US Ch. Rd11: Six player still fighting for titles

5/20/2014 – The two leaders, Aleksandr Lenderman and Varuzhan Akobian, drew their game against each other, while Gata Kamsky won his to join them on top of the scoreboard (all have 7.0/11 points). Similarly Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih drew in the women's championship, while Tatev Abrahamyan caught them with a win. The playoffs are on Tuesday will be positively nerve-racking.

For the sixth consecutive year, the best chess players in the U.S. have gathered in Saint Louis to fight for the title of U.S. Champion and U.S. Women's Champion. GM Gata Kamsky is defending his title while recently anointed grandmaster Irina Krush is looking for her sixth title at the 2014 U.S. Women's Championship. The events are being held simultaneously from May 7 through May 20 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL). The games start each day at 1 p.m., with every move broadcast live and discussed by the powerful commentary team of GMs Yasser Seirawan, WGM Jennifer Shahade and Maurice Ashley on the official web site.

Round 11: Armageddon looms in Saint Louis

By Brian Jerauld

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as a “vast, decisive conflict or confrontation.” The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis agrees. Armageddon will hit Saint Louis on Tuesday, as the 2014 U.S. Chess Championships spill into overtime for one final day of reckoning. Both tournaments have gone fully around-the-robin, seeing 11 rounds of play in the U.S. Championship and 9 rounds of play in the U.S. Women’s Championship - but America’s top chess talent refuses to stop fighting.

Six players entered Monday’s finale with mathematical chances to win the national title, though when the day was done, nothing had added up to a decision. Each tournament finished regulation in a three-way tie for first place, triggering a playoff on Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT, 2 p.m. ET, to settle the score.

U.S. Championship leaders Aleksandr Lenderman (above) and Varuzhan Akobian, tied entering the last round, faced off against each other in round 11 with the winner promised the crown – though neither could wrestle the other to a decision. Their draw opened up Tuesday’s playoff, but not just for the two of them.

Varuzhan Akobian ended the main tournament tied for first with Lenderman and...

In a nightmare scenario, reigning four-time champion Gata Kamsky caught pace with the leaders at the finish line, and with momentum. After eight frustrating draws and just two wins this tournament, Kamsky’s eleventh-hour mauling of Josh Friedel on Monday was a startling announcement that the champion still had plans to fight for his throne, despite earlier declarations that the national title was up for grabs.

Men results of round eleven

White Rtng
Result
Black Rtng
GM Robson, Ray 2631
½-½
GM Onischuk, Alexander 2668
GM Erenburg, Sergey 2633
1-0
GM Ramirez, Alejandro 2595
GM Shankland, Samuel L 2634
½-½
GM Gareev, Timur 2653
GM Kamsky, Gata 2713
1-0
GM Friedel, Joshua E 2505
GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 2582
½-½
GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2643
GM Naroditsky, Daniel 2543
1-0
GM Molner, Mackenzie 2522

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Final standings Men's (after eleven rounds)

The US Championship 2014 contenders: Erenburg, Lenderman, Akobian, Gareev, Ramirez,
Molner, Onischuk, Kamsky, Robson, Friedel, Naroditsky and Shankland


Women's Championship

In the Women’s Championship, another third wheel has hitched a ride into the playoffs. Tatev Abrahamyan – forever the outsider looking in on the U.S. Women’s title – caught pace with leaders Anna Zatonskih and reigning champion Irina Krush, who both failed to find wins in Monday’s final round.

Both Krush (above right) against Viktorija Ni...

... and Zatonskih against Katerina Nemcova, narrowly escaped with draws from losing positions

... while Abrahamyan convincingly smashed through Camilla Baginskaite with a Nimzo to join the knot in front. Krush and Zatonskih have combined for the last nine women’s championships, while Abrahamyan seeks her first.

White Rtng
Result
Black Rtng
WIM Ni, Viktorija 2206
½-½
GM Krush, Irina 2489
NM Eswaran, Ashritha 1979
0-1
WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2238
WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 2267
0-1
WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 2366
FM Melekhina, Alisa 2151
1-0
WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 2249
IM Zatonskih, Anna 2469
½-½
WGM Nemcova, Katerina 2282

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Final standing Women (after nine rounds)

All of them. Iryna Zenyuk, Sabina Foisor, Irina Krush, Tatev Abrahamyan, Ashritha Eswaran,
Katerina Nemcova, Viktorija Ni, Camilla Baginskaite, Anna Zatonskih and Alisa Melekhina

Armageddon on Tuesday

The perfect combination of wins and draws has brought a three-way tie for first in both title races, forcing a playoff on Tuesday to decide the 2014 national champions. In a wonderful storyline, the playoff day will feature the introduction of a candidate to challenge each reigning champion, as both Kamsky and Krush lead by tiebreaks. The two remain the only unbeaten players in each tournament.

Both Akobian and Lenderman, as well as Zatonskih and Abrahamyan, will first battle in one 45-minute Armageddon game. The contest begins with a silent bid from both players in an attempt to win the black pieces, as well as draw-odds. Both players will bid time away from their clock, with the lowest bid receiving black and the shortened time to find a draw. The white pieces will receive the full 45 minutes and must win.

The reigning champions await the winners of the Armageddon matches. Both Krush and Kamsky will face their candidates in two rapid games, which feature 25 minutes on the clock and a 5-second-per-move increment. Should the players tie the rapid games 1-1, the 2014 national titles will be decided by one final Armageddon game.

Report: Brian Jerauld + ChessBase, photos by Lennart Ootes


Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.
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