Bartell and Melekhina Share PA State Title
October 19, 2010
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Alisa Melekhina, Photo Bob Reynolds
Thomas Bartell and Alisa Melekhina tied for first at the 2010 Pennsylvania State Championship, held in Philadelphia over the October 16-17 weekend. Organized by the Masterminds Chess Club, this year's PA Championship was also a memorial for PA chess promoter Ira Lee Riddle (1946--2009). Melekhina told CLO about her crucial win over IM Bryan Smith, an opponent who she had much trouble with in the past.

I must have lost to him at least 5 times, and in the Liberty Bell US Chess Scoop last year, I talked about how I was winning in my game against him, but lost. I was preparing for and expecting a Ruy as usual, but he played 1.g3 and surprised me. I later sacked a pawn, and it turned out that his pawns were on the wrong color in the bishop ending, and I was able to break through.




Alisa pinpointed 43...Be1 as an important finesse. If 43...a3 immediately, 44.Kxb3 axb2 45.Kxb2 Kd5 46.Kc2 Ke4 47.Bd2 and White draws.

Bartell and Melekhina drew the final round to share the state title. According to preliminary research, this makes Melekhina the first woman to win the PA State title. She has also raised her rating to a personal peak of 2353. See the complete MSA crosstable here.