Category Archives: Chess

Meeting the Legend Once Again!
A session with Garry Kasparov

Last month, a group of 5 young players were invited to an evaluation session by Garry Kasparov as part of the “Young Stars-USA” program sponsored by Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) and the St. Louis Chess Club (CCSCSL). This was my second time at the session, having attending the last one about a year ago.

Meeting Garry truly energizes me. I felt I was a stronger player just being in his company.  I wrote an article about the session on Chessbase and on US Chess. Have fun reading the articles, which have different studies.

Garry Kasparov and Akshat Chandra at a Chess session - Dec 2014

Garry Kasparov and Akshat Chandra at a Chess session – Dec 2014


Garry Kasparov and Akshat Chandra

Garry Kasparov and Akshat Chandra – Dec 2014

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Final impressions of the Qatar Masters

The recently concluded Qatar Masters 2014 was surprisingly won by Chinese GM Yu Yangyi. I say surprisingly because when there are players like Kramnik and Giri playing, one seems to forget about everyone else. As the tournament drew to a close, Yangyi upped his level of play and skillfully composed a symphony of wins in the final three games. He finished the tournament with an incredible score of 7.5/9 (+6, =3, -0), +21 in rating, and a 2905 performance! In this one tournament, which was the strongest Open ever, he surged on the World Rankings list to number 22, with a LIVE rating of 2730. This makes him China’s new highest rated player, eclipsing Ding Liren, who is at 2727.

After the last round, Yangyi was gracious enough to sit down with me for an interview, which was uniquely done through the use of Google’s online translator. The reason for this was because neither he, nor his group of friends, were comfortable with English. My Chinese was completely nonexistent as well, beyond Xie-Xie or Syeh-Syeh (Thank You). The online translations were not so accurate, and were quite nonsensical at times. But I kind of knew we were on the right track when our faces would light up occasionally, as we read the translations on the computer. I tried my best to piece together the fragments of his responses that made sense, and have also paraphrased at certain points.

Akshat Chandra: First of all, congratulations on winning the strongest Open tournament ever! What was your mindset going into the last round; was your plan to go all out for a win, or just play solidly and see what happens?

Yu Yangyi: Thank you (smiles)! I am very happy to have won this tournament. For the last round, I didn’t think too much about winning, and just wanted to play a normal game.

Akshat: How was your game today? It looks like you won quite smoothly against such a strong opponent.

Yangyi: I played this game well, and it was a high-quality game for which I was glad. In the game against the American GM (Aleksandr Lenderman), I made some mistakes, which could have cost me dearly and thrown me out of the race.

Akshat: You managed to break Kramnik’s Berlin, something Kasparov could not do.

Yangyi: (smiles) obviously my opponent is well respected and known for his knowledge in the Berlin.

Akshat: Where are you from in China, and what age did you start playing chess?

Yangyi: My hometown is the city of Huangshi, which is in the province of Hubei. I started playing chess at the age of seven years.

Akshat: This is probably the biggest win, and result of your career. China is doing well in chess recently – your team won the Olympiad earlier, and now you have won the Qatar Masters! We are waiting for a Chinese player to become world champion.

Yangyi: Recently, for me and my teammates, it has been going very well. This is definitely the biggest achievement of my career so far. With regards to future a world champion, I personally feel that there is a gap still between me and the world super-class players, and I need to continue the effort. The achievements of a single event does not mean anything.

After our talk, I got the impression from his responses that Yangyi is a very modest and humble person. He is not looking too far ahead, and recognizes the fact that the effort and work must still continue. Like he said, the achievement of one tournament does not mean anything, and that he must continue to get even better! Winning the Qatar Masters 2014 was the biggest achievement of Yangyi’s young, promising career, but he has had many other notable results. Here is a compilation of some of them, which my ChessBase colleague Sagar Shah neatly put together:

  • Won the 2014 Chinese Championship (on tiebreak) with a score of 7/11 and a 2679 performance
  • Won the 2014 Asian Continental Championship with a score of 7/9 and 2789 performance
  • Won the 2013 World Junior Championship with a score of 11/13 and a 2792 performance
  • Won the Danzhou tournament in 2011 at the age of 16, with a score of 7/9 and a 2878 performance

The emergence of players like Yangyi certainly bodes well for the future of chess in China, and I for one expect to see him firmly established among the world’s elite shortly.

Former World Champion GM Vladimir Kramnik, who was leading the tournament going into the final round before losing to Yangyi, gave a press conference after his seventh round win against top seed GM Anish Giri. I was fortunate enough to be present, and was able to ask him a couple of questions.

Akshat: Vladimir, when was the last time you played an open tournament? The Qatar Masters must be very special to attract a player like you, and also, do you plan on playing more open tournaments in the future?

Vladimir: I never mind playing open tournaments. Actually I haven’t played for more than 20 years I think, but I played Olympiads for example, which have a similar atmosphere. I always enjoy that, and here in Qatar I know this gentleman well (referring to GM Mohamed Al-Medaihki), and I know that the organization will be perfect. Also, it’s a very strong open tournament. I wouldn’t play an average open, but here it’s more interesting, so I don’t mind playing at all. I don’t think I will play lots of open tournaments because I have enough of top tournaments also. But for instance next year, I would be happy to come back again!

Akshat: Vladimir, was it due to nerves that you drew the first two games? You know, trying to settle down into the open tournament format. Also, what has sparked your turnaround over the last five rounds?

Vladimir: Well, I don’t know, all these years it happens often with players that you get into the tournament slowly. I just was a little bit slow in the beginning, but I also have to admit that my opponents played very well first two rounds (GMs Halikas Stelios from Greece, and Shyam Sundar from India). They were playing much above their rating, and I don’t feel like I played badly. I was a bit disappointed; not with my play, but more with the result. Usually, when you play well, if you keep on playing well, at some point you start winning. I was not worrying about winning many games, I was just focusing on playing well after this negative start. I managed, and victories came even more than I expected so far.

I soaked in his words, his detailed and informative responses, and stored the answers in my brain: as long you keep on playing well, the results will eventually come; and a slow start can be overcome, as long as your game is strong.

I also had a chance during the tournament to have engaging conversations with Khalifa Al-Hitmi, President of the Qatar Chess Association. He was a very charming and affable person. When he saw me wondering when Vladimir Kramnik last played an Open tournament, he laughed heartily and said that it was well before I was born. Even Kramnik was not sure. But Mr. Hitmi knew! The last open tournament Kramnik played in was 22 years ago – the Alekhine Open in 1992.

During one of our after-round evening conversations, Mr. Hitmi told me that they had to refuse 200 players, which included 30 GMs, because there was no capacity. He believes that for the 2015 edition, they will try to accommodate a few more – perhaps about 20 to 30 strong players – as they want the elite nature of the tournament to be preserved. They have already started the process of selecting venues, and are reviewing four such locations in and around Doha. The dates are expected to be around the same time as this year.

On a personal note, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and opportunity to play in Qatar. The organization was flawless, and the playing conditions were just marvelous. My feelings are captured succinctly in the three words made famous by the Terminator: I’ll be back.

Doha is a city where the drill never stops. During the day, there is the constant noise of construction, as you walk around the city. There are cultural landmarks being built, and of course the preparation for the 2022 Football World Cup. Things are fairly easygoing for a tourist, but the roads are quite stressful, as drivers don’t stop for pedestrians!

I had an opportunity to visit one of the iconic cultural symbols of the city, The Museum of Islamic Arts (above). It was quite a captivating experience, and I was particularly impressed with the special exhibit on Tipu Sultan, a famous Indian warrior and ruler of Southern India.

I wrote this article for Chessbase and it can be viewed here.

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The Missed Combination Of A Lifetime


Actual Postion - Black to Move now in a combination  which  secures a decisive advantage

Actual Position – Black to move now in a combination which secures a decisive advantage

An article I wrote was published on Chessbase.  I had posted the combination puzzle as ‘Insane Tactic‘ on the blog earlier. For the article I was able to interview GM Liem Le Quang. The smart folks at Chessbase created the exact position in a 3D board (pictured above) using Fritz,  If you haven’t tried figuring out the winning combination for Black, please go ahead and use the board above. The Board’s on Fire! Black to move…

I’ve copied some of the Chessbase article below.  For the rest, you’ve to go to Chessbase.


The Missed Combination of a Lifetime

We’ve all had games where we have overlooked a dazzling combination, and in fact went on to lose. It’s an extremely painful feeling when you find out that you missed out on winning the game with a beautiful finish. I spotted a particularly dramatic example from the Asian Continental in 2012, and discussed it with the player involved. It’s a jewel of a combination.

Liem: “It would have been my best game ever …”

A month ago, I came across a game which had an extremely exciting and complicated position. It took place during the Asian Continental Chess Championship 2012 held in the city of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The game was between…

Chinese GM Ni Hua, currently rated 2677 and ranked number 67 in the world, and..

Chinese GM Ni Hua, currently rated 2677 and ranked number 67 in the world, and..

Vietnamese GM Liem Le Quang, rated 2678, number 63 in the world.

Vietnamese GM Liem Le Quang, rated 2678, number 63 in the world.

Ni,Hua (2673) – Le Quang,Liem (2703) [B84]

Asian Continental op Ho Chi Minh City (8), 12.05.2012

What is going on here? The board is on fire, everything seems to be hanging, and both kings look relatively unsafe. White has just thrusted forward with 29.g6, and it seems his attack has broken through first, as there seems to be no satisfactory way to deal with the threat of 30.Qxh7. Liem played 29…h5??, after which White won with 30.Qxh5 Ba3+ 31.Kxb3 1-0.

Sadly for Liem he was unable to find an extraordinary, albeit difficult, tactical refutation to White’s g6 move, and missed out on a glorious win. I connected with him a few days ago to get his perspective, and insights. Reminiscing about the game he told me, “It would have been my best game ever if I had not missed that combination.” He was very polite and gracious to answer some of my questions about the game.

Akshat: What was the time situation at that point (move 29) – specifically how much time did you have?

Liem: I think both Ni Hua and I had around ten minutes at that point, with 30 seconds increment per move – but that doesn’t help much in this situation.

Read more on Chessbase

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To Take, or Not to Take?

I came across a game between British GMs John Nunn and Mark Hebden from the recently concluded World Seniors Championship. There was a very neat finish to the game, and so I thought I’ll share it.

In a lost endgame position, Hebden tried his last chance with …Rg1:

How should White react?

A) Kxg1 – Capture Black’s Rook, or

B) Kf3 – Decline the sacrifice?

Happy Solving! Enjoy!


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Insane Tactic

I was going through some games, and I came across one which had an extremely exciting and complicated position. The game was between former Chinese Super GM Ni, Hua, and Vietnamese Super GM Le Quang, Liem.

Going back to the position before move h5, your move is to find the winning combination for Black. Take your time, because it’s quite difficult; probably an 8 on a scale of 10 :).

Black to move. Good Luck!

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The Chicago Open 2014
Stricter Rules on Players Leaving the Playing Area

Recently I learnt about a comment being floated by chess player Gopal Menon.  He is aggrieved at two incidents that occurred at the Chicago Open in May 2014 when he played me, and then another player later in the tournament.  First let’s look at what he wrote:

Gopal Menon

“After a very long and difficult week of chess I had time to do a little reflection: Despite starting well at the Chicago Open, managing to beat 2 Grandmasters in the first 2 rounds, my tournament somehow fell apart around the middle. I realize that at the end of the day that I and only I am responsible for the result that I had, however there were two incidents in particular that I felt affected my performance. During my round 4 game with IM Akshat Chandra I was accused of cheating by him and his father no more than four (!) times during the same game. The first complaint was apparently by Akshat which I put to rest, however his father kept repeatedly making the same claims that I was cheating in some way.
There is a very simple explanation for all this, as many of my colleagues know I have a bad habit of smoking. During the game I was drinking coffee as well so I ended up using the bathroom a bit more than usual as well. Followed to the bathroom by the tournament director, no electronic devices were found on my person. In fact, this was a day where I had forgotten my cell phone at home! I understand the right to complain of supposedly suspicious behavior, but to complain as many times as my opponent’s father did, especially for someone who is not playing the game, should be considered harassment. Especially on account of the lack of evidence each time a tournament director confronted me (no electronic devices, smoking within view of people etc). This harassment had a very clear effect on me as the repeated accusations had clouded my thinking and I ended up blowing a winning position, finishing with a draw. This got me thinking that claims for cheating should be made solely by the opponents or tournament participants/directors as well as there being some sort of consequences for repeated accusations which have no base (once again, harassment).
Another incident which irked me greatly was when a tournament participant who for now shall remain nameless used a cell phone wand (given to her by a member of the tournament director staff(!)) on me while I was sitting in time pressure with 2 minutes to make 10 moves in order to reach time control…[rest deleted]”

Gopal is right that I brought his unusual behavior to the Tournament Director (TD) / Arbiter’s attention.  But he is wrong on pretty much everything else.   Here’s what my father informed me and I paraphrase here.

My father – “It appears to me that Gopal completely missed out the 10 – 15 minutes of security protocol lecture from the tournament organizers. The emphasis on anti-cheating measures was the strongest at any CCA tournament thus far, and the lecture so detailed and lengthy that it delayed the round by about 15 minutes.  Gopal seems to have missed it all, which could very well be since he arrived late to the table. In the lecture, the TDs were very clear about what is acceptable and what is unusual behavior, and the importance of not having any devices on person in the restroom. They designated an official restroom and the official playing area, which was the playing hall and the narrow strip in-front of the entrance door, the official bathroom and the analysis room. The Chief TD mentioned explicitly that anyone who leaves the playing area during an ongoing game to go to the far away restroom or to hotel reception area or outside the hotel will be a person of interest for TDs and will have a greater chance of inviting a scan with the cell phone wand (detector). If a cell phone is found, the game will be forfeited (for the Open section, and other penalties for non-FIDE sections). Outside the official restroom, the organizers provided a desk to deposit any devices before entering the restroom. Gopal repeatedly left the playing hall for a number of minutes during a few moves, and his continued lengthy absence often on immediate moves was considered unusual by my son.

Akshat mentioned this unusual behavior to the TD inside the hall  saying that “My opponent (Gopal) isn’t probably doing anything wrong, but his behavior is unusual and so I thought I’ll tell you guys just to be sure.” He never said to the TD that Gopal is cheating.  But like any other player, if you see something unusual, you must say something during the game, and that’s what Akshat did.  The TD told Akshat that they will be watchful. I informed the TD outside the hall who was monitoring players leaving the playing area. He simply asked me the Table # and told me that the player must inform any of the TDs inside, which Akshat had already done. At that time Gopal was leaving the playing area and the TD knew who I was talking about.  That was the only one time I spoke to the TDs. I never spoke to them again. So when Gopal continues to say that I complained 4 times to the TD, he is simply assuming and not realizing that the TD’s interest was raised because of his activities.  As Gopal himself mentioned that he kept leaving the playing hall for various reasons. It’s clear that any subsequent interest shown in him by the TDs was because he was leaving the Playing Area repeatedly – whether going outside for a smoke or going to the far away restroom instead of the official one.  That was exactly what the organizers/Arbiter had informed the players will invite additional scrutiny and the cell phone scan. But it’s obvious that Gopal had missed all those instructions by arriving late for the game.  To me this appears like a self-inflicted problem.  Of course, Gopal must have been annoyed because during the game he bumped me hard on the way to his board while I was observing some games.

In any case, regarding blowing away a winning position, if it makes Gopal feel any better there was no such decisive advantage to blow away.  I’ve asked Akshat to post the game below.”  (End of Paraphrasing)

So that’s my father’s account. It’s important to clarify such a misunderstanding. I wish Gopal would have brought it up in the Analysis room during our post-game review. The fact that he was scanned several times had nothing to do with me or my father. Arbiters don’t take too kindly to intervention by non-players.  It was due to Gopal’s own repeated exit of the Playing Area. Hope he realizes that now.

Gopal is a very good chess player who is underrated.  Good luck to him.

Here’s the game we played:

TD at the Chicago Open outside the Official Restroom – all devices had to be deposited before entering the restroom.


The Seventh Samurai

I came across a post written by a fellow chess enthusiast, Dana Mackenzie, on his blog, He really wrote an awesome article profiling me, and I want to express my gratitude to him.

Thanks Dana !

The first lines are:

“Not long ago I wrote here jokingly about the fact that the U.S. has “too many” young players getting IM and GM norms. I hope everyone realizes I wasn’t serious… This is a true golden era of American chess.  Today I was browsing the list of the top 100 juniors in the world, and I came across a name I hadn’t seen before:

81. Chandra, Akshat (USA) 2442

There are seven Americans on the list, and all of the others are very familiar to me. Ray Robson at #10/11. Daniel Naroditsky, chess author and last year’s U.S. Junior champion, at #21. Kayden Troff, the current U.S. Junior champion, at #39. Darwin Yang at #47. Samuel Sevian at #63. And even Jeffrey Xiong at #86 is someone I knew about. But who is Akshat Chandra?….  “

To read the full post, click here !

He refers to me as the “Seventh Samurai,” a reference to the famous 1954 movie “Seven Samurai.” I must say I like that title a lot, and will now definitely go by that nickname in the future 🙂

Peace out – The Seventh Samurai.

9-year old storms through GMs!

I thought I’ll share an article I just published on ChessBase.  It was about a 9-year old beating a couple of GM’s. I don’t know the young phenom, but such a feat is extremely rare and highly impressive at his age. That’s why I thought I’ll provide some coverage on it and highlight his accomplishment to a broader and appreciative chess community. Hopefully the exposure he’s getting on a premier chess new site like Chessbase will assist him in getting even more recognition in his country and the support he may need, and very well deserves. The entire article can be viewed here.  The first few lines are reposted below. If you have comments on the article, please post them on Chessbase and share your like/dislike preference.



A few weeks ago I was randomly surfing some chess results, and stumbled on to a tournament played in Uzbekistan. I went through the results of the first round to see if there were any major upsets, and as I was about to move on, something caught my eye. I noticed that a very high-rated GM (exactly 2600) Andrei Zhigalko lost his first round to a 2057 FIDE rated player. This is of course a huge upset.  But what makes it even more incredible is that the 2057 was a 9 year old! That’s right, a 9 year old took down a 2600. This was no fluke or a flippant move by the opponent turning into a major blunder. This was a gritty, square-by-square grind-down in which the 9 year old FM Nodirbek Abdusattorov from Uzbekistan prevailed.

9-year old FM Nodirbek Abdusattorov

9-year old FM Nodirbek Abdusattorov


Like Mike!

Sorry my dear readers, it’s been a crazy month and a half in which I played 4 norm tournaments, striking gold in one of them! But that’s not the subject I wish to discuss right now. After a long period of dormancy, I’m back to updating the blog with some new posts.

Ever heard the expression “Like Mike?”

Maybe you’ve seen the movie. The ‘Mike’ in context refers to the greatest basketball player ever, Michael Jordan. Well there’s another Mike here in the chess world whom I’d like to bring to your attention, and his name is Michael Regan.

Who’s that you might ask?

Well, in my opinion he is one of the finest chess tournament organizers here in America!

Mike is the Treasurer of the Maryland Chess Association.  Even more important, he is the chief organizer of the major tournaments in the state of MD, and truly the force that has brought forward top-class tournaments here on the East coast. The most notable of Mike’s tournaments is the Washington International – a full fledged 9-round Norm tournament that will be again hosted in August this year. For more information, click here.

Mike also hosts a series of 5-round tournaments – a couple of them being the Baltimore Open and the Potomac Open. What I love so much about his tournaments is that regardless of your chess level, you are still treated as a professional! I try to play some of his 5 round tournaments from time to time, and I get to play on elegant wooden DGT boards in each round! That’s right. DGT boards for the top 8 tables, just for a small 5 round tourney! Even after the DGT tables run out, many of the remaining tables are provided with wooden boards.

I’ve been playing on the US Chess circuit for over a year now, and can confidently say that Mike’s tournaments are always a pleasure to play, thanks to the conditions he provides.

He also keeps official FIDE time controls (90+30 sec inc, add 30 mins after 40 moves) in his tournaments, instead of the “delay” format that is used in several American tournaments. That’s how the world plays. In addition, the clocks are already provided for each board. Helpfully, the pairings are texted out each round as soon as they’re ready. This is truly a big aid and so parents/players don’t have to hang around pairing boards. When it comes to winning a prize in the 5 round tourneys, you are not given one based on your ranking, but on your points. 3.5 is the minimum for a prize. The upside – the player knows exactly what they have to do in any given round if they are playing to secure a minimum prize. Each time I’ve stayed at the tournament hotel, the in-room WiFi is part of the package and breakfast is included for some morning rounds. This is a good deal with the hotel on behalf of players as a group.

So this concludes my brief post, which was just a shout-out to an awesome organizer here in the US. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, for I wanted to share how very much I’ve enjoyed playing in Mike’s tournaments. As Chess players, we need to show our support for organizers that work very hard to give us a good environment to play. It’s great for us and great for Chess. 

I hope you will be able to play at these tournaments as well, particularly the Washington International in August! I’m sure you’ll also ‘Like Mike!’

Akshat Chandra and Mike ReganPotomac Open 2013

Akshat Chandra and Mike Regan
Potomac Open 2013

Akshat Chandra and GM XXXXX - Washington International 2013

Akshat Chandra and GM Yuniesky Quseda Perez- Washington International 2013

Akshat Chandra at Washington International

Akshat Chandra at Washington International 2013


Achieving the 1st GM Norm!

The Marshall Chess Club organized a GM Norm Invitational tournament from April 04 to April 13. It was a 9 round, 10-player Round-robin, with 6.5 points required for a GM norm and 5 points for an IM norm. The participants included 3 GMs, 4 IMs and 1 FM. The players, by FIDE rating, were:

GM Tamaz Gelashvili (GEO) 2584
GM Mark Paragua (PHI) 2495
GM Mikheil Kekelidze (GEO) 2485
IM Raja Panjwani (CAN) 2450
IM Yaacov Norowitz (USA) 2426
IM Columban Vitoux (FRA) 2414
Matthew Herman (USA) 2389
FM Michael Bodek (USA) 2376
Igor Sorkin (ISR) 2375
IM Akshat Chandra (USA) 2370

This was my first round-robin tournament. One of the benefits of such a tournament is that you don’t have to wait till the last few minutes before the round-time to learn who your opponent is, with little time to prepare for the game. The drawing of lots took place on April 1st, which gave the participants time to prepare accordingly.

The tournament was opened by Stuart Chagrin, Club President, and Dr. Marcus Fenner, Club Executive Director and Organizer. International Arbiter Dr. Frank Brady was the Chief TD. It was a wonderful and historic setting with the greats of the games peering down from the framed pictures on the walls. The wooden boards and the exquisite chess pieces added to the stature of the tournament, not to mention sitting a few tables away from the one on which Fischer and Capablanca both played.

Nearly all the games were decisive in the first round with only one draw. That was the game I played with GM Mark Paragua from Philippines. Mark is a really strong and experienced GM, with a peak rating of 2621. He surprised me in the opening by playing the Caro-Kann, which put me out of my preparation instantly. So much for the last couple of days of prep. Some inaccuracies by my side allowed him to equalize pretty quickly. I started to get low on time, and tried to trade pieces and force a Draw. But that almost backfired, since I got into a passive Queen Endgame in which I nearly lost. Nonetheless, I managed to secure a draw with a perpetual check.

A highlight of the first round was FM Michael Bodek’s upset win over GM Kekelidze.

I was extremely relieved to save my first-round game. The initial nervousness and jitters were settling down. In my next game playing Black against IM Colomban Vitoux, I outplayed him and achieved a winning position. But in the ensuing time trouble I bungled my advantage and had to settle for a draw. I was disappointed with the outcome, but I knew my game was in the right place, and I had to manage the time. In the third round, I overcame IM Raja Panjwani, a strong IM from Canada, which put me on 2/3. I felt I was starting to hit my stride.

But then in the next game against FM Bodek, I was again forced to settle for a draw after bungling my winning advantage, once again due to time pressure. This was extremely frustrating, since I was ruining well-played games due to my shoddy time management. I rebounded from the setback, and in Round 5 defeated Matt Herman, known for his striking attacks, and picturesque finishes. Luckily, our game was much calmer and positional 🙂

Going into the break after five rounds, there were 4 players mathematically in contention for a GM norm – Raja Panjwani, Michael Bodek, Matthew Herman and I.

In the second-half, Raja Panjwani made his intentions well-known with a strong win against GM Kekelidze in Round 6. Meanwhile, I was able to earn a full point against IM Norowitz, while Bodek and Herman drew their game against each other. Heading into the final day with two rounds, it was Panjwani and me still in the running for a GM norm, while Bodek and Herman had a shot at an IM norm. In the 8th round I was able to overcome Igor Sorkin and moved to 6 points – just a ½ point away. Meanwhile, Panjwani played valiantly but could not get past the solid Mark Paragua, and ended up losing the game.

In the final round I made a draw with GM Kekelidze which allowed me to reach 6 ½ points. That sealed the deal and I clinched my maiden GM norm in the hallowed halls of the The Marshall Chess Club!

In the meantime, Bodek played strongly against Igor Sorkin and secured his full point needed to reach the IM norm. This was Bodek’s final IM norm. Since he had earlier crossed the rating requirement of ELO 2400, henceforth he will be referred to as IM Bodek 🙂 Final standings are available here.

Even though Igor Sorkin could not achieve what he set out to do, he won another kind of Norm in the game of life. He was blessed with a baby boy during the break in the tournament, and achieved his first Fatherhood Norm.

I was thrilled to achieve my 1st GM norm and played strongly throughout the tournament. I had recently returned from an excellent tournament, the UTD Spring Open FIDE in Dallas, where I played strongly to start off but then lost my way after an optical blunder (overlooked a pawn, maybe because of a reflective board 😉 ). My game was feeling strong, and I really wanted to avoid silly mistakes heading into the Marshalls GM Invitational. As my friend GM Daniel Naroditsky told me after the event, “the first one is the hardest.” I hope he’s right 🙂

Thanks to the GMs for participating and giving us an opportunity to seek norms, and most importantly thanks to The Marshall Chess Club for hosting a wonderful Round Robin tournament. I hope there will be more. Remember, the NY International, hosted by the Club, begins on June 18.


Opening Ceremoney - Club President, Stuart Chagrin

Opening Ceremoney – Club President, Stuart Chagrin

IM Akshat Chandra and GM Mark Paragua

IM Akshat Chandra and GM Mark Paragua

IM Akshat Chandra and FM Michael Bodek
IM Akshat Chandra and FM Michael Bodek