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.
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.
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!
After a rough start local GM and twitch star Andrew Tang caught up with IM Shtembuliak to tie for first place.
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.