Sunday, 10 January 2010

The problem with norms

As any title norm tournament gets up to 9 rounds, furious calculations begin to see which players may make an IM/GM norm, and what they need to do to achieve it. While modern tournament management software (Swiss Manager or Swiss Perfect) kind of does this, it does so after the fact. So to know if you are playing for a norm usually involves diving into a copy of The Chess Organisers Handbook and hoping the numbers add up.
For this years Australian Championship, the focus is on 3 players. Both Junta Ikeda and FM Vladimir Smirnov are both on track for IM norms (with TPR of just above 2450), but they actually play each other in round 9! So it should be a norm for the winner, and more work for the losr (the tournament is 11 rounds).
IM George Xie would ordinarily have his GM norm already sewn up, but for one pesky rule. Although his TPR is over 2600 (he is on 7/8) the average strength of the field he has played is below the minimum 2381 required for a valid norm. This is to prevent players achieving the norm by having a phenomenal percentage against a relatively weak field. Of course George can get the average rating of the field over 2380 over the next 3 rounds, assuming the right opponents and the right results.
Ironically this was also the rule that prevented then IM Zong Yuan Zhao's outstanding performance (9.5/11) at the 2006-7 Australian Open being a valid GM norm. The problem at the time was that despite the event attracting 4 GM's, the Australian IM's stayed away in droves, with only Zhao and IM Mirko Rujevic making the trip to Canberra for the tournament. Oddly enough, 3 days after the tournament finished, at least 7 IM's* did find their way to Canberra for various duties at the Australian Junior Championship. (And yes, IM George Xie was one of those players).
(*One Australian IM has put it to me that a prior and long standing engagement prevented him from playing, and for the record, I am happy to accept this explanation)


Paul said...

My kingdom for a norm ! :-)

Garvin said...

Do you have a kingdom and how big is the kingdom?

Paul said...

Yes I do in fact...:-)

Anonymous said...

You have got to see this. Obama playing on XBox. Funniest video ever.