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It’s All About Round 8: Kesav on his Road to IM Print E-mail
By Kesav Viswanadha   
January 16, 2015
KesavAtWashingtonInt.jpgThis past summer, after 10 years playing chess, I achieved a big milestone –the IM title!  I earned all three norms in 9-round swiss events during the summer of 2014. In all three tournaments round 8 turned out to be my norm-deciding victory.

My summer success had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t have any school work to worry about. I’m a sophomore in high school. The workload is quite demanding, leaving very little time to study chess, especially when I have to skip school to travel for tournaments.

June 12 – 16, 2014
Norm 1: North American Youth Chess Champion U-16

This was probably the most significant achievement in my chess life at the time. With a score of 7/9, I got the gold medal with a round to spare. This is because of my victory in round 8 against up-and-coming NM Sanjay Ghatti:


Winning this tournament gave me the FM title and an IM norm. Suddenly, I was a third of the way there! That motivated me to give a big push to complete the journey.

August 9 – 14, 2014
Norm 2: Washington International

This tournament was amazing for me – I stayed relatively consistent throughout the tournament. I started out a little shakily by losing to IM Akshat Chandra in round 1. Right after that, I got a win against GM Oliver Barbosa – my first GM win! Fast-forward to round 8 – it was a battle of wits against fellow norm-seeker FM Kevin Wang. The roughly equal game went on well past midnight and I eventually won a piece in the endgame:


I secured the norm with this round 8 victory, with the TD joking that I just need to be alive to get my norm. Coincidentally, that day was my 15th birthday – what a nice gift I gave myself! I think the relaxed schedule – 9 games in 6 days – really helped me stay fresh and give every game my full concentration.

August 28 – September 1, 2014
Norm 3: U.S. Masters Championship

The final push – I managed to get my third and final norm in this tournament. This was pretty crazy – it started with a coast-to-coast flight and a 100-mile drive from Charlotte to Greensboro, and I arrived an hour before the game to find out I was playing GM Bartlomiej Macieja. I started off well by drawing that game and winning against GM Vladimir Romanenko in round 3.

Then, I hit some road bumps, and I ended up once again having 3.5/7. Then came round 8 against another strong junior player and norm seeker, FM Sean Vibbert. The game was very positional, with Vibbert playing against my weak e6 pawn; however, later on in the game I played a combination that allowed me to break free and win some material. After that, I was able to convert the advantage to a win:


It was still not over, however, as I needed a draw in the last round against a 2318+ rated player. The standings showed that I would probably play GM-elect Samuel Sevian, but I ended up playing child prodigy FM Awonder Liang, rated 2323 – just barely over the required rating! I drew the game, and voilà – I got the final norm! It turned out that FIDE had just tweaked the K-factor which sky-rocketed my rating from 2253 to 2424 in a short two months. I think the strategy during the tournament was to just stay in the hotel room and keep myself in “chess mode” the whole time, and then play my best game over the board.

This was the best summer I’ve ever had. I even managed to take a family vacation in Hawaii! This was an incredible journey and it was a very satisfying goal to reach.