Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson

Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #818
February 16, 2018

[Capablanca] wanted to change the rules already, back in the twenties, because he said chess was getting played out. He was right. Now chess is completely dead. It is all just memorization and prearrangement. It’s a terrible game now. Very uncreative.

—Bobby Fischer

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

IM Elliott Winslow drew with National Master Tenzing Shaw in round six of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon and leads the 137-player field with a score of 5½ from 6. Shaw, FIDE Masters Josiah Stearman and Ezra Chambers, National Master Derek O’Conner and Expert Michael Askin are a half-point back with two rounds to go.

The Winter TNM is now the second largest tournament held at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club in its over 150-year history, and with two rounds left might possibly match or exceed the record of 143 participants, held by the Fall TNM in late 2017.

From round 6 of the Winter Tuesday Night Marathon:
Black to move (Askin–Thornally after 31 Rxf6)White to move (Jones–Delgado after 17...Bd7)
Black to move (Cendejas–Cryer after 19 Nh4)White to move (Mercado–Mines after 17...Bh6)
Black to move (Starr–Cowgill after 11 Bxc6)White to move (MacIntyre–Mclain after 21...Qe6)
For the solutions, see the game scores for round 6.

Wednesday Night Blitz Coordinator Jules Jelinek reports the results of the February 7 event, which attracted 11 players.

1st – Jules Jelinek 9½ pts
2nd – Carlos D’Avila 9 pts
3rd – Jeff Sinick 7½ pts

FIDE Master Josiah Stearman took home $700 for tying for second place in the IM norm Section of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis’ Norm Congress. The 14-year-old resident of Martinez scored 5–4 in his debut playing in round robin tournaments. More information.

Donations of books, sets, magazines and clocks to the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club are always welcome, and will be put to good use. The Mechanics’ Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization, so donations are tax-deductible. Saving money on equipment and books allows the MI Chess Club to have strong Grandmasters give guest lectures on Tuesday nights. Among those who have done so the past few years are Wesley So, Sam Shankland, Daniel Naroditsky, R.B. Ramesh (GM and captain of the Indian Olympiad team), Jacob Aaagard, Alex Lenderman, Christian Chirila and Jesse Kraai.

2) Eliot Hearst (1932-2018)

Eliot Hearst passed away on January 30 in Tucson, Arizona.

Hearst, who had the distinction of beating a young Bobby Fischer in the 1956 Rosenwald tournament, was one of the top American players in the 1950s and played in the 1954 and 1961 U.S. Championships. He was a member of the 1960 U.S. Student Olympiad team that won gold in Leningrad and captained the 1962 US Olympiad team in Varna.

Hearst was an excellent writer. In the early 1960s he wrote a popular column (“Chess Kaleidoscope”) for Chess Life, and later co-wrote with John Knott Blindfold Chess: History, Psychology, Techniques, Champions, World Records, and Important Games, which won the Fred Cramer Award for the Best Chess Book of 2009.

Hearst received a PhD in psychology in 1956 from Columbia University and was a professor at Indiana University and the University of Arizona.

3) Bobby Fischer and Jacqueline Piatigorsky

Bobby Fischer made Los Angeles his home for roughly twenty years, from the early 1970s to the early 1990s, but his history with the city goes back much earlier. His first visit to the Golden State was in 1957 for the US Junior in San Francisco, but he also managed to see Los Angeles on the same trip. Later he would play a match with Sammy Reshevsky, give a couple of simuls and finish second in the Second Piatigorsky Cup. This is all well-known. One event that isn’t is Bobby’s January 1970 visit to the Student Chess Club of Los Angeles.

Jacqueline Piatigorsky is best remembered for the two famous tournaments that she and her husband Gregor organized, and for the Fischer–Reshevsky match. These are highlights, but she did much more, so much that it is not easy to recount, but we will try, with events listed in no particular order of importance:

• 1968 3-player Interzonal playoff match (Reshevsky, Stein and Hort—Reshevsky advanced).
• 1963 US Championship Playoff for the 1964 Interzonal (Reshevsky, Addison and Evans—Reshevsky advanced).
• Ran the Steiner Chess Club from 1955 to the early 1970s.
• Major sponsor for the US Championship, US Women’s Championship and Olympiads, from roughly 1963 to 1985.
• Organized a major program for disadvantaged school children in Los Angeles in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s.
• Originated and sponsored the US Junior Closed tournament from 1963–1985.
• Sponsored Sammy Reshevsky for many international competitions, culminating in his participation in the 1968 Candidates’ Match against Kortchnoi.
• Played a major role in sponsoring Bobby Fischer’s World Championship push in 1969–1972.
• Supported countless high school and college teams over a twenty-year period, helping them with travel stipends to attend regional and national competitions.

One other of Mrs. Piatigorsky’s special projects was the Student Chess Club, founded in 1965. Based at the Steiner Chess in a Lloyd Wright-designed building (son of Frank Lloyd Wright and a famous architect in his own right), this club was only open to juniors. Among its early members were such well-known names as James Tarjan, Allan Pollard and Andy Sacks. It was this club that provided the wall boys for events like the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup and the 1968 Interzonal Playoff and which was the host for a one-of-a-kind event for Bobby.

Art Drucker, who served as the right hand man for the Piatigorsky Foundation for over twenty years, recorded the following in his January 1970 notes for the organization:

Grandmaster Robert J. Fischer gave a 2½ hour lecture to the Student Chess Club. Nearly forty youngsters filled the room to participate in this lively lecture/discussion. Mr. Fischer didn’t work from a prepared text but spent the entire time answering questions about current chess theory. This is the only such lecture Mr. Fischer intends to give during his stay in California. Our sponsorship of the event gave these youngsters a unique opportunity to see the greatest American chess player.

We would love to hear from anyone who attended this event, for which Fischer received a fee of $50. The club’s first president, James Tarjan, was living in Berkeley at the time of the Fischer lecture and was not able to attend. We have no doubt this was a most memorable event.

Bobby gave lectures before most of his simuls during his 1964 tour, but we are only aware of one other public talk by Bobby post 1965, albeit of a slightly different nature. This was during the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup. The 13th round edition of the bulletin, edited by Isaac Kashdan, reported that “when Fischer decided to go over one of his victories, word spread immediately and half the audience tried to move into the much smaller analysis room.”

4) Robert Zuk—Part Two

Andy Ansel, who has preserved tens of thousands of American games from old magazines and chess columns, found the following game. It pits two of the best of the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s and 1980s, Robert Zuk of British Columbia and Viktors Pupols of Washington.

Robert Zuk in 1983 (Photo: John Braley)

The game was played in the C.C.I. Independence Day Open held in Portland over the July 4 weekend in 1975. Zuk won the tournament with a score of 5½ from 6, drawing with a young Yasser Seirawan, who tied for fourth, a point back. The crosstable for the event is in the August 1975 issue of Northwest Chess, on page 7.

Ruy Lopez C88
Robert Zuk (2291)–Viktors Pupols (2239)
C.C.I. Independence Day Open (5)1975

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.a4 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.Nc3 Na5 11.Ba2 b4 12.Ne2 c5 13.Bd2 Nd7 14.Ng3 g6 15.Bh6 Re8 16.Nd2

16...Bg5 17.Bxg5 Qxg5 18.Ngf1 Kg7 19.Ne3 Nb6 20.Nb3 Nxb3 21.Bxb3 a5 22.Qd2 Rad8?

22...h6 was necessary. Both players missed the following shot.


The first move to check out, but the follow-up needs to be seen.



24.f4! Qxf4 (24...exf4 25.h4 Qh5 26.Nxd6 Rxd6 27.Qxf4+ Ke7 28.Qxf7+ Kd8 29.Qxb7) 25.Ne3 Kg7 26.Rf1. This sharp tactical variation is typical of what often happens when older games are analyzed by modern computer engines.

24...Kxg5 25.h4+ Kf6 26.Nh6 Rf8 27.Ng4+ Kg7 28.Ne3 f5 29.f3 f4 30.Nf1 Kf6 31.Nd2 Rc8 32.Bc4 Rc7 33.Kf2 Bc8

34.Bb5 Be6 35.Rad1 h6 36.c3 Rfc8 37.Rc1 Ke7 38.Rg1 bxc3 39.bxc3 c4 40.d4 exd4 41.cxd4 c3 42.Nf1 Bb3

43.g3 fxg3+ 44.Rxg3 Kf7 45.h5 gxh5 46.Ne3


46...Be6 would have kept White's advantage to a minimum.

47.Rh3 Bxa4 48.Bxa4 Nxa4 49.Rxh5 Nb2 50.Ke2 Rg5

50...Rg6 51.Rxa5 Rg5 was a better try.

51.Rxh6 Kg7?


52.Rch1 was also good.

52...Rh5 53.Ng4 c2 54.d5 Rh3 55.Rc6 1–0

5) Igor Ivanov Remembered

Peter Biyiasas and Duncan Suttles are not the only two players to have competed in both the Canadian and U.S. Championships. Igor Ivanov (1947–2005) played in the 1981, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 2004 Canadian Championships; in the 1989, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998, and 2002 U.S. Championships; and in the 1987 British Championship. An impressive record that might never be surpassed.

Grandmaster Igor Ivanov circa 2001. (Photo: John Hillery)

6) This is the end

White is up a pawn, but Black has superior king position in this grandmaster endgame.

Black to move

Show solution


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