GM norm for Mighty Molton
Congratulations to Aussie (and Queensland!) IM Moulthun Ly for winning the very strong Sydney International Chess Open, and at the same time picking up a valuable Grandmaster norm. After this performance, and given his past history, I'm betting Australia isn't that far away from getting its fifth chess Grandmaster. Finally!
Oh what, you haven't heard of Moulthun? Really? Well then perhaps you've heard of 'Molton', his handle on both Chess.com and the Internet Chess Club. On both servers, he's got a reputation as being an incredibly strong blitz and bullet player. When he came on the scene while I was still living in Queensland, I got to know him as 'this quiet kid who's a demon at 1-minute chess'. My opinion hasn't chanced, except that I could probably scrap the '1-minute' and just call him GOOD.
For those of you unfamiliar with chess jargon such as 'bullet' and '1-minute', I'm talking about a form of extreme speed chess in which each player has (usually) exactly one minute to make ALL their moves. If you run out of your sixty seconds, you lose. So, for a regular 40-move game, that's less than two seconds thinking (and moving!) time per move. If you play an 80 or a 100 move game.... well, you can do the math. On Chess.com, for example, Mighty Molton has the 15th highest all-time bullet rating (out of nine million players), one of the very few non-GMs on the list. Well, that won't last for long.
But in recent years, Moulthun's chess has really started to mature. The tricks and traps so typical in the style of bullet specialists are still there, but he's supplemented these skills by developing a much better strategic and positional understanding - far surpassing my own. He has developed a patience and far-sightedness that is reduntant in speed chess, but critical for top-level long games, and his opening repertoire has also begun to ripen. The street fighter has become a heavyweight.
'Heavyweight' may seem something of a misnomer for the shy, slightly-built 23 year old. A painfully nice guy off the board, his on-board disposition often gives the impression that he's about to fall asleep at any moment. But like the snake that fakes lethargy before it strikes, his mind is whirring at a hundred miles an hour during a game, calculating insane tactics in the blink of an eye.
The last round of the Sydney Open, then, was a little bit of a let-down for Molton fans expecting lava on the board. But, needing only a half point to clinch first place and the norm, Moulthun played it safe against his higher-rated GM opponent. Hard to argue with that. I've copied the game below, mainly for historical rather than entertainment value.
He's also very funny.