The 2018 Minnesota GM Norm Tournament was held at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West, Plymouth, Minnesota, USA. This is the second edition of the norm tournament and only the second norm tournament held in Minnesota. The ten-player round robin event began Friday, June 15th and concluded on June 19th. The field consisted of three Grand Masters, five International Masters, two FIDE Masters, and four federations were represented: Macedonia, Ukraine, India, and United States. A GM norm required 6.5 points and an IM norm required 4.5 points. There were three prizes of $1500, $1000, and $500. IA Bill Broich and FA David Kuhns were the arbiters.
Shtembuliak Earns GM Norm
IM Evgeny Shtembuliak is a native of Odessa, Ukraine and majors in finance at Texas Tech University. As a young junior he finished second in the U8, U10, and U12 European Championships.
In addition to IM Shtembuliak, GM Vladimir Georgiev, a native of Bulgaria, and GM Nikola Mitkov, a native of Macedonia, were invited to compete. Both GMs are chess professionals, giving private lessons and running scholastic chess programs in the Chicago area.
Three competitors, GM Andrew Tang, IM Sean Nagle, and IM John Bartholomew, live in the Minneapolis area, all having grown up in Minnesota. GM Tang is a 2018 high school graduate with a long chess resume of accomplishments and is the first Minnesota grown GM. IM Bartholomew is graduate of the University of Texas in Dallas, well known for its strong chess program. Bartholomew is a chess professional providing private lessons and is well known for his appearances on Youtube and Twitch TV. IM Nagle is an attorney practicing law. He is eight-time Minnesota state champion.
Sixteen-year old IM Praveen Balakrishnan is pursuing his first GM norm. IM Balakrishnan is the 2017 Denker champion and is competing in the U.S. Junior Championship. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia where he will be a junior next fall.
When IM Steven Zierk agreed to play in this event, he was hoping to earn his final GM norm, not knowing that he had achieved his final GM norm a week prior to the start of this tournament. When he arrived for this event, he was referred to as GM-elect Steven Zierk. Zierk, a recent MIT graduate, is best known for being the 2010 World Under 18 Chess Champion. He is a native of the San Francisco Bay area.
FM Gauri Shankar is a Chicago area native, with five IM norms. He won the 2006 US Junior Open Chess Champion and 2007 Biel International Youth Chess Champion. He must achieve a 2400 FIDE rating to receive the IM title.
The youngest competitor in the tournament was FM Justin Wang. FM Wang has one IM norm. He is the top rated twelve-year-old in the country in the most recent US Chess top 100 lists, May 2018. He traveled from Houston, Texas to play in this event. Other accomplishments with chess include a tie for first in the 2017 Barber Tournament of K-8 Championships. In addition, FM Wang tied for second in the 2017 U12 World Cadet Championships.
Crucial Round Eight
Going into round eight two players had GM norm chances. IM Balakrishnan needed to win his final games to earn a GM norm. IM Shtembuliak needed one point. IM Balakrishnan faced GM Georgiev, the top seeded player in the tournament in the eighth round. They drew, ending IM Balakrishnan’s norm quest. He played well throughout the tournament but came up short. To add to the drama, IM Shtembuliak lost to GM Tang in the eighth round. Now he needed to defeat IM Balakrishnan in round nine to earn the GM norm!
We would like to express our great appreciation to Kimberly and Norbert Kusters for their generous donations to our norm tournament. We are also very grateful to Rochester Chess Club and Beginners Mind Chess for their support to the tournament.
IA Bill Broich is an International Arbiter residing in Des Moines, Iowa. Mr. Broich works in the insurance industry.
Patrick Tang is a chess parent and a volunteer for helping organize high level chess tournaments in Minnesota. Mr. Tang lives in the Minneapolis area and works for non-profit company.