Saint Louis: Krush/Zatonskih, Robson lead

7/19/2010 – IM Irina Krush scored a win in round eight, while her main (and only) rival IM Anna Zatonskih drew her game, so that with just one more round to go both ladies are tied at 7.0/8 points (with 2640 and 2624 performances). In the Junior section top seed Ray Robson leads ahead of surprise runner-up Parker Zhao. Don't miss the final games! Rounds seven and eight reports.

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2010 U.S. Women's and
Junior Closed Championships

Two of the most prestigious tournaments in the country, the 2010 U.S. Women's Championship and the 2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship are taking place July 9-20 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. IM Anna Zatonskih is looking to defend her crown, which she won for two years in succession. In the Junior section Ray Robson is the top seed.

Rounds seven

Women round seven – July 17, 2010
Krush, Irina
1-0
Melekhina, Alisa
Zatonskih, Anna
1-0
Marinello, Beatriz M
Abrahamyan, Tatev
1-0
Foisor, Sabina-Francesca
Rohonyan, Katerina
1-0
Marshall, Abby
Baginskaite, Camilla
0-1
Zenyuk, Iryna

Round seven featured a crucial match-up: IM Irina Krush, who started the day a half-point behind IM Anna Zatonskih, needed a win with White against and WIM Alisa Melekhina to keep pace with the “struggling” Zatonskih, who said she hasn’t been playing to her potential this tournament (but maintained a score of 5.5/6 coming into today’s round).


IM Irina Krush in a critical round seven game against ...


... WIM Alisa Melekhina, who defended with the King's Indian

Melekhina employed a King’s Indian Defense, which created a complicated, double-edged position as she stormed Krush’s kingside. Krush defended well and Melekhina’s attack fell short. A pivotal move, 17...g3 allowed 18.Nxa8, but Melekhina had insufficient compensation for the rook sacrifice and Krush used her advantage to roll to an easy victory.


IM Anna Zatonskih celebrated her birthday with a victory over WIM Beatriz Marinello


Katerina Rohonyan won a nice game against Abby Marshall


Juniors round seven – July 17, 2010
Zhao, Parker
0-1
Robson, Ray
Shankland, Samuel L
1-0
Rosen, Eric S
Bryant, John Daniel
1-0
Zierk, Steven C
Harper, Warren
0-1
Holt, Conrad
Hughes, Tyler B
0-1
Yang, Darwin

GM Ray Robson (above) pulled out a surprise opening by employing the King’s Indian Defense against Parker Zhao’s uncharacteristic c4 opening. “I thought he’d play e4 instead of c4,” Robson said. Robson said he used to play the King’s Indian when he was nine or ten, but hasn’t revisited it much since. The two were a few moves behind the Krush-Melekhina game and followed the line closely.

Zhao (picture above) said he wanted to deviate from Krush’s response because he said he felt following her move-for-move would be unethical. “If I’d won, it would be like Irina’s win,” he said. After his victory Robson sits atop the leaderboard with a score of 5.5/7, a full point ahead of IM Sam Shankland, FM Darwin Yang and Zhao, who all have 4.5/7.


Shankland continued a strong push toward the top with his victory against NM Eric Rosen.

Darwin Yang (above) won a sharp and strategic game against Tyler Hughes. “Tactical wins give me more enjoyment but they also give me more gray hairs,” the 13-year-old said. Yang needs to pull off another victory with Black against the tournament's only grandmaster if he is to have any chance to win the championship.


Rounds eight

Women round eight – July 18, 2010
Abrahamyan, Tatev
½-½
Zatonskih, Anna
Zenyuk, Iryna
0-1
Krush, Irina
Foisor, Sabina-Francesca
0-1
Melekhina, Alisa
Marinello, Beatriz M
0-1
Rohonyan, Katerina
Marshall, Abby
0-1
Baginskaite, Camilla

WFM Tatev Abrahamyan (above) entered round eight tied with IM Irina Krush for second place and just a half point behind IM Anna Zatonskih, her round eight opponent. Abrahamyan appeared to have a slight advantage out of the opening, but her opponent quickly equalized.

Anna Zatonskih (above) maintained a solid position, but was unable to generate enough counter play to derail Abrahamyan. “I am upset with this game ... because I still had some chances at the end,” Anna said.

Krush (above) opened her round eight game against close friend, Iryna Zenyuk. In the 2009 U.S. Women’s Championship, Krush and Zenyuk settled for a quick draw. Today, however, there was much more at stake. Krush used the Blumenfeld Counter Gambit to gain a strong center with pawns on d4, d5 and c5. Although she has never played or studied the Blumenfeld before, she said she opted for that particular opening choice at 11:30 p.m. Saturday night after struggling to make a decision. “There’s no way Iryna would be able to prepare for this,” Krush said.


WIM Iryna Zenyuk lost a tough game against her friend IM Irina Krush


Juniors round eight – July 18, 2010
Robson, Ray
½-½
Yang, Darwin
Zhao, Parker
1-0
Harper, Warren
Rosen, Eric S
1-0
Hughes, Tyler B
Zierk, Steven C
½-½
Shankland, Samuel L
Holt, Conrad
0-1
Bryant, John Daniel


1.d4?? Darwin Yang, right, is stunned by Ray Robson's choice of opening

GM Ray Robson, top seed in the Junior section, reached into his bag of tricks once again in round eight. After playing the King’s Indian for the first time in more than five years in round seven, Robson started with d4 against FM Darwin Yang, an opening he rarely employs. “I spent the morning preparing for e4 and these complicated French Winawer lines, and I go to the board, and then: d4,” Yang said. Robson said he thinks he’s had luck on his side throughout this tournament, and that he’s still not playing to his full potential.

Robson’s draw today opened the door for Zhao to make a run at the Junior Closed Championship title.

FM Parker Zhao (above left) managed to hold off FM Warren Harper to give himself a chance to claim the Junior Closed Championship. Zhao entered the tournament second lowest by rating, and his surprise run this year has created an exciting round nine finale in the Junior Closed event.


Standings after eight rounds – Women

Zatonskih has White on Monday against WGM Sabina Foisior, who has a score of just 2.5/8, but brings a reputation as a difficult opponent. IM Irina Krush will have White against WFM Abby Marshall, who has had a disappointing tournament but can play the spoiler tomorrow with a strong performance. “I don’t feel like I need to root against anybody, because I’ve done everything I could here and I’ll try my best tomorrow,” Krush said. “I’m pretty happy with what I’ve shown and the level of my play.”

Standings after eight rounds – Juniors

Heading into the final round of the 2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, FM Parker Zhao is just a half point behind tourney favorite and defending champion GM Ray Robson, who has a score of 6/8. Zhao has black agaisnt FM John Bryant, who has scored three points in his past four games. Robson can clinch a repeat Junior Closed title if he can win with Black against FM Warren Harper.

Reports by Mike Wilmering and Katie Baldetti

Statistics

After eight rounds and forty games of play we have the following statistics (games, percentage).

 
Women
 
Juniors
Draws
 6 = 15%
 
 9 = 22%
White wins
16 = 40%
 
17 = 43%
Black wins
18 = 45%
14 = 35%

Women

Juniors


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