Posts Tagged ‘Victor Frias’

The Fabulous 80s: Victor Frias!

December 6, 2010

Victor Frias was a very jolly fellow who hailed from Chile.  He lived near me in Washington Heights (upper Manhattan) in New York City in the 1980s and often came over to play blitz vs. me, Jeremy Barth, and whoever else happened to be around.

An anecdote:  some guy standing outside the Marshall Chess Club asked Victor for a ride uptown as I was getting into his car.  “No!” Victor yelled as we drove away.  The guy asked “Why not?” and Victor said “You’re not my friend!”  A real straight shooter!

Another anecdote:  Victor is completely winning as black vs. 2600-rated GM Jan Smejkal in a NY Open up material plus the initiative in a fairly simple ending.  However, Victor’s diaper-wearing kid Pablo has run amok and Victor is distracted trying to round him up.   Play over the game if you are a sadist.  Check out the position after black 45, it was practically resignable for white.

Anyway the baby chasing takes its toll and somehow Victor even loses(?!!) and it’s a good lesson, don’t let a diaper-wearing kid anywhere near a GM encounter.

Another anecdote:  Victor taught me juicy swear words in Spanish including vulgar slang particular to Central America.   A group of us went to a nice Spanish-speaking restaurant in Washington Heights (unless it was ‘Victor’s’ – a Cuban Place on W 75th?).  I got drunk, used many of the words in a loud voice, and was booted.  I fell down between two cars parked outside. Much merriment ensued.

Here’s a photo.

Victor Frias (l.), John Fedorowicz

This photo looks like the sofa at Paige Stockley’s apartment on W 118th St.(?)  and Broadway near the Manhattan School of Music.

Victor often said after waking up from a nap that he was in a time warp because the people at any given party were always talking about exactly the same things years apart.

Victor died some years ago and readers can find my printed “Chess Life” obituary in a back issue.

Here is a crazy game I played versus Victor that made it into the obituary.

First, some background about the tournament. We often traveled to New England on a bus that left out of the Port Authority, W 178 St., NYC (near the GW Bridge).  Sometimes, when we were flush with money, we would rent a car.  Fitchburg, Leominster, Sturbridge, many Mirijanian tournaments!  Ilya Gurevich, a natural comic, called Mirijanian Marijuanian.  No doubt others did too.  This game was played in Fitchburg.   In the first round of this tournament a loud argument broke out between Frias, Mike Wilder, and me.  They wanted my rental car keys!  I was still playing!  I didn’t want to give it to them!  Frias said “Don’t be an asshole.”  I said “I’m still not giving you my keys.”  My beleagued opponent had to get the TD to get us to quiet down as we all actually started pushing and shoving near the board.  Bad sportsmanship!

[Event “Fitchburg, MA”]

[Date “1985.08.01”]
[Round “4”]
[Result “1-0”]
[White “Victor Frias”]
[Black “Mark Ginsburg”]
[ECO “A43”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. d5 g6 4. c4 d6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. e4 O-O 7. h3 a6 8. a4 e6
9. Bd3 exd5 10. exd5

GM Vugar Gashimov has upheld black’s position numerous times after the currently more popular 10. cxd5 although GM Yermolinksy rates white’s position very highly in the book “The Road to Chess Improvement.”

10…Re8+ 11. Be3 Nh5 12. O-O Nd7 13. Qd2 f5 14. Rfe1 Ne5  

Black is good

I loved my position already!  Curiously, Victor as black achieved a nice Benoni structure in his Smejkal game referenced earlier in the article.

15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. f4 Bg7 17. a5 Bd7 18. Kh2 Qh4 19. Kg1 Qg3 20. Qf2 Qxf2+
21. Kxf2 Bd4 22. Kf3 Nf6 23. Bd2 Rxe1 24. Rxe1 Re8

White really hasn’t done anything wrong so I think i was overoptimistic here.

 25. Rb1?!   This move, of course, is risky!

25…Ne4   Did white miss this one? I felt like I was crawling all over and should win! Especially with my “dynamic” next few moves!  On the other hand, white eliminates the black bishop on d4 and gets his queenside rolling, so he definitely has his resources.

26. Bc1 h6 27. Ne2 g5 28. Nxd4 cxd4 29. fxg5 hxg5 30. b4 Kf7   A very tense situation!


31. Rb2 Ba4 32. g4 Bd1+ 33. Kg2  All of black’s pieces are incredibly active but nothing is clear!

 33…f4 34. Kf1 Nc3

Still keeping the pressure on, or so I thought. Victor, though, was a very tough and resourceful defender.
35. h4  White had to do something!  Both sides were now low on time.

35…Bxg4 36. hxg5 Bh3+ 37. Kg1  White’s king toddles around avoiding 37. Kf2 Nd1+ forking the rook.  Amazingly, I could still not find a win.

 Re1+ 38. Kh2 Rxc1 39. Kxh3 Rd1 40. Bf5 d3 41. Kg2  White’s king darts back.  A very frustrating tableau for black with multiple advanced, threatening passed pawns and nothing clear.

Sharp Tableau

41… Kg7   This is not an impressive move. Looking at it now, 41…f3+!? comes to mind.  If 42. Kxf3 Rf1+ 43. Kg4 Rg1+ I’m not sure what is going on; maybe a perpetual check?  If 42. Kf2 Rh1 and 43. Kxf3 then transposes after 43…Rf1+.

42. Rf2 Ne2 43. Bg4 Rc1 44. Bxe2 dxe2 45. Rxe2 Rxc4  Now he starts playing really well in the rook ending!  I am sure I made inaccuracies in what follows and I get ground down!

46. Re6 Rxb4 47. Kf3 b6 48. axb6 Rxb6 49. Kxf4 a5 50. Kf5 Ra6 51. Re7+ Kg8 52. Kf6 Ra8 53. Re3 a4 54. Ra3 Ra6 55. g6 Ra8 56. Rh3 Ra7 57. Rc3 Ra8 58. g7 1-0

The wily Chilean International Master had completely turned the tables!  Such was life in the tough world of New England Swisses.

The Fabulous 00s: Chess Opening Blog, Meet the Soviet Logical Aesthetic

October 23, 2008

Ugly Duckling for White, Beautiful Swan for Black

I noticed a really ugly variation in the CyberVerse, 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. g4?, presented/espoused by Dana Mackenzie [DM] with some Fritz peppered in.  Let’s check the Caissic horror.

Note: recently (November 2009) Mackenzie tried to espouse this variation once again with a new set of recommendations; I’ll label the new attempts DM-1109 and deal with them accordingly in the body of this article. To give an executive summary: logic will deal with the new tries as well. 🙂

The atrocity (kudos for bravery, though) starts out with the particularly unaesthetic lunge

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. g4? Eww! The Aesthetics Police are mobilized! As a general rule of thumb, if a move looks disgusting, there is a reason. 🙂  Or, as the Soviet School of Chess likes to say, Pawns-Do-Not-Move-Backward. I think this easy to grasp Soviet principle has been responsible for over 100,000 Swiss System defeats of American players.   A corollary:  If you are leaving gaping holes in your position, you had better be doing it for immense material gain and/or checkmate.

Position after 4. g4? – Ewww!

4…Be4! The cowardly 4… Bd7 can be well met by the simple 5. c4! e6 6. Nc3 Ne7 and white could’ve tried 7. Qb3 here to press his future-WC opponent,  David Bronstein – Tigran Petrosian, USSR Ch. 1959, Tbilisi.  That game was drawn after some adventures.  4…Bg6? is just weak with white scoring well in many games after either 5. h4 or 5. e6.  Black should force more dark square weakenings before retreating.

5. f3 Bg6 6. h4

Note 11/11/09: DM-1109 says:

My second and more important argument is White can avoid Ginsburg’s line by playing a different move order! I did not realize this when I wrote my original series of posts on Bronstein’s Folly (formerly the Homo Erectus Variation). The move order I would now like to recommend is 4. … Be4 5. f3 Bg6 6. Ne2.

Response: why is Dana infatuated with this ugly position?  6. Ne2 is not a scare move. To me it harkens back to the bad old days when Americans were one of the most poorly prepared players on the international stage (shades of old US-USSR radio broadcasts).  Black can play any sensible move, for example 6…e6 7. h4 h6! and as any Caro player knows, if you have a hiding square for your bishop and have e7-e6 in as well, you’re happy.  For some strange reason, Mackenzie only considers the provocative and unnecessary 7….h5?! there.  Why?  7…h6! is fine. Example (and you don’t need special prep to see this is good for black): 7…h6! 8. h5 Bh7 and …c7-c5 is coming.  It’s a French WITH the queen bishop outside the pawn chain WITH senseless weaknesses created by white. I have noticed that Mackenzie often goes wrong in his optimistic lunge analyses by not considering the best moves for black. This occurred here too; he did not consider the most obvious Caro move 7…h6!

Humorous epilog: blindfold I started wondering why not 6. Ne2 e6 7. Nf4 first (then h2-h4) to cause problems to black’s bishop.  Only on setting up the board did I then see 7. Nf4? Qh4+ oops!

We now return the programming to the original post.

6…h5! DM correctly points out 6…h6 is much weaker.

7. Ne2 DM correctly points out that 7. e6? Qd6! is bad for white.  But keep this motif in mind, it will bite white on the rear repeatedly in the variations that follow.

7… hxg4 8. Nf4 Bh7! Black adheres to the Soviet principle, Do-Not-Give-Opponent-Anything.

Position after ice-cold Soviet refutation-mode 8…Bh7!

9. fxg4

DM labels 9. e6 (?) “Top Choice of Fritz”.  But what Fritz?  9. e6?  looks terrible after the simple 9…fxe6
10. fxg4 (10. Nxe6 Qd6! 11. Nxf8 Qg3+! and white is feeling ill) 10… Qd6! (this pesky idea again) 11. Nc3 and already black can break with 11… e5 12. dxe5 Qxe5+ 13. Be2 d4! and white is in a total shambles.  Notice in these lines how Soviet logical this is.  “e6 gives me d6; I will use it.”  Thus have so many American players gone down the drain.

Note 11/11/09 : DM-1109 says the following:

I have two arguments to make against Ginsburg [ ….] First is that in his refutation, 4. … Be4 5. f3 Bg6 6. h4 h5 7. Ne2 hg 8. Nf4 Bh7! 9. e6 fe 10. fg Qd6! he does not consider White’s answer 11. Qe2. If he was thinking of 11. … Be4 12. Rh3 e5? then he would run into 13. de Qxe5 14. Ng6. However, I am not going to press this argument too hard because I think that Black can play more patiently with 11. … Nd7 and still be doing quite well for the basic reasons that Ginsburg outlines.

Response to DM-New: 9. e6? gets a BIG FAT JUICY QUESTION MARK – it’s a terrible move!   Why?  Because in the above line 11. Qe2 runs headlong into 11…Na6! and this is completely embarrassing to white. Black is doing fine with 11…Nd7 but 11…Na6 preparing Nc7 is even stronger.    11…Na6! 12. Qxe6 Nb4 is a comfortable plus for black; 12. Nxe6? Be4! is even worse; and on the insipid 12. a3 simply Nc7 and castles long and black should convert to the full point with no particular difficulties.

9…e6 10. g5 DM says “Fritz says white has to play 10. g5 to distract black from his counterplay.”

This pawn move, not developing, is, to say the least, not scary.  Once again, this position looks completely miserable for white after 10..Ne7.  Black can also play 10…Be4 and 11. Rh2 Ne7 12. Nc3 Nf5 13. Nxe4 dxe4 14. Bg2 Qxd4 looks like a fizzle-out draw.

For example, 11. Nc3 Nd7 12. h5 and now either 12…Bf5 (or even the wild 12… Nf5 13. g6 Bxg6!
14. Nxg6 fxg6 15. Qg4 Qe7 16. Bg5 Qb4 17. O-O-O gxh5 18. Rxh5 Nxe5!! cross-pin) are fine for black.  White’s position is riddled with holes and black has no difficulties developing. An amusing Soviet-style variation: 12. h5 Bf5 13. Be3 c5! 14. Bd3 cxd4 15. Bxd4 Qb8! 16. Qe2 (16. g6 Nxe5 with an edge) 16..Nc6! and black is just logically attacking the guys white has strewn about while centralizing his minors at the same time.   It’s a cold shower for white.

On white 10th move alternatives, such as 10. Nc3, black can simply play 10…Nd7 11. Be3 Bb4 and he faces no problems.  It is white that has to watch out for sudden Be4 incursions.

Conclusion:  4. g4? is, in the late, great, IM Victor Frias’s words, “a steaming pile of malooch.”

Let’s bring back the Fantasy Variation 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3!  (less holes).

Bravo, Chess Opening Bloggers

I enjoy chess opening discussions (good, bad, and unclear lines) alike of the sort presented by Dana and Michael Goeller over at the Kenilworthian. It’s nice how the CyberVerse leads to rapid idea generation, refutation, and idea refinement (of course, chess engines play a big part). Keep ’em coming!

And for something Different:  Chess Rental

Chessqueen83 (on ICC) set up this Rental and what a nice one it is.  Available now for your chess and non-chess needs!

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The Classic 80s Part 1B: More Lone Pine 1980

August 9, 2007

Archival Photo

Let’s start with a nostalgia photo from Lone Pine 1980 that my sister recently discovered in my parents’ Bethesda, MD house – buried for many decades but now unearthed like an archaeological treasure.


What we have here is in the foreground, left, former Candidate GM Yefim Geller tussling with red-haired bearded ex-World Junior Champ IM Julio Kaplan (hailing originally from Puerto Rico). Seated in the back left is a very young IM Victor Frias. I cannot tell who he is playing – readers, have any ideas? I guess we could deduce this answer if somebody has the bulletins. Strolling in the back with the trademark cap is veteran U.S. world championship contender the one and only GM Sammy Reshevsky.

More Lone Pine Action

Continuing with my Lone Pine saga, here’s a tussle versus a former US Champion, John Grefe.

John A Grefe vs Mark Ginsburg
Lone Pine Open, 1980

Ruy Lopez, Cordel Variation, early Queen ‘Development’ Madness

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bc5 4. O-O Qf6!?

Postscript 3/23/08: It’s heartwarming to see IM Lenderman try this rare but playable variation (and win!) in Foxwoods 2008 versus FM R. Negata!

5. b4!? 5. c3! is the best move here (or 4. c3!). John goes in a completely new direction. It’s a sort of perverted Evans Gambit!


5… Bb6 6. Bb2 Nge7 7. c4 Nd4 8. c5 White plays the most actively. Black must start capturing things and hope to stay afloat.

8…Nxb5 9. Bxe5 Qg6 10. a4


A really unique position has been reached after only 10 moves! Black might be a little bit worse here.

10… d6 11. axb5 dxc5 12. bxc5 Bxc5 13. d4 Bb6 14. Nc3 O-O 15. Na4 Bg4 16. Nxb6 Qxb6 17. Qc2 Bxf3 18. gxf3 Ng6 Now black is reasonably happy, having placed a knight somewhere near white’s weakened kingside pawns.

19. Qxc7 Qxb5 20. Bd6 Qg5+ 21. Kh1 Qf6 22. f4 Rfd8

The pawn count doesn’t matter here. Black is super-active.


23. e5 Qxf4 24. Qxb7 Qxd4 25. Rad1 Qa4 26. f4 Nh4 27. Rc1 Nf5 28. Rc7


28… Qa2 29. Rfc1 Qe6! An ideal centralization with a secret point. You’ll see it very soon.

30. Rd1 Rab8! Methodically, black activates every last unit and prepares for a hidden crushing blow.


31. Qxa7 Ng3+!! A very pleasing move to play. White has no defense against this bolt from the blue.

32. hxg3 32. Kg2 Qg4! mates similarly.

32…Qh3+ 33. Kg1 Qxg3+ 34. Kf1 Qf3+ 35. Ke1 Rb2 0-1

White is mated and hence gives up. Too bad I lost many games in the event, but still this one was a thrill.