Wednesday, January 7

January Player of the Month: The Master Gambiteer

(Rohan Agarwal in deep thought at the CalChess Scholastics in San Jose last May.)

I will begin recognizing one deserving Northern California chess player each month who has achieved significant success within recent weeks or occasionally an accumulation over a longer time period. It is my pleasure to award the first Fpawn Blog Player of the Month to the Bay Area's newest National Master, 15 year old Rohan Agarwal from Fremont. By earning the hallowed title of Master at North American Open in Las Vegas, Rohan became the sixth Bay Area junior in K-12 to break 2200 USCF and also solified his spot among the elite of the nation (there are only about 35 masters under age 18).
  • Name: Rohan Agarwal
  • Title: National Master
  • Current ratings: 2212 USCF and 2190 FIDE
  • National ranking: #11 for age 15
  • CalChess ranking: #5 for age 12-17
  • First tournament: December 2002
  • First established rating: 1248 in November 2003
  • Last 12 months: gained 142 points in 65 rated games at 11 tournaments
  • Latest tournament: Scored 3.5/7 in Open at North American Open in Las Vegas for a 2335 performance, including win against IM Tate and a draw with GM Lein.
  • Biggest scalps: IM DeGuzman (9/07) and IM Tate (12/08)
Rohan learned how to play at Weibel Elementary School in Fremont under the tutelage of legendary coach Richard Shorman. Even today, Rohan enjoys the opening gambits that he first learned years ago and he is not afraid to essay the Philidor Counter Gambit or the Sicilian Wing Gambit even against masters. His style may be best described as tactical or even insane--I still remember a year ago when Rohan beat a master after playing Kh1 by move 20, which wouldn't have been too unusual except that he was black in that game!?

In a newsletter, longtime Weibel advisor Dr. Alan Kirshner wrote a moving tribute. "Rohan, under the mentorship of Richard Shorman at Weibel, accomplished a milestone. I congratulate Rohan not because he was trained better than other Fremont players, but because he worked harder and had the perseverance and determination to go all the way. I might add that he is also a great all around person. I know he will spend the remainder of his High School years teaching the students at his Elementary School alma mater. I look forward to seeing him, in the future, win many more titles." Coach Agarwal's (see photo at right) young proteges won first place team trophies in both 5th and 6th grade last month at the CalChess Grade Level Championships in Stockton.

The following crush from Las Vegas illustrates Rohan's attacking style. He chooses to mix it up against the iconic IM Emory Tate out of Philidor's defense. The sly IM quickly got an inferior position (16.Nb1 simply admits failure) and it went downhill from there. White's retreat 21.Bg2 lost instantly to Nxg2 followed by an invasion along the h-file.

IM Emory Tate (2390) vs Rohan Agarwal (2196)
2008 North American Open (2)
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c4 f5 4. d3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. Be2 O-O 7. c5 Nc6 8. cxd6 Qxd6 9. O-O a6 10. a3 Be6 11. Ng5 Nd4 12. Nxe6 Qxe6 13. exf5 Qxf5 14. Be3 Rad8 15. Bxd4 exd4 16. Nb1 Nd5 17. Bf3 Nf4 18. Be4 Qg5 19. g3 Rd6 20. Nd2 Rh6 21. Bg2 Nxg2 22. Kxg2 Qf5 23. h4 Bxh4 24. g4 Qf4 25. Ne4 Bxf2 26. Rh1 Rg6 27. Kh3 h5 28. Qe2 Rxg4 29. Qxf2 Qxf2 0-1

To replay this game, click on this link to Chess Publisher.

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