Hunting norms in Budapest

by Priyadarshan Banjan
11/21/2014 – The very first "First Saturday tournament" in Budapest was played in 1987. The idea behind this successful series is simple: make it easier for young players to get round robin norms you need for the title. Since 1987 countless ambitious talents, among them several future chess superstars, have made their norms in Budapest. But that is not always easy.

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A tradition: The First Saturday tournaments in Budapest

Since 1987 the First Saturday tournaments held in Budapest on the first Saturday of every month (except January) have been an important breeding ground for many ambitious chess players. From the very beginning Mr. Laszlo Nagy - also known as Mr. First Saturday in the chess world - has organized the tournament series with utmost dedication.

Many of the current generation of chess super stars gained GM/IM norms in Budapest, including Peter Leko, Koneru Humpy, Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Hou Yifan and more recently Richard Rapport. For many young and ambitious players the trip to Budapest proved to be an 'educational experience'.

Koneru Humpy, 2001

No prizes for guessing who the little kid is!

Hikaru Nakamura, 2002

Hou Yifan, 2008

The white side of the board looks a bit too 'normal', right? This is Richard Rapport! (2009)

Mr. "First Saturday "at work!

The November 2014 edition of this tournament was conducted from 1st November to 11th November 2014 at the Hotel Madosz in central Budapest. The Hotel Madosz has been the venue for this tournament since February 2011 and takes special care of its chess guests. First Saturday tournaments are traditionally conducted in 4 different groups: the Grandmaster section, the International Master section, the FIDE Master-A and the FIDE Master-B sections. The time control of this event was 90 minutes for the first 40 moves + 30 minutes for the rest of the game with a 30 second increment from move 1. IA Miklos Orso was the chief arbiter of the tournament.

The grandmaster tournament was a six player double round robin. Newly minted Vietnamese Grandmaster Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy began the tournament as top seed and won comfortably, half a point ahead of second seed GM Zoltan Varga. The Hungarian GM Dr. Andras Flumbort displayed remarkable attacking skills and finished third. As the three grandmasters dominated the event no candidate could score title norms.

GM Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy (Elo 2492)

Final standings:

Here is a selection of two games for you to enjoy. The game by GM Varga shows a simple idea that might prove useful to you in your games.


FM Aharon Ofir of Israel (Elo 2327) and Hungarian GM Zoltan Varga (Elo 2470)

The next game is a pretty attacking performance by GM Andras Flumbort in an isolated queen's pawn structure (IQP). Let IM Sagar Shah guide you through this fast paced game.


GM Andras Flumbort of Hungary (Elo 2458)

All Games


The International Master section had ten players playing a 9 round all play all event. As in the Grandmaster tournament no candidate made a norm. The event was won by the untitled German player Kevin Hoegy who scored 5.5/9 and finished equal first with IM Adam Szeberenyi and CM Tran Minh Thang but won on tie-break.

Kevin Hoegy of Germany (Elo 2257)

Final standings:

All Games


The 14-year old Vietnamese Candidate Master Tran Minh Thang did not manage to make a norm but the tournament still was a success for him: he won no less than 33 Elo-points.

Tran Minh Thang

The following game by him shows a variety of ideas. An attack on the queenside, standard tactics in similar positions and a black king on the run!


The FM-A group had 6 players competing in a double round robin and was won by resident Hungarian Jozsef Juracsik with 8.0/10 points.

Jozsef Juracsik (Elo 2109)

Final standings

All Games


The FM-B group had ten players competing in a 9 round all play all format. The 1944 born veteran Istvan Oberfrank stood clear first with 7.0/9 points.

Final standings

All Games


A glimpse of the tournament hall

FM Gabriel Petesch of USA (Elo 2263)

IM Zlatco Martic of Crotia (Elo 2321)

Group photo of the participants of First Saturday tournament, November 2014

Impressions from Budapest

Fisherman's Bastion

Heroes' Square

Hungarian Parliament

Tournament photos: Miklos Szabo
Photos of Humpy, Caruana, Yifan, Nakamura and Rapport: Laszlo Nagy (private)
Information: IM Miklos Orso, International Arbiter
Official tournament site

Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.


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