Mechanics' Institute
Scholastic Chess Highlights
News & Updates --
2021 Fall Enrichment Season Begins:
Report on In-Person and Virtual Scholastic Chess Classes

Report on the start of the 2021 Fall Enrichment
by Dr. Judit Sztaray

Many school districts in the San Francisco Bay Area are allowing in-person enrichment classes. The Mechanics' Institute after-school classes began at the end of August and early September. It was exiting for everyone at Mechanics' Institute to see so much interest from parents, students, and the schools. We are currently offering chess classes at beginner and advanced levels in-person on 16 different school campuses and continuing to grow this program.
This month's special highlight goes to our most popular site:
The Chess Club at West Portal Elementary School

We have close to 40 students signed up and playing chess weekly in the multi-purpose-room at West Portal Elementary. Mechanics' Institute Chess Director and FIDE Instructor Abel Talamantez is leading three other coaches: IM Elliott Winslow, FM Ezra Chambers, and Danny Cao in teaching chess and sportsmanship to the students. We have many returning and new students attending the classes. Much thanks goes to the principal, Mrs. Ashton, who has been very supportive and attentive - she even assigned us a big hallway board that we can dedicate to the chess club!

Our Virtual Chess Classes lead by Coach Andrew Schley are also going well and growing in popularity. Our intermediate, advanced, and specialized classes on Chess Tactics are almost full capacity and growing in interest. Special class for beginner students are now also offered on Wednesdays. Stay tuned as we announce new classes.

Are you interested in starting a chess club at your school? Reach out to us and let us work with the school administration to start a chess session. Email us to
2021 Fall & Winter Holiday camps
Plan ahead for our Virtual or In-Person Chess Camps
The Mechanics' Institute is preparing for our upcoming camp seasons. While schools are on holiday breaks, we offer chess camps as an alternative way to spend the free time.

October 11 - Indigenous Peoples' Day
November 11 - Veterans Day
November 22-24 - Thanksgiving Break
Dec 20-24 & Dec 27-31 - Winter Break

Chess camps will be in-person at Mechanics' Institute or online via Zoom.

In-Person camps are available from 9:30AM to 3:30PM, with the option of registering for morning or afternoon only or full day. Student engage with our chess coaches via lectures, puzzles, casual and paired games, similes, and much more! Snack, bathroom, and lunch breaks will be arranged according to COVID-10 precautions and proper social distancing.

Online camps are offered 9AM-12PM through zoom. Students are coached via shared screen and play games on the safe and secure ChessKid platform. All players are provided a ChessKid Gold account if they don't have one yet.

Camps are offered at two different levels:

Regular: Ideal for all chess lovers or anyone who is interested in chess! For beginners, we'll show you how to play and basic rules in a fun learning environment. While intermediate students, those who are under 1000 USCF rating or under 1200 ChessKid rating, will build on their basics with seeing game examples, learn and work on tactics, learn how to strategically open a chess game and to defend common opening traps, and of course get to play with other kids who are learning chess as well!

Advanced: Ideal for players with USCF 1000+ rating, or 1200+ ChessKid rating. Players should know the pieces and how they move, basic checkmating patterns, opening principles and ideally have experience with USCF rated tournaments. Students will see game analysis of masters' games, work on tactical patterns, learn opening theory, and have opportunities to play new and old friends. 
Special In-Person Halloween Tournament on Saturday, October 30
Join us for some Halloween Fun!

We are excited to host our upcoming live Halloween Special Scholastic Tournament on Saturday, October 30. Put on your best costume, come to Mechanics' Institute, and play some chess while having fun with others!
* Usual Swiss tournament with 4 games and three different sections
* Best costume competition with a celebrity judge panel
* Fun Halloween puzzles for special awards

Date and Time: Saturday, October 30 at 10AM
Tournament Format: Four rounds of G/30;d5 games.
First round starts at 10AM and the rest of the rounds are on a rolling schedule.
Special break between Round 2&3 to conduct the costume competition.
Awards: trophy ceremony at the end of the tournament.

Understanding Chess Tournaments - Part 5

Full-point and Half-point Byes and Forfeits

What do byes and forfeit wins/losses mean in tournaments?
by Senior TD & FIDE Arbiter Dr. Judit Sztaray
Full-Point Bye (B)
When playing chess, most of the time you need an opponent. This seems trivial.
When playing in a chess tournament, you need an opponent. Also trivial.
What happens when there are odd number of players in a tournament, or in a section? One player has to "sit out" that round, and that player will be given a so called Full-Point BYE. This is essentially a free win. Player is getting one point for that round, but the game in this round will not be USCF-rated. It's a point for the tournament, but the USCF rating won't be affected.
There are very strict USCF rules determining who gets this full point in each of the rounds in a tournament, as we don't want to give one point to the leader and help them win the tournament. It always should go to the least favored: the player who is last in the list. First round it's the lowest rated player, and any consecutive round it's the lowest rated player in the lowest score group (i.e. point groups in the standing).

Half-Point Bye (H)
When you have to miss a round - for example you can't come to the beginning of the tournament, or you have a class in the middle of a full-day tournament, or you have to leave the tournament early - you can request a so-called Half-Point Bye. This will give you 0.5 point for that given round, and you will not be paired, but you will be kept in the tournament, and will be paired for in all other rounds. Important that half-point byes most of the times must be requested in advance of the tournament start.

Forfeits (X or F)
In any round of a tournament players are paired based on what we are expecting at the tournament to play (registered players). If an opponent does not show up, that game is forfeited. Since there was no move made, the game will not be USCF rated. The player who was present at the board will receive a forfeit win (1X), and the player who did not show up will receive a forfeit loss (0F) and will be withdrawn from the tournament (U). The reason for the forfeit can vary, and sometimes it is affected by things outside of your control - i.e. an accident on the road. If this ever happens to you, and you are on your way to the tournament and want to be paired for the next time, be sure to call, email, or text us to make sure we don't withdraw you from the tournament.

To be continued - Part 5 - Tiebreaks
Upcoming Tournament Schedule - Oct 2021

USCF In-Person and Online Rated tournaments This Fall

In-Person at Mechanics' Institute @ 10AM:
October 3, October 30, and November 12

Online on every weekend:
October 2, 10, 16, 24 and 31

For more information and to register:

Free online practice tournaments - every day @ 4PM
To get more information on the tournaments, including links, please visit:
Tournament results & Featured Games
Weekend USCF Online Rated Tournaments

We were so happy to see so many player at our Labor Day Special Online Event. Overall, 40 players played in two different sections, and while a technical bug tried to eliminate the lower section, we were able to reconstruct and submit the tournament for rating.
We are thankful for the players' and parents' support and patience, and happy to celebrate holidays together!

Congratulations to Matthew and Nathan for winning their sections.
Link to the rating table:

8/29: 6 games of G/10+2
ChessKid results: Click here

9/6: 6 games of G/15+2
ChessKid results: Open Section - Click here

9/12: 7 games of G/5+2
ChessKid results: Click here

9/18: 4 games of G/20+10
ChessKid results: Open Section -- u1400 Section

9/26: 6 games of G/10+2
ChessKid results: Click here
USCF Cross table: coming soon.
Game Analysis
by Three-Time US Champion GM Nick de Firmian

(1) MiniFestiveDay (1808) - RichTenderClove (1668) [C47]
Live Chess, 06.09.2021
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 The Scotch Game. White breaks right away in the center to start the action. 4...exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 0-0 8.0-0 
So far this is all theory - it has been played thousands of times like this. 8...Bxc3 It seems reasonable to take the knight and double White's pawns, but safest is to keep the dark-squared bishop and play 8...d5. 9.bxc3 Re8 10.Re1 c5? 11.c4? missing an opportunity [11.e5! 
pushes the black knight around and wins material - 11...Nd5 12.Qg4 (White has big threats) 12...d6 13.Qe4 Rxe5 14.Qxh7+ Kf8 15.Qh8+ Ke7 16.Bg5+ Nf6 17.Qxg7] 11...d6! 12.Rb1 Ba6 13.Qf3 Qd7 14.Bb2 Ng4 15.Qg3 Ne5 16.f4 Ng6 17.h4 h5 18.e5 Qg4! necessary! Black is still worse but not losing anything big 19.Qxg4 hxg4 20.Bxg6?! The bishops of opposite color ending is about equal. White could have kept a a decent edge after [20.g3 which keeps the power of the two bishops] 20...fxg6 21.exd6?! [21.Bc3 Bxc4 22.Kf2 Bxa2 23.Rb7 Re7 24.Ba5 dxe5 25.Rxe5 should be a draw with good play] 21...cxd6 22.Red1 Rad8 23.Bc3 Bxc4 24.Ba5?! White now gets into real trouble in the endgame. [24.Rb7! is very actrive. (Rooks belong on the 7th rank!)] 24...Rd7 25.a3 Re2! Now Black has control of the game in this ending. 26.c3 Kf7 27.Rb8 g3! 
Fine endgame play by RichTenderClove. The white king is in trouble since the black pieces and g-pawn have it trapped. 28.Bd8? Re8! The final blow, winning a piece due to the pin. 29.Bc7 Rxc7 30.Rxe8 Kxe8 31.Rxd6 Rd7 White must trade rooks because of the back rank mate. Now it is simple. 32.Rxd7 Kxd7 
33.f5 The white king can't get out, so Black just picks up the white pawns. 33...gxf5 34.h5 Kd6 35.a4 a5 36.Kh1 Be2 37.Kg1 Bxh5 38.Kf1 Kd5 39.Ke1 f4 40.Kd2 f3 41.c4+ Kxc4 42.Kc2 f2 43.Kb2 f1Q 44.Kc2 Qd3+ 45.Kc1 Qd1+ 46.Kb2 Kb4 47.Ka2 Qb3+ 48.Ka1 Qxa4+ 49.Kb2 Qb3+ 50.Ka1 Bf3! No stalemate! 51.gxf3 g2 52.f4 RichTenderClove won by resignation 0-1

(2) KindBlushingEel (1652) - RichTenderClove (1642) [C84]
Live Chess, 06.09.2021
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 The Ruy Lopez, named after the 16th Century Spanish priest who figured out the opening. 3...a6 4.Ba4 Be7 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Nf6 7.d3 0-0 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 d6 10.Nbd2 Bb7 
Both players have done well in the opening, getting all their pieces out. 11.Qe2 a5 12.Rfe1?! This gets in some trouble. It was better to just make an escape square for the white bishop with 12. a3 or 12. a4 12...a4! 13.Bd5 [13.Bxf6! was best] 13...Nxd5 14.exd5 Bxh4 15.dxc6 Bxc6 So Black has won a solid pawn. 16.Nxh4 Qxh4 17.Nf3 Qg4 18.h3 
18...Bxf3 Nice, in the style of Capablanca. RichTenderClove just trades down to a pawn up double rook ending. 19.hxg4 Bxe2 20.Rxe2 Rfe8 21.Rae1 Re6 22.a3 Rae8 23.c3 d5 24.Kh2 e4 25.d4 Rg6 26.f3 Rge6 27.f4 Kh7 28.Kg3 Kg6?? 
oops! After playing a great game Black walks into a pawn fork. Now KindBlushingEel can get a rook for two pawns and excellent winning chances. 29.f5+ Kg5 30.Rh1?? Oh my, just take the rook! White threatens check, maybe thinking it would be mate, but it's not. 30...R6e7 31.Rh5+ Kf6 Now Black is back to being a clear pawn ahead and starts to play with good technique again. Perhaps we should just forget the traded blunder and call it fair. 32.Kf4 c6 33.g5+ hxg5+ 34.Rxg5 Rh8! taking over the important h-file 35.g4 Rh1 36.Rh5 Rxh5 37.gxh5 Re8 38.Rh2 Rh8 39.Rh4 
39...g6! winning a second pawn in the rook ending or getting a pawn up king and pawn ending. Both are easy wins. 40.Kg4 [40.fxg6 fxg6 would save White a pawn in the king ending, but it wouldn't matter here] 40...Rxh5 41.Rxh5 gxh5+ 42.Kf4 h4 43.Kg4 h3 44.Kxh3 Kxf5 45.Kg3 Kg5 two pawns up in a king ending should be a trivial win 46.Kg2 f5 47.Kf2 Kf4 48.Ke2 Kg3 49.Ke3 f4+ 50.Ke2 f3+ 51.Ke1 Kg2 52.Kd2 f2 53.Kc2 f1Q 54.Kd2 Qd3+ 55.Kc1 Kf2 56.b4 Qxc3+ 57.Kd1 Qb3+ 58.Kd2 e3+ 59.Kc1 e2 60.Kd2 e1Q# RichTenderClove won by checkmate 0-1