Norms Galore at Charlotte Chess Center Invitational

The Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy organized its fourth GM/IM Norm Invitational this January 11-15.  CCCSA is perhaps becoming an American “norm factory,” having produced several norms and titles in 2016 and 2017.  Organizers Peter Giannatos and Grant Oen have scheduled five GM/IM events in 2018 – four Round Robin invitationals and one “super swiss” open event.  Our previous events have been covered by US Chess News – March 2016, March 2017, and November 2017. The January 2018 event was very strong, as Charlotte hosted 6 GMs, 14 IMs, 7 FMs, and 3 masters – the average rating of all thirty players was 2400 FIDE and 2480 USCF.  It was quite an international field, with players from 13 federations playing in 3 sections – two GM norm round robins and one IM norm round robin. The five-day event certainly exceeded expectations regarding results, as there were four major performances throughout the field:
  • 16-year-old John Burke (New Jersey) earned his final GM norm and will be a Grandmaster after FIDE’s next Presidential Board Meeting. He recovered from a round 3 loss against the strong Uzbekistani IM Djurabek Khamrakulov to score 6.5/9 and a 2603 performance.  He discussed his critical victory over former World U18 Champion Steven Zierk in round 7 here:
  • University of Chicago student Kevin Wang (Maryland) earned a fifth IM norm and surpassed the 2400 rating requirement, and will soon be an International Master! Kevin described his own result as a “breakthrough event” – finishing in clear second place as the lowest rated seed.
IM-elect Kevin Wang (red sweatshirt) playing tandem chess after securing his IM title.  Can you name all these players?
Jennifer Yu and Organizer Peter Giannatos pose for the “Charlotte Norm Selfie"
  • 13-year-old Wesley Wang (New Jersey) gained nearly 100 FIDE rating points, earning the FM title – he was half a point short of his first IM norm
Two notable players who missed their GM norms were IM John Bartholomew and IM Praggnanandhaa. John Bartholomew has a great following on his Youtube channel.  He had an excellent performance, with an undefeated three wins and six draws. He had good winning chances against IM David Brodsky in the final round, but understandably drew the game in mutual time pressure:
[pgn][Event "Winter 2018 CCCSA GM/IM Norm Invitationa"]
[Site "Charlotte Chess Center"]
[Date "2018.01.15"]
[Round "9"]
[White "IM David Brodsky (2405)"]
[Black "IM John Bartholomew (2459)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[PlyCount "118"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8.
O-O-O Bd7 9. f4 Be7 10. Nf3 b5 11. e5 b4 12. exf6 bxc3 13. Qxc3 gxf6 14. Bh4 d5
15. Kb1 Rc8 16. Qe3 Qa5 17. Nd4 Qa4 18. b3 Qa3 19. Nxc6 Rxc6 20. Bd3 Bc5 21.
Qc1 Qxc1+ 22. Rxc1 Ke7 23. Rhe1 Bb4 24. Re2 Bc3 25. Rf1 Rc5 26. Rf3 d4 27. Be1
a5 28. Bc4 Bxe1 29. Rxe1 Rg8 30. g3 Bc6 31. Rd3 Rd8 32. Rd2 e5 33. Bd3 h6 34.
Rf2 Bb5 35. Bxb5 Rxb5 36. Rf3 Rc5 37. Re2 Rc3 38. Rf1 Ke6 39. fxe5 fxe5 40.
Ref2 Rdc8 41. Rf6+ Kd5 42. R1f2 R8c7 43. Rxh6 Ke4 44. Rhf6 d3 45. cxd3+ Kxd3
46. R6f3+ Kd4 47. Rxc3 Rxc3 48. Rxf7 e4 49. Kb2 Rc5 50. a3 e3 51. Re7 Rf5 52.
Rd7+ Ke4 53. Kc2 Rf2+ 54. Kd1 Rxh2 55. Re7+ Kd3 56. Rd7+ Kc3 57. Rc7+ Kd3 58.
Rd7+ Ke4 59. Re7+ Kd3 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Although he just missed the norm, John should be proud of his result, as he finished in clear first in a strong field, posting a 2568 FIDE performance. Chess fans around the world were also tracking the results of India’s Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu.  “Pragg” is the youngest IM in the world and still can break GM Sergey Karjakin’s record as the youngest Grandmaster in the world.  After a slow start, Pragg was able to score a solid 5/9 result. Although he finished a bit short of the GM norm, Praggnanandhaa had a great time in Charlotte, which was his second tournament in the United States.  He was not unscathed in a bullet duel with CCCSA’s Peter Giannatos: His positional outmaneuvering of his countryman GM Magesh Panchanathan was certainly a highlight:
[pgn][Event "Winter 2018 CCCSA GM/IM Norm Invitationa"]
[Site "Charlotte Chess Center"]
[Date "2018.01.13"]
[Round "4"]
[White "IM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu"]
[Black "GM Magesh Panchanathan (2486)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 d6 5. d4 exd4 6. Nxd4 Bd7 7. Bxc6 bxc6 8.
O-O Be7 9. Qf3 O-O 10. Re1 Rb8 11. b3 Rb4 12. Nf5 Bxf5 13. exf5 Qd7 14. Bb2 Re8
15. Ne2 d5 16. Ng3 Rh4 17. h3 Kf8 18. Re2 Bb4 19. Bxf6 gxf6 20. Rd1 Rxe2 21.
Qxe2 Qe8 22. Qxe8+ Kxe8 23. Ne2 Bc5 24. Kf1 Ke7 25. f4 Kd6 26. Rd3 a5 27. c3
Bb6 28. a4 Bc5 29. Rf3 Bb6 30. Ng3 Bc5 31. Ne2 Kd7 32. Nc1 Bd6 33. Nd3 c5 34.
c4 d4 35. Kf2 Kc6 36. Kg3 Rh5 37. Kg4 Rh6 38. Rg3 Kb6 39. Kf3 Rh5 40. Rg8 Kb7
41. Kg4 Rh6 42. h4 1-0[/pgn]
In the second GM group, IM John Burke and GM Denis Kadric tied for first with 6.5/9, with Burke earning his final GM norm in a very strong field.
Organizers Grant Oen (L) and Peter Giannatos (R) with GM-elect John Burke
In the IM Round Robin, many people were in norm contention throughout the event.  Benjamin Moon started off with the only 3-0 score of the tournament, but was unable to maintain his form and ended with an even score.  Moon’s first two games ended with checkmate!  In the first round, Chicago’s IM Angelo Young played a dubious opening and was brutally punished:
[pgn][Event "Winter 2018 CCCSA GM/IM Norm Invitationa"]
[Site "Charlotte Chess Center"]
[Date "2018.01.11"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Benjamin Moon (2317)"]
[Black "IM Angelo Young (2273)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[PlyCount "33"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]1. d4 c5 2. dxc5 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e4 Bxc5 5. e5 Qb6 6. exf6 Bxf2+ 7. Ke2 Bxg1
8. Rxg1 Qxg1 9. Qd6 gxf6 10. Be3 Qh1 11. Ne4 b6 12. Nxf6+ Kd8 13. Bg5 Ba6+ 14.
Kf2 h6 15. Bh4 Bb7 16. Nd5+ Kc8 17. Qc7# 1-0[/pgn]
Benjamin Moon vs Angelo Young 1-0
Moon also played a nice game in the Accelerated Dragon against Canadian FM Gary Ng in round 2, featuring a pretty checkmate:

Benjamin Moon vs. Gary Ng

White to move.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "Winter 2018 CCCSA GM/IM Norm Invitationa"]
[Site "Charlotte Chess Center"]
[Date "2018.01.11"]
[Round "2"]
[White "FM Gary Ng (2272)"]
[Black "Benjamin Moon (2317)"]
[Result "0-1"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/1p6/1n1k2p1/3P1pP1/1P3K1p/RB3P2/7P/1r6 b - - 0 40"]
[PlyCount "3"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]40... Rxb3 $1 {White resigned due to} 41. Rxb3 Nxd5# $1 0-1[/pgn]
  The winners of the IM section were Lithuanian IM Titas Stremavicius (pictured below), who plays for the UT Dallas chess team, and FM Jennifer Yu, who earned a double IM/WGM norm.
IM Titas Stremavicius
The event was a great success, as CM Wesley Wang became an FM, FM Kevin Wang became an IM, IM John Burke became a GM, and FM Jennifer Yu earned her second IM and WGM norms. The event was organized by the Charlotte Chess Center.  Games and standings can be found on Chessstream courtesy of Chacha Dejava.  Video interviews and pictures can be found on CCCSA’s Youtube Channel and Facebook page.  Thanks very much to FIDE Arbiters Korey Kormick and Anand Dommalapati for directing the event.  Both earned International Arbiter norms.  Our next Round Robin event is March 28 – April 1.
About the Author
Grant Oen is the Manager of FIDE Ratings and US Chess Titles and Certifications for US Chess.  He also works for the Charlotte Chess Center in North Carolina and is the youngest FIDE Arbiter in the United States.  He can be contacted at