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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 Cambridge IM Norm Invitational - Deviating from the Norm
 FM Jacob Chudnovsky
  April 2019

In August of 2018, I received an exciting email from Andrew Hoy, president of the Boylston Chess Club. Andrew was inviting me to participate in the BCC’s first round-robin IM norm event. I had heard discussions of such an event for at least two years, and earlier this year, the concept finally came to fruition. Although I am much older than most chess players working on their IM and GM norms, I have been experiencing a second chess youth since 2016 and thought I’d give it a shot.

The event consisted of 10 players in single round-robin format. The invitees included one GM (Alexander Ivanov), two IMs (Denys Shmelov and Yaacov Norowitz), and seven FMs vying for an IM norm. FM Carissa Yip was also eligible for a WGM norm. The required score for an IM norm was 6/9; for a WGM norm, 5.5/9. The time control was a generous 90 minutes / game, with a 30-second increment starting from move 1. The increment made a huge difference, allowing time to think on every move and making a loss on time extremely unlikely. The increment also made it both possible and required to record every move, even with less than 5 minutes remaining on the clock. This was a FIDE rule implemented for the event, along with others such as a zero-tolerance policy for use of cell phones. I didn’t find the rules burdensome at all. In fact, the cell phone policy was very nice. Although >99% of chess players don’t use cell phones to cheat, it’s always disruptive when someone’s phone goes off during a round.

The tournament was won by GM Ivanov, who finished in clear first with a score of 6.5/9. IM Shmelov and FM Hans Niemann split second-third places with 6/9. This meant FM Niemann achieved an IM norm. As it happened, it was the third and final norm he needed for the title. Congrats to GM Ivanov and IM-elect Niemann!