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Anna Zatonskih U.S. Women's Champ! Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
May 21, 2008
2008 U.S. Women's Champion, Anna Zatonskih

After a grueling and thrilling playoff match in which Zatonskih and Krush traded wins in the rapid and blitz, an Armaggedon match was set to decide the 2008 U.S. Women's Champion. Anna Zatonskih prevailed ending the suspense over which remarkable fighter would claim the 2008 women's title.

A couple hours earlier Zatonskih would have not expected to have to contest a playoff, although the night before she would have been happy about it. Anna was half a point behind and facing the aggressive Tsagaan Battsetseg. It was a must-win situation for Anna. In an offbeat French that looked promising for White, Zatonskih managed to induce speculative sacks by Battsetseg- clearly the opening choice worked psychologically. 

In Krush-Rohonyan, a Benko gambit simplified into a balanced endgame that seemed ripe for a draw. Instead Krush's position quickly deteroirated and she lost a piece. Krush appeared to be totally lost after 56...Ne7. It was not as simple as it first appeared and Rohonyan struggled and then failed to find an easy win. Her final opportunity was 83...Rxe4 which would have won instead of 83...Nxg8?  Krush fought her way to a drawn Rook and Knight vs. Rook ending that Judit Polgar once notoriously lost to Kasparov. Rohoynan played out the ending, as most players would, but Krush held pretty easily.

Just minutes after Katerine and Irina shook hands in agreement for a draw, Krush was facing Zatonskih for a playoff for the ages.

Zatonskih won the first 15 minute + 3 second increment game against Irina's childhood favorite, the Queen's Gambit Accepted.

Irina Krush fought back with White, winning the second rapid game in style after Anna dropped an exchange.

Things became very erratic at this point. Zatonskih achieved a winning position in the first blitz game (five minute plus three second increment). Then disaster struck for Zatonskih. She blundered terribly on move 31, forgetting that her bishop on g2 was pinned by the b2 Rook.

Remarkably, Anna rebounded from this nightmarish loss with the best game of the playoff match.

In the Armageddon match, another wild battle ensued, with Irina achieving a great attacking position. Apparently, she lost on time in the final position but CLO will confirm this as soon as possible.

It may not have been the most aesthetic finishing touch for Anna Zatonskih's second U.S. Women's title. However, it was thrilling for the fans watching the action live late into the evening. That it went on so long is a testament not only to how well matched Anna and Irina are, but also to the fact that they are both great fighters.

Frank Berry U.S. Women's Championship
Final Standings
1-2. Anna Zatonskih and Irina Krush-7.5
3-4. Tatev Abrahamyan and Katerine Rohonyan-6.0
5. Batchimeg Tuvshintugs-5.5
6. Tsagaan Battsetseg-4.5
7. Iryna Zenyuk-3.5
8-9. Ester Epstein and Chouchanik Airapetian-2
10. Courtney Jamison-0.5

Susan Polgar announced that Tatev Abrahamyan won the 2008 Goddesschess Fighting Award. Tatev won six games, lost three, and drew zero.

May - Chess Life Online 2008

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