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Zatonskih Clinches 2nd Consecutive U.S. Women's Chess Championship Title

Zatonskih Clinches 2nd Consecutive U.S. Women's Chess Championship Title

Oct 13, 2009, 8:14 AM 0

Anna Zatonskih clinched her second consecutive U.S. Women's Chess championship by defeating Sabina Foisor in round eight of the 2009 event at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

With one round remaining, she has acquired a near-perfect 7.5 out of 8 points and will win the record $15,000 first prize. No other woman has more than 5.5 points so Tuesday's final round will be for posterity, not place.

Zatonskih, of Long Island, N.Y., said she will still try hard. "It doesn't feel right to win the championship and lose the last round," she said.

Zatonskih also earned an automatic qualification to the 2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship. She said she was nervous today for the first time all tournament, knowing that single bad move and "I could easily spoil everything."

Zatonskih, who has won all of her games with the black pieces, entered a slightly better ending against Foisor. The defending championship pressed ahead and found a stunning coup de grace -- a sacrifice of her bishop, her last major piece, that resembled a famous game played by Grandmaster Alexei Shirov. Jettisoning the bishop created an unstoppable armada of pawns that Foisor, of Baltimore, Md., could not slow down.

The victory comes combined with a loss by Zatonskih's closest competitor. For most of the tournament, Camilla Baginskaite trailed the leader by one point, but she suffered her first loss today at the hands of the resurgent Irina Krush. Krush, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who began with only one win and three draws in her first five games, has won three in a row to pull into a tie with Baginskaite for second place.

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