St. Louis: 1st GM norm!

Greetings again, members, for my blog post for April! It has been an eventful month for me, beginning with the St. Louis Invitational from April 9-13.Situated in one of the leading clubs in the country, I could not refuse the chance to make my first GM norm.

Luckily for me, the pairings were kind. I was seeded first in the pairing number and was accorded 5 whites and 4 blacks, a slight and noticeable advantage in a round robin setting. Nonetheless, it was up to me to take advantage of my white pieces and convert wins. The average rating of the tournament turned out to be 2478, with 6/9 required for a GM norm. My first round game was against Giorgi Margvelashvili, and it was a great start to the tournament:

This starting win against the top seed gave me great confidence moving forward. My next few games were all rather simplistic draws, although I almost succumbed to IM Mackenzie Molner as White in round 2 when I got a little too daring with my pawns. Nonetheless, moving into the 5th round, I was at +1 (2.5/4). I needed +2 in the last 5 games and was hoping to draw the 3 blacks and win the 2 whites. I then proceeded to lose to Angelo Young with Black, putting me at +0 with 4 rounds left. I needed 3.5/4 in 2 blacks and 2 whites. The norm looked over, especially because I was having great difficulties winning with Black.

However, this loss to Angelo really forced me to confront my play. I had hitherto employed a safe style of play, trying to draw with Black and win with White. That wasn't acceptable anymore. I HAD to win with Black. I made the monumental decision to pursue active and dynamic play beyond my usual norm, and that resolution was immediately tested against IM Leonid Gerzhoy. Given a choice of exchanging all the pieces and reaching a draw, I sacrificed two (!!) pawns with uncertain compensation. While the objective evaluation is in question, it flustered him enough that he blundered and I got a win. 2.5/3 to go, with Black against GM Ben Finegold next.

My game against Finegold returned to our usual Botvinnik duels, with him using a new variation that I had never seen before.

This win with Black really provided confidence and rekindled my norm dreams. The mountain climb now seemed possible... I needed 1.5/2 on the final day. I drew Marc Arnold in the first game (almost losing from overaggression in the process), setting the stage for a decisive game with Black against IM Michael Brooks in the last round.
My aggressive play brought through my second Black win in the most critical situation! The highlight of the game for me was the pyschological considerations behind my pawn sacrifice ...Nb2. It was the best way to maintain the pressure on the White position and was definitely not a move I would have looked at 5 or so games before.
By adapting my play to the changing situation, I managed to clutch the GM norm as it almost floated away, finally getting my first GM norm after numerous close tries. It was without a doubt one of the happiest moments in my life, and I also tied for first with IM Marc Arnold and GM Elshan Moriadabadi. I came away with this tournament with happy memories and hope for the future: hopefully, my next two GM norms aren't too far away!
Thank you all for reading, and good luck in your future chess endeavors!
Darwin Yang


  • 4 years ago


    Congratz on u r first GM norm...hope ull complete really soon!

  • 5 years ago


    N*f6 was a terrible move on the second game. ohhhhh what a deep thinking and courage.. best of luck.. thanks

  • 5 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    Very inspired play in the first two games.  The pawn exchanges in the first game well timed, and the complications in the second, astonishing, and the third, I thought, a most excellent practical choice of opening, pros/cons of 5 Ne7 v Nh6 look interesting as well as the middlegame plans -  Probably a very pleasant game to play for the first 20 moves.   Best wishes in your chess progress!

  • 5 years ago


    Thanks for sharing-beautiful play!

  • 5 years ago


  • 5 years ago


    15 years old,getting a GM norm,it is all hardwork.Great job Darwin.

  • 5 years ago


    15, light years ahead of my chess ability and can work hitherto into his speech.... it's time for me to reexamine where I went wrong in life.


    Nice work on the GM norm, won't be long before you've gotten that title.

  • 5 years ago


    great blog enjoyed the games, congratson your norm! sure 14d5 is better in the second game than 14dxc5

  • 5 years ago


    Good Job! continu to post your progess and your game, very interesting:D

  • 5 years ago


    Way to go, Darwin! We love seeing you in Saint Louis, and hopefully we'll see you again here soon. Congrats on the hard-fought norm. It was really fun to watch you battle back.


  • 5 years ago


    Huge congratulations on an amazing achievement. Love your blogs, so please do keep us all informed and involved in your exciting chess journey!

  • 5 years ago


    @IMSMThe Weird One-Congratulations! Really GM level.You played very solid -like Makogonov, Botvinnik.I think Your style is optimal,but ,of course,PSYCHOLOGY is most important factor,when You go on TOP! Good Luck!

Back to Top

Post your reply: