Krush and Wang top Berkeley IM tournament

by Agnieszka Matras-Clement
9/16/2019 – The Berkeley Chess School, in Berkeley, California, hosted an unusual (by USA standards) International Master Norm Tournament (August 16th-20th). Unusual because it was for women only. GM Irina Krush won the tournament after a playoff with IM-elect Annie Wang. WIM AGNIESZKA MATRAS-CLEMENT was among the contenders and sent us this first-hand review. | Photos: Berkley Chess School

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California dreamin'IM

Since I moved to Canada five years ago, I have had an amazing opportunity to explore not only Canada, but the United States as well! New York, Alaska and Las Vegas have all been crossed off my list of interesting places to see.

So, when I received an invitation to play the International Master Norm Tournament at the Berkeley Chess School in California in August, I had a decision to make. I had just returned home from a month-long visit to see family and friends in Poland and, to be honest, I was really looking forward to some relaxing time at home. opportunity to play a fascinating tournament in California with a diverse group of incredibly talented women? The choice was pretty easy! 

players and organizers

Players and organizers | Photo: Berkley Chess School

The tournament intrigued me for a few reasons. First of all, there are not too many women's round robin tournaments in North America — unlike in Europe where they are quite common — and the fact that the tournament was offering the opportunity for women to compete for IM, WGM and WIM norms was also a strong reason to take part.

The strength and diversity of the competitors was something that I was excited about as well, with one GM, two IMs, three WGMs and two WIMs taking part.

It was an honour to be included with women such as 7-time US Women's Champion GM Irina Krush, recent PanAm Youth U-20 champion WGM (and IM elect) Annie Wang and the top rated women players from Cuba (IM Lisandra Oldez) and Argentina (IM Carolina Lujan).

As the top-rated woman in Canada, I was excited to put my skills to a test against some great opponents from around the world...even from as far away as Mongolia! 

playing Annie Wang

Facing Annie Wang | Photo: Berkley Chess School

I have to say that the organization of the tournament exceeded my expectations. The tournament was made possible by the organizer, Elizabeth Shaughnessy (Berkley Chess School Executive Director), Marketing and Communications Director WGM Carla Heredia and Chief Tournament Director: Fide Arbiter Bryon Doyle.

The big chess festival started with a simul given by GM Irina Krush, who played on 20 boards with local players (both adults and kids). After a long fight, she drew two games and won the rest!

The atmosphere of the tournament was great, with some incredible battles on the boards and a lot of sportsmanship shown by all players. All the games were broadcast live and as a unique attraction, the best game of each round was chosen and analysed by one of GM Johan Hellisten, GM Josh Friedel or FM Josiah Stearman. From all these games, the best game of the tournament was chosen and that player received a $200 prize. I especially liked this feature, as I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the best game of the tournament for my game against IM Carolina Lujan!

Video annotations by GM Josh Friedel

Replay the game with Tactical Analysis below


After all was said and done, Irina Krush and Annie Wang sat deadlocked at the top, each with 7 out of 9 points. They played a blitz playoff for the trophy and Irina was victorious.

Third place went to IM Lisandra Ordaz and there were a couple more interesting awards given. WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia was awarded a really cool prize — a unique chess set — as the winner of the sportsmanship category and Saikhanchimeg Tsogtsaikhan from Mongolia won the prize for the biggest upset of the tournament, defeating IM Lisandra Ordaz, who was 382 Elo points above her.

A few participants had a chance to earn norms but, in the end, only one was made, by WFM Uyanga Byambaa, who got a WIM norm (with 4½ points out of 9).


WFM Uyanga Byambaa with IM norm certificate | Photo: Berkley Chess School

But the chess fun wasn't over yet! The day after the tournament ended, the organizers arranged for us to visit the oldest chess club in The United States: The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club in San Francisco. We had a great visit there and a lively chat as well.

After this, we took a cruise to see some of San Francisco's legendary tourist sites: the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz. It was a blast!

Boat trip

Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge | Photo: Berkley Chess School

And how do you think we ended our day? By playing chess, of course! We had a blitz tournament at the Berkeley Chess Club, where local adults and kids could chat and play with the participants of the International Master Norm Tournament.

I am really thankful that I was invited to this tournament and glad to have taken part. It's tournaments like this that help make the international chess community that much stronger and I wish there were more tournaments for women in North America that were so professionally organized, offered the opportunity to make norms and attracted such great participants.

I would like to sincerely thank the organizers of this tournament as well as all the participants and I really hope that this will become more than a one-time event!

Final standings

# Name Rtng Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Rd 8 Rd 9 Tot Prize
1 GM Irina Krush 2417 W8 W9 W7 D5 D2 W10 D6 W3 D4 7.0 750.00
2 WGM Annie Wang [IM elect] 2321 W5 D3 D10 W6 D1 W4 D8 W9 W7 7.0 750.00
3 IM Lisandra Ordaz Valdes 2393 W4 D2 D8 W10 D9 W6 L7 L1 W5 5.5 250.00
4 WIM Agnieszka Matras-Clement 2260 L3 D8 W9 W7 W5 L2 W10 L6 D1 5.0  
5 IM Carolina Lujan 2352 L2 D10 D6 D1 L4 W8 W9 W7 L3 4.5  
6 WFM Uyanga Byambaa 2114 L9 W7 D5 L2 W10 L3 D1 W4 D8 4.5  
7 Saikhanchimeg Tsogtsaikhan 2011 W10 L6 L1 L4 W8 W9 W3 L5 L2 4.0  
8 WGM Yuleisy Hernandez Moya 2199 L1 D4 D3 D9 L7 L5 D2 D10 D6 3.0  
9 WIM Thalia Cervantes 2118 W6 L1 L4 D8 D3 L7 L5 L2 D10 2.5  
10 WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia 2191 L7 D5 D2 L3 L6 L1 L4 D8 D9 2.0  

All games



Agnieszka Matras-Clement is a Woman International Master originally from Poland but currently living in Edmonton, Canada. She is the top-rated woman chess player in Canada.


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