2011 US Championships: Dramatic tiebreaks

by ChessBase
4/23/2011 – The last round of the preliminaries was dramatic, especially in the women's section where Foisor was forced into the tiebreaks precisely against Zatonskih who had just beaten her. As if signaling a change in the leadership, Zatonskih used her momentum by then trouncing Foisor in the tiebreaks. In the men's Shankland beat Onischuk to also make the semis. Report and full videos.

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Prize fund: US$166,000 total divided as 1st $40,000, 2nd $30,000, 3rd $20,000, 4th $15,000. The runners-up of the round robin tourneys: 3rd $8,000, 4th $6,000, 5th $5,000, 6th $4,000, 7th $3,000, 8th $2,500. $2,000 to the winner of each round robin tourney. Additionally, $5,000 will be set aside to award Best Game Prizes throughout both the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women's Championship.
Time control: 90 minutes/40 moves + 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move starting with the 1st move
Game start: 21:00 server time (3:00 PM NYC time, 2:00 PM STL time). on 27th final place 3 at 19:00 (tiebreak at 02:00 AM). 28th April tiebreak if needed at 19:00
Rest day: April 22 and 25 (tiebreak day)
Tiebreaks: Semifinals and finals tiebreaks will consist of a two-game rapid match (G/25+5 second increment). If the contest is still undecided, the match will go to a rapid Armageddon bidding game with a base time of 45 minutes for each Player. Black will have draw odds. Each Player shall bid an amount of time (minutes and seconds, a number equal to or less than 45:00) they are willing to play with in order to choose their color. The Player who bids the lowest amount of time chooses his color and begins with that amount of time; the other Player receives 45:00. If both Players bid exactly the same amount of time, the Chief Arbiter will flip a coin to determine who shall choose their color.

Round Robin 1 Round Robin 2
No. First Name Last Name  Rtg No. First Name Last Name Rtg
1. Gata Kamsky 2733 1. Alexander Onischuk 2678
2. Yury Shulman 2622 2. Yasser Seirawan 2636
3. Varuzhan Akobian 2611 3. Alexander Shabalov 2590
4. Jaan Ehlvest 2586 4. Larry Christiansen 2586
5. Alexander Stripunsky 2578 5. Gregory Kaidanov 2569
6. Alexander Ivanov 2540 6. Robert Hess 2565
7. Ray Robson 2522 7. Sam Shankland 2512
8. Daniel Naroditsky 2438 8. Ben Finegold 2500
Average Rating 2578.75 Average Rating 2579.5

Semifinals Still Murky, Tiebreaks Await

By FM Mike Klein

The final round of preliminary group play of the 2011 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship concluded Thursday with only a partial picture of the semifinals. Some players advanced in round seven while others will have to endure a rapid-game playoff Friday.

GM Gata Kamsky and GM Yury Shulman, the reigning champion and the past champion, played a short draw to preserve their advancement. The two players were the highest seeds in Group A. Kamsky’s half-point got him to 5.0/7 and guaranteed his graduation, while Shulman, who admitted to being nervous before the game, sat on an undefeated 4.5/7, but would only avoid a tiebreak provided GM Alex Ivanov failed to win. A few hours later GM Ray Robson dispatched Ivanov in a complex king-and-pawn ending to nullify the need for a tiebreak.

In Group A, GM Robert Hess’ four-game winning streak ended, but his draw against GM Yasser Seirawan was more disappointing for his opponent, who needed to win to have any chance of creeping into a tiebreak. The tiebreak will still occur, as GM Alexander Onischuk and GM-elect Sam Shankland had already agreed to peace, delaying their fates for one more day. For his part, Shankland was relieved he would only be in a two-person playoff. “I hope [Hess] will hold”, Shankland said. “I don’t want to deal with Yasser.

GM Alex Stripunsky comes prepared against the dreaded Naroditsky Stare

In the U.S. Women’s Championship, IM Irina Krush’s win streak also ended, but like Hess, it didn’t affect her tournament standing, and her draw against WGM Camilla Baginskaite earned them both invitations to the semifinals. Krush wins the top seed with her 5.5/7 score and a $1,000 prize bonus.

All attention then focused on IM Anna Zatonskih’s improbable tournament comeback. She won again today, beating WGM Sabina Foisor, to pull even with her at 4.0/7. The two will play a two-game tiebreak in the same format as the U.S. Championship – two rapid games with 25-minute time control (with five-second delay), to be followed by an Armageddon match if needed.

WFM Tatev Abrahamyan nearly had to join Zatonskih and Foisor in the tiebreak, but she narrowly escaped with a draw against WIM Iryna Zenyuk. Abrahamyan thus goes through to the semis with a tie for second place with Baginskaite, and the two will split the $600 second-place preliminary stage bonus.

All players who did not qualify for the semifinals have the option of staying in St. Louis for the duration of the tournament. Some will do so to play in the $10,000 blitz tournament on Monday, while others will just take the time to be fans of their the club and the tournament.

New arrival GM Jon Ludwig Hammer is a guest for fifteen minutes and discusses chickens who draw
(courtesy of Macauley Peterson for the official site)

Zatonskih, Shankland Survive Playoffs to Advance

By FM Mike Klein

For four players at the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship, the rest day was anything but a leisurely day off. Tied after round-robin play, GM Alex Onischuk and GM-elect Sam Shankland faced off for a spot in the semifinals, while IM Anna Zatonskih played WGM Sabina Foisor. Both matches were repeats of round seven, and when the two 25-minute game series ended, Shankland upset Onischuk and Zatonskih beat Foisor to advance.

The full official site's coverage (we highly recommend you watch it live) of Game One of the playoffs, with live
commentary by Maurice Ashley, author of the DVD "What Grandmasters Don't See", and Jennifer Shahade.

Shankland’s victory over the second highest rated player began with a solid draw as Black in their first game. In game two, Shankland was White and Onischuk entered a sharp Nimzo-Indian. Faced with a passive retreat after 24…a6 threatened his knight, Shankland thought for a while and sacrificed the piece for two pawns and complications. He said that after he captured a third pawn that he could no longer be considered worse. Later, Shankland’s pawn phalanx became unstoppable and Onischuk resigned the game and the match.

In the semifinals, Shankland will receive defending champion GM Gata Kamsky, who qualified without the need for a tiebreak. “I was four or five years old when Kamsky was playing for the World Championship”, Shankland said. “To be a great player, you have to stand the test of time. He has that and I obviously don’t.” The two have never played a rated game.

In the U.S. Women’s Championship, Zatonskih’s tournament was all but over three days ago. After losing to her main rival, IM Irina Krush, she fell to a minus-one score, but then won her final two games in preliminary play to barely qualify for the playoff.

In game one, the women castled on opposite sides of the board, after which Zatonskih as Black crippled Foisor’s pawn structure, and entered a favorable rook-and-pawn ending to earn the win. Needing to win in round two, Foisor achieved an imbalanced position, but her kingside attack never materialized and Zatonskih repulsed the invasion, and secured her qualification.

The full official site's coverage of Game Two of the playoffs with guest Hikaru Nakamura, and post-game
interviews with Shankland and Zatonskih 

I’m really tired”, Zatonskih said. “I didn’t expect to make it into the finals. I’m critical about myself.” Zatonskih will now play Krush in the semifinals, while WGM Camilla Baginskaite and WFM Tatev Abrahyam will play in the other semifinal.

Besides Shankland-Kamsky, GMs Robert Hess and Yury Shulman will play head-to-head in the U.S. Championship. All semifinal matchups are two-game matches spread out over two days, with a possible tiebreak on the third day.

Sam Shankland is interviewed by Maurice Ashley in the live coverage


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