The Dirty Laundry of Atlanta Chess

While living in Greenville, SC, the octogenarian, LM Klaus Pohl, said something that stuck with me. When asked what he thought of the new Chess Center in Charlotte Klaus said he did not like to play there because the young players offer too many draws. Upon further questioning Klaus said that with scholarships so important the young players were “afraid to lose,” so therefore made far too many draw offers. From the time I began playing in USCF tournaments rating has been King. This was, though, the first time I had heard anything concerning what the rating points could possibly mean toward earning a scholarship. Another player listening to the conversation said, “Everyone knows rating points are being bought and sold like it’s an open market.” My reply, “I did not know that,” elicited this response, “Ah, come on man. You worked at the Atlanta Chess Center. Surely you were aware of that kind of thing taking place.” With a blank look on my face I replied, “Not really.” I am not saying it did not happen, just that I was completely unaware of it if it did, in fact, happen while I was employed at the House of Pain.

There were rumors going around before I returned to Atlanta. I will not print rumors. I did, though, reach out to several people involved with Chess in Georgia, writing, “If you would like to comment on any of this, let me inform you that I may use anything you say, or write, UNLESS YOU WANT IT KEPT PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL!”

No one responded. They ain’t talking.

In an article appearing at the Georgia Chess News website, Meet the 2019 GCA Candidates (, David Hater,

candidate for the position of OFFICE OF 1ST VICE PRESIDENT writes: “I am running for 1st Vice President of GCA. I previously served on the GCA Board in this position, but I resigned from the board because, in my opinion, the board had become dysfunctional. Several months ago several GCA Board members encouraged me to run for the position again. I agreed to do so only after Scott Parker also agreed to run for President of GCA. My hope is that the next board will place personal feelings and animosity aside and work for chess instead of for their own interests/pet projects or a narrow constituency.”

The fact that Colonel David Hater felt he had to resign from the GCA Board speaks loudly. The fact that David, a man I admire and respect, felt compelled to write, “…the board had become dysfunctional,” screams out in pain. Nevertheless, David did not respond to my entreaty.

One of the board members did say, in an off hand comment at the Ironman Chess Club, they were “fed up” with all the “screaming and shouting” at the meeting of the GCA board. Although no names were mentioned the fact is that it is now, and has been for some time, an open secret that Thad Rogers was not happy when Parnell Watkins used his affiliate, American Chess Promotions to rate some of the events listed below. The thing is that Thad Rogers

and Parnell Watkins

were earlier listed as running for the same office, that of 1st member at large. The only one leaving a statement at a page mentioned earlier was L. Thad Rogers, the man who became POTGCA again after the previous president, Fun E. Fong, abdicated, leaving Chess behind like it was the plague. From reports it is obvious Chess in my home state of Georgia has quickly devolved under the caretaker leadership of Thad Rogers.

The Georgia State Chess Championship begins tonight and there will be an election Sunday. Chess players, and members of the GCA, can only hope responsible leaders, such as Scott Parker

and David Hater, gain a seat on the board.

Alan Piper was known as “The Pipe” at the House of Pain. As one of Alan’s victims eased down the stairs those below watched as someone said, “It looks like he got hit by the Pipe,” while others nodded in agreement. One wag said, “Sometimes you hit the Pipe. Sometimes the Pipe hits you.” Alan once won a state championship (I want to say Missouri, but could be wrong) when younger and was a NM. Although uncertain about Alan’s age, the fact is he has been eligible for the Senior tournaments for many years and must be seventy, or older.

The following results for the past 12 months was taken from the USCF website:

10487030: ALAN G PIPER
Current Published
Rating ( Supplement)
Regular Rating 2000 2019-03
(Current floor is 1600)
Quick Rating 1905 2019-03
Blitz Rating 1808 2019-03

Rank USCF ID Name Games Wins Draws Losses
1 14916346 SHANMUKHA MERUGA 50 1 0 49
2 14114923 KAPISH POTULA 19 1 1 17
3 14299428 SAITHANUSRI AVIRNENI 14 7 0 7
4 14577814 DAVIDE NASTASIO 3 1 1 1
5 15909472 TAIYE HILARY ESTWICK 1 1 0 0
6 16045110 TYLER JAMES BREDOW 1 1 0 0
7 16045235 CASEY WASSERMAN 1 1 0 0
8 14822494 TYLER SCHMUGGEROW 1 1 0 0
9 14684432 JOSHUA MORGAN KAROL 1 1 0 0
10 12365700 J PARNELL WATKINS JR 1 1 0 0

The Pipe has obviously played an inordinate amount of games with two players. The number of losses to the two much younger players is simply staggering. Usually when one is drubbed in a match there are no further matches. One of the members of the GCA board, a very nice woman, Anna Baumstark, told me it was all “public record on the USCF website.” I decided to take the time to check it out…You, too, can check it out here:

On September 12, 2015. Alan Piper played in the INVITATIONAL QUAD #10 (GA), directed by Grant Oen. The Sponsoring Affiliate was SOUTHEAST CHESS.

Pair | Player Name |Total|Round|Round|Round|Round|
Num | USCF ID / Rtg (Pre->Post) | Pts | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
1 | KAPISH POTULA |2.5 |W 2|D 3|W 4|* |
GA | 14114923 / R: 2014 ->2053 | |B |W |B | |
2 | CARTER F PEATMAN |2.0 |* |W 3|W 4|L 1|
GA | 12945576 / R: 2101 ->2108 | | |W |B |W |
3 | ALAN G PIPER |1.5 |L 2|* |W 4|D 1|
GA | 10487030 / R: 2070 ->2071 | |B | |W |B |
4 | SHANMUKHA MERUGA |0.0 |L 2|L 3|* |L 1|
GA | 14916346 / R: 2088 ->2053 | |W |B | |W |

Alan would not play again until August 13, 2016 when he participated in the CHESS BUG ATLANTA TOURNAMENT, directed by JOSEPH COUVILLION, with CHESS BUG ATLANTA, being the affiliate. SHANMUKHA MERUGA was clear first with 3-0. KAPISH POTULA finished clear second with a 2-1 score, the loss was to Meruga. Alan Piper won a game from a class C player, and lost two other games, one with a class B player, the other to Kapish Potula.

Let us go back to the tournament prior to the Quad, August 8, 2015, the LOGANVILLE SUMMER QUAD, directed by Grant Oen, with the affilate being Southeast Chess. The Pipe won all three games; gained 29 rating points which raised his rating to 2079. He beat Shanmukha Meruga, rated 2054, in the first round, then two class A players, Vedic Panda and Davide Nastasio.

After playing in the aforementioned CHESS BUG ATLANTA TOURNAMENT Alan did not play again until January 22, 2018 when he played a match with Shanmukha Meruga. The TD was J PARNELL WATKINS JR, and the affiliate was Gwinnett Chess. The time control was G/30;d5. Meruga won all four games, gaining fourteen points to end with a rating of 2056. The Pipe lost twenty points dropping to 2019.

After a couple of blitz quads on July 13 the next match with Meruga took place the next day, July 14. The TD was J PARNELL WATKINS JR, using the affiliate of the acting President of the GCA, L. Thad Rogers, AMERICAN CHESS PROMOTIONS. It was a real old fashioned, “speed,” time control of five minutes only for the games. Meruga won all ten games.

Three days later another match was contested between the same two players, named, PIPER MERUGA MATCH 2. The time control was, G/25;d5. The TD was J PARNELL WATKINS JR, and it was rated using the affiliate of GWINNETT CHESS. Meruga won all five games.

Two days later, July 19, 2018 there was yet another tournament contested once again by the young whippersnapper and the old leaky Pipe. Once again it was directed by J PARNELL WATKINS JR and the sponsoring affiliate was again GWINNETT CHESS, and once again Meruga won all ten games played at a “speed” TC of five minutes for the entire game.

Three days later there was the NASTASIO-PIPER MATCH, which was held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta in Roswell, Georgia, the seventh largest city in the great state of Georgia. The chief TD was BENJAMIN P FINEGOLD,

Meruga/Finegold in front of the Atlanta Chess and Scholastic Club of Atlanta located in Roswell, Ga.

assisted by KAREN BOYD.

Karen Boyd and Ben Finegold

The time control was G/60;+10. The three game match was drawn. In addition there was another match played that day between the same two players. The TC was G/4;+2, and Piper won 8-2.

A few weeks later, 9/8/18, Piper and Meruga were back at it, contesting not one, but two, more matches. J PARNELL WATKINS JR was again the TD and AMERICAN CHESS PROMOTIONS was the affiliate used to rate the matches. No one will be surprised to learn Meruga won the G/5 “speed” match 9-1. What is surprising is that Piper actually won a game…Three games were also contested at a TC of G/30;d10. Guess who won all three games? Yeah, Meruga.

The very next day, 9/9/2018, the two intrepid players were back at it. Once again J PARNELL WATKINS JR was the TD, but the affiliate used was now GWINNETT CHESS. The speed match, with only five minutes per game, was convincingly won by Meruga by a score of 20-0. That is ZERO, ZIP, NADA!

It will come as little surprise by now that Meruga also won the G/30;d10 match by a score of 4-0.

The very next day yet another match was contested between the same two players, again with the same TD and affiliate. The time control was G/30;d10 and Meruga won all six games.

Have you gotten a whiff of some sort of fishy smell yet?

A few days later the Pipe was back at it, but with a different opponent, Kapish Potula. The TD and affiliate was the same, J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS. The time control was G/25;d5. Kapish Potula won all four games and increased his rating from 2136 to 2159.

One week later, on 9/28/18 the two players with the same TD and affiliate did it again. And again Potula won all four G/25;d5 to raise his rating from 2159 to 2179.

On October 6, 2018 the Pipe had a new opponent, SAITHANUSRI AVIRNENI, rated 1964. A six game match at a time control of G/35;d5 was contested and…the match was drawn! J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS was at it again.

On October 13, 2018 there was another six game, G/25;d5 match with Kapish Potula, and again it was J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS. Hold on to something as I inform you that Alan G Piper actually won, and drew, two of the games played, while losing the other four.

The thing is that on that very same day, October 13, 2018, the Pipe also played another match with someone else, SAITHANUSRI AVIRNENI. It was another G/25;d5 with all the usual suspects present, meaning Parnell and Gwinnett Chess. The match was drawn, 2-2.

Then we come to November 19, 2018, the 2018 MERUGA PIPER “dual.” It appears as though that between 2018-11-17 thru 2018-11-19 a NINETEEN GAME MATCH at a TC of G/25;d5 was contested by the usual suspects, Meruga and Piper. The aforementioned player, Meruga won all nineteen games…J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS were again the usual suspects.

But wait, there’s MORE! On November 27 the same two players contested yet another G/25;d5 “dual,” which Meruga won 12-0. Again, J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS were the responsible parties.

On December 7, a day which will live in infamy, 2018, another G/25;d5 match took place between Alan G. Piper and Kapish Potula. It was won by Potula, 5-0. J PARNELL WATKINS JR directed and GWINNETT CHESS sent it in to be rated.

After a couple more tournaments in December and a last one on January 26, the CCSCATL WINTER BLITZ CHAMPIONS, the record shows no more games, or matches, for the Pipe.

As a result of all these games, and others, Meruga became a 2300 rated player. Kapish Potula is currently rated 2187, knocking on the National Master door.


Ga Open Final Round Board One: The Pipe Cracks

When the game between Meruga and Studen finished, all eyes, or at least my two, turned to the game on top board. IM Ron Burnett, from the Great State of Tennessee, needs no introduction. He has played in, and won, so many tournaments in Georgia he should be made an honorary citizen. Of all the memories I have of Ron, several stand out. After losing the only tournament game we contested, Ron said, “I did not know you were so strong.” Hearing that assuaged my hurt pride to some extent. I happened to walk by a game in which Ron had just arrived at a position of Bishop & Knight versus King. I stood there while the International Master took about thirty seconds to consider the position before beginning to play his moves, which came with rapid fire once he began. Then there was the time at one of the US Masters in Hendersonville, North Carolina, when Ron was locked in battle with FM Miles Ardaman. Time was short and the players were playing as if it were a speed game. While they played, LM Klaus Pohl, for some unknown reason, was histrionically gesticulating while also making much noise. The two players sat transfixed, oblivious to the commotion. I asked NM Neal Harris, “Has Klaus lost his mind?” Neal said only, “Yes.” I never learned what caused the Dour Kraut to come unglued, but I did ask both players if they had been bothered by the outburst. “What outburst?” they said. The game ended in a draw.

Alan Piper needs no introduction to local readers as he has been one of the most prolific players locally for many years. Mr. Piper best typifies what used to be the motto of the USCF, “Chess is a lifetime sport,” until it became, “Chess is a children’s game.” The Pipe is a former Champion of the Great State of Missouri. I went to the website of the Missouri Chess Association ( to determine when, and how many times Alan won the Championship, but the list of Champions only goes back to 1999. It is surprising it went back to the last year of the last century. I am not surprised it goes no further because to the new people who have taken over chess the players of an earlier era are dead, even if they still play the game. Suffice it to say Alan Piper has been a factor in every chess tournament in which he has participated since he set foot in Georgia. He is a taciturn, unprepossessing gentleman who loves the Royal game. As one of the few Seniors who still play, he is one of the players the herd of children must “kill” in order to advance in the ranks. Most do not succeed. One who did is Reece Thompson, by now old enough to be considered a veteran, who bested The Pipe in round four, the only blemish in Alan’s score as he sat down to face Ron in the last round.

Ron Burnett vs Alan Piper
Last round Ga Open Top Board

1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Nd5 Bc5 6.
e3 O-O 7. Ne2 d6 8. a3 a6 9. O-O Nxd5 10. cxd5 Ne7 11. d4 exd4 12. Nxd4 Nf5 13.
Nc2 Re8 14. b4 Bb6 15. Bb2 Bd7 16. e4 Nh6 17. Qd2 Bb5 (17… Ng4) 18. Qc3 (A natural choice, my choice, but Houdi shows 18 Rfc1 is better) Qg5 19. Rfe1 Ng4
20. Nd4 Qh5 21. h3 (h4!?) Ne5 22. a4 Bd7 23. g4 Qh4 24. a5 Ba7 25. f4 (This self-pins the Knight. 25 Re2!) Ng6 (25… Rac8 26. fxe5 dxe5 and “pin to win”) 26. Kh2 Bxd4
27. Qxd4 f6 28. Rf1 (28 f5 is one of the most ugly moves ever seen, severely weakening the dark squares and giving the e5 square to the Knight, but must be played because of the possibility of…) Bxg4 29. f5 (Closing the barn door after the horse has escaped) Ne5 30. Rf4 (The program thinks the White position so bad it plays 30 Qf2, allowing a trade, and then takes the Knight to boot. If that had happened we would not have what is about to follow. Sometimes a player must play a dubious move, knowing just how dubious it is!) Qh5 31. Ra3 Be2 32. Rg3 Kh8 33. Bc3
Rf8 34. Qd2 Rae8 35. Bxe5 Rxe5 36. Rf2 Bb5 37. Bf3 Qe8 38. Rfg2 Re7 39. Qd1 Qd8
40. Rg4 Be8 41. Rh4 Qd7 42. Bh5 Qa4 43. Qg4 Kg8 (43… Bxh5 44. Qxh5
h6 and if 45. Qg6 Qe8) 44. Bxe8 (Qf4!?) Qxe8 45. Rh5 Rff7 46.
Re2 (46 Rh4) Qb5 (46…Re5!) 47. Rh4 Re5 48. Qh5 (48. Rb2) Stop! Consider the position. Although Black has a “Beeg Pawn,” he is under a withering attack from his top-seeded IM opponent. How does one defend against the onslaught from the heavy artillery?

48…h6 ( 48…g5! A move I did not even consider because of my dogmatic thinking in adherence to the “rule” of “never moving a pawn in front of the King when under attack.” Sometimes the most beautiful defensive move is one not played…)
49. Rg2 Kf8 50. Rhg4 Qd7 (50… Qe8) 51. Qg6 Ke8 52. Qh7 (The program considers taking the Rook with 52 Qxf7 and going into a pawn down endgame best, but what do machines really know? The human is trying to WIN THE GAME!)
52…Ree7 (A natural defensive move, but it gives the advantage to White. Alan should have played, there it is again, 52…g5!) 53. Rxg7 Kd8 (53… Rf8 !?) 54. Rxf7 Rxf7 55. Rg8+ (55. Qh8+ and it is all over but the shouting) Ke7 56. Rg7 Qe8 57. Qxh6 (57. Rxf7+!) Qb5? (With this move the Pipe cracked. Simply 57…Kd8 is equal) 58. Rxf7+ Kxf7 59. Qg6+ Ke7 60. Qg7+ Ke8 61. Qg8+ Kd7 62. Qe6+ Kd8 63. Qxf6+ Ke8 64. Qg6+ Kd8 65. f6 Qe2+ 66. Kg3 Qf1 67. Qg8+ Kd7 68. Qe6+ Kd8 69. Qe7+ 1-0

A thrilling battle. There were many vicissitudes and missed opportunities by both players. This game is what chess is all about. It is the kind of all-out battle one would expect from a last round game, and should be the kind of game played in each and every round. Unlike the truncated early agreed draws that proliferate these daze, this game is a credit to both the victor and the vanquished. All I can say is, “Thank you, gentlemen.”

T bone Burnett – Kill Zone

Reece Thompson Battles the Restless Queens

In the fourth round of the move first, think later, Ga Open, Reece Thompson faced the veteran Senior Alan Piper and once again faced the Caro-Kann defense, and again drew his f3 sword. The Pipe responded with the currently poplar 3…Qb6, which has scored the best for Black recently, holding White to an astounding 41%! White has scored 56% versus the choice of both SF & Houey, 3…e6. The third most played move, 3…g6, has scored 57%, while the second most played move, 3…dxe4 has been hammers to the tune of 66%!

In his new book, “The Extreme Caro-Kann: Attacking Black with 3. f3,” Alexey Bezgodov titles chapter four, “3…Qb6: The Restless Queen Variation.” Reece answered with the most popular move, 4 Nc3, which has held White to only 41%. Houdini prefers the little played 4 c3, which has held White to an astoundingly low 31%, albeit in a limited number of games. I have previously seen the set-up with c3 used when Black opts for g6. Alan took a pawn with 4…dxe4. There is much disagreement about how to recapture. In the book Bezgodov writes about 5 Nxe4, “I think taking with the pawn is better.” That may be so, but Komodo takes with the Knight, after which White has scored 50% in practice. SF takes with the pawn, 5 fxe4, after which White has scored only 36%. The Pipe then plays 5…e5, about which Bezdodov says, “The whole of Black’s play is based n the possibility of this counterblow. Otherwise he is simply worse.” Reece played 6 Nf3, the most frequently played move, which also happens to be the choice of both SF & Houey, but it has only scored 32%! GM Larry Christiansen played 6 dxe5, a move not for the faint of heart, but possibly the best move, against GM Joel Benjamin at the 2010 US Championship. In a limited number of games Larry C’s move has scored far better, 54%, than 6 Nf3, which is not discussed in the book. After 6…exd4 one Stockfish plays 7 Nxd4, while the other SF plays 7 Qxd4. My antiquated Houdi plays the latter move. The Pipe responded with ‘s 7…Nf6. At this point Reece played a TN, 8 Bc4. The usual move, 8 e5, is also the choice of SF. Alan responded to the new move with 8…Bc5, with advantage. 8…Bg4 is the first choice of both Houdini & Komodo. After the young man checked the Queen with 9 Na4, the older veteran played 9…Qb4, when both Komodo & Houdini prefer 9…Qa5+. Like Lewis & Clark, the players were now exploring new territory.

Reece Thompson (2116) vs Alan Piper (2055)
Georgia Open Rd 4 Hurry up time control
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 dxe4 5. fxe4 e5 6. Nf3 exd4 7. Nxd4 Nf6 8. Bc4 Bc5 9. Na4 Qb4 10. c3 Qxc4 11. b3 Qa6 12. Nxc5 Qb6 13. Na4 Qc7 14. O-O O-O 15. Bf4 Qa5 16. Bd6 Re8 17. e5 Ne4 18. Qf3 Nxd6 19. exd6 f6 20. Rae1 Rf8 21. Re7 c5 22. Qg3 g6 23. Qh4 h5 24. Rxf6 Bg4 25. Rxf8 1-0

Nikita Vitiugov (2555) – Lasha Janjgava (2479)
B12 Sevan Blue

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 dxe4 5. fxe4 e5 6. Nf3 exd4 7. Nxd4 Bc5 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3 Be7 10. b4 Qe5 11. Bd3 Nf6 12. O-O O-O 13. Bf4 Qh5 14. Qe1 Re8 15. Qg3 Nbd7 16. e5 Nd5 17. Nf5 Bf8 18. Bh6 g6 19. Bxf8 Nxf8 20. Nd6 Re7 21. Rae1 b6 22. Ne4 Qh6 23. Nb2 b5 24. Bc2 Be6 25. Bb3 a5 26. bxa5 Rxa5 27. Nd3 Kh8 28. Ndc5 Raa7 29. Nd6 Qg7 30. Qf2 Ra8 31. Qd4 Nc7 32. Qh4 g5 33. Qd4 Ng6 34. Nxe6 Nxe6 35. Qb6 1-0

Mr. Thompson faced yet another Caro-Kann in the sixth round and his opponent once again had a restless Queen. Neo chose the wrong color pill.

Reece Thompson (2116) vs Neo Zhu (1780)
Georgia Open Rd 6

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 e6 5. a3 Nf6 6. Bf4 Be7 7. Nh3 h6 8. Be2 Nbd7 9. O-O Nh5 10. Be3 Nhf6 11. Qd2 Nf8 12. e5 N6d7 13. f4 c5 14. Kh1 a6 15. f5 cxd4 16. Bxd4 Qd8 17. Bh5 exf5 18. Nf4 Nb8 19. Ncxd5 Bg5 20. Bb6 Bxf4 21. Rxf4 Qd7 22. Nc7 Ke7 23. Qb4 Kd8 24. Ne6 Ke8 25. Nxg7 1-0

Once again Reese plays a TN with 6 Bf4. SF plays 6 e5, which could be considered the “normal” move.

Yangyi Yu ( 2585) vs Weiqi Zhou (2585)
Danzhou 1st 2010

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 e6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bf4 Qb6 6. a3 c5 7. Qd2 cxd4 8. Nb5 Na6 9. O-O-O Bd7 10. Nxd4 dxe4 11. fxe4 Nc5 12. Ngf3 Ncxe4 13. Qe1 Bc5 14. b4 Bd6 15. Bxd6 Nxd6 16. Ne5 Rd8 17. g4 h6 18. Bg2 Ba4 19. h4 Nb5 20. Nxb5 Rxd1+ 21. Qxd1 Bxb5 22. Kb1 Nd7 23. Nxd7 Bxd7 24. Rh3 Ke7 25. Rd3 Rd8 26. Qd2 Bc6 27. Bxc6 Rxd3 28. Qxd3 Qxc6 29. Qd4 Qh1+ 30. Kb2 b6 31. Qe5 Qd5 32. Qxg7 e5 33. g5 hxg5 34. Qxg5+ Ke6 35. Qg4+ Kf6 36. Qg5+ Ke6 37. Qg4+ Kf6 38. Qg5+ Ke6 39. Qg4+ 1/2-1/2

Yes – I’ve Seen All Good People

Georgia Chess News

The original purpose of this blog was to write mainly about chess in Georgia. I have received inquiries as to why I have not written more about local chess activities. Scholastic chess predominates and I wanted to focus on what was formerly called “chess,” but is now called “adult chess.” The only tournaments exclusively for adults are Senior events. Children proliferate at “adult” tournaments here and in the US. Yet tournaments consisting of mainly children are called “adult” tournaments. Go figure…I recently noticed an announcement in the local Decatur Dispatch for a chess club at the Tucker library on the second and fourth Tuesday evenings in which it is stated, “No children. Please.” Make of it what you will. I find it rather sad that chess has been so completely overwhelmed by children that anyone would print something like this, but such is the reality of the situation.
Dr. Cano left a comment to my post, “Booming Interest in Amateur Chess.” He also asked me the same question via email some time ago. His question is, “Where are the chess tournaments that we used to have here in Georgia?” This is a good question. Unfortunately I cannot answer it. I will, though, ask any member of the GCA board, or anyone else who can answer the question to leave a comment on this post, or send me an email I can publish. Dr. Cano, and many others who ask the same question, deserve an answer. These are the kinds of things discussed on the forum of other states, such as North Carolina. Those in control of the GCA have chosen to not have a forum. One can only wonder why the pooh-bahs refuse to allow their members to express their views.
I would like to direct anyone interested to the GCA website,, where it has been announced that the 2014 Georgia Chess Championship will be held May 2-4 at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest, 200 Interstate North Parkway SE • Atlanta, Georgia 30339. Since it is a Marriott, I do not have to tell you this is a tremendous upgrade from an empty space at a Mall in decline. Backgammon tournaments have previously been held at this hotel. The recent unrated tournament for children was held at this very hotel. I will leave the efficacy of the GCA holding an unrated tournament for rated players to others interested in the chess of children.
I have had several chess coaches tell me recently that the real battle these days is in the middle school because by the time children reach high school they have lost interest in chess. This was confirmed by the turnout for the above mentioned tournament, where there were only fourteen players in the top section consisting of grades 6-12, but thirty-five in the K-5 section and sixty in the K-3 group. There were an additional twenty-five in the K-1 section. This tournament is a vivid illustration of what USCF President Ruth Haring has said about the mass exodus of children from organized chess around age eleven. It would appear puberty is killing chess. For those interested, the results can be found on the GCA website at:
I have chosen to eschew writing about local events in order to be kind. A tournament I mentioned in an earlier post, “10th Annual Georgia Senior Open” (, something called the “GCA Combined,” included the Senior tournament. It has been jokingly said this event was the Georgia response to the recent Carolinas Chess Festival. If I were writing for one of the so-called “fair and balanced” extremist networks I would write, “There was a huge percentage increase in the turn-out for the 2013 Georgia Senior Chess Championship.” I prefer to tell it like it is and say that only fourteen players participated this year, five more than last year. There were only five players in the Open section, barely enough for a four round tournament. Last year’s Senior champion, Alan Piper, decided to play in the one day G/45 in lieu of defending his championship. This is a scathing indictment of the tournament and of those in control of the GCA. Former Senior Champion Chris Ferrante and Van Vandivier tied for first, scoring 3 out of 4. Captain Jeff Kidd finished clear third half a point behind. Richard Jones finished clear first in the second section with 3 ½ points, followed by Stephen Yancey with 3. I have written previously the tournament should be a true Open, with only one section. Once again, the small turnout proved my point. The results could be found on the GCA website, but it appears they have been removed. If one is interested in the results of the other events held at an empty space in a Mall that has seen better days, go to the USCF website:,com_wrapper/Itemid,181/
The Georgia Open took place this weekend at Emory University. A total of sixty-four players, appropriately enough, entered the event that had been limited to no more than two hundred fifty. The song by Arrowsmith, “Dream On,” just entered my brain, for some reason. GM Alonso Zapate (2575) and LM Chris Mabe (2326), from the Great State of North Carolina, drew their last round game to tie for first place along with class “A” player Jinseok Kim (1963). Mr. Kim drew his first game then ripped off four in a row, including an upset of Expert Donny Gray in the last round. Five players tied for 4-8 with four points. They were, NM Michael Corallo; Expert Reese Thompson; class “A” Nicholas Williams; class “B” Shanmukha Meruga; and class “D” Ingrid Guo. Only five of the sixty-four players participating in this tournament were from other states. That is only 8%! When Dr. Cano asks why we do not have tournaments like we used to have here in Atlanta, I believe a large part of what he means is that at one time out of state players comprised a large percentage of players at our tournaments. There is a reason they refuse to come to the capital of the South to play chess. To have tournaments like we had “back in the day,” it is imperative the GCA has tournaments in which players from other states want to participate.
The crosstable can be found at the GCA website:
The 2013 Georgia Class Championships, dedicated to Ruben Shocron, will be held at Emory beginning Friday night, November 22, a day that will live in infamy. Maybe consideration should have been given to naming it the “JFK Memorial,” for obvious reasons. Details can be found, once again, on the GCA website.
It would seem the GCA website is beginning to shed its “moribund” state. While researching IM Carlos Perdomo for an interview that never materialized I found a group of interviews on YouTube, including one with Carlos, as well as other players like LM Chris Mabe, GM John Fedorowicz, GM Julio Becerra, IM Jonathan Schroer, and others, by the President of the GCA, Fun Fong. This is the kind of thing that should be accessible on the GCA website. Check them out at:
Finally, it has been reported that Keith Sewell has left the GCA board. There have been rumors of dissension and rancor among board members for some time, with the possibility of other disillusioned members possibly leaving in the near future. I can only hope the GCA gets its act together, listens to wizened members of the community such as the esteemed former President Scott Parker, the eminence grise of Georgia chess, and otherrespected members, like Michael Mulford, and decides to give players the kind of tournaments they want, and deserve, in lieu of ramming down their throats tournaments they refuse to attend.

10th Annual Georgia Senior Open

The Georgia Senior is scheduled to be played the weekend of Sept. 28-29. The tournament announcement on the GCA website states registration is limited to 50 players, a pipe dream if ever there was one. Checking today the website shows 46 places left. I am not surprised. I refused to play last year and will not participate again this year. What’s more, I do not know anyone else planning on playing. The poor choice of venue was discussed in my last post, so the format of the tournament will be discussed in this post.
The President of the GCA, Fun Fong, insisted on a format for the 2012 Georgia Senior against the wishes of many, if not most, of those eligible to participate. He decided to have only one prize, a $500 stipend to the winner to be used only toward playing in the US Senior. Only NINE players participated, the lowest number of all other Georgia Senior tournaments to date. It was, obviously, a miserable failure. The winner of the tournament decided not to make the trip to upstate New York, at the strong urging of his wife. The winner, NM Alan Piper, has received nothing for winning the tournament. Alan has no idea what happened to the $500, which should have gone to him. I have been unable to learn what happened to the money. This is an open plea for any member of the GCA board to leave a comment on this blog informing the chess community of the disposition of the $500.
During an interview with the Legendary Georgia Ironman, NM Tim Brookshear, it was stated the President of the GCA reached out, asking Tim for his input on how the 2013 Ga Senior should be changed. Tim said a relative newcomer to chess, Parnell Watkins, was also consulted by the President. Tim suggested a committee of stewards be brought on board as consultants, with such Senior luminaries as former Georgia Champion and Georgia Senior Champion David Vest; former Ga Senior Champion and former President of the GCA board, Scott ‘The Sheriff’ Parker; Dr. Orlando Cano; and Kelly Hollins, along with others, being mentioned. Tim wanted to plan a good tournament that would attract Senior players from other states, such as Wayne Christiansen and Klaus Pohl from the Great State of South Carolina, Tim ‘The Dude’ Bond, along with Rex Blalock and his wife, from the Great State of Alabama. That was the last Tim heard from Fun Fong concerning the Georgia Senior. The suggestions of the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who has been involved with chess in Georgia continually for four decades, fell on deaf ears. Tim was as shocked as everyone else to learn the tournament had been planned for this fall. Word is Fun Fong wanted to hold the tournament in conjunction with the other tournaments scheduled that weekend. Could this have been his response to the recent Carolinas Chess Festival?
Fun Fong obviously liked his idea of awarding a $500 stipend because it is back again this year. The entry fee has been raised to accommodate other prizes, which were not there last year. I do not recall specifically, but it seems the entry fee is almost double this year compared to last. Fun Fong obviously thinks a large increase in the entry fee will bring in more players. The $500 stipend idea proved a disaster last year, yet Fun Fong, and make no mistake, this is Fun Fong’s tournament, insists on keeping it for this tournament. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The Ga Senior has been divided into three sections, the Open, Under 1800, and unrated. This makes absolutely no sense because there will barely be enough players for one section. The time control is G/100 with a 30 second increment. I have yet to find a Senior player who likes this time control. We Seniors played for decades with a time control of 40/2, or even 40/90, with additional time added. FIDE has announced the first time control should end at move 40. Over the years organizers have tried various first time controls, such as 30, or 35, but best by test is move 40. Most games are decided at, or after, move 40. Seniors realize the chess world has moved forward with increasingly faster time controls at a time when we are slowing down. Our pleas to hold the line have fallen on deaf ears, with the younger people forcing Seniors to follow their dictates, or else not play. Most have chosen to opt out. LM David Vest said, “My game used to be predicated on putting the pressure on around move 32.” Seniors played for DECADES with the crisis coming around or near move 40. Our motto is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Everything changes, but change just for the sake of change is not good. Sometimes “progress ain’t,” and this is one of those times. Seniors resent the changes being forced upon them. Some still play for the love of the game, but do not like it. Most have given up the game.
The fact is that the body of a Senior player is not the same as a young person. In the movie, “The Bucket List”, the character played by legendary actor Jack Nicholson enumerates three rules for an older man. One of them is to “Never pass up a men’s room.” The reason for that Seniors know only too well. Every male Senior will have to deal with the fact his prostate gland will enlarge and press on his bladder. This means Seniors must go to the men’s room far more often than when younger. With any open ended time control it may not be possible to go to the men’s room. Forcing such a situation on a Senior is uncivilized. A Senior playing on any increment may be forced to lose on time if he goes to answer the call, or piss his pants. This happened to me once because I chose to sit there in pain in lieu of going to the men’s room. Playing with a delay, although a pawn up, I lost the game and upon getting out of my chair, could not make it to the men’s room in time. I vowed then and there to never again put myself in such a situation! What Seniors desire is a time limit whereby additional time will be added, as it was “back in the day,” in order for us to be able to answer the call when nature knocks. Why is it organizers cannot understand this simply fact? It is not only their sanity I question when it comes to the matter of bodily functions. These open ended time controls seem like something the man from the “dark side,” Darth Cheney, would have dreamed up. Waterboarding sounds like fun compared to these ridiculous time controls! IM Boris Kogan told me it was important to get up after making time control in order to “clear one’s head.” That is not possible with these open ended time controls. Some have mentioned the possibility of “shooting out several really quick moves in order to build up time,” so as to be able to “run to the men’s room.” First, shooting off even one quick move in chess can lead to an immediate loss. Second, Seniors no longer have the capacity to run without possibly inducing a heart attack, or a stroke.
The first round is at noon, Saturday the 28th. I assume this is to accommodate all the players from out of town who will not be coming. This means the second round will begin at 5:30. In an email several years ago from the CCA promoter, Bill Goichberg, I was told he would not play a round beginning after four (or was it five?) PM. Not to mention the fact that the second round could be delayed by a long Queen & Pawn, or other such, ending, and possibly begin even later. From what I learned about the venue of the tournament, I would not want to be heading to the parking lot after dark. The fact is, I would not want to go to that place during broad daylight! A woman was murdered in the area during the day. See the previous post for details.
There is a picture of Fun Fong on the website of the NCCA in an article on the North Carolina Gambit titled, “Random Thoughts and Observations on the Carolinas Chess Festival,” posted September 17, 2013, by the webmaster, Gary Newsome.( Gary writes, “On Friday afternoon, Fun Fong (President of the Georgia Chess Association) and his entourage came in to start working on the NC Open.” I mentioned this during my interview with the Legendary Georgia Ironman and his comment was, “Fun travels to tournaments such as the US Open and World Open, so he knows what a good tournament is, yet he brings us nothing but crap tournaments, and you can quote me on that.” I will leave you with a quote by former Vice President of the US, Dan Qualye: “People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.”

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.