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Gearing up for Berkeley Chess Print E-mail
By GM Josh Friedel   
December 4, 2008


GM Jesse Kraai will be playing in the 2008 Berkeley International. Photo Betsy Dynako
The 2008 Berkeley International is a 10-round tournament that will run from December 14th to the 23rd.  This is the third installment of the event.  In 2005 it was held at the East Bay Chess Club in Berkeley.  I managed to win that one and get my first GM norm in the process.  The next year it was held at the new location of the East Bay Club in Oakland, affectionately termed by GM Jesse Kraai as the “fight club.” Jesse won the event and got his 2nd GM norm, and also won the Best CLO article of 2007 for his story on the event.  IM Lev Milman took 2nd and captured his 2nd norm as well.  Unfortunately, the East Bay Club had to be shut down, and in 2007 there was no Masters tournament.  However, the tournament was such a good one, IM David Pruess decided to revive it in 2008.


The 2008 Berkeley International will be held at the Berkeley Chess School , and promises to be the best event yet.  In the previous years we had three GMs participating.  This year there are already six GMs, with maybe one more on the way!  The top seed is Georgian GM Zviad Izoria, who now lives in NY and is rated 2610 FIDE.  Next is Filipino GM Rogelio Antonio, visiting California from the Chicago area.  Next there are three GMs now living in the Bay area, those being Jesse Kraai, Vinay Bhat, along with myself.  Rounding out the GM list is Mongolian Dashzegve Sharavdorj, visiting from Colorado.  Also playing is the strong IM who took 2nd place last year, Lev Milman, who will be looking for his final GM norm.  Hungarian IM Sandor Kustar, who participated in the 2005 event, will be coming from South Dakota. Also playing will be IM Irina Krush, the first board for the U.S. Women's Olympic team, which just earned bronze medals in Germany. Local IMs David Pruess and John Donaldson  will be looking for their last norms, and former world U12 champion Daniel Naroditsky is also confirmed to play.

This will be an excellent opportunity for norm seekers, as well as a chance to play against strong opposition under good conditions.  Unlike most events in the US, all rounds will be one game per day.  For those who have never played one game a day, trust me, it’s better!  Not only is it more conducive to good chess, but not collapsing onto your pieces in the last few rounds has its advantages as well.  Also, for those who have never been to the Bay area, it is a unique place.  At one game a day it is actually possible to actually see San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland.  Well, San Francisco and Berkeley anyway.  David is even organizing a few activities during the course of the event.  Back when I first came to the event in 2005, I’d never been to Berkeley before.  Aside from getting the norm, maybe even including that, exploring the restaurants there was the best part of the trip.     

Everything is in place for an ideal tournament, but we still need one more thing to make it even better.  You!  Well, assuming you are eligible and aren’t playing already.  The tournament is open to everyone over 2200 and juniors who are over 2100 (FIDE).  However, if you are close but don’t quite make the rating requirements, there is a good chance you might get in as well.  You have to act soon though, as the tournament is fast approaching.  If you want to enter or have questions about the tournament, contact David Pruess at [email protected].  The basic info is also posted on the website , and also check the current participant list is here.  Hope to see you there!