Castle Chess Grand Prix Lower Sections

There were six ancillary tournaments in conjunction with the Open section of the Castle Grand Prix. I will break with tradition and begin with the Under 1200 section because the battle for supremacy was between two females! Zoe Justice, a young girl, went into the final round with a score of 4-0 as she won her first three games before receiving a win by forfeit in the penultimate round. Her considerably older opponent, Karuna Atmakuru, from Tennessee, had won three games and drawn one, and therefore a half point back, playing the Black pieces. Watching this hard fought battle brought a line from a Bob Dylan tune, “Po’ Boy,” to mind: “The game is the same it’s just up on another level.” The top players may make better moves but they have nothing on these girls when it comes to intensity. Near the end Zoe had her opponent all tied up, but Karuna did have an extra piece, which prevailed in the end. This was still quite a showing for the talented and up and coming member of the Justice clan. If there is ever a team event in Georgia there could be a team Justice, and, who knows, young Zoe may possibly take first board ahead of her brothers.
There were many ladies playing in the event, including Leila Anne D’Aquin, from Louisiana, in this section. Carolyn Lantelme played in the class ‘C’ section and although she lost her first three games she did not give up, winning her fourth round game. She was a pawn down heading into an endgame with the higher rated Ross Johnson, but through grit, determination, and working hard at the board, managed to save the draw. I mentioned Elena Gratskaya in my previous post and will return to her when I get to the ‘B’ section, and there was Anuprita Patil, from NJ, in the Open section, who held Georgia Champ Damir Studen to a draw in the last round.
One of the differences between backgammon and chess is that there were always a large percentage of women playing in tournaments. In the 1980’s there was only one female playing in tournaments here. Her name was Alison Burt, and I gave her lessons. I did my job well because she punched me out in a tournament, but took no joy from it, until I told her I was not mad, but proud of her. I was not the only strong player she beat, but may be the only one man enough to admit it! The girls have come a long way. I recall seeing a flyer at the CCGP advertising a tournament for women in the fall. This could be an interesting event, indeed! I would like to propose naming it after Alison Burt.
Back to the U1200 section…Stephan Liao also scored four points to tie with Zoe for second-third. Jason Robert Wright scored 3 ½ to take clear fourth place. There were twenty four players.
Of the thirty seven players comprising the class ‘D’ section one stood head and shoulders above the others. Daniel Marmer ran the table, winning all five games, finishing a clear point ahead of four players, David Liu; Maxwell Chengming Guo; Zachary Justice; and Robert Julian Dicks. Mr. Marmer picked-up 312 rating points and almost blew right through the ‘D’ class. I’m sure his stay there will be brief. Mr. Justice increased his rating by 174 points and may be only a tourist in the ‘D’ section also. Ah for those long ago days when one could increase one’s rating exponentially. The scratching and clawing comes later…
The class ‘C’ section was swept you Jeffery ‘Major Domo’ Domozick with five wins to finish a point ahead of the field. The Major blasted right through the 1500’s, going from 1480 to 1660 while gaining a whopping 180 rating points! Jackie Liu, from Florida, won three and drew two to finish in clear second. Seven players finished with 3 ½ points to tie for third-ninth in the forty player section.
In the thirty eight player class ‘B’ section, the aforementioned Elena Gratskaya, William Remick Jr., and Teddy Willis each scored four points to tie for first-third. The latter two showed modest rating gains, but Elena increased her still provisional rating by over one hundred points, and is now in the ‘A’ class. You go girl! I do not know how to explain it, but during my interview I mentioned to her that she may have a chance to play in the US Women’s Championship. She smiled, but the look in her eye told me she had the desire. What can I say; it was a feeling, but a strong one. Elena will be a force in the upcoming tournament for women here in Georgia. What is the saying every chess player hears, something about, “Every Russian schoolgirl knows…”
Thirty three players punched clocks in the class ‘A’ section. Three players tied for first-third. DJ Cremisi, from North Carolina, earned fifteen points to end the tournament with an expert rating of 2001. This will always be his “Space Odyssey” tournament. It reminds me of a player named Antonio Angel who came to Atlanta with a rating of 2001 decades ago when hardly anyone had a rating beginning with a two. We thought he must be real strong with a rating that high! Ian Morton, of South Carolina, also scored four points, along with Jeremy Banta. Jeremy garnered enough points to skip right over the 1800’s. Kaita Alexander Saito, from Florida, and Mark Layne Weisberg, from Texas, scored 3 ½ to tie for 4th-6th with Georgia’s own John Austin, who just seems to keep getting younger. During my interview with Reese Thompson he mentioned how much he admired the seventy seven year old, telling me about all the higher rated players Mr. Austin has beaten recently. John picked up one point for each square on the board and is firmly back in the ‘A’ class.
I have already mentioned Reese Thompson, who tied for first-second with Lawrence White, each with three wins and two draws. Five players scored 3 ½ points to tie for third-seventh. They were led by the 2012 Ga. Senior Champ, and six time Kansas state champion, Alan Piper. Alexander Deatrick, from Michigan, Seth Taylor-Brill, of North Carolina, Grant Oen of New Jersey, joined John Lattier of Chess Mess fame to round out the herd.

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