Stephen Muhammad Qualifies for U.S. Championship!
GM Vitali Golod vs. IM-elect Stephen Muhammad, ½-½. Copyright © 2004, Daaim Shabazz.

GM Vitali Golod vs. IM-elect Stephen Muhammad, ½-½

Chicago Bulls' legend Michael Jordan used to love playing in New York's Madison Square Garden. The electric environment would bring the best out of his games and he routinely have his biggest games against the Knicks in the historic building. The same applies to chess… each player may have a tournament venue they love to play in. Stephen Muhammad's favorite appears to be the World Open at the Adams Mark hotel.

Muhammad had 6-3 in 1997 with a 2647 performance rating, tied for joint 1st in the under-2450 section and beat several strong players along the way including
GM Johann Hjartarsson. In 1999, he beat GM Alexander Goldin and had a chance to win the tournament before losing to GM Alexander Shabalov in the last round. In 2002, he earned his 2nd IM norm with a 2634 performance rating beat GM Julio Becerra in the last round when only a draw was needed. In the recently-ended 2004 World Open, he earned his second qualification to the U.S. National Championship and a share of the under-2450 prize (Note: At the 2003 National Championship, Muhammad earned his final IM norm).

As Muhammad continues to chart a course for earning the Grandmaster (GM) title, he will no doubt  have to get more invitations (including international).  Nevertheless, Muhammad will travel to San Diego for the 2004 National Championship in quest of his first GM norm. He narrowly missed a GM norm at the 2003 National Championship after putting on a blistering performance. The Georgia-based player seems to play well when the pressure is on against stiff competition. He will be well-prepared to meet the challenge in San Diego!

GM Yury Shulman - IM-elect Stephen Muhammad, 2004 World Open, ½-½

Posted by The Chess Drum: 7 July 2004