Norm Hunter: Hardaway and Huston earn IM Norms in New York


Two local New Yorkers earned their second IM norm at the Marshall Chess Club IM Winter Invitational, held February 22-26. 11th grader Gus Huston and 8th grader Brewington Hardaway both represented their hometown in style, each finishing with 7/9.


Marshall crosstable


After being self-critical of his performance just a few months ago, Hardaway has become even more consistent and dangerous.



Hardaway was well prepared against Nathan Moor’s Jobava London, finding a novelty that turned out to be a deadly pawn sacrifice in the resulting queenless middlegame. White’s lagging development did not appear to be fatal, considering how few pieces were on the board and that Black had not completed development either. And yet, White finds himself resigning on the 31st move, which also happens to be the first time he develops his rook.



Hardaway’s preparation was again on display in a topical line of the Tal Variation in the Caro-Kann. His opponent, and fellow norm-earner, navigated the opening nicely as well. But in a battle of nerves in a tense center, Huston made the only error in judgment.



For the rest of the event, Huston was unimpeachable. With White, he rattled off multiple consecutive wins in an array of styles. He could dominate his opponents positionally as well as tactically, and coming back from losing his queen wasn't out of the question, either (stay tuned).


First: the positional beauty. Huston created serious problems for his opponent from the start of this Rossolimo. First, logical developing moves get Black into hot water, and then trading off a queen who was exposed to the elements turned out to seal Black’s fate. A cruel game, coldly executed by Huston.


Now, for some tactics. Another bit of Rossolimo mastery on behalf of Huston. This time, FM Alice Lee is required to find a number of subtle defensive resources. One false step and Huston’s attack is irresistible.



Finally, nobody earns a norm without a little drama and suspense. Here, Huston survived an absolutely devastating attack from his opponent’s closed Italian before managing to turn the tables. In what was easily the most exciting game of the event, Huston’s resilience and ingenuity are worthy of high praise.



The next NYC Chess Norms event will be held April 5 through 9 in Manhattan. 12 players will compete in a Schiller System GM norm tournament, another 12 in an IM group, and another ten in an IM Round Robin. The players seeking GM norms will receive free entry.