Cutting Edge Opening Theory at the Mechanic’s Institute Tuesday Night Marathon!

I have been avidly following the games of the Tuesday Night Marathon at the venerable Mechanic’s Institute in beautiful downtown San Francisco for a long time. ( Because of the time difference I review the games the next morning with my omnipresent cuppa Joe. One of the things I like is the different openings played in the tournament because they are more akin to the openings the vast majority of Chess players will face over the board. In addition, I believe younger players, or any player new to the game for that matter, will learn more from games with many mistakes than from the games of the very best players because the mistakes made by the elite players are more subtle. I play over the games and take notes to be checked later by machine analysis and human annotations by players such as US Chess Hall of Fame Grandmaster Nick de Firmian, the Grandmaster-in-Residence at the Mechanic’s Institute.

After publishing an earlier post, Tuesday Night Marathon Games, which went viral, I had intended on other posts but there was a problem with the DGT boards and I was afraid of writing about a game that would possibly be annotated by Nicki de (I first heard him called that at a tournament on the left coast. I recall seeing Nick drink a beer before facing Perry Youngworth, if I recall correctly, and it was a Nadjorf and Nick won the game. The young lady who accompanied me took one look at Nick with his light colored surfin’ hair and chisled features and said, “He’s dreamy,”

in a way that would have made most men jealous, but I am not most men. He did, though, look like the kinda of dude that one might see on the beach carrying a surf board…) later when the Mechanic’s Institute Newsletter was published on the following Saturday. I would, therefore, wait until after the MIN came out before writing a post so I could use games not covered by Nick. This time was different, as I only had two games to publish, but both had been annotated by Nick. What to do…After reading the excellent and extremely interesting article by FM Paul Whitehead, Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll, I decided to send an email to the Chess Room Director, Abel Talamantez
ha03.10.2020. Chess Talk. – YouTube

while copying my friend, former California State Chess Champion Dennis Fritzinger, ( and Paul, as I have a plan, prompted by his article, to write a post concerning Chess fiction. Long story short, I was given permission to use anything I wanted as long as “…no one will be offended short of straight plagiarism.” : ) Therefore I want every reader to know what follows is an attempt at some kind of amalgamation. What you read in the opening will be what I usually do when checking the moves with the databases and top programs at the ChessBaseDataBase (, an absolutely free resource provided by All of the comments and annotations are by GM Nick de Firmian and taken right offa the page of the MIN, as were all of the diagrams, which are in exactly the same place as found. I hope you find this interesting and a worthwhile endeavor. If you do, how about leaving a comment on the blog or firing an email blast at the good folks at the Mechanic’s Institute Chess Room ( And if you missed this earlier post, ( please check it out and tell everyone you know by sending out a blast by whatever modern media you use, or even send a letter. On second thought, with that fellow the Trumpster planted at the head of the United States Postal Service taking root and vowing to slow the mail even more that the current snail’s pace, maybe you better wait until the “Bandit” Nojoy DeJoy is blasted outta office and stick with email and even social media…(

Guy Argo (1938) vs IM Elliott Winslow (2269) [B22]
MI Sep-Oct TNM 1800+ San Francisco (5.3), 05.10.2021

B22 Sicilian, Alapin’s variation (2.c3)

  1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. Qc2 Nc6 (SF 12 @depth49 plays 3…Nc6; SF 13 @depth49 plays 3…e5; SF 14 @depth42 prefers 3…Qc7. There are 4 games at the CBDB with 3…Nc6, one game with 3…b6, and no games with the two other moves) 4. Nf3 e5 (SF and Komodo play 4…a6, a move not shown as having been tried at the CBDB) 5. Bb5 (Houdini plays 5 Bb5. Fritz 15 plays 5 Bc4. No word from SF or Komodo) 5…Qb6 (SF 13 @depth44 plays 5…Bd6. SF 14 @depth24 plays 5…Qc7. The only move shown at the CBDB is 5…d6) From this point forward the comments are taken from the October 9, 2021 Mechanic’s Institute Chess Room Newsletter #989, ( with annotations by GM Nick de Firmian.
  1. Bxc6 Qxc6 7. Nxe5 Qxe4+ 8. Qxe4 Nxe4

(White has trouble achieving equality) 9. d3 Nf6 10. 0-0 d6 11. Nc4 [11.Nf3] 11…Be6 12. Nba3


12…d5 [Black has a little edge due to the bishop pair. He must keep the game from getting blocked though when knights are happier. Easier may be 12…0-0-0 13.Bg5 d5 14.Ne5 d4 which favors Black.] 13. Ne5 d6 14. Re1 0-0 15. Bg5 Rfe8 Now White gets equality [15…a6 16.Nc2 (16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.Nf3 f5 would be a better version of the game.) ] 16. Bxf6 gxf6 17. Nf3 a6 18. Nc2= Rad8?!

  1. d4! c4?! [19…b6 20.a4 a5 21.g3 f5= keeps the queenside more fluid.] 20. Nh4 [20.Ne3 f5 21.g3 f4 22.Ng2] 20…f5 21. g3?! Gives Black a hook to play on.

[21.Ne3 f4 22.Nef5 Bc7 (22…Bf8?! 23.g3 fxg3 24.hxg3+/- according to Stockfish 14. Compare to Black’s 21st) 23.g3=] 21…Kg7? [21…f4!=/+ exchanges a weak pawn, provides scope for the light-squared bishop, loosens White’s kingside pawns. But most importantly, the knight at c2 is restricted, unless White plays gxf4 when his own pawns are a problem. 22.Ng2 Kh8! 23.gxf4 Rg8] 22. f4 Maybe not even best! But White slams the door to any activity by Black, when now only he can play on. So it has a psychological value. [22.Ne3 Kf6 23.Nhg2!?] 22…Kf6 23. Ne3 Kg8 24. Kf2 b5 25. b4? [25.a3+/= Now Black can prepare the break . ..b4, but it will always be too risky to play.] 25…a5 26. a3 Ra8 27. Nc2


27…Kg7 With opening the a-file just leading to the rooks coming off, Black has absolutely no counterplay now. White offered a draw. 1/2-1/2

Samuel Brownlow (1795) vs Ilia Gimelfarb (1752) [C44]
MI Sep-Oct TNM 1800+ San Francisco (5.8), 05.10.2021

C44 King’s pawn game

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d3 Bc5 (3…Nf6 SF) 4.g3 Nf6 (4 Nxe5 SF) 5.Bg2 d6 6.0-0 Be6 7.Be3 Bxe3 8.fxe3 Qd7 9.Nbd2 h6 10.c3 0-0 11.b4 a6 12.d4 Bg4 13.a4 b5 14.Qb3 Rfe8 15.axb5 axb5 16.d5 Ne7 17.c4 This game was the slowest developing game of the round (time wise). The players get to a real battle eventually. 17…bxc4 18.Qxc4 c6 19.dxc6 Qxc6 20.Qxc6 Nxc6 21.b5 Nb4 22.Nc4 Rad8 23.Ra3 Nxe4


24.Nfxe5 dxe5 25.Bxe4 Be2 26.Rb1 material and chances are still even 26…Nd5 27.Rc1 g6 28.Kf2 Bg4 29.Bf3 Bc8 30.Bxd5 Rxd5 31.Nb6 Rdd8 32.Nxc8 Rxc8 33.Rxc8 Rxc8 We have an equal material rook ending. 34.Ke2 e4 35.Kd2 Kf8 36.Ra4 f5 37.Ra6 Kf7 White is better due to the passed pawn. Now 38. b6 would keep the edge. 38.Rc6?


The pawn ending is tricky with little time on the clock, but Black is in control as he corrals the white c-pawn. 38…Rxc6 39.bxc6 Ke6 40.Kc3 Kd6 41.Kd4 Kxc6 42.Ke5 Kc5 43.g4


43…Kc4?? [43…fxg4 44.Kxe4 Kd6 45.Kf4 h5 would be a winning position with the extra pawn. Now Black gets the wrong side of a two pawn each ending.] 44.gxf5 gxf5 45.Kxf5 Kd3 46.Kf4 Black gets in zugszwang after 46…h5 47. h4 The rest is easy 46…Kc4 47.Kxe4 Kc5 48.Kf5 Kd6 49.e4 Ke7 50.Ke5 Kf7 51.Kd6 Ke8 52.Ke6 Kf8 53.Kd7 Kf7 54.e5 1-0

Jens Ove Fries Nielsen (2433) vs Bjorn Ahlander (2389)
Event: Aarhus Chess House IM
Site: Aarhus DEN Date: 02/08/2015
Round: 2.3
ECO: C44 King’s pawn game
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d3 Bc5 4.Nxe5 Nxe5 (Stockfish and Komodo give 4…Bxf2 as best) 5.d4 Bd6 6.dxe5 Bxe5 7.Bc4 d6 8.f4 Bf6 9.O-O Nh6 10.Nc3 O-O 11.f5 c6 12.Qh5 Qe7 13.Bxh6 gxh6 14.Qxh6 Bd7 15.Kh1 Qe5 16.Rf3 Bg7 17.Qh5 Rae8 18.Rh3 h6 19.Rf1 Qf6 20.Rg3 Kh8 21.Rf4 d5 22.Bxd5 Re5 23.Bb3 Be8 24.Qe2 b5 25.Nd1 Bd7 26.Qf3 Rfe8 27.h3 Bf8 28.Nf2 Bd6 29.Ng4 Qg7 30.Nxe5 Qxe5 31.Rfg4 Qxb2 32.Qe3 Qa1+ 33.Kh2 Qf6 34.Bxf7 Bxf5 35.Qf3 Qxf7 36.exf5 Kh7 37.f6 Rg8 38.Qd3+ 1-0

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.