Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2009 arrow Abby Marshall on her Denker Win
Abby Marshall on her Denker Win Print E-mail
By Abby Marshall   
August 5, 2009
USCF Executive Director Bill Hall with the new Denker champ, Abby Marshall, Photo monroi.com

As soon as I saw the first round pairings, I knew. There was never a doubt in my mind who the champion would be.

 OK, no, seriously I think I’m surprised as anyone by my result but I do have a theory: I got very tactical positions. In two games I sacked a piece on h6 or h3, which is generally a good clue that the position is tactical. Tactics are my strength, so I was lucky in that regard. If the games had been more positional in nature, the result may have been very different against the same opponents. I feel chess is kinda random like that; hot or cold streaks may not have so much to do with how well you’re actually playing but rather what positions or openings you get. I got two King’s Gambits, the second of which I annotated.

1.e4 e5 2.f4
Yeah, I'm still playing the King's Gambit.
2...exf4 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Bb3 d5 6.exd5 cxd5 7.d4 Bd6 8.Nf3 Be6 9.0-0 Nc6 10.Ng5 0-0
Stupidly, I did not realize this was the same position I had had last round. In that game I had taken the bishop, but I think the text is an improvement.
11.Bxf4 a6
My third round opponent did this too. I think it's slow. 11...Qd7 Maybe development is better.
 12.Qd3 Nb4 13.Qd2 h6 14.Nf3 Rc8 15.Rae1 Ne4 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Rxe4 Bxb3 18.cxb3 Rc2 19.Qd1 Rxb2?
19...Bxf4 This is necessary to prevent what happened in the game.
20.Bxh6! Qf6
20...gxh6 21.Qc1 Nd3 (21...f5 22.Rh4) 22.Qxh6 Bf4 23.Rxf4 Nxf4 24.Qxf4 With the pawns and his exposed king, I thought White must be better.; 20...f5 21.Rh4 Qf6 22.Bc1 Rxa2 This is probably best, but White has good attacking chances.
 21.Bc1 Rxa2 22.Nh4 Qd8 23.Nf5
Black is lost.
23...Qc7 24.Qh5 Rxg2+

24...g6 25.Qh6 Rxg2+ (25...gxf5 26.Qg5+ Kh7 27.Rh4#) 26.Kxg2 Qc2+ 27.Kf3
25.Kxg2 Qc2+ 26.Qe2 Qxb3 27.Nxd6 Qd5 28.Nf5 Re8 29.Rff4 Na2 30.Kg1 Rxe4 31.Qxe4 Qb3 32.Qe8+ Kh7 33.Rh4+ Kg6 34.Rg4+ 1-0

So this last game was totally crazy. For over an hour we each had less than four minutes, with me defending and him trying to find a way to break through, terribly nerve wracking. It was a great game and finish I think; maybe the opening wasn't so awesome for me at least but we both played really well during the last forty moves or so.

  1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nb3 Bd7 11.Be2 h5 12.0-0-0 Rc8 13.Kb1 Qf2 14.Bf3 Qxd2 15.Rxd2 Kd8 16.Rhd1 Kc7 17.h4 Rd8 18.Ne2 Ne7 19.Rxd6 Ng6 20.R6d3 Nxh4 21.Na5 Nxf3 22.Rxf3 Be7 23.a3 Ba4 24.Rxd8 Rxd8 25.Kc1 Bb5 26.Nc3 Bd7 27.Nc4 Rg8 28.Ne3 Bc5 29.g3 Bc6 30.f5 Bd4 31.fxe6 fxe6 32.Ng2 Be5 33.Nf4 Rxg3 34.Rf1 Bxf4+ 35.Rxf4 Rg6 36.Rh4 Be8 37.Rh2 Kd6 38.Kd2 Ke5 39.Rxh5+ Kf4 40.Rh2 Bc6 41.Re2 Rg3 42.Rh2 Rg4 43.Re2 Ke5 44.Kd3 Rh4 45.Re3 Rg4 46.Re2 Rg1 47.Re3 Be8 48.Re2 Rg4 49.b4
Oh. A fire alarm went off in the middle of the game. It was much later on than this point, but anyway, we got up and started walking out of the room when it stopped bleeping after about a minute. Honestly, It was a nice break, at least for me, in the tension of the game. I don't know if it helped or hurt me anyway. Whatever. It was totally random and will never ever happen again.
49...Rf4 50.a4 b6 51.Re3 Rg4 52.Re1 Bh5 53.Re2 Rh4 54.Re3 Rh2 55.Re1 Bg4 56.Re3 Kf4 57.Re1 Bf3 58.Nb1 Rh7 59.Nd2 Rd7+ 60.Kc3
I must have switched to using hieroglyphics to write the last 30 moves, so unfortunately I cannot make out the entire game (but you can play through it above). I'm not sure if there is a way to break through but I had to push the pawns my queenside pawns because at some point I will have to sacrifice my knight for the kingside passer, and having queenside pawns on the board would give him winning chances. When they are advanced, I can trade them off, which is what happened. I sacked my knight, leaving me with a rook and a pawn against a rook and a bishop. He offered me a draw and of course I accepted. ½-½

Abby Marshal, Photo monroi.com
Other things happening, nothing much. I took a bye the first round of the Open to go to a Chinese buffet then watched TV and took a nap. Obviously I’m a very busy person. The hotel is very nice but a little convoluted. Going out of my room I have a choice of whether to turn right or left and one way is much quicker than the other. You think I would choose the longer way like 50-50 percent of the time, but I find that it’s more 80-20. Hmm.  I am also on day 26 of being a vegetarian, so the steak and rib restaurant connected to the hotel is taboo, but there are lots of places to eat within walking distance. Indianapolis is a nice catch.

I’m lucky enough to have both the skill and the XX chromosome necessary to play in both the Denker and the Polgar, and really, playing in the Denker is basically no different than playing in the Polgar. Both are really high pressure, high adrenaline tournaments, where everyone is generally an active and dedicated player, so you just can’t blow anyone off. I guess the number of intense games at the Denker is greater since I was playing up more, but the difference between Denker and Polgar is the relative strength of the tournament, not anything to do with playing guys or girls. If anything, the Polgar is more pressure. Now that a girl has won the Denker, maybe someday the Polgar will be the stronger tournament.

I believe that women can play chess as well as men, I mean why not. But just because something should be a certain way, I don’t think we can always act like that is the case currently. There shouldn’t have to be all-girl’s events and titles and what not, except that the ratio of guys to girls is still hugely skewed and there are hardly any top women players compared to guys. The question is when will women be considered equal to men at chess? What barriers have to be broken before we can say that girls have proven we are equal to guys? I don’t know. At this event, it was me and Erica and like 50 guys.   A girl winning the Denker is just another step to women reaching equality, but it’s not the last.

Abby Marshall with Jay Stallings, Program Director at University of Texas at Dalla, Photo monroi.com

Speaking of women’s chess, the presence of Kosteniuk at the US Open should be making some guys sweat. I was getting pummeled in a miserable position and somehow managed to simplify into a drawn ending.


I think Kosteniuk is super cool. She is also playing the four-day schedule and I’m going to be her cheerleader during the games. Women winning both the Denker and the US Open? I propose an invitational for boys next year. I just think it’s fair. 

Look for more thoughts from Abby Marshall on the Denker in an upcoming issue of Chess Life Magazine. 


August - Chess Life Online 2009

Experience Beats Youth in Amsterdam Back to School with Ask GM Joel Lenderman Takes Atlantic OpenU.S. Women's Team Off to China! U.S. Chess Scoop #6 Ian Rogers on Beliavsky-CaruanaBlindfold Chess is Book of the Year Final Photo Gallery From Chicago Saint Louis to Host 2010 U.S. Championship Letter From Jerry Nash Nakamura Falters Against Ljubojevic Kosteniuk Simul at The National K-12 Robson Nets Norm #2 in Chicago Norm-Hunting at the Chicago InvitationalChess Journalists of America AwardsGM Ian Rogers on Amsterdam Adult Membership Dues Change Chess Action Begins in Chicago Nakamura Scores but Experience Maintains Lead Five Golds for the US Team in Argentina! Nakamura in Amsterdam Team Experience Wins Round 1 in Amsterdam Gold for Tanuj in Pan-Am Youth!!Finegold on the Summer Chess Academy Rising Stars vs. Experience Starts Tomorrow Arthur, Annie and Tanuj Still Perfect in Argentina Five Perfect at the Pan-Am Youth Friedel on Missing Out in Brazil Baseball at 10 Boards an Hour 23 Americans in Argentina for Pan-Am YouthHow to Score a Summer Upset The Final Five in IndianaRobson Nets Norm and Ties for First in Norway! USCF Revokes Memberships of Polgar and TruongSix Tie in U.S. Open; Gurevich Wins Official Title Lenderman and Kudrin Lead in IndianaU.S. Chess Scoop #5Roaming the Halls in Indiana Mulyar Perfect as Stars Join in IndianaAmerican Teens Abroad: Ray Leads in Norway; Ostrovskiy in Curacao Abby Marshall on her Denker Win Two Michaels on Perfect Scores at the U.S. OpenU.S. Championship Flashback Antal Tops Tournament of College ChampsICC Interview with Greg Shahade Abby Marshall: First Female to Win Denker! Abby 5-0 in Denker; 11 Still Perfect in Open Greg Nolan wins 7th Holly Heisman fundraiserBig Upset in the Open; Abby and Patrick Lead Denker Five Lead in WCL Tournament of College ChampsIvanov and Shabalov Advance to World Cup Denker Heats up Fast; Wide Gaps in Main Event