Mechanics' Institute
Scholastic Chess Highlights
News & Updates --
Welcome to Mechanics' Institute's new scholastic update bulletin. While the Mechanics' Institute Chess Newsletter covers scholastic activities as well as adult classes and tournaments, we wanted to provide a stand-alone bulletin for scholastic chess players and parents.

We are reopening and restarting our popular in-person chess events: tournaments, camps, and, in the fall, MI chess classes too! While online chess has illustrated a powerful message that chess help overcome geographic and other barriers, we are excited to be able to offer more live youth activities as well.

Everyone at Mechanics' Institute looks forward to seeing our local players in person again, along with continuing our virtual presence, which has enabled us to learn, play, and socialize with chess players around the world. From all of us at Mechanics' Institute, we appreciate your continued support and participation in our programs during these challenging times.
We are OPEN - First In-Person Tournament is on
June 5 - Saturday starting at 10AM
Join us for a fun and exciting,
first in-person scholastic tournament!

Online Registration is MANDATORY!
No onsite registration!
Max Capacity: 30 players!

The tournament will have four rounds. Win or lose, players will be paired for the next round against opponents with similar scores.

Time control: G/30;d5 - Game in 30 minutes with a five second delay. We are back to the usual scholastic time control where each player gets 30 minutes, and there is a five second count back at each move before their clocks start to run. One game can last up to one hour, but usually it is faster.

Round times: tournament start at 10AM and rounds are starting as soon as all the games are finished in the previous round (aka rolling schedule.)

Awards: We have trophies, medals, and fun alternative choices (magnetic sets, scorebooks, analysis boards) for players.
How to choose the Best Camp for a Player
Not sure which camp to choose?
We are here to help!
Mechanics' Institute offers two different camps to fit scholastic players at all levels.

Regular: Ideal for all chess players or anyone who is interested in chess! For beginners, we will teach you the rules and general strategy in a fun learning environment. For intermediate students, those who are under 1000 USCF rating or under 1200 rating, we will build on basics using game examples, help players develop skills using tactics, and teach how strategically to open a chess game and defend common opening traps, and of course, play with other kids! Regular camps will include an advanced group once we reach enough students. Regular camps are in the morning: 9AM to 12PM.

Advanced: Ideal for players with USCF 1000+ rating, or 1200+ rating. Players should know basic checkmating patterns, opening principles, and ideally, have experience with USCF-rated tournaments. Students will participate in analysis of master games, work on tactical patterns, learn opening theory, and have opportunities to play with friends. Advanced camps are in the afternoon: 12PM to 3PM.

In-Person Camp at Mechanics' Institute: The camp will run from 9:30AM to 3:30PM, for a total of six hours, with a 30-minute lunch break. Parents will have a chance to drop their kids early or pick them up late, 30 minutes early or late for an additional fee. Lunch must be packed and brought with each participant, and special distancing meal spaces will be provided.

Please read our COVID precautions at the top of this newsletter to learn about our rules and regulations. Parents must sign a release developed by the CDC and the City and County of San Francisco for any live camps or classes.

All new players will receive a Gold membership. Fun end-of-camp awards will be given to all in-person campers!
Summer Online Classes
One Class Per Week
10-Week Sessions Starting June 14
Fun weekly classes throughout the summer to keep learning and working towards goals.

  • All Girls Class with Coach Colin: Mondays 4-5PM -- Register HERE
  • Beginner Class with Coach Colin: Wednesdays 4-5PM -- Register HERE
  • Intermediate Class with Coach Andy: Thursdays 4-5PM -- Register HERE
  • Advanced Class with Coach Andy: Thursdays 5-6PM -- Register HERE
  • Tactics, Tactics, Tactics with Coach Andy for players rated 1000+ ( rating): Friday 4-5PM -- Register HERE

Not sure which class to choose? We are here to help! Email us at, and we'll direct you to the right class. Drop-in classes available anytime to gauge the style and level.
Understanding Chess Tournaments - Part 1

Which Tournament to Choose?
Many first time players and parents are overwhelmed by the different choices and events and have a hard time understanding the results and what they mean.

In this column, we will go through the different parts of the tournaments: from selecting, preparing and attending, to looking up results and understand their meaning.

Part 1 - How to Choose the Tournament?

Besides when the player is available, the second most important factor is the TIME CONTROL of the tournament. What does time control mean? It specifies how much time EACH player has to play their moves in one game.

This determines: 1) the maximum time a game can last; 2) how much time players have to THINK and move; 3) what rating will the game affect in the USCF rating system; and 4) how long will the whole tournament last.

The most common tournament time controls for scholastic tournaments include the following: G/30;d5 for over-the-board (OTB) tournament or G/15+5inc for online (ONL) tournament
  • G/30;d5 - This means that the game is in 30 minutes with a five second delay. Essentially, both players get 30 minutes on their clock, and once it's the player's turn, the clock will count back (delay the start) before the time starts ticking. Since both players get 30 minutes, one full game can last up to 60 minutes.
  • G/15+5inc (or G/15+5) - Game in 15 minutes with a five second increment with each move: this means that both players get 15 minutes on their clock, and they also get five seconds added to their time with each move (hence the increment). Increment is commonly used to adjust to the time it takes for the player to move the piece (OTB or ONL too). Since both players get 15 minutes, and generally players make about 40-50 moves, one game can last about 30-40 minutes.

The in-person tournaments usually have a G/30;d5 time control. This is an ideal time control to encourage players to take their time and think about their moves when playing in-person, over-the-board. Not much choice there, because with almost every OTB tournament, players want to see their USCF regular rating change, and this is the fastest time control that affects USCF regular rating already. It also affects USCF Quick ratings, hence it's often called dual-rated time control.

Mechanics' Institute is offering online tournaments with different time controls every weekend. Some of the time controls we choose: G/5+2, G/10+2, G/15+2 or G/20+10. Which one to choose?

If you are a beginner, you probably tend to play faster, so a G/5+2 or G/10+2 time controls allows you to get a feel for chess tournaments without waiting too long until the next round.

More experienced players tend to use up their allotted time, and therefore should aim to play longer time control tournaments, such as G/15+2 or G/20+10, to practice thinking before moves, and finding multiple candidate moves before deciding on a choice.

To be continued - Part 2 - USCF Ratings and How to Prepare for Tournaments
Online Tournament Schedule - June 2021
USCF Online rated tournaments -- on Saturday or Sunday @ 3PM

June 6: 4 games of G/20+10
June 13: 8 games of G/5+2
June 19: 6 games of G/10+2
June 27: 6 games of G/15+2
For more information and to register:

Free practice tournaments - every day @ 4PM
To get more information on the tournaments, including links, please visit:

Tournament results & Featured Games - May 2021
2021 May -- Weekend USCF Online Rated Tournaments

We are happy to see an overall attendance of 90 players over the past four weeks in May 2021.
We awarded 48 trophies or medals.

Congratulations to all the players!

May 2, Sunday: 6 games of G/15+5

May 8, Saturday: 4 games G/20+10

May 16,Sunday: 8 games G/5+2

May 22, Saturday: 6 games G/10+2

Game Analysis by three-times US Champion
GM Nick de Firmian

WildItchyContest (1784) - RedFullPet (1497)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Nxc6 This allows Black an easy game as the b-pawn captures toward the center and controls the d5 square. [6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 is the usual way to play for White, trying to take advantage of the weakened d5 square] 6...bxc6 7.Bc4 Bb4 8.Bd2 0-0 [8...d5 9.exd5 cxd5 would be good here, since 10.Nxd5? loses a piece after 10...Nxd5 11.Bxd5 Qxd5 12.Bxb4 Qe4+! 13.Qe2 Qxb4+] 9.0-0 Bc5 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 Be7 12.Bb3
12...Nxe4? This just doesn't work and loses a piece. Instead any reasonable move is equal. 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 [13...Nxc3 14.Bxd8 Nxd1 15.Be7 Re8 16.Bd6 Nxb2 17.Rfb1 wins the trapped knight] 14.Nxe4 d5 15.Ng3 Ba6 16.Re1 The central black pawns look nice, but they are not nearly enough compensation for the knight. 16...Qf6 17.Qf3 Qg6?! [17...Qxf3 18.gxf3 Rfe8 would keep the e-pawn] 18.Rxe5 Bb7 19.Qf5 Qd6 20.Re3 d4 21.Rd3 c5 22.Qg4 Qc6
23.Nf5! Defending the mate on g2 while making threats. 23...Qf6 24.Rg3 g5 25.h4 The black kingside opens up now, 25...Bc8 26.Rf3 Bxf5 [26...Bb7 27.Nxh6+ Qxh6 28.Rf5 is a bit better, though White is winning anyway] 27.Rxf5 Qg7 28.hxg5 Kh8 29.Qh4 Kh7 30.gxh6 Qg6 31.Rg5 Qxh6 32.Rh5 That's the end. 32...Qxh5 33.Qxh5+ Kg7 34.Re1 Rac8 35.Re4 Rc6 36.Rg4+ Rg6 37.Qe5+ f6 38.Qe7+ Rf7 39.Qxf7+ Kh8 40.Rxg6 c4 41.Qg7# WildItchyContest won by checkmate 1-0

NeevGBayAreaChess (1613) - MeltingGravel (1338)

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bf5 5.Nf3 e6 6.Be2 Bb4 7.Bd2 0-0 8.0-0 Re8 9.a3 Ba5 10.b4 Bc7 11.Bc1 Ne4 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 13.Nd2 Bf5 14.Bb2
The opening has seen reasonable play from both sides so far. 14...e5?! This leads to a bit of trouble though. [It's better to develop the pieces before breaking open the center. Black would be fine after 14...Nd7] 15.cxd5 cxd5 16.dxe5 Bxe5 17.Bxe5 Rxe5 18.Nf3 Now White has a nice position and good play because of Black's isolated d-pawn. 18...Re8 19.Qd2 Qd7 20.Bd1 [Simple and good would be 20.Rfd1 Be4 21.Nd4] 20...Nc6 21.Bb3 Red8 22.Nd4 Nxd4 This makes it eaier for White to control the d4 square. 22...Ne5 would keep the game more complicated. 23.Qxd4 Qd6 24.Rfd1 Be6 25.Rd2 Rd7 26.Bd1 [26.Rc1!] 26...b6 [26...a5! allows Black some queenside play] 27.Bf3 Rad8 28.Qb2 a5 29.bxa5 bxa5 30.Rd4 Rb8 31.Qa2 Qc6 32.g3 f6 33.Rad1 Rbd8
A classic situation of play against the isolated pawn. Black is on the defense. 34.R1d2 Qc1+ 35.Kg2 Qc6 36.Qc2 Qxc2 37.Rxc2 The endgame is also very pleasant for White. 37...a4 Black will lose a pawn anyway, so this is reasonable to get to a pawn down ending with drawing chances. 38.Rxa4 d4 39.Rxd4 Rxd4 40.exd4 Rxd4 41.Rc1 Ra4 42.Ra1 Very good. Rooks belong behind passed pawns. 42...Kf7 43.h4 h6 44.Bc6 Ra6 45.Bb5 Ra5 46.a4 Kg6 47.Rc1 [47.Kf3! The monarch should also work in the endgame.] 47...Bd5+ 48.Kg1 Bb3 49.Ra1 Kf5 50.Ra3 Bd1 51.Bd7+ Ke5 52.f4+ Kd4 The black king is doing his job with the centralized position. 53.Kf2 Ke4 [53...g5] 54.Bc6+ Kd4 55.Ke1 Bc2 56.Kd2 g5? The timing of this move is wrong with the bishop attacked. Now White gets a very good rook ending. 57.hxg5 hxg5 58.fxg5 fxg5 59.Kxc2 Rc5+ 60.Kd2 [60.Kb3! Rxc6 61.a5 Rc8 62.a6 should win the game] 60...Rxc6 61.a5 Ra6 62.Ra4+ Ke5 63.Rg4 Kf6 64.Ra4 Ke5 65.Ke3 Kf5 66.Kf3 Kg6 67.Kg4 Kf6 68.Kh5! Taking control of the squares around the black g-pawn. 68...Kf5 69.Ra3 Kf6 70.Kg4 [70.g4! Ra8 71.Rf3+ Kg7 72.Rf5 would win the second pawn] 70...Kg6 71.Kf3 Kf5 72.g4+?! Ke5 73.Ra4 Kd5 74.Ke3 Ke5 75.Kd3 Kd5 76.Kc3 Kc5 77.Re4?! [77.Ra1! Kb5 78.Kd4 would still win] 77...Kd5 78.Ra4 Kc5 79.Kd3 Kd5 80.Rd4+? Ke5 81.Ra4 [81.Re4+ Kd6! 82.Ra4 Kd5 is the same] 81...Kd5
The position would be winning with 82. Ra1 if it wasn't a repetition. Nice endgame play by NeevGBayAreaChess, but missing the finish at the end. 1/2-1/2

NearDizzyEnergy (1300) - IcyModernSpirit (1344)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.f3 Bg7 7.Be3 A classic Dragon Variation, Yugoslav Attack. It's nice to see such fighting chess from young players. 7...h6?! This uses a tempo for no help. Better is the usual 7...0-0. 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 Bd7 10.Nxc6 [10.g4 would be the thematic follow up.] 10...Bxc6 11.Bd3 a6 12.f4?! e5?! [12...0-0!] 13.fxe5 dxe5
14.Bc4?! This gives up the advantage. White would have a fine, fully mobilized game after 14. Rhf1. 14...Qxd2+ 15.Rxd2 Nxe4 16.Nxe4 Bxe4 17.Rf1 Bf5?!
[17...f5 18.Rfd1 gives White some compensation for the pawn, but no more] 18.g4! Be6 best 19.Bxe6 fxe6 20.g5?! [20.Rd6! leaves White attacking the targets in the black position.] 20...Rd8 21.Rxd8+ Kxd8 22.gxh6? [22.Rf7! Bf8 23.Rxb7 is still good for White] 22...Bxh6 23.Bxh6 Rxh6 Now Black has an extra pawn, doubled though it is. 24.Rf8+ Ke7 25.Rb8 Rxh2 26.Rxb7+ Kf6 27.Ra7 g5!
It doesn't matter here what the pawn structure looks like, it matters how fast they can run. 28.Rxa6 g4 29.Ra3 Rh3?! [29...Kf5! helps the pawns run and should win] 30.Kd1? [30.Ra8! to get behind the black g-pawn] 30...Rxa3 31.bxa3 Kf5?! [31...Kg5! 32.Ke2 g3 33.Kf3 Kh4 34.Kg2 e4 wins] 32.Ke2 Kf4?! [32...e4 33.a4 g3 34.a5 Kg4 35.a6 g2 should be a draw] 33.Kf1? [33.a4! Ke4 34.Kf2 would win now for White] 33...e4! 34.c4 Kf3 now the black pawns get to the finish line first 35.c5 e3 36.c6 e2+ 37.Ke1 g3 38.c7 g2 39.c8Q g1Q+ 40.Kd2 e1Q+ 41.Kd3 Qge3+ 42.Kc4 Q1c1+ 43.Kb5 Qxc8 44.a4 Qcc5+ 45.Ka6 Qb6# IcyModernSpirit won by checkmate 0-1