah.

A Real Grandmaster

Ivanov became an International Master in 1981. Many of his formidable opponents, including world champions Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, can attest that Ivanov played like a strong grandmaster, although that title somehow eluded him. It now appears that he made several grandmaster norms in the past and, hopefully, FIDE will seriously consider awarding him the well-deserved title. In his most exciting game, Ivanov defeated IM Vitaly Zaltsman in New York 1983 in the Tarrasch defense. After outplaying his foe with his healthy, active positional style, Ivanov went wild, sacrificing his two rooks and a queen. It became an emotional roller coaster with the powerful white pawns finally swarming the black king.

To view the entire article, go to

Igor Ivanov - Vitaly Zaltsman
Tarrasch Defense D34
NY Kavkasian New York, 1983

Notes by GM Leonid Shamkovich

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6 3.d4 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Nf6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Nc3 0-0

The key position of this variation has arisen after some transposition. 9.Be3 White has a great choice of reasonable moves: 9.b3, 9.Bf4, 9.dxc5 and 9.Bg5. Theoreticians do not consider the text to be best. Most popular now is 9.Bg5. 9...c4?! A doubtful move, since Black releases tension in the center and so gives White a free hand to develop his intended K-side attack. Preferable is, in our opinion (see the forthcoming book by E. Schiller and myself The Tarrasch Defense) is 9...Ng4 10.Bf4 Be6.

10.Ne5 Qa5 11.Bg5 Rd8 12.e3

It is necessary to protect the d4 pawn 12.f4 Nxd4 before White begins the attack on the K-side. By the way, this plan is most logical after 11...Be6 also, instead of the well-known 12.e4?!, Simagin-Yudovich, Moscow 1962.

12...h6 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.f4 Bxe5

It was impossible to deal with such a strong Knight.

15.fxe5 Be6 16.Qh5

More accurate was 16.a3 avoiding 16...Nb4 and ...Nd3.

16...Rd7? 17.Rad1 Rf8 18.a3 Qd8

Black must go on the defensive due to White's threats on the K-side.


Preventing the counter-threat ...Qg5 and preparing a pawnstorm.

19...a6 20.Rd2 b5 21.Rdf2 Qe7

Black is wasting time. Better was 21...Ne7 right away. Now his position becomes very difficult.

22.g4 Qd8 23.g5

White's threats on the K-side become more dangerous with every move.

23...Ne7 24.Ne2!

The best move - White transfers the Knight to the K-side. Not so strong is 24.gxh6 g6 25.Qg5 Kh7 offering chances for resistance, e.g. 26.Bh3 Nf5 27.Rxf5 Qxg5+.

24...g6 25.Qxh6 Nf5 26.Rxf5 Bxf5 27.Rxf5!

The sacrifice of the second Exchange is, probably, the only way to the victory, as the alternative 27.Ng3 Bd3 28.Rf6 is unclear due to 28...Qa5! with the idea of ...Qe1+.

27...gxf5 28.Ng3 f6 29.Nxf5?!

This looks very strong because White is threatening the terrible 20.Bxd5+, but actually it seems to lose White's great advantage. Much stronger is, in fact, 29.g6 Rc7 30.e6 Qd6 (30...Re8 31.Nxf5 Rxe6 32.g7 etc.) 31.g7 winning.

29...Rh7 30.Qg6+ Kh8 31.gxf6

The alternative 31.exf6 is also interesting.

31...Rg8 32.h5!!

A new and stunning sacrifice.


The attempt 32...Qa5 now doesn't work, since 33.f7! Qe1+ 34.Kh2 Rxg6 35.f8Q+ Rg8 36.Qf6+ Rgg7 37.h6 and White wins


A unique position! Two minor pieces and three passed pawns are more than equal to Black's Queen and Rook!


Time pressure. Black should play 33...Rh5 34.g7+ Kh7 though after 35.f7 Rxf5 36.g8Q+ Qxg8 37.fxg8Q+ Kxg8 38.Bxd5+ White's chances in the endgame are still better.


A counter surprise. Ivanov misses the forced win 34.g7+ Rxg7 (34...Kg8?? 35.Bxd5+) 35.fxg7+ Kh7 36.Bxd5! (even so!) 36...Qxd5 37.Ne7 Qf7 38.g8Q+ Qxg8+ 39.Nxg8 Kxg8 40.Kf2! and White has time to stop Black's pawns in the endgame.


34...Rh5! is still very strong. In this case White could find a draw, perhaps, by 35.Ng7!? Rg5 36.e6 Qa7 37.e7 Qxd4+ 38.Kh1 but if there is a draw after 38...Qxf6! 39.e8Q+ Kxg7 I am not aware of it. Obviously Black should play this and destroy White's heroic plans.

35.Bxe4 Kg8

Only 35...a5! would give Black some chance to be rescued.


Preventing ...Qa7 after White plays d5. Black is now absolutely helpless (if 36...Rh5 37.Ne7+).


It's too late.

37.d5 Qc7

The last attempt to free Black's Queen.


White's pawns continue implacably to advance. This position deserves a special diagram.

38...Qc5 39.gxh7+ Kxh7 40.f7 Qxe5

If 40...Qc8 41.Ne7+

41.f8Q Qxe4+ 42.Kg3 Qd3+ 43.Kf4 Qd2+ 44.Ke4 1-0

Players Chess News 1983, pages 350-352

4) Chess.FM

Jeremy Silman is no stranger to the Mechanics' Institute having been a member for many years and played in dozens of tournaments in the Chess Room. He has made Los Angeles his home for close to twenty years now and spends most of his time these days teaching and writing. Two of his current pupils are 2005 US Grade 5 and Under Champion Christian Tanaka and 15-year-old Vanessa West who played in the 2004 US Championship. Silman recently co-authored a massive work on Pal Benko that won many awards and is presently finishing an instructional work on the endgame. His talk this evening should prove interesting.

Hi folks:

My internet radio show, Chess & Books with Fred Wilson, returned Tuesday evening, March 15th, at 8:00 PM (EST). You can access it easily by simply going to the excellent website: . It will run every Tuesday night from 8:00 to 10:00 PM (EST), with a replay of the live show following almost immediately afterwards, for chess enthusiasts on the West Coast. There will also be a couple of replays the following afternoon. My sixth guest,Tuesday evening, April 26th, 2005, will be:

Fred's next guest Tuesday, April 26th, will be the well-known chess author, lecturer and teacher IM JEREMY SILMAN. Jeremy has not only won the American Open, National Open & U.S. Open tournaments, but has also written over 35 well-received books, including the modern instructional classic "How to Reassess Your Chess (Expanded 3rd Edition)", it's popular sequel "The Reassess Your Chess Workbook" and, with GM Pal Benko, the 2004 CHESSBOOK OF THE YEAR "Pal Benko: My Life, Games and Compositions". Jeremy will talk about his introduction to chess, favorite books & players, his views on everything from drug testing in chess to FIDE to Fischer to the current obsession with faster and faster time controls. He will also discuss his consultant work for the motion picture "Harry Potter and the Socerer's Stone" and the HBO series "Arliss", along with the creation of his entertaining and fascinating website . Please send questions for IM Jeremy Silman to Tony Rook or


In future weeks I hope to have IM Jennifer Shahade, GM John Fedorowicz, GM Larry Christiansen, GM Alexander Baburin, GM Joel Benjamin, IM John Watson, GM Max Dlugy and many, many more important members of our chess community on my show. Please feel free to email me interesting questions for these chess professionals.

I am very happy to be back and hope you will all listen in!

Best in chess, Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson Chess Books
80 East 11th Street Suite 334
New York, NY 10003
Hours: Noon-7:00 P.M.,
Monday through Saturday
Phone: (212) 533-6381

5) American Players Abroad

13th Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament

The Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament was co-arranged by the Malmo-based Limhamn Chess Club and the Copenhagen Chess Federation. The first five rounds were played at the classical Hipp Theater in the center of Malmo, and the tournament was concluded with four rounds in Copenhagen (at Quality Hotel in Hoje Taastrup). The event took place April 15th-24th 2005. Jan Timman and Krishnan Sasikiran finish on 6.5/9 with US Champion Hikaru Nakamura right behind them.

Hikaru will probably not be completely satisfied with his result as he lost unnecessarily against GM Krishnan Sasikiran (his only loss) but he was also somewhat fortunate against the another winner, Jan Timman. So his final score of 6-3, good for a small rating gain on the basis of a 2685 performance, was not out of line. Europeans were definitely impressed by Hikaru's fearless attitude. Read the following from the official website.

Nakamura surprised Sasikiran with what looked suspiciously like an attempt at fool's mate (1.e4 e5 2.Dh5!?, what is this opening called!?). Around move 35, Nakamura compromised himself positionally in an attempt to play for a win (without really spending any time on this decision). A little while later, he sacrificed a pawn without any obvious compensation. Commentator GM Lars Bo Hansen meant that decisions of this type are not to be recommended against strong GMs like Sasikiran. Sometimes you have to accept that your opponent has earned a draw by defending well!? Lars Bo Hansen meant that Nakamura will have to learn this if he wants to be able to match +2750 players in the future. However, Lars Bo also meant that it would be great for chess if Nakamura would establish himself at the very top with his "I want to win all games" attitude. No matter what, the spectators love it and so do the Sigeman organizers.

Final Round 9 Standings: 1. Timman, Jan H g NED 2607 6.5; 2. Sasikiran, Krishnan g IND 2642 6.5; 3. Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2657 6.0; 4. Hansen, Curt g DEN 2633 5.5; 5. Hector, Jonny g SWE 2513 5.0; 6. Iordachescu, Viorel g MDA 2609 4.0; 7. Palo, Davor m DEN 2525 4.0; 8. Hansen, Sune Berg g DEN 2553 3.5; 9. Hermansson, Emil m SWE 2432 2.5; 10. Hillarp Persson, Tiger g SWE 2533 1.5;

Official site:

American women shine in China

Congratuations to Anna Zatonskih on her excellent result in winning The Three Arrows Cup held in Jinan, China from 14th-19th April 2005. Irina Krush was third. Official site: (Results: and Games Additional info:


3 Arrows Cup Jinan CHN (CHN), 14-19 iv 2005 cat. II (2284)


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2


1. Zatonskih, Anna wg USA 2435 * = 1 = 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 9.0 2532
2. Zhu Chen g CHN 2494 = * 1 = = 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 8.5 2476
3. Krush, Irina m USA 2455 0 0 * = 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 7.5 2401
4. Nebolsina, Vera wm RUS 2302 = = = * = = 1 = = = 1 1 7.0 2384
5. Hou Yifan wf CHN 2158 0 = 0 = * 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 7.0 2397
6. Skripchenko, Almira m FRA 2453 0 0 0 = 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 1 6.5 2334
7. Yildiz, Betul Cemre wm TUR 2156 0 0 0 0 0 0 * 1 1 1 = 1 4.5 2231
8. Siti, Zulaikha wf MAS 2158 0 0 0 = 1 0 0 * 0 1 1 = 4.0 2193
9. Andriasian, Siranush ARM 2263 0 0 0 = 0 0 0 1 * 1 = 1 4.0 2184
10. Machalova, Veronika SVK 2176 0 1 1 = 0 0 0 0 0 * 0 = 3.0 2119
11. Navabi, Shirin wf IRI 2122 0 0 0 0 0 0 = 0 = 1 * 1 3.0 2124
12. Schneider, Veronika wm HUN 2241 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 = 0 = 0 * 2.0 2026

Baltimore GM GM Alex Onischuk is playing as a member of the CFM team in the Russian Team Championship in Sochi. Here are two of his games from this powerful event.

Onischuk (2628) -Akopian (2703)
Sochi 2005

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O Nbd7 9. Nh4 Bg6 10. Be2 O-O 11. Nxg6 hxg6 12. Qc2 Rc8 13. e4 c5 14. d5 exd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. exd5 Qh4 17. Be3 Rcd8 18. Rad1 Rfe8 19. d6 Nf6 20. g3 Qh3 21. Bg5 Re5 22. Bxf6 gxf6 23. f4 Re3 24. Rf3 Rxf3 25. Bxf3 c4 26. Qxc4 1/2-1/2

Timofeev (2622) - Onischuk (2638)
Sochi 2005

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Bc5 6. c3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. a4 Bg4 9. h3 Bxf3 10. Qxf3 Na5 11. Bc2 b4 12. Qd1 O-O 13. d4 exd4 14. cxd4 Bb6 15. b3 Re8 16. Re1 c5 17. Nd2 cxd4 18. Bb2 Nd7 19. Nf3 Nc6 20. a5 Bc5 21. Qd2 Rc8 22. Re2 Qf6 23. Bd3 Ra8 24. Bc4 Nde5 25. Nxe5 Nxe5 26. Bd5 Rac8 27. Rd1 Qd8 28. Bxd4 Bxd4 29. Qxd4 Qxa5 30. Ra1 Qb5 31. Rea2 Nc6 32. Qd2 a5 33. Qf4 Red8 34. Qxf7+ Kh8 35. Qf4 Nd4 36. Qd2 Nc6 37. Kh2 Qb6 38. f4 Rf8 39. Qf2 Qb5 40. Qg3 Rce8 41. Rc1 Ne7 42. Rc7 Qb6 43. Rd7 Qc5 44. f5 Qc3 45. Be6 d5 46. Rxa5 dxe4 47. Qd6 e3 48. Rc5 Qf6 49. Qe5 Qxe5+ 50. Rxe5 Nxf5 51. g4 Nh4 52. Rxe3 Nf3+ 53. Kg2 Ng5 54. Rd6 g6 55. h4 Nxe6 56. Rdxe6 Rxe6 57. Rxe6 Rf4 58. Kg3 Rd4 59. Re3 h5 60. g5 Kg7 61. Rf3 Rg4+ 62. Kh3 Rd4 63. Kg3 Rg4+ 64. Kh3 1/2-1/2

Thanks to Mark Crowther's outstanding The Week in Chess ( for help in preparing this report.

6) Chess And Drugs

It's a commonly held assumption that there are really no drugs that can help a chess player. Sure coffee or a chocolate bar might keep you more alert but they don't really do anthing more than that. The following article, which first appeared in The Washington Times ( suggests that this may no longer be the case in the a few years.

Brainpower drugs coming for sports

By Patrick Hruby

Susan Polgar will never be mistaken for Jose Canseco. For one thing, she's a mother of two; but more to the point, she's far too smart. A four-time women's world champion in chess, Miss Polgar lifts kings and queens, not dumbbells and subpoenas.

So imagine Mrs. Polgar's surprise when officials asked for a urine sample after her four-medal performance at last year's Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Spain.

"I can't say it was a pleasant experience," said Mrs. Polgar, 35, a chess grandmaster from Forest Hills, New York. "I have no idea what they were really testing for."

Try this: anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and a host of other banned substances. Two years ago, the International Chess Federation adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency's universal drug code, subjecting chess players to the same standards as Olympic sprinters.

Never mind that Mrs. Polgar needs a syringe of THG about as much as track star Marion Jones needs a better Sicilian defense.

"Even if a drug makes you bigger and stronger, it won't help you think better," Mrs. Polgar said. "You need logic, planning, concentration. To my knowledge, there is no drug that would help us play better chess."

In the near future, that may not be the case. While muscle-building drugs spawn home runs and congressional hearings, a coming era of cognitive enhancement promises boosted brains to rival baseball's bulging biceps.

Picture a golfer who never gets nervous, a basketball player learning to shoot perfect free throws with the help of a pill.

Can't quite conceive it? Don't worry -- there may be a pill for that, too.

"The idea of [cognitive enhancement] is starting to take hold on a larger and larger scale," said Dr. Vernon Williams, a sports neurologist and pain-management specialist at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles. "Lots of people are still kind of unaware. But that's only temporary.

"Before long, this will be something that is potentially as much an issue in sports as steroids."

'Doogie' mice

The year is 1999. Princeton University scientists are studying two groups of mice: one normal, the other given extra copies of NR2B, a gene linked to memory and learning.

Both types of mice are dropped into a pool of water. The modified mice find a hidden escape ramp twice as quickly as their normal counterparts. In other tests, the NR2B mice show improved memory.

Scientists nickname them "Doogies," after precocious television doctor Doogie Howser. In football terms, the Doogie mice are pro star quarterback Peyton Manning, the others are quarterback bust Ryan Leaf.

"Imagine a quarterback who has improved ability to memorize and recognize defensive schemes," said Dr. Williams, who works with the Los Angeles Lakers, Dodgers and Kings. "That could have a significant effect on the win-loss column."

Safe and effective human genetic therapy remains years away. Still, the athletic implications are profound. Beyond his "flaxseed-oil" physique, what makes San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds fearsome is his baseball IQ -- his ability to discern good pitches from bad ones, to lock in and crush a pitcher's mistake.

Two decades ago, Penn State epidemiologist Charles Yesalis approached legendary Iowa State wrestling coach Dan Gable at a meet. The coach looked him in the eye, and said, "I can't believe how mental sport is."

"At any level of competition, what really separates the top 10 guys or gals is the mental aspect," said Mr. Yesalis, an expert on steroids in sports. "Physiologically, they're almost the same. The difference comes in handling pressure."

At the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., sports psychologist Trevor Moawad teaches athletes such as D.C. United's soccer star Freddy Adu to limit "self-talk," the 1,000-plus words running through the mind in any given minute. The goal? Develop Barry Bondslike focus.

Though Mr. Moawad shies from brain-boosting drugs and supplements, he suspects others in sports are less circumspect.

"It's definitely something that's out there," Mr. Moawad said. "Anything that can be used as a performance enhancer, it's tough to imagine that people wouldn't take shortcuts."

Modafinil and beyond

Imagination isn't necessary. Two years ago, American sprinter Kelli White swept the 100 and 200 meters at the track and field world championships in France.

She also tested positive for modafinil, a drug used to treat the sleep disorder narcolepsy. That year, five other American athletes were caught taking the same medication, which according to Cambridge University researchers can boost memory and motor control in healthy people.

"This drug allows you to be very focused," said Dr. Olivier Rabin, science director for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). "I have a friend who took it when driving at night. He said it was almost like driving in the day."

Modafinil since has been placed on WADA's banned substance list. As other drugs with cognitive effects that could give athletes an unfair competitive advantage are developed, the list is likely to lengthen.

Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, a leading memory scientist, predicts medications for age-related memory loss will exist within the next decade. Donepzil, an Alzheimer's disease drug, already has been shown to increase the concentration and alertness of pilots in a flight simulator.

Johns Hopkins University scientist Daniel L. Alkon is working on two promising medications: One that enhances learning; another that helps short-term memories become permanent.

While both drugs are designed to treat neurological disorders, they could augment healthy people in the same way that steroids used to alleviate AIDS-related wasting can build bigger muscles.

"We test our drugs on animals that are compromised with Alzheimer's genes, and also on normal animals," said Mr. Alkon, scientific director of the school's Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute. "We want to see if it enhances their memory. I think inevitably that will happen."

Memory is just the beginning. Medications that help stroke patients relearn motor skills, for instance, could help healthy individuals learn to play the piano -- or throw a perfect football spiral.

In trials, the beta-blocking heart drug Propranolol has been shown to dampen the traumatic memories of patients injured in accidents. Picture a kicker popping a pill to forget a botched field goal.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but I see things like this as a real likelihood," Mr. Alkon said. "And not so far into the future. It's not too early to start thinking about it."

Imperfect drugs

Or to start worrying. Like Donepzil, the Alzheimer's drug Aricept improves flight-simulator performance.

It also triggers dizziness, vomiting and fainting -- hardly desirable in a cockpit setting, let alone a football huddle.

"Drugs are so imperfect," Mr. Alkon said. "Improving performance will be a matter of art and sophistication. You can see the potential for extremes and excesses."

Consider the protein IL-6, which spikes in the body after long workouts and signals the brain that muscle tissue is breaking down. When flooded with IL-6, the brain prevents additional harm by creating a feeling of exhaustion.

Develop a drug that blocks the brain's IL-6 receptors, researchers at the University of Portsmouth speculate, and you could blunt fatigue. The downside: Increased injury risk. If your arm feels ready to fall off, there likely is a good reason.

Similarly, a focus-enhancing pill could work too well -- after all, a batter needs to concentrate on a high-and-inside fastball, but not so much that he neglects to duck.

Add in the seeming interdependence of various brain functions, and Dr. Williams wonders whether mental boosters will violate the first rule of medicine: Do no harm.

"You're taking all these medications to increase memory," he said. "What about information overload? You're talking about changing brain chemistry, or even changing the anatomy of the brain."

Remember the Doogie mice? Additional tests showed they not only were smarter, but also more sensitive to chronic inflammatory pain.

"There's a known relationship between cognition and mood," Dr. Williams said. "The more people remember, the more intently focused they are, the more they tend to have depression. It's the old statement, 'Ignorance is bliss.' "

Not always. If a pill possibly aids performance, Mr. Yesalis said, athletes will take it; if a pill definitely aids performance, athletes will take two dozen.

Sports stars could become unwitting lab mice.

"Do large doses of these medications work the same way in normal people as they do in the sick?" Dr. Williams asked. "That's a little scary, because we don't know. Despite our desire to be careful, the public doesn't want to wait for that."

Brave new world?

Nor do they wait. Ritalin, a prescription drug, is used to treat attention deficit disorder. It also is used by students cramming for exams and professionals looking for a productivity boost. An elementary school janitor in Indiana swiped the drug from her school's nursing office, hoping it would speed her cleaning.

The drug has penetrated sports, too.

"I've spoken to athletes on the college and high school levels who readily admit, 'Yeah, I know guys who pop a Ritalin just before game time,' " Dr. Williams said. "That's happening now. They do it for improved focus."

Which hardly makes them unique. According to the scientific journal Nature, Americans spend $1 billion a year on dietary supplements claiming to boost brain power. The demand for cognitive enhancers already exists. As medicine advances, the supply will catch up.

When that occurs, sports organizations will face an ethical dilemma: Should they prohibit the same drugs eagerly embraced by the rest of society?

"If and when these drugs have a real effect on normal people, they are going to put Viagra to shame," said Dr. Paul Root Wolpe, NASA's chief of bioethics. "Look at the market for Prozac, for Ritalin. Americans take psychopharmaceuticals at a greater rate than any other country. And we agonize about it more than any other country."

Ultimately, predicts futurist Jerome Glenn, there will be two leagues -- one for natural humans, and one for their chemically enhanced counterparts.

Think brave new world, only with golf handicaps.

"I remember conversations in the mid-1960s where people actually said, "If you transplant a heart, you've lost your soul,' " said Mr. Glenn, executive director of the American Council for the United Nations University. "There's a time lag with these things. But there is no stopping the human desire to be better."

Should such a future come to pass, count chess champion Polgar among the naturals. For her, sport is a matter of self-expression, not advanced pharmacology.

Besides, she isn't even keen on the only substance currently thought to improve chess performance.

"I don't really drink coffee religiously like some chess players," she said with a laugh.

7) SF Masters Postponed

Because of actions taken by the CalChess Board, the SF Masters Invitational is being rescheduled. Rather than stipulating a new date, I'd like to get your views on a few issues.

1) Would you prefer mid-July, early November or MLK weekend in January?

2) How many rounds would you prefer?

3) Time control assuming 2 rounds per day

4) Should Southern California masters also be invited?

5) Any other desires?

I greatly apologize for the inconvenience, but because the overall festival was replaced by a kid's tournament, there is no way to integrate the Masters with the publicity and public attention it deserves. We'll have a good event, done properly, but it won't be this May.

Eric Schiller

8) Upcoming Events

Upcoming Tournaments at the MI

Charles Powell Memorial - May 14
Stamer Memorial - June 4-5
William Addison Open - June 25
Charles Bagby Memorial - July 16
Vladimir Pafnutieff Memorial - August 6
Bernardo Smith Amateur Under 1800 - August 20-21

Southern California

May 7-8
Orange County Open
Hilton Costa Mesa, 3050 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
Open: 4-SS, 40/2, SD/1. Amateur (U1800): rds 1-3 30/85, SD/30, rds 4-5 40/2, SD/1.

May 28-30
2005 Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic. 6-SS, 40/2, SD/1, 2?-day schedule rds 1-2 G/60. LAX Hilton, 5711 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045. $$10,000 b/200, 60% of each prize guaranteed. In five sections: Open: $$T+1700-750-400-300-200, U2400 400, U2200 700-300-200. Premier (under 2000): $$750-300-200-100. Amateur (Under 1800): $$750-300-200-100. Reserve (Under 1600): $$750-300-200-100. Booster (Under 1400/unrated): $$T+400-200-100, U1200 T+150, Unr T+150. (Unrated may win Unrated prizes only.) Best game prize $25, all sections eligible. All: half-point byes available, limit 2, rds 5-6 must be requested with entry & cannot be revoked. SCCF membership req ($14, jr. $9), OSA. No checks or credit cards at door. Reg: 8-9:30 a.m. 5-28. Reg: 3-day 8-9:30 a.m. 5-28, 2?-day closes 6 p.m. 5-28. Rds: 3-day 10:30-5 Sat, 10-4:30 Sun-Mon, 2?-day: 6:30-8:45 p.m 5-28, then merges. EF: $81 if received by 5-26, $95 door, Booster section $66 adv, $75 door. On-line entry: Ent: SCCF, c/o John Hillery, 835 N. Wilton Pl. #1, Los Angeles CA 90038. HR: $89 (310) 410-4000, mention chess. Parking $6/day. Inf: NS, W, F. GP: 40. State Championship Qualifier

National and International

Paul Keres Memorial - May 20 - 23
Event Information
Location: Hungarian Cultural Centre, 728 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC
Sections: Open, Under 2000, Under 1600.
Time Control: 40/120, SD/60.
Rounds: Open: 7 Rounds, U2000, U1600: 6 Rounds
Round Times: Friday 5:30 (Open Section only); Saturday: 11:30, 5:30 / Sunday: 10, 4 / Monday: 9, 3 or ASAP.
Prizes: Guaranteed first prizes of $1000, $600 and $400 in their respective sections, other prizes based on entries.
Contact: Stephen Wright,, (604) 221-7148

Oklahoma Chess Foundation presents: GPP: 80 Oklahoma
2005 May 27,28,29,30. 24th North American FIDE Open 9-SS, G/120+10 sec, Holiday Inn (Holidome) 2515 W. 6th Ave (Hwy-51) Stillwater, OK 1-405-372-0800. HR: 60-60-60-60. EF: $40 if postmarked before May 22, $50 at door. EF refunded to FIDE rated players at end of event if at least 8 rounds were played and all FIDE player scoresheets turned in. Reg: Fri NOON-1:45pm. Rds: 2-7, 10-3, 9-2-7, 9-2. $$G 7,500 will not be lowered. $$G $1,000, $900, $800, $700, $600, $500. 11 plaques. $$G 600 each class X-D & below. Unr $100-$50. $100 upset. 2 byes rds 1-7. OCF req $10 from all players. Free Parking. < 2005 OCF GP #3 > Ent: Jim Berry PO Box 351 Stillwater, OK 74076. 1-405-762-1649. NC, CMV, LS, W, USCF, FIDE.

May 28-30 or 29-30 Washington Open. 6SS, 40/2, SD/1 (2-day option Rds 1-3 G/60) The new Lynnwood Convention Center, Seattle Area, 3711 196th St. SW, Lynnwood, WA 98036, 425-778-7155, free parking. Prizes: $$12,500 fully guaranteed. Format: 4 sections, Open: FIDE rated. EF $90 adv. Free Entry to GMs, IMs, WGMs. Prizes: $2000-1000-500-400-300-200-100-100, U2150: $600-400-200-100-100. Premier: U2000, EF $80 adv. $$1000-500-250-200-150-100-50-50, U1850 300-200-100-50-50. Reserve: U1700, EF $70 adv. $670-330-160-130-100-70-35-35, U1550: $200-130-70-35-35. Booster: U1400, EF $60 adv. $330-160-80-65-50-35-20-20, U1200 $100-72-36-20-20. UNR: $250-122-40-40-40. ALL: add $4 to any EF for 2-day schedule. All adv. entries must be rec?d by May 20th, add $12 if later or at site. Ten free raffle tickets for Laptop Raffle if entry rec?d by April 15, 5 free tickets if rec?d by May 1st. Canadians may pay $C at par. Reg: Sat, 3day 5/28 10-11:45, Sun, 2day 5/29 9-9:45. Rds: (3day) Sat 12:30-6:45, Sun 10-5, Mon 9-3, (2day) Sun 10-12:30-3-6:45, Mon 9-3. Byes: 2 avail. Rds 4-6 commit by end of Rd.2, irrev. WCF/OCF memb. req?d. OSA. Side Events: WA Blitz Champ. Sun 10:00 p.m., reg 9-9:45, EF $10. Blindfold Mini-Tnmt/Exhibit, Sat 5 p.m. (Reg. 4:30), Lecture: Sat 10:30- 12:00, to be announced. WCF Membership Meeting: Sun 4 p.m. Scholastic: Sat, 5/28, 5SS, G/30 in separate room. K-3, 4-6, 7-12, Trophy Awards. Rds: 10-11:15-1-2:15-3:30. Scholastic Entries to: WCF Scholastic Director, David Hendricks, 2439 220th PL NE, Sammamish, WA 98074, 425-868-3881, Clock Simul, Mon 12:30, G/75 (reg 11:30-12:15). Book/Software/Equipment Vendor, Snacks on site, nearby hotels, restaurants, shopping. HR $69 incl. cont?l breakfast, Best Western Alderwood, 19332 36th Ave. W, Lynnwood WA 425-775-7600, 1 block from Center, reserve by May 20. Ent/Info: WCF Tnmt Coordinator, Carol Kleist, 2420 S. 137th St, Seattle WA 98168 , 206-242-7076, All Checks payable to WCF. Also see

Las Vegas International Chess Festival

The Las Vegas International Chess Festival comprises of the following events: June 9th, Polgar Sisters Tandem Simul! For the first time in over 10 years the Polgar sisters, Susan, Judit and Sofia will give a tandem simul. June 9th, National Open Blitz Championship 7 double rounds, seeded Swiss format tournament. June 10th, Breakfast with the Polgar Sisters June 10th-12th, National Open Tournament $55,000 guaranteed prize fund! First place, $5000. 6 round, seeded Swiss format. 8 different sections. US Championship Qualifier. June 13th, US Game/10 Championship $5,000 guaranteed prize fund. 7 round, seeded Swiss format. June 13th-18th, US Senior Championship Open to US residents/citizens born before 6/13/1955. 6 round, seeded Swiss format, one round a day and this is also a US Championship Qualifier. June 13th-18th, US "Under 50" Championship Open to US residents/citizens born on or after 6/13/1955. 6 round, seeded Swiss format, one round a day. You can find out more information about all the above events, along with online entry at

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