Kassa Korley earns first GM norm!

Duke alumnus Kassa Korley went back to his stomping grounds to take a shot at a GM norm. Since his graduation the the Raleigh-Durham campus a few years ago, Korley has been seeking invitationals, both at home and in Europe. The New York native currently plays under the Danish flag, the home of his paternal grandparents.

IM Kassa Korley earns 1st GM Norm!
IM Kassa Korley
Photo by CCC

In actuality, there were four norms tournaments Group A/B (GM) and Group C/D (IM). Korley competed in Group B of the GM/IM Invitational after having a solid 5/9 result in the March GM norm edition. The June events were part of the Charlotte Chess Festival which also hosted an open called the Carolina Classic and an elite chess camp.

Korley, now 24, has been covered extensively at The Chess Drum over the years (making master, IM title) and still has one of the most popular interviews at the site.

(Listen 22:32 minutes)

However, he recently granted an outstanding 90-minute interview to Ben Johnson’s Perpetual Podcast. Some very profound insights on his pursuit of the GM title and the pro and cons of totally dedicating one’s self to chess versus taking a more gradual approach. He has also been doing a series of his own videos which you can find at his YouTube channel. He is also popular on lichess.org and Twitch (handle is Kassablanca) and plays banter blitz with interesting commentary.

“I made a choice to go to college. I made a choice to work in ‘real world.’ I made a choice NOT to invest everything in chess. Theoretically, one could consider investing everything into chess and being a 2650… and still struggling in the real grand scheme of things.”

~IM Kassa Korley

Over the years, we have watched Korley grow into a young man, but still have the ambition and drive to improve his game. His skills were on full display in the tournament as he only dropped one game (to fellow IM Farai Mandizha). He scored +2 against the three GMs. After the tournament Korley, got 6.5/9, pocketed a GM norm and earned a career-high rating of 2556 USCF.

He is one of five players of African descent to cross 2500 USCF. Maurice Ashley reached 2606 USCF while other players eclipsing 2500 are: FM William Morrison (2535), IM Farai Mandizha (2515), and IM Emory Tate (2508). He mentioned earning the GM title and stated that there need to be more African-American GMs. Well-stated. There will be more and Kassa is on his way!

IM Kassa Korley (2420-Denmark)
# Player USCF Nation
1 FM Justus Williams 2347 USA
2 GM Tanguy Ringoir 2543 Belgium
3 IM Farai Mandizha 2390 Zimbabwe
4 IM Michael Brown 2505 USA
5 Mika Brattain 2402 USA
6 IM Advait Patel 2474 USA
7 GM Nikola Nestorovic 2476 Serbia
8 GM Magesh Panchanathan 2480 India
9 IM Denys Shmelov 2456 Ukraine
Score: 6.5-2.5 (GM NORM)

Main Page: https://chessstream.com/tournaments/Summer-2018-CCCSA-GM-IM-Norm-Invitational/


  1. Making the choice of going to college in lieu of putting all your eggs into the Chess basket was the best Chess move you could have made on the Chess board of life. Best of skill while garnering the next two norms!

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