Monday, July 16

IM Norms for Liou and Sevian

11-year old Sam Sevian with coach IM Andranik Matikozyan.
A pair of popular Bay Area juniors traveled to downtown Los Angeles for the 20th Metropolitan Chess FIDE Invitational. Despite stiff veteran competition and long odds that became longer at the last minute, they shared first place and each earned an IM norm. Congratulations to 15-year old FM Yian Liou and 11-year old NM Sam Sevian!

The 10-player round-robin (all-play-all) featured three International Masters, four foreign players (including two of the IMs), plus a trio of talented juniors.  The competitors clashed in a grueling schedule of nine rounds over five days, each game taking up to six hours.  Originally, the organizer Ankit Gupta of Metropolitan Chess planned for a score of +4 (6.5/9) to earn one of the three norms required for the IM title.  Unfortunately, one foreign player was replaced by a lower rated one on short notice, thereby increasing the norm threshold to a very demanding +5 (7.0/9).

FM Yian Liou
Yian and Sam squared off right away in round 1, and after some adventures, they agreed to a draw.  After that, their results mirrored each other for much of the tournament.  Both found a way to score points with either color, and both won three games in a row.  Indeed, Yian and Sam finished with the same result (win or draw) against six of the other eight participants.  Both drew with top seed IM Andranik Matikozyan, who is Sam's personal coach.  Most importantly, neither lost a game.  At the end, they easily clinched norms by splitting the point in the last round. 

For my former student Yian, this was a well-deserved first IM norm after some close calls.  Bravo!  Local whizkid Sam picked up his second norm of the summer, further confirming the #1 FIDE rating in the World for U-12,  To qualify for the IM title, Yian and Sam will need to complete three norms and raise their FIDE rating to 2400.  While both broke 2400 USCF this week, their international ratings lag behind at about 2350 and 2320, respectively. 
Kesav Viswanadha

In case anyone wonders, the youngest International Master in history appears to be Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine at 11 years and 11 months.  Karjakin then became the youngest Grandmaster ever at 12 years and 7 months, and now is ranked #6 in the world.

A third Bay Area junior also left his mark.  Kudos to 12-year old Kesav Viswanadha for fighting hard against challenging opposition.  After a slow start, he finished with 50% over the last five rounds.  Kesav won one game--against second seed IM Zhanibek Amanov of Kazakhstan.  No doubt, he gained tons of experience in addition to a few rating points.