Posts Tagged ‘Wilder’

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 20th Century: Some Photos

June 7, 2009

The News from All Over Department

In an attempt to get our minds off the nauseating lawsuits of USCF politics, let’s see some mirthful photos from days of yore.

Lenk, Switzerland 2000

Lenk, Switzerland 2000

On board one in the background we have Romanian GM Florin Gheorghiu (partially obscured) on the left playing GM Vladimir Tukmakov.

On board two it is GM Andrei Sokolov on the left playing, I believe, GM Lothar Vogt.

On board three it’s WGM Kachiani. a lady GM, I forget her name… readers?

I played in this event (Lenk 2000) also, so did Hungarian GM Attila Grozpeter and others. What a fun time!  How to get there from Basel?   Transfer in Zurich for a slow-moving train through the Alps to arrive at the fairy-tale town!

The Alpine Village of Lenk > Philly World Open

The Alpine Village of Lenk > Philly World Open

Moving back to 1985, here is a typical (for that time) World Open tableau.

World Open Tableau

World Open Tableau

From left to right, future US Champion and future GM Michael Wilder, New Jersey personality Steve Anderson (aka Henderson), Canadian stalwart Ian Findlay, an anonymous semi-naked individual, and IM Vince McCambridge.

Zooming back to the early 2000s, here is GM Tal Shaked with California chess enthusiast Simone Sobel.


Nudging the clock back two years to 1999, here I am demonstrating the religion menu on display in Angel Island, California (a massive Japanese displacement/internment camp during World War II).

Where's Marxist, Buddhist, Shinto, etc.?

Where's Marxist, Buddhist, Shinto, etc.?

And now going waaay back (OK not so far back) to the early 1990s, here is a snapshot from the Nigel Short-Garry Kasparov World Championship match in London with what appears to be a very severe arbiter in the middle. I don’t know who took this photo.

The Royal Rumble in London

The Royal Rumble in London

Now moving up again to the year 2000, this author at the famous site of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany where American athlete Jesse Owens shocked the Aryans with numerous track and field gold medals.  In a very sporting move, the stadium’s street is now called “Jesse Owens Allee!”

Jesse Owens got a Street!

Jesse Owens got a Street!

And in the grand tradition of ending an article with Yet Another Unrelated Photo, here is an artistic photograph of Claire Lev at Paige Stockley’s wedding in the pleasant nature state of Washington.  This was also from the early 2000s timeframe.  Either the official wedding photographer or I took that photo. It looks too artistic to be me, but stranger things have happened.

Everybody Likes a Wedding

Everybody Likes a Wedding

Afterthought on USCF Politics and Dante’s Inferno

Any USCF board member committing the absurd act of suing the USCF should be automatically relegated to the “Legal Committee”, a thinly veiled reference to Dante’s Purgatory.  If he or she does not retract the lawsuit within 24 hours (give them time to come off their “bad high”), they are then relegated to a new Federation, name of their choosing, where they run the show and are the only members (can offer a fill in the blank option here, only caveat is that the new name must be completely original – I don’t want to see NewCF because New contains the “U” sound).  Since the new Federation does not allow membership in other Federations, we are rid of the blight. This is a thinly veiled reference to Dante’s Hell.

Can Wealthy People Rescue the USCF?

This just in from media maven John Henderson in one of his daily e-mail blasts (over a billion served if you multiply the # of sends by the # of recipients):

Going, Going, Gone To Rex Sinquefield!

It was all over in seconds. Bobby Fischer’s library filled three glass cases in on the Mezzanine level of Bonhams nd Butterfieldsauction house on Madison Avenue in New York. The hundreds of chess books in various languages, issues of chess-related periodicals, proofs for Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games, and assorted notes and other miscellanea were sold in one lot for a “hammer price” of USD $50,000, plus a $21,000 Bonhams commission…

The collection was bought by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis founder and 2009 US Championship sponsor, Rex Sinquefield, and announced today in a press release (entitled “Sinquefields Purchase Bobby Fischer’s Chess Collection”) from the group.  ICC Chess.FM has exclusive video coverage of the auction now at
Some comments:  A)  Quite the racket Bonhams is in, a $21,000 commission on a $50,000 bid?  That’s ridiculous!   Work out the percentage at home, readers.  I don’t think John Bonham, sadly deceased Led Zeppelin drummer, would have approved.    Wait… this just in…. correction from John H: FYI…
It was $11,000 in Bonhams’ commission, NOT $21,000 as original stated.”.
Well it’s still high, but OK I an accept that number better!  The one guy who is spinning in his grave is Fischer.  He hated third parties profiting on his name. I would suggest that “Bonhams” contribute some of their commission to a charity of one of Fischer’s living relative’s choosing.  Is that likely to happen?  Actually, the entire sale is fairly dubious – why not bestow it to a mobile Fischer exhibit, for example.  Who had the right to sell his stuff?   B) The name “Rex Sinquefield” sounds completely made up, but I have to give kudos for this cool “secret agent” name.   Actually it’s an interesting phenomenon that wealthy people often pop up in out of the way places then become gigantic benefactors to a forlorn cause.  For example, the Hartz Flea Collar baron donated a lot of money to NYU and got an entire business school named after him.  C) Can  wonder-bidder “Rex” rescue the USCF?  Maybe he can issue a cease and desist order to all the lawsuit-happy individuals backed up by his good name and fortune.   Somehow I think quite a few of these lawsuit-prone individuals would sit very straight up in their chair and respect an edict if it stems from money.  They are not listening to good sense since lawsuits cause absurd legal expenses, weakening the poor non-profit’s capital position every day the lawsuits exist.  The only winners are the lawyers in Fake Sam Sloan cases, as lurid as they might be.