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


Ga Open Final Round, Board Two: Meruga vs Studen

After Reece Thompson dispatched Maxwell Feng in the last round all eyes turned to the battles taking place on the first two boards. Reece was the leader in the clubhouse with six points. On board two both Shanmukha Meruga and Damir Studen had five points. On the first board Alan Piper had five points, with IM Ron Burnett the lone player with five and a half points.

I have known Damir since he first came to the House of Pain. He had that “look.” Most chess players will know what I mean by the “look.” Call it “desire” or “will to win,” or whatever you would like to call it. Damir’s eyes burned with a fierce intensity; likewise Shanmukha Meruga. His will to win was so intense that the boy had a problem accepting defeat. It was no surprise for me to see Mr. Meruga playing on second board in the last round of the Georgia Open.

Damir had drawn with Grant Oen in round four and IM Burnett in round six.

Damir Studen (2373) vs Grant Oen (2072)
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4 4. Bd2 Qe7 5. a3 Bxd2 6. Qxd2 d6 7. Nc3 O-O 8. e4 e5 9. d5 a5 10. Rb1 a4 11. Qc2 Nbd7 12. Bd3 Nc5 13. O-O Nh5 14. Ne2 f5 15. Nd2 f4 16. f3 Rf6 17. Rf2 Rh6 18. Nf1 g5 19. h3 Ng7 20. Nc1 Bd7 21. Be2 Rg6 1/2-1/2

Damir Studen (2373) vs IM Ron Burnett (2467)
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 d5 4. e3 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. h3 O-O 7. Be2 a6 8. c5 Nfd7 9. Na4 e5 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. Nd4 Ned7 12. O-O b5 13. cxb6 Nxb6 14. Nc5 N6d7 15. Qc2 Nxc5 16. Qxc5 Bb7 17. Nb3 Nd7 18. Qb4 Rb8 19. Nc5 Qe7 20. Nxa6 c5 21. Qb5 Bxa6 22. Qxa6 Bxb2 23. Bxb2 Rxb2 1/2-1/2

Meruga had earlier beaten lower rated opposition and drawn with class “A” player Jhonel Baniel in round three, and Expert Kevis Tsao in round five.

Kevis Tsao (2082) vs Shanmukha Meruga (1888)
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be6 7. Nd4 Qd7 8. Nxe6 fxe6 9. Bd3 Nc6 10. Qh5 Qf7 11. Qxf7 Kxf7 12. Bf4 Be7 13. O-O-O Bf6 14. Rhe1 Rae8 15. Bg3 Re7 16. f4 Rhe8 17. Re2 h6 18. Rde1 e5 19. Bc4 Kg6 20. Bd3 Kf7 21. Bc4 Kg6 22. Bd3 Kf7 23. Bc4 1/2-1/2

The time control for the final two rounds was an almost classical, G/2. The difference between today and “back in the day” is that, if one is fortunate enough to make it to an endgame, one has little or no time to THINK. This is ironic in that high class games between good players are usually decided in the endgame. Because the games were almost real chess, and because my Sunday afternoon was spent riveted to the ‘puter screen, with a wooden board and pieces on which to cogitate, I have decided to share my notes and thoughts by annotating the games on the top two boards. And yes, I did utilize program assistance in order to spare you some of what GM Yasser Seirawan would no doubt call “howlers.”

Shanmukha Meruga (1888) vs Damir Studen (2373)
Final round Ga Open

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. h3 (This move was played by Jacob Murey (2485) against Heikki Westerinen (2385) at Brighton, 1983: 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. h3 Bf5 6. b4 Qb6 7. a3 e6 8. Bc4 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. d3 c6 11. Qe2 Nbd7 12. Nh4 Bg6 13. Nxg6 hxg6 14. Bd2 Bd6 15.Ne4 Nxe4 16. dxe4 Be5 17. Rad1 Rfd8 18. Be3 Qc7 19. f4 Bf6 20. Bb3 a5 21. Qg4 Bb2 22. f5 Nf6 23. Rxd8+ Rxd8 24. Qf3 gxf5 25. exf5 exf5 26. Qxf5 axb4 27. axb4 Qe5 28. Qxe5 Bxe5 29. g4 Bd4 30. Bxd4 Rxd4 31. b5 Nd5 32. Ra1 Nf4 33. Kh2 Rd2+ 34. Kg3 g5 35. Ra7 Ne2+ 36. Kf3 Nd4+ 37. Ke4 Nxb3 38. cxb3 cxb5 39. Rxb7 Rh2
40. Rxb5 f6 41. Kf5 Kg7 42. Rb7+ Kh6 43. Rf7 Rf2+ 44. Ke4 Rf4+ 45. Kd5 Kg6 46. Rc7 Rf3 47. b4 Rxh3 48. b5 Rg3 49. b6 Rxg4 50. Rc5 Rb4 51. Kc6 g4 52. b7 Rxb7 53. Kxb7 f5 54. Kc6 Kg5 55. Kd5 g3 56. Ke5 g2 57. Rc8 Kg4 58. Rg8+ Kf3 1/2-1/2. Although little played, it has scored as well as the most often played move, 5 d4, according to the CBDB, 57%.) c6 (SF & Hou play e6) 6. Bc4 (The programs prefer d4) Bf5 7. d3 (Missing the first opportunity to play Qe2! It has become popular lately to play this, d3, move in lieu of d4, but it has not scored as well as the older move.) 7…e6 8. O-O (Missing the second opportunity to play Qe2! ) 8…Nd5 (It cannot be correct to move a piece twice in the opening, thereby delaying the development of other as yet undeveloped pieces) 9. Ne2 (The simple Bd2 is best. Even taking with Bxd5 is better) Be7 10. Ng3 Bg6 11. Ne5 O-O 12. Nxg6 hxg6 13. a3 Nd7 14. Re1 Qb6 15. c3 Rad8 16. Qc2 N7f6 17. Bg5 Rfe8 18. Rad1 Qc7 19. Ba2 Rd7 20. Re2 (d4) Bd6 21. Ne4 Bf4 (Nxe4 and Be7 should be considered) 22. Nxf6+ (22. Bxf6 Nxf6 23. Nc5 Rdd8 24. d4 and White has a slight advantage) Nxf6 (22… gxf6!?) 23. Bxf4 Qxf4 24. Red2 g5 25. Bb1 (25. d4 !?) g4 26. g3 Qh6 27. h4 g5 28. hxg5 Qxg5 29. d4 Kg7 30. Kf1 (30. Qd3 !) Rh8 (30… Qd5 !) 31. Ke2 (31. Qd3!) Rh2 32. Rf1 Rd8 (32… Qd5 !) 33. Qd3 Nd5 34. Ba2 Ne7 35. Qe3 Qb5+ 36. Ke1 Qf5 37. Re2 Ng6 38. Qe4 Qg5 (38… Qh5!) 39. Qe3 (Missing his chance to get back in the game with 39 f4!) Qh5 40. Bb1 f5 (Possibly 40… Ne7 improves) 41. Kd1 (Trying to get outta Dodge. Taking the pawn with 41 Qxe6 is obviously fraught with danger. Back in the day the time control would have been reached with additional time being added, so the players would have had time to THINK. These daze the fatigued players have no time to do anything other than continue to push themselves, racking their exhausted brains for a move…any move. 41 Qd3 may be best) e5 42. Rd2 e4 43. d5 Rh1 (43… Rxd5 ! Now White has an advantage) 44. Rxh1 Qxh1+ 45. Kc2 Rxd5 46. Rxd5 cxd5 47. Qxa7 (The more circumspect 47 Qd4+ Kh6 48 Ba2 keeps the advantage) Qf3 48. Qxb7+ (48 Kb3, getting outta Dodge) Kh6 49. Qxd5 (It was imperative to play either 49 Qa7 or Qb6 to guard the pawn on f2) Qxf2+ (49…e3!) 50. Kd1 (With this move the young man let go of the rope. He should have played 50 Kb3!) e3 51. Qd3 Ne5 52. Qe2 Qxg3 53. Bxf5 Qf4 54. Be6 Kg5 55. b4 Qe4 56. Qc2 Qh1+ 57. Ke2 Qg2+ 0-1

A fine last round battle between one who has already made a name for himself and one who is coming on strong. Mr. Meruga has shown he is a force with which to be reckoned with in Georgia.

Signum- Coming On Strong

“One day you give your opponent a lesson…”

“That’s what chess is all about. One day you give your opponent a lesson, the next day he gives you one.” -Bobby Fischer

In the fifth round of the Ga Open, played Saturday night, Reece Thompson sat down behind the Black pieces to battle grizzled veteran IM Ronald Burnett. Both were undefeated, having won the four prior contests.

IM Ronald Burnett vs Expert Reece Thompson

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 d6 3. c4 Nbd7 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bf4 g5 7. Bd2 Bg7 8. h3 O-O 9. Qc2 a6 10. a4 Re8 11. e4 c5 12. d5 e6 13. dxe6 fxe6 14. e5 dxe5 15. Ne4 Qc7 16. Bc3 Nxe4 17. Qxe4 Nf6 18. Qg6 Qf7 19. Qxf7 Kxf7 20. Nxe5 Ke7 21. Nd3 Bd7 22. Nxc5 Bc6 23. Nd3 e5 24. Nb4 Be4 25. f3 Bf5 26. O-O-O Kf7 27. g4 Bd7 28. a5 Ba4 29. Rd6 Rad8 30. Rxd8 Rxd8 31. Bd3 Nd7 32. Bc2 Nc5 33. Nd5 Bc6 34. b4 Ne6 35. Be4 Nf4 36. Nxf4 Bxe4 37. fxe4 exf4 38. Bxg7 Kxg7 39. Rd1 Rxd1 40. Kxd1 Kf6 41. b5 1-0

A check of shows these players having played the position most often after the move 4…c6:
As Black
Vladimir P Malaniuk 46 games
Joerg Hickl 45 games
Alonso Zapata 28 games

This caused me to reflect upon the time Craig Thompson, the father of Reese, and I were conversing at a chess tournament when GM Alsonso Zapata appeared. The conversation ended so Craig could talk with the GM about lessons for his son. The most often played fifth move is e4, the choice of both SF and the Dragon, the program known as Komodo; it has scored 57%. The second most popular move, g3, has scored 56%. 5 Bg5 has scored 54%.

6 Bh4 has been played far more often than any other move, scoring 56%. The move chosen by IM Burnett, 6 Bf4, has only scored 44%! Stockfish gives 6…b5, a TN. After 6…g5 Houdini brings the Bishop all the way back to c1, but SF plays 7 Bd2.

Roman Chytilek (2415) vs Vladimir Sargeev (2472)

CZE Ch T1 East 2005

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. d4 Nbd7 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 h6 6.Bd2 e5 7. Qc2 Qc7 8. e4 g6 9. h3 exd4 10. Nxd4 Bg7 11. O-O-O O-O 12. Bf4 Ne5 13. g4 a6 14. Qd2 c5 15. Nb3 g5 16. Be3 b5 17. Qxd6 Qxd6 18. Rxd6 b4 19. Nd5 Nxe4 20. Ne7+ Kh8 21. Nxc8 Raxc8 22. Rd5 f5 23. Nxc5 f4 24. Bd4 Nxc5 25. Bxc5 Rfe8 26. b3 a5 27. Bd6 Nf7 28. Kd2 Bc3+ 29. Kd3 Rc6 30. c5 Nxd6 31. Rxd6 Rxd6+ 32. cxd6 Rd8
33. h4 Rxd6+ 34. Ke4 Kg7 35. hxg5 hxg5 36. Bc4 Kg6 37. Bd5 Rd8 38. Rd1 Kf6 39. Rh1 Kg7 40. Rd1 Re8+ 41. Kf3 Rd8 42. Ke4 Kf6 43. Rh1 Re8+ 44. Kf3 Rd8 45. Ke4 Re8+ 46. Kf3 1/2-1/2 (It looks like a three-fold repition after 45 Ke4)

The last round saw Mr. Thompson giving a lesson…

Maxwell Feng (1784) vs Expert Reece Thompson

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. e5 f6 5. Nf3 fxe5 6. dxe5 Nh6 7. h3 Nf7 8. Bf4 Be7 9. Bd3 Nb4 10. a3 Nxd3 11. cxd3 O-O 12. d4 Bd7 13. Qd2 c5 14. O-O Qb6 15. Be3 Rac8 16. Kh1 cxd4 17. Bxd4 Bc5 18. Bxc5 Rxc5 19. Rac1 Nh6 20. Nd4 Rc4 21. Nf3 Be8 22. Ne2 Rxc1 23. Qxc1 Nf5 24. Qc3 Bb5 25. Qd2 h6 26. b3 Bxe2 27. Qxe2 Qxb3 28. Ra1 Rc8 29. Ne1 Rc4 30. Qd2 Qc3 31. Qe2 Qxa1 0-1

ALicia Keys ft. John Mayer ~ Lesson Learned