1st IM Norm for Justus!

Justus Williams (right) faced Josh Colas in round six. That game would go four hours and Williams would prevail. Photo by John Upper.

Justus Williams may be the most disappointed person ever to earn an IM norm and FM title. The 15-year old scholastic star competed in the North American Youth Chess Championship and scored a sparkling 7/9 to tie for first with FM Akshat Chandra. So what happened? Leading going into the ninth and final round, Williams was a full point ahead of the field when he played Chandra. Needing only a draw, disaster struck. Williams lost the game and his opponent would move into a tie (with better tiebreaks). Nevertheless, an IM norm is a good consolation prize and certainly there will be more opportunities. Congratulations Justus!

Link: https://chess-math.org/toronto/naycc/standings.php

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

17 Comments

  1. Congratulations are in order for Justus! This should not be a surprise, as this first step toward becoming an IM, was just a matter of time. In due time, I am fairly confident, that both will become International Masters. One suggestion I got from a reputable friend and I will recommend it to both of them. Thai is, in high stake tournament such as the NAYCC, if they are paired to play each other in the early rounds, knocking each other out may not be the most practical approach. Instead, they should save their energy for the later rounds. I personally observe that when the two of them are still in the running, they produce a kind out synergy that helps them play their best chess. And, naturally, when one takes out the other early on, it produces the opposite effect. Yes, they seem to invigorate the crowd with their different style of play, but an all out 4 to 6 hours of combat between them should be reserve for a final round when either of them is up for a title.

    1. Their game was pretty equal anyway. I understand that draw offers were made at some point. Chess is strange, but certainly it is very hard to play people you know. I still remember their matches when they were just starting out. They are officially a fixture in each other’s lives and that will never change. They’ll look back on this time with pleasant memories. Trust me.

  2. Josh regrets not taking the draw. They were so hot, that I believe if they had agreed to a draw, both would have remained undefeated, and the two of them might have ended up tying for 1st. That would have been the best outcome. You learn as you go! True or not, the winner of the tournament told Josh, “Your result, does not reflect your strength.”

  3. Wow, you’re kidding right? Congratulations for Justus! And obviously Josh will start getting norms in pretty short order! And now Justus Williams has caught up to Kassa Korley!

  4. Congratulations to the young men, especially Justus, of course, on his achievement. The wheels continue to turn positively!

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  6. CONGRATULATIONS JUSTUS WILLIAMS! This is the moment, your moment…I am so happy you are such a humble young man. You did a great job and I am very proud of you. Outstanding accomplishment!

  7. FIDE’s slowness never ceases to amaze me. So far, FIDE hasn’t conferred him the FM title (as far as the on-line records go). They’ve just now updated his and Akshat’s ratings though.

  8. Congratulations, to Justus for achieving the FM title and IM norm and being very close to winning the NAYCC. I have been following the Scholastic Chess carreer’s of both Justus and Josh and I wish them continued success in their climb to the level’s of IM and ultimately GM.

  9. Daaim, there appear to be some discrepancies between the USCF website standings and the standings shown in the Canadian website for the event. Firstly, Akshat Chandra’s total norms qualifying score is showing 6/9 on the USCF website. His round 9 result shows “E” instead of W, L or D and Justus’ score is 7/9. And it appears that Justus’ ending rating has been modified to 2371 when I believe it was previously showing in the 2360’s on the USCF website. Also, there is a player, Alexander Velikanov, that is listed in the USCF standings but not the other website and FM Awonder Liang is not listed in the USCF standings but is on the other.

    1. Not sure what that’s about. They both scored 7/9. Never saw the “E” before.

      The rating is probably a ‘rerate” issue. They often rate tournaments out of order and when this happens the ratings are adjusted.

      Not sure about Sasha’s omission on the Canadian chart and Awonder Liang’s omission on the USCF chart. Probably some type of operator error.

  10. I’m starting to get a little curious about Justus’ lack of activity. Is he about to join James, Jehron and Nigel in the Inactive High Schoolers Club? Those three are even less active than college students Darrian and Rochelle. Right now, Josh is alone in terms of activity. ‘

    I know that Maurice Ashley used to go 6 months between USCF events sometimes. But he was 2500-2600 at the time. I think some of the other luminaries like Tate did as well.

  11. Both of them will be playing in the Grade Nationals next Friday in Orlando. I can’t speak for Justus or James, but I can tell you even Josh has slowed down a bit. He’s a sophomore and his school workload and early SAT prep is absorbing most of his time. He will refocus his attention to Norms during time off from school and during the summer. My guess is that the other two are probably going through the same thing.

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