1st row- Elizabeth Vicary, Camila Baginskaite and Anna Zatonskih, 2nd row- Tsagaan Battsetseg and Chouchanik Airapetian. Photo Betsy Dynako
by Jennifer Shahade
The first day of the U.S. Women's Championship concluded with four players tied at the top with 1.5/2, but no perfect scores. Today is Anna Zatonskih's 29th birthday and the day of the crucial face-off between her and Irina Krush. Watch today's games live on monroi.com,starting at Noon and 6 PM EST, including the Zatonskih-Krush game at 6 PM.
Frank Berry U.S. Women's Championship
Standings after 2 rounds
1-4- Katerina Rohonyan, Anna Zatonskih, Camilla Baginskaite and Tsagaan Battsetseg- 1.5/2
5-7- Irina Krush, Elizabeth Vicary and Batchimeg Tuvshintugs- 1/2
8-9- Tatev Abrahamyan and Alisa Melekhina- .5/2
10- Chouchanik Airapetian- 0/2
The first round saw four decisive results, including a very quick smash by Katerina Rohonyan over Tatev Abrahamyan, in the Poisoned Pawn Najdorf:
Katerina Rohonoyan defeated Tatev Abrahamyan in round one. Photo Betsy Dynako.
Camila Baginskaite won quickly against Chouchanik Airapetian when Airapetian allowed 14...Rxc1! She had to try 13. Bg5! (instead of gxf3) to stay in the game, with the idea of Rc8 Qa6!
Batseegeg showed off her great fighting spirit with the following win over Elizabeth Vicary. It seemed like a drawish game for a while, but Battsetseg found a way to sacrifice a piece for three pawns and hand Black an extremely unpleasant defensive task:
Irina Krush and Batchimeg Tuvshintugs. Photos Betsy Dynako
Top seed Irina Krush can't be thrilled with her two draws to open the tournament, including one with White against , Batchimeg Tuvshintugs ("Chimi").
Alisa Melekhina. Photo Betsy Dynako.
Anna Zatonskih won a nice attacking game against Alisa Melekhina in round one. By playing the four pawns attack (which she repeated in round 2 against Battsetseg), Anna is sending a very aggressive message about her approach to this tournament.
Round two was much less eventful, with all games drawn except for Elizabeth Vicary's win over Chouchanik Airapetian:
Elizabeth Vicary, the only winner of round two, checks out Tuvshintugs and Rohonyan's game. Photo Betsy Dynako.
Despite being included in the "underdog" group in Greg Shahade's U.S. Women's preview, Tsagaan Battsetseg was very close to a 2-0 start. Photo Betsy Dynako.
Battsetseg continued to impress, gaining a winning position against Anna Zatonskih. She converted to a pawn up endgame but she would have had an easier time if she had tried to win in the middlegame. 31...Rxf3 was a stronger recapture than gxf3, because White cannot recapture or she will get mated. She has to move her queen but then "Baagi" could have played Rxf2 followed by g3 with a winning attack. In the endgame, Baagi miscalculated with 43...Ke4 and Anna achieved a draw with a variation on the basic Philidor defense.