Chasing The Title
Unlike many countries, where you simply need to touch a national rating of 2200, or where you must hold 2200 for 25 games, Canada has recently adopted a slightly more complicated system for aquiring the National Master (NM) title. In Canada, you need a rating of 2200, along with three 'norms'. A norm is a performance score of 2300+ in a CFC event of 5 rounds or more.
My past two tournaments have been very successful. I have achieved a norm in both, and have seen my rating climb to 2244.
I've scored 7 points out of a possible 10 in these two events against an average opponent rating of 2194.
I'll be chasing my third and final NM norm this weekend in Guelph.
Last time I played in Guelph was in February. I scored 2.5/5 with a performance score of 2187. Although I felt I played fairly well, two games cost me. I blew a much better (maybe winning) position in round 1 vs a strong International Master and went on to lose in time trouble. I also gave up a draw in round 3 to a mid 1900's player by playing Queen's Gambit Declined and voluntarily trading almost every minor piece.
I've learned from those games. My opening preparation (which is what got me into time trouble vs the IM) has improved in the subtle Scheveningen Najdorf positions I often face. I've also been working on more ambitious lines against 1. d4. I'm hoping these improvements, along with my regular tactics and endgame training, will be enough to score the 3 or 3.5/5 that I'll need to secure my final NM norm.
And finally, to take a break from all the hard work I've been doing, and to reminisce over my past two tournaments... I've posted three positions which I believe were critical in achieving my first two norms. Let's see if you can solve them!