|Round 9 Summary Report by Tom Braunlich|
|Wed, May 21 2008 (21:45)|
GM Yury Shulman won the U.S. Championship and IM Anna Zatonskih won the U.S. Women’s Championship — but they accomplished these feats in different ways.
Shulman’s game was a quick draw because his opponent, Josh Friedel, needed only a draw himself to earn his third and final GM norm. Therefore a draw was a VERY satisfactory result for both. Congratulations to Yury for his first championship. Josh should get the GM title as soon as his rating gets over 2500 (I believe it is 2490 or so now), so that shouldn’t be long.
By contrast, Anna Zatonskih’s road to the title was a long one due to what grueling battle with rival Irina Krush. Going into round 9 Irina had a ½-point lead. Anna beat Battsetseg to put the pressure on. Irina, perhaps pressing for the win against Rohonyan, got in trouble and lost a piece in an ending, but her far-advanced pawn made it difficult for KatRo to convert a win. After KatRo missed a few wins Irina managed to transform into R+N vs R and on move 108 they agreed a draw.
Anna and Irina then entered into a playoff for the title (prize money was split). With dozens of players watching on the projection screen in the Commentary Room, and kibitzing fervently, the players split two Game/15 (+3 sec increment) games, which Gregory Kaidanov called well played. Then followed two Game/5 (+2) games. Anna was winning the first when she nervously put her queen en prise. She then had to win with black; and did so, sending the game into an “Armageddon” final match. Irina had white and 6 minutes, while Anna had black with 4 ½ minutes and draw odds. No time increment. This game too went down to the wire. At one point Anna had 2 seconds left to Irina’s 20. But Anna’s draw odds gave her an edge. She could make quick moves while Irina had to do something with her moves, which drains time. In the end Irina lost on time with 0:01 left on Anna’s clock! It is impossible to have a closer match than this!
Congratulations to Anna for her championship, and Irina too, for such an exciting match.
Tatev Abrahamyan lost her game, ending in a tie for third with Katherine Rohonyan. Both had fine 6-3 scores.
Onischuk cut through The Fed’s antipositional KID position to win a nice game and finish in clear second place. Kudrin and Perelstheyn played a very interesting draw to leave Sergey in clear third place.
Another important game was Ludwig – Galant. Daniel was seeking an IM norm with a win. But he got nowhere in the opening and Sergey was better throughout. In the end a draw occurred. But everyone believes Daniel will have many more chances for norms as was made clear by his impressive play here.
After the play was over we had a nice formal closing ceremony. The players signed autographed boards for House of Staunton and for the Fantasy Chess prize, etc. All the staff were recognized, and then the three top finishers in each tournament came up to receive their awards and give a speech. It was a great tournament!