November 23, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Hardwork is a talent

(Part 3)

2014 National Chess Championship
June 21-28, 2014

1-2. GM Eugenio Torre 2423, GM Joahn Paul Gomez 2526, 7.5/11

3. FM Paulo Bersamina 2118, 6.5/11

4-7. WFM Janelle Mae Frayna 2133, GM Darwin Laylo 2508, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia 2390, GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. 2517, 6.0/11

8. GM Rogelio Barcenilla 2475, 5.5/11

9-10. IM Oliver Dimakiling 2373, GM Richard Bitoon 2423, 5.0/11

11-12. NM Roel Abelgas 2319, IM Joel Pimentel 2286, 2.5/11

WGM Frayna: In the first round of the 2014 National Chess Championship I lost against NM Roel Abelgas, as everyone expected me to. In the second round I was matched against GM Richard Bitoon. I honestly did not have any expectations when I played against him -- I was just so eager to learn good chess lessons from a Grandmaster. I just wanted to play and enjoy!

* * *
Frayna, Janelle Mae (2133) -- Bitoon, Richard (2423) [A04]
NATIONAL Championships, 21.06.2014
[WGM Janelle Mae Frayna]


This was Kramnik’s favorite move for a major period of his life and in fact this became the basis for a 5-part series on “The Opening According to Kramnik” written by former World Champion Alexander Khalifman and published by Chess Stars. Kramnik did not play 1.Nf3 to go into the Reti Opening -- it is part of his system to transpose to pleasant positions in the Queen’s Indian, Gruenfeld, Benoni, King’s Indian and even the Queen’s Gambit. I embraced this philosophy during the 2014 Championship and played it every chance I got. It keeps my opponent guessing as to what opening I will transpose to.

1...d6 2.c4

Steering the game towards English Opening territory. This was the first White repertoire that my coach GM Jayson Gonzales taught me so I am more inclined towards playing positional chess.

2...e5 3.Nc3 f5 4.d4 e4

I guess this is a committal move as it lessens the flexibility of Blacks’s pawn structure. But it’s still a book line.

5.Ng5 Be7

[5...h6 6.Nh3 g5 may be more visually attractive for Black but his position becomes too loose]

6.Nh3 Nf6 7.Bg5

Places my bishop outside of the pawn chain in preparation to creating pressure in the center.

7...c6 8.e3 0-0 9.Be2 Na6 10.Nf4

I was concerned with regrouping my knight followed by castling queenside to get chances for a kingside attack.

10...Nc7 11.Qb3 Rb8

I have seen this exact position during my training preparations with Coach Jayson.

12.0-0-0 Ne6?

A trap mentioned in GM Mihail Marin’s Grandmaster Repertoire: English Opening book 1.


A missed opportunity. 13.c5! d5 14.Nxe6 Bxe6 15.Bf4 and now White wins at least a pawn, for example via 15...Rc8 16.Qxb7.

13...Bxf6 14.Nh5 Bg5

Perhaps better was 14...Be7 to avoid possible tempo on the B on g5, for example via h2-h4.


A prophylactic move and a bit too cautious. Better was 15.g3 g6 16.h4 Bf6 17.Nf4.

15...g6 16.Ng3

Objectively, GM Richard was already slightly better since my knight on g3 is restricted and he has more space at the center.

16...a6 17.Nf1

I would like to launch a pawn storm to disturb peace on the kingside.

17...b5 18.f4

I have to act fast!

18...Bf6 19.g4 Bd7 20.Ng3?

I believe I have to clarify the tension first before rerouting my knight on g3. After 20.gxf5 gxf5 21.cxb5 axb5 22.Nxe4 (this was what I was calculating during the game but now as I look at the position again perhaps 22.Ng3 is better was it retains more pieces thus more chances for complications) 22...fxe4 23.f5 d5 24.fxe6 Bxe6 25.Rc1 Rc8 material is equal but all the chances are with Black.

20...bxc4 21.Qc2

The only move. 21.Qxc4 d5 22.Qa4 c5 23.Qxa6 White is a pawn up yet material advantage hardly matters. In positions with kings castled on opposite sides, positional nuances are much more important. The semi-open files on a, b files are scary for the White monarch. 23...cxd4 24.Nxd5 d3 etc.

21...d5 22.gxf5 gxf5 23.Nxf5 Kh8?

Correct is 23...Nxf4! 24.Nh6+ Kg7 25.exf4 Kxh6 Black’s king is seemingly exposed to threats, but the 1st World Champion Wilhem Steinitz once said, “A King can handle himself!” Absolutely right!

24.Nh6 Bxd4?!

An unnecessary piece sacrifice. GM Richard wanted to pour oil on troubled waters. Probably he has underestimated my chances to defend in the ensuing material imbalance.

25.exd4 Nxf4 26.Rhg1

A logical move, asserting control on the g-file to create future threats to the Black King.

26...Qh4 27.Ng4 Bf5

Better is 27...Nd3 28.Na4 (an awkward move that I have to make to defend my position) 28...e3 29.Ka1 Bxg4 30.Rxg4 Qxh2 the chess engines say the position is equal but Black’s moves are much easier to play.


A necessary retreat -- knights are good blockaders.


GM Richard couldn’t find anything better:

28...Nd3 29.Bxd3 cxd3 White is already better 30.Qd2;

28...Bh3 29.Ka1 Nd3 30.b3 cxb3 31.axb3 Rf2 32.Rd2 looks equal.


Reorganizing my pieces to cooperate simultaneously on my plan to attack and defend at the same time.


At this moment, retreating pieces should be the last thing on his mind -- he should have continued creating threats against my King, for example with 29...Nd3.

30.Ka1 Nd3 31.Bxd3?! cxd3 32.Qd2 Qa7 33.Ng4

During the game I felt that I had the advantage but it was not easy to convert it into a full point. But the truth is the game was just equal and should have ended into a draw with accurate play.

33...Qxd4 34.Ne2 Rxf1+ 35.Rxf1 Qb4 36.Qxb4 Rxb4 37.Nf4

At this point we were already at time scramble. For the next moves both sides play imprecisely.


[37...Rb5 38.a4 Rb7 39.Kb1 Re7 40.Kc1 e3 41.Nxe3 Rxe3 42.Kd2 Re4 43.Nxg6+ hxg6 44.Kxd3 this might be drawn but Black still has chances]


[38.Nxg6+ hxg6 39.Nf2 e3 40.Nxd3 Rb5 41.Kb1 should hold back the pawns]


The player who makes the last mistake loses the game. 38...Rb8 is the only move to defend and equalize the game 39.Nxd4 d2 40.Ne3 Bh5 41.Ne6 Be2 42.Rg1 Rg8 43.Rxg8+ Kxg8 44.Ng5 d1Q+ 45.Nxd1 Bxd1 46.Nxe4 this is a draw -- there was just no time to calculate all of this.

39.Ne5 d2 40.Nxg6+ Kh7 41.Ng5+?!

Needlessly complicating the task. 41.Ngf4 e3 42.Rd1 Kg8 43.Kb1 Kf7 44.Nc5 holds back the pawns.

41...Kxg6 42.Nxe4 Rc4 43.Kb1

Improving my King’s position because in the endgame, he will be the main actor on the stage.

43...d3 44.Nxd2 Rc2 45.Nf3 1-0 <D>


After a see-saw struggle with errors from both players, I was able to finally score the win, my first ever against a grandmaster and it is truly a wow feeling! GM Bitoon, being a true gentleman, engaged in a short post-mortem analysis after the game. A possible finish is 45.Nf3 Re2 46.Rd1 Re3 47.Rxd3! Rxd3 48.Ne5+ Kf5 49.Nxd3 h4 50.Kc2 Kg4 51.Kd2 Kh3 52.Ke2 Kxh2 53.Kf2 a5 54.a4 h3 55.Ne5 c5 56.Nf3+ Kh1 57.b3 zugzwang 57...h2 58.Nd2 c4 59.Nf1 cxb3 60.Ng3# a well known mating tactic found in endgame books, for example Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.

Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.