Monday, May 4

GM Zierk Wins Mechanics' Memorial Blitz

Due to the COVID pandemic, the Mechanics' Institute organized its annual Memorial Blitz online at This special event honors the memory of three masters who have departed after leaving their mark on the Bay Area chess community: NM Ray Schutt, SM Steve Brandwein and IM Jay Whitehead. In previous years, the large crowd of participants would socialize and munch on snacks between rounds of serious chess.

GM Steven Zierk
(credit: Alberta Chess)
Fortunately, the mandatory move online did little to dampen attendance - 104 players joined, including two Grandmsters, two International Masters, three FIDE Masters and at least seven National Masters. The competition was fierce starting in the first round, when three titled players lost or drew and a fourth overslept. No doubt, Ray, Steve and Jay would have enjoyed watching all of the fighting chess, even while socially distanced.

Veteran IM Elliott Winslow stormed out of the gate for the early lead, winning six straight games. The top seed, super-GM Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan, finally reeled him in. After round 7, four players shared the lead with 6-1: GM Mamedov and IM Winslow were joined by GM Steven Zierk and talented 13-year old IM Christopher Yoo.

The two Grandmasters clashed in round 9. Zierk, playing the black pieces, emerged victorious in a theoretical line of the Tarrasch variation of the French, gaining the advantage of two minor pieces against a rook and extra pawn.

Both Zierk and Mamedov held serve in rounds 10 and 11, allowing the local GM to clinch the tournament despite blundering into last round draw by repetition against this reporter. Congratulations Steven!

Final Standings of the Memorial Blitz (full results here)
  1. GM Zkid (Steven Zierk) 10.5 out of 12
  2. GM Muisback26 (Rauf Mamedov) 10.0
  3. FM KyronGriffith 9.0
  4. qing29 (Abhinav Penagalapati) 9.0
  5. IM ChristopherYoo 8.5
  6. NM 2007checkmate (Vyom Vidyarthi) 8.0
  7. FM Marty435 (Jason Liang) 8.0
  8. IM ecwinslow (Elliott Winslow) 8.0
  9. NM jij2018 (Ruiyang Yan) 8.0
  10. NM fpawn (Michael Aigner) 8.0
  11. Atrozen (Anthony Rozenvasser) 8.0 
The blitz tournament was broadcast on Twitch with live commentary from the multi-talented Mechanics' Institute staff, including GM Nick de Firmian and FM Paul Whitehead. Replay the entire show at your leisure on YouTube! The game Mamedov vs Winslow begins at 1:25:00 while Mamedov vs Zierk starts at 1:48:40. Readers of this blog might enjoy the tense final round match between Zierk and Aigner at 2:20:25.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice writeup, and nice swindle against Steven :-).