IM Shtembuliak Earns Second GM Norm in Minnesota

The 2018 Minnesota GM Norm Tournament was held at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West.   The ten player round robin (June 15-19) was only the second norm tournament held in Minnesota. The field consisted of three Grand Masters, five International Masters, two FIDE Masters. Four federations were represented: Macedonia, Ukraine, India, and United States.  A GM norm required 6.5 points and an IM norm required 4.5 points. There were three prizes of $1500, $1000, and $500. IA Bill Broich and FA David Kuhns were the arbiters.
From left to right: IM Sean Nagle, IM Evgeny Shtembuliak, GM-elect Steven Zierk, IM Praveen Balakrishnan, FM Gauri Shankar, GM Andrew Tang, GM Vladimir Georgiev, FM Justin Wang, IM John Bartholomew, GM Nikola Mitkov Photo by Patrick Tang
The Players IM  Evgeny Shtembuliak is a native of Odessa, Ukraine and majors in finance at Texas Tech University.  As a young junior he finished second in the U8, U10, and U12 European Championships. In addition to IM Shtembuliak, GM Vladimir Georgiev, a native of Bulgaria, and GM Nikola Mitkov, a native of Macedonia, were invited to compete.  Both GMs are chess professionals who live in the Chicago area giving private lessons and running scholastic chess programs. Three competitors, GM Andrew Tang, IM Sean Nagle, and IM John Bartholomew, live in the Minneapolis area, all having grown up in Minnesota. GM Tang is a 2018 high school graduate with a long chess resume of accomplishments and is the first Minnesota grown GM.  IM Bartholomew is a chess professional providing private lessons and is well known for his appearances on Youtube and Twitch TV. IM Nagle is an attorney practicing law. He is eight-time Minnesota state champion. Sixteen-year old IM Praveen Balakrishnan is pursuing his first GM norm. He is the 2017 Denker champion and is competing in  the U.S. Junior Championship, underway now in St. Louis. When IM Steven Zierk agreed to play in this event, he was hoping to earn his final GM norm. When he arrived for this event, he was already referred to as GM-elect Zierk having obtained his GM title in Charlotte a week ago. A recent MIT graduate, he is well known for being the 2010 World Under 18 Chess Champion. FM Gauri Shankar is a Chicago area native, with five IM norms.  He won the 2006 US Junior Open Chess Champion and 2007 Biel International Youth Chess Champion.  He must achieve a 2400 FIDE rating to receive the IM title. The youngest competitor in the tournament was FM Justin Wang.  He traveled from Houston, Texas to play in this event.  FM Wang tied for second in the 2017 U12 World Cadet Championships and has one IM norm. IM Shtembuliak Earns GM Norm IM Shtembuliak and IM Balakrishnan had a strong start right out of the gate each with 2.5 of 3, becoming clear GM norm contenders. IM Shtembuliak continued his roll all the way into round eight winning and drawing his games while IM Balakrishnan had a bumpy ride especially with a tough loss in round seven against the lowest seed FM Gauri Shankar. Going into round eight IM Balakrishnan needed to win his final two games to earn a GM norm while IM Shtembuliak only required one point.  IM Balakrishnan faced GM Georgiev, the top seeded player in the tournament in round eight. They had a hard fought draw, ending IM Balakrishnan’s norm quest.
[pgn][Round "?"]
[White "Balakrishnan, IM Praveen "]
[Black "Georgiev, GM Vladimir "]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A22"]
[PlyCount "106"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2018.07.16"]
[SourceVersionDate "2018.07.16"]

1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Nc3 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bc5 7. Rb1 Nc6 8.
Qa4 O-O 9. Nf3 Bb6 10. O-O Bf5 11. d3 Qd7 12. Ba3 Rfe8 13. Ng5 Rad8 14. Rfe1 h6
15. Ne4 Bh3 16. c4 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 f5 18. Nc5 Bxc5 19. Bxc5 b6 20. Ba3 Re6 21.
Rec1 e4 22. dxe4 Qd4 23. Qc2 Qxe4+ 24. Qxe4 Rxe4 25. c5 b5 26. Rxb5 Rxe2 27.
Rb2 Rdd2 28. Rxd2 Rxd2 29. Rb1 Rxa2 30. Bc1 Ne7 31. Rb7 Nd5 32. Bf4 Nxf4+ 33.
gxf4 c6 34. Rc7 Ra6 35. h4 h5 36. Kf3 Kh7 37. Kg3 Kg6 38. Rd7 Kf6 39. Rd6+ Ke7
40. f3 Ra1 41. Kg2 a5 42. Rxc6 Kd7 43. Ra6 Kc7 44. c6 Ra4 45. Kg3 g6 46. Kg2
Rxf4 47. Rxa5 Rc4 48. Ra7+ Kb6 49. Rg7 Rxc6 50. Kg3 Kc5 51. Kf4 Kd5 52. Kg5 Rc3
53. Kf4 Rc6 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
Praveen played well throughout the tournament but came up short.  To add to the drama, IM Shtembuliak lost to GM Tang in the eighth round.  Now he had to defeat IM Balakrishnan in round nine to earn the GM norm, and he did it in style!
[pgn]

[Round "9"]
[White " IM Shtembuliak"]
[Black "IM Praveen Balakrishnan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B50"]
[PlyCount "93"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2018.07.16"]
[SourceVersionDate "2018.07.16"]

1. Nf3 c5 2. e4 d6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Nc6 5. c3 e6 6. Bb3 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1
Qc7 9. d4 cxd4 10. cxd4 e5 11. h3 exd4 12. Nxd4 Nxd4 13. Qxd4 Be6 14. Nc3 Bxb3
15. axb3 a6 16. Bf4 Rac8 17. Red1 Rfd8 18. Ra4 Qd7 19. Qa7 Rc7 20. Rad4 Qe8 21.
Bxd6 Bxd6 22. Rxd6 Rxd6 23. Rxd6 Rd7 24. Rxd7 Qxd7 25. Qb8+ Ne8 26. Nd5 h6 27.
h4 Kh7 28. f3 Qc6 29. Qe5 Nf6 30. Kh2 b5 31. b4 Kh8 32. h5 Kh7 33. Qf5+ Kh8 34.
Nxf6 gxf6 35. e5 fxe5 36. Qxf7 Qd6 37. Kh3 Qc6 38. Qf8+ Kh7 39. Qf5+ Kg8 40.
Qg6+ Qxg6 41. hxg6 Kg7 42. Kh4 Kxg6 43. g4 Kf7 44. Kh5 Kg7 45. g5 hxg5 46. Kxg5
Kf7 47. Kf5 1-0[/pgn]
After a rough start local GM and twitch star Andrew Tang caught up with IM Shtembuliak to tie for first place.
Andrew Tang, Photo Betsy Dynako
Final Standings
Rk. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 GM Tang Andrew 2494 USA * 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 6,5 27,25 0,0 5
2 IM Shtembuliak Evgeny 2506 UKR 0 * ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 6,5 25,00 0,0 5
3 GM Mitkov Nikola 2446 MKD ½ ½ * 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 6,0 24,50 0,0 3
4 IM Balakrishnan Praveen 2400 USA 1 0 0 * ½ 1 ½ 1 0 1 5,0 20,50 0,0 4
5 IM Zierk Steven 2476 USA 0 0 ½ ½ * 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 5,0 18,25 0,0 3
6 IM Nagle Sean 2436 USA ½ ½ ½ 0 0 * 1 0 1 ½ 4,0 17,25 0,0 2
7 GM Georgiev Vladimir 2508 MKD 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ 1 ½ 4,0 16,50 0,0 1
8 FM Wang Justin 2356 USA 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ * ½ ½ 3,0 11,50 0,0 1
9 FM Gauri Shankar 2338 IND 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 0 ½ * ½ 2,5 10,25 0,0 1
10 IM Bartholomew John 2461 USA ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ * 2,5 10,00 0,0 0
IA Bill Broich, IM Evgeny Shtembuliak, FA David Kuhns, Photo by Jiten Patel
  Acknowledgements We would like to express our great appreciation to Kimberly and Norbert Kusters for their generous donations to our norm tournament. We are also very grateful to Rochester Chess Club and Beginners Mind Chess for their support to the tournament. IA Bill Broich is an International Arbiter residing in Des Moines, Iowa.  Mr. Broich works in the insurance industry. Patrick Tang is a chess parent and a volunteer for helping organize high level chess tournaments in Minnesota.  Mr. Tang lives in the Minneapolis area and works for a non-profit company.

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