Norm Hunt Ablaze in Chicago
By Sevan Muradian   
March 27, 2008
MarcLOlead.jpg
Marc Arnold need 1.5/2 for an IM norm.
The norm hunt has turned into a roaring blaze at the 9th North American FIDE Invitational.   After seven rounds, the last two highly intense, three candidates are going down to the wire in search of their IM norms.
 
First we have FM Mehmed Pasalic, the local Chicago favorite and member of the newly induced US Chess League team - the Chicago Blaze . FM Pasalic last night took out veteran chess player FM Chow in a complicated game that went down to time scramble.



 FM Pasalic is leading the tournament with 5.5/7. He needs to score 1 out of 2 for the IM norm, but he still has to get through IM Vishnuvardhan of India and FM Panjwani of Canada. Chances are Pasalic will not be able to glide into the norm with two draws, but will have to fight all the way against his two final pugnacious opponents

Next we have the NY wunderkind NM Marc Arnold. In the following game, NM Arnold went into a strange move order to get into a Benko (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 a6 and so forth) against FM Gauri Shankar:



Shankar held Arnold in a nasty vice on the 7th rank of the b and c files and was assured at least a draw should he not push any further. Black only needed to keep moving his king back and forth to b8 and c7 as his Knight and pawns held key squares from FM Shankar's king to penetrate on the kingside. However Shankar wanted the win and pushed. As we all know, in delicate positions sometimes pushing isn't the greatest idea and it didn't work well for Shankar. Arnold's 'Dance of the Knight' was a masterpiece and he soon picked off Shankar's g and h pawns and proceeded to steamroll his own g and h pawns for the win. NM Arnold needs to go 1.5/2 to achieve his first IM norm. His opponents in rounds 8 and 9 are FM Chow and IM Vishnuvardhan (FM Shankar's older brother) respectively.
 
The last norm seeker is Canadian FM Raja Panjwani. Panjwani started off the tournament very slowly and seemed to be out of contention but then suddenly he went into overdrive scalping 2 out of the 3 IM's.



Raja has a far from easy task ahead of him as he needs 2/2 and his final two opponents are IM Amanov of Turkmenistan and tournament leader FM Mehmed Pasalic.

Friday night's round could be very dramatic, depending upon tonight's results. 
 
Make sure you tune in for the 8th round of the 9th North American FIDE Invitational being broadcast live on the MonRoi World Databank of Chess. The games will start at 6:30pm Chicago time.