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IM Victor Frias - Passed away January 15, 2005

Victor Frias

(New Windsor)Saturday, January 15, 2005 International Master Victor Frias passed away after a short illness. Victor was born in Feb. 10, 1956 in Santiago, Chili. He is survived by his wife, Zoe Ann Tilton and two sons, Camilo and Pablo.

Victor was a young man but one with many, many chess accomplishments. Victor's current USCF chess rating was 2562 and his FIDE rating was 2493. He achieved his International Master title in 1982.

Victor participated in many chess tournaments in the United States as well as International. Some of his opponents were: GM Korchnoi, GM Christiansen, IM Zaltsman, GM Bisguier, GM Dzindzichashvili, GM Browne, GM Quinteros, GM Alburt, IM Spraggett, GM Gurevich, GM Fedorowicz, IM Braga, GM Ljubojevic, GM Rohde, GM Kudrin, GM Torre, GM Benjamin, GM Shabalov, just to mention a few. Among many of Victor's accomplishments was, in 1994 he was on the winning team of the U.S. Amateur Team East Chess Championship and in 1995 he tied for first place in the NY State Chess Championship with GM Joel Benjamin and GM Zaitchik. Chessgames.com showcased Victor's game vs Karl Burger (USA) from the 1983 New York Heraldica Chess Tournament as the, "Game of the Day".
[Site "New York HERALDICA - 1983"]
[White "Frias, Victor J."]
[Black "Burger, Karl (USA)"]
[ECO "E21"]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.Qxc3 c5 8.dxc5 bxc5 9.e3 O-O 10.Be2 Ne4 11.Qc2 d6 12.O-O Nd7 13.b3 Qe7 14.Bb2 f5 15.Nd2 e5 16.f4 Rab8 17.Bd3 Nxd2 18.Qxd2 e4 19.Be2 Nf6 20.Rfd1 Rfd8 21.b4 Bc6 22.b5 Be8 23.Rab1 Bf7 24.a4 h6 25.Bc3 Kh7 26.Qb2 Be6 27.Bxf6 gxf6 28.a5 Rd7 29.Qc3 Kg7 30.Rb2 Kh7 31.Rdb1 Kg7 32.b6 a6 33.Bd1 Qf7 34.Rc1 Rdd8 35.Rd2 Qd7 36.h3 Rb7 37.g4 Kf7 38.Rg2 Rg8 39.gxf5 Rxg2+ 40.Kxg2 Bxf5 41.Bh5+ Bg6 42.Bxg6+ Kxg6 43.Kh2 Qe6 44.Rg1+ Kh7 45.Qc2 Rd7 46.Qg2 f5 47.Qg3 Rb7 48.Rg2 Rd7 49.Kg1 Rb7 50.h4 Qf7 51.h5 Kh8 52.Qg6 Qf8 53.Kh2 Rd7 54.Qe6 Rh7 55.Rg6 1-0

Another game from 1995 Bermuda Open - (chessgames.com)
[White "Frias, Victor J (USA)"]
[Black "Waitzkin, Joshua (USA)"]
[ECO "D28"]
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.Qe2 a6 7.O-O b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.a4 bxa4 10.Rxa4 cxd4 11.Rd1 Be7 12.Rxd4 Qa5 13.Nbd2 Nc6 14.Rh4 Rd8 15.Nc4 Qc7 16.Bd2 O-O 17.Rc1 Qd7 18.Bc2 h6 19.Ba4 Nd4 20.Nxd4 Qxa4 21.Na5 Ne4 22.Nxb7 Bxh4 23.Nxd8 Bxf2+ 24.Kh1 Rxd8 25.Be1 Bxe1 26.Qxe1 Rb8 27.b3 Qd7 28.Qf1 Rc8 29.Ra1 e5 30.Nf5 Rc2 31.Qf3 Ng5 32.Qg4 Qc7 33.h4 Ne6 34.Rxa6 Rc1+ 35.Kh2 e4 36.Qg3 Qxg3+ 37.Nxg3 Rc3 38.Nxe4 Rxe3 39.Ra8+ Kh7 40.Nd6 Rxb3 41.Nxf7 Rc3 42.h5 Nf4 1-0
NOTE: Victor was Josh's chess coach for many years....Victor helped Josh achieve a 2300 rating from 1800!

Another game archived at the chessgames.com website was Frias vs Alburt from the 1981:
[Event "Chile"]
[Site "Chile"]
[Date "1981]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Frias, Victor J"]
[Black "Alburt, Lev O"]
[ECO "A57"]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.Nf3 g6 5.cxb5 a6 6.e3 d6 7.Nc3 Bg7 8.a4 O-O 9.Be2 axb5 10.Bxb5 Ba6 11.Bd2 Nbd7 12.O-O Ne8 13.e4 Nc7 14.Qe2 Qb8 15.Rab1 Nb6 16.Bxa6 Rxa6 17.b4 Bxc3 18.bxc5 Bg7 19.cxd6 exd6 20.a5 Qb7 21.Be3 Rxa5 22.Bxb6 Raa8 23.Nd4 Ne8 24.Nc6 Qd7 25.Rfd1 Nf6 26.Bd4 Rfe8 27.Qb2 Nh5 28.Bxg7 Nxg7 29.f3 f5 30.exf5 Nxf5 31.Re1 Qf7 32.Qd2 h6 33.g3 g5 34.Qd3 Ng7 35.Re4 Rxe4 36.fxe4 Qf6 37.Rf1 Ra1 38.e5 Qxf1+ 39.Qxf1 Rxf1+ 40.Kxf1 Nf5 41.Ne7+ 1-0

Victor was a professional chess player and served as coach to many different chess teams and clubs. I could not end this brief recognized of all of Victor's outstanding accomplishments without mentioning his longtime and dedicated work with chess and children. Victor did impressive work with children through his Chess For Kids, Inc. which also hosted the 2001 US Chessathon in Yonkers, New York. The venue was played outside on the shores of the Hudson River. Victor also contributed his time to assist with "Minds In Motion" out of Connecticut with offering an Intermediate Chess Class to children. If this wasn't enough...Victor used to also visit the US Chess Federation headquarters frequently and purchased some used chess clocks he could fix up and donate to children...needless to say, Victor was kind, generous and dedicated to making life better for everyone, especially children through chess.

IM Frias served as the U.S. Chess Federation's chief coach at the World Youth Chess Festival in 1998; the World Juniors in 1990, 1991 and 1992; and the Pan-American Youth Festival in 1995. Victor coached at Dalton Academy, managed the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan, and directed the Yonkers Projects Chess Club Program. He was also the coach of the American Chess Foundation-Samford Fellowship in charge of GM Patrick Wolff and Ilya Gurevich. He was also involved with the Mexican Ministry of Sports, acting first as National Coach and later as Chess Consultant-Adviser.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 22, 2005 at the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan at 1:00pm.

For those of you who wish to share your tribute to Victor you can email them to: Joan DuBois - US Chess Federation who will be building an online obituary for Victor in the USCF "In Passing" area of USCF Website.

Obituary from NY Times

Victor Frias, International Chess Master and beloved chess teacher, died January 15, 2005, of a rapidly progressing neurological disease. Born on February 10, 1956, in Santiago, Chile, he became an avid chess player as a child and represented Chile in international tournaments as a teen. He studied architecture at the University of Chile, but eventually chess superseded. In 1974, he began his long career as a teacher, developing a chess curriculum for the Talent School, a Chilean academy for training Olympic competitors in sports and chess. In 1979, Frias moved to Los Angeles and became part of the U.S. chess scene. He played in numerous tournaments over the years, and in 2004 ranked among the top 35 U.S. chess players. He married Zoe Tilton in 1980 and moved to New York in 1981.

Frias' passion was for teaching and coaching. His love of chess was inspirational to many young chess players; he had a dynamic presence and keen sense of humor. Among his individual students were Grandmasters Ilya Gurevich, who became the junior world champion, and Patrick Wolf, both recipients of the American Chess Foundation Samford Fellowship, and Jennifer Shahade, two-time U.S. Women's Champion. Victor also coached Josh Waitzkin and was featured in the bestselling book Searching for Bobby Fischer. Starting in the 1980's, Frias taught at the Dalton Academy and the Gifted and Talented Center of New York. He coached the U.S. junior chess team at several international Olympic competitions from 1988 to 2003. He coached the Mexican Olympic team from 1996-97.

In 1994 Victor became the director of the Yonkers Projects Chess Clubs Program in the Yonkers housing projects, and sponsored a tournament with more than 200 inner-city children in 1995. Victor established a nonprofit foundation Chess for Kids in 1998, dedicated to the promotion of chess. His New York Chessathon in 2001 was attended by 800 children. He ran after-school programs in numerous public and private schools in Westchester County, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Victor was actively teaching until November, when he became ill.

His children brought him great joy; he loved hiking, traveling, listening to eclectic music with them. He is survived by his sons, Camilo, age 17, Pablo, age 14, and wife, Zoe Tilton; and parents Adriana Apablaza and Victor Frias and brother Gonzalo of Santiago, Chile.

A memorial service celebrating Victor Frias' life will be held at the Marshall Chess, 23 W. 10th Street, Manhattan, on Saturday, January 22, 2005, at 1 PM. Donations (not tax-deductible) in his memory may be made to a fund for his children's education through the U.S. Chess Trust c/o United States Chess Federation, 3068 U.S. Route 9W, Suite 100, New Windsor, NY, 12553.

Tribute to Victor with love from Arlene Katz Spitzer

I canít describe how stunned I am by Victorís death. Victor coached my son Jacob for about 2 years. When Jacob went to camp this past summer Victor was fine. He gave Jacob some chess problems to complete and send to him. We all wondered whether Jacob would focus on his homework in the wake of Adirondack fresh air, summer recreation, mess hall and no parents. Victor and Jacob corresponded some by mail. Victor and I kept in touch to the extent that we spoke about how much fun Jacob was having as his hand writing inversely deteriorated. Not surprised, we laughed at the one line letters Jacob sent home and the comparable one line chess solutions Jacob sent to Victor. We figured Jacob would be back in business come September.

At the beginning of the school year when Jacob resumed his lessons Victor did not look well or seem to be his usual self. My husband and I assumed he had Bells Palsy or something similar but never life threatening. Victor was a person who was especially full of life and energy. So, I canít say I wasnít a little worried a few times when I called his home early evening and his son told me he was sleeping. In early December when Victor missed a lesson because he was admitted to the hospital, Victor told me he had a neurological virus, but that the doctor was sure he would get better. He was going to California to be with his wife, where he would recuperate. Never, ever did it dawn on me that Victor was perilously ill. I guess we believe what we want to believe.

Victor was an amazing person. More than a chess coach, more than a friend. To know Victor was an experience in and of itself. If I had to use one word to describe Victor, it would be ďgenerosityĒ. Victor was generous in every way. He gave of himself completely. In this fast lane world of stress, hustle and bustle, money and time had little meaning to him. He made surprise appearances at tournaments, took planned road trips with his studentsí to other tournaments, opened his home for special days with his students during the summer, and patiently watched Jacobís on-line games. Without any gain to himself he went out of his way to drive one hour each way to haul a chair which he no longer needed to my then babysitter.

Victor was indeed unpredictable. What you could count on was for Victor to show up for lessons early, late or on time and stay an hour, two or three. There were times when Victor did not show up at all. But when he did, which was most of the time, every member of our family, including our babysitters looked forward to Victorís arrival. We all really enjoyed him. He came with enthusiasm, charm and was giving to everyone.

Victor was there for us when we needed him, be it emotionally or otherwise. If I couldnít get Jacob home on time for his lesson, no problem. Give Victor the address and Victor would pick up Jacob from his friendís house. If Jacob wanted to play in a local tournament after a lesson and I had a meeting to go to, no problem, Victor would deliver Jacob to the local church with a smile. And, on occasion when the kids from Scarsdale had no transportation to or from Chappaqua for his chess club, leave it to Victor, he would make it happen. Most of all I am indebted to Victor for his help with the painful times and trials and tribulations of parenthood and children growing up. During difficult situations Victor understood what was happening, articulated it well and was emotionally supportive to me and my family.

Victor was 100 percent dedicated to his students. I delighted in observing his chess club which he held at his home for 4-10 boys at a time. He united roughhousing boys with older mature boys of all different levels of chess ability, backgrounds and ages and held their attention with his infectious enthusiasm. Even I, a non-chess player found his lectures interesting and loved the sound of his voice. But prior to a national tournament, watch out! Thatís when he separated the men from the boys and Victorís intensity and genius surfaced--his words of encouragement and wisdom were reminiscent of a college football coach-- he gave everything he had to help the boys achieve their best.

Victorís home was everyoneís home. The boysí helped themselves to fruit, ice cream, pasta and anything else they could find in his kitchen eating him out of house and home. After chess, they played with his kittens and tossed balls in his yard. I thought if only we could capture the moment forever, bottle it and sell it as a cure for adolescence. Victor was perpetually young and had a unique way of making a constructive activity cool and fun.

Victor glowed when he spoke of his sons Camillo and Pablo. He did not know what he would do when Camillo went to college he would miss him so much. There was no denying his excitement when he was picking up Pablo from the airport. His children were the light of his life. He conveyed to me he was very proud to have been married to Zoe, the Obstetrician. He was terribly concerned for his girlfriend Sheri during a family crisis. He believed in his friend and colleague, Alfonzo Almedia.

Although Victor was Jacobís chess coach, I was fortunate enough to know Victor on other levels. I observed the ease with which he conversed and enjoyed people wherever he went. An international chess master, he was a social master as well, whether at a chess tournament shooting the breeze with an old friend; or be it relating to, taking an interest in and understanding a child, dog, cat, baby, neighbor, new person, old person, quiet or lively person. He was interested in and had time for everyone. He had a gift and discovered the gifts others had to share.

At this moment, yesterday, today and always, I marvel at Victorís Latin charm and charisma. He crossed all borders and knew no boundaries. It is beyond comprehension that a young, vibrant man with so much to offer was taken from us. Losing Victor is an enormous loss to us all and my family and I will miss him very much.

From Tim Hanke

This is very sad. I played Victor in Round 1 of last year's U.S. Amateur Team Championship. He manhandled me, as all Chilean players seem to do. My condolences to Victor's family and friends. Victor was a great competitor and a fine ambassador for chess.

From Liz Goldman

My son, Matt Goldman, played chess as a kid for many years (1984-92), coached by Sunil Weeramantry...our family knew Victor a bit and perhaps, if memory serves me at all, Matt even played him at some point (Matt played in all of the non-scholastic tournaments as well as in the championship "kid" ones).

From Elaine Mancini

Iím a chess Mom. Thatís how I met Victor and thatís how I knew him. I introduced myself to him at the New York State Scholastic Championships when they were in Saratoga, about four years ago. He was coaching a group of kids and I was impressed with how he related to them. We got to talking. He gave me his card and my son, Zachary Morrice, joined Victorís Wednesday night chess club not too long after that.

I took Zach to Victorís house nearly every week for two-and-a-half years. I was impressed with how he handled the boys. Sometimes heíd let them get physical so that they could relax better later. Sometimes the boys would be so enthralled with playing that they didnít notice the parents coming inside to pick them up. Sometimes Victor would let them end the session playing Bughouse, which always meant high volume time. But always, there was food: Bowls of ice cream, plates of spaghetti, platters of fruit, baskets of munchies, bags of goodies. Usually, Victor was getting food prepared for dinner as well. There was wine too, but that was a special treat for the parents. Victor loved food, eating it and talking about it. He loved wine. He loved beautiful things. He loved art. He loved music, and had good taste as well.

I was impressed with his accomplishments but I was more impressed by his conversation. He always had something interesting to say, a funny story to relate (especially about his cab-driving days in Manhattan), or an insight to give. We didnít get to talk much: only snippets of conversation in five-minute intervals but I always looked forward to it. That and the fact that we usually saw deer on the way to/from his house made those weekly drives to Chappaqua worthwhile.

Victor was an impressive guy and those are few and far between. May he rest in peace.