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Jeff Roland is White in the odd numbered games.


U.S.C.F. Rating Report
Click Here for the official USCF crosstable

Jeff Roland (White)

Frank Niro (Black)

Note this is the final position of the very last game/10 of the match
and is shown with Black on the bottom. It is White's move.

Coverage/Reports by Jeff Roland

Frank Niro wins the Roland vs. Niro match that began on April 4, 2013 in Boise, Idaho and ended August 3, 2013 in Middleton, Wisconsin.

The regular match ended in a 6-6 tie on August 2. Due to scheduling considerations, it was deemed better to play the two-game Game/10 (no delay) playoff games on August 3, 2013 in Middleton at 1:30 p.m. during the lunch break of the Delegates meeting held at the U.S. Open. Niro was white in Game one of the playoffs and the opening was a Ruy Lopez. After lively play and an interesting rook and pawn endgame, the game was a draw by a series of checks that seemed at the time to both players to be perpetual check.

In Game two of the playoffs, Roland was white in a Dutch Defense. The result of the second game was a win for Niro when Roland resigned what seemed to him a hopeless position. After the game, however, Frank Niro suggested a possible solution involving giving back the exchange, but it is not clear that would have changed the result, and it hadn't occured to Jeff to try that line anyway. The Game/10 playoff games were not recorded, however, they were actually quite good.

Frank Niro would normally now advance to play Peter Olsoy in the final match for the first-ever Idaho Cup, however, last month, Frank Niro moved to Kentucky. So it will actually be Jeff Roland who advances to play Peter Olsoy later this year after all.

In an awards ceremony held on August 4 2013, ICA Vice President, Adam Porth, presented the prize checks to the two players. $400 went to Frank Niro, and $100 went to Jeff Roland. Award-winning chess journalist Al Lawrence took the photos at the ceremony.


Table of Contents

Click the following links to jump directly to the appripriate section.

Game 1 - April 4, 2013
Game 2 - April 11, 2013
Game 3 - April 18, 2013
Game 4 - April 25, 2013
Game 5 - May 23, 2013
Game 6 - May 30, 2013
Game 7 - June 6, 2013
Game 8 - June 9, 2013
Game 9 - June 13, 2013
Game 10 - June 20, 2013
Game 11 - July 25, 2013
Game 12 - August 2, 2013


Jeff Roland and Peter Olsoy played a best-of-12 game USCF-rated chess match last summer which was won by Peter Olsoy. That match was very close, being decided only on the last game, and was covered in great detail on our website. Click here for the report on that match.

In the spirit of last year's match we are going to cover the current match too. Here are some of the details about the current match between Jeff Roland and Frank Niro.

The time control is game/120 with a five second delay. The match format is best of 12 games, which means 6½ or 7 points wins and ends the match. The match is USCF rated. The Tournament Directors are Frank Niro and Jeff Roland. The match will start April 4, 2013 and continue through July 18, 2013 (if it goes the full distance) in various towns in the Treasure Valley (Southwestern Idaho). Play starts at 9:00 a.m. Play will be every Thursday for four weeks in a row, then there will be a two week break, and then four more games, followed by another two week break, then the final four games. If the match is a tie after 12 games, then there will be a series of Game/10 playoff games (2-game sets) until there is a winner--and those will occur on the same day as game 12 so the match will finish by July 18, 2013 if the players stay on schedule [Note: Due to travel and scheduling modifications and the fact that Frank Niro is moving to Kentucky, the match is now set to finish in Madison, WI during the U.S. Open, probably around August 1].

Thanks to an anonymous donation the winner of the match will receive $400 and the loser will receive $100. The winner also earns the right to play Peter Olsoy for the "Idaho Cup" and another $400/$100 stakes USCF rated match.


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Thursday, April 4, 2013 - Game One

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Game one started on schedule on April 4, 2013 on the BSU campus in Boise, Idaho. The colors were not known in advance. Jeff Roland offered a choice of pawns to Frank Niro. Frank chose the pawn in Jeff's right hand, which was black, so Jeff Roland was White in game one. The first game was very interesting. The opening was the Sicilian Defense, Closed Variation. The game had back and forth moments. Black at one point clearly had at least a slight if not clear advantage, and later White had an advantage but through much of the game it seemed pretty even. White used up all his time and in fact at the end had less than two minutes for the entire game, and Black had less than 10 minutes left at the end of the game. While the game was not perfect, it was very exciting and worthy of a rated match between two experienced players.


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Thursday, April 11, 2013 - Game Two

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Game two started at about 9:10 a.m. on the BSU campus in Boise, Idaho. White opened with 1.e4 and Black played 1...e6 to get to a French Defense. Black played the Rubinstein Variation. Both sides tried to play for a win to a point, but neither player was willing to take unnecessary risks. On move 26 Black exchanged his bishop for white's knight on g2, leaving the game with an opposite-colored-bishop ending. On move 42, Roland made the first draw offer of the match, and it was immediately accepted.

Both players were happy with this result. Niro was glad to stop Roland's winning streak (not that one game constitutes a "streak"), and Roland was happy not to lose with his first Black.

Now, both players are more determined than ever to win the next game, which is scheduled for April 18, 2013 somewhere in Meridian, Idaho.


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Thursday, April 18, 2013 - Game Three

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Game three started at about 9:00 a.m. at Frank Niro's residence in Meridian, Idaho. White played 1.d4 and Black played 1...f5, the Dutch Defense, no surprise here. Black chose the Leningrad Variation and White played the Karlsbad Variation developing his Knight via h3, again, this was no surprise to either player.

After the game, Frank Niro said that he was well prepared for this opening as only weeks before in St. Louis, he got the same exact position after the first 11 moves in a game there, and only a few days prior to our current match game Frank looked over this line with GM Alex Yermolinsky, so it was all very fresh in his mind.

This was a very nice game for Frank. He played well, didn't make any noticeable mistakes, and got the upper hand in material and position leaving White with a hopeless position on move 29.


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Thursday, April 25, 2013 - Game Four

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Game four started at about 9:10 a.m. at Frank Niro's residence in Meridian. White played 1.e4 and Black played 1...e6. Play soon got into the Rubenstein Variation of the French Defense again. This time, however, White played a different 5th move with 5.Nf3 (as opposed to 5.c4 in game two). Black offered a draw on move 11 which was immediately accepted.

There is a 2-week break now before the next game on May 16 resumes another 4-week playing streak. Game five will be in Nampa. The match is now tied at 2 points each.


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Thursday, May 23, 2013 - Game Five

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Game five started around 9:45 A.M. at the Flying M Coffee Garage in Nampa, Idaho after a break of 28 days. This long break was the result of an unforseen complication in the travel itinerary of Frank Niro. Both players were at the board at precicely 9:00 A.M. but have been so busy with chess activities on and off the board that there was so much for these two friends/players to talk about. It wasn't until 9:45 A.M. that the players decided it was time to begin. The playing schedule (dates) needed to be revamped a little too and that is reflected in the new crosstable shown above. We should be able to stick with the new playing schedule, however, there is a chance and possibility that games 11 and 12 could end up being played in St. Louis, MO and/or Madison, WI (if it goes the full distance). We plan to play game 8 on Sunday at the Flying M Coffee Garage at 9:00 A.M. and all are invited to watch. Both players felt that it would be cool if those who are interested wanted to actually see a game as it is happening (and maybe we'll get a picture taken too).

Today's game was unusual, but then what chess game isn't? White played 1.e4 and Black played 1...c6 to get to the Caro-Kann Defense. As expected, White played the Panov-Botvinnik attack which has been a favorite of Jeff Roland's since around 1981. The game soon took on a very sharp tactical quality and the entire game was finished on move 25.

The next game should happened on Thursday, May 30, 2013 in Eagle, Idaho.


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Thursday, May 30, 2013 - Game Six

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Game six started at 9:15 A.M. at Rembrandts Coffee House in Eagle, Idaho. Today's game was a short 11-move draw (the second in the match) which suited both players for various reasons. The next game, however, should be a "real game".

Game seven is scheduled for Thursday, June 6, 2013 at a currently undisclosed location, with game eight shortly thereafter on Sunday, June 9 at 9:00 A.M. at the Flying M Coffee Garage in Nampa (open to the public to watch along-side the Nampa Chess Club meeting).


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Thursday, June 6, 2013 - Game Seven

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Game seven started at 9:15 A.M. at Rembrandts Coffee House in Eagle, Idaho. Today's game was my favorite game of the match so far. This was a very enjoyable and challenging game for both of us. White had what felt to me like a winning position throughout most of the game. Then Black made two very good moves. ...Qh4 and ...Nc6 which seemed to be enough to get him out of his difficulties, and then White self-destructed with a horrible 34th move. But still, the game was very exciting and enjoyable, and the match is now tied at 3.5 to 3.5.

The next gamae (Game 8) will be played at 9:00 a.m. at the Flying M Coffee Garage in Nampa, ID with everyone welcome to watch.


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Sunday, June 9, 2013 - Game Eight

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Game eight started at around 9:15 A.M. at the Flying M Coffee Garage in Nampa, Idaho. Today's game was open to the public to watch and played along-side the weekly meeting of the Nampa Chess Club. Today's game was a very well played game by Frank Niro. He was in his element, playing a variation he has had great experience in for over 40 years. Black just got outplayed throughout the game. After eight games Frank Niro leads 4.5 to 3.5.

Pictures from game 8
(click on images to enlarge)


Jeff Roland. Picture taken by Jarod Buus with Jeff Roland's camera.


Jeff Roland (left) vs. Frank Niro (right), taken by Jarod Buus with Jeff Roland's camera.


Jeff Roland as taken by Frank Niro during the game with Jeff Roland's camera.


Frank Niro as taken by Jeff Roland during game 8.


Frank Niro as taken by Jeff Roland during game 8.

The next gamae (Game 9) will be played at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at a currently undisclosed location.


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Thursday, June 13, 2013 - Game Nine

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Game nine started at 9:05 A.M. at the Student Union Building of Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. There were plenty of dazzling tactics in the middle game and a difficult ending that White somehow missed being able to win over the board. This game was our most enjoyable, engaging, and interesting game of the match to date. Frank Niro leads 5 to 4 with three games to go in the regular series.

The next game (Game 10) will be played at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at a currently undisclosed location.


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Thursday, June 20, 2013 - Game Ten

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Game 10 started at about 9:30 A.M. at the Student Union Building of Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. Black again played the French Rubinstein. Black won a pawn early with a line very similar to Game 4 of the Roland vs. Ulmen match of 1985 that Jeff Roland had shown his friend, Alex Machin only a week before this present game in order to get ready for the 2013 Newport June Open in Newport, OR. In the present game, White was more or less obligated to attack in order to get compensation for the pawn. Black successfully defended White's threats although most of these moves were forced and "only" moves. On move 32, Black missed a game winning rook sacrifice with 34...Rxh2+! forcing mate almost immediately, but saw it only after playing 32...c4. He would have played it next move if it still remained possible on the board, but Frank Niro defended the threat and forced Black to win a long difficult ending with Queens still on the board and stalemate or perpetual check threats were all over the place.

The match is currently tied at 5-5. The next game (Game 11) will be played in St. Louis, Missouri on July 20 on center stage at the Susan Polgar Girls Invitational tournament that both Frank and Jeff will be present for. And Game 12 (yes, there will be a game 12 now), will be played in Madison, Wisconsin during the U.S. Open (exact date of game 12 is not currently known, but is estimated as August 1, 2013).


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Thursday, July 25, 2013 - Game Eleven

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Frank Niro (left) vs. Jeff Roland (right) on stage during round 6 of the SPFGI and game 11 of the Roland vs. Niro Match. Photo courtesy of Susan Polgar Foundation and Paul Truong.

Game 11 was a special game in that it has been more than a month since the previous game. We were playing this game and starting it one hour before the 6th round of the Susan Polgar Foundation Girls Invitational tournament in St. Louis, where Frank Niro was Cheif TD, and Jeff Roland was Assistant TD (along with Martha Underwood who was also Assistant TD). It was a very special thing to share the stage with all 59 girls in that 10th Annual prestigious event.

I am of course aware that fans following this match might have wanted to see "blood" in this game (not a short draw as happened twice in the match), but they wanted to see blood on the chess board, not psychologically! In all the years I have played chess, nothing prepared me for what happened during the consideration of my 11th move in this game, and certainly never have I ever felt bad at winning a game before.

I would have to honestly say that only my mother dying last year hurt more than winning this game. So this game was only the second sadest time in my life. Frank is a good friend to me. While I need to study the game to figure out what I should play on the 11th move, I also would really like to forget this game. But on the other hand, I really like the idea of what this game could have been, and overall the potential for my future as a chess player is now very exciting to me. Certainly the psychological wounds I received here in this game opened me up to deeper friendships from others here in St. Louis when I needed it most, although somehow, I think that would have happened anyway!

UPDATE: During a very pleasant trip from St. Louis to Madison, Wisconsin with Frank Niro, Alise Pemsler, and Carmen Pemsler on July 26, 2013, I was given an explanation of the events that happened during my 11th move in game 11 from Frank himself, and so finally everything makes sense to me. Frank said he tried some psychological warfare that didn't work, and he tried to get me to move faster, and he was trash talking me during our rated game (which is against the rules). He forfeited himself for the trash talking, but also resigned because he felt my position was superior already by move 10 evaluating it as clear plus for White. He said something that he thought would be taken as a joke, but instead was taken as a hurtful insult, and one thing led to another and another, and the way he resigned is not something anyone should ever do. Anyway, everything is patched up now, Frank and I are still friends, and we are going on to Madison to play game 12 with all our might and do our best to conclude this historic match in the style in which it deserves.

The match is now 6-5 in Roland's favor with one game left in the normal series. The next game will be played on August 2, 2013 in Madison, WI at 9:00 a.m. central time in the playing hall of the U.S. Open.


Frank Niro (left) vs. Jeff Roland (right) on stage during round 6 of the SPFGI and game 11 of the Roland vs. Niro Match. Photo courtesy of Susan Polgar Foundation and Paul Truong.


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Friday, August 2, 2013 - Game Twelve

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Jeff Roland (left) vs. Frank Niro (right). Photo by John Hartmann.


Jeff Roland (left) vs. Frank Niro (right). Photo by John Hartmann.

Game 12 was a short game. It was played in the main hall of the U.S. Open on board 808 out of 808 boards in an otherwise empty playing hall at 9:00 a.m., Friday, August 2, 2013. Frank Niro opened with 1.g3 for the first time in the match. The game ended when Black was faced with losing a piece, there was simply no good move to make in the position at that point.

The match is now 6-6 and we go to a 2-game set of game/10 playoff's. I didn't realize this before, but if after those two games we are still tied, then we will play an Armageddon playoff game, in which White gets 5 minutes to Black's 3 minutes, but Black will have draw odds. Those playoff's should be happening sometime on August 3, 2013.