After two rounds of play at the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship, only one player out of 22 remains with an unblemished record. Defending champion IM Anna Zatonskih nonstop her unparallelled current success at the occasion by beating WGM Camilla Baginskaite. No other player in either competition could string together a second win in a row. A large swath of men is all tied at 1.5/2 in the U.S. Championship. Zatonskih’s choice of the Nimzo-Indian Defense led to a cluster of pawns in the center. But what began as a stable direction game quickly gave way to open files and diagonals.
Zatonskih faced two threatening bishops, but she neutralized their combined power by trading one set, and then took control of the open e-file. Baginskaite’s 18. Rf3 should have been immediately punished by 18…Nc2 with twin threats of 19…Nxa1 and 19…Re1+, winning the queen. “I’m still experiencing jet lag,” Zatonskih said. She traveled from her home in Germany to attempt to defend her title. Although she is up a half point on her closest competition.
“I have a very tough finish,” she said. “I have to save some energy.” t seemed to most that she would have company at 2/2, as 2005 champion IM Rusudan Goletiani took a dominating position down to the wire. However, short of time, she over pressed, first losing her a-pawn, then allowing a crucial knight invasion to seal her own king’s fate. WGM Sabina Foisor benefited to score her first win.