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Shankland Pulls Off Upset; Zatonskih's Comeback Continues Print E-mail
By FM Mike Klein   
April 22, 2011
For four players at the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship, there was no rest day. Tied after round-robin play, GM Alex Onischuk and GM-elect Sam Shankland faced off for a spot in the semifinals, while IM Anna Zatonskih played WGM Sabina Foisor. Both matches were repeats of round seven, and when the two-game series ended, Shankland upset Onischuk and Zatonskih beat Foisor to advance.

Shankland’s victory over the second highest rated player began with a solid draw as Black in their first game. The game in 25 minutes time control was significantly faster than their previous rounds, which were played under a classical time control. Shankland said going in to the match that the faster the time control, the higher the expected variance in result. He questioned Onischuk’s unfamiliar Nf3. More usual is Qd4, or even Bxc4, both with the idea of regaining the gambited c-pawn. “I don’t know what was going on with his preparation,” Shankland said. The game unfolded into a Caro-Kann via an unnatural move order. 


Coincidentally, Shankland also played the Caro-Kann as Black against GM Ray Robson when the two had a tiebreak to decide the U.S. Junior Championship. Shankland won that match too, earning him a seat at this year’s U.S. Championship.

In game two, Shankland was given White and Onischuk entered a sharp Nimzo-Indian. 


Faced with a passive retreat after 24…a6 threatened his knight, Shankland thought for a while and sacrificed the piece for two pawns and complications. He said that after he captured a third pawn that he could no longer be considered worse. Later, Shankland's pawn phalanx became unstoppable and Onischuk resigned the game and the match.

In the semifinals, Shankland will receive defending champion GM Gata Kamsky, who already qualified without the need for a tiebreak. “I was four or five years old when Kamsky was playing for the World Championship,” Shankland said. “To be a great player, you have to stand the test of time. He has that and I obviously don’t.” The two have never played a rated game. 

In the U.S. Women’s Championship, Zatonskih’s tournament was all but over three days ago. After losing to her main rival, IM Irina Krush, Zatonskih fell to a minus-one score. She then won her final two games in preliminary play just to enter the playoff.

In game one today, Zatonskih took Black and the women castled on opposite sides of the board.


 Zatonskih crippled Foisor’s pawn structure, and then entered a favorable rook-and-pawn ending to earn the win. Needing to win in round two, Foisor achieved an imbalanced position, but her kingside attack never materialized and Zatonskih’s pieces repulse the invasion.


Eventually Foisor resigned, handing the match to her opponent.

“I’m really tired,” Zatonskih said. “I didn’t expect to make it into the finals. I’m critical about myself.”

Zatonskih will now play Krush in the semifinals, while WGM Camilla Baginskaite and WFM Tatev Abrahyam will play in the other semifinal.

Besides Shankland-Kamsky, GMs Robert Hess and Yury Shulman will play head-to-head in the U.S. Championship. All semifinal matchups are two-game matches spread out over two days, with a possible tiebreak on the third day.

To follow the first game of the semifinals, log on to www.uschesschamps.com or saintlouischessclub.org/live at 2 p.m. local, 3 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. Find the livestream directly at livestream.com/uschess

August - Chess Life Online 2011

Tension Builds at the World Cup Kamsky Advances in World Cup TiebreakGreg Shahade on a Manhattan Comeback Most and Lapshun Top Atlantic Open Shankland, Onishuck & Ivanov Advance at the World Cup; Others Head to Tiebreak Shankland Shocks Leko as US Squad Scores 3.5-1.5 Updates on Hurricane Related Event Cancellations US Chess League Teams Gear Up for New Season US Squad Heads to Russia for World Cup US Chess School Comes to Charlotte Michael Adams Wins Metropolitan International Steininger Earns US Blind Title; Torres Wins Tournament Romanenko & Shabalov Top Manhattan; Two Norms Notched Parker Zhao Shocks a GM at the Manhattan Open Adams Leads Metropolitan International [VIDEO]US Blind Championships in Progress Annual Chess Journalists of America Awards: Winners are in 1st Metropolitan International Begins [VIDEO] Manhattan Open Begins with Upsets Metropolitan International Kicks Off with Adams Simul Greg on Chess: Stop the DrawMetropolitan International Features 11 GMs Robson Close But No Medal in India Boy Scouts of America to Unveil Chess Merit Badge in September A New Lens on Computer Chess Karpov Joins Kings vs. Queens FieldGMs Tiviakov & Shankland to play in Northern California InternationalThree-Way Tie for First in Cleveland OpenJoel Brings Home the Benjamins at Northeast Open The August Check is in the Mail Lenderman on Top in Orlando World Youth Selection Criteria RevisedNakamura, Lenderman & Zapata Pull Ahead at US Open The Fairy Godmother’s GambitEight Players Tied After Big Merge in Orlando A Parent’s Perspective: Initiation Into the Denker Senatorial Nod for National Chess DayNakamura Jumps into US Open in Orlando New Champs Crowned in Orlando: Vilenchuk, Brown & Williams, Gologorsky World Champ Anand Opens World Junior in India Denker, Barber & US Junior Girls Approach Finale Nakamura Ends Dortmund on an UpswingTournament of Champions Reach Halfway Mark