Daniel Ludwig on His First GM Norm
By IM-elect Daniel Ludwig   
February 18, 2009
Daniel Ludwig, Photo courtesy Laszlo Nagy, First Saturday
18-year-old Daniel Ludwig scored his first GM norm and his final IM norm in Budapest's February First Saturday GM tournament (February 7-18). The morning after his big win, Daniel told CLO a little about how he did it.

Going into Hungary, my expectations were not very high, and I hardly prepared at all. I felt burnt out with chess after the Eastern Open and in some ways did not even feel like playing. Adjusting took some time, and getting used to the different style of play (in Hungary) certainly took some time as well. I started off very slowly, with 1.5/3, wasting two Whites as well as games against two of the lowest players. My mindset throughout the event was to remain calm, knowing that norms and big performances usually come about with great streaks.

After winning round 4, I had a tough game against GM Kosic with White, and I knew that I had to win if I was to have any chance at all.


It was a tight game all the way through, where I maintained a clear edge, but seemed to never have enough to win. The endgame was sharp, and when I played the gutsy move 65.Re3 we were both really low on time. It was at this point that my opponent missed the draw with 65...Rf1+. After that it was a matter of technique and I easily converted the queen versus rook. Grinding out this 95-move game was huge for my confidence, and I would say was the turning point of the event.

After that the results came pretty easily except for my game against GM Ilincic with Black.


He really misplayed the opening, which allowed me to convert to endgame up a pawn. Like in the game against Kosic, I believe he had one way to draw, but it was really difficult to find, particularly when down to 1 minute left. With my 9th round win over Duong, it completed the incredible comeback streak of 5.5/6, already securing the norm, and allowing me to relax and take an easy to draw to close the event as clear winner with 7.5/10.

So thus, my two wins over GMs were my best games. Looking back on the event, I am shocked that I got the norm, because I was really sick through most of the event, had done next to no preparation, brought no computer, and got off to a slow start. I really have to thank God for this result, because this far surpassed my expectations.

I loved Budapest. I knew a little about the city beforehand, and that is what guided me to choose to come to Budapest rather than Gibraltar or Cappelle la Grande. It was nice to see a little snow but not too much, and there were friendly people, good food and tons of things to see around town.

My plans are now to focus on Foxwoods and then from there who knows. I get burned out easily from playing a lot, so I prefer to space out these big tournaments, that way my play is always fresh and hungry.