Mechanics' Institute Chessroom Newsletter #71

"Let us depart from science. Chess can never reach its height by following in the path of science: Let us, therefore, make a new effort and with the help of our imagination turn the struggle of technique into a battle of ideas."
1) IM Ricardo De Guzman wins Jessie Jeans
2) Busy Week in the Bay Area
3) MI Chess History: Ernest Clarke
4) Frank Niro Interim USCF Director
5) GM and IM Norm Events at Penn State 
6) Chess Display at Davis Public Library
7) Chess Donations to MI Library
8) Upcoming Events

1) IM Ricardo De Guzman wins Jessie Jeans

Filipino International Master Ricardo De Guzman won the Jessie Jeans Open held January 19-20 in Santa Rosa. De Guzman's 4-0 score netted him $250. John Jafray and Erik Stuart tied for second in the open section. Cal Magoday and P.J. Vachon won the Reserve group and Conlan Rios was first in the Booster. A total of 48 players participated in the event sponsored and directed by International Arbiter Michael Goodall.

2) Busy Week in the Bay Area

Bay Area players will have their fill of chess activity this week. The action starts tonight at the Mechanics' Institute with MI GM-in-Residence Alex Yermolinsky giving a free lecture from 5:15 pm - 6:15 pm. Round two of the Tuesday Night Winter Marathon begins right afterwards at 6:30. It's still not to late to enter with a half point bye for round one. Sixty-one players are currently competing in the eight round event making it one of the largest, if not the largest, weekly tournaments in the United States.

Wednesday the MI features another doubleheader. Yermo will be giving a lecture from 5:15 pm to 6:15 pm and at 6:30 pm will face off with Polish GM Alex Wojtkiewicz in a Fischer Random Chess exhibition. Both events are free to all.

The Bay Area Masters, a five round Swiss open to players rated over 2200. Will be held at the MI this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. IMs Rey, Shipman, De Guzman and Donaldson are already signed up to play. Spectators are welcome.

Those rated below 2000 have a special event for them in Hercules this weekend. Full details, including driving instructions, are offered below in Upcoming Events.

3) Ernest J. Clarke of San Francisco (1877-1948)

As part of our ongoing look at Bay Area Chess history we feature this obituary of MI Chess Room stalwart E.J. Clarke. His column in the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1920s is an invaluable source of information for MI Chess Room activities during this period.

"In the death of Ernest J. Clarke of San Francisco on December 16, at the age of 71, chess circles on the West Coast suffered an irreparable loss. He had been ill about six weeks. Several years ago he had retired from business, but later resumed work as linotype operator for the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, with which he was connected altogether 31 years. Earlier, he had been with the San Francisco Chronicle, for which he also conducted a weekly chess column.

In this connection it is of interest to mention that he preceded Dr. Emanuel Lasker as chess editor of the New York Evening Post. The latter took over about the time when, late in 1904, he started Lasker's Chess Magazine, in the conduct of which the world champion enjoyed the advice and cooperation of the newspaperman.

At that time, Mr. Clarke was living in Brooklyn and was a close associate of Frank J. Marshall, also a Brooklyn resident at that time. Associated with Mr. Clarke in the conduct of the Chronicle chess department was A. J. Fink, noted Californian expert and problem composer.

Born in Rochester, NY, November 17, 1877, Mr. Clarke moved to San Francisco in 1908. There he joined the Mechanics Institute Chess club and in the course of time became one of its most valued members, in fact, he was regarded as one of the greatest and most dependable leaders in its activities.

In addition to being a chess editor and organizer, he was recognized as on of the strongest players on the Coast. He was Pacific Coast champion from 1911 to 1913 and, in the first California State championship tournament of 1928, he shared third and fourth prizes with Harry Borochow, below E. W. Gruer, who made a clean score, and S. Mlotkowski. He was fond of classical music and a student of Shakespeare and French literature.

During 1901, Mr. Clark married Hattie Hutchinson of New York. Their children, who survive, are Mrs. Erwin Berndt of San Francisco; Lincoln of Woodside, Calif.; and Walter, of San Francisco. He remarried in 1934 to Mrs. Celia Jolly of Kentucky. Three sisters are living in Oakland and one brother, in San Jose."

(The Bulletin is indebted for most of this information to Mr. Carl J. Bergman of San Francisco).

American Chess Bulletin 1948

4) Frank Niro

We announced in an earlier issue of the Newsletter that Frank Niro is now the interim Executive Director of the United States Chess Federation. The following is his bio from the Kopec Chess Camp brochure where he has served on staff since 1999 (written March 1999 by IM Danny Kopec & NM Hal Terrie):


"Despite a busy career as a hospital administrator, Frank Niro has managed to find enough spare time over the past 27 years to remain involved with chess as a player, journalist, organizer, tournament director, benefactor, teacher and good will ambassador. As a player he has carried as many as 150 correspondence games at a time with a lifetime winning percentage greater than 80%. He won the 1973 American Postal Chess League championship and became a correspondence master in that organization in 1975. He is also active in international correspondence chess through ICCF. Frank is best known in the chess world as a journalist. He was editor of the award winning magazine, CHESS HORIZONS (CH), from 1984 to 1986. During that time, CH was twice chosen as the best state magazine (Massachusetts) by Chess Journalists of America and Frank earned individual awards for layout, photography and writing. In 1985, he was runner up in the balloting by CJA for the prestigious Chess Journalist of the Year Award and received Honorable Mention for his efforts. He is presently editor of PRINCETON CHILDREN'S CHESS NEWS, which is dedicated to the development of scholastic chess in New Jersey. He collaborated on the 1988 publication of FORTY YEARS AT THE TOP, a compilation of games by FIDE Master John Curdo, and edited FM Curdo's most recent booklet, STILL MORE CHESS CAVIAR. He has served on several chess organization Boards and is presently Secretary-Treasurer of the Princeton Children's Chess Foundation. A well-respected and entertaining speaker on many topics, Frank has been invited to give lectures and simultaneous exhibitions in a variety of locations including the Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas as well as chess clubs in New Delhi, India and Cordoba, Argentina."

5) GM and IM Norm Events at Penn State

International Arbiter Jerry Bibuld writes: "I am helping the Pennsylvania State University Chess Club (State College, PA) organize two international norm tournaments (Cat. IV & Cat. X) during the second half of February. The Cat. IV will end on 26 February, two days before the US Masters, which will be held in Chicago, only a few hundred miles away from State College. The Cat. X will end on 27 February. Full details are on the following websites:"

You can contact Jerry at

Either of these events makes a good double bill with the US Masters which runs February 28-March 3. This event will not only be a memorial to Eugene Martinovsky, but will also double as a qualifier for the US Championship with six spots up for grabs. Full details are offered below.

6) Chess Display at Davis Public Library

The Davis branch of the Yolo County Library features a large display of old sets, clocks, books and magazines from around the world courtesy of Val Zemitis. The exhibition will run through the end of February. The library is located near the Davis High School and is open seven days a week. Call (530) 757-5593 for more information.

With National Master Michael Aigner's move from to Stanford University, the Davis Chess Club is no longer in operation, but there are good, active clubs in nearby Woodland and Sacramento.

7) Chess Donations to MI Library

Thanks to MI member Kevan Gross for his generous donation of chess video tapes. The extensive collection of Foxy Opening videos by GMs Daniel King, Nigel Davies, James Plaskett and IM Andrew Martin will soon be available to check out.

Donations to the MI, which is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, are tax deductible. The MI acquires new chess books and videos on a regular basis supplemented by donations from the membership. This has enabled the MI to offer its members one of the largest freely circulating collections of chess material in the country (700+ books and over 50 videos). However, this policy is now under attack. Over 25% of the chess books at the MI disappeared from 1996 to 2000, a much greater percentage than any other part of the library collection. These books, which are marked with the MI stamp, can't be resold. The only rationale for their disappearing is that somebody wants to complete their collection while denying everyone else the use of these materials. This is not a way to generate good karma! If this doesn't stop, more and more books will be placed in a locked case and only available for use in the library.

8) Upcoming Events at the MI

Alex Yermolinsky writes:
No, we didn't set the pieces up wrong!
Part II (Wednesday January 23rd at the Mechanics')

Aleksander Wojtkiewicz, banned for life from playing for his country by the Commies in control of the Polish Chess Federation, has settled down in the Land of the Free. His new place of residence is University of Maryland (Baltimore County), where he shares his wisdom with the brightest prospects of American chess. However, don't write him off as a Goichberg circuit warrior just yet. This weekend he's on the road again, playing in Los Angeles. We took advantage of this great opportunity to get the noted Human Rights Champion to come to the Mechanics' and demonstrate his skill on the 64 squares!

On July 2, 2001 Wojt was joined by our GM-in-residence Alex Yermolinsky for an exciting game of FischerRandomChess! Many of you witnessed it live or saw Yermo's post-game analysis on our website. Now it's time for revenge!

On Wednesday January 23rd, Wojt will visit Yermo's traditional lecture beginning at 5:15 pm, and then the contest will start at 6:30 pm. Don't miss this unique event!

January 25 - 27, 2002.
Bay Area Masters Spring Grand Prix I (*)
Prizes: 1st $1000 2nd $500 3rd $200
Based on 22 paid entries.
Site: Mechanics' Institute Chess Room, 57 Post St.
4th Floor, San Francisco, Ca. 94104
Dates: January 25, 26 and 27, 2002.
Schedule: 5 round Swiss
Open to players rated 2200 USCF and above (December 2001 rating list) USCF and FIDE rated.
Time control: 30/90 + 30/1 + SD/15.
Rounds: Friday 1/25 at 5pm. Saturday 1/26 and Sunday 1/27 at 11 am and 5pm.
Entry fee: $100, if received by 1/22, $120 thereafter. GMs and IMs
free. On site registration 1/25 4-4:30pm.
Send entries to: Guillermo Rey, 435 Firecrest Ave, Pacifica, Ca. 94044.
Info: Guillermo at 650-355-0305 or
Organized by IM Guillermo Rey and directed by Mechanics' Institute Chess Room staff.
* Two other similar tournaments will be held during the first half of the year as part of the Grand Prix. The player who scores the most total points in all three tournaments will receive an additional $300. Tournaments dates will be announced soon.( Before the end of 2001).


Hercules Amateur Championship
Under 2200 Hercules Amateur Championship $1,200 based on 45 paid entries January 26th and 27th at The Mechanics Bank (Operations Center), 725 Alfred Noble Dr., in Hercules, CA!!
Directions: To East Bay: From SF/Berkeley: take Interstate I-80 East to State Route 4/ Hercules Exit (willow Rd.). Make right turn onto Willow Rd. then make another right turn onto Sycamore Dr. Then a right turn on San Pablo Ave. Then make a left turn on John Muir Parkway, North Shore Business Park at the intersection of John Muir Parkway and San Pablo Ave. Then make the only right turn onto Alfred Noble Dr. Go up the hill to 725 Alfred Noble Dr. The Mechanics Bank. From State Hwy 4: Travel East on State HWY 4 to John Muir Parkway Exit. Keep straight into the North Shore Business Park at the intersection of San Pablo Ave. and John Muir Parkway. Then make the only right turn onto Alfred Noble Dr. Go up hill to 725 The Mechanics Bank (Operations Center). From Vallejo/ Napa: take Interstate I-80 West to Willow Rd. Exit. Make Right off interstate and go up to San Pablo Ave.-Make the only left turn. Make a Right turn onto John Muir Parkway at the intersection of State Route 4 and John Muir Pkwy, into the North Shore Business Park. Then make the only right turn on Alfred Noble Dr. Go up hill to 725 The Mechanics Bank. Free Parking / skittles room!
One Section: 4 Round Swiss, G/2, (Limited to 50 Players)
$350-250-150, Best A $130, Best B $120, Best C $100,Best D/E/Unr. $100.
Pre-entries: $35.00 if postmarked by 1/18/01; $40.00 at site/no checks at site. Make checks payable and send to: Rico Adkins, 15696 Crestwood Dr. #172, San Pablo, CA 94806. Please include your name USCF number and Exp. Date, and rating with entry. Byes must commit before first round. USCF membership required, membership renewal available at site. Dec. Supplement used. Questions/ Info. (510) 262-9061. Reg. ends at Sat 9:00 am. Rounds: Sat 10am, 3:30pm; Sun 10am 3:30pm. Bring sets, clocks.

A Heritage Event
Feb. 16-18 GPP: 20 N California
29th Annual People's Chess Tournament.
6SS, 45/2, SD/1. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union, Corner of Bancroft & Telegraph Ave, U.C. Berkeley Campus. $$G 3200. Open: EF: $40 rec'd by 2/9, $45 at site,
$500-350-200, U2300 $110. Expert: (2000-2199) EF: $39 rec'd by 2/9, $44 at site, $$300-150-75. Class A: (1800-1999) EF: $38 rec'd by 2/9, $43 at site, $$290-150-75. Class B: (1600-1799) EF: $37 rec'd by 2/9, $42 at site, $$280-140-70. Reserve: (U1600) 4SS, 45/90, SD/1. EF: $27 rec'd by 2/9, $32 at site, $$200-125-50, U1400 $100-50. Reg: 9-10 am sat 2/16. Rds: Open, X,A,B: 11-5:30 Sat., 10-4:30 Sun., 10-4:30 Mon. Reserve: 11-4:30 Sat, 10-3:30 Sun. Bring Equipment-None Supplied. One 1/2 pt Bye available-must be taken at registration, player may play up for $5 add'l. Cks payable to ASUC/Superb. Ent: ASUC/Superb Productions-Academic Games, 5 Eshleman Hall #4500, Berkeley, CA 94720. Info: 415-491-1269 (No phone entries). NS,NC,W,FIDE.

Mar. 23-24. 4th Annual Bay Area Ohlone Tourney.4SS, 30/90, SD/60 College Cafeteria, 43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont, CA.$$(1620 b/100 full entries). 3 sects: Open, open to all. EF $35 if received by 3/21,$40 at site. $$ 300-170-100, U2100 $$ 155, 100. Reserve, open to U1900. EF : $ 35 if received by 3/21, $40 at site. $$ 200-80-70, U1700 $165, 80.Booster, open to U1500. EF: $35 if received by 3/21, $40 at site, $$ 100-60-40. Prizes: Trophy in each sect. +Trophy for best 3 mem. Team. Special EF:Scholastic rated U1100 or new USCF mem., Collegiate/ USCF mem. attending College, $30 in adv., $35 at site. All: $3 CalChess discount. Reg.9-9:30 amRds. Sat. 10-3:30, Sun. 9:30-3. Ent/Info: Hans Poschmann, 4621 Seneca Park Ave., Fremont, CA 94538,

National Events

*A U.S. Championship Qualifier*
Feb. 28-Mar. 3 GPP: 200 Illinois
2002 U.S. Masters: Eugene Martinovsky Memorial.
"The Homecoming of the American Master" 7SS, 40/2, SD/1. Hyatt Regency Oak Brook, 1909 Spring Rd., Oak Brook, IL. 630-573-1234. Free parking. Adjacent to Oak Brook Shopping Ctr. Open to players 2200+ or all who have ever been so rated, plus invited jrs. rated 2000+. EF: $85 rec'd by 2/20; $100 later until 2/25. No site ent's. GMs/IMs play free., confirm IN WRITING by 2/20. $$22,000 Gtd: $6000-4000-2500-1500-1000-700. 2400-2499: $600-350-150; 2300-2399: $600-350-150; 2200-2299: $500-250-100; U2200: $500-250-100. Top non-master jr: $400. Plus $1500 in pt. pool prizes to non-winners of above prizes. $200 Best Game Prize, $150 Best Endgame, $150 Best Combo. HR: $94 sgl./dbl. Mention US Masters & res. by phone/mail by 2/14 for chess rate. 1/2 pt. bye avail. in rds 1 or 2, must commit w/ent. Rds: 2/28 8pm; 3/1 10:30-5; 3/2 10:30-5; 3/3 9:30-4. Sets/boards provided, bring clocks. Ent: Cks payable to Midwest Chess Assoc., Helen Warren, PO Box 305, Western Springs, IL 60558. 630-663-0688, FAX 630-663-0689, VISA/MC. NS,NC,W.FIDE.

Return to Article Index