First GM Norm in Saint Louis

Published 4/28/2024 


Hello everyone! A few months ago, I played a norm tournament organized by the 1000 GM organization in Saint Louis and I was able to score my first GM norm. In the past there have been many instances where I have missed the norm by just half a point, but this time I was able to persevere and win 3 games in a row at the end to achieve my maiden GM norm.


In the first game, I played against Mongolian Grandmaster Dambasuren Batsuren with the black pieces. Since I needed 7/9 for a GM norm in this event, I knew a loss would pretty much end my chances for the norm. Therefore, I decided to try to play a solid game. However, that soon became impossible after a chaotic position arised from a seemingly calm English opening.

A good start to the event! We entered a sharp position and I was able to calculate my way to the finish line and win the game.


In Round 2 I played against IM-Elect Grayson Rorrer who also ended up getting a GM Norm! Prior to the game, I knew that Grayson knew a lot of theory and my main goal was to get him out of his preparation as soon as I could.

This game was certainly a rollercoaster and a hard one to recover from. I was instantly crushed when I got back to the hotel room and found out that I was -10 in the endgame. However, I knew that what was done was done and there was nothing I could do about it. The best thing I could do was focus on the next game.


In Round 3 I played against NM Julian Proleiko with the white pieces. He was the 2nd lowest rated player in the field, so I knew that this was a game that I needed to win in order to keep norm chances alive. That being said, Julian is not an easy opponent to play against and he quickly achieved equality entering the middlegame.


We entered a symmetrical middle game position with only queens and rooks on the boards, and I thought that I wouldn’t get any chances to win the game. However, Julian played Qe2 in the following position and my eyes lit up as I realized that I had a chance to win the game. Can you spot the tactic? White to move in the following position:



Answer: Rd8! 

Here is how the game went:

A bit of a lucky win for me, and it certainly makes up for the result earlier that day in Round 2.



In Round 4, I played IM Tianqi Wang with the black pieces. I’ve played with Tianqi before, and I had a feeling that a sharp position would quickly arise from this game.

Another game in which I was not able to consolidate my advantage. This game certainly took its toll on my energy especially given the final result, but I do have to give my opponent praise as he found good moves in important moments.



In Round 5, I played against GM Luka Budisavljevic with the white pieces. Based on the current circumstances after drawing two previous games in a winning positions, I was in a position where I needed to push for a win this game. However, after a long 5+ hour game that morning, my energy levels weren’t at their highest and I quickly lost any advantage I had going into the middlegame.

After this draw, I was at 3.5/5 and needed 3 wins and 1 draw in the second half of the tournament to clinch the norm. Certainly not an easy task as I knew I also had the highest rated player in the field in the last round.


In Round 6 I played against WGM Tatev Abrahamyan with the black pieces. We entered a sharp position after 20+ moves of theory, and my risk taking strategy based on the tournament situation ultimately led me to struggle for a draw in this game.

All I can say is that I was lucky not to lose this game! At this point I felt pretty defeated as I knew I had to win my final 3 games in order to get the norm which wasn’t very likely.



In Round 7 I played against IM Kostya Kavutskiy with the white pieces. He wasn’t having a great tournament, and I used that to my advantage. At this point, I stopped thinking about the norm and just focused on playing good chess.

Certainly one of the better games that I played this tournament. I was able to take advantage of his crucial mistakes and finish the game with some tactics. After this game I was on 5/7, and I needed to win my final 2 games on demand for the norm!



In Round 8 I played against WGM Beloslava Krasteva who comes from the same country as me. After some complications in the middlegame where she missed a chance to take an advantage, we entered an equal endgame with both of us only having a couple of minutes left on the clock. I was playing with the black pieces in the following endgame: 


An important victory as I now only needed one last win to clinch the norm. I had little time to rest after this 5 hour game, but I gathered all of the strength I had left to finish the tournament.



In Round 9, I played against GM Robby Kevlishvili with the white pieces. In previous events, I’ve had moments where I’ve failed to get the norm becuase of the nerves entering the final round game. In this tournament, I tried my best to approach this game as a normal game without thinking too much about the norm.

A huge moment for me as I achieved my maiden GM norm! Upon reflection, I think that it’s a lot easier to get a norm without thinking about it too much. If there’s any advice that I can give players who are norm seekers, I would say that you should just play the game without worrying about the norm too much. Overall, this tournament is definitely an experience that I will not forget and with any luck, I’ll hopefully be able to get my final 2 norms in the upcoming tournaments. 

Picture with GM Var Akobian (organizer of the event) receiving the norm certificate



Thank you for reading! Comment below if you have any questions or anything of the sort 🙂

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