The two leaders met this round and Yury Shulman took a big step towards the championship by defeating Sergey Kudrin and taking a full point lead over the field as the other top boards ended in draws.
IM Josh Friedel is the current Samford Fellowship Winner
Shulman – Kudrin was a complex Gruenfeld that for awhile looked good for Sergey due to some penetration down the c-file. A repetition was possible but after a long think Yury avoided it. After Kudrin’s …e5 Yury was able to target this pawn and achieve two mobile center pawns to go with his space advantage, leading to a rook endgame win.
Several other games this round were interesting rook endgames. Ippolito – Langer was a theoretical Benoni main line in which Michael had an edge, but Ippolito held the balance in a pawn-down rook endgame and “the result was a fair one” as Dean said after the game.
In Galant – Kaufman, Sergey was pressing for a win but, starting with 24…Kc6! Kaufman put up a stout defense and was able to steer the game into a rook ending that was drawn despite being two pawns down.
The most combative game of the round was Akobian – Ludwig. The game saw the gambit 7. g4 originally developed by Shabalov and Shirov. Var’s 12. Ne4 was I believe unusual and Ludwig played actively to try and catch white’s king in the center. White’s position always seemed to have enough resources however, including the move 27. Rf3! to refute Daniel’s rook sacrifice. Ludwig saw that but had missed the followup 27… Qh5 28. Qd7.
Gurevich sprang out of a cramped position to suddenly win a pawn against Vigorito that he was able to convert.
Kraai-Pruess was an odd game perhaps prompted by the fact that these two friends had driven to the event together from New Mexico. The odd opening 1. Nf3, g6 2. e4, Nf6 perhaps was an attempt by them both to stay away from openings they may have discussed. David unbalanced the position with 11…dxe5 but Jesse managed to keep a slight edge into another rook endgame, which was drawn.
The Fed beat young Shankland in the kind of Sicilian he has played well for decades. His 14…e5 and 21…h5! achieved an edge and left Sam without a safe haven for his king. This made Fedorowicz feel better after yesterday’s debacle.
In the women’s event, Anna Zatonskih edged into the lead by half a point when she defeated Epstein by outplaying her in a fairly even ending.
Meanwhile, in the battle of the Irinas, Krush could only achieve a draw against Zenyuk in a Queen’s Gambit Accepted that led directly to an endgame with the symmetrical pawn structure.
Battsetseg ruined Jamison’s hopes of getting on the scoreboard with a nice opposite bishops attack that lasted even with the queen’s off. 59…g4 broke through.
Rohonyan won the exchange with 24. Ba3 but …e4 and …Qe5 gave tactics that turned the game for Abrahamyan, who now moves into third place with 4/6.
Airapetian seemed to be developing an attack in a Ruy Lopez, but Tuvshintugs was able to push it back and exchange into a winning endgame.