Farai Mandizha: International Master

Farai Mandizha of Zimbabwe scored a solid result including a draw with GM Nick DeFirmian.

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
USA
2664
1
GM Alonso Zapata
Columbia
Columbia
2470
½
IM Bryan Smith
USA
USA
2384
0
WFM Hana Itkis
USA
USA
2100
1
IM Alan Stein
USA
USA
2434
1
GM Joe Gallagher
Switzerland
Switzerland
2530
0
GM Dashzegve Sharavdorj
Mongolia
Mongolia
2449
0
FM Boris Reichstein
USA
USA
2168
1
IM Ali Frhat
Egypt
Egypt
2376
1
Score: 5½-3½ (IM norm)

2010 New York International
Title Player
Nation
Flag
ELO Result
Andy Applebaum
USA
USA
unr
1
GM Mark Paragua
Philippines
Philippines
2497
½
GM Alexander Shabalov
USA
USA
2585
1
GM Surya Ganguly
India
India
2672
1
GM Jaan Ehlvest
USA
USA
2591
0
GM Sundaraja Kidambi
India
India
2520
½
IM Dean J Ippolito
USA
USA
2480
½
GM Rashad Babaev
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
2534
½
GM Robert L Hess
USA
USA
2590
0
Score: 5-4 (IM norm)

2010 Philadelphia International
Title Player
Nation
Flag
ELO Result
IM Anthony Bellaiche
France
France
2455
½
IM Gabriel Battaglini
France
France
2420
1
IM Samuel Shankland
USA
USA
2575
½
Amanda Mateer
USA
USA
2098
½
FM Louis Jiang
Canada
Canada
2298
1
IM Salvijus Bercys
USA
USA
2476
½
GM Mark Paragua
Philippines
Philippines
2497
1
GM Mikheil Kekelidze
Georgia
Georgia
2580
0
GM Amon Simutowe
Zambia
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.

FM Victor Shen vs. IM-elect Farai Mandizha at 2010 World Open. Nigeria's IM Oladapo Adu watching the action. Shen won the section with a remarkable 8/9. Mandizha scored 7½ (losing only to Shen) and Adu tied for 3rd-5th with 7.

FM Victor Shen vs. IM-elect Farai Mandizha at 2010 World Open. Nigeria’s IM Oladapo Adu watching the action. Shen won the section with a remarkable 8/9. Mandizha scored 7½ (losing only to Shen) and Adu tied for 3rd-5th with 7. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

10 Comments

  1. Hey Farai
    Congratulations and well-done for achieving the IM Title status. Most importantly I applaud the pace and form you are currently experiencing. It sure leads to the ultimate title in Chess my man!
    Suddenly Grandmaster Farai Mandizha looks doable!

    Daaim, thanks for your relentless hard-work of keeping all informed! I don’t know how you do it! Big Ups!

  2. I’m not 100% certain, but Farai may be the first African player to earn his International Master title using the rigorous three-norm system. Most others have gotten it through a 6/9 result in one zonal tournament or African Juniors. It is of course the longest way to do it, but the chances increase that he will be able to navigate the GM process. He certainly has been playing well and would not be surprised if he earned a GM norm before the summer is out.

  3. The last time I talked to Farai he was waiting on a norm certificate. That was months ago. His federation should apply for the title and pay the fee, but I’m not sure what is happening. He may decide to apply on his own.

  4. How much is the fee? I’m sure Farai is not trying to be the next Larry Christiansen: GM w/o first having IM title.

  5. GM Samuel Shankland has recently put out some outrageously good videos on a recent game of his with IM Farai Mandizha. It’s a ‘no stone unturned’ analysis of this very complex battle in which Mandizha offered a threefold repetition draw with a certain rook move. It was a dynamic battle up to that point and at first Shankland thought his position was good enough not to consider accepting a threefold rep. But then upon further analysis he realized his position was only theoretically better and was extreeeeeeemely tricky. He embarked on it anyway.

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