Charlotte Chess Center's Summer Super Swiss Attracts Big Talent and Delivers

Charlotte is the most populous city in North Carolina, well known for its NFL, NBA, and MLS professional sports teams. However, in recent times Charlotte is also becoming famous for its bustling chess culture thanks to the influence of the Charlotte Chess Center (CCC). CCC is an acclaimed hub for chess and is known to host prestigious open and norm tournaments year-round. Some examples of these tournaments are the US Masters, Carolinas Classic, Norm Invitationals, and the brand-new Charlotte Norm Super Swiss, all of which are flocked to by strong, internationally titled players.


The winner
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The winner: GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista (courtesy Daniel Schipper/CCC)


In fact, the first tournament I ever played in the United States was the 2022 US Masters in Charlotte. I was captivated by the professionalism and strength of the tournament. The playing hall was quiet, spacious, and swarming with a strong field of masters from all around the world. Since that tournament, Charlotte has become one of my favorite places to play chess!


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WGM Dina Belenkaya was one of many players from foreign federations making this Swiss especially "Super" (courtesy Daniel Schipper/CCC)


My most recent tournament was the 2023 Charlotte Norm Super Swiss, held July 9 through 13, at the Hilton Garden Inn Southpark Hotel. To increase chances for norms, all players were required to be rated at least 2000 FIDE at the time of registration – no exceptions. This event ended up attracting 75 players from 16 different federations, including 14 GMs and 11 IMs.  With such strong competition, it was not uncommon to see players across the rating spectrum hold their own and challenge the higher-seeded players in the event.


The Super Swiss

A “Super Swiss” is the colloquial term for a Swiss System tournament where there are enough foreign federation titled players in the event, so that the traditional foreign player requirement is waived for norms. The organizers of this event invited enough foreign players to exceed the Super Swiss requirement, thus bypassing one of FIDE’s more stringent requirements to earn a norm. In practice, this meant that norm hunters “just” had to play well enough to meet the performance requirements for a norm, without having to worry about which countries their opponents represented!


big fella
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The "Big Fella" himself: commentator FM James Canty III (courtesy Daniel Schipper/CCC)


In round one, just next to my own game was an interesting game between Naveen Prabhu and GM Vladimir Georgiev, the latter of whom went on to tie for first place. White was simply up a piece and all White had to do was keep his king safe from Black's major pieces and the victory was his! During the game, I glanced at this position and thought Black would resign in a few moves, but I was so wrong!



On the other hand, I was also close to winning my game in round one against GM Gil Popilski, (who also tied for first place) but I missed my chance and drew.



In the end, there was a seven-way tie for first place, with each player winning a bit over $1,150:

  • GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista (Missouri – plaque winner on tiebreaks)
  • GM Daniel Naroditsky (Charlotte, NC)
  • GM Jianchao Zhou (China)
  • GM Pablo Salinas Herrera (Chile)
  • GM Gil Popilski (Israel)
  • GM Vladimir Georgiev (North Macedonia)
  • FM Gus Huston (New York)











What is a norm tournament without norm achievers? Three players made their IM norms in this event.


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And one for good luck! Gus Huston earned his fourth IM norm and was the only non-grandmaster to tie for first (courtesy Daniel Schipper/CCC)


FM Gus Huston earned his fourth IM norm and crossed 2400 FIDE, making him the latest American IM-elect!


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Norm winner Deepak Aaron
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Charlotte's own Vishnu Vanapalli earned his second IM norm (courtesy Daniel Schipper/CCC)


Deepak Aaron earned his fourth IM norm and Charlotte’s own 16-year-old Vishnu Vanapalli earned his second IM Norm in this event.




Ethan Sheehan, Sudarshan Sriniaiyer, and Daniel Xu crossed the 2300 rating mark and are now eligible to receive their FM title from FIDE by rating!

Finally, a special mention about your author who started the tournament on a high note with 4½/8 and an opportunity to make a WGM norm, provided I win the last round. I was paired against Colombian GM Alonso Zapata, who made the most of his chances in the game and won with the black pieces. Unfortunately, while the WGM norm must wait, I had the incredible opportunity to play some good games, meet amazing people, gain rating points, and have a wonderful experience in Charlotte.

Final standings from the Charlotte Norm Super Swiss can be found here.

For those players where nine rounds of master-level chess was not enough, the CCC organized the Charlotte Summer Open, July 14-16 immediately after the Norm Super Swiss.  This five-round event was won jointly by Grandmasters Sergey Erenburg, Elshan Moradiabadi, and Pablo Salinas Herrera.

Many thanks to the team of organizers and arbiters who made these events possible – Grant Oen, Peter Giannatos, Walter High, Rudy Abate, Jon Haskel, GP Sinha, Bill Nash, Ali Thompson, and Daniel Schipper.