The two key games today were Shulman – Perelshteyn, in which Yury was seeking to maintain his one point lead, and Zatonskih – Krush, in which Anna was looking turn the tables on the leader board yet again in the women’s title event.
Shulman received a scare from Perelshteyn. After a quiet opening Eugene initiated complications with 21…Ne4 that were favorable for black. After 26…Rxe3 Yury had to accept a weakened kingside (27. Re1, Ng3+). The players couldn’t find any clear improvements for black, however. With 41. Qb8 (intending Rd8 if black captues a pawn) Yury’s counterplay forced 41…Rb3 42. Qe5 and a trade of queens. The pawn-down ending was still dangerous for white. They concluded that 47…a5 seemed to let any remaining winning chances for black slip away, as on a5 the pawn became a target.
WGM Katerine Rohonyan is an IT major at the UMBC in Baltimore.
An exciting finale may be seen on board one tomorrow. Shulman needs a draw to win the tournament, and Friedel, I’ve been told, needs a win to get a GM norm.
Krush played the Kavalek Variation of the King’s Indian with …Qa5. With a half-point lead one might have expected her to play a quieter line or the endgame that arises after 8…Qh5 9. e5, de 10. Ne5, Qxd1; but working on the principle that playing for a draw is a good way to lose, Irina preferred more active play as in the classic Fianchetto lines (with …Nbd7, …e5, etc.). Anna tried to put on the squeeze that can often occur with this variation. Irina sacrificed a piece for three pawns starting with 18…a4, but Anna’s control of the d-file supporting 26.Nd6 seemed to turn back the attack and looked good for her. However, as both players entered time trouble Irina found 31…c5! and 33…c3 as a clever way to get counterplay with her pawns distracting white from defense of g3. Perhaps with 36. Rd3 white could have kept some winning chances. After the exchange of queens Irina was able to exchange enough pawns that the ending was drawn. A tense game.
Tatev Abrahamyan actually put herself within reach of the women leaders with a win over Esther Epstein, using an unique plan of 7. Bf4 and 8. Bg3. This gives her an impressive score of 6/8. With some luck she could theoretically tie for first in the last round.
Unlike the carnage of yesterday’s round, today most games were drawn, and the four that were won were taken by black. Finegold seemed to be in trouble but was able to turn the tables on Yermo.
Onischuk and Kudrin, trailing Shulman by a point, needed a win to gain ground. Akobian found 13.Qb5 to get an edge against Alex. He won a pawn but black had some compensation and his active rooks were able to hold a draw. Varuzhan’s second, Tigran Petrosian, thought that 34. f3 was an inaccuracy, allowing Alex to attack e3.
Kudrin played the Dragon against Friedel. It took some courage for Josh to go into the Yugoslav Attack against an acknowledged expert on this opening like Kudrin. Indeed, Sergey seemed to get an edge after Josh’s 15.a4!? Kudrin opened lines against white’s king, but Josh was able to get his rooks over to defend him from the front, and a repetition of moves led to a draw.