Friday, July 4

Yian Liou Secures 3rd IM Norm!

Yian wears his Stanford colors while playing chess in Paracin, Serbia

Bay Area 17-year old Yian Liou completed his third and final norm for the International Master title this week at a small invitational tournament held in Novi Sad, Serbia.  Rated in the middle of the field, his opposition included four GMs, three IMs and three fellow norm contenders.  He scored an undefeated 6.0 out of 10 for a 2471 performance, despite the handicap of being paired as black six times.  While most of the strongest players hailed from Serbia, Yian also faced opponents from Russia, Germany, Italy and the USA.  A true international event.

Center of Novi Sad, Serbia.
The first two rounds clearly set the tone: first a solid draw with the black pieces against top seeded GM Borko Lajthajm (2526) and then a win against veteran GM Vladimir Kostic (2400).  The latter game became Yian's first Grandmaster scalp, although he already accumulated a lengthy history of draws against strong titled players.  The second victory came in a complex endgame versus the American junior IM Akshat Chandra (check out his Quest to GM blog).

Yian's first two norms came at Metropolitan Chess in Los Angeles and the North American Open in Las Vegas, both in 2012.  He achieved a peak FIDE rating of 2403 in fall 2013.  However, the results stagnated over the past year, no doubt a consequence of a demanding academic and athletic schedule.  He begins the senior year next month at Monte Vista High School in Danville.

Yian at age 10. I promised not to embarrass
him too much in this article.  Sorry mate!
I still remember teaching young Yian as an 8-year old, fearful of my wheelchair.  He has doubled his rating since then, and lost any inhibition towards me or even the best chess players in the world.  When FIDE approves his title application, Yian will become my third former student to hold the IM title, behind Daniel Naroditsky (now a GM) and Steven Zierk (currently studying at MIT). 

What comes next for the young globe trotter?  The tour of Serbia continues this weekend at the Championship of Central Serbia in Paracin (top seed is GM Richard Rapport, rated 2701).  A third event follows, back in Novi Sad.  Good luck maestro!!  Pick up more rating points and maybe even a GM norm. :-)

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