Naroditsky Finds GM Norm in Spanish Mountains
By Michael Aigner   
July 17, 2011
naroslide.jpg Always looking for interesting new places to play in Europe, IM Daniel Naroditsky participated in the XXXI Open International Villa de Benasque on July 7-16. 

Located in the Pyrenees Mountains, this Spanish town is less than 10 miles from France, but 200 miles from the nearest large city, Barcelona.  The majestic scenery attracted 31 Grandmasters and a total of 471 chess players seeking an excuse for a mountain vacation.15-year-old Naroditsky came to play Grandmasters and chase his first GM norm.  

Disaster nearly struck in round 3, when he got paired with a 2200 instead of one of the top seeds.  Suddenly it became possible that the average rating of his opponents would be too low for a norm, even if he beat all those rated below him.  Fortunately, he faced six GMs in the final seven rounds, including three of the top five seeds, all rated over 2600 FIDE.Getting the right pairings was one thing, but the young aspiring GM still had to score enough points for a performance above 2600.  With ice in his veins, Naroditsky calmly drew with five Grandmasters! 

In round 4, he easily split the point with top ranked Croatian GM Ivan Saric (2639).

  

As the tournament progressed, it became clear that for norm chances, Naroditsky would actually need to beat someone good.  That opportunity came in round 6, when he traded into a winning rook endgame against  GM Zenon Franco-O'Campos.  Alas,  the wily South American escaped with a fortress draw after some inaccuracies.  Perhaps this disappointment fired up the California teenager, and he took out his anger the next day against Spanish GM Alexis Cabrera.  His black pieces quickly seized control of the center and, after the overly optimistic 25.f4, the tactics proved decisive.  This time there would be no endgame as the white monarch was nearly checkmated at move 41. 
 


Naroditsky emerged as one of the tournament leaders and he played both rounds 8 and 9 on board 3, drawing each game.  His opponents: veteran Peruvian GM Julio Granda-Zuniga (2616) and Russian Maxim Turov (2630).  Check out how he carefully secured the GM norm on the black side of a King's Indian, steering towards a rook endgame down a pawn but theoretically drawn. 



In the final round, Armenian GM Tigran Petrosian (not the former World Champion) won his game and captured clear 1st at 8.5/10.  Naroditsky faced his sixth GM and drew, tying for 8th place overall with 7.5.  Most importantly, he completed his first GM norm!  Well done!! Hey Danya, what will you do to celebrate your first GM norm?  Maybe go to Disney World!?  Yes, his next tournament is the 112th US Open in Orlando.