Jul 7th, 2010 by Daaim Shabazz
Farai Mandizha is a long way from his home in Zimbabwe, but over the past few years has made a presence in the U.S. chess scene. Over this time he has made an impression in his New York base and has now achieved the difficult task of earning the International Master (IM) title in the U.S. He earned his last norm at the Philadelphia Open just one week after an IM performance in the New York International. At the recently ended World Open, he continued his onslaught by scoring 7.5/9 in the under-2400 section and should vault well over 2400 to qualify for the title. What is so difficult about earning norms in the U.S. is that there are few opportunities. However there are a few new tournaments that will afford such a chance and Mandizha got norms in two of them. The New York International is only in its third year and the Philadelphia International has only been in existence for four years. The World Open and Foxwoods had been the only marquee tournaments offering the best norm opportunities. In addition, these tournaments are very strong which means that you have to be in top form. The Zimbabwean IM-elect has definitely been in form. Here is an assessment of Mandizha’s IM norm performances. 2006 Foxwoods Open Title Player Nation Flag ELO Result GM Hikaru Nakamura USA 2664 1 GM Alonso Zapata Columbia 2470 ½ IM Bryan Smith USA 2384 0 WFM Hana Itkis USA 2100 1 IM Alan Stein USA 2434 1 GM Joe Gallagher Switzerland 2530 0 GM Dashzegve Sharavdorj Mongolia 2449 0 FM Boris Reichstein USA 2168 1 IM Ali Frhat Egypt 2376 1 Score: 5.5-3.5 (IM norm) 2010 New York International Title Player Nation Flag ELO Result Andy Applebaum USA unr 1 GM Mark Paragua Philippines 2497 ½ GM Alexander Shabalov USA 2585 1 GM Surya Ganguly India 2672 1 GM Jaan Ehlvest USA 2591 0 GM Sundaraja Kidambi India 2520 ½ IM Dean J Ippolito USA 2480 ½ GM Rashad Babaev Azerbaijan 2534 ½ GM Robert L Hess USA 2590 0 Score: 5-4 (IM norm) 2010 Philadelphia International Title Player Nation Flag ELO Result IM Anthony Bellaiche France 2455 ½ IM Gabriel Battaglini France 2420 1 IM Samuel Shankland USA 2575 ½ Amanda Mateer USA 2098 ½ FM Louis Jiang Canada 2298 1 IM Salvijus Bercys USA 2476 ½ GM Mark Paragua Philippines 2497 1 GM Mikheil Kekelidze Georgia 2580 0 GM Amon Simutowe Zambia 2464 ½ Score: 5½-3½ (IM norm) IM-elect Manidizha has played very well in this stretch and perhaps he is now competition with fellow Zimbabwean IM Robert Gwaze on who will be the first Grandmaster of the country. Gwaze certainly has the raw talent and perhaps they will both reach the prestigious plateau. However, the issue of viable opportunities becomes the issue. Despite the fact that Mandizha could have opted to get the IM title in a singular African Championship, the three-norm system certainly gives a measure of how a player stands against the strongest competition.