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IM Shtembuliak Earns Second GM Norm

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.

The Players

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!

IM Balakrishnan’s draw in round eight:

1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Nc3 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bc5 7. Rb1 Nc6 8.

Qa4 O-O 9. Nf3 Bb6 10. O-O Bf5 11. d3 Qd7 12. Ba3 Rfe8 13. Ng5 Rad8 14. Rfe1 h6

15. Ne4 Bh3 16. c4 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 f5 18. Nc5 Bxc5 19. Bxc5 b6 20. Ba3 Re6 21.

Rec1 e4 22. dxe4 Qd4 23. Qc2 Qxe4+ 24. Qxe4 Rxe4 25. c5 b5 26. Rxb5 Rxe2 27.

Rb2 Rdd2 28. Rxd2 Rxd2 29. Rb1 Rxa2 30. Bc1 Ne7 31. Rb7 Nd5 32. Bf4 Nxf4+ 33.

gxf4 c6 34. Rc7 Ra6 35. h4 h5 36. Kf3 Kh7 37. Kg3 Kg6 38. Rd7 Kf6 39. Rd6+ Ke7

40. f3 Ra1 41. Kg2 a5 42. Rxc6 Kd7 43. Ra6 Kc7 44. c6 Ra4 45. Kg3 g6 46. Kg2

Rxf4 47. Rxa5 Rc4 48. Ra7+ Kb6 49. Rg7 Rxc6 50. Kg3 Kc5 51. Kf4 Kd5 52. Kg5 Rc3

53. Kf4 Rc6 1/2-1/2

IM Shtembuliak’s critical win in round nine:

1. Nf3 c5 2. e4 d6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Nc6 5. c3 e6 6. Bb3 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1

Qc7 9. d4 cxd4 10. cxd4 e5 11. h3 exd4 12. Nxd4 Nxd4 13. Qxd4 Be6 14. Nc3 Bxb3

15. axb3 a6 16. Bf4 Rac8 17. Red1 Rfd8 18. Ra4 Qd7 19. Qa7 Rc7 20. Rad4 Qe8 21.

Bxd6 Bxd6 22. Rxd6 Rxd6 23. Rxd6 Rd7 24. Rxd7 Qxd7 25. Qb8+ Ne8 26. Nd5 h6 27.

h4 Kh7 28. f3 Qc6 29. Qe5 Nf6 30. Kh2 b5 31. b4 Kh8 32. h5 Kh7 33. Qf5+ Kh8 34.

Nxf6 gxf6 35. e5 fxe5 36. Qxf7 Qd6 37. Kh3 Qc6 38. Qf8+ Kh7 39. Qf5+ Kg8 40.

Qg6+ Qxg6 41. hxg6 Kg7 42. Kh4 Kxg6 43. g4 Kf7 44. Kh5 Kg7 45. g5 hxg5 46. Kxg5

Kf7 47. Kf5 1-0


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.

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