The venerable Chess Room at the Mechanic’s Institute (https://www.milibrary.org/chess)
in the beautiful city of San Francisco
is a treasure.
If you are a Chess player a trip is de rigeur, and should be on every player’s bucket list. It is steeped in history and legend. From a, History of the Chess Room one learns, “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 Mechanics’, 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.” (https://www.milibrary.org/chess-room-history)
The Chess Room Newsletter appears in my inbox each week and will appear in yours too when you join the mailing list. What follows emanates from issue #977. The new director, Abel Talamantez,
had some big shoes to fill when taking over from IM John Donaldson
and, with a little help from friends, has done a magnificent job, especially considering the pandemic. There is FM Paul Whitehead’s Column,
and that of GM Nick de Firmian,
from which I take the liberty of publishing his insightful commentary on the recent debacle of former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov:
The Old Man and the Chessboard
In Hemingway’s famous novel about an aging fisherman, the protagonist battles for days to reel in a great marlin. Ultimately he wins the battle against the marlin, but fails when encountering too many sharks that eat the marlin tied to his boat and steal his hard-earned victory.
The Grand Croatian Chess Tour saw the return of the great Garry Kasparov to the chess board. He too ran into a bunch of sharks who stole all his points, and in eighteen rounds of blitz chess against the young top players of today Kasparov scored only two and a half points. This disappointing showing is usually done by an amateur who gets to play with the pros, and that player is often labeled the “fish” of the tournament. It was painful to see how a great champion can fall.
“The old get old and the young get stronger” sang Jim Morrison.
So perhaps we must resign ourselves to playing worse chess as we age. Here we have some good news for those who wish to defy the march of time. Second place in this same tournament went not to one of the young sharks, but to 51 year old Vishy Anand. Anand is of course a former world champion and was a rival to Kasparov in the 1990’s. It was inspiring to see him vanquishing players half his age. The rest of us may take solace that excellence at chess isn’t just about age, but about staying motivated and dedicated to the game. (https://www.milibrary.org/chess-newsletters/977)
I strongly urge you to check out the MIN, as the Mechanic’s Institute Newsletter has come to be called.
Some of the games from the Tuesday Night Marathon have been recently broadcast at the ChessBomb. Three games caught my attention and I put them through the opening wringer for your enjoyment and/or amusement, and hopefully, edification.
Abel Talamantez vs Albert Starr
Mechanics Institute Tuesday Tournament 2021 round 02
- d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 d6 7. Be2 Be6 8. Ng5 Bd7 9. h4 h6 10. Nf3 Be8 11. Qb3 b6 12. d5 Nbd7 13. Nd4 Nc5 14. Qc2 a5 15. f3 Bf7 16. O-O-O e5 17. dxe6 Nxe6 18. g4 Nxf4 19. exf4 Qc8 20. gxf5 c5 21. fxg6 cxd4 22. gxf7+ Rxf7 23. Rxd4 Ne8 24. Re4 Nc7 25. Rg1 Kh8 26. Bd3 Ne6 27. Nb5 Qc5 28. Rge1 Nxf4 29. Re8+ Rxe8 30. Rxe8+ Rf8 31. Re1 Nxd3+ 32. Qxd3 Qf2 33. Re2 Qf1+ 34. Kc2 Be5 35. Qd2 Rf6 36. Rxe5 Qxc4+ 37. Kb1 dxe5 38. Qd8+ Kg7 39. Qe7+ Qf7 40. Qxe5 Qg6+ 41. Kc1 Qg1+ 42. Kd2 Qf2+ 43. Kd3 Qxf3+ 44. Kd2 Qf4+ 45. Qxf4 Rxf4 46. h5 Rb4 0-1 (https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-mechanics-institute-tuesday-tournament/02-Talamantez_Abel-Starr_Albert)
1.d4 f5 2. Nf3 (SF 14 @depth 50 goes with 2 c4. Just sayin’…) 2…Nf6 (This is the choice of StockFish and it should be yours. Dragon breath Komodo fires out 2…e6) 3. c4 (SF plays 3 g3) 3…g6 (SF 11 @depth 33 plays this but SF 13 @depth 40 broke my heart by showing 3…e6. Now I want to know what LCZero 0.28-dev+_69626 would play? Someone reading this please get in touch with the techeads at TCEC and send me the answer! The match for the title of best playing thing in the universe is tied with one each after six games. Like David Spinks said, “You gotta pull for somebody, MAN!” Now I am pullin’ for LCZero!) 4. Nc3 (SF plays 4 g3) 4…Bg7 (Two SF programs play 4…d6; SF 13 plays the game move) 5. Bf4 (The Smelly Fish prefers 5 g3) 5…O-O (SF plays 5…d6) 6. e3 d6 7. Be2 (SF & Houdini play 7 c5, yet 7 h3 has been played more often and has scored better than other moves) 7…Be6 (TN) (SF 13 @depth 43 plays 7…Nc6. SF 020521 would play 7…Ne4)
Dejan Omorjan 2230 FM SRB vs Milos Milosevic 2311 FM SRB
SRB-ch U16 2018
1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 g6 5.Bf4 Bg7 6.e3 O-O 7.Be2 Ne4 8.h4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 h6 10.Qb3 c5 11.O-O Qa5 12.Rac1 Nd7 13.Bh2 Nb6 14.Nd2 Bd7 15.Qb2 Rac8 16.Bf3 Qa6 17.a4 Nxa4 18.Qc2 b5 19.Qa2 bxc4 20.Bd5+ Kh8 21.Bxc4 Qc6 22.Bd5 Qc7 23.Bb3 Nb6 24.Ra1 a5 25.Bf7 Kh7 26.h5 g5 27.Bg6+ Kh8 28.Nf3 a4 29.Bg3 cxd4 30.cxd4 Qc2 31.Rfb1 Qxa2 32.Rxa2 Nd5 33.Rb7 Bc6 34.Ra7 Bb5 35.Ra5 Bc6 36.Rc2 Nb4 37.Rc4 Rb8 38.Ra7 Bd5 39.Rc1 Bb3 40.Rxe7 f4 41.exf4 gxf4 42.Bh4 a3 43.Ree1 Rfc8 44.Ra1 a2 45.Be7 Rb6 46.Kh2 Bd5 47.Red1 Rc4 48.Rac1 Rxc1 49.Rxc1 Rc6 50.Re1 Nc2 51.Bxc2 Rxc2 0-1
Levon Aronian (2813) vs Magnus Carlsen (2862)
Event: Sinquefield Cup 2013
Site: Saint Louis USA Date: 09/10/2013
ECO: A80 Dutch
1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Bf4 d6 6.e3 Nc6 7.Be2 O-O 8.O-O Ne4 9.h3 e5 10.Bh2 exd4 11.exd4 Ng5 12.Nxg5 Qxg5 13.f4 Qf6 14.d5 Nd4 15.Kh1 c5 16.Bd3 Bd7 17.Bg1 Rae8 18.Qd2 a6 19.Rad1 Rb8 20.a4 Qd8 21.Rb1 Qa5 22.Qd1 Qb4 23.Bf2 Rbe8 24.Be1 Qb3 25.Qxb3 Nxb3 26.Bc2 Na5 27.Bd3 Re3 28.Rd1 Rb8 29.Bf2 Ree8 30.Ra1 Bd4 31.Kg1 Be3 32.Bxe3 Rxe3 33.Rad1 Rbe8 34.Kf2 Nb3 35.Rfe1 Rxe1 36.Rxe1 Rxe1 37.Kxe1 Nd4 38.Kd2 Kf7 39.Be2 Kf6 40.Bd1 a5 ½-½
Leon Quin vs Amitoj Singh
Mechanics Institute Tuesday Tournament 2021 round 02
C26 Vienna game
- e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 Nc6 5. f4 exf4 6. Bxf4 d6 7. Nf3 Bg4 8. Qd2 O-O 9. O-O-O a6 10. Nd5 b5 11. Nxf6+ Qxf6 12. Bd5 Nd4 13. Bg5 Qg6 14. Bxa8 Nxf3 15. gxf3 Bxf3 16. Bd5 a5 17. Be3 Bxd1 18. Rxd1 a4 19. Rg1 Qf6 20. Bxc5 dxc5 21. Qg5 Qxg5+ 22. Rxg5 h6 23. Rg1 b4 24. Kd2 Kh7 25. Rf1 f6 26. Ke3 Rd8 27. Bc6 a3 28. bxa3 bxa3 29. Rb1 Rd6 30. Ba4 Ra6 31. Bb3 g5 32. c3 h5 33. d4 Kg7 34. e5 f5 35. Rf1 f4+ 36. Ke4 Kg6 37. d5 c4 38. Bxc4 Ra4 39. Kd4 Kf5 40. Re1 f3 41. e6 Kf6 42. e7 1-0
- e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bc4 (Stockfish considers 3 Nf3 best) 3…Bc5 4. d3 (There is a disagreement here as Komodo would first play 4 Nf3 and after the expected 4…d6 play 5 0-0) 4….Nc6 (Although the game move has been played more often at the ChessBaseDataBase, SF & Komodo play 4…c6) 5. f4 (This move has been played about three times more often than the second most played move, 5 Bg5, at 365Chess, but 5 Nf3 is the best move according to SF and has been played in 982 games as opposed to the 283 games using 5 f4. Surprisingly, 5 Nf3 has scored only 50%, while 5 f4 has scored 60%!) 5…exf4 (5…d6 has been far and away the most often played move here, with 252 games in the CBDB. The move played in the game has only been seen in 17 games. But the move StockFish would play, 5…0-0, has only been seen in 12 games! That’s SF 13 @depth 60 and SF 030621 @depth 50. White has scored only 42% against 5…0-0 in those 12 games. White has scored 60% against 5…d6; and 71% against the game move!) 6. Bxf4 d6 (SF would castle; Houdini plays the game move) 7. Nf3 (SF 080221 would play 7 Qd2. The CBDB has only 2 games with 7 Qd2) 7…Bg4 (SF plays 7…0-0) 8. Qd2 (SF 12 @depth 52 will play 8 Rf1, which will be a new move just as soon as YOU PLAY IT!) 8…O-O 9. O-O-O (TN)
Franke, Johannes vs Tammert, Guenther
Event: FRG-ch U20
Site: Dortmund Date:1982
ECO: C28 Vienna game
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.d3 Bc5 5.f4 d6 6.Nf3 exf4 7.Bxf4 Bg4 8.Qd2 O-O 9.Bg5 Nd4 10.Nxd4 Bxd4 11.Bb3 c6 12.h3 Be6 13.O-O-O Bxb3 14.cxb3 Qa5 15.Kb1 d5 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.Nxd5 Qd8 18.Nxf6+ Qxf6 19.Rhf1 Qe6 20.Qg5 a5 21.Qf5 Qd6 22.a3 b5 23.d4 Rae8 24.Rfe1 g6 25.Qf3 f6 26.Qd3 Re7 27.d5 c5 28.Qxb5 Rb8 29.Qc4 Kg7 30.Rd3 Rbe8 31.Rc3 Rc8 32.Rce3 Qf4 33.Ka2 Qe5 34.Qc3 Qc7 35.e5 fxe5 36.Rxe5 Rxe5 37.Rxe5 1-0
Nicholas Weng vs Chelsea Zhou
Mechanics Institute Tuesday Tournament 2021 round 02
B90 Sicilian, Najdorf
- e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f3 e6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qd2 O-O 9. g4 b5 10. g5 b4 11. Na4 Nfd7 12. h4 Qa5 13. b3 Bb7 14. Bh3 d5 15. f4 e5 16. Nf5 Re8 17. Bg2 dxe4 18. Nxe7+ Rxe7 19. f5 Nc6 20. Bxe4 Qc7 21. Qg2 Rb8 22. O-O Nd4 23. f6 Re6 24. fxg7 Bxe4 25. Qxe4 Qxc2 26. Qxc2 Nxc2 27. Ba7 Nxa1 28. Bxb8 Nxb8 29. Rxa1 Kxg7 30. Kg2 a5 31. Re1 h6 32. Kf3 hxg5 33. hxg5 Kg6 34. Nc5 Re7 35. Kg4 Nc6 36. Rf1 Nd4 37. Rf6+ Kg7 38. Ne4 Rd7 39. Nd6 Ne6 40. Nf5+ Kg8 41. Nh6+ Kg7 42. Kf5 e4 43. Kg4 Nc5 44. Nf5+ Kg8 45. Kf4 Rd2 46. Nh6+ Kf8 47. Rxf7+ Ke8 48. Rf5 Rf2+ 49. Ke3 Rxf5 50. Nxf5 Nd3 51. Kxe4 Nc1 52. g6 Nxa2 53. Ke5 1-0
- e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f3 (Komodo @depth 45 plays 6 Be3; Stockfish 10
@depth 33 plays 6 h3. I would not make this up…) 6…e6 (SF says 6…e5 is best. Who are we to argue?) 7. Be3 Be7 (SF & Deep Fritz prefer 7…b5) 8. Qd2 (Komodo plays this move, but SF @depth 63 prefers 8 g4, a move of which there are only 21 examples in the CBDB. There are 430 games with the move played in the game) 8…O-O (Fritz, and his bro Deep Fritz like this move, but Dragon Breath would play 8…b5) 9. g4 b5 (SF & Komodo prefer the most often seen move by humans, 9…Nc6)10. g5 (SF 13 0-0-0; Houdini plays 10 a3) 10…b4 11. Na4 (TN)
Strokov, Anatoli (2244) vs Krasnov, Vladimir (2256)
Event: Russia CC-ch
Site: Russia Date: 03/22/2007
ECO: B80 Sicilian, Scheveningen variation
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Be3 Be7 7.f3 O-O 8.Qd2 a6 9.g4 b5 10.g5 b4 11.Nce2 Nfd7 12.O-O-O a5 13.Kb1 Ne5 14.Ng3 Ba6 15.f4 Bxf1 16.fxe5 dxe5 17.Nxe6 Qxd2 18.Rxd2 fxe6 19.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 20.Nxf1 Nc6 21.Rd7 Rd8 22.Rxd8+ Bxd8 23.c3 Kf7 24.Ng3 1-0
As this post was being put together I learned the director of the Mechanic’s Institute Chess Room, Abel Talamantez, has been name the organizer of the year!
MI Chess Director Named Organizer of the Year
This past year has presented a new challenge for the Mechanics’ Institute (MI) Chess Department as well as the general chess community, with over-the-board activities halted due to mandated closures. Nevertheless, despite COVID-19 restrictions for in-person contact and the shelter-in-place order, there was a bright spot: virtual chess. The MI Chess team took this challenge head-on and created online opportunities for chess instruction and competition, as well as social events.
Recently, MI Chess Director Abel Talamantez
received word that he was the 2021 recipient of the U.S. Chess Federation’s Organizer of the Year Award. Each year, this prestigious award is bestowed upon a member of the chess community who organizes and hosts events at the national and international levels, such as the 2020-2021 Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship (January, 2021), U.S. Amateur Team West Championship (January, 2021), U.S. Junior Chess Congress (April, 2021), and the International Club Team Matches (February, 2021. This is the second time an MI staff member has received the U.S. Chess Federation award. In 2017, Dr. Judit Sztaray, General Manager of MI’s Youth Outreach and Events won the Organizer of the Year Award.
Besides the honor and prestige of this latest award, Talamantez believes that recognition such as this helps to “bring chess out of the box” by gathering people together in a positive way and fostering a strong sense of community. With this mission-driven purpose, he spends his time teaching chess strategy while promoting other hidden benefits of the game, including critical thinking skills, learning from mistakes, sportsmanship, and the satisfaction of being part of a larger community.
Over this past year, the MI Chess Club has been busier than ever, nimbly moving to a pandemic-enforced online environment, hosting virtual games, matches, tournaments, and classes on its live chess Twitch channel. Under Talamantez’ leadership, MI has hosted matches with other historic chess clubs, including the Zurich Chess Club (1807), Hamburg Chess Club (1830), Edinburgh Chess Club (1822), and Royal Dutch Chess Club (1852). This was significant as these clubs are the four oldest continuously-operating chess clubs in the world, with the Mechanics’ Institute (1854) being fifth.
Talamantez has also organized several special events, such as the Thompson Family Foundation (sponsored by Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson’s family in March 2021) and the San Francisco Scholastic Chess Championship (sponsored by AO Dragge Foundation in March 2021). Sponsored events such as these enable more students to compete, thus making chess accessible for all and that is Talamantez’ mission – inclusiveness for all. “Organizing community and special events are what give me the most pleasure,” says Talamantez. “Outreach into the community has enormous value. Chess brings people together in a good way, and that is truly important.” (https://www.milibrary.org/blog/mi-chess-director-named-organizer-year)