No. 1 Over No. 2: Round 3 US Women's Chess Championship
The most anticipated encounter of the 2009 U.S. Women’s Championship took place in round three, with the top two seeds facing off for the first time since their controversial finish to the 2008 Championship.
Anna Zatonskih, the top seed and defending champion, took the black pieces against second-seeded Irina Krush. The two had not faced each other since Zatonskih won a blitz tiebreaker in last year’s tournament, causing Krush to object to her opponent’s etiquette.
This time they played a regular-length match, but despite pundits predicting a six-hour battle, their game was the first to finish. Zatonskih found a brilliant defensive resource on her 22nd move, exploiting the exposed position of the enemy queen and catching the unsuspecting Krush without a reasonable reply. Krush spent 20 minutes looking for a reprieve but could not find a way to untangle her army, which was bumping into each other like crowded passengers on a subway car. Zatonskih called it a “very unusual tactic.” Grandmaster commentator Ben Finegold referred to the move as “shocking.” The win leaves Zatonskih with three wins out of three games and a slim lead on her closest competition.
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Round four will begin Wednesday at 2 p.m. Games can be followed live at http://www.saintlouischessclub.org/US-Womens-Championship-2009/Live-Coverage.
For a complete listing of all events surrounding the 2009 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, go to http://www.saintlouischessclub.org/US-Womens-Championship-2009.