Archive for the ‘Mechanics Institute Chess Club’ Category

The Fabulous 90s: From the Vaults – San Francisco 1999 Dake Memorial

August 22, 2009

The Arthur Dake Memorial was a 9 round invitational held at the venerable Mechanics Institute Chess Club in downtown San Francisco (Post Street, visit it at some point!).  I think I tied for 2nd by defeating NM Lobo in the last round.  My only loss was to IM Guillermo Rey. Here is a miraculous escape versus Vinay Bhat, who scored an IM norm in this event.  I believe Jesse Kraii did as well and also Omar Cartagena.  Most of the games were contested in the main room, but former US Champion John Grefe and I played our game in a drafty back room for some reason.

[Event “Arthur Dake Int”]
[Site “San Francisco”]
[Date “1999.07.14”]
[Round “4”]
[White “Bhat, Vinay S”]
[Black “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “B06”]

[WhiteElo “2388”]
[BlackElo “2381”]

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Be3 a6!? 5. a4 Nc6 I don’t think 5. a4 is the most testing move.  Black is all right now. In fact, I equalized quickly with this line vs Ben Finegold, Brugges Belgium 1990.  Queenside castling is out for white.

6. h3 Nf6 7. g3 e5 8. Nge2 d5! How dynamic and natural enough versus white’s slow buildup!  It’s still about equal.

The Center Blows Up

The Center Blows Up

9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Bg2 Nc4 11. Bd4 The line 11. Bg5 h6 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. b3 d4! 14. bxc4 dxc3 15. Qxd8+ Bxd8 seems OK for black.

11… dxe4 But here black had a serious choice.  Probably safer is 11… Nxb2! 12. Qb1 Nc4 13. exd5 O-O and black is solid.

12. Nxe4 O-O 13. Nc5 Qe7 14. O-O Rd8 15. Nd3! I really missed most of white’s regroupings in this phase of the game and my opponent got control of all the key squares.

15..Ne4? A huge lemon.  If black develops with 15… Bf5! 16. b3 Na5 17. Re1 he should be able to hold.

16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Nef4! Totally missed by me.

17…Nc5? Flustered, I make an even worse mistake.  Required was 17… Nf6 18. Re1 Qd6 19. Qc1! and white has a big plus.

18. Nd5 Qd6 19. Nxc5 Qxc5 20. b4! I can resign!  From a good position on move 8 to this?  Boo.

20…Qd6 21. Qd4+ Qe5 22. Qxc4 Be6 It is blind luck that I’m not losing a piece.

23. Qxc7 Rxd5 24. Qxb7 Rb8 25. Qxa6? White is somewhat short of time and I start to get rays of hope.  Very pretty was the decisive tactical blow 25. Rae1!! Rxb7 26. Rxe5 Rxe5 27. Bxb7 Bxh3 28. Rd1 Bf5 29. c4 Bc2 30. Rd6 Bxa4 31. Rxa6 and white wins.

25… Rd6 26. Qa5 Qxa5 27. bxa5 Ra6 28. Rfb1 Rxb1+ 29. Rxb1 Rxa5 30. Rb4 Rc5 31. Rb2 It’s also hard work after 31. Bf1 Rxc2 32. a5 Ra2 33. a6 Bd5 34. Rb5 Bf3 35. Rb1 Kf6; black always has activity.  The shot missed on move 25 looms large.

31… Ra5 32. Bc6 Rc5 33. Bb5 Bxh3 34. a5 Rc3 35. a6 Be6 36. Bd3 Ra3 37. Kf1 h5 38. Ke1 More accurate is 38. Ke2.  The position is very easy for black to play and for white, without much time, it’s not a lot of fun.  But on move 39 (see the note) white could have gotten back on track.

38… g5 39. Rb6?! The computer likes the aesthetic 39. Rb4 Kf6 40. f4! gxf4 41. Rxf4+ Ke5 42. Rb4 and white has clarified the kingside and should be winning without too many problems.

39… h4! Of course.  Who knows how real it is, but it is counterplay.

40. gxh4 gxh4 This pawn looks scary so the players agreed to a draw here.  The position is a hard slog.  For example, 41. Kf1 Kf6 42.
Kg1 Ra1+ 43. Kh2 Kg5 44. Kg2 Bd5+ 45. f3 Kf4 46. Kf2 h3 47. Rb4+ Ke5 48. f4+ Kd6 49. Kg3 Rh1 50. Ra4 Ba8 51. a7 h2 52. Bc4 Rf1 53. Kxh2 Rxf4 and it’s still work.


International Quiz

The Return of Polugaevsky

A recent e-mail banter exchange.

The query:
dewaynepittman wrote:
I am SSG Dewayne Pittman, an active American soldier serving in Iraq, I am serving in the military of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, as our mission here is highly exclusive due to insurgents everyday and car bombs are attacking our peaceful mission here. We managed to secure funds from the war zone. The total amount is US$ 9 Million dollars in cash.

We want to move this money out of this place,this place is a war zone, so that you may keep our share for us till when we will come over to meet you.We will take 70%, my partner and I.You take 30%. No strings attached, just help us move it out of Iraq, Iraq is a war zone. We plan on using diplomatic courier and shipping the money out in a large box, using diplomatic immunity.

If you are interested I will send you the full details, my job is to find a good partner that we can trust and that will assist us. Can I trust you? When you receive this letter, kindly send me an e-mail signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers for quick communication also your contact details.

This business is risk free. The box can be shipped out in 48hrs if you want to handle the deal with us as brothers.

SSG Dewayne Pittman

The response:

Sounds great.

I am Lev Polugaevsky and I watched as Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan.   The next move is yours, mein Freund.

Stay tuned — let’s see if we can catch some bait with this lure.

Fabulous 70s: Going Way Back to 1974

December 6, 2007

Pictured are the winners of the D.C. Chess League “B” Division, the one and only “Potomac B” squad!

I will need help with some missing first names from the readers.  (supplied by a timely comment by John Mingos!)

From left, standing: John Mingos, Bob Owen, me, David Matzke. I remember Mingos and Matzke from the JCC Chess Club in Rockville, Maryland – my first chess club! It was a short drive away from my home in Bethesda, MD on 70-S (now named Interstate 270). Of course I was too young to drive and my father had to do the honors.

Seated from left: Bob Adams, Alan Kline, and John Struss.


It was strange but fortuitous for chess development how strong chess-wise the small region was.

Potomac, MD had World Junior Champ Mark Diesen who won it in Groningen, Holland, in 1976 – GM Kavalek (his second) wrote a nice article for Chess Life & Review about it.

Bethesda – Chevy Chase MD area: IM’s me, Steve Odendahl, Larry Kaufman

elsewhere in Maryland: Robert Eberlein, Allan Savage, David Thompson, Larry Gilden

Washington DC: John Meyer, Eugene Meyer

Virginia: dearly departed: Charlie Powell, 7-time Virginia State Champ and hero of the National Chess League.

As the San Francisco Mechanics Institute chess club newsletter wrote in 1995, ” A perennial state champion in his native Virginia, he moved to San Francisco in the late 1970s and played in several Northern California State Championships (Bagby Memorials), but will be best remembered for his friendly manner and good sportsmanship. ”

We also had from Virginia another dearly departed strong player, future IM Richard Delaune (4-time state champ) who also died much too young in 2004 at 49. The USCF writes, “Richard K. Delaune was born December 24, 1954. Rick Delaune was an International Master, Life USCF member, VA state champ in 1974, 1975, 1981, and 1985. Richard’s highest Established over-the-board rating achieved was 2468 (after the 1998-09-13 “Hall of Fame Open” held at the U.S. Chess Center where he tied for 1st place). Rick was also active in USCF Correspondence Chess. He was also one of the nicest, easy-going guys you’d ever want to meet. He was 49 when he died of a heart attack while home with his mother on Saturday, May 29th.”

The Fabulous 00s: The 2007 US Chess League

September 11, 2007

Last Wednesday I stumbled into the Mechanics Institute Chess Club in San Francisco and I was surprised to learn from club manager Steve Brandwein that a USCL match would occur later that day featuring Patrick Wolff, Vinay Bhat, David Pruess, and the “Kid” (Gregory Young) for SF – versus a tough Dallas Squad. I predicted it would all come down to the “Kid” versus the “Woman” (Dallas had a WFM on 4th board, Bayaraa Zorigt (2196)), but that didn’t happen. Kid vs Woman was a draw where Kid was slightly confounded in a Dragon opening as white, selected a very bad line, but Zorigt in turn blew it and could only reach a drawn ending up 2 pawns that were hopelessly blockaded.

Young (SF) – Zorigt (DAL) USCL 07

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd710.Bb3 Rc8 11.0-0-0 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5 13.h4 a5 14.a4?

This move looks bad. Maybe the Kid is misremembering a line.

17…bxa4 15.Nxa4 Bxa4 16.Bxa4 Rc4! 17.Bb3 Rxd4?

17…Nxe4!, very obvious, should win with no problems for black.

18.Qxd4 Nd7 19.Qc4 Qb8 20.h5 Nc5 21.hxg6 hxg6 22.e5 Bxe5 23.Rd5 Bg724.Re1 e6 25.Rxc5 dxc5 26.f4 Rd8 27.c3 Qb7 28.Re2 Bh6 29.Bc2 Qe7 30.g3 Qd6 31.Kb1 Bg732.g4 Qd5 33.Qxd5 exd5 34.f5 g5 35.Bd3 Kf8 36.Re1 d4 37.c4 Bf6 38.Kc2 Rb8 39.Ra1 Bd840.Be4 Bc7 41.f6 Rb6 42.Rxa5 Rxb2+ 43.Kxb2 Bxa5 44.Kb3 Bd8 45.Ka4

Of course white could run his king to d3 too. In any case, an easy draw.

45…Bxf6 46.Kb5 Be747.Bf5 Kg7 48.Kc6 Kf6 49.Kd5 Bf8 50.Be4 Kg7 51.Bf5 Be7 52.Kc6 Bf8 53.Kd5 Be7 54.Kc6 Kf6

For some bizarre reason, black was refusing draw offers around this point.

55.Kd5 Bf8 56.Be4 Bg7 57.Bf5 Bf8 58.Be4 Be7 59.Bf5 Kg7 60.Kc6 Kg8 61.Kc7 Kf8 62.Kd7 Bf6 63.Kd6 Be7+ 64.Kd7


Pruess lost fairly quickly, making several bad blunders vs IM Stopa (onlookers clucking that he didn’t show up at all, which is a little harsh).

Stopa (DAL) – Pruess (SF)

1.Nc3 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.e4 Bg7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Nb3 Nf6 7.Be2 0-0 8.0-0 b6?!

The simple 8…d6 followed by Na5 is more natural. There is no need for this move.

9.Bg5 Bb7 10.f4 d6 11.Bf3 Na5?

11…Nd7 or 11…h6 and 12…Nd7 are OK. The text is a major blunder.


12. e5! is exceedingly strong.

12…bxa5 13.Kh1 Qb6 14.Rb1?

Again, 14. e5! is best and very strong. Black cannot survive that hit: 14. e5 dxe5 15. fxe5 Rad8 16. Qc1 Bxf3 17. exf6! and wins.

14…Rfc8? 14…Rad8 to hold up e4-e5 is necessary (or …h6 first).

15.e5! Finally. White wins easily.

15…dxe5 16.fxe5 Rd8 17.Qe2 Nd7 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.Bxd5 Nxe5 20.Bxa8 Rxa8 Black could have resigned already. This sort of game is doubly disappointing in a team format.

21.Bxe7 Qe6 22.Bc5 Qxa2 23.Qe4 Rc824.Bxa7 Qc4 25.Qe3 Qxc2?

A final blunder but it didn’t matter.

26.Rbc1 1-0

This left GM-elect Vinay Bhat to slog it out, up a pawn vs IM John Bartholomew (but with bishops of opposite colors). GM Alejandro Ramirez was saying on ICC it was still a draw, even after numerous Bartholomew miscues just before the first time control. However, one blunder too many occurred.

Vinay did eventually pull the game out; see John Bartholomew’s account. Vinay, although perpetually short of time, demonstrated exemplary technique to use the bishops of opposite colors’ attacking potential.

I hadn’t seen Patrick in years. Nobody knew if he was rusty! People got really nervous when he was late for the game. However, he did arrive safely about 15 minutes late and reached a dynamic Sicilian with equal chances as black. I would even say that his opponent was playing rather strangely and I slightly preferred Patrick’s game after a dozen moves. His IM opponent, Boskovic, proceeded to blunder (a blunder kibitzed by amateurs on ICC well in advance, and one I was most surprise to see on the board) and lost material due to a nice back rank trick and Patrick could have won an easy ending with 2 knights versus a rook. However, he kept queens on (not a good move in time trouble) and his opponent found a trick to win back the two knights for the rook and made a draw with no problems. This match could’ve gone San Francisco’s way if Patrick had steered to the safe ending win.

IM Boskovic (DAL) – GM Wolff (SF), USCL 07

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Nxd7 5.0-0 Ngf6 6.Qe2 e6 7.c4 Be7 8.Nc3 0-0 9.d4cxd4 10.Nxd4 Rc8 11.b3 a6 12.Bb2 Qa5 13.Rac1 Bd8! 14.Kh1 Bb6!

A very creative maneuver. Black is fine.

15.Rfd1 Rfd8 16.f4 Ba7 17.f5?! Bxd4 I was on the scene and fully expected the move 17…Rfe8 here not giving any squares. What can white do? Patrick’s choice is more concrete but I did not expect him to give up his beautiful bishop. The computer indeed likes 17…Rfe8 the best.

18.Rxd4 exf5 18…Ne5 is a reasonable alternative.

19.exf5 Qxf5 20.Nd5?!

Bartholomew commented here on his blog site that he loved white’s game after this weak advance. The text is a strange and bad move based on a tactical blackout; 20. Rxd6 is equal.

20…Re8! 21.Ne7+? Rxe7 22.Qxe7 Re8 23.Qxd6 Qc2!

Black should win easily after this nice shot. White’s back rank is fatally weak.

24.Rf1 Qxb2 25.Rd2 Qc3 26.h3 Nc5 27.Qd4 Qa5?

Trade the queens! Black would win slowly and surely. The text is really asking for unpleasant surprises in time trouble. Note that objectively it’s fine (black is winning anyway) – it’s just trickier.

28.Rf5 Nfe4

28…Qc7! is a crafty winning move, eyeing the back rank again.

29.Re5 Rf8 30.Rd1 Qxa2 31.Rxe4 Nxe4 32.Qxe4 Qxb3

Black is better, but now it’s not decisive – just an edge.

33.Rb1 Qc3 34.Rxb7 g6?

34….a5! is stronger. Black could still hold out for a positive result after, let’s say, 35. Ra7 Qb4.

35.Ra7 Qf6 36.c5 Kg7 37.c6 Rd8 38.Rd7 Rxd7 39.cxd7 Qd6 40.Qe8


Watch this space for the games and some photos I took of the live action.

Here was the longest game of the match.

V. Bhat (SF) – J. Bartholomew (DAL)  USCL 07

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 c6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bc4 Bf5 7.Bd2 e6 8.Nd5 Qd8 9.Nxf6+ Qxf6 10.Qe2 Bg4 11.0-0-0 Nd7 12.d5 Bxf3 13.gxf3 cxd5 14.Bxd5 0-0-0 15.Be4 Qe5 16.Bc3 Qc7 17.Kb1 f6 18.Rhg1 Nc5 19.Rxd8+ Kxd8 20.Bd4 Bd6 21.Bxc5 Bxc5 22.Qc4 Kc8 23.b4 Bd6 24.Qxc7+ Bxc7 25.Rxg7 f5 26.Bd3 Bxh2 27.Bc4 Be5 28.Bxe6+ Kb8 29.Rf7 f4 30.Rf5 Bd6 31.a3 h5 32.Rd5 Bc7 33.Kb2 Re8?? 34.Rxh5!

The same back rank trick that should have victimized Boskovic in the Wolff game. Bhat now reels the point home very convincingly.

a5 35.Bc4 axb4 36.axb4 Re5 37.Rh8+ Ka7 38.Rh7 Bd6 39.c3 Re7 40.Rh5 Re5 41.Rh7 Re7 42.Rh5 Re5 43.Rh6 Bc7 44.Bd3 Rd5 45.Be4 Rd7 46.c4 Rd4 47.Bd5 Rd2+ 48.Kb3 Rd1 49.Rh7 Kb8 50.Rh8+ Ka7 51.Rh7 Kb8 52.Be4 Rd8 53.c5 Kc8 54.Bf5+ Kb8 55.Be4 Kc8 56.Kc4 Rf8 57.Bd5 Rd8 58.Be6+ Kb8 59.Bd5 Kc8 60.b5 b6 61.Rh6 bxc5 62.b6 Bd6 63.Bc6 Be5 64.Rh7 Rh8 65.Rf7 Bd6 66.Bb7+ Kb8 67.Bd5 Kc8 68.Be6+ Kb8 69.Kd5 Rd8 70.Kc6 Be5 71.Rb7+ Ka8 72.Ra7+ Kb8 73.Kb5 c4 74.Bd7 c3 75.Bc6 Kc8 76.Be4 Rf8 77.Ra8+ Bb8 78.Ra3 Be5 79.Kc6 Rf6+ 80.Kd5 Bd6 81.Rxc3+ Kb7 82.Rc6 Black resigns 1-0

It was a very interesting match indeed.