The High Planes Drifter

An excellent article, 1st Ron Finegold Memorial, by Davide Nastasio, appeared at the Chessbase website recently (

5/7/2018 – “Open weekend tournaments in the United States are proof of chess as a very competitive high stakes sport. Local tournaments often celebrate the changing of seasons, recurring events, or, as in this case, memorialise (sic) a master player who dearly loved chess, and gifted such passion to his children. GM Elshan Moradiabadi took top honours (sic) in the inaugural Ron Finegold Memorial, held at the new Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta, which was founded by his son, Ben.”

Elshan Moradiabadi wins with 4½ out of 5

“From March 31st to April 1st, 2018 At the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta was held the Ron Finegold Memorial, a tournament with 4 sections and 92 players.

Ron Finegold (born in 1937), the father of GM Ben Finegold, was a National Master who died after a long illness on July 15th, 2014. His passion for chess brought him to teach the game to his children.”

“The Open weekend tournament in the USA is proof that chess is a sport. Five rounds in two days. On Saturday one can play for nine hours straight, for a total of three games, then follow on Sunday another six hours of playing. The last three hours are quite important because the last round is what divides the winner from the losers, those who will bring home the money from those who fought for nothing. The Open section of this tournament was particularly well stocked with two GMs, plus the US Women’s Champion of 2017, and a few national masters and candidate masters.”

Reading the above made me laugh. The ‘next generation’ considers the above playing schedule “grueling.” Back in the day we played five rounds over two days at a time control of 40 moves in two hours, followed by various time limits such as twenty moves in an hour, which became twenty moves in a half hour, followed by increasingly shorter time limits for the endgame. I won the Atlanta Chess Championship in 1976 at a time control of forty moves in two and one half hours, followed by twenty moves in one hour. Granted, there was only one game played at night for five weeks, but when we sat down it was known the game could possibly last well into the wee hours. During the 1980 US Open in Atlanta my opponent, Dauntless Don Mullis, finally resigned at three thirty the next morning. The game began at seven pm. And WE LIKED IT! My heart bleeds for these namby-pamby wussies…

The address given at the website of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta is, 2500 Old Alabama Rd., Suite 11, Roswell, GA 30076. Roswell is not Atlanta. It is a city far to the north of Atlanta. In 2014 the estimated population was 94,089, making it Georgia’s seventh largest city ( Maybe it should be called the Atlanta Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Roswell?

A game Ron Finegold

lost to Bobby Fischer

at the Western Open in Bay City accompanies the article. No date is given. The other game contained in the article is by LM David Vest, aka, the High Planes Drifter, whom I have known for almost four decades. We played many speed games over the years, with Mr. Vest usually besting me. One time the Drifter informed me he intended to sacrifice the exchange in every game, which is exactly what he did, as I lost again and again… David gave me a lesson never forgotten. I used that lesson in a telephone game with the legendary one, playing an exchange sacrifice that brought the house DOWN! I proudly showed the game to Vest, who smiled with approval.

David Vest

Scott Prichard playing against Carter Peatman | Photo: Davide Nastasio (Vest is shown in the background playing Harry Le)

is the only player to hold the title of both Georgia State Chess Champion, and Georgia Senior Champion. The man from the High Planes stopped drifting and settled down at the House of Pain. Frequently heard from the younger players were things like, “Vest got me again,” and “How come I can’t beat that old man?” They knew the Chess road led through Mr. Vest, and to best Vest was a sign that, as one young player succinctly put it, “Now I’m getting somewhere!”

Mr. Vest talks with a booming voice, which was often heard, to the detriment of the other players, when he was right outside the front door, directly below the window of the main playing room, smoking his ready-rolled cigarettes. David was known for his “A.O.” theories. That’s for “Atmospheric Occupation.” As far as he was concerned, the only hope for mankind was to get off of the planet. He could not understand why everyone did not agree with him. For some reason he thought he was the first to come up with the idea of moving off planet. He told of taking his theories to the US government, and his disappointment in being rejected…Voice booming and eyes blazing, Mr. Vest would rail against our government and threaten to take his ides to the “Communist Chinese.” One time a VietNam veteran, who had listened to some of a Vest tirade, entered the HOP saying, “That man ain’t right.” He got no argument. I attempted to council Mr. Vest about toning down his traitorously inflammatory harangues, but it fell on deaf ears…Another time one of the Chess fathers, after listening to a Vest diatribe, said, “There is a fine line between sanity and insanity, and that man is on it.”

As can be seen in the photograph, Mr. Vest has a large scar in the shape of a horseshoe underneath his right eye, which was obtained when he moved to Louisville and began a job working with horses, which he loved. The horse obviously did reciprocate. Dave was fortunate as a kick to the head from a horse can be fatal. One legendary Atlanta player informed me the Drifter told them he had experience with horses to obtain the job. “What he did not say was the experience came from wagering at the track!” he said while laughing uproariously. “What the hell does Dave know about horses other than the betting odds?” he added.

Mr. Vest’s rating plummeted as he continued to play Chess while pus oozed from his wound. His Master rating fell below 2100 and the word at the House was he would never be the same player. Mr. Vest proved them wrong when, after recovering, his rating steadily climbed to over 2200 once again, where it stayed for some time. After losing yet again to Vest one promising junior came down the stairs saying, “That man OWNS this place!”

Before leaving Atlanta and moving to the country the aforementioned legendary player informed me Mr. Vest was to be interviewed on an Atlanta radio station, WGST. “You’re kidding, right?” I asked. “I wish I were, but I’m not,” he said. “I just hope he don’t give Chess in Atlanta a bad name.” We listened with trepidation to the interview, with the legendary one muttering things like, “Lordy,” and “I hope he don’t mention Championship Chess.” When they went to a break I glanced over at the legendary one to see what can only be described as an ashen face. “I don’t know if I can take any more of this,” he said. He, and we, did. “Oh God,” the legendary one exclaimed at one point, “Chess in Atlanta will never be the same.” Having listened to Mr. Vest at length over the years I was grinning while enjoying the show. “You’ve gotta admit, it’s entertaining,” I stated. “Maybe in some kinda way in your warped brain, Bacon,” he said. “It’s sad Dave don’t know he’s making a fool of himself,” the legendary one said as he sat there shaking his head. “How did the drifter get on the show?” I asked. “He called in regularly,” was the reply.

By now you should understand why I decided to put Dave’s game through the clanking digital monsters at the ChessBase DataBase.

David Vest 2200 vs Harry Le 1971

1 c4 (David’s love of the English rivaled has that of LA Master Jerry Hanken, of whom Vest spoke highly) Nf6 2 Nc3 e5 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e3 Be7 5 a3 (Komodo plays 5 Qb3) O-O 6 b4 (Stockfish plays either 6 d4 or Qb3) d6 (Stockfish plays either 6…d5, or 6…e4. Houey prefers d5)

7 d4 (This move cannot be found in the databases so must me a Theoretical Novelty. Unfortunately, it is not a good one. It is the way of Chess that the best move in the position on the previous move now becomes less than desirable.) exd4 8 exd4 Bg4 9 Be2 a6 10 h3 Bh5 11 Bf4 d5 12 g4 (I am not surprised Vest played this move, but a more circumspect move such as 12 0-0 may have been better. After 12…Bxf3 13 Bxf3 dxc4 white would have the possibility of completely ruining the black pawn structure with 14 Bxc6. There is also the possibility of playing 14 d5! Granted, black does not have to play to take the pawn, as after 12 0-0 he could play 12…Re8, for example) Bg6

Look at this position from white’s perspective and imagine your student sitting across from you. What move would you suggest, and why?

13 Ne5

After seeing this move one might question a student, offering 13 0-0 as an alternative. “Look kid,” one could begin, “You have followed the rules of the Royal game by developing your four minor pieces. You need only move your king to safety before developing your major pieces.”) dxc4

14 Nxg6 (I would be strongly tempted to play 14 Nxc6 bxc6 a5 Bxc4) hxg6 15. d5 Nb8!

(Shades of the man from the High Planes! Vest was famous for playing the Brooklyn variation of the Alekhine’s defense. An example:

IM Vinay Bhat (Earned GM title in 1997)

vs David Vest

1996 American Open

Los Angeles, California

B02 Alekhine’s defence, Brooklyn defence

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Ng8 3. d4 d5 4. exd6 cxd6 5. c4 e6 6. Be2 Nf6 7. Nc3 Be7 8. Be3 Nbd7 9. Nf3 b6 10. O-O Bb7 11. Bf4 O-O 12. Rc1 a6 13. h3 Qb8 14. Re1 Qa7 15.Qb3 Rac8 16. Na4 Rfd8 17. Bf1 h6 18. Be3 Bc6 19. Nc3 Ba8 20. Qa4 Bc6 21. Qb3 Ba8 22. Qa4 Qb7 23. b4 Nb8 24. a3 Rc7 25. Bf4 Qc8 26. Qb3 Bxf3 27. gxf3 Nc6 28.Be3 Rb7 29. f4 Rb8 30. d5 Na7 31. Na4 exd5 32. Nxb6 Qf5 33. Nxd5 Nxd5 34. cxd5 Rd7 35. Kh2 Nb5 36. Bd3 Qh5 37. Be2 Qh4 38. Qd3 Bf6 39. Rg1 Bb2 40. Rg4 Qe7 41.Rcg1 Qd8 42. Bd1 Rc7 43. Bc2 Kf8 44. Qh7 Nxa3 45. Rxg7 Bxg7 46. Rxg7 Nxc2 47.Qg8+ 1-0)

16 g5 (I would take the pawn with 16 Bxc4. The game move is more in keeping with the High Planes Drifter’s fast & loose, shoot from the hip style, but 16 Bxc4 is best) Ne8

I could not help but wonder what Mr. Vest was thinking about while looking at this position. Many years ago the Drifter said that after 1 e4 Nf6 2 e5 Nf8 he was “Sucking them into my vortex!” This position has Vest in the wrong plane! Now he is the one being sucking into a vortex…)

17 Qd2 (Now 17 Bxc4 is answered by 17…Bxg5) Bd6 18. Be3 Be5 (Black has driven white back and the bishop takes a dominating position. The amazing thing about the position is that black has only one piece off of the back rank but has the advantage)

19 f4 (Vest could take the pawn with 19 Bxc4, but Nd6 20 Be2 Re8 black has greatly improved his position ) Bxc3 20. Qxc3 Nd6

21 h4 (Having been outplayed Vest decides to thrust his sword, or fall on it…It was still possible to castle even though black could then play 21…b5, protecting the pawn. Still, after 23 Bf3 white would have the two bishops versus the two horses, which may have been why Vest pushed the pawn, come to think of it…You see, the Drifter LOVES the horses, so how could he possibly bet against them? I have often watched his play without Queens on the board, in which his knights shine) Re8

22 h5 Nf5 23 Bf2? (He had to try 23 Rh3 gxh5 24 Bxh5) Qxd5 24 Rh3 Qe4

25 Qb2? (Dave could have tried (25 O-O-O as 25… Qxe2 26 Re1 Qxf2 27. Rxe8+ Kh7 28. h6 Qf1+ 29. Kc2 Qg2+ 30. Kc1 Qf1+ only leads to a draw. 25…Nc6 is better, though…) gxh5 (25…Qg2! The remaining moves need no comment) 26 g6 fxg6 27 Kf1 Qxf4 28 Rf3 Qe4 29 Re1 Nc6 30 b5 Ne5 31 Rc3 Qh1+ 32 Bg1 Nd3 0-1

The High Plains Drifter was a strong Chess player; strong enough to beat many time US Women’s Champion Irina Krush

in the last round of one of the 2003 EMORY/CASTLE GRAND PRIX. The upset win translated into a first place tie with GM Julio Becerra.

The game was annotated by IM John Donaldson in the award winning Georgia Chess magazine. I will admit to being somewhat disappointed when the Drifter informed me he had “chickened out” when offering Irina a draw, which was declined.

I have met many Chess players during the course of my life. The mold was definitely broken after the Drifter came down from the High Planes. He often claimed to be “above you humans.” Fortunately, Chess kept him somewhat grounded…David Vest is definitely sui generis.


The Perdomo Class Championship

When the Legendary Georgia Ironman first mentioned the Georgia Class had been changed to the Perdomo Class Championship I was stunned, saying, “When did Carlos die?” Fortunately, IM Carlos Perdomo lives. The usual practice has been to name a tournament after someone, or even two former players, whose spirits have departed for the chessboard in the sky. Those in control of the GCA have seen fit to do things differently. For example, the current Fun E administration seems loathe to take entry fees at the door on the day of the tournament. It was therefore no surprise when the Ironman told me he had picked up an extra lesson on Saturday, the second day of the tournament. When Tim said to the chess dad, “But I thought your son was playing in the Perdomo.” (As in the “BoKo” which is short for the Boris Kogan Memorial. Since Carlos is still with us it is the “Perdomo.” Once his spirit heads to the sky it will, no doubt, become the “Domo.”) The chess dad said, “I could not enter online, and I tried many times, until finally giving up. Every time I tried to enter it would go back a page.” Sometimes progress ain’t…I cannot help but wonder how many others had the same problem and did not participate?

Unfortunately, I only learned some of the games were broadcast live on Chess Stream after the tournament ended. LM David Vest, who, according to Tim, also had trouble entering, had mentioned the fact to the Ironman, asking him to let me know, but it slipped the Ironmind. I had previously seen the announcement on the moribund GCA website (, but nothing was mentioned about any games being broadcast live, and having been to the GCA online magazine (, I can attest to the fact that there was no mention of this fact. What is the point of having games broadcast if the news is not advertised?

Mr. Vest mentioned something about Masters receiving free entry providing they jumped through many GCA hoops. The man from the High Planes did just that but said “Katie was in Alaska and by the time I was able to enter it was too late.” I was, therefore, pleased to see the Drifter was able to play four rounds after a first round half point bye. David is a fellow Senior and obviously not ready to drift away toward the sky.

There were seventy-five players in all sections combined, about what we used to get at the House of Pain when the usual suspects were rounded up. Unfortunately, there were only eight players in the top section. This makes me wonder about reports being received concerning a boycott of GCA tournaments by the higher rated players. I have learned it is not an “official” boycott per se, in the sense that anyone has led a boycott, but more of an unofficial type boycott. Word must not have gotten to the eight intrepid players who chose to “cross the line.”

NM Michael Coralllo, who has been playing very well the past several years, was the top rated player when he sat down in the first round to play a former student of the Legendary Georgia Ironman, Albert Liang, who is now learning from GM Alsonso Zapata. I went with Tim to the home of Albert where we double-teamed the young man during a lesson, and I can relate that after leaving, the Ironman and I were the ones who felt double teamed!

Albert Liang (2019) – Michael Corallo (2371)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O b5 8. Bb3 Be7 9. Qf3 Qb6 10. Be3 Qb7 11. Qg3 O-O 12. Bh6 Ne8 13. f3 Bd7 14. Rad1 Nc6 15. Nxc6 Bxc6 16. Ne2 Kh8 17. Be3 Nf6 18. Nd4 Be8 19. Kh1 Nd7 20. Bf4 Qb6 21. Ne2 Ne5 22. c3 Qc5 23. Nc1 Qc7 24. Nd3 Ng6 25. Be3 Rg8 26. f4 Qb7 27. f5 Nf8 28. Nf4 exf5 29. exf5 Bc6 30. Bxf7 Bh4 31. Qxh4 Qxf7 32. Rxd6 Rc8 33. Kg1 Qxf5 34. Bd4 Bb7 35. Nh5 Qc2 36. Qg3 1-0

Can you spell U-P-S-E-T? Mr. Corallo did not let this loss upset him, playing the swiss gambit the way it is supposed to be played by winning his next four games and taking clear first. That is showing your class in style!
I was surprised to see the move 6 Bc4 has only scored 48% according to the CBDB. Back in the day it was THE MOVE. White has scored 54% against 11…0-0, and it is the preferred move of the big three “engines” shown on the CBDB, but 11…b4 has held White to only 45%. After 12…Ne8 calls this the, B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Lipnitzky attack, which is a new one on me…
The game Rojas, Luis (2432) – Andaur, Claudio (2095) CHI-ch, 02/12/2002, varied with 13…Kh8 14. Bg5 Bxg5 15. Qxg5 Qb6 16. Qe3 Bd7 17. Qf2 Nc6 18. Nxc6 Qxf2+ 19. Rxf2 Bxc6 20. Rd2 Rd8 21. Rad1 g5 22. Ne2 Rg8 23. h3 Rg6 24. c4 bxc4 25. Bxc4 Bb7 26. b4 h5 27. Kf2 Kg7 28. e5 d5 29. Bd3 Rh6 30. Nd4 Nc7 31. Rc2 Rd7 32. Rdc1 Na8 33. Nb3 f6 34. Nc5 Re7 35. Nxb7 Rxb7 36. Bxa6 Rf7 37. Rc6 fxe5 38. b5 g4 39. b6 Nxb6 40. Rxb6 gxf3 41. gxf3 Rhf6 42. Rg1+ Kh6 43. Ke2 Rxf3 44. Rxe6+ R3f6 45. Rxf6+ Rxf6 46. Bb5 e4 47. Rd1 Rf3 48. Rxd5 Ra3 49. Rd2 Rxh3 50. a4 Kg5 51. Rd8 Ra3 52. Rd5+ Kf4 53. Rxh5 Ra2+ 54. Kd1 e3 55. Rh8 Ke4 56. Kc1 Kd4 57. Rd8+ Ke4 58. Kb1 Rh2 59. Rc8 Kd4 60. Rc2 Rh1+ 61. Kb2 Rh5 62. Kb3 Rh3 63. Kb4 Rh1 64. Ka5 Rh6 65. Be2 Kd5 66. Kb5 Rh1 67. a5 Rb1+ 68. Ka4 Rb8 69. a6 Ra8 70. Kb5 Rb8+ 71. Ka5 Kd6 72. Bb5 Rd8 1-0

The third round featured this game between the two Masters in the field.

David Vest (2200) – Michael Corallo (2371)

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 a6 4. Bg2 b5 5. O-O Bb7 6. b3 Be7 7. d3 O-O 8. e4 d6 9. Nc3 Nfd7 10. Rb1 c5 11. Qe2 Bf6 12. Bb2 Nc6 13. cxb5 axb5 14. Nxb5 Nde5 15. Bxe5 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. f4 Bf6 18. Rfc1 Qb6 19. a4 Rad8 20. Kh1 Ba6 21. Na3 g6 22. Nc4 Qb4 23. e5 dxe5 24. fxe5 Bg5 25. Rc2 Rd4 26. Be4 Rfd8 27. Qf3 Bxc4 28. Rxc4 Rxc4 29. dxc4 Qb8 30. h4 Bh6 31. Rf1 Rf8 32. a5 Bg7 33. a6 Bxe5 34. Kg2 Qb6 35. Bb7 Bb8 36. h5 Qd6 37. Rd1 Qe5 38. Rh1 Rd8 39. hxg6 Rd2 40. Kh3 hxg6 41. Rf1 Qh8 0-1

This is cutting edge theory being played here in the Deep South folks, as Bartosz Socko (2631) played 8…d5 against Hristos Banikas (2572) in Beijing at the 1st WMSG Blitz Pair, 10/08/2008, and lost. Vereslav Eingorn (2560) also played 8…d6 versus Bogomil Andonov (2415) at Uzhgorod in 1988 and won after 9. Nc3 b4 10. Ne2 c5 11. Ne1 Nc6 12. f4 a5 13. Nf3 a4 14. Rb1 axb3 15. axb3 Ra2 16. h3 Nd7 17. g4 Bf6 18. Bd2 g6 19. g5 Bg7 20. f5 Re8 21. f6 Bf8 22. Nf4 Nb6 23. Re1 d5 24. exd5 exd5 25. Rxe8 Qxe8 26. cxd5 Ne5 27. Ra1 Ra3 28. Rb1 Nxd5 29. Qe2 Nxf3+ 30. Bxf3 Qxe2 31. Bxe2 Ra2 32. Bf3 Nxf4 0-1
FYI, 365Chess calls this the, A13 English, Romanishin gambit.

The fourth round Sunday morning saw the grizzled veteran facing the new kid on the block.

David Vest (2200) – Albert Liang (2019)

1. c4 e6 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 d5 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 b6 7. Bb2 Bb7 8. d3 c5 9. Nbd2 Nc6 10. a3 Nd7 11. Rb1 dxc4 12. Nxc4 Qc7 13. Qc1 Rac8 14. Qe3 Bf6 15. Ng5 Bxb2 16. Rxb2 Rb8 17. b4 cxb4 18. axb4 Nce5 19. Nxe5 Qxe5 20. Qxe5 Nxe5 21. Bxb7 Rxb7 22. Rc1 h6 23. Ne4 Rd7 24. f3 Ng6 25. Rbc2 Ne7 26. Kf2 Nd5 27. b5 Rfd8 28. Rc4 Kf8 29. Ra4 Rb8 30. Nd2 Ne7 31. Nc4 Rbb7 32. Rca1 f6 33. R1a3 Nf5 34. e3 Ke7 35. Ke2 Nd6 36. Nxd6 Kxd6 37. d4 Rbc7 38. Kd2 e5 39. Rd3 Ke6 40. dxe5 Rxd3 41. Kxd3 Kxe5 42. f4 Kd6 43. Rd4 Ke6 44. e4 Rc5 45. f5 Ke7 46. Ra4 Rxb5 47. Rxa7 Kf8 48. Ke3 Re5 49. Rb7 b5 50. Kd4 Kg8 51. Rc7 Kf8 52. Rc5 Re7 53. Rxb5 Ra7 54. Rb3 Ra2 55. h3 Ra7 56. Ke3 Kf7 57. Kf4 g5 58. Kg4 Re7 59. Rb4 Kg7 60. Kh5 Kh7 61. Rb6 Kg7 62. Re6 Rd7 63. e5 fxe5 64. Rxh6 Rd3 65. Rg6 Kf7 66. Kg4 e4 67. Re6 Re3 68. Rg6 Re1 69. Kxg5 e3 70. Re6 e2 71. g4 Rh1 72. Rxe2 Rxh3 73. Ra2 1-0

As Bobby Fischer famously said, “That’s what chess is all about. One day you give your opponent a lesson, the next day he gives you one.” (
Playing over this English brings back memories of the High Planes Drifter regaling us with tales of the daze he was moving around the left coast in LA and of GM Eduard Gufeld and NM Jerry Hanken, who loved playing 1 c4. Up through 4…Be7 365Chess shows this as “A13 English opening,” but when Mr. Vest played 5 0-0 it became a, “A14 English, Neo-Catalan declined.” 10…Nd7 is the new move. Previously the two most common moves have been Qc7 and Qd7, the move of Houdini, but the new World Chess Champion thing, known as Komodo, prefers 10…Re8, but what does IT know?

Albert drew with the always dangerous Carter Peatman in the last round to finish in a three-way tie for second place with Djordje Nedeljkovic, who is a provisionally rated NM after eighteen games, and Expert Sinclair Gray, all with a score of 3-2.

Jeremy Banta took clear first in the class A section, Matt Mayhew, from Tennessee was also clear first in the B class, as was Anthony John Morse in the C class, and Sanjeev Anand did the same in class D. Not to be outdone, Harold Blackmarr also won the below section, for everyone else, a half-point ahead of the pack.

Games can be found here: