Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

We knew yesterday that the mathematical winner of the 2009 USWCC is IM Anna Zatonskih, but everything else was still up in the air and on the line! Would Zatonskih go for a win in the final round to finish with 8.5/9? Who would win the battle for second place - Krush or the "veteran" player Camilla Baginskaite? Could Melekhina, who lost her R8 game, possibly pull out a win and - in an unlikely but mathematically possible scenario - tie for second place, forcing a 3-way play-off? (Photo from official website by Betsy Dynako, R8) What would happen among the other players who didn't have a shot at places one through four, but could still move up (or down) in the standings and gain (or lose) prize money? And what about the additional prizes that were up for grabs: 9 Queens sponsored $600 of best games prizes ($300/$200/$100) and Goddesschess once again sponsored a $500 Fighting Chess Award, the winner selected by GM Susan Polgar. Who might win those? There was much to fight for -- paraphrasing the words of Camilla Baginskaite -- one must play out the position for self-respect. Since last week I've been trying to watch the games and listen to the live commentary at the office - OHMYGODDESS! Not very satisfactory - particularly today with so much on the line! But I did manage to listen to most of the commentary, even though I wasn't able to follow along on the games very well. I suppose not much can be done over the course of such a long tournament to avoid games being played during working hours - but it sure would make it easier on fans who work 9 - 5. I nearly had a heart attack when Melekhina, who lost her game yesterday, rebounded today to win against Tsagaan and move into a mathematical tie for second place with Krush and Baginskaite (both with 5.5 at the time Melekhina won her game). And then - Krush lost her game to Abrahamyan! Krush stayed at 5.5! So Melekhina and Krush were tied for second place at 5.5 each, along with Baginskaite, who was still playing her game against never-say-resign Foisor! It took a LOOOONNNNGGGGG time for that game to reach its denouement, but in the end, Baginskaite prevailed, and secured 6.5 for herself -- clear second place. No play-offs! (Photo from official website by Betsy Dynako, R7) Final standings (full final cross-table): 2009 U.S. Women's Championship Standings # Name USCF FIDE Score 1 Anna Zatonskih 2492 2462 8½ 2 Camilla Baginskaite 2356 2317 6½ 3 Alisa Melekhina 2253 2220 5½ 4 Irina Krush 2490 2458 5½ 5 Tatev Abrahamyan 2342 2275 4 6 Sabina Foisor 2379 2320 3½ 7 Rusudan Goletiani 2437 2391 3½ 8 Iryna Zenyuk 2271 2285 3 9 Battsetseg Tsagaan 2265 2258 2½ 10 Yun Fan 2134 1935 2½ By now, the final results/standings have been published at many websites, blogs and even in print newspapers (I hope), and I hope that much more coverage, reporting, commentary and in-print analysis of this great championship and its games will be published over the coming days. Congratulations to Anna Zatonskih and Camilla Baginskaite for their fantastic tournaments and securing spots for the 2010 Women's World Chess Championshp. Congratulations and kudos to all of the players for their incredibly-displayed fighting spirit this year. You really inspired me, personally, to continue with my chess "training" - when, where and how are problematical but I will work on those :) A particular thank you once again this year to GM Susan Polgar for agreeing to select the winner of the 2009 Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award. So much was right this year with the presentation online of the 2009 USWCC that I don't want to be a downer - but -- There was a LONG period of time earlier today at the office, during the most crucial round, where the live commentary audio was lost at http://www.uschesschamps.com/ and all I could do was try to visit the remaining games still going on (in between telephone calls, visitors, and trying to push out work), to see if there would be a three-way tie for second place, forcing a play-off! If live commentary is once again offered next year (and I sincerely hope it will be because overall I greatly enjoyed it and thought it added much to my overall experience as an internet audience member), I hope some of these technical glitches will be smoothed out. I love the live commentary - it makes the games come so much more alive, particularly for someone like me, who is not very chess literate. I want to know WHY a move isn't so good, or WHY a move is particularly good, and WGM Jen Shahade, GM-elect Ben Finegold and Macauley Peterson from ICC Chess FM (connected to the Internet Chess Club) did a pretty good job of doing that. Not perfect - but pretty good, and I'm sure once some of the technical things are smoothed out, they will be a really great team! The analysis - as far as I could understand it - was great, spot on. But technically, there were fade-ins and fade-outs from the microphone. During some of the live post-game interviews, and even during some of the analysis, voices faded away and the sound was so faint I couldn't make it out - very frustrating. That was especially evident when soft-spoken Camilla Baginskaite was interviewed (several times over the past several days), but it happened several times during various interviews and during the live commentary throughout the Championship. Regarding publication of additional sponsorship and prizes offered for the players in the Championship, while I heard a great deal about the 9 Queens best game prizes and the Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award during the live commentary, particularly in the later rounds - I saw nothing in print at the http://www.uschesschamps.com/ website about these additional prizes. And I was paying attention - I was looking for mention of them in writing, particularly since I don't believe the live commentary is archived anywhere accessible to the general public and who knows how many thousands of followers of the Championship don't listen to it? Yes, our prizes are relatively small (but they mean a great deal to us of our hard-earned dollars), and -- these are dollars going into the pockets of the winners of these prizes and I hope the players knew, along with the audience, what was on the line as far as additional monies available. Perhaps the players, and the public, were aware of these prizes. But perhaps not. Not everyone listens to the live commentary. I would like to see this area of coverage improved. Speaking bluntly, Goddesschess contributes special prize money because we want to encourage women chess players on both national and local levels, and one of the best ways to do that is to increase their chances for earning $$$, but as a small organization with a limited donor base, we'd also like to receive some in-print publicity (other than at our own sites) for our efforts. Monroi - as far as I could tell, you did an excellent overall job of presenting the games live and getting the PGN up very quickly after the real time the games were finished. Well done!


Macauley Peterson, ChessBase.com said...

Hi Jan,

The Rd 9 commentary was never down for a long time. There was one interruption in the audio stream in the fourth hour of coverage, but it was quickly resolved in a matter of seconds. You would only have had to Refresh the page to re-launch the audio.


Jan said...

Hi Macauley,

I will try to remember that tip the next time I listen to the live coverage (any live coverage?). I had no idea, honestly. I'm techno challenged - you know I can't even figure out how to get a video posted here, even though you've sent me several links! It never occurred to me to hit the refresh button.

I thought Jen S., Ben F. and you did a great job on commentary and provided a real flavor for the championship for those of us who could not be there, my tecnnical problems aside.

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