US Championships Finale
Shulman and Zatonskih - US Champions
Yuri Shulman eased to victory in the final round of the Frank K. Berry 2008 US Championships in Tulsa with an 11-move draw against Josh Friedel, who thereby clinched his third and final GM norm. With both players benefitting so much from a draw, the result was inevitable. Congratulations to Yuri Shulman on an excellent tournament and clinching the title!
The destiny of the women's title was much more uncertain and ended up going right to the wire. Irina Krush, the defending Champion, was leading by half a point from Anna Zatonskih (pictured) going into the final round, but got into terrible trouble against Katerine Rohonyan, losing a piece. Remarkably, Krush managed to escape with a draw by bailing out into a King & Rook versus King, Rook & Knight ending which took the game to over 100 moves!
Meanwhile Zatonskih won her final round game against Tsagaan Battsetseg to end level on points with Krush. A thrilling playoff ensued; in rapid games Zatonskih won first but Krush levelled to take the playoff into blitz. Krush then won the first Blitz game only for Zatonskih to claim the second. That meant that the destiny of the US Women's Championship came down to an Armageddon game (a blitz game were White has a minute more time than Black, but must win - a draw counts as a win for Black).
Tragically for Krush, she lost on time with a good position on the board and Zatonskih was victorious. Congratulations to Zatonskih and commiserations to Krush, but both players deserve plaudits for a great tournament and providing such excitement.
Here are the playoff games in full. Mistakes abounded as the tired players slogged it out...