I Am An IM
There are many young players out there, and many that have dreams of becoming GMs and maybe even one of the top in the world someday. I am definitely one of those young players that dreams of becoming one of the top players in the world someday, but one of the things I always believed in was setting up goals along the way, and to just take it one step at a time. After getting the FM (FIDE Master) title back in August of 2011 (at the 1st Metropolitan International, in Los Angeles, California - http://www.chess.com/blog/KaydenTroff/the-fm-titlehellip-playing-with-intensity) my progress seemed to be a little slower than I would have hoped. Within a year, I had some good tournaments and even some great tournaments including getting my second Norm, but I had balanced those out with some bad tournaments and hadn't really gone anywhere with my FIDE rating.
It had been a year and I was sitting at the same tournament where I made FM, the 2nd Metropolitan International. I was excited to go and play some Chess, but I had attended the Metropolitan Chess Camp (in connection with the tournament) and had some disappointing results in the training games we played. After the first two rounds of the tournament I was feeling okay, I had thrown away a good opening position my first game against a GM, but won my second. Then my third game I beat GM Mesgen Amanov and I was definitely excited. After that I didn't have any crazy awesome or bad results staying solid. In my last round, all the sudden I was faced with an IM (International Master) Norm opportunity, potentially making this my last and final IM Norm. I was playing a higher rated player with Black and I needed the win to get the Norm which is a tall order, but after I was able to defend his attack in the middlegame, I came out victorious. I now had my three IM Norms making me an IM-Elect, but I was faced with the last (and maybe the hardest) step, getting my FIDE rating to/above 2400. My FIDE rating after that tournament was sitting at 2312, 88 points away from were I needed.
My next tournament was the 2012 SPICE Cup Open, in Saint Louis, Missouri. This tournament was another opportunity for me to stay consistent. Another? In 2012 I had two strong performances at the 2012 Northern California and at the 2012 Chicago Open, but in both cases I lost all that I gained in my next tournament. Coming off the 2nd Metropolitan International the question was which way was I going to stay consistent? Was I going to have another strong performance, or have another "equalizer" tournament? The SPICE Cup boasted a very strong field of players offering plenty of good chances.
In the first four rounds I had 1.5/4 which was a solid result since I had played all higher rated players, but it was disappointing since I had thrown away two draws against GM Mesgen Amanov and GM Ben Finegold. Then in my next half of the tournament I got 3.5/5 against 1 FM, 1 IM, and 3 GMs ending with 5/9 against an average of 2480 FIDE. I was very happy to actually have two strong performances in a row and I was feeling good.
My next tournament was the 2012 WYCC, in Maribor, Slovenia where I won the gold medal n the U14 section. I wrote a blog on this, so this link http://www.chess.com/blog/KaydenTroff/world-champion will give you most of the details.
My following tournament was the 2012 North American Championship, in Las Vegas. This tournament was concerning in a way. Throughout the tournament I stayed pretty consistent, pretty much beating those lower than me, losing to those higher than me. Overall I ended up going up 12 points on my FIDE rating with 5.5/9, but my play in my games was not as good as in my previous three tournaments. I was sitting around 2375 on my FIDE after this tournament putting me within clear striking distance of the 2400 mark and would need to improve my play in my next tournament to get there.
My first tournament of 2013! The 2013 Golden State Open, in Concord, California. It was mid-January and my next tournament wasn't until mid-March, so I definitely wanted to do well here! In the first two rounds I went 2/2 against lower rated players, but in the third round I was playing GM Giorgi Margvelashvili. It was a positional struggle for a little bit and then hit some tactical complications, in which I came out on top with an extra exchange. It was complicated and we were getting low on time but I was looking at two different ways to sacrifice the exchange back... one won the other drew... unfortunately I chose the wrong one. It was a disappointing but exciting result. In the next game I was playing GM Gregory Kaidanov and managed to draw that one too. This was a hard moment because now my FIDE rating is close to 2400, but this next game is an important one. (On a side note, one of the main things you have to realize is that if your FIDE rating EVER goes above 2400 it meets the requirement for the IM title. Even if your FIDE rating goes above in the middle of the tournament it counts. For example if you are at 2399 and win your first game putting you now at 2401, but then you lose the next 8 games putting you at 2350, that still counts because after that first game you were 2401.) This next game I was playing GM Larry Kaufman as Black. If I won this game, we weren't 100%, but it was possible my FIDE would go over 2400. Out of the opening it wasn't entirely clear, but I felt okay about my position (which was good because I played GM Kaufman before as Black, and without giving too many details, let's just say the opening didn't go my way). He seemed to have a decent attack going, but even though in several lines my King would be pretty open, I still felt good about my position. It was complicated but the position seemed to turn in my favor, and then we reached the more concrete variations and I felt like I was close to a really good advantage. I slipped up a little bit, but we got an endgame that he needed to be very careful if he wanted to hold. It was hard since we were getting low on time and my plan was more clear, and I ended up winning. I made IM!... supposedly. This was a hard point in the tournament because I made IM (time to celebrate!), but it wasn't a sure thing it was just most likely (especially since the North American Championship had not posted on FIDE yet so we weren't exactly sure how that would effect everything), so now I had 4 more rounds to finish it up. After the 4 rounds I stayed solid, tied for third place overall, and even gained a few more points! My FIDE rating went to 2407 and my three IM Norms were approved at the FIDE Congress. I am now an IM and it finally became fully processed on February 18th.
After 2012 brought several months of frustration and not really going anywhere, my last five tournaments have brought some good success, I have gone up 115 points on my USCF rating and 128 point on my FIDE rating, but more importantly, I feel like I have really grown as a player.
And now, next, is Grand Master!!!!
Here are some of my highlight games that were key for getting to IM, I know it isn't Magnus Carlsen, but I hope you enjoy:
Sean Christian Reader Memorial, First IM Norm