Abby Marshall on the Virginia Scholastics
March 23, 2009
Abby Marshall, ready for a chess fight. Photo Jennifer Shahade
Regular CLO blogger Abby Marshall won the Virginia State Scholastic (March 14-15, Charlottesville, VA), along the way gaining 30 rating points, putting her a tantalizing 9 points from the master title. Check out MSA from the event.

But Abby intends to take a little break before attempting to break master. Her next tournament will be the World Open, and after that she is excited to play in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions. The Denker is concurrent with the U.S. Open, which this year will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana from August 1-9. Marshall wrote, "Playing in the Denker is huge for me; I wasn't expecting to have a chance until next year, when the two masters in my section would have graduated. LOL. I'm definitely going and excited about playing with the 'boys'"
Here are three of Abby's crucial games from states, starting with her last round effort, annotated by Abby herself.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0–0 Bc5 5.d3 0–0 6.c3 d6 7.Nbd2 a6 8.Ba4 Ba7 9.Re1 Ng4 10.Re2 f5 11.Nf1 f4 12.h3 Nf6 13.d4 Qe7 14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.b3 Qe8 16.Qd3 Kh8 17.Ba3 Nd7 18.N1d2 Qh5 19.dxe5 Nxe5 20.Nxe5 Qxe5 21.Nc4 Qh5 22.Rae1 f3 23.Re3

Position after 23.Re3

OK, so it's the last round in the states and I'm in first by half a point. From this position I just have to not do something stupid.
This wins, but the idea that I had behind it is the reason for the question mark. Instead, 23...fxg2 was simple and strong. 24.Kxg2 Qg5+ 25.Kh1 Bxe3 26.Qxe3 Qxe3 27.fxe3 Rf2–+
24.Rxf3 Bxg2?!
 This is what I spent 15 minutes  or so calculating, unnecessarily, and ultimately it is worse than the easy winning alternatives. I actually saw the defense against it, but figured my chances were still good and I couldn't bear to give up what I thought was such a nice combination. This is not to be recommended.  24...Qg4! 25.Rxf8+ Rxf8 26.Qxh3 Bxf2+ 27.Kh2 Qxh3+ 28.Kxh3 Bxe1
25.Kxg2 Qg4+ 26.Rg3 Rxf2+
Position after 26...Rxf2+

27.Kh1! Qh4+ 28.Rh3 Rh2+ When I found this while calculating on move 23, I thought I was a huge genius. 29.Rxh2 (29.Kxh2 Qf2+ 30.Kh1 Qxe1+ 31.Kg2 Qf2+ 32.Kh1 Qg1#) 29...Qxe1+ 30.Kg2 Here I had planned 30...Qf2 31. Kh1 Qg1#. But White can go 31. Kh3, which is what I saw right after playing 23...Bxh3. Oops. Luckily Black is still winning. 30...Rf8 In my analysis I got this far and thought it had to be good for Black. But still, White is up a piece. 31.Ne5 (31.Rxh7+ Kxh7 32.Qh3+ Kg6 33.Qg4+ Kh6 34.Qh3+ Kg5–+; 31.Nd2 Qg1+ 32.Kh3 Rf6) 31...Qg1+ 32.Kh3 Rf6 33.Ng4 Rf4 34.Qg3 Qf1+ 35.Kh4 Rf3–+
27...Rf3+ 28.Kh1 Qh4+–+ 0–1