|The Short and the Long of the U.S. Champs
|By Tom Braunlich
|May 22, 2008
GM Yury Shulman won the 2008 Frank K. Berry U.S. Championship and IM Anna Zatonskih won the 2008 FKB U.S. Women’s Championship — in just about as opposite a fashion as is possible. Yury had it short and sweet, while Anna’s road was long and exhausting. Eight moves for Yury today — and about 248 moves for Anna!
The game Friedel – Shulman was a quick draw since a peaceful result was very agreeable to both. Yury iced the title and Josh earned his 3rd and final GM norm with a draw. Apparently Josh gets the title as soon as his rating surpasses 2500, which everyone believes will happen soon.
Frank Berry U.S. Championship
1. Yury Shulman-7
2. Alexander Onischuk-6.5
3. Sergey Kudrin-6
4-6. Josh Friedel, Eugene Perelshteyn and Varuzhan Akobian-5.5
7-10. Alexander Ivanov, Benjamin Finegold, Boris Gulko and Julio Becerra-5.0
11-14. John Fedorowicz, Dmitry Gurevich, Gregory Kaidanov and Alexander Shabalov-4.5
15-18. Daniel Ludwig, David Pruess, Jesse Kraai and Alexander Yermolinsky-4.0
19-22. Larry Kaufman, Michael Langer, Dean Ippolito and David Vigorito-3.5
22-23. Sam Shankland-2.5
24. Sergey Galant -1.5
While Yury was relaxing and savoring his victory, Anna and Irina Krush were just beginning a long battle. Irina began the round with a ½- point lead but the pressure was on her when Anna defeated Battsetseg. Perhaps trying too hard for a win against Katherine Rohonyan, Irina got into great trouble and lost a piece in an ending. Fortunately she had an advanced pawn that tied down KatRo somewhat and made the win difficult for her. After Rohonyan missed a couple winning continuations Irina was able to steer the game into R+N vs R and earned a draw on move 108.
Thus tied for first, the players now began the playoffs, with dozens of spectators in the main room and dozens of players (many GMs and IMs) in the commentary room watching on the projected MonRoi live game broadcast. The lively atmosphere there with the enthusiastic kibitzers was in contrast to the tense tournament hall. Two Game/15 games(with 3 sec. increment) ended in a split result. There followed two 5-minute games which also were split.
Finally an aptly-named Armageddon playoff determined the result of this grueling finale. The rules called for one player to name the times (with black having draw odds) and the other to chose which color she wanted. Irina had white with 6 minutes, while Anna had 4 ½ minutes and the draw odds. A tense game ensued and both players entered severe time trouble. At one point Anna had 2 seconds left compared to 20 for Irina. But Anna’s draw odds were an advantage here — she could blitz out moves without even thinking (just move the piece nearest to the clock!) while Irina actually had to do something with her moves since she had to win. In the end — Irina lost on time with 0:01 left on Anna’s clock! You could hardly script a finale that was more close. You can play through all the playoff games in the CLO report posted last night.
Irina was naturally upset at the narrow defeat, but she returned to the closing ceremony shortly afterwards smiling and in her usual cheerful mood. Anna received a spontaneous ovation upon entering the ceremony room, and of course more applause later when called up to receive her award. In her speech she thanked the organizers and said she always plays well in Oklahoma (this is her fifth time here) and that these events have been important to her recent improvement.
At the amiable awards ceremony it was clear that the space complaints earlier in the tournament were long forgotten. Frank Berry admitted that Alex Onischuk was right to bring up and press the issue. But the interesting thing is that, after talking with the players, I realized that it wasn’t the size of the room or the number of players in it — it was the way we had the tables arranged. We initially had them in three long rows, with two boards per 8-foot table. This psychologically made them feel “together” and thus a bit crowded. When we rearranged the tables into individual “islands”, they still were two boards per table, but now the players felt isolated, which is a more pleasant feeling. There was also a larger aisle between tables. The same number of players, the same number of tables; but a much different “feel.” Performing this feat of successful rearrangement required only that we find a 75-foot DSL cable to allow the MonRoi broadcast table to be relocated into a cubbyhole on the other side of the room. Of course we wish we had thought of this from the beginning, but such is chess life. Other than this the tournament went very smoothly.
I’d like to take this opportunity thank everyone on the tournament staff and also the following commercial supporters of the event:
House of Staunton — for donating the beautiful chess sets used, reproductions of the Fischer-Spassky set that will be autographed by all the players and sold after the event with proceeds going to the USCF (see houseofstaunton.com for more info).
CruisingThroughLife.com — for adding a nice perk to the first prize, a deal for the winner to join the 2008 Caribbean Gambit Chess Cruise. (see http://cruisingthroughlife.com/chess2008/ )
Jeff Smith, of South Carolina — who donated $100 per round for the “Best Fighting Game” of the day.
Goddesschess.com and The Susan Polgar Foundation — for generously donating $500 for the “GoddessChess ‘Fighting Chess’ Award”. This was awarded by Susan Polgar to Tatev Abrahamyan, who had 6 wins, 3 losses, and zero draws.
Thanks also to: Zeljka Malobabic for her tireless work as the MonRoi internet guru, photographer, and video editor. Betsy Dynako, the photographer for Chess Life, who made everyone look good. IM Alan Stein, for his live commentary and video game analysis online. Jim Berry, for his work as Chief T.D. and as a member of the organizing committee (and the USCF). And of course International Arbiter Frank K. Berry, for his generous sponsorship and tournament direction. As for me, the Chief Organizer, I’m just glad it is all over. Working on an event like this has many rewards and many anxieties. Trying to get a bunch of grandmasters to do something can often be like trying to herd cats. But it is well worth it, as getting to know these great players better was a real pleasure.