The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club (see photo at right) hosts at least one FIDE norm tournament each year to offer local masters the opportunity to face strong competition and perhaps even take a step towards the International Master title. The organizer is Chess Room Director IM John Donaldson, assisted by IM David Pruess. Scheduled for the last two weeks of August, this year's tournament is named after a longtime chess master, director and book collector living in the East Bay: Alan B. Benson.
The participants include four International Masters and six norm seekers for an average rating of 2323 FIDE. In order to achieve one of the three norms required for the IM title, the candidate must finish with a performance rating above 2450 FIDE, meaning a score of 6.5 in this tournament (6.0 for the four lowest rated players). This standard is difficult, but certainly not impossible for the young and talented masters in the field.
- IM Vladimir Mezentsev (RUS), 2400
- IM Ricardo DeGuzman (PHI), 2389, most active titled player in Bay Area
- IM Odondoo Ganbold (MGL), 2380
- IM John Grefe (USA), 2369, former US Champion (1973)
- FM Sam Shankland (USA), 2368, age 16, highest rated Northern California junior
- FM Daniel Naroditsky (USA), 2313, age 12, World U12 champion
- FM Bela Evans (USA), 2279
- FM Richard Lobo (ENG), 2261
- NM Michael Aigner (USA), 2234
- NM Gregory Young (USA), 2233, age 13, US Junior co-champion
Stay tuned for further updates on this blog over the next two weeks as this tournament wraps up before Labor Day. I will play four of my remaining five games between August 16 and 19, including challenging pairings as black against both of the top two seeds. Please wish me skill and luck, because I'll certainly need a lot of both.