I recall, many years ago, playing an off hand game with Kazim Gulamali at the House of Pain. I had white and played what used to be called the Fantasy variation, now called the Gambit variation by fomer world champion Karpov in his book on the Caro-Kann. The game, the only one I've played with Kazim, ended, I'm proud to say, in a draw. Get 'em on the way up! Sometime later his father, Mumtaz, purchased a video of the Fantasy variation. One night not too long after I noticed Kazim playing the Fantasy variation in the skittles room of the HOP. I told him I couldn't help noticing and he said, "Ah yes, the Caro-Kann crusher!"
Kazim has followed his outstanding Chicago Open with another excellent result in the World Open, finishing 6th-9th, in the U2400 section, which was actually the second score group, only a half point behind the winners. His performance rating in that section only was near GM level 2479. What is even more remarkable is that Kazim lost his first two games in the open section and decided to re-enter, albeit in a totally different section, which is like entering another tournament altogether. I had a talk with the High Plains Drifter some years ago, who is adamantly opposed to re-entries of any kind, about dropping out of one section and re-entering another one, and even he had to admit that it was better to do that than to re-enter IN THE SAME SECTION. Even when the two losses from the Open section are added into Kazim's PR, it still comes out to be over 2400, at 2421!
Just a short time ago Kazim and Steven Muhammad were the co-state champs. Steven reached a peak rating after the WO last year, but has dropped over one hundred points since then, and has not played at all this year. There can, therefore, be no doubt that Kazim is the preeminent chess player in Georgia and the defacto state champion.
I cannot help but wonder how strong Kazim would be now if Boris Kogan had lived. After all, Stuart Rachels, the out of nowhere 1979 co-US Champion, gave great credit to his mentor, Boris.
I also cannot help but wonder why Kazim has not been granted a Samford fellowship. After all, he is from the home state of Frank Samford, who still plays in GCA tournaments. Kazim is not only a strong chess player, but, more importantly, he is a fine young man! It goes without saying that he would do the Samford proud!
For everyone reading this, I implore you to get in touch with the movers and shakers of USCF and the world of chess! Send out emails informing them of this blog. Cut and paste if you must! And if one of you reading this has the email address of Frank Samford, send him this. If you only have his phone number, tell him to call me at the House of Pain!