Atlanta's "The House of Pain" blitzes Emory field!

The Emory Castle Chess Camp (Atlanta, Georgia) is a week scholastic event for children from around the U.S. who are seeking to improve their skills. The camp boasted a star-studded staff and the camp is gaining increasing popularity as a reported 130 students attended.

At the culmination of the camp is the Emory Castle Chess tournament featuring all the camp coaches, students and local Atlanta players. Most of the local players play primarily at the
Atlanta Chess Center also known as "The House of Pain" because of the beatings that visiting strong Masters often get when play there. Atlanta players are a scrappy bunch and their monthly 5-round Swiss tournaments are always competitive. A total of 231 players entered this tournament at the scenic Emory University.

Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia

The top two boards were followed at the Internet Chess Club, but the last two rounds were exciting as there were many unexpected results.  Top-seeded GM Yury Shulman along with GM Julio Becerra, GM-elect Boris Kreiman, IM-elect Stephen Muhammad, and FM Miles Ardaman were tied for 1st with 3-0 scores and six players, including IM Irina Krush, had 2 points. IM Pascal Charbonneau was upset in the 2nd round by Keith Eubanks (2060) and withdrew. He told The Chess Drum that he had suffered an injury and the medication he took affected his play. The penultimate 4th round saw the following results on the top five boards:

GM Yury Shulman-GM-elect Boris Kreiman, -
GM Julio Becerra-IM-elect Stephen Muhammad, 1-0
IM Irina Krush-FM Miles Ardaman, 1-0
David Vest-Keith Eubanks, 1F-0F (forfeit)
NM Peter Bereolos-Negash Bezaleel, -
IM Carlos Perdomo (took -point bye)

The Becerra-Muhammad game was a very exciting encounter as the two had played in the last round of the 2002 World Open with Muhammad getting the win and his 2nd IM norm. This was a double-edged battle that saw Muhammad snatch a queenside pawn in the opening while Becerra launched an assault on a weakened kingside. After building a strong initiative, Becerra dawdled and allowed Muhammad to consolidate. Black held a slight edge until an unsightly error ended the game abruptly for Muhammad. Keith Eubanks, who had beaten Charbonneau and had drawn with NM Peter Bereolos,  failed to show for his game with David Vest and missed an opportunity to continue his run. In the exciting last round, the following results were:

GM Yury Shulman-GM Julio Becerra, -
David Vest-IM Irina Krush, 1-0
FM Alex Dunne-IM Carlos Perdomo, 0-1
IM-elect Stephen Muhammad-NM Knut Loeken, 0-1
Andy Reeder-NM Peter Bereolos, 0-1
GM-elect Boris Kreiman (took -point bye)

Other notable results

GM Arthur Bisguier (2304)-Frank Johnson (1872), 0-1 (!)
Negash Bezaleel (2079)-NM Jerry Wheeler (2218), 1-0

David Vest is a former Georgia State Champion having tied for the 1985 crown with the late GM Boris Kogan. He entered the round well-rested since he won the previous round on forfeit. This extra energy came into good effect as he unleashed a powerful performance on IM Irina Krush. The game was followed on the ICC and the viewers had a field day with quips and jokes. When under pressure, someone said, "Irina better pull a rabbit out of her vest." There were also references to "Vestology," and the "Vest-o-Flex" attack, a system named after Mr. Vest.

Vest's instructive game (on the right) featured an enterprising break 10.d3!? as black attempted to consolidate. Krush fell dangerously behind in development and Vest begin to press forward with 12.Ng5!? The game then resorted to some nice tactical play by Vest with
20.Re3! However, after 20Qd8, Fritz 8 evaluated the position as winning for black. Vest continued to apply pressure with 21.Qa3! Bxd6 22.Nxd6 g6 23.Bh3! slicing through the board. Black was now in a bind with stunted pieces (a8-bishop and f8-rook) and the audience looked for the finishing blows (e.g., Nxf7 tactics).

Game start 5 back 1 back 1 forward 5 forward Game end flip board autoplay


Vest played 25.Qc5! but after 25Kg7 missed a shot with 26.Re7! threatening 27.Qd4+ and 28.Qf6 (if 26Qxe7 then white wins with 27.Nf5+). A chorus of moans were made at the ICC when Vest played 26.f4? Kg8! (preventing the above Re7 line) 27.g4? In severe time trouble, Krush played 27Nd7! (-1.72 Fritz 8) 28.Qa7 hxg4?? (28Nf6! (-1.81 Fritz 8))  29.Bxg4 Nf6 30.Nxf7! Vest kept up the pressure and finished the game with a precisely-calculated mating attack.  The last pun offered at the ICC was "I  M  Krushed!"

With the win Vest would split 1st-2nd with Becerra who drew with Shulman. An amazing nine players ended up with 4-1. Shulman, Kreiman, and Perdomo tied for 3rd-5th overall. Ardaman, Bereolos,
WGM Martica Fierro (Ecuador) and NM Knut Loeken would share the 2200-2399 prize. Negash Bezaleel won the under-2200 prize with 4 points. Perhaps the biggest upset in the last round besides Vest's was Frank Johnson's win over GM Arthur Bisguier. The win was Johnson's first OTB win over a Grandmaster and capped off a strong tournament with 4-1. Johnson defeated three players rated at least 200 points above him and for his efforts, took 1st under-2000. Vest, Loeken, Bezaleel, and Johnson, all players frequenting "The House of Pain," inflicted some of their own in this tournament. Nice job!

Emory Castle Grand Prix website

Georgia Chess website

Posted by The Chess Drum: 15 June 2003