Photo Betsy Dynako
by Jennifer Shahade
Battsetseg Tsagaan is the surprise leader after four rounds of the Frank Berry U.S. Women's Championship (July 16-20), with 3.5/4. A former UMBC student, Battsetseg still lives in Maryland with her husband, Tegshsuren Enkhbat. If their results this month are any indication, the Mongolian-American couple have been hitting the chess books lately. Enkhbat tied for first with four others in the World Open U2400 section, taking home almost $6,000. Battsetseg has not played in a whole year, which is the main reason that prediction guru Greg Shahade placed her in the "underdog" category with very small chances to win the tournament. But obviously that has not affected her yet. According to author Chris Hallman, "Baagi is capable of weird feats," recalling the time that Baagi defeated GM Joel Benjamin after spending most of the night playing one-minute games and an online Mongolian tournament (the online tourney was named after Battsetseg, because she is a seven-time women's champion of Mongolia). You can find out a lot more about Battsetseg in Chris Hallman's book, The Chess Artist, where "Baagi" is a featured character.
Frank Berry U.S. Women's Championship
Standings after four rounds
1. Battsetseg Tsagaan- 3.5/4
2-3- Anna Zatonskih and Katerina Rohonyan- 3/4
4-5- Irina Krush and Camila Baginskaite- 2.5/4
6- Bachimeg Tuvshintugs- 2/4
7-8- Elizabeth Vicary and Alisa Melekhina-1.5/4
9- Tatev Abrahamyan -.5/4
10- Chouchanik Airapetian- 0/4
Baagi looks over the game of Bachimeg Tuvshintugs, who is also from Mongolia. Photo Betsy Dynako.
In both of Battsetseg's wins yesterday, she played White and responded to Double King Pawn with the Gioucco Piano. 12. g5! against Airapetian was an effective and unexpected way to break into Black's kingside.
Today in round five, Battsetseg faces Irina Krush with Black.
The much-anticipated battle of the Titans, Anna Zatonskih and Irina Krush was a quick draw. Anna, playing white, decided to take the night off to celebrate her birthday and catch up with her four month old, Sophia.
Anna Zatonskih and Irina Krush in their abbreviated round 4 game. Photo Betsy Dynako
Anna Zatonskih and Katerina Rohonyan are tied for second with 3/4. Katerina, nicknamed by UMBC as the "Kiev Killer" won a key game against Camilla Baginskaite, showing once again that Rohonyan (17.Rxd6!) is clearly a formidable Open Sicilian opponent.
Katerina Rohonyan is playing in her first ever U.S. Women's Championship. Photo Betsy Dynako.
Camila Baginskaite and Tatev Abrahamyan analyze. Photo Betsy Dynako