Zatonskih Edges Closer to Finish: Round 7 US Women’s Chess Championship
Top-seeded Anna Zatonskih moved one step closer to winning the 2009 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship by defeating third-seeded Rusudan Goletiani in round seven. The tournament is being held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Zatonskih is still one point ahead of her nearest rival, as Camilla Baginskaite kept pace by also winning her game.
Zatonskih is trying to win the tournament by leading wire to wire. She has six wins and one draw and if she is able to win her final two games she will equal the lofty winning score of 8.5 out of 9, turned in by Irina Krush in 1998. Zatonskih has already beaten Krush, her closest rival, in round three. “I was expecting 7 (wins) out of 7 (games)!” Zatonskih joked after the game.
In today’s game, Zatonskih lined up her pieces against Goletiani’s king and broke though with a well-time piece sacrifice. Her position became so dominant that she had many paths to victory. “In the beginning, I was happy with a draw,” she said. “I have a very bad score with Goletiani.” Prior to today’s game, Goletiani had never lost to Zatonskih. The two have played as teammates several times, representing the U.S. in various international team tournaments.
Baginskaite kept the margin at one point by using the Fianchetto Variation of the King’s Indian Defense to beat Battsetseg Tsagaan. The opening is known to stifle the opponent and create a calm game, exactly the opposite of Tsagaan’s preferred style. Zatonskih also used the same opening to beat Tsagaan earlier in the tournament. Baginskaite does not play competitively much any more but has hinted that a return to regular competition may be on the horizon. She has two rounds left to try to catch Zatonskih, but she will need some help from the rest of the field. Even if she finishes in second, she will earn a spot, along with Zatonskih, to the next Women’s World Chess Championship, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey.
“I’m not chasing Anna so much any more,” she said. “It is out of my hands. Realistically it will be difficult to catch her.”