Round 3 US Women and Junior Champs

Round 3 US Women and Junior Champs

| 7 | Chess Event Coverage

Favorites draw at Womens Champ, Harper tops Junior leaderboard

By Mike Wilmering and Katie Baldetti

The streak has been broken.

After 30 straight decisive games at the U.S. Womens Championship, a run that began during round six of the 2009 U.S. Womens Championship, the two early favorites agreed to a draw after an enthralling battle.

An aggressive yet calculated gamble by IM Irina Krush was countered by IM Anna Zatonskihs solid defense, and the rivalry that has been stewing for years will be placed on the back burner pending a possible playoff to decide the championship.

Chess Queens (left to right): Zatonskih, Abrahamyan, Foisor and Melekhina


With Black, Krush chose to play the Benoni, an uncharacteristic decision designed to surprise her opponent.

I thought it was a good decision, a fighting opening, Krush said. 

Krush only has played the Benoni two other times five years ago, games she admittedly forgot, but she said she thought there was no way Zatonskih would have been expecting her prep.

It was really risky, and I think Anna ... stumbled on to a venomous line for Black, Krush said.

Zatonskih, however, fell into time trouble, a possible result of Krushs somewhat unorthodox opening. She said she is still not playing to her true form, which she put on display at last years U.S. Womens Championship. 

I just didn't calculate clearly, Zatonskih said. There were probably too many missing opportunities for me.

Today, Krush was clearly going for the win.

Of my own volition, I wound up in this sort of dubious line, and I went for not such a principle move [9...]Qc7, Krush said.

Krush said Black can get dominated in this line without any counter play.

I feel like I got away with a slightly provocative play in this game Krush said. I kind of got lucky to get out of this opening like this.

After losses by WIM Alisa Melekhina and WIM Iryna Zenyuk, Krush and Zatonskih sit atop the leaderboard, each with scores of 2.5/3.

White Score Rating Result Black Score Rating
WFM Abby Marshall 0.0 2211 0-1 WGM Sabina Foisor 0.0 2356
WIM Beatriz Marinello 0.0 2206 1-0 WIM Iryna Zenyuk 2.0 2286
WFM Tatev Abrahamyan 1.0 2403 1-0 WIM Alisa Melekhina 2.0 2323
IM Anna Zatonskih 2.0 2518 ½-½ IM Irina Krush 2.0 2521
WGM Katerina Rohonyan 1.0 2322 0-1 WGM Camilla Baginskaite 0.0 2387

The U.S. Junior Closed Championship has an unlikely early leader after three rounds. FM Warren Harper won his game today with White against NM Tyler Hughes, which puts Harper at 3/3 atop the heap. 

[14...]f5 was I think the main point where [Hughes] went wrong, Harper said.  Around move 8c6 Harper said he liked his position much better, and also said he thought Hughes could have played defensively better later on in the game.

Hughes said he isnt going to let Harpers win upset him.  You try your best to destroy each other on the board even though youre friendly off, Hughes said, Its what makes the tournament more enjoyable.

Harper's perfect score puts him at the top above the highest-rated player and tournament favorite GM Ray Robson.

Robson, with Black, defeated FM Steven Zierk, who tried to disrupt Robsons comfortable Sicilian with 3.Bb5+. After trading bishops on d7, Robson was able to better manage his time this round to overwhelm Zierk. He said he felt he had winning chances after the 14th move. 

After [14...]Qd4, I just thought Id have a really comfortable game, Robson said. I didnt think I played so well in the games leading up to this one, but I think I played decently this one, so I was happy about that.

The 46-move game gives Robson a score of 2.5/3 and good chances to defend his title.


WFM Tatev Abrahamyan secured her first victory of the tournament with a win over WIM Alisa Melekhina. Abrahamyan played a line very similar to the one she employed at last years U.S. Womens Championship against Melekhina, a game that Melekhina won.

This double-edged game featured a queenside attack by Abrahamyan while Melekhina attempted to mount a kingside assault. In the end, Abrahamyan prevailed to earn her first point, which she badly needed  to have any chance to make a run at the Womens title.


NM Eric Rosen made headlines once again with an upset victory over FM Conrad Holt. Holt, who has played in three major events in less than two months including Copper State, the World Open and the Philadelphia International, came into the tournament as a player to watch after a number of strong performances. Thus far, however, he has a score of just 0.5/3 and is looking to bounce back in his round four game against Zierk. 

Rosen chose to play in only the Philadelphia International before coming to Saint Louis.

Ive been taking it slowly, studying openings on Chessbase and doing tactics, Rosen said. One of the most important things before a tournament is to just get rest.

In June, Rosen said he also attend GM Yury Shulmans camp, which featured GM Alexander Onischuk, GM Gregory Kaidanov, and GM Mesgen Amanov.

Getting lessons from the top players in the country is pretty cool, Rosen said.

IM Sam Shankland was able to score a come-from-behind victory against FM John Bryant to earn his first point of the tournament. WGM Camilla Baginskaite also scored a victory from a worse position against WGM Katerina Rohonyan for her first point.


White Score Rating Result Black Score Rating
FM Steven Zierk 1.0 2428 0-1 GM Ray Robson 1.5 2613
FM Conrad Holt 0.5 2411 0-1 NM Eric Rosen 0.5 2209
NM Parker Zhao 1.5 2382 1-0 FM Darwin Yang 2.0 2422
FM Warren Harper 2.0 2388 1-0 NM Tyler Hughes 1.0 2386
FM John Bryant 0.0 2487 0-1 IM Sam Shankland 0.0 2563


For all of the scores and pairings, and to watch live coverage of round four, visit

More from SonofPearl News Is Changing... News Is Changing...

Beijing To Host 5th 2012/13 Grand Prix

Beijing To Host 5th 2012/13 Grand Prix