by Jennifer Shahade
After a decade-long draught of American born GMs, the floodgates seem to have opened. Just a few months after Jesse Kraai won his final norm, Vinay Bhat follows suit in the Balaguer Open in Catalunya, Spain (July 16-25,2007).
Vinay's first norms came at the Qingdao Open in China, 2002 and the Balaguer Open in 2006. "I guess Balaguer is my lucky place," he tells CLO. Vinay took a three-week vacation from his job as a consultant for Conerstone Research (an economics and litigation consulting firm) to play in Balaguer (in Catalunya, Spain) as well as two other tournaments in Spain : the Sort International (June 25-July 3), and the Benasque Open (July 5-14) . "These three tournaments in Spain will likely be all my tournaments for the year because of work demands." However, Vinay will find time to play in the U.S. Chess Leaguefor the San Francisco Mechanics. Unfortunately, the USCL is not rated, so it is unclear where Vinay will gain the final points necessary to officially attain the GM title. (He started out in Spain at 2450, and even with his fantastic results there, it's unlikely he gained 50 whole points.)
His favorite game in Balaguer was against GM Naricso Dublan (Spain):
Bhat also liked his miniature win against Ramon Perez Flores. The Spanish FM must have missed Vinay's killer shot, 20. Bxf7!
In Sort, Vinay delivered a real shocker in round one, by defeating the recently crowned Continental Champion, Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga with the black pieces.
Born in San Jose, California in 1985, Vinay Bhat became America's youngest master in 1995, at ten years old. He earned the IM title at 15-years-old. After enrolling in UC Berkeley, Vinay stopped playing chess for four years. He graduated in May, 2006 and since then has won his final two GM norms.
The day after he arrived back in the States, Vinay told CLO: "I finished the tournament on Wednesday, flew back yesterday, and am celebrating by being in the office today." He did go to the pub with some friends after work. After all, it was Friday.
Who will be the next American-born GM? Two candidates are frequent CLO writers, Josh Friedel and Irina Krush. Josh Friedel will be contributing another installment of "Adventures of A Samford Winner" next week, while Irina Krush's interview with Betsy Dynako could pop up any minute!
Ed. Note- IM Emory Tate did not win his first GM norm in Curacao, despite drawing with GM Joel Benjamin in the last round. The calculations were close, but it turns out he would probably not have won the norm even with a win.