Axel Bachmann Schiavo
United States chess has rarely, if ever, had a week like the one that ended Saturday.
On Saturday, four Americans earned titles at the Berkeley International tournament. Samuel Shankland, 19, the reigning United States Junior Champion, became a grandmaster, while Keaton Kiewra, 23, Daniel Naroditsky, 15, and Conrad Holt, 17, all qualified as international masters.
Kiewra actually earned a grandmaster norm â€” the first of three needed for the title â€” but he still must raise his international rating above 2,400 to satisfy the requirements for the international master title. That is often less difficult than achieving the norms.
Tatev Abrahamyan, 22 (she will be 23 on Thursday), earned a norm toward a woman’s grandmaster title, which is about the equivalent of an international master.
(Why there are separate titles for men and women is a can of worms. In a story on National Public Radio last year, several prominent women players, notably Judit Polgar of Hungary, the strongest woman player in history, and Irina Krush, the reigning United States Women’s Champion, said such distinctions were unnecessary.)
The Americans were not the only ones to earn norms. Denys Shmelov, (he seems to be 24, but it is not clear), a master originally from Ukraine who now lives in Boston, earned a grandmaster norm, while Roman Yankovsky, 18, who is from Russia but now lives in California, earned his third and final norm for the international master title.
Loek van Wely of the Netherlands won the tournament, scoring 8 out of 10 points, while Sergey Erenburg, a grandmaster from Israel who is a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, was second with 7.5. Magesh Panchanathan, an Indian grandmaster, finished in third with 7 points.
Shankland’s title completes an interesting turnaround for him.
Last year, he had become frustrated by his inability to become a grandmaster and had vowed to quit playing chess, even after he won the junior championship. Evidently, he had a change of heart and kept playing â€” first leading his team, the New England Nor’easters, to the United States Chess League title, and now earning his final norm.
All of the games from the tournament can be replayed on the Web. The games above were criticial to the titles earned by the American players.