Frisco Del Rosario

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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

7OO

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
Event: Chess.com
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.

Bc5

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).

Qf6

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

10qd4

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.

Qxc4

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.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/01/24/bulgarian-who-used-boys-id-getting-out-prison/

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.

http://www.idahochessassociation.org/idahostatechampions.asp

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July 1st, 2014


10:54 pm - Unique pleasures at the chessboard
White: friscodelrosario
Black: V_Bisht
Event: Chess.com: 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: Chess.com: Live Chess
Date: 2014-07-01
(A04 Réti O, Herrström G)

1 Nf3 g5 2 Ng5

2ng5

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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June 30th, 2014


03:28 am - Idaho Open, round five
White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Cody Gorman
Event: Idaho Open
Date:  2014-06-29
(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 8 Bh4 a6?

Black doesn't have time for a wing demonstration when he's in danger of being run over in the center.

9 f4 b5 10 e5 dxe5 11 fxe5 b4

The tactics to follow are in White's favor, but if the f6-knight moves, White can play Ne4 with a comfortable game.

12 exf6 bxc3 13 Qe3! cxb2 14 Rb1 Bf8 15 Bf3 c6

The only useful interposition, but Black's queenside is a wreck. The knight is tied to the defense of c6, while the rook is tied to the defense of the knight. The bishop hasn't a useful development, but at least it prevents Rb2-b7.

16 Rxb2

It never comes about, though both sides kept alert to the combination Rxb8 plus Bxc6+.

e6

A disproportionate number of Black's moves are pawn moves, partly why he's in this mess. 16…e6 completes my favorite pawn structure e6-f7-g6-h6.

17 Ne2 Qa5+ 18 c3 Ba3 19 Rb3 Bd6 20 O-O

Overly cautious, maybe. White should trust his center control and development, and leave his king in the center so the rook can develop to g1, its best square. On the other hand, after 20. O-O, White's rooks can double on the other knight file.

20O-O

Qc7 21 Bg3 Nd7 22 Be4

Bxg6 looms.

Bxg3 23 Nxg3

A little too automatic. 23. hxg3 is more in tune, enabling the knight to develop to f4 where it bears on the critical squares e6 and g6.

Nb6 24 Qf3 Bd7 25 Rfb1 Rb8 26 Qd3 Bc8 27 c4

27. Bxg6 was probably winning, but White's in no hurry. 27. c4 readies c5 or d5, while Black is in a bit of zugzwang — queenside pieces are a tangle, and the most plausible kingside move (…O-O) runs into Bxg6.

c5 28 d5 exd5 29 Bxd5

If Black castles, Qxg6+.

Bf5

A last-ditch effort to deploy his king rook, but it's too late for Black to save the game.

30 Nxf5 gxf5 31 Qe3+ Kd7

31…Kf8 32. Rxb6!

32 Bxf7

A useful move. e6 is freed as a square for White's pieces, while …Rg8+ is thwarted, and the f6-pawn is clear to go. Amazing how the position comes to its head with the collapse of the e6-f7-g6 chain.

Kd8 33 Qe6 Nd7 34 Qe7+ Kc8 35 Rxb8+ Nxb8 36 Be6+ Nd7 37 f7 Qd8 38 Qxc5+ Qc7 39 f8=Q+ Rxf8 40 Qxf8+ Qd8 41 Qxd8+ 1-0

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June 29th, 2014


11:26 am - Idaho Open, round four
Hungover at 8 a.m. Pacific time isn't my right condition for chess, but a half-point behind the two 3-0's on board one, I couldn't have the luxury of another bye, and had to show up to win on board two.

White: Caleb Kircher
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: Idaho Open
Date: 2014-06-29
(C55 Two Knights D)

1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nc6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 O-O Nxe4 5 d4 d5 6 Bb5 exd4 7 Nxd4 Bd7 8 f3

8. Re1 is better.

Nd6?

8…Nxd4 (best, for simplifying), 8…Nf6, and 8…Nc5 are all better than 8…Nd6.

9 Bxc6 bxc6 10 Re1+ Be7 11 Qe2 Nc8 12 Qa6

12. Bg5 f6 13. Bf4 is equal.

O-O 13 Nxc6 Bc5+ 14 Kf1?

Black is a little better after 14 Be3 Bxe3+ 15 Rxe3 Qg5 16 Re1.

Qf6

On 14. Kh1, I was going to pin like this. When he played 14. Kf1, I was lazy and didn't bother to look at 14…Qh4, more to the point. He pointed this out in an immediate post-mortem, which is the loser's prerogative.

15 b4 Qxa1 16 bxc5 Qxb1 17 Nd4 Qb4 18 Rd1 Rb8?

18…Ne7 maintains the advantage of a rook.

19 c6 Be6

Now 20. Ba3 regains some material.

20. Qxa7?? Nxa7 0-1

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June 28th, 2014


08:59 pm - Idaho Open, round three
My opponent introduced himself between rounds, said he'd like to play some chess. Maybe later today, or tomorrow night after the tournament, or at his club Monday night.

Best invitation I've received during this trip, so sure, I said.

Then we were paired. "Well, here we are," I said, wondering how much of this game satisfies the convenant from the last paragraph, though I'll probably drop in on their club later, anyway.

White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Paul Edvalson
Event: Idaho Open
Date: 2014-06-28
(A45 Queen's Pawn Game, Bronstein G)

1 d4 Nf6 2 g4

He looked up from his scoresheet and gasped "oh my god", and then began muttering. I heard the words "Korchnoi Gambit", and yeah, there is a definite kinship between this and Korchnoi's 1. d4 f5 2. h3 Nf6 3. g4. Both are about deflecting Black from the center.

Nxg4 3 e4 Nf6 4 e5 Ng8

As often as this gets played, I wonder what they're thinking. Say you took the initial position, placed the white center pawns on e5 and d4, and White moves first. Would Black like to play that position? Surely not. OK, how about if the g2-pawn is removed, how about then? Well, yeah, gimme that position, Black says with 4…Ng8.

5 Bd3 e6

Black's queen bishop is a hard piece to develop actively because Bd3 inhibits …Bf5, while Rg1 is coming to deter …Bg4. But …e6 most likely promises Black will go …Bb7, and the bishop is often a spectator.

6 Nf3 g6

Right off, Black is heading toward my favorite pawn structure e6-f7-g6-h6, where Black's pawn triangle is vulnerable to combination on all three points, while Bd3 and Rg1 are already set to pounce on g6.

7 Bg5 Be7 8 Rg1 b6 9 Nbd2 Bb7 10 Ne4

Weak. The knight aims for the hole on f6, and in case of 10…c5, 11. Nd6+ is most embarrassing. But 10. Qe2 is better, developing unused force, and when White plays Ne4 later, the queen is ready to recapture and bring more pressure to bear on g6. Also, if 10. Qe2 c5, then 11. Ne4 threatens 12. Nd6+.

Nc6 11 c3 Bxg5 12 Nfxg5 Qe7

Computers are weird. Fruit 2.2.1 recommends 12…f5, even though it further weakens g6: 13. exf6 Nxf6 is what White wants.

13 Qf3 h6?

Completing the suicidal e6-f7-g6-h6 formation. White goes ahead with a thematic combination: 14. Nxf7! Qxf7 15. Nd6+.

14 Nf6+?

I'm not playing so well today, really.

Nxf6 15 exf6

15ef6

Qf8

On 15…Qd6, White goes for 16. Nxf7 Kxf7 17. Bxg6+ Kf8 18. O-O-O and hopes for the best.

16 Nxf7 Rg8?

16 ... Ne5 17 Qxb7 Nxd3+ 18 Kd2 Kxf7 19 Kxd3 is an even game, another disappointing consequence of 14. Nf6+?.

17 Nxh6 O-O-O?

Black must lose material, but after 17 ... Qxh6 18 f7+ Ke7 19 fxg8=Q Rxg8, Black is fully developed. Then White has to take the time for 20. Qe3 Qxh2 21. O-O-O. White has a winning position, but he didn't get there authoritatively — 14. Nf6+? essentially ruined White's opportunity to create an instructive game.

18 Nxg8 Qxg8 19 Qf4

Another inexact move. Black's tricks with …Nxd4 are out, but the knight is still working on 19…e5 20. dxe5 Nxe5 21. O-O-O Nxd3+ 22. Rxd3 Bd5, where White should still win, but Black has been livelier than White should have allowed.

d6? 20 f7

Now it's resignable.

Qf8 21 Rxg6 e5 22 Qf5+ Kb8 23 Rg8 Qe7 24 Rxd8+ Nxd8 25 f8=Q exd4+

With this spite check, the game goes to 26 moves, removing it from the class of miniature games.

26 Qxe7 1-0

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05:24 pm - Idaho Open, round two
This place is so weird.

This place is so weird that minutes before round two of the Idaho Open, the coffee shop across the parking lot didn't have any chessplayers in it.

This place is so weird that there was the surreal movie moment when one turns down a supermarket aisle — and it's gleaming, full, pristine, and deserted. Staring down a lonesome supermarket aisle while the shelves are completely stocked is a culture shock for anyone.

Later, when the checker dropped my bottle of kombucha, she called a bagger for assistance.

"Oh, I dropped this bottle of…" said the checker, "what is this, vinegar?"

I chose to treat that as a rhetorical question and kept smiling, which felt like the only way to keep an impression of patience.

"I don't know where that is," said that girl.

I get a surprise. They get a surprise.

White: Jarrod Buus
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: Idaho Open
Round: 2
Date:  2014-06-28
C32 King's G-D, Falkbeer
1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5

On recent weekends, I have played all gambits. It's the chessplayer version of the weekends seen in car commercials.

What this means is a chessplayer can go on weekend whenever he likes if he risks a pawn or two.

3. exd5 e4 4. d3

He's playing moves without hesitation. I think "OK, I'm gonna have to win from when he reaches the end of his book."

Nf6 5. dxe4 Nxe4 6. Nf3 Bc5 7. Qe2

There are three developing moves to deal with White's threat. 7…Bf5 feels like a book move, 7…Qe7 feels unadventurous. Only 7…O-O performs the stylistic task of ignoring the threat.

O-O

A rare move, imagine that. In 159 games from the chessgames dot com database, 7…O-O occurred four times. It's the smallest sample size, but 7…O-O actually performs better statistically than other 7th moves.

When Black commits to 7…O-O, he must see as far as 8. Qxe4 Re8 9. Ne5 f6 10. Bd3 g6 (or 10. Bc4 fxe5 11. fxe5 Nd7), but no further because White's next is unforced. Then he has to accept whatever comes next — White has two extra pawns, but they're not solid. Black has a bit of development plus a bit of king safety.

It's funny that the move that most fits gambit style — allowing the attacked knight to hang — is least-often played. Probably most players with Black are following book with 7…Bf5.

70-0

8. Qxe4 Re8 9. Ne5 f6 10. Bc4?

10. Bd3 is more accurate because it definitely wins time from 10…g6.

fxe5 11. fxe5

11. d6+ led to a 65-move draw in Bilbija-Orehek, Slovakian girls under-10 championship 2001.

Nd7 12. Bf4

It was time for 12. e6 Nf6 13. Qe5, which should bottle up the black pieces long enough for White to develop the queenside. And if 13…Ng5, then 14. Qh5.

Nf6?

Black misses his quickest blow 12…Nxe5 13. Bxe5 Qg5! threatening 14…Rxe5 and 14…Qc1+. I didn't recognize this pattern for reaching c1 (though 13…Qg5 should probably be discovered on its own). I know a different pattern for …Qc1+.

13. Qd3?

13. Qf3 maintains White's advantage, though that's a tough move to agree with when 13…Bg4 is right there (Then 14. Qg3 and Black is running out of gas).

Ng4

Bringing about …Nxe5 by force swings the advantage to Black.

14. e6 Qf6

This is why 13. Qf3 was preferable — there the f4-bishop is guarded.

15. Rf1

The pattern I know for reaching …Qc1+ is 1 d4 e5 2 dxe5 Nc6 3 Nf3 Qe7 4 Bf4 Qb4+ 5 Bd2 Qxb2 6 Bc3 Bb4 7 Qd2 Bxc3 8 Qxc3 Qc1#, so therefore:

Qxb2 16. Qc3 Bb4 17. Bd2 Bxc3 18. Bxc3 Qc1+ 19. Ke2 Qe3+ 0-1

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June 7th, 2014


07:32 pm - An unfashionable draw
I'm most pleased with the way I played this game. A few minutes before the game started, I'd sent some precarious texts to my best friend, and could've crumbled early at chess for the anxiety. But when the emotion associated with the relationship or the chess position percolated, I resumed conscious breathing and logical thinking.

I only got up from the board to hydrate — this is an absolute change from my youth, when I could hardly wait to bash out a move before walking around to see what everyone else was doing. It's true that you can't think about positions the same way when it's his move, but if you sit there and focus on breathing, there's a lot to do during his turn.

Austen Green, the highest-rated player in our club, joined while I was away. Mike Splane, who's won our club championship four or five times, was on board two. I wanted to show the masters that I'm not one of the second-tier players in the room.

White: Austen Green (2270)
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: Kolty CC Lamorack
Date: 2014-06-05
(C71 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz D)

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6
2…d6 3. d4 f5 enables White to get a good game in dozens of ways, and a strong opponent can figure out which one suits him on the fly. 2…Nf6 can be so dull if White wants it to be. So can 2…Nc6, but at least there is asymmetry.
3 Bb5 a6
Kramnik won the world championship with the supersolid 3…Nf6, 4…Nxe4, 5…Nd6, so that's the fashionable way among solid defenses to the Lopez. Steinitz's 3…d6 is just as tough (though more cramped) — it just isn't in fashion.
4 Ba4 d6
When I was a kid, I was impressed by some Keres games where he played the Modern Steinitz, developing his king knight to e7 and g6. Capablanca recommended the Modern Steinitz for Black in Last Lectures. How much more inspiration does one need, seriously.
5 d4 b5 6 Bb3 exd4?
This is a weird book player mistake. I was relying on book knowledge here, went so far as to let muscle memory move my fingers, and picked up the wrong unit. 6…Nxd4 avoids the Bd5 pin, and sets the old trap 7. Nxd4 exd4 8. Qxd4 c5 plus 9…c4. My lifelong evolution from book player to improviser is sometimes most interesting when I recognize bad moves resulting from old book habits.
7 Bd5
In the post-mortem, White said he remembered from NM Splane's notes to a game with me that "if 6…exd4, 7. Bd5 is fine for White." That's impressive, looking up a game for what a future opponent played, then remembering analysis of the alternatives.
7 ... Nge7 8 Nxd4 Bb7
I couldn't decide between …Bb7 or …Bd7 (watching for Nf5), but figured that if the bishop survived the opening, it would rather see the center.

8bb7

9 Nxc6
9 Bg5 f6 10 Ne6 was good for White in Medley-Mongredien, London 1850.
9 ... Bxc6
In a 2000 Austrian under-16 championship game, White chose 10. Bxc6+.
10 O-O Bxd5
10 ... Nxd5 11 exd5 Bb7 12 Qd4 Qf6 13 Re1+ Be7 14 Qxf6 gxf6 isn't so bad for Black, but equality is coming with the move I recalled from Keres.
11 exd5 Ng6 12 Re1+ Be7 13 Bg5 O-O 14 Bxe7 Nxe7 15 Nc3 Re8 16 Qd2 Qd7 17 Re4
White thought he should've done better here. Maybe 17. a4, to further loosen the black queenside.
17 ... Ng6 18 Rae1 Rxe4 19 Rxe4 Re8 20 Rxe8+ Qxe8
It looks like Black has been swapping everything in sight to avoid a fight, but White gets pushed to the edge of zugzwang.
21 f4? b4 22 Ne2 Qe4
White underestimated this. Black's centralized queen points out vulnerable pawns all around, and the defense of f4 will weaken his king position. Had he offered a draw here, I thought I'd decline with "But I wanted to give you a proper welcome to our club". In my brain, it was funny, but maybe in practice it would've been poor etiquette.
23 b3 h6
The luft move is good because the knight is leaving soon, leaving the back rank weak. 23…h5 is probably an improvement, aiming for …h4 to weaken g3.
24 g3 Ne7 25 c4 Nf5 26 Kf2
…Ne3 plus …Qf3 would have been serious. After 26. Kf2, Black doesn't have enough to win, but the fact that he nearly did suggests that the exchanges earlier was not chickening out, but simplifying. There's more fight in simple, reduced positions than people think — chessplayers bought into the modern notion that Black should play difficult openings in an effort to steal an early initiative (which gives them an excuse to study openings). The sudden turn of events in this game shows that Black doesn't have to grab the initiative early, he just has to be alert when the chance arises later. The old-fashioned idea "Black plays to equalize, then plays for advantage" isn't bad, it's just old-fashioned.
26 ... a5 27 Ng1!
White's reorganization restores the balance.
27 ... Nd4 28 Qe3 Qc2+ 29 Ne2 Nxe2 30 Qxe2 Qb1 31 Qe8+ Kh7 32 Qa4 Qc2+ 33 Kg1 Qb1+ 34 Kg2 Qc2+ 1/2

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June 4th, 2014


06:58 pm - Four gambits from the weekend's Berkeley Chess School G/45
Arthur Liou, a high school-aged expert, and I split first prize at the Berkeley Chess School's monthly game-in-45 tournament June 1.

Some tournaments you play for the score, like a Grouchberg megaswiss in which you don't care how poorly you play if your luck brings the large prize money. Some you play because tournaments afford you multiple canvases for artworks. Some you play just to see how it goes — I played Sunday because I wanted to test the effects of regular yoga plus an allergy exclusion diet.

My goals were to breathe properly during the games, and to think more about chess than about work, women, sports, whatnot.  I did well with the self, but played chess poorly. The $85 is more an award for breathing with consciousness than for accurate chess.

White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Sasha Guerin (1200)
Event: BCS Game/45
Date: 2014-06-01
(D00 Blackmar-Diemer G)
1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 f3 exf3 5 Nxf3
Among gambits, God loves the King's Gambit most, but the Blackmar-Diemer is his favorite when He's coffeehousing.
5 ... Bg4 6 h3 Bf5
Since h3 turns out to be useful, 6…Bf5 is a real loss of time.
7 Bc4 e6 8 O-O a6
I didn't look at the wallchart, but after …Bf5 and …a6, I pegged my opponent at 1200, which is within 10 points of the truth.
9 Ne5 Nbd7 10 Nxf7?
Distracted by the chance to wield this tactic, White didn't look at 10. Rxf5. 10. Nxf7? is a mistake that book players make when they rely on memorized moves in positions that aren't in their book. They're not thinking.
10 ... Kxf7 11 Rxf5 Bd6 12 Bg5 c5
Unnecessarily weakening.
13 Ne4 Be7 14 Bxf6 Nxf6 15 Ng5+ Ke8 16 Nxe6 Qd7 17 Nxg7+ Kd8 18 Ne6+ Kc8 19 Nxc5
19. Qf3 is better, developing with the threat of 20. Rxf6 while maintaining the threat Nxc5.
19 ... Bxc5 20 Rxc5+ Kb8 21 Qd2
21. c3 is preferable, enabling a flexible queen development.
21 ... Ka7 22 Qf4 Rhf8 23 Rc7 Qd8
23qd8

24 Qe5?
A complete waste of a move, because …Nd5 is an unreal threat, 24 Re1 Nd5 25 Rxb7+ Kxb7 26 Bxd5+ Qxd5 27 Re7+ +-.
24 ... Nd7 25 Qd6 Nb6 26 Qc5 Qf6 27 Rf1 Qh6 28 Bf7?
One thing hasn't changed: I should take a bye for morning rounds. I can lose early games, then be sleepy for the rest of the day. 28. Bf7? illustrates my lifetime habit of poorly handling positions like this. White is well ahead, but has the uneasy feeling "oh no, he survived the first wave, and he's threatening a perpetual." But Black is not threatening …Rxf1+ plus endless queen checks — 28. Bxa6 Rxf1+ 29. Bxf1 Qe3+ 30. Kh1 and White's king is safer than Black's (White is grateful for the free luft from move 6).
28 ... Rac8 29 c3 Qe3+ 30 Kh2 Qe2 31 Rf6 Qxb2 32 Bd5
A sudden panic because it looked like I'd hung a piece.
32 ... Rxc7 33 Qxc7
Luckily, White threatens 34. Rxf8 as well as 34. Qxb7#, so Black doesn't have time for …Nxd5. White's position was so solid that it stood up while I kept trying to throw the game away.
33 ... Rb8 34 Bb3 Nc8 35 Rf8 Qd2 36 Be6
36 Rxc8 Rxc8 37 Qxc8 Qf4+ and Black achieves a perpetual.
36 ... Qh6 37 Rxc8 Qxe6 38 Rxb8 1-0

White: Evan Ai (1600)
Black: Frisco Del Rosario
Event: BCS Game G/45
Date: 2014-06-01
(C41 Philidor D, Philidor C-G)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d6
Against middling players, it's a bad idea to try for the Philidor Countergambit because they're likely to reject the best move — 3. d4 — which leads to the lively positions that Black desires. They often flounder with passive moves like 3. Nc3, but in this case White is good enough to be no. 19 in the country among 8-year-olds.
3 d4 f5 4 dxe5 fxe4 5 Ng5 d5 6 Nc3 c6 7 Ncxe4
In the Philidor Countergambit, there are three or four ways for White to win a rook and two pawns for two knights (assuming Black bags the knight that captures the h8-rook). The associated positions are unbalanced in unusual ways.
7 ... dxe4 8 Qxd8+ Kxd8 9 Nf7+ Ke8 10 Nxh8 Be6
Else 11. Bc4 covers the knight's retreat.
11 f3
The first of several questionable pawn moves. If White feels that he must move a pawn,11 h4 g6 12 h5, on the verge of saving his knight.
11 ... g6 12 Nxg6
White should insist that Black carry out his planned …Bg7. By making the desperado move prematurely, White gives Black more leeway developing his king bishop.
12 ... hxg6 13 f4 Nd7 14 Be3 Ne7 15 Kf2 Nf5 16 c3
White's dad asked me to suggest that playing too fast hastened the kid's downfall. He can play as fast as he wants, I said, but he has to move pieces instead of pawns. When you cultivate a style that favors time over material, you find that if your position is running out of gas, and you need one additional move to keep your momentum, opponents often make a gift of that tempo in the form of a pawn move. Occasionally I think I have the superpower of telepathically coercing wasteful pawn moves. I think "I could benefit greatly if he makes a pawn move", and shazam!
16 ... Rd8 17 b4 Nb6
While White made pawn moves, Black engineered …Nd5 to be a powerful move. White thought capturing the knight was a lesser evil, but the black squares become Black's province.
18 Bxb6 axb6
In this endgame, Black has three developed pieces to none, with …Rd2+ in store and a passed pawn to boot.
19 Ke1?
19. Be2 gives White some hope. 19. Ke1 enables the black knight to tie up white queen rook and king bishop.
19 ... Ne3 20 Rc1 Bxa2 21 h3
White's most active move in this position is 21. Kf2. The pawn move weakens the e1-h4 diagonal.
21 ... Be7
Black would have preferred 21…c5 in order to introduce the pawn majority plus the king bishop, but 22. Bb5+ is more freedom than White deserves.
22 g4??
22 g3 Nxf1 23 Rxf1 Bc4 24 Rg1 c5 should win.
22 ... Bh4+ 23 Ke2 Nxf1 24 Kxf1 Bc4+ 25 Kg1 e3!
The exclam is not for technical difficulty, but artistic impression. 25…e3! is Black's first pawn move that was not obligatory The bishops will escort him to queening.
25e3
26 Kh2 Rd2+ 27 Kg1 e2 28 Rh2 Rd1+ 0-1


White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Andy Lazarus (1800)
Event: BCS G/45
Date: 2014-06-01
(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 O-O 8 O-O-O
This is a position I use to show the variety of positions that arise from the 2. g4 gambit. In the "open" games, White develops the kingside quickly, with immediate pressure by Rh1-g1. In this "closed" variation, White has to avoid Nf3, which invites …Bc8-g4xf3, solving the problem of Black's queen bishop development, while lessening White's influence on the black central squares. So White postpones the knight development with natural queenside moves, and plans h2-h4 plus Ng1-h3, when it is less effective for Black to trade his queen bishop. The knight goes on to f2, f4, or g5 appropriately.
8 ... c5 9 d5
9 dxc5 might be correct, but it is not in style.
9 ... Qa5 10 h4
According to plan, but Black turns the game on its ear with a piece sacrifice. White's kingside is left undeveloped for a long while, which demonstrates that the threats and tactics in the position trump principles about "knights before bishops" and connecting one's rooks by move xy, and so forth.

10h4

10 ... Nxe4!? 11 Nxe4 Qxa2 12 c3
12. Qd3 enables the king to stay closer to home.
12 ... Qa1+ 13 Kc2 Qa4+ 14 Kd3
Submitting to 14 Kc1 Qxe4 15 Nf3 equals a loss on the chessboard, and a collapse of the spirit. The key to this decision is having confidence in 14. Kd3. Don't think "uh oh, my king is on the third rank while the enemy queen lurks", think "I can trust 14. Kd3 to guard the knight for a moment". White maintained better center control and better development; king safety follows naturally. White's king is perilous, but Black lacks the space and development for attack.
14 ... Bf5 15 f3 e6 16 Qc2
Preparing the escape route Kd3-d2-c1. Black should decline the invitation to trade queens by 16…Qa2 or 16…Qd7.
16 ... Qxc2+?
The reason for the chestnut "when ahead in material, exchange as many pieces as possible, especially queens" is that when one is behind in material, the best way to get back in the game is to attack like hell with the pieces one has remaining. The queen provides the greatest source of counterplay, so that's the piece White wants to remove. Also, as the king slides off the d-file, rook makes contact with the menaced d5-pawn.
17 Kxc2 Re8 18 Bc4 a6 19 dxe6 fxe6 20 Rxd6 Nc6 21 Kc1 Ne5 22 Be2 b5 23 Nxc5?
The kind of move that causes a chess teacher to wonder if the student will ever get it. At move 23, White's development is still incomplete due to the skirmish on the queenside; it's time to finish mobilizing the pieces with Ng1-h3-f2, king rook somewhere. Instead, White grubs a pawn, wasting time and losing material.
23 ... Bf8 24 Nb7
Lucky for White that this move limits the loss to rook-for-bishop.
24 ... Bxd6 25 Nxd6 Reb8 26 Nxf5 exf5
The material imbalance is two white bishops vs. black rook plus pawn. The bishops are favored in this position where the rooks are inactive, and the extra pawn far from queening.
27 Nh3 Nf7 28 Bf6 Rb6 29 Bd4 Re6 30 Nf4 Re7 31 Bd1 Rae8 32 Nd3 h6
Black was under time pressure. …h7-h6 weakens g6.
33 Bb3 Kh7 34 f4 Nd6 35 Ne5
When Rg1 follows, White gets pressure on the g-file that he's been envisioning since move 2.
35 ... Nc4 36 Nxc4 bxc4 37 Bxc4 Re4 38 Rf1 Re1+ 39 Kd2 Rxf1 40 Bxf1 Re4 41 Be5 g5 42 Bd3 1-0

White: Frisco Del Rosario
Black: Arthur Liou (2000)
Event: BCS G/45
Date:  2014-06-01
(A83 Dutch, Staunton G, Staunton's line)
1 d4 f5 2 e4 fxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Nc6 5 d5 1/2
I've played too many short draws in my life, but sometimes it's more understandable — by leaving Berkeley when I did, I could attend yin yoga class.

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