Thursday, February 02, 2006

Abnormal Norm

During the closing ceremony of the Queenstown Chess Classic, the New Zealand crowd (as well as most visiting Aussies) proudly applauded the achievement of local favourite, FM Igor Bjelobrk. We were informed that Igor had just apparently attained his first ever international master norm.

It now turns out that there is a question mark, the size of Lake Wakatipu, over Igor's so-called norm.

Former Australian Olympiad captain and IA, Peter Parr, in his usually clinical method has called into question the validity of Igor's IM norm. He writes:

FIDE states Section B 1.45(a) -titles of opponents - at least 50% of the opponents shall be title-holders. Section 1.49(a) states 9 rounds - 5 title-holders. Section 1.7 states summary of requirements of opponents - 9 rounds - minimum 5 titled opponents.

Bjelobrk in Queenstown (10 round event) in 2006 played 5 opponents in the first 6 rounds (one bye) rating 1885, 2155,2096, 2186, 2226 (none of these opponents are titled). So it was clear after round 6 that with only four rounds to play it was not possible to play 5 titled opponents.

And later continues:

THE FIDE Qualifications Commission were aware of the old rule that if two players competed in a Swiss event and played exactly the same opponents with exactly the same results, exactly the same performance rating it was absurd that one player (if a FIDE Master) scores a norm and the other non titled player does not get a norm. This was abolished and rightly so.

The body with the final say in all of this is apparently FIDE's Titles Commission who are due to meet at the Turin Olympiad later this year. If the norm turns out to be invalid, we can only wonder as to whose forehead we should slap a big "I" for incompetence.

Finally we should make clear that Mr Bjelobrk is completely faultless.

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