June 04, 2014 12:25

My Second IM Norm!

I can still hardly believe it but it's true: last Saturday I scored my second IM norm, exactly ten years after my first! I played the best tournament of my life, finishing in clear second place at the Liechtenstein Open and winning 1500 Swiss francs along the way. So how did this happen??

A while back I decided to take a holiday during the last two weeks of May. I wasn't planning to do anything special, but by accident I found out that three of my clubmates were going to play a tournament in Liechtenstein, right in this period. I started looking for accommodation, and when I found a nice, small apartment, I decided to give it a go!

After a flight to Zurich and a train to Sargans (Switzerland) I was picked up by Yvonne, the very friendly owner of the appartment. We hopped into the car, and soon I added another nation to my growing list of visited countries: Liechtenstein. And a strange but beautiful country it is!

Officially called the Principality of Liechtenstein, it is 100% located in the alps, in between Switzerland and Austria, and its area is only just over 160 square kilometres. The estimated population is 35,000. Besides really small, Liechtenstein is famous for having the highest gross domestic product per person in the world when adjusted by purchasing power parity.

But what will remain in my memory is the beautiful sights of the alps. My Amsterdam friends had rented an apartment in Triesenberg, a small town about 400 metres up the mountain, and from there the view was absolutely stunning: 

The chess was played in the town hall of Triesen, in the valley, where I was also staying. Besides an open group there was also a senior group, and this year a chess legend was participating: Nona Gaprindashvili of Georgia, the women's world champion from 1962–1978 and the first female to achieve the IGM title. She ended up winning the tournament shared with IM Laszlo Eperjesi of Hungary and Christoph Frick of Germany.

The main event was won by the top seed: 23-year-old GM Sebastian Bogner of Germany. As the clear favorite with 116 Elo points more than second seed GM Sergey Kasparov, Bogner scored 7.5/9, finishing clear first ahead of... well, yours truly! Yes, this mere 2215 player managed to finish in clear second place, ahead of eight GMs and five IMs! It was definitely the best result ever, of course closely followed by Amsterdam 2004, where I scored my first IM norm.

I guess this is a good opportunity to show once again my game in the final round back then. I had to beat a 2512, and somehow I did, putting a rook en prise on c3 twice: 

PGN string

What happened after this? Well, I reached a rating of 2292 thanks to this tournament, was pretty convinced I would become an FM soon, and perhaps I could try going for a second norm. I played a number of tournaments, beat more IMs, drew a few more GMs, but I never came close to this result in Amsterdam.

Then, in 2006 I started blogging, in 2007 I founded ChessVibes and for seven years I put all of my energy in my website, which was also my company. I kept on playing chess, but after a few tournaments in 2007 I cut down my play significantly. In recent years I played about one tournament a year, and some Dutch league games. To be honest, I had lost most of my motivation to play chess, and it showed in my results. My FIDE rating had dropped to 2215, and my Dutch rating even briefly went below 2150.

A lot has changed in the past year. Chess.com took over ChessVibes, I have started working full time for this company, and it was a great decision. I'm enjoying this new job, which still is all about chess news, tremendously. It gives me the opportunity to spend a lot of time on chess professionally, such as working on The Master's Bulletin, and surely that must have been beneficial for my own game! (And I'm sure it will be benficial for all our subscribers!)

And in the past few months I slowly but surely I got more enthusiastic about playing myself. It was mostly my team in the Dutch league, which is full of friends, that got me back to being motivated. Only a few weeks ago we managed to promote to the second league, which was very inspiring, and finishing with 3.0/3 this season probably gave me enough confidence to try another 9-round event. 

A pic taken on the mountain close to Malbun

I'll show a few moments which were critical to my tournament and my play. I think the overall picture is that I played OK, but I was also quite lucky. But nobody is successful without some luck.

After an easy win in the first round I played a small boy from Germany, who was born in the year that I scored my first norm! He had prepared very well for the game, and after I blundered a pawn I was simply lost at some point. We continued to make mistakes, and I was fortunate enough that he made the last. This game, not a very good one to be honest, made me realize that I still needed some more practice! 

The playing hall

In the third round I lost without a fight against IM Gyula Iszak of Hungary after a blunder in the opening. After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 I had spent hours preparing the ...c6/...d5 Grünfeld, but before I knew it I had put by bishop on g7! Out of habit, as a life-long King's Indian player, I went 3...Bg7 and after 4.Bg2, to my horror I realized that his next move would be 4.e4 and I was sentenced to playing another g3-King's Indian. Angry with myself for this silly mistake, I was hardly capable of putting up a serious fight and I lost in just 20 moves.

Luckily I then beat a 2038-player in the next round, so everything was fine: 3.0/4 with one loss against a stronger player. The next game, against an FM, would be quite important: was I going to play a good tournament, or a so-so tournament?

PGN string

I can still feel the thrill that went through my body when he went 32.Bc4. “Is he falling for it? Yes! He's falling for it! I'm checkmating the guy!” It's not that I have never beaten such a player before (I must have beaten at least ten IMs in my life), but it was some kind of realization that I might actually play a good tournament in Liechtenstein.

The next round was a real test: an IM from Italy. I remember preparing many different lines, but not the one that he played. And still it went fantastic.

PGN string

Of course this game gave me an enormous boost. Beating an IM is always a bit special for a non-titled player, and the way I did it was just awesome: he was with his back against the wall almost from start to finish. Besides, with this result I was sure of facing at least two more (much) higher rated players in the next rounds, and so my performance rating would remain excellent, and I was probably going to win some Elo points here. Note the way of thinking: I was taking it “game after game”, as Boris Gelfand famously said in Mexico 2007, and felt no pressure at all. I didn't HAVE TO do well.

The game Iszak-Bogner (0.5-0.5) drew a lot of spectators

My next opponent was Sergey Kasparov, a Belarus grandmaster with a famous surname which begs for jokes such as: “I didn't expect that I would ever decline a draw offer from Kasparov.” As it turned out, this is what happened in the game!

PGN string

As you can imagine, by now I was walking around in Liechtenstein with a permanent smile on my face. I was playing better than I had done in many years, and that alone was enough for me to be very satisfied. The actual results of the games weren't even that important to me, and maybe that helped to keep my calm in the next game, against a Dutch IM, even though I was being outplayed for the first time in the tournament.

PGN string

This game made it clear that I wasn't just playing decent chess, but I also had Caissa on my side. I deserved to lose, but my opponent just made mistakes (and I punished them nicely).

Only now, with one round to go, I started to think about an IM norm. As it turned out, I would have already secured the norm if I would be paired against Mr Bogner. Against all other opponents rated higher than 2000-something I needed a draw. 

View over Malbun, a skiing resort during winter time

“Unfortunately” I was paired against a different grandmaster, again with the black pieces. What was very nice was that I got yet another chance to use my ...c6/...d5 Grünfeld preparation. The game was played early morning, and this was probably also to my advantage because my opponent made several inaccuracies. I did so too, naturally.

PGN string

It's funny isn't it? Ten years after the first one!

A nice compliment came from Sergey Kasparov, who apparently didn't trust my play. After the tournament he said to a friend of mine, and later to me, that it “wasn't possible”. “You play like a machine!” he said, and he didn't mean it in a good way. But I guess I should take it as a compliment anyway!

My rating will reach something like 2264 in August. I'm probably one of the lowest rated players in the world with two IM norms. Maybe it's about time that I become an FM. :-)

Share |
Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Anonymous's picture

superb ! congratulations Peter !

ThomasRichter's picture

---deleted for impersonation---

Anonymous's picture

Well Done Peter!!!

Btw, are there norms for FM or just 2300 ELO (or something else...)?

Thanks, Yevgeny.

Peter Doggers's picture

Reaching 2300 is enough to get the FM title. For the IM title you need three norms and a rating of 2400.

forest76's picture

To be exact norms should be scored in 27 games with a minimum of 2 norms.. [Which usually is 3 norms as most tourneys are 9 rounds]]

Anonymous's picture

Congratulations, Peter!
I'm just an average club player, but I can relate in a lot of ways to the emotions and feelings you describe; this article has inspired me and lifted my spirits after an upsetting loss for me in a club match last night! :'(

Keep up the great work, on and off the board!

Bryan's picture

Congrats! Thanks for writing up the article on this. Very inspiring and enjoyable.

PP (nl)'s picture

Congratulations Peter! Nice result, nice story. One more to go? And of course getting your rating up to actually reach the title, right? :-)

PP (nl)'s picture

Already answered I see...

 Anon's picture

Congrats to you, Peter!

Nice thing to be news rather than write about news for a change, eh? :-)

Lopez's picture

Congratulations, Mr Peter! your story has motivated me more than ever to start training and compete in tournament again, as I had quit tournament play because of frequent bad result

brabo's picture

Congratulations! We had in Belgium also recently a player scoring his second IM norm after 10 years:

Comments like: "You play like a machine" unfortunately pop up regularly today, especially from strong players. Since the case with Ivanov Borislav, there is a lot of mistrust and unfounded allegations between the players. It is clear that competitive tournament chess is suffering.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Great result, Peter! And Sergej Kasparov, where did hís rating points come from...?

RD's picture

Congratulations Peter, well done! Imagine, you even have vibes-fans and followers having that view :-)

Grandma's picture

Congratulations, Peter! :-)

PeterV's picture

Congrats, Mr. Doggers

Tyke's picture

Good job Peter

Roberto's picture

Excellent Peter!!! You played very nice games!!!!

Congratulations man, keep going!!!!

The Bowman's picture

Well done Peter! that gives hope to all of us :)

Dirk Lont's picture

Congratulations Peter! Nice to read and I recognize the emotions you went thru, although I'm playing on a totally different level (as you know).

Witkacy's picture

Well, congrats, Peter! I can see you're very pleased.
See ya!

Sir Schratz's picture


what a bonecracker!!!!!
stellwagen will be demoralised for years to come, but oooops I just see that that was a game from 2004 :-)

splendid anyway!

Merlinovich's picture

Oh dear! I thought you played against IM Homeless - funny typo in my brain.

Congratulations on a great result and good luck for the pull to 2400 - if you can get there the last norm will surely come as well.

Anonymous's picture

Congrats on this personal achievement and good luck further on!

My name?'s picture

The Chess Olympics is probably saved. Latest news is $2000 000 over the budget.


Anonymous's picture


Luís Silva's picture

Hello Peter!
I also made an IM norm last year in Barcelona while I was rated 2198. Then my elo reached 2281 in one month and half. But I played so many tournaments in a row that my elo then dropped and I am currently with 2215. I will play the IberoAmerican in Linares, Badalona Open in Barcelona, Portuguese 1st division (all the three tournaments for IM norm). What do you recommend as preparation for them? Thanks a lot :)

saturnz's picture

well done Peter

pioneer's picture

Congrats Peter!

Chris's picture


Frank van Tellingen's picture

Goed werk Peter en vooral gefeliciteerd met je goede spel - de rest is niet echt belangrijk toch, dat komt dan vanzelf!

Coco Loco's picture

Congrats, Peter!
You've got the norms, now you need the rating points. Time to get started on Axel Smith's book! :)

Mark De Smedt's picture

Nice. Congratulations, Peter !

Dominik Bomans's picture

Congratulations and thanks a lot for this
very inspirational and personal article.
All the best for picking up the few missing
rating point and/or another norm soon.

Misja's picture

Congratulations Peter! And nice story, I thought the toilet reference made it epic :-))

harami's picture

Congratulations !! Peter. Nice to read.

Good luck for your IM title, hope you get what you are looking for.

inky's picture

Congratulations, Peter. I loved your pictures. Now I am longing to go to Liechtenstein. Keep practicing and you will become an FM and an IM, too.

RS's picture

Congratulations Peter on your second IM norm and for your great performance in the tournament.

Also a excellent article something that keeps me checking Chessvibes everyday.

I am also a club level player and have high hopes of making norms. Hope I can do well in the forth coming tournament.

Remco G's picture

Remember the key to his story -- he didn't have high hopes of making the norm, he was just having a great time and trying to play the best chess he could. Plus great training and preparation in the period before.

Results usually come when you aren't preoccupied with getting them, and just focus at the task at hand.

Ping's picture

Congratulations Peter, well done! I enjoyed playing through your games and reading the story. Hanging out with the world top has rubbed of on you, keep up the good work.

Jimmy Liew's picture

It is harder to reach 2400 than to make an IM norm

MamedyarovFan's picture

Delighted for you, Peter. One wonders how you get time to study and play chess when you are so busy doing superb reports etc.

Frank Modder's picture

Sergey Kasparov accused an opponent (2200) of computer cheating at Nord-West Cup 2011 after he was outprepared in the opening. So maybe Mr. Kasparov has problems with losing games against weaker opposition - or with losing in general...

Abbas's picture

Congratulation Peter.
Keep it up.

Frans Peeters's picture

Fantastic result Peter! And great pictures too!

AAR's picture

"You played like a machine" not in a good way.

Seems some strong players are not good sportsmen.
Rating is just a past performance and not a guarantee for future games.

Sour grapes.

rusty's picture

Sergey Kasparov thinks everyone cheats, particularly those who are younger and those who beat him. In Austria, the guy's wife would follow my son (12-years) if he left the hall to go to the restroom. Well she would wait outside. He kept saying "I can't play, computer." Sour Grapes is right!
Well done on your IM Norm ; GM is next.

Frits Agterdenbos's picture

Goed gedaan Peter!

Latest articles