How young Ray made his first GM norm

by ChessBase
8/13/2009 – The Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø ended last Sunday, with four players sharing the top score of 7.0/9 points. One of them, a 14-year-old lad, stood to make a GM norm. But to do so Ray Robson had to hold the Swedish Champion GM Emanuel Berg to a draw in the final round, with the black pieces. To compound matters Berg was desperate to win. Pictorial report by Misha Savinov.

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Tromsø – Arctic Chess Challenge 2009

Report and pictures by Misha Savinov

In Tromsø Ray stood to complete a GM norm, but he faced a daunting task. In the final round he needed to at least draw, with the black pieces, against the strongest Swedish grandmaster, who desperately wanted to win this game and the Arctic Chess Challenge 2009. All Emanuel Berg required to emerge as the sole winner of the event was to defeat the American wonderboy. No charitable draw to be expected here.

Berg didn’t get much of an opening advantage, and the game quickly proceeded to a heavy pieces ending that was objectively even. However, as the player approached a rook ending, Robson began to err. Instead of creating a simple positional draw, he advanced his passed pawn to a2, and ended up in a difficult situation. Grandmasters outside the tournament hall relentlessly analyzed the subtleties of the ending, finding winning lines for White and brilliant, study-like draws for Black. However, the game ended without much firework – Berg proceeded to a textbook drawn position with an extra pawn, Robson defended easily, and they both joined Socko and Petrov on the shared first place.

The start of the critical game in the Arctic Challenge (position after 9...Bd7)

Berg,Emanuel (2610) - Robson,Ray (2491)
Arctic Chess Challenge 2009 Scandic Hotel, Tromsø (9), 01.08.2009
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.Bb3 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 b5 12.0-0 a5 13.a4 b4 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Bxd4+ 16.Qxd4 Re8 17.Rae1 Rc8 18.Re2 e5 19.dxe6 Bxe6 20.Rfe1 Qd7 21.Bxe6 Rxe6 22.Rxe6 fxe6 23.c3 bxc3 24.bxc3 Qc6 25.Rxe6 Qxc3 26.Re8+ Kf7 27.Qxc3 Rxc3 28.Ra8 Rc5 29.Ra7+ Ke6 30.Rxh7 Rc4 31.h4 Rxa4 32.Rh6 Kf7 33.h5 gxh5 34.Rxd6 Kg7 35.Kh2 Ra1 36.Kg3 a4 37.Kh4 a3 38.Kg5 a2 39.Rd7+ Kf8 40.Rd2 h4

Ray Robson watches from the sidelines as Emanuel Berg ponders his 41st move


The young lad considers his options...

41...Kg8 42.Rf2 Kh8 43.Kg5 Kg7 44.f4 Kf7 45.f5 Kg7 46.Rd2 Kf7 47.Rc2 Kg7 48.Rc7+ Kf8 49.Rc8+ Kf7 50.Rc7+ Ke8 51.Rc2 Kf7 52.Re2 Kg7 53.Re7+ Kf8 54.Ra7 h3 55.Kf6 Re1 56.Ra8+ Re8 57.Rxa2 hxg2 58.Rxg2 Ra8 59.Re2 Ra6+ 60.Re6 Ra7 61.Rb6 Rf7+ 62.Kg6 Rg7+ 63.Kf6 Rf7+ 64.Kg5 Rg7+ 65.Rg6 Ra7 66.Rf6+ Kg7 67.Rc6 Kf8 68.Rh6 Rg7+ 69.Rg6 Ra7 70.Rf6+ Kg7 71.Rh6 Ra1 72.Rg6+ Kf7 73.Rf6+ Kg7 74.Rg6+ draw.

The game is over, Berg signs the scoresheet and Ray Robson has his first GM norm

Mother Yee-Chen is delighted by her prodigy son's achievement

Afterwards the two sit down for a session of post mortem analysis

Soon he will have a GM in front of his name and will be an international superstar


Family Robson: Ray, Gary (a professor for applied linguistics) and Yee-Chen

Ray Robson was born on October 25, 1994 in Guam to Gary Robson, a professor of applied linguistics at St. Petersburg College, and Yee-chen, a kindergarten teacher at Country Day School. The family later moved to Largo, Florida where they live today. An only child he learnt chess from his father at age three. He attended public school for kindergarten, then a public school for the gifted in first grade, then from grades 2-5 he was at a private Montessori school. He started homeschooling in grade 6, and is now in 7th grade. Robson wants to become a professional chess player, and his parents hoped for him to gain a chess scholarship to college. [Source: Wikipedia]


Impressions of round nine (Berg vs Robson can be seen 1 min 55 sec into the video)

Ray playing a simultaneous exhibition in which he beat 25 players at the University
of Florida Chess Club, maintaining an undefeated record in his third simul.


To read, replay and analyse the PGN games we adivse you to download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access to the chess server New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!

Previous ChessBase reports on Tromsø

Socko, Robson, Petrov and Berg win Arctic Challenge
11.08.2009 – This was the greatest performance of her career: Polish GM Monika Socko shared first place with 14-year-old IM Ray Robson of the US, Bulgarian IM Marijan Petrov and Sweden's top GM Emanuel Berg. But she took the title on tiebreak points and with a performance of 2639. We bring you a final report by IM Torstein Bae with a beautiful Robson game and pictures and videos from Tromsø.

Tromsø 2009 – Socko, Petrov and Robson lead
08.08.2009 – Make no mistake, it is GM Monika Socko, not her top-rated husband Bartosz, who is leading the Arctic Challenge with 6.0/7 and a 2703 performance. No less sensational is that 14-year-old IM Ray Robson is sharing first with a 2679 performance. The action is exciting ("hammer time") and the landscape lovely in the land of the midnight sun. Big illustrated report by Misha Savinov.

Tromsø 2009 – four lead in Arctic Chess Challenge
06.08.2009 – At the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø 120 players are competing in the year’s most prestigious Norwegian event. After five of nine rounds there are four players in the lead. Three are GMs, one a female, but the fourth is of particular interest: 14-year-old US American IM Ray Robson, whom some people are calling the new Bobby Fischer. Pictorial report by IM Torstein Bae.

Tromsø 2009 – the Arctic Chess Challenge
02.08.2009 The Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø is this year’s most prestigious event in Norway. More than 35 titled players are taking part, including 13 GMs. Top seed is Polish GM Bartosz Socko, rated 2656, with three more super-GMs just below him. The tournament is truly an international open: the 118 participants hail from 26 countries, and from all parts of the world. Pictorial report.

Tromsø 2009 – the Arctic Chess Challenge
22.07.2009 – The city of Tromsø, located within the Arctic Circle in Norway, has become a hot-bed of chess. Not only is Tromsø bidding for the Chess Olympiad 2014 – every year they stage a very attractive chess tournament in this beautiful location. This year the Arctic Challenge will be staged from August 1st to 9th, with 132 entries and lots of title holders – an ideal opportunity to make norms.

Tromsø – a Chess Olympiad in the midnight sun?
18.11.2008 – It lies well within the Arctic Circle and has a history of chess activity. Now the city of Tromsø is bidding to host the 2014 Chess Olympiad in one of the most attractive regions of Europe. A full presentation is being made at the Olympiad in Dresden. We visited the city this summer and support their bid with some WYSIWYG evidence of why it is ideally suited for an Olympiad. Photo report.

Chess in the Arctic Circle – GM Igor Kurnosov triumphs
18.08.2008 – For the third time the Tromsø Chess Club staged an International Open in the Arctic Circle. It ran from August 2nd to 10th 2008, with sky high prizes, by Norwegian standards (total prize fund 11,000 Euros). The venue is spectacular, the atmosphere warm and generous. And the place is full of Carlsens: Magnus, Henrik, Sigrun, Ellen, Ingrid and Signe. Part one of our big pictorial report.

Moiseenko wins the Arctic Chess Challenge
12.08.2007 – In the end it was a super-GM who took the unshared first place in the Tromsø Midnight Sun tournament: Alexander Moiseenko of the Ukraine scored 7.5/9 to overtake the long-time leader, "Mr Sunshine" Kjetil Lie, who had beaten him in round four. Top seed Magnus Carlsen recovered from a poor start to share 2-4. Like his parents we expect Magnus to scale the Store Blåmannen.

Carlsen vs Carlsen – Magnus beats his dad
10.08.2007 – That is hardly a surprise, since the 16-year-old is over six hundred points stronger than his first teacher. But then again Henrik Carlsen has grounding powers... After seven rounds of the Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø it is Norwegian GM Kjetil A. Lie who is in the lead, with 5.5 points, followed by four players with 5.0 points each. Report with pictures and videos.

Second Arctic Chess Challenge in Tromsø
07.08.2007 – The Norwegian island town of Tromsø lies well within the Arctic Circle, which means that this time of the year the sun never sets. Tromsø is playing host to a strong GM tournament from August 4th-12th, 2007. Top seed is Magnus Carlsen, who rushed in from his victory in Biel and did not have a great start here (3.0/4, place ten). Two other GMs, Macieja and Lie, lead with 4.0/4. Round four report.

Shipov wins Midnight Sun, Carlsen second
03.07.2006 – The Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø, Norway, was won by Russian GM Sergei Shipov, who scored 7.5 points in nine rounds. Second was fifteen-year-old Magnus Carlsen with 7.0, who beat Leif Erland Johannessen on tiebreak points. We bring you a final report with pictures from Whale's Island.

Carlsen leads the Midnight Sun Challenge
28.06.2006 – A fifteen-year-old super-grandmaster, blessed with an Elo of 2646, is leading the Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø. Magnus Carlsen of Norway looks set to break a few new records with the form that he is showing these days. The event is being held well within the Arctic Circle, where at this time of year the nights are bright as day. Misha Savinov reports.

Midnight Sun Chess Challenge in Tromsø
26.06.2006 – There are parts in the world where, during a certain period of the year, the sun never sets. The northern Norwegian town of Tromsø, which lies well within the Arctic Circle, is one such place. From June 24th to July 2nd, in the middle of the midnight sun period, it is holding chess festival with GMs like Krasenkow and Magnus Carlsen. Big illustrated report.

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