Paikidze Wins U.S. Women's Championship In Armageddon
IM Nazi Paikidze stops the clock and claims victory. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Paikidze Wins U.S. Women's Championship In Armageddon

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
Apr 30, 2018, 2:55 PM |
124 | Chess Event Coverage

IM Nazi Paikidze came from behind in regulation to catch WIM Annie Wang. Then today, she caught her again in the playoff.

After dropping game one of the rapid playoff (G/25, delay of 5), the 2018 U.S. Women's Championship leveled the score after a convincing win by Paikidze in her turn as White. Then she played the same opening, with an improvement even, to win the Armageddon and her second national title.

Paikidze

"Clean laundry." Paikidze said once she loses a game, she doesn't wear that outfit again. She doesn't need to go shopping often—Paikidze has only lost twice in four years of coming to St. Louis. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Wang was lost anyway when her flag fell. It's not the last triple zeros Paikidze will see tonight. Her oversized check will read $25,000.

"I guess she's better at blitz than I am," Paikidze said, but that didn't show in the final game. Paikidze began with White and five minutes to four minutes (with a two-second increment) but quickly got ahead on the board and on the clock.

Annie Wang

WIM Annie Wang should be immensely proud, but she came up short in the three games in which she could have closed out the tournament. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Unlike her win in the rapid, in the King's Indian Attack redux, Paikidze plopped her knight on g4 in the Armageddon instead of her pawn. You can thank a tournament veteran for that.

In between the games, GM Giorgi Kacheishvili was kibitzing with Paikidze. He's no stranger to being a mentor for the playoff—several times he's served in the same capacity for GM Irina Krush, his student and business partner.

Kachieshvili

The surprise helper GM Giorgi Kacheishvili chats with Paikidze before the Armageddon game.  | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Paikidze told Chess.com that she doesn't know him well, but that he was "rooting for her" and decided to help. 

As Paikidze was about to level the score, Kacheishvili came bounding up the stairs to have another chat before the Armageddon. He told her to put the knight on g4 if she got the chance, and she obliged.

"I thought I would just play faster than she did and play on her time," Paikidze said.

Paikidze

Paikidze, seen her moments after victory. Her purse was clutch, and so was she. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Here's that big-money Armageddon game:

If you now play through the second rapid game, you're not seeing double. The two played the same opening, but Paikidze's method of preventing the ...g5 counterplay was to place a pawn on g4 instead of routing her knight there.

Paikidze

A typical pose for Paikidze reminiscent of how a cat rests its head on bent paws. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Kacheishvili corrected that, as you saw above.

During the first game, Paikidze admitted to not being quite settled for the first match. She told Chess.com that she completely missed the zwischenzug 17. Bb4. White corralled the d-pawn with ease, and the 2016 champion never got back in the game.

Paikidze

Advice over, Paikidze collected her thoughts before the Armageddon. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

"I started so badly today," Paikidze said. I was more nervous that I thought I was...When I was her age, I couldn't contain myself like she can."

Paikidze has an impressive quartet of U.S. women's championships. She now has two first-place finishes and two second places.

Chess.com's interview with Paikidze.

Paikidze

She gave herself a five percent chance before round 11; then Paikidze purloined a second championship. Now she can buy many more Purling chess sets. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Much different than last time? The celebration. In 2016, she beat Krush in the final game, winning the title unexpectedly when the leader lost. Back then, she sobbed and hugged her husband. 

This time around, he's on a plane. When he turns his phone back on, he'll read the good news.

2018 U.S. Women's Championship | Final Standings

Rank Name Rating 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Score
1 IM Paikidze, Nazi*playoff winner 2352 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 8
2 FM Wang, Annie 2321 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 1 8
3 GM Krush, Irina 2422 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 1 7
4 IM Zatonskih, Anna 2444 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 6.5
5 FM Yu, Jennifer 2367 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 6.5
6 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 2366 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 0 1 ½ 5.5
7 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2308 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 5
8 WGM Sharevich, Anna 2281 0 0 1 ½ ½ 0 1 1 0 0 ½ 4.5
9 FM Gorti, Akshita 2252 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 1 1 ½ 4.5
10 FM Feng, Maggie 2243 ½ 0 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 4.5
11 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 2306 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 0 0 1 3.5
12 IM Derakhshani, Dorsa 2306 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 2.5

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