Wednesday, July 17

Daniel Naroditsky Earns GM Title


For the young chess wizard Daniel Naroditsky, the journey to the Grandmaster title reads much like an epic poem by Homer.  Sharing a birthday with the great Mikhail Tal, the precocious Danya seemed destined to reach the highest level of international chess. His passport quickly filled with stamps from tournaments all around the world:  Ecuador, France, Georgia (the country) and Vietnam to name a few.

Learning from the champ himself: Garry Kasparov
My first recollection of the short Russian-American boy who needed a booster chair just to see the board dates back to the 2005 Far West Open in Reno.  Only 9 years old, Daniel dominated the B section with 5.5 out of 6, yielding a draw to my close friend, who finished in second place.  He captured the CalChess High School Championship at age 11, holding a draw against top seed and future GM Sam Shankland in the final round.  For an encore, he took on the World, winning the 2007 World Youth U12 in Turkey.  The climax saw Danya victorious as black against another future GM, with his California fans watching online in the middle of the night.

Daniel with fellow master Steven Zierk,
co-champs at 2008 CalChess Scholastics
As Daniel became more skilled, his aspirations shifted to international tournaments and norms.  He earned the titles of USCF National Master and FIDE Master during the final months of 2007.  The next giant leap came at the 2009 Western Chess Congress in Concord, where he finished clear first ahead of an octet of International Masters.  Not just a tournament player, Daniel undertook the monumental task of writing and editing a book on Mastering Positional Chess (published in March 2010).  The youngest chess author in the World finally scored three IM norms from July 2010 to January 2011, securing the coveted title on home turf at the 2011 Berkeley International.

The Grandmaster title would take another 2.5 years.  Danya quickly picked up the first GM norm at the 2011 Villa de Benasque Open in Spain, maintaining an undefeated record against six hungry Grandmasters, including three of the top five seeds.  However, the second GM norm proved more elusive.  Although most teenagers rest their tired brains during Spring Break, the energetic young master flew across country to share top honors at the 2013 Philadelphia Open, a feat worthy of another norm.  Three months later, Danya tempted fate at the 2013 Villa de Benasque Open, hoping for lightning to strike twice.  Thanks to another undefeated performance versus Grandmasters, it did!  Watch how the youthful author of Mastering Complex Endgames (published in January 2013) converts a middlegame edge into a winning minor piece endgame.

Congratulations to GM-elect Daniel Naroditsky!  As a friend, former coach and fan of the royal game, it has been an honor watching this young star shine over the years.  Indeed, his love for chess radiates warmly into anyone in his company for even a short while.  Here's wishing all the best for the remainder of the summer and a final year of high school!

Make sure to check out Daniel's personal website at

For most enthusiastic chess players, winning the US Junior Invitational and subsequently completing the final GM norm would suffice for a successful summer of chess.  Not Daniel!  He started another tournament in Spain, the Cuitat de Balaguer Open, and already won the first three rounds.  And before returning to the Bay Area, the frequent flyer travels to Riga, the capital of Latvia, for one more event.  Gooood luck!

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