Hunting for Norms in Hollywood

A New Norm Series in SoCal!

Sometime in June, I received a surprising text from IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy, co-organizer of the New York Invitationals norm series I direct. He wanted to put me in contact with IM Josiah Stearman who was looking for an arbiter to run a norm tournament in early August…in Los Angeles.

Wait, what? Why would they be interested in an arbiter from NYC!?

But I agreed of course; Josiah and I exchanged some emails. The new organizers running the event were

It turns out that this tournament was scheduled at the same time as the U.S. Open, and it seems many prospective arbiters had already committed to that event (which is announced years in advance). This is an example of a larger issue in American chess — there aren’t many arbiters available to run norm events.

For many TDs, the seminar, the test and the other hoops one needs to jump through to become a FIDE Arbiter just aren’t worth it.

Anyway, both Josiah and I agreed that he would try to find someone closer. Honestly, I didn’t really want to fly across the country to run an exhausting norm tournament! But I sorta agreed that I would if absolutely necessary.


Hollywood Norm Classic #3

As a matter of course, I regularly stalk the USA FIDE tournaments page to see which events are coming up, which have been rated, and so on.

In late June I saw an entry for “Hollywood Norm Classic #3” and, most importantly, another arbiter listed as the Chief. I was relieved!

During the New York Summer Invitationals in early July, however, I received an email from Josiah saying they would probably need me after all! I don’t know if the other arbiter had to back out or if he was just listed as a placeholder.

I was gently trying to beg out of it, pleading with Josiah “there must be someone else!”

But maybe there really wasn’t. And I sorta agreed to do it already. Yes, there was no contract signed at the time, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to leave all of these players hanging a few weeks before the event.

Andre was going to Hollywood.


Event Details

This 9-round, Swiss-system tournament was held at the Hilton LAX from August 3-7. Two rounds per day were played on the first four days of the event, and the final (ninth) round was contested on the final day.

42 players participated. This is number is important, because FIDE recently introduced a new regulation (B.1.5.6) requiring title seekers (GM, IM, WGM, WIM) to earn at least one norm in a Swiss tournament with at least 40 players who play all rounds (excepting pairing-allocated byes). 42 was desirable to have an even number, and a cushion in case one or two players withdrew during the event. In the end, no one did.

We fell a bit short of a “Super Swiss” (at least 20 players not from the host federation, at least 10 of which hold GM/IM/WGM/WIM titles). This would allow players to earn norms regardless of their opponents’ federations, as normally a USA player playing in a USA tournament needs to play 4 foreign opponents in 9 rounds, and a non-USA player competing in a USA tournament needs to meet 3 non-USA players in 9 rounds.

In the end we had 18 foreign players from 10 federations other than USA, with 10 having the required GM/IM/WGM/WIM titles.



Detailed results can be seen here.

IM Bryce Tiglon (USA) and GM Vladimir Belous (Russia) tied for first place with 6½ points out of 9, splitting the $1,000 first prize equally ($500 each).

Joseph Levine (USA) earned his 1st IM norm with “only” 5 points out 0f 9 — but he faced six GMs, scoring +3=2-1 against them!

Tugstumur Yesuntumur (Mongolia) earned his 3rd IM norm with 6 points out of 9, defeating all three GMs he faced!

Technically, Robert Shlyakhtenko (USA) also earned an IM norm (at least his 5th), but he was having his IM title approved at the Chennai Olympiad while the tournament was in progress. Indeed, he is now officially an IM. Congratulations, Robert!

Last, but certainly not least, I was proud to submit an International Organizer norm for event organizer Srikanth Bangalore. Kudos to him and the team (Josiah, Rushaan Mahajan, and co.) for a successful norm tournament!

Thanks also to Juan Cendejas and Deep Joshi for their expertise in managing the DGT broadcasts, preparing the venue for play each round, and their friendly, welcoming nature!