Friday, July 20, 2007

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - The Final Day!

Round 9 will be starting at noon my time, about 20 minutes from now. Will something really dramatic happen - what if Elizabeth Vicary defeats Zatonskih? Wow - that would be something; heck, if she draws with her that would be something! Chances are they'll be a play-off for the title, but I'm still rooting for EV and Melekhina, who has had an excellent tournament. More later - 6:22 p.m. I'm home from the office now and start a week's vacation, yippee! We have a new U.S. Women's Chess Champion - Irina Krush, who won her game with the black pieces against Tatev Abrahamyan to finish the tournament in clear first with 7.0/9. A respectable score :) SO, no play-offs! Krush also secures a spot in the Women's World Chess Championship something or other - STILL not sure how that works but Krush, along with Rohonyan and Zatonskih, who finished second and third, respectively, each with 6.5, take the other two zonal spots. No rest for Krush, who is off to Montreal to try for a $7,000 prize and a diamond watch in the MonRoi sponsored final of the Women's Grand Prix, that starts tomorrow. Rohonyan, who was tied with Krush going into the final round, had the white pieces against the tournament's youngest player, Melekhina, but had to settle for a draw. Melekhina had an excellent showing but perhaps she's just a wee bit disappointed that she didn't take the full point and qualify for her first WIM norm. I sincerely hope Melekhina continues to work hard to improve her game and keeps playing. She has a poise I admire, she never seemed to get rattled during this event although admittedly I can't pinpoint exactly why I think that, it's the impression I received while trying to watch snatches of her games here and there. This kind of event, where she met and, I'd say, more than held her own against more experienced and higher-rated players, is exactly the kind of development and exposure she needs. It is hard to believe she only just turned 16; I believe people will be paying attention to her from now on. I would be delighted to see her continue to play and take the championship in a few years. We need to develop a continuing stream of younger female players to push our current established female stars from behind (just like they do in figure skating). Please keep playing, Alina! My other favorite in this event, Elizabeth Vicary, seemed to be developing a nice game with the white pieces against Zatonskih, but her end game fell apart and she condeded defeat - hey, I'm no expert, I can't pinpoint exactly what move or moves did it, but it happened and I was disappointed but I was trying to watch the game while ducking reams of paper being thrown at me by people panicking at the thought that I'll be gone for six full working days and I'm not one to go back and play over her game to see if I can spot anything (not that I'd recognize it anyway; as I posted to Stern elsewhere in the blog, I can't play my way out of a paper bag, and that's no lie!) I wonder what EV thinks of her performance? She can hold her head up and be proud, although she's probably kicking herself for "this move" or "that move." I can say this with certainty, she never laid down, she never quit, she fought for each and every game. Her intensity burned through the computer wires! There is a quality to her chess that I can almost understand (Melekhina's too), and that drew me into this event in a way I've never been before. One other player I'm going to watch with interest in the future is Battsetseg! My overall impression of her chess was AGGRESSIVE and EXPLOSIVE. I like a woman who doesn't mind mixing it up some! I tell you - I can hardly wait for next year - assuming there IS a Women's Championship next year. It was great to be able to focus JUST on the women in this all-play-all format, rather than them getting lost in the shuffle of a large Swiss, swatting at each other in the lower third of the order. KUDOS and KISSES to Chris Bird who did a fantastic job with the official website - easy to navigate and even better, timely news and results, and I loved the format where I could watch all of the games on the same screen just by scrolling up and down. And thanks to Dynako for her fantastic photographs. Of course, thanks to the generous sponsor of this year's Women's Championship, Frank K. Berry. I don't know if Mr. Berry reads blogs, but if he does and if he happens across this one, here's a great big super smooch for you, Mr. Berry. Here are the final standings: 1 Irina Krush 7 ($7,000) 2-3 Anna Zatonskih 6½ (either $5,000 or $4,000)* 2-3 Katerina Rohonyan 6½ (either $3,000 or $4,000)* 4 Batchimeg Tuvshintugs 5½ ($2,500) 5 Tsagaan Battsetseg 5 ($2,000) 6-7 Alisa Melekhina 4 (either $1,500 or $1,250)* 6-7 Camilla Baginskaite 4 (either $1,500 or $1,250)* 7-8 Tatev Abrahamyan 3½ ($1,000) 9 Elizabeth Vicary 2½ ($1,000) 10 Chouchanik Airapetian ½ ($1,000) *I'm absolutely ignorant as to whether the prize money for tied position is pooled and split among the tied players, or some sort of ranking is used to determine who gets the larger prize)

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