Mechanics' Institute Chess Room News #34

"Devastating moves are like dissonant sounds; they shatter the eardrums. Their appeal is to an atavistic brutality in our natures, not to our finer sensibilities. In contrast, a "quiet" move is the epitome of finesse. A soft answer turns away wrath, but its subdued quality makes it no less efficient."


1) Walter Lovegrove Senior Open

International Master Walter Shipman, National Masters David Blohm and Keith Vickers and Experts Agnis Kaugars and Larry Snyder tied for first place at 3-1 in the Walter Lovegrove Senior Open held April 28-29 at the Mechanic's' Institute. The 19-player event was named in honor of Walter Romaine Lovegrove (1869-1956) who was one of San Francisco's strongest players for half a century. Five players rated over 2200 competed in the 19-player event.

2) MI Kids in Kansas City at the Supernationals

Alex Setzepfandt and Aaron Garg were the top finishers among Bay Area youngsters competing in the Scholastic Supernationals this past weekend in Kansas City. Alex tied for 8-18th in the K-6 section at 5.5 from 7 and Aaron Garg tied for 7th-25th in the K6 under 900 group with 6-1. Michael Pearson was 26th in the K-8 group with a score of 5-2. Aaron's sister Elisha and Steven Zierk also competed successfully. Close to 5000(!) kids competed in this event which included elementary, junior high and high school students.

3) Man versus Machine

The Bay Area's Eric Schiller will be serving as an arbiter for the upcoming battle between Vladimir Kramnik and Deep Fritz this fall in Bahrain. John Henderson, chess editor for The Scotsman provides the details.

Ever since Garry Kasparov's infamous match in 1997 when he lost to IBM's Deep Blue, Man vs. Machine has added a new dimension to the game of chess as they worked out which was better: human intuition or silicon brute force.

This October in Bahrain, Kasparov's human nemesis, Vladimir Kramnik, will attempt to restore the honor of the human race when he plays an eight game match organized by the Brain Games Network against Deep Fritz from the Hamburg-based ChessBase stable - with the Emir putting up a purse of $1m for Kramnik if he wins, $800,000 if he draws and $600,000 if he loses.

In order to find Kramnik's challenger from the silicon world, a special tournament recently took place in Cadaques, Spain, under the auspices of one of the world's leading computer chess experts, Prof. Enrique Irazoqui. Despite an outcry before the start that leading programs such as Rebel and Chess Tiger were excluded in this unique Candidates-like qualifier, two of the most recognized names in the silicon game, Deep Fritz (written by Frans Morsch and Mathias Feist) and Deep Junior (written by Amir Ban and Shay Bushinsky), each running on identical dual Pentium systems (2x933 MHz), slugged it out over a grueling 24-game match (four games a day under a normal time control) to see which would go forward.

Looking every bit the loser after Deep Junior streaked to 5-0 after five games, remarkably, Deep Fritz staged the mother of all comebacks to tie the match 12-12, and goes through to play Kramnik after winning 2-0 in the playoff games. However, it looks as if the programmers will have to consider adding a new feature of "match situation knowledge" to their creations. With three games left to play - and still 2-0 down - Fritz made a dreadful blunder of offering a draw which would have virtually clinched the match for Deep Junior - who unbelievably turned the offer down and went on to lose the game!

Deep Fritz - Deep Junior

BGN World Qualifier, (15)
Torre Attack
1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bg5 Ne4 4 Bf4 c6 5 e3 Qb6 6 Qc1 h6 7 Nbd2 Bf5 8 Nxe4 
dxe4 9 Ne5 Nd7 10 Nc4 Qd8 11 Be2 g5 12 Bg3 Bg7 13 Qd2 a5 14 a4 h5 15 h4 
g4 16 0-0 0-0 17 b4 axb4 18 Qxb4 b6 19 Rab1 Qe8 20 Nxb6 Nxb6 21 Qxb6 
Rxa4 22 Qc5! Qd7 23 Rb6 Rfa8 24 Rxc6 R4a5 25 Bb5 Bf8 26 c4 e6 27 Qb6 Qe7 
28 Rc7 Qb4 29 Rb7 Ra2 30 Qc7 Bg6 31 Be8 Rxe8 32 Rxb4 Bxb4 33 Rb1 Bf8 34 
Rb8 f6 35 Rxe8 Bxe8 36 Qc8 Kf7 37 d5 exd5 38 cxd5 Ba4 39 d6 Ra3 40 d7 Ra1+ 
41 Kh2 Bxd7 42 Qxd7+ Kg6 43 Qe8+ Kg7 44 Qxh5 Ra7 45 Qxg4+ Kh8 46 Qxe4 
Thanks to John Henderson

4) Five-Way tie for First in April-May Tuesday Marathon

Kenneth Hills, Michael Aigner, Victor Ossipov, Peter Grey and David Steel are tied for first at 3 1/2 - 1/2 at the midway point of the current Tuesday Night Marathon. A total of 57 players are competing in the event.

5) Before the Fire 1854-1906: The Early Years of the Mechanicss Institute Chess Room

Part One

The Mechanics' Institute building houses the oldest chess club in the United States. It was organized in 1854 when San Francisco was a frontier community. The first meeting of the Mechanics' Institute was held on December 11, 1854 and The Institute was incorporated on April 24, 1855 and this is considered its founding date.

The early years of the Chess Room are not well documented but chess was played during the Gold Rush. The great Pierre Saint- Amant, one of the top players in the world in the 1840s, was French Consul in San Francisco from 1851-52. It appears he left the Bay Area before the founding of the Mechanicss, so the honors for the first world class player to visit San Francisco go to Johann Zukertort who spent nearly a month in the City in July of 1884.

There are conflicting accounts of Zukertortss sojourn in San Francisco. The British Chess Magazine of 1884 (p.351) wrote the following about the world championship contenderss tour of the United States:

From the Mormonss City he went to San Francisco, where he gave during July three blindfold exhibitions. On the first occasion he had seven opponents, defeating six and losing to one. The second time twelve declared war against him, but nine of them were vanquished, two only, Messrs. Redding and Welsh, being victorious, and the other game ending in a drawn battle. The third séance with eleven opponents was a complete triumph for the unseeing player, who defeated them all. His last contest at Frisco of which we have any account was a match of five games with Mr. Redding, Mr. Zukertort backing himself at the odds of five to one every game, on the condition that his adversary took the first move in each game and played the Evans Gambit. The defending player proved successful in every partie, and thus won his bet.”

A slightly different version of the visit to San Francisco is given in the October 1884 issue of The Chess Monthly, an English magazine edited by Zukertort and Leopold Hoffer:

“ Zukertort arrived on the second of July in San Francisco, the centre and terminus of the western world. After a rest of a few days and a loyal observance of the Fourth of July, the daily Chess contest began. Chess play is greatly cultivated in San Francisco and although the Golden City does not possess a Chess club, its amateurs have ample accommodation in a large hall of the Mechanicss Institute, also in a room at the Mercantile Library and at the Bohemian Club. Zukertort played at the Mechanicss Institute a great number of single games, even and at odds; the simultaneous contests were also held at the place, but the blindfold séance took place on the 8th at the Irving Hall, when the single player encountered twelve opponents, and after eight hours play won nine games, lost two and drew one. San Francisco, although up to now hardly known in Chess history, may boast of a very large number of fair players. The strongest of them is Mr. J. Redding, a young lawyer, who contested a little match on even terms, the condition being, Mr. Redding to have the first move and play five times the Evans Gambit, Zukertort to bet 25 to 5. The latter won five games, but especially in the first and second, it was a hard tussle. Next to Mr. Redding we must mention Mr. Heineman, who played a number of games with Staunton, Dr. Marshall, whose standard of play varies more than of any player we met, Mr. Jefferson, late champion of Tennessee, Mr. Selim Franklin, well known at the late Westminster Chess Club and at Simpsonss Divan, and Mr. Critcher, a rising young player of great promise.

The two accounts leave one a little unclear as to exactly how many regular and blindfold simuls Zukertort actually gave in San Francisco during from July 2 to 25. The Chess Monthly has a footnote dealing with this issue: “ Notwithstanding the different reports in American and English Chess columns and periodicals, Mr. Zukertort feels certain that he gave only one blindfold performance in San Francisco.”

The following game has been preserved from Zukertortss 1884 visit. Two years later he lost a bitterly contested match for the World Championship with Wilhelm Steinitz and in 1888 he passed away at the age of 45.

Vienna Opening

Played at the Chess Room of the Mechanics' Institute, on July 21st, 1884

White: J.H. Zukertort Black: Selim Franklin

1.e4 e5 
2.Nc3 Nf6 
3.f4 Nc6 
4.fxe5 Nxe5 
5.d4 Ng6 
6.e5 Ng8 
7.Nc3 d6 
8.Bd3 dxe5 
9.dxe5 Bc5 
10.Bg5 Be7 
11.Be3 Bg4 
12.O-O Nxe5 
13.Nxe5! Bxd1 
15.Nxf7 Qe7 
16.Bb5+ c6 
17.Nxd6+ Qxd6 
18.Rxd6 cxb5 
19.Nxb5 Rc8 
20.Bg5 and White won  

6) Chess Camps

The Mechanics' Institute will be hosting three chess camps this summer. The first, on the weekend of June 16-17, is part of the Kolti Seminar series held to honor the late George Koltanowski. This event, which is being sponsored by the US Chess Trust, is open to players under 21 who are rated over 1600 and appear in either in the April or June USCF Top 50 list for their age. The instructor for this camp is GM Yermolinsky and tuition is free.

A camp for intermediate and advanced youngsters will be held July 30-August 3 and a camp for beginners and novices from August 6-August 10. Information about these camps is available at the Chess Room website under programs for children. The MI website can be found at

7 ) Upcoming Events at the MI

May 13
Charles Powell Memorial (G/60)

June 2
William Addison Open (5 rounds G/45 at ½ K)

June 8-10
Arthur Stamer Memorial

July 21
Charles Bagby Memorial (G/29- QC)

August 18
Vladimir Pafnutieff Memorial (5 rounds G/45 at ½ K)

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