Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter #81

"When your opponent has a strategic advantage and virtually controls the board, or when he attacks something that cannot be defended by reasonable means, then the 'threat' or 'blackmail' with nonexistent attacks on the king may induce a mistake."

   GM Mihai Suba

1) IM DeGuzman wins Max Wilkerson Open
2) Spring Tuesday Night Marathon 
3) New Space for the Chess Room
4) 6th Charles Linklater Memorial
5) Foxwoods Open
6) The Turk is coming to town
7) Bobby Fischer's newest innovation
8) MI Chess History
9) Upcoming Events 

1) IM DeGuzman wins Max Wilkerson Open

Filipino IM Ricardo DeGuzman continued his domination of the MI's monthly G/45 events by winning the Max Wilkerson Open on March 30th with a 5-0 score. Among his victims in the 58-player field were Cuban FM Alvaro Blanco and NM Victor Baja (2371). Sharing second with four points were Blanco, Baja, NM Igor Margulis , Expert Alexander Levitan and A players Ben Haun and Felix Rudyak . Daichi Siegrist and Michael Haun tied for top B with 3 points. The same score gave John Steele and Vicenzo Pelliccia top C honors and Aviv Adler the D prize. Top E, for the best under 1200, was divided between Mark Altchek, Stephen Wilson, Yuki Siegrist, Dustin Rudiger and Cameron Jackson who each had two points. Max Wilkerson, who served as MI Chess Director from 1980-1996, had an outstanding event drawing masters Margulis and Paul Gallegos. Anthony Corrales directed this event which set an MI G/45 record for attendance.

Please note that checks for prize winners will be not be mailed out until approximately April 12 as the MI's accountant is taking a well-deserved vacation. The next G/45 event at the MI, The 2nd Imre Konig Memorial, will be held Saturday, April 13.

2) Spring Tuesday Night Marathon

Two rounds into the MI Spring Tuesday Night Marathon the following players have perfect scores in the 59-player event: NMs Igor Margulis, Russell Wong, David Blohm and Rudy Hernandez, Experts Victor Ossipov, Larry Snyder, Igor Traub, and James Jones plus A players Victor Todortsev (who upset top seed Egle Morkunaite) and Andrew Mueckenburger (who upset Expert Mingsen Chen). It's still possible to enter the eight round event with half point byes for rounds one and two.

3) New Space for the Chess Room

Participants in last night's Tuesday Night Marathon were among the first to get the opportunity to use the Chess Room's new space in Room 407 adjacent to the Directors Office. The MI Chess Room, founded in 1855, is the oldest continuously active chess club in the country, but the space it currently occupies is considerably more recent. The MI moved around a lot in the period 1855-1865, but the following year it found a permanent home in a three story building at 31 Post Street in room 10 where it remained until the earthquake and fire of 1906. A month after these disastrous events the Institute and Chess Room reopened in temporary quarters. It was not until 1910 that the current building was opened with the Chess. Room located on the third floor. The expansion of the library eventually led to the Chess Room being moved to the fourth floor in 1923 where it has remained to this day albeit with some minor changes.

Sometime in the next month construction will begin on a long overdue women's bathroom on the 4th floor which will occupy the space where the Chess Room computers are currently occupied. In return for this lost space the Chess Room now has the full-time use of room 407. This second, dedicated room, will allow for much better conditions for Chess Room users as there is now a designated place for skittles and game analysis during tournaments. The Chess Room would like to thank the MI Trustees, Executive Director Jim Flack, Building Manager Michael Savage, Special Events Director Laura Shepherd, Mohammed Shaikh and Anthony Corrales for their help in making this possible. Jim and Michael also note that due to the speedy move there will be about a month while the Chess Room has both it's old and new space making it possible to hold a tournament with over one hundred players without crowding. The attendance record (pre-fire code!) for the Chess Room was set at the 1974 Stamer Memorial with 119 players. The Max Wilkerson Open last Saturday set a one-day record with 58. Will the Imre Konig Memorial on April 13 break it?

4) 6th Charles Linklater Memorial

The 6th Charles Linklater International, an 11-player IM norm round robin, starts this Thursday at 5pm. The field consists of IMs Ricardo DeGuzman, Guillermo Rey and John Donaldson, FMs Ricardo Lobo, Vladimir Mezentsev, Cyrus Lakdawala, Adrian Keatinge-Clay and Frank Thornally plus NMs Shivaji Shivkumar, Chethan Narayan and Vivek Nambiar. This will be the first tournament for Frank Thornally of Marinwood in more than twenty years. He was one of the top Bay Area players in the 1960s and 70s and represented the United States at the World Student Team Chess Championships at Ybbs, Austria, in 1968. Welcome back Frank!

This Linklater is funded entirely by generous donations from Anthony Corrales and Michael Goodall and entry fees from the players. If you would like to make contributions to the Mechanics', which enjoys tax-deductible 501(c) (3) status, please contact Chess Room Director John Donaldson at 415) 421-2258 or

5) Foxwoods Open

GMs Ilya Smirin, Alexander Goldin, Ildar Ibragimov, Gregory Kaidanov, Joel Benjamin and Giorgi Kacheishvili tied for first at 5.5 from 7 in the 4th Annual Foxwoods International held March 28-31 at the Foxwoods Resort Casino & Hotel in Connecticut. The six qualifiers for the US Championship are Maurice Ashley, Michael Mulyar, Alan Bennett, Alex Stripunsky, Larry Kaufman and Igor Foygel with Marc Esserman as first alternate. Bill Goichberg's Continental Chess Association organized the event.

6) The Turk is coming to town

Do you remember the Turk? No, we are not talking about Grandmaster Suat Atalik of Istanbul, but the famous chessplaying machine of the 18th century which is the subject of a recent book (THE TURK: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth Century-Chess Playing Machine) by Tom Standage. He will be talking about "Thinking about Thinking Machines, 1769-2002" and signing copies of THE TURK in San Francisco on the following dates:

* May 28 @ 7:00 PM: The Booksmith, 1644 Haight Street
* May 29 @ 12:30 PM: Stacey's Booksellers, 581 Market Street

For additional information about the book and/or Tom Standage, please visit

7) Bobby Fischer's newest innovation

The following piece appeared at the ChessBase web site ( at the beginning of this month.

New Fischer moves

Although the reclusive ex-world champion Bobby Fischer has not played much chess in the last 30 years, he has introduced a number of important innovations into the game. After the Fischer Clock and Fischer Random Chess he is now proposing a further change, the "Fischer move." It was presented to FIDE and will come up for a vote at the Executive Council meeting in Dubai.

Bobby Fischer has already introduced two important innovations that have received a larger or smaller degree of acceptance by the chess community. First came the "Fischer clock," which adds a small time increment after every move, thereby alleviating the brutal time trouble some players tend to get into. Then came "Fischer Random Chess," which scrambles the position of the pieces at the beginning of the game. This is designed to eliminate the very extensive openings preparation that is encountered in top-level chess today.

Now Fischer has turned his sights on what he believes is an unbearable preponderance of tactics in chess. His declared intention is to return the game to its origins and not allow the strategic spirit to be destroyed by "cheapo shots constantly fired by younger players." To this end he has submitted a rule modification, which FIDE is currently considering and will present to the delegates at its next general council meeting during the Dubai Grand Prix.

Fischer's proposal adds one rule to section 4.1-4.7 ("The act of moving the pieces") in FIDE's "Laws of chess." The new article 4.8 states that: "After a player has registered a move by his opponent he may, as part of his next move, either execute a move in the form stipulated by the rules 4.1-4.7 given above; or instead he may execute the opponent's and his own previous moves in reverse order, replacing any captured pieces onto their original squares, and then execute an alternative move, in accordance with the rules 4.1-4.7 given above."

The new "Fischer move" (which is also referred to as a "retractor") does not change the original flavour of the game in fact many believe it actually reflects it more completely than the rules practised in tournaments today. The new rule has been extensively tested in informal play, where the advantages of the system are immediately obvious. Games are no longer decided by simple tactical strokes, the outcome depends much more on a painstaking exploratory strategy of "trial and error." The only disadvantage is that games may sometimes last a little longer, especially when a number of Fischer moves are executed.

The new Fischer move rule also provides an interesting solution to the problem of chess playing computers, which are the sharpest tactical entities on the planet. Our own experiments have shown that players who were scoring zero points against the 2750-rated Fritz program were actually winning some of their games when allowed to make extensive use of retractor moves.

Fide has stressed that a decision in Dubai to adopt the Fischer move rule would not mean that it would be immediately implemented in all tournaments organised or sanctioned by the world chess organisation. "We anticipate that it will take a number of years before the new rule is universally accepted," said a ranking Fide official. "Until then both forms of chess can coexist."

Many players are very enthusiastic about Fischer move games. "Retractor games remove the unnecessary tension of ruining your game with stupid blunders," said one leading grandmaster. "I can be much more daring in my choice of moves." But Judit Polgar, the world's strongest female player, disagrees. "I have my doubts about this new rule, maybe because I am not very good at it. I lost an retractor game in an important tournament once."

I would say this is a pretty good April Fools Joke!

8) MI Chess History

We tend to think of Chess Life and USCF ratings as having been around forever but in fact both only go back around 50 years or so. Chess Life started as a newspaper in 1946 and didn't adopt a magazine format until around 1960. The rating system started in the early 1950s, but was so slow, that many area around the country developed there own regional rankings. Some of these hung around for a long time with Northwest Ratings only disappearing in the 1980s!

Here are the top Bay Area players as of May 1, 1951, on the Northern California Chess Ratings system.

International Master
George Koltanowski

National Master
A.J. Fink


Charles Bagby, Leslie Boyette, Carroll Capps, Neil Falconer, J.B. Gee, Henry Gross, Wade Hendricks, W.G. McClain, Vladimir "Walter" Pafnutieff, Earl Pruner and H.J. Ralston

9) Upcoming Events

Mechanics' Institute Events:

2nd Imre Konig Memorial Saturday, April 13th
5 round Swiss One Day G/45, Rated at 1/2 K

Rounds: 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm.
Late Registration: 9 - 9:30am
Time Control: Game/45 Entry Fee: $25 for MI members, $30 for non-members, $5 discount for juniors, $2 discount for CalChess members. One discount per player. Late fee of $5 for entries received after April 8. Prizes ($600 b/25): $200-$100, Under 2200: $90, Under 2000: $75, Under 1800: $70, Under 1600: $65

The Walter Lovegrove Senior Open April 27th -28th, 2002
4 Round Swiss Open to players 50 and over
Round One 10:00am, Round Two 4:30 - April 27th...............
Round Three10:00am, Round Four 4:30 - April 28th Late Registration is from 9-9:30 am on April 27th.
Time Control: 50/2, SD/1 Entry Fee:$30 for MI members, $35 for non-members. Both $5 more after April 24th. $2 discount to CalChess members.
Prizes (600 b/20) :$200-$125-$75. Class A: $80, Class B: $65, Class C and under: $55

Regional Events:

CalChess San Mateo Swiss
May and 5

Four USCF-rated games for $20! No cash prizes, an inexpensive weekend Swiss! Support your state organization! Any profit from this event will benefit CalChess!
CalChess San Mateo Swiss
When: May 4 and 5, 2002
Where: American Legion Hall, 130 South Blvd., San Mateo (from Highway 92 in San Mateo, exit El Camino Real north, first right on 17th Ave., first left on Palm, first right on South Blvd.).
Format: Four-round Swiss in eight sections: Master, Expert, A, B, C, D, E, Under 1000
(Ratings from April 2002 supplement will be used; strict class divisions no one plays up).
Round Times: 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. both days (half-point byes available all rounds, bye for round 4 must be requested before May 4). Late registration 10 a.m. Saturday.
Time Control: Sudden death in 2 hours.
Prizes: Three trophies or plaques in each section.
Entry Fee: $20 to CalChess members (membership expiration dates before May 1, 2002), $40 to non-members, if received by May 1. $10 more at site. USCF membership required.
A one-year membership in CalChess
gives you discounted entry fees into participating tournaments, and six issues of the award-winning California Chess Journal
A regular one-year membership costs $15.
Registration and Information: Tournament director Frisco Del Rosario, 126 15th Ave., San Mateo CA 94402-2414 (650) 868-5187 no calls before 4 p.m., e-mail preferred to
Graphic: Beneath the San Mateo/Hayward Bridge
Name ____________________________________________________________________ Address _________________________________________________________________
__ City _______________________________________ State ___________ Zip ___________
E-mail address ______________________________
USCF ID# __________________________________ Exp. date _______ Rating _________
Checks payable to Frisco Del Rosario ($20 entry fee for CalChess members, $40 for non-members who may join CalChess for $15 for one year, $28 for two years, $41 for three years, scholastic memberships $13 for one year), mail to 126 Fifteenth Ave., San Mateo CA 94402.

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