Apology to Thad Rogers

In my post dated November 28, 2014, I mistakenly wrote that Grant Oen is the, “owner of the Atlanta Kings.” I took this from the Southeast Chess website (http://www.southeastchess.com/atlanta-kings.html). Grant is the “Manager” of the Atlanta Kings. The impresario, L. Thad Rogers is the owner. My apologies to Thad. No slight was intended. I made a regretful mistake. Thad has tried for quite some time to bring a USCL team to Atlanta before succeeding.
For all of his foibles Thad has done much good for chess, not only in Georgia, but in the Southeast as well. In addition, I know Thad has helped many players throughout the years, and he has done it because he has a generous heart. One example will suffice to illustrate. Decades ago I was on a MARTA train heading to visit one of Thad’s tournaments when I encountered another chess player, called “Smokin’ Gun.” I nodded, Smokin’ Gun shot back a big grin and moved toward me. Upon mentioning I was headed to one of Thad’s tournaments and he asked, “You playing?”
“No, Smokin’ Gun, I said, I’m just going to visit. Why don’t you come with me?” He shook his head and said, “I can’t. I own Thad money.”
“What do you mean? Everyone has owed Thad money at one time or another. Come on by later if you can…Don’t dodge him…Tell him you haven’t forgotten about him, but circumstances are such that you can’t pay him back now, and he will be glad to see you..”
Hours later as I was about to leave, there was Smokin’ Gun, talking with Thad. On my way out the Gun grinned, saying, “It played out just like you said, man.”
Atlanta hosted the 1980 US Open because of Thad. When the Nashville Strangler hit it big at the World Open by winning the expert section, he made a point in the interview published in Chess Life to thank Thad for organizing all the tournaments in which he had played. FM Jerry Wheeler, along with LM Brian McCarthy, played so often some thought they lived in Atlanta. The same could be said for the “Little Hayseed,” Tom Waymouth, who took first in a “B” section of the World Open. Then there is Spencer Bledsoe, one of the Legendary Georgia Ironman’s students, who cut his teeth at the House of Pain before tying for first in an “A” section at the World Open. Spencer is best known for his part in the Survivor TV show. (http://survivor.wikia.com/wiki/Spencer_Bledsoe)
To top it off, FM Kazim Gulamali just played a match with IM Ron Burnett for the under 2500 money at the Millionaire Open. Ron, like the aforementioned Tennessee players, has played in as many of Thad’s tournaments as any Atlanta player. Kazim literally grew-up at the House. Together they brought $60,000 back South from Lost Wages!
Did I mentioned the time a former GCA President bankrupted the organization? Thad stepped in using his own money to keep the GCA solvent. I could go on and on, but why? Like everyone you know, or will ever know, Thad has entries on both the positive and negative side of the ledger, but he is one of the fortunate ones in which the positive outweighs the negative.
I know all of the above mentioned players, and the Legendary Ironman, will join me in saying, “Thank you, Thad, for all you have done for the Royal game.”

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

Kazim Gulamali Wins Big at Millionaire Open?

The Legendary Georgia Ironman called yesterday wanting to know the result of the match between IM Ron Burnett and FM Kazim Gulamali at the Millionaire Open. I had been unable to find the result anywhere on the internet. “This is hard to believe, Bacon. I thought surely you, of all people, would have learned something.” Upon returning later Tim told me he had heard from the mother of one of his students that Mumtaz Yusef, Kazim’s father, had been to a gathering of ping-pong players (years ago Mumtaz purchased a ping-pong table for the House of Pain), and he said Kazim won $40,000, which could only mean that Kazim bested Ronald. This is how chess news travels in the day and age of the internet, from word of mouth, or if you prefer, “word on the street.” I do not actually know Kazim won because it reaches the AW at least third hand.

From comments on the internet like the one on the USCF forum contained in the thread, “Millionaire Open – Millionaire Monday participants” (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=20634&sid=73853e7071d63999c02af00b8c62e928), it is obvious the chess world has been left in the dark as to the results:

by relyea on Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:45 pm #285960

“It is disappointing that I can’t figure out how to find which players went to the final fours, much less who won, on their site.”

Alex Relyea

Maybe the people who promoted the $,$$$,$$$ Open should have considered allocating money for hiring a publicist.

Led Zeppelin – Communication Breakdown

Millionaire Open Downer

Last night I attended what turned out to be a reading at the library by the famous historian James McPherson, who writes about the War Between The States. He is the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University, and received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for “Battle Cry of Freedom”, his most famous book. The author is on a book tour touting his new book, “Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief.” During a phone call with the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who decided to take a well-earned, and much needed, day off to visit his ladyfriend, the Princess, I mentioned the author read from the book only, until taking a few questions. I was in hopes the author would explain why he decided to write the book and some of the things he learned while writing.

LM Brian McCarthy, up from Butler for the night and next day, was waiting to return me to the Fortress. The first thing Brian did upon entering was plug in his ‘puter and turn on the $,$$$,$$$ Open. He let me know the next game would begin in about a half hour, then went back to the car to bring his other things. I am of the same mind as another chess blogger, Dana Mackenzie, of “Dana blogs chess,” who wrote in his post, “Millionaire Chess Preview,” of October 3, 2014, “Oh yes, I should mention the quirky format of the tournament. The first seven rounds are a normal Swiss system. But then the top four players will qualify for a two-round knockout tournament on Monday. Each round of the knockout will consist of a pair of 25-minute games; followed by a pair of 15-minute games if they are tied; followed by a pair of 5-minute games if the match is still tied; followed by a single Armageddon game.

Anyone who’s read my blog in the past knows what I think of this idea. I think it stinks. Rapid chess is only somewhat like chess, blitz chess is even less like chess, and Armageddon is a completely different game entirely. This kind of playoff is like breaking a tie for the Pulitzer Prize with a spelling bee. For that reason I don’t care who wins. I only care who finishes in the top four.” (http://www.danamackenzie.com/blog/?p=3184)

Because the Big Mac was here I decided to check out the coverage. I had earlier attempted to access the live coverage a couple of times, but every time there was music and a count-down clock informing me the live coverage would begin in twenty minutes. Twenty minutes later there was a count-down clock informing me the live coverage would begin in twenty minutes. I gave up. This time it was live and the game was about to begin. And what a game it wasn’t…GM Ray Robson blundered a pawn in the opening, something most every chess player has done. What made this so bad was that $50,000 was on the line. As poor Ray sat there stewing in his juices, not moving minute after long, torturous, minute, the commentators kept up their inane patter. Suddenly there was a shot of IM Ron Burnett playing FM Kazim Gulamali! I burst out of my room to tell the McAroon, who immediately found the live coverage, but there was no longer any Burnett vs Gulamali coverage. At least we knew our friend was playing on “Millionaire Monday.” I mentioned Lawrence Trent, “The New Voice of Chess”, according to his website (http://www.lawrencetrent.com/), said something about $40,000 on the line, with Kazim needing to win to send it to even quicker games, and “with the look on Ron’s face, it looks like that’s just what’s going to happen.” Having known both players since they were youths, and having been on the road with IM Burnett, while knowing Kazim as he cut his teeth at the House of Pain, I told Brian my heart was with Ron, but my head said Kazim. Here it is the next afternoon and I still have no clue who won…And I am not the only one, because Tim asked me what I knew, and Brian searched, even going to ICC, but still no result could be found. Evidently, we are not the only ones, because Dana has written this on his blog today, “I tried to look up the winner of the Millionaire Open in Las Vegas this morning, and it wasn’t as easy as I expected to find out who won. When I went to chessbase.com, usually my first source, there was nothing about the playoffs. Next I went to the tournament page itself — but that page is a navigational disaster. There was no apparent way to find out who won the tournament!

Finally I had to resort to Google, which took me to Susan Polgar’s blog, which took me to the Chess24 website, which had an excellent article on the dramatic playoffs. The bottom line is that Wesley So, the Phillippine grandmaster who was the #1 seed in the tournament, beat Ray Robson. It was a lifetime achievement for both of them. So earns $100,000, the largest payday ever for a chess player in an open tournament. Robson wins $50,000, which is unbelievable, especially when you see how he earned it.” (http://www.danamackenzie.com/blog/)

We continued to watch, and listen, in hopes that after Robson’s blunder they would go back to showing Ron vs Kazim, or what looked like another game currently underway. But Noooooooooo…Minute after agonizing minute we had to suffer along with poor Ray. Needless to say, we felt his pain in the way people felt the pain of Joe Thiesman when his leg was broken on Monday Night Maimball, while O.J. Simpson added “color” to the telecast. A better example could be when the catcher, Jason Kendall, broke his ankle running to first base when his foot hit the bag awkardly, while he continued to run with his broken ankle flopping like a fish out of water. As poor Ray continued to flop they would still not move to one of the other games. Brian mentioned something about this being “real bad,” because “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” I said, “This is supposed to be the high point of the tournament but it has become a low ebb.”
“Yeah,” Brian said, “what a downer.”

Lawrence Taylor breaks Joe Theismann’s leg on MNF

2014 CCSCSL Invitational

I began writing this post 24 hours ago, but life intervened. After returning to the Fortress the
AT&T-Uverse system went down, and stayed down, for hours. What can I say, they had catchy commercials. I have yet to surf over to the website of the tournaments, so have no knowledge of the results of the first two rounds.

While reading the lead article on the USCF homepage, “Sargissian & Kannappan Top Chicago Open” (http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12679/763/), I learned of the Invitational at the St. Louis Chess Club, which, as it happens, started just an hour ago. (http://saintlouischessclub.org/news/2014-05-28/2014-ccscsl-invitational)
The High Plains Drifter was over earlier today (“You have the Chess Life. When did it arrive? I have still not received mine.” Mr. Vest then spent about thirty seconds flipping through the magazine before saying, “Not much there, there, is there?), and asked about upcoming tournaments. I mentioned the 2014 PEACH STATE DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIP (http://www.georgiachess.org/events?eventId=896729&EventViewMode=2&CalendarViewType=1&SelectedDate=6/28/2014) next month, and would certainly have mentioned the tournament in ol’ St. Lou if I had been aware of it, especially if I had known my friend IM Ron Burnett was in the field. LM Brian McCarthy, while here for the scholastic tournament at the Hyatt, mentioned that Ron has two GM norms, and has had a chance to make the final norm twice, both times having black in the last round versus 2600+ opposition. That is what we in the South call a “Tough row to hoe.” There are two tournaments, a GM and IM Burnett is playing in the IM tournament.
As luck would have it, GM-elect Kayden Troff, playing Black again, is paired with the man who beat him in the last round of the Chicago Open, IM Kannappan Priyadharshan. That game can be found in the aforementioned USCF article. Young Troff passed out not one, but two early draws to GM opposition in the rounds preceding the last round. What made it even harder to understand was that the young man had White in each game. He was obviously getting prepared for a future of passing out so-called Grandmaster draws…
Troff, Kayden (2484) – Sargissian, Gabriel (2684)
23rd Chicago Open Wheeling, IL (7.1), 2014.05.25
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 O-O 7.O-O c6 8.Qb3 Nbd7 9.Rc1 Nb6 10.c5 Nbd7 11.Bf4 Nh5 12.Bd2 Nhf6 13.Bf4 Nh5 14.Bd2 Nhf6 ½-½
Troff, Kayden (2484) – Shulman, Yury (2560)
23rd Chicago Open Wheeling, IL (8.2), 2014.05.26
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e5 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 Be7 6.Bd3 Nbd7 7.Nf3 O-O 8.h3 Nh5 9.O-O Nf4 10.Re1 Nxd3 11.Qxd3 Nf6 12.Ne2 Ne8 13.g4 h5 14.Nh2 hxg4 15.hxg4 Nf6 16.f3 Nh7 17.Kg2 Bg5 18.Rh1 Bxc1 19.Raxc1 g6 20.Nf1 Bd7 21.Nfg3 Kg7 22.Rh2 Qf6 23.Rch1 Ng5 24.Ng1 Rh8 ½-½