24th North American Masters Begins
By Sevan Muradian   
January 9, 2010
IM Mehmed Pasalic and FM Robby Adamson face off in round 1 of the 24th North American Masters. 

The 24th North American Masters kicked off Friday night beginning the new year of chess with a new tournament format, two new sponsors, and renewed efforts by the norm seekers to achieve their goals.

 The tournament was sponsored by Vince W. Berry Real Estate Services, a commercial real estate service here in Chicago. Vince is a long time chess lover and we are ever thankful for his support of this event. Also sponsoring this and all events in 2010 with technology are DGT Projects of Holland and DGT North America. They have provided us with DGT e-boards and software. Right now, all I've had time to do is record the games in the DGT e-board memory and pull them out in PGN format (real cool!). Next is to use TOMA to broadcast games. Finally the Holiday Inn North Shore Hotel has renewed their sponsorship to us for the tournament venue. The hotel has been sponsoring many chess events such as the North American Masters, the Chicago Blaze US Chess League team, and the first match we organized between IM Krush and IM Mkrtchian.

We see the first appearance in norm tournament play of newly minted IM Florin Felecan, who scored his three IM norms all in this tournament series and the top seed of the tournament with a 2430 FIDE rating. Joining Florin are fellow IM's Mehmed Pasalic and Arjun Vishnuvardhan. If you remember Mehmed was the first player to achieve all 3 IM norms in this tournament series. Can you name the only other player that has done this feat?

Our norm hunters come in the form of two local players and one import from sunny Arizona. Our local players are Jon L. Burgess (who plays for England) who has played twice before with good results, Gauri Shankar (who plays for India) and scored his first IM norm last year in the same event that Florin scored his final IM norm), and the always interesting Robby Adamson. A score of 7/10 is required for an IM norm.

Robby was the first one in on Friday while I was setting up the tournament room. His comment was "I can't believe there's so much snow on the ground." Welcome to Chicago in January! Robby and I had a nice long talk about chess and other chess related topics. He's always someone interesting to talk to. For those of you that don't know, he's the coach of a winning scholastic team (can you name which one?), a member of the Arizona Scorpions US Chess League team, and also an estate attorney.
IM Florin Felecan and FM Gauri Shankar

The first round is always crucial to get your juices flowing. Robby and Gauri had the unfortunate of starting off with black against the top two seeds in Mehmed and Florin respectively. Robby was able to pull out a grinding win with both himself and Mehmed in mutual time trouble. Gauri was able to secure the draw against Florin with sharp play on both sides. Unfortunately Jon wasn't able to get on the scoreboard (yet) wth the white pieces against Arjun but there are still eight rounds left! In round two, Pasalic rebounded with a win over Burgess, while Adamson won again and now has a perfect 2-0. 

Enjoy the game highlights below:







The round schedule is 10:30am and 3:30pm CST on Saturday and Sunday. We will update the chess community with scores, standings, and stories throughout the weekend on our website (www.nachess.org). We will be having a dinner with the sponsor, players, and some guests on Saturday night with a special fish dish and we'll update you with an article and pictures.