IMs John Burke and Nicolas Checa achieved GM norms at the Philadelphia International. Both IMs are 15 years old, and both achieved their norm with a round to spare and drew their last round thus surpassing the norm requirement by half a point! Both finished the tournament undefeated, and this is also the first GM norm for each player.
Burke tied for first in the tournament with GM Andrey Stukopin each with a score of 7-2. Burke won five games and drew four. He played four GMs, winning one and drawing three. His draw with Checa was the only non-GM that Burke did not beat, and he won all his games against an IM, FM, SM, and WIM. Burke started the tournament 3-0 and was then on the top DGT boards. He had the better tiebreaks, but there was no bonus or trophy, so he will have to be content with the better tiebreaks and $2250! In round seven, Burke defeated IM Eylon Nakar.
Burke turned 16 on July 1st. This GM norm should be a great early birthday present. His last two games were then relatively quick draws as the draw in round 8 gave him the GM norm and the draw in round 9 gave him a share of first place.
IM Nicolas Checa did not score as many points, but had a similar route to the GM norm. Checa actually played a higher average rating field and didn’t need as many points to make his norm. Checa played six GMs, beating two and drawing four. Like Burke, Checa only had one non-GM that he did not defeat. Checa also started strong and played all his remaining games on the top DGT boards. In round four, Checa defeated GM Vladimir Belous.
Checa’s 6 ½ points left him in a tie for 3rd through 8th place. As mentioned, Checa achieved his GM norm with a quick draw in round 8. In the last round, Checa drew, but he had to work for that result as he was worse the entire game against GM Jianchou Zhou. Checa fought hard and eventually achieved a draw when he was a pawn down but in a clearly drawn bishops of opposite color ending.
The other player in the tie for first was GM Andrey Stukopin. Stukopin had to win the last round on board one against the tournament’s top seed: GM Yuneisky Quesada Perez. Stukopin also showed a lot of fighting spirit. Stukopin played his worst game of the tournament in round six against IM Eylon Nakar. Stukopin thought he was lost by move 10. Fritz doesn’t agree, but by move 26, Stukopin had to resign.
After what could best be considered a bad day at the office, Stukopin won three in a row against GMs to join the tie for first. Immediately after playing a bad game, Stukopin turns in a fine result against GM Mark Paragua.
Another player who needs to be mentioned is FM Craig Hilby. Hilby already has his three IM norms and just needed to achieve the 2400 rating. Preliminary indications are that Hilby achieved the rating after round 7. Assuming this is confirmed by FIDE, Hilby’s IM title will be official.
Nearly all the games for the Philadelphia International as well as complete tournament results are posted online at www.internationalchess.net.
International Arbiter Steve Immitt directed the event assisted by FIDE Arbiter David Hater.
Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website at http://www.chesstour.com/cross.html.