Norm Hunter: A Dozen Norms in Two Months

The path to earning a FIDE title is arduous. Beyond the minimum FIDE rating requirement — 2400 for IM, 2500 for GM — players have to earn three pesky things called “norms” to qualify for the title. And earning these norms is not as easy as simply playing good chess or scoring good results.

These norms have numerous additional requirements. Among other things, they must come from events with at least nine classical game against players of a certain average rating from at least three different federations.

These requirements mean there is no guarantee that one can earn a norm simply by having a great performance at an open tournament. Because of this, aspiring titled players gravitate towards “invitational” events that are designed to provide the assurance that a good enough performance will result in a norm.

These events are not only great opportunities for talented players, but also for casual chess fans looking for high-quality games to study. We’ve covered a number of recent norm invitationals held in the US, such as those by Elite Chess and the Charlotte Chess Center. We also heard from 12-year-old IM-elect Andy Woodward on his quest for norms last summer in Serbia.

But try as we might, some of these events will inevitably slip through the cracks. So, we would like to introduce a recurring feature: Norm Hunter. Here, we will recap recent events that we were unable to cover, keeping readers updated on who achieved norms and highlighting some of their games in the process. Enjoy some spectacular fighting chess and the opportunity to follow talented players on their journey.


2023 New York GM/IM Norm Invitational


Four concurrent Round Robins were held January 12 through 16, resulting in five IM norms. In the GM A, FM Nico Chasin earned his fifth IM norm with an undefeated 5½/9 score.


Nico Chasin
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Nico Chasin (photo David Llada)


Lithuanian FM Pius Stremavicius also earned his second IM norm with a 5/9 score. Here’s a fantastic controlled burn of a kingside attack against FM Joseph Levine.



While the GM B section also did not produce any GM norms, FM Vincent Tsay did earn his final IM norm with a 5½/9 performance. Here’s a resounding tactical victory against fellow norm-chaser FM Shelev Oberoi.



It’s been a big year for the Barber and 8th grade champion, newly minted FM Brewington Hardaway from New York. Now, with a 5/9 performance in the IM C group, he has also earned his first IM norm.


While it’s true that his opponent in this game misplayed a chance to gain an advantage out of the opening, Hardaway might be being overly modest when considering how well he out-played his opponent in a long, mature endgame.



The biggest upset came in the IM D group, where Grant Xu scored a blistering 7½/9, with seven wins, one draw and one loss to his name.


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Grant Xu (courtesy of the subject)


Throughout, his uncompromising play put his opponents in the unenviable position to find narrow defensive paths, even in objectively preferable positions.



The next New York Norms event will be held Feb 22 to 26 at the Marshall Chess Club. The invitational’s line-up includes familiar names like FMs Alice Lee and Brewington Hardaway among the norm-seekers, as well as 64-year-old Dr. Eric Moskow.


1000 GMs St. Louis


The 1000 GMs group has held a pair of invitationals in recent months. This group differs from some of the other hosts of invitationals because they promise free entry for those seeking norms in the GM sections of their events.

From January 25-29, 24 players competed across two Schiller System sections. In the GM section, the GMs were able to successfully gatekeep their title, but FM Ezra Chambers did earn an IM norm with a cool 5½/9 score.

One can hardly expect to win as Black in these events, but Chambers did a nice job patiently holding a difficult position against White’s Catalan, slowly equalizing and eventually grabbing an advantage without ever forcing matters.



FM Alice Lee dominated the IM section, earning her second IM norm with a blistering 7½/9 performance. She kicked things off by winning five straight games (including two featured here), which seems to be a specialty of the 13-year-old Minnesotan.


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Alice Lee (courtesy Charlotte Chess Center)



Here is her cool, collected round seven win over IM Stavroula Tsolakidou, who was the top board of the top all-female team in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship.



1000 GMs Bay Area


Previously, the 1000 GMs group hosted a Bay Area event that saw a player earn a coveted GM norm. Held December 7 through 11, IM Alexander Katz earned his first GM norm with a strong 6½/9, capping off a strong year.



His unimpeachable play on the White side of a complex Najdorf was representative of his composure throughout the event.



While Heimann may have lost this game, the tournament was a success for the now-IM-Elect player, earning his third IM norm with a 5/9 score. Here he is giving his opponent a lesson in how miserable the Caro-Kann can be when Black cannot find any breaks.



Also earning a third IM norm was Canadian FM Max Gedajlovic, who will be familiar for those who have kept up with recent Charlotte Chess Center events.


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courtesy Charlotte Chess Center


Here is one of the finest moments of his event, which was one of those quiet moves that is subtly devastating.



The next 1000 GMs event will take place in Los Angeles from February 22 through 26. The one GM section will again use a 12-player Schiller format, and will take place alongside two IM Round Robins.




A previous article congratulated FM Liam Putnam for earning a norm at the SPICE Cup. But this article omitted that FM Joshua Colas also earned an IM norm with his 5½/9 score. One of his finer games was his draw against IM Carissa Yip.



Another nice moment came from the resolve Colas showed in a come-from-behind win in the eighth round, surviving incredible complications.