Black and white American queens draw match

3/24/2003 – Modern art on the walls, wine and cheese on the table, wigs on the players, and 25 minutes on the clock for two games. Irina Krush and Jennifer Shahade played a two-game rapid match at a New York City art gallery. An audience of chess lovers and art lovers watched them split 1-1. Our intrepid reporter braved the formidable buffet to bring you this report.

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Krush and Shahade draw artistic match

Modern art on the walls, wine and cheese on the table, wigs on the players, and 25 minutes on the clock for two games. On March 20 a unique challenge match was held between two top US women players, Irina Krush and Jennifer Shahade. The venue was The Viewing Room, a Manhattan Art gallery currently displaying the works of Hector Leonardi.

The players decided to make themselves into art pieces as well, surprising the crowd by showing up in all black and all white outfits from head to toe!

That's 1998 US women's champion Irina Krush on the left as the white queen and 2002 women's champ Jennifer Shahade on the right. They have been Olympiad teammates and both tied for first in the 2003 championship, losing in the rapid playoff to current champion Anna Hahn.

Shahade's outfit didn't look out of place in New York, but Krush was quick to blame her friend for the idea. The e-mail invitation only went out a few days before the match, but a good crowd came to the gallery. There were chess people and art people and friends of the players, although this could have added pressure.

After losing the first game Shahade wondered aloud if it was such a good idea to invite all your friends to watch you lose! Things improved for her in the next game and she leveled the score when Krush blundered a piece in a winning position. Despite their outfits both players won with the white pieces.

The chess crowd included GMs Joel Benjamin and Susan Polgar. A new face on the American chess scene is that of Anna Zatonskih of the Ukraine, now living in Ohio with her husband.

A demo board showed the moves, although bets were being taken as to exactly what percentage of the crowd knew how to move the pieces! Friends of the players and gallery owners enjoyed the drama, if not the chess itself.

In the first game Shahade dropped her d-pawn and then fell under a mating attack while trying to deal with Krush's center pawn roller. It looked like Krush would sweep the match when her queenside attack arrived much earlier than Shahade's kingside penetration in a Sicilian.

But the pressure got to the white queen and she fell into the only available trap in the position and lost a piece to the tactically alert Shahade, who then converted the endgame to draw the match. Chants of "blitz" and "playoff" were in vain as Krush had to leave for another engagement. You can view and download both games here.


GMs Joel Benjamin and Susan Polgar

(Left) Frank Brady, author of the famous book on Bobby Fischer, Profile of a Prodigy. He is currently the coach of the St. John's University chess team.

The Viewing Gallery is located near Union Square in Manhattan. The address is 114 17th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues, second floor.


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