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On Chess: Norm Tournament Brings Players From Around The World To St. Louis To Compete

The GM norm tournament champion was GM Evgeny Shtembuliak, a student at Texas Tech University.
Crystal Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

The 2019 St. Louis Norm Congress gave an opportunity to rising players to earn international master (IM) and grandmaster (GM) norms in two events. The fields were very diverse, and 10 different chess federations were represented, including Burundi, Denmark, and Peru.

Eleven out of the 20 participants represented the U.S., although most of the field currently resides in America. Five players were under 18, and everyone was under 35, making it an exceptionally youthful event.

Each section is required to have three players who have already achieved either the IM or GM title, which the other players are hoping to achieve. They are generally more highly rated than the rest of the field and serve as gatekeepers for the coveted norms.

Indeed, the gatekeepers did their job very well, as they finished at the top of their fields and none of the aspiring players managed to come out with a norm. Despite that, the tournament was anything but disappointing as it was full of fighting chess and young players gathered valuable experience for their next attempt at title norms.

Special mention should be made of 13-year-old Rochelle Wu, the youngest participant and only female player in the IM-norm section, who scored a very respectable 4/9, despite being the lowest rated by far. Another youngster, 14-year-old Justin Wang, took third place in the GM-norm section behind two GMs. Both players gained rating points.

In the end, San Diegan IM Keaton Kiewra scored 6.5/9 and won the IM-norm tournament by half a point over IM Luis Carlos Torres.

San Diegan IM Keaton Kiewra scored won the IM norm tournament.
Credit Crystal Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club
San Diegan IM Keaton Kiewra scored won the IM norm tournament.

The GM norm tournament was dominated by GM Evgeny Shtembuliak, a student at Texas Tech University, and GM Denes Boros, a St. Louis resident and frequent grandmaster-in-residence at the St. Louis Chess Club. They both scored 7/9 and played a thrilling rapid playoff to decide first place. Each won a game apiece, and the match went to Armageddon, where Shtembuliak, as white, had five minutes versus Boros' four minutes, with black having draw odds. In a drawish endgame, Boros blundered a double attack and lost a knight, making Shtembuliak the tournament champion.

The St. Louis Chess Club will continue with more very exciting events in the next few months. First up will be the 2019 Summer Chess Classic from June 18-28, featuring three separate tournaments of six-player double round robins. The top group will be around 2700 average, the strongest field to gather in St. Louis apart from the U.S. Championships and the Sinquefield Cup.

Following that, from July 10-20, we will be treated to three 10-player round robins: the U.S. Junior, U.S. Girls Junior, and the first edition of the U.S. Senior Championships, a highly anticipated tournament of American legends that will hark back to the U.S. Championships of the early 2000s.

There will be so much chess played this summer, fans will always have something to watch and learn from at the St. Louis Chess Club.

Grandmaster Lenderman’s chess career began in Brooklyn, New York, when he was four years old. He has won the 2009 Atlantic Open, co-championed the 2019 U.S. Open and the International Bavarian Chess Championship in 2014. In 2015, he was on the U.S. team to win the World Chess Team Championship, where he took home a gold medal for the second board with a score of five out of seven. He also won the World Open that same year with a score of seven out of nine.