Frisco Del Rosario

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August 10th, 2014

11:44 pm - BayAreaChess John Donaldson Tribute Open, rounds five and six
White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Christopher Pan (2002)
Event: BAC Donaldson
Date: 2010-08-10
(A45 Queen's Pawn Game, Bronstein G)

1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d6 4 Be2 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Bg5 Bg7 7 Qd2 h6

The weakening of the g-file is more dangerous for Black than allowing Bg5-h6.

8 Bh4 O-O 9 O-O-O Nc6

I suspect this move is better than the game suggests.

10 d5 Ne5 11 f4 Ned7 12 Nf3 Nb6?

The knight is out of play unless Black can win control of d5, and in any event, the queen wants to use the d8-a5 diagonal.

13 Rhg1

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 11.39.57 PM

c6 14 dxc6 bxc6 15 f5 gxf5??

He played quickly, as if he considered only 16. Qxh6 Ng4 (though White's winning there, too).  Best is probably 15 ... Kh7 16 e5 Nfd5 17 Bd3 +/=

16 Bxf6 Re8 17 Qxh6 1-0

That took five minutes of clock time on my side, so with four hours of lunchtime, I visited Santana Row, a live-work-shop complex that's succeeding beyond the wildest dreams of every other real estate developer that's tried the same approach. I dropped in on two wine bars (disappointed in each), and then learned that "two tasting flights" is the same type of "do not play chess" condition as "asleep" and "sick" and "sick yesterday". (The only rated game I played in 2013 was a loss to B-player Flyn Penoyer, where I was too zonked on March Madness beer to sit up. Now I see that "too drunk to see straight" and "sober enough to drive" are the same at the chessboard.)

It was a good miniature to lose, though. Jack Zhu was an unlikeable little kid, but at 15, he seems to have grown up encouragingly. He certainly plays the right way.

White: Jack Zhu (2137)
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: BayAreaChess Donaldson
Date:  2010-08-10
(C47 Four Knights Game, Schultze-Müller G)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nxe5! Nxe5

I think if I weren't half-drunk, I would've come up with 4…Nxe4, which could've arisen from 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 Nc6 (my old favorite) 4. Nc3 Nxe4.

5 d4 Ng6 6 e5 Ng8 7 Bc4 d6 8 Qf3 f6 9 Bg5 dxe5 10 O-O-O Bd6 11 Rhe1 Qd7?

Suddenly it's over.

12 dxe5 Nxe5 13 Rxe5+! fxe5 14 Rxd6! cxd6 15 Bb5 Nf6 16 Bxf6 gxf6 17 Qxf6 Rf8 18 Qxd6 a6 19 Bxd7+ Bxd7 20 Nd5 O-O-O

I should've insisted on 21. Ne7# or 21. Nb6#.

21 Qc7# 1-0

Unfortunately, I lost rating points for 2-2 against 1900, 2000, 2000, 2100. The weird thing was how little original thinking there was in three days of chess. In the wins, I followed my experience in the Philidor and Bronstein gambits, and then they blundered right away. In the losses, I was sleepy or tipsy.

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August 9th, 2014

02:43 pm - BayAreaChess John Donaldson Tribute Open, round three
I decided I can't play morning rounds anymore, and this debacle suggests I oughtn't play early afternoons, either. (Then when I consider that I play weakly in the evenings, too — after work or while unwell — I resume thinking that I should stay in retirement.)

White: Pranav Srihari (2002)
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: BAC Donaldson
Date: 08-09-2014
(C50 Hungarian D)

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Be7 4 d4 d6 5 d5 Nb8 6 Bd3 Nd7 7 c4 Ngf6 8 Nc3 O-O 9 h3 Qe8 10 O-O c6

Here I thought "OK, remember you've left the d6-pawn loose."

11 Be3 Bd8 12 Bc2

And then I forgot. I was also struggling to remember to breathe, so it's just one of those mornings at 2 p.m.

Bb6? 13 dxc6 Bxe3?? 14 cxd7 Bxf2+ 15 Rxf2 Qxd7

"That's weird," I thought, "Why do I have an extra pawn here?" Then I counted the pieces.


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01:16 am - BayAreaChess John Donaldson Tribute Open, round one
White is an 11-year-old whose mom hung about and helped keep his nose clean. When I was 11, Kenny Fong's mom did that, and I fell apart because my mom wasn't that kind of mom. (This is why kid tournaments no longer let parents in the playing rooms, because it *is* a factor.) At 51, I could think "Enjoy that granola bar from Mom."

White: Raymond Muller (1835)
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: BayAreaChess Donaldson
Date: 2014-08-08
(C41 Philidor C-G, Philidor C-G, del Rio A)

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 f5

It's a bad drug, but sometimes bad drugs work for mentally ill chessplayers like Morphy and me.

4 dxe5 fxe4 5 Ng5 d5 6 e6 Bc5 7 Nf7 Qf6 8 Qe2 Bxe6 9 Nxh8

White has nothing in this position but an extra rook.

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 1.03.57 AM

Nc6 10 c3 O-O-O 11 b4 Nxb4

I knew capturing the pawn gives White a tempo for developing his king bishop before castling, but castling feels like a death trap, and if 11…Bb6 instead, I couldn't predict White's 12th move.

12 Qb2 Nc6

12…Rf8 is better, but I didn't think about anything but …Nb4-c6-e5.

13 Bb5 Ne5 14 O-O Nh6 15 Bxh6

Given my results with 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4 Nxg4, you know I was delighted when he opened the g-file for me. On 15. Be3, I was going to crack the g-file in a different way by 15…Nf3+.

gxh6 16 Nd2 Rg8

I picked up the d8-rook, moved it left, and stopped short of h8. It's humorous, and highlights the worthlessness of the knight. I have more fun than other chessplayers.

17 Kh1

17 g3 would've been a better test because whether I played 17…Bh3 or 17…Nf3+, I would've had to keep White's backward defensive resource Bb5-f1 in mind, and I do miss those.


White's position is defenseless.

18 f3

18 Rab1 Qh4 19 h3 Nxf2+ 20 Rxf2 Bxh3 -+.

Nxh2 19 Nb3 Qh4 20 Bd7+ Bxd7 21 g3 Rxg3 22 Qxh2 Rh3 23 Rf2 Bxf2 24 Kg2 Rxh2+ 25 Kf1 Bb5+ 0-1

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August 7th, 2014

01:32 am - I liked Guardians of the Galaxy as much as I liked What If Galactus Landed on Rocket's Halfworld?
I knew "Guardians of the Galaxy" would be the best Marvel movie yet. I knew this because inside my head, I let it be.

Consider "Daredevil", the movie about my favorite costumed hero. I knew it would suck. I knew everything about that movie would be wrong — from the day they announced the green light, and until the day the last of its hellborne DVD copies biodegrades. I never saw it.

I never saw "Daredevil" the movie, and no one shall persuade me. Keri Russell could say "Come on, let's watch the Daredevil movie, and then we'll cosplay Ben Urich, the newspaper reporter Daredevil trusts with his secret identity, and Mrs. Urich."

"Sorry, babe," I'd say.

Then Keri Russell would say "OK, how about we do Matt Murdock and Karen Page?".

"Ha," I'd say. "You could not play Karen Page. Begone, Keri Russell."

"Wait! I have authority to greenlight you to write and direct a Daredevil movie!"

"No," I'd say, with a voice of steel. "What does a comic book nerd have if he doesn't have his principles?!"

When the creator of The Guardians of the Galaxy comic picked up Rocket Raccoon — my favorite non-costumed hero — I said "Yeah, OK, but I don't have to read it." Then news broke about the movie, and I said: "Yes, my stash of Incredible Hulk 271's is my new Apple stock! But I'm not going to see the movie, because that isn't Rocket."

Secretly, I hoped it would be better than good. When Bradley Cooper landed the part of Rocket's voice, I found hope. Then every bit of news about the forthcoming blockbuster was positive, and its release date was my birthday, August 1.

They made the Rocket Raccoon movie for me!, I kidded myself. But I was playing chess that night, and touring Presidential monuments all weekend. That gave Rotten Tomatoes enough time to compile a nearly-unanimous Fresh vote by the top critics (except for San Francisco's Mick LaSalle). My favorite film writer — slate dot com's Dana Stevens — said "Bradley Cooper gives one of his best performances to date as the voice of a trash-talking space raccoon." YES!

First thing I did when I got back to San Mateo Sunday night was to visit the multiplex. Fell asleep before 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" is heard (my chess friend Greg 35 years ago that "I'm Not in Love" reminded him of me, and I could never be pissed off about his equating me with the loser in that song because it's such a good song), woke up to try another screening room, slept through it there, too. So damn tired I was mistaken about having my phone when I left the theater.

Monday was spent readjusting to the Pacific time zone and my own bed. Tuesday there was dinner with Caroline. Wednesday I could stay awake in the theater.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" is smartly funny and wordily funny, but not self-congratulatory about it. It's inventive in ways that remind us there's still scope left for imaginative storytelling in comic book movies. The script shows concern for innocent bystanders!

The movie Rocket is a possible Rocket, in my rigid interpretation of a beloved character. The movie Rocket is a cross between Procyonn the sword-dueling raccoon, Marx the beaver bartender, and Hoban Washburne. If you know Procyonn and Marx and Wash, see what you think — you'll quite understand why I was so delighted with "Guardians".

There's another odd mystical connection between me and the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, I wrote the story "What If Galactus Landed on Rocket Raccoon's Halfworld?". Galactus is getting hungry, his location scout/herald nowhere to be found, and the next planet he comes across is Halfworld. Halfworld is the home of crazy humans, and animals who evolved from pets into caretakers, like our hero Rocket Raccoon. It's time on Halfworld for the annual Masquerade, and a young Loony runs up to Rocket — dressed like the raccoon. "I'm going to play you in the Masquerade, Ranger Rocket!" says the kid, and for the rest of the story, he gets into trouble while trailing Rocket and mimicking his moves. Galactus lands. Meanwhile, the harpies and the killer clowns of Halfworld have determined Masquerade is a prime time to menace the Loonies. Galactus calmly goes about his business, setting up his Matter-Eater-World-Munching machine. The crazy humans are dancing around his big purple feet, oblivious to the danger. The animals are defending against the harpies and clowns. One of the clown cars slams into Galactus' foot, which annoys him enough to finger-zap the clowns to dust. Rocket realizes he'll have to be the diplomat to save his planet from being ravaged. "Galactus!" Rocket yells for attention. Galactus is hungry and grumpy, and without looking, points the finger toward the sound of a talking raccoon. Galactus fires, but the Loony kid dives in, sacrificing himself. There's a tear-jerking death scene, and then Rocket is furious. "Galactus! Leave my planet, and I shall be your herald!!", he cries. I totally hand-waved how Rocket knows to volunteer for this particular duty. Then the illustrator draws some awesome panels in which the kid miraculously struggles to his feet, then mimicks Rocket's play. "I shall be your herald," the kid says, as strongly as he muster. Galactus looks down at the Loony kid, posed and dressed like the raccoon for whom he sacrifices himself twice, and all the nuthouse ballroom dancing and walrus pilots gunning down flying reptiles and clown cars.

And Galactus laughs. Regally and briefly, Galactus laughs, then flies away.

I liked that story. I wish I could share the entire thing with you — I wrote songs and costume descriptions for the Masquerade, consulted air combat history books to choreograph the Wal Rus air victory — but to duplicate it would be lots of work that wouldn't live up to the memory of the original.

If you've seen "Guardians", you understand why I was thinking about my Rocket Raccoon story during Starlord's dance.

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August 4th, 2014

08:45 pm - Problems in developing the king knight after 2…Nxg4 (Potomac Open, round five)
My friend Patrik wanted to know what to do with this gift he received:

1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d5 4 Be2 Nxf2 5 Kxf2 dxe4

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 7.13.28 PM

What to do? he asked, which is a certain way to exasperate me. If you cook a fish for a fellow, or tell him what to play in one position, he eats for a day, and gets through one game. If you teach him to fish, or teach him to think about chess, you know how the proverb goes.

Black has no threats. This should not be a problem, I said.

It's a delicate matter to achieve fireworks, he said.

White shouldn't be looking for fireworks. Black has turned the tables by making a bigger sacrifice than White's, so it's becomes White's job to find some king safety and to put the extra piece to work. What's your development plan? I said.

After Nc3 followed by …Bf5. Black has too many different options for me to see any generic plan, said Patrik.

There's nothing generic or general about plans. How is White supposed to get his pieces out?

But he's so scared of the black pawns (which are mostly on the second rank) that the conversation fell aside.

If I had this position as White, I'd change my mind about finding king shelter on the queenside. Ordinarily when White gambits 2. g4, his king is destined for queenside castling because the kingside is gashed. It's not possible here, so I want to "castle by hand" on the kingside by developing the knight, then Rh1-f1 plus Kf2-g1.

The knight can't develop safely, so I think Be2-c4, followed by Ng1-e2 plus Ne2-g3, Rh1-f1, and so forth. g3 is a good square for the knight, shielding the king and looking forward to Ng3xe4-g5 or Ng3-f5 or Ng3-h5-f4 (which sights the key squares e6 and g6).

I have a couple of …Nxf2's in my notes:

White: Frisco
Black: Louie Arquie
Kolty Chess Club 9/2/12

1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d5 4 h3

Experimentally, planning for Bd3 (more active than the ritual Be2).

Nxf2 5 Kxf2

And here Louie played


Which solved the knight's development problem, so

6. Nf3

White won in 17 moves.

White: Frisco
Black: wigglemagicx, 6/4/13

1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d5 4 Be2 Nxf2 5 Kxf2 dxe4 6 Nc3 f5

Which solves White's problem is a different way.

7 Nh3

White won in 27 moves.

Related by pattern:

White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Vishal Kobla (2002)
Event: Potomac Open
Date: 2014-08-03
(A45 Queen's Pawn Game, Bronstein G)

1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d6 4 Be2 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Bg5

The other bishop developments make it easier for Black. Be3 provokes …Ng4, Bg4 fetches …e5. Bg5 inhibits …e7-e5, and prompts …h7-h6, a further weakening of the black kingside.

Bg7 7 Qd2 O-O 8 O-O-O

A most common tabiya.

8 ... c6 9 f4 d5

A loss of time for the player who fell behind in development while grabbing the gambit pawn.

10 e5 Ne4

Black will lose his central presence. If 10…Nfd7, then 11. f5. 10…Ng4 could be the least evil, though it takes time to recycle the knight by …Ng4-h6-f5.

11 Nxe4 dxe4

Here we are. How should White develop the kingside?

12 Bc4 Qc7?

An ineffectual move. The minor pieces should develop first, and how can Black know where his queen belongs? Is Black aiming for …e7-e6? What good would that voluntary weakening do? (Besides two of three pawn moves on the way to e6-f7-g6-h6, White's favorite black pawn structure.)

13 Ne2 a5

13 ... b5 14 Bb3 a5 15 c3 gets nowhere faster. Black trails in center control and development; the pawn rush can't succeed.

14 Ng3 b5 15 Be2 Be6

Was this Black's idea behind 10…Ne4?

16 f5!

White's primary plan after 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4 Nxg4 is to play on an open g-file. At any cost — rook sacrifices on g6 are anticipated.

16 ... Bd5?

16…Bxa2 leaves the bishop with equal scope, and improves the prospects for …a5-a4-a3. The worst aspect of 16…Bd5? is that the threat of 17…e3 forces White to play his most desired move.

17 Rhg1 Re8 18 fxg6 fxg6 19 Nh5!

Part of Capablanca's mystique were two-move maneuvers like this: The knight vacates the g-file for the rook, then comes to bear on g6.

19 ... Bh8 20 Nf4 e6

Black must've decided that sealing off the bishop was better than White's occupation of that square, but Black is essentially three pieces down.

21 h4

Note that White's attack required another chunk of firewood because Black refrained from …h7-h6.

21 ... Nd7

For Black's waste of time, the knight doesn't arrive in time to be helpful.

22 h5 Nf8 23 hxg6 hxg6 24 Bh6 Kf7

He won't run far.

25 Rdf1 Ke7 26 Bxf8+

Stopping the black king in his tracks. The timing of the tactic is cinematic. The king dithered in summoning the knight that would aid his flight, so the poor horse was the first serious casualty.

26 ... Rxf8

26 ... Kxf8 27 Nxg6+ Kg7 28 Ne7+ Kh7 29 Rh1+ Kg7 30 Qg5#.

27 Nxg6+ 1-0

As usual, White wins on g6.

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August 2nd, 2014

01:24 am - Potomac Open, round one
Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 1.23.51 AM

Critical position from Capablanca-Corzo, 1901 match (11).

White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Isaac Steinkamp (1944)
Event: Potomac Open
Date:  2014-08-01
(A45 Queen's Pawn Game, Bronstein G)

1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 e6 3 g5 Ng8

That's interesting. Do I want to play 2. c4, a Catalan with a pawn on g5 instead of g3? or 2. e4, a French with a pawn on g5 instead of g2?

4 e4 d5 5 Bg2

This way I might experiment with a bishop recapture on e4 while …Nf6 is not a gimme.

5 ... Ne7 6 Nc3 c6 7 Nge2

Totally with the idea that Black will play …Ne7-f5 eventually, and then I'll have Ne2-g3 in store. 7. Nf3 is surely good, but I wanted to encourage …Be7 to "threaten" the pawn.

7 ... g6 8 h4 Bg7 9 h5 O-O

A flagrant example of "castling into it". The embarrassing thing is that when I was a kid, it was probably fair strategy to play like this, and let me flame out prematurely.

10 Qd3

Unsubtle. This is the fastest route to h3, and if it eggs him into 10…e5 when he's behind in development, let's see what happens.

10 ... e5 11 dxe5

If 11…Bxe5, I was planning to stick with the caveman 12. hxg6 fxg6 13. f4 Bg7 14. f5 plus 15. Qh3.

11 ... dxe4 12 Qxe4

Aiming to reach the h-file on the fourth rank.

12 ... Nf5 13 hxg6 fxg6 14 Qc4+

Unless White follows 14. Qc4+ correctly, 14. Bd2 is better.

14 ... Rf7

In case of 14…Kh8, 15. Nf4 would've been good. Here I thought I'd grab a pawn by 15. Rxh7, but I changed my mind because 15…Qe7 would cost time (unless White wants to speculate on 16. Rxg7+). And my second choice — 15. Ne4 — was going to run into 15…Qa5+ 16. Bd2 Qxe5 17. Bc3 Be6, where he's catching up in development. So I settled on a move that felt third-best.

15 Bd2? Qb6?

15 ... Bxe5 16 O-O-O Qe7 shows 15. Bd2 as passive.

16 Ne4 Qxb2 17 Bc3

I felt a jolt because I prepared for 17…Qb5 with 18. Qxf7+ Kxf7 19. Nd6+?? (and after I reminded myself pregame to mind their backward defensive moves!). By the time I composed myself with the thought 18. Qxb5 cxb5 19. Nf6+ was good, he played a lemon.

17 ... Qa3?

With the bishop on c3, it means 18. Rxh7! threatens 19. Rxg7+, but I was relieved at "not 17…Qb5", so I hurriedly played a lesser good move.

18 Nf6+ Bxf6 19 gxf6

I like the declined games where the pawn survives g2-g4-g5, and keeps going. Looks like Capablanca-Corzo(11) now.

19 ... Qa6?

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 12.42.43 AM

20 Bd5!

Bg2-d5 and Nc3-d5 were available since 15…Qb6, but I thought this was the first time one was definitely the best move.

20 ... cxd5 21 Qxc8+ Rf8 22 f7+ Kg7 23 Rxh7+

I knew this wins, but much more in the spirit of Capablanca-Corzo(11) is 23 e6+ d4 24. Nxd4!.

23 ... Kxh7 24 Qxf8 1-0

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July 27th, 2014

08:04 pm - Human touch
White's general idea after 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4 Nxg4 is to play Rh1-g1 as soon as possible, but White has to mind the black queen bishop. If White plays Ng1-f3 too hastily, then …Bc8-g4xf3 lessens White's influence over e5, and if White recaptures with Be2xf3, the bishop is usually misplaced. There's often a pawn wedge on e4 and d5 which stifle a bishop on f3, while Black's …Ne5 often comes with a threat.
White has to think carefully about whether …Bc8-g4xf3 helps him or hurts him. If it hurts, then Rh1-g1 can serve to inhibit …Bg4 and keep Black bottled up. If it helps, then White welcomes …Bc8-g4 when Rh1-g1 is a threatening move.

In the games where Black plays …e7-e6 prematurely, then the c8-bishop is stuffed, and there should be no hesitation to play Ng1-f3 plus Rh1-g1.

1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d6 4 Be2 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6

Even 5…e5 is more troublesome; White can play freely for Black's timidity.

6 Nf3 Be7 7 Rg1 O-O


8 Bh6 Ne8 9 Qd2 c6 10 O-O-O?

White wins with the thematic central operation 10 Bxg7 Nxg7 11 Qh6 Bf6 12 e5! dxe5 13 Ne4 +-.

10 ... a5??

10…Kh8 hampers White considerably.

11 Bxg7 Nxg7 12 Qh6 Bf6 13 Rxg7+ Bxg7 14 Rg1 Qf6 15 Qxf6 b5 16 Qxg7# 1-0

I've kept that game as an example of how quickly White can crash down the g-file if Black dithers, but 10. O-O-O? and 10…a5?? diminish the effect. Also, there's an air of artificiality about the whole game because a computer (at its fastest and weakest setting) played Black.

Two years later:

White: friscodelrosario
Black: Ranger_Squad
Date:  2014-07-27
(A45 Queen's Pawn Game, Bronstein G)

1 d4 Nf6 2 g4 Nxg4 3 e4 d6 4 Be2 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Nf3 Be7 7 Rg1 O-O 8 Bh6 Nh5 9 Qd2 Kh8 10 O-O-O

Pointing out the difference between 8…Ne8 and 8…Nh5. White can ignore the threat of 10…gxh6 because 11 Qxh6 wins the knight.

10 ... gxh6 11 Qxh6 Rg8 12 Qxh5 Nd7 13 Rxg8+

13 Qxf7 demands attention because White gains a winning advantage, but it is not in style. I've learned that habitually playing in style is more rewarding than gathering wood.

Qxg8 14 Rg1 Qf8 15 Ng5

The advance e4-e5 makes way for Nc3-e4 and also Be2-d3: 15 e5 dxe5 16 Ne4 Nf6 17 Nxf6 Bxf6 18 Bd3 h6 19 dxe5 +-.

15 ... Bxg5+ 16 Qxg5 f5?

16 ... f6 puts up more of a fight.

17 exf5 exf5 18 Nd5 c6 19 Ne7 Nf6 20 Qxf6+ 1-0

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July 11th, 2014

12:42 pm - Kolty Chess Club Championship, round two
Kolty CC Championship, round 2
White: G. Jeffers
Black: Frisco

1. e4 e5

White's one of those 1900s who's a 1700 when he has to think for himself. For instance, when he met 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4, he played 2…e6? because he had to find a move on his own. I could find three of his white games — he plays solid and boring against the Sicilian (because he has a book), and poorly against the Scandinavian (1. e4 d5 2. ed4 Qd5 3. d4 c6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. h3?). Maybe I should've played 1…d5, where he would probably make a different mistake if not repeat one.

2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4

I might've figured a player who relies on solid book lines would favor the Scotch. I'm a big fan of the Scotch — White gains time and space, and unlike an Open Sicilian, he doesn't have to give up a center pawn for a wing pawn.


4…Qh4 didn't cross my mind, where the complications typically favor White, but the key word is "complications".

5. Nb3

I haven't seen this move in 25 years when I played it myself. I usually fetch 5. Be3 Qf6 6. c3 Qg6 with a hard game in store.

Bb6 6. Nc3

Botterill and Harding suggested the fanciful 6. a4 a6 7. a5 Ba7, and later lifting the queen rook with Ra1-a4. When I was a kid, I thought that was a groovy idea, but in practice, the positions are too quiet (and Ra1-a4-kingside never happened usefully).


6…Nf6 or 6…Nge7 are better. The problem with …Qf6 is Nc3-b5 or Nc3-d5, which can't arise after 5. Be3 Qf6 6. c3 (as ever, active piece moves are better than pawn moves).

7. Qe2

I thought White's kingside development is stifled, but it's not so troubling — White wins more than half of these games.

Nge7 8. Be3

I didn't like any of the positions which follow 8…O-O 9. O-O-O plus Nb5 or Nd5, so I bailed into an ending with zero practical chances to win.

Nd4 9. Nxd4 Bxd4 10. Bxd4 Qxd4


11. Qc4

In Maghami-Harikrishna, Guangzhou 2010, White played the scarier 11. Rd1. I hadn't decided yet on a square for the queen — Black is teetering on the edge, where a bad queen move will tip him over. GM Harikrishna eventually drew with 11…Qb6.


Black loses time, but I thought 11…Qb6 invited big trouble with 12. a4, in advance of a4-a5 plus Nc3-d5 or Nc3-b5 to bring another unit to bear on c7. No way would I go for 12…Qxb2 13. Rb1 Qa3 — I built my chess career beating such pawn grubbing.

11…Qxc4 gives up any chance of winning, but the rook ending on the horizon is not a win for either side. I thought conceding a draw was a lesser evil than the provocative 11…Qb6, but Hopster-van der Borgt, Vlissingen 2000 went 11…Qb6 12. O-O-O? (a serious lack of adventurousness, or irrational fear of sacrificing a pawn) d6 13. f3 Bd7 (Black breathes in relief) 14. Nd5 Nxd5 15. Qxd5 Be6 16. Qb5+ c6 17. Qxb6 axb6 18. a3 1/2-1/2

12. Bxc4 a6

I still considered Nc3-b5 to be serious.

13. O-O-O d6 14. Rae1 Be6 15. Nd5 Kd7 15. e5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Bxd5 17. Rxd5 Kc6

Black had to see this game-saving gain of time at move 11, when he willfully lost two beats of time with 11…Qxc4 12. Bxc4 a6.

18. Rd3 1/2

Crappy result, but winning with white and drawing with black will end with 5.5-1.5, which will probably win the club championship. It's a tough one this year, with two masters, three 2100s, and me at 2085. Winning for a third time would be fun, but my goal is to gain rating points on the way to 2200 so I won't have to spend the rest of my life in regret (which my friends warn me about, and those assholes have been right every time I retire from chess).

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July 2nd, 2014

11:02 am - Bulgarian chess master steals identity of dead kidnap victim, wins Idaho state championship twice
A Bulgarian fellow named Doitchin Krastev assumed the identity of a murdered Ohio boy, and got a job with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission before he was nabbed while applying for a passport. Krastev was released from a federal penitentiary in California in 2012.

Naturally, the scoundrel is a chessplayer, and a pretty good one. Krastev won the Idaho Closed championship in 2008 and 2010 using Jason Robert Evers' name.

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July 1st, 2014

10:54 pm - Unique pleasures at the chessboard
White: friscodelrosario
Black: V_Bisht
Event: Live Chess
Date: 2014-06-28
(D00 Blackmar G)

1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 c5 4 d5 e6 5 Bb5+ Bd7 6 dxe6 Bxb5 7 exf7+ 1-0

He resigned after 7. exf7+, but did he know why? If 7…Ke7 8. fxg8Q, then Black gets the unique pleasure of capturing two queens with two moves: 8…Qxd1+ 9. Kxd1 Rxg8. Instead of 8. fxg8Q?, Black has the unique pleasure of a winning underpromotion: 8. fxg8N+! gaining the time for 9. Bg5+.

This pattern originated in Allies-Lasker, Moscow 1899: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. e3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 dxe3 6. Bxb4, where Lasker's opponents agreed on 6. Qa4+, which also loses.

If you want to win 7-move miniatures like Lasker — world champion for 27 years — or me, play the Blackmar-Diemer and Albin gambits.

White: NN
Black: friscodelrosario (1652)
Event: Live Chess
Date: 2014-07-01
(A04 Réti O, Herrström G)

1 Nf3 g5 2 Ng5


Tease: I wrote a comment about 1…g5, but then I thought a smart reader could reverse engineer the note, and uncover a critical secret about my darling 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4. I'll give up that secret in the book.

Elevator pitch: More than an openings book. The opening itself is designed to take advantage of Steinitz's theory: You should not attack until an advantage is obtained, but once you have an advantage, attack or you will lose it. White gains advantage by gambiting a pawn to get superior center control and development, then he can attack so quickly on the file where he sacrificed the pawn (exemplifying Purdy's teaching that the real value of an opening is in the play it gives to its rooks). The attack arises naturally (at times with shocking suddenness), then experience shows that the defense gravitates toward the e6-f7-g6 pawn structure that's ripe for White's combinations — a structure that I've covered before in the book Capablanca: A Primer of Checkmate, and the Success Chess School Dragon magazine article Smiting the e6-f7-g6-h6 Pawn Structure.

e5 3 Nf3 e4

"Lucky for me I play Alekhine's Defense," he typed. If he'd kept silent, this wouldn't have been an embarrassment.

4 Nd4 Nf6 5 d3 d5 6 dxe4 Nxe4 7 Nd2 Nxf2 8 Kxf2 Qh4+ 9 g3 Qxd4+

This is known to Alekhine's defenders, but in the Alekhine's position, Black does well with …Ke6. White can't play 10. Ke3 in this game because 10…Bh6+ is strong. Another triumph for sacrificing the g-pawn early!

10 e3 Qb6

In the Alekhine's move order, Bozinovic-Slavov European individual ch 2012, White played Qf3+, but it can't be right to ask the opponent to play …Qf6 (Slavov played …Nf6, so they were both dim).

11 Nf3 Rg8

Black can keep the d-pawn, but then 12. Qd4 forces the queens come off, and who wants to play that? Also, by sacrificing the d5-pawn, Black gets to play the most thematic rook-to-g-file move.

12 Qxd5 Bc5 13 Qe5+?

13. Qe4+ saves one or two or three moves.

Be6 14 Nd4 Nd7 15 Qe4 Nf6 16 Qh4 Ng4+

…Nb8-d7-f6-g4 gained a tempo each time. I have much more fun than players who are afraid to give away a pawn.

17 Ke1 Bxd4 18 exd4 Qxd4 19 Qxh7 O-O-O 20 Bd3 Qf2+ 21 Kd1 Qf3+ 0-1

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