Stalemate Steals the Point

Round eight of the Olympiad appeared to be tough for the PNG team. we were facing Gambia.

It started with a more or less expected loss on board four where Craig Skehan played unnecessary timidly to his opponent.
Things got worse soon as the top scorer of the team Stuart Fancy also suffered a defeat to Ebrima Bah. This was one of his very few losses but in a highly important situation.
It seems as the chances for something are over as Helmut Marko was in trouble on board two.However, with persistance and will the Austrian born CM managed to outwit his opponent and score for PNG.
All had to be decided in the game Bittaye-Jones. Rupert enjoyed an excellent preparation and soon emerged a pawn ahead, clearly better.

After some imprecise decisions by both sides the following position was reached:

A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "WCO2014"]
[Site "Tromso"]
[Date "2014.08.10"]
[Round "8.38"]
[White "Bittaye Momodou Lamin"]
[Black "Jones Rupert"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A01"]
[BlackElo "1899"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/5B2/8/4k3/1pp5/3b3P/8/2K5 b - - 0 51"]
[PlyCount "14"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:11:13"]
[BlackClock "0:10:15"]

51... Kd4 $6 {Rather unpractical decision. Simple and good is:} (51... c3 {
[%csl Rb2,Rc2,Rd2,Yh3][%cal Ge5f4,Gf4g3,Gg3h3,Rc3d2,Rc3b2,Rd3c2] then Black
wins the pawn and the game.}) 52. Kb2 b3 53. h4 Bc2 54. h5 {Diagram [#]} c3+ $4
{If the previous mistake complicated matters, this one throws away the
advantage! White has a beautiful idea to save the point and the match.} (54...
Kd3 $1 {was called for when the pawns are unstoppable.} 55. h6 c3+ 56. Kc1 b2#)
55. Kc1 Ke5 ({At first I thought that Black can still transpose to the winning
line-} 55... Kc5 56. h6 ({but White can play} 56. Bg6 $1 $11) 56... Kb4 57. Bg8
Bd3 58. h7 b2+ 59. Kd1 b1=Q#) 56. h6 Kf6 {"It is a draw", whispered the
arbiter of the match.} 57. Bg8 {Zugzwang. Rupert was still unaware of what is
going on.} Kg6 {Diagram [#] An incident occurred here. "Check" announced one
of Bittaye's teammates, loud enough for him to hear. I instinctively jumped
and protested loudly (some inappropriate language also took place.) This
changed nothing.} 58. Bh7+ $1 ({And draw due to the stalemate-} 58. Bh7+ Kxh7)


PNG Breaks the Tradition

After laughing heartily on my friend's stories of nearly missed flights I could not miss a chance to miss my own. There is always a first time to do something wrong. Well, the moment was not a very good one. Just try to find a flight to Tromso at the very last moment at the beginning of the Olympiad. Or simply ask Hikaru Nakamura on his experience.
Anyway, after three hours of a thorough research I found an option! And arrived just in time for the first round.
True, my Papua New Guinea team lost traditionally at the beginning with a 0-4 result to Singapore. But yesterday we broke "the tradition" and took good 1.5 points in our second match.
Our top board Stuart Fancy produced a bold positional sacrifice at the position on the diagram:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "WCO2014"]
[Site "Tromso"]
[Date "2014.08.03"]
[Round "2.1"]
[White "Fancy Stuart"]
[Black "Almedina Ortiz Edgardo J."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2036"]
[BlackElo "2277"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "1rb1k2r/4bppp/p1n1pn2/qpp5/P2pPP2/1P3NN1/2PPB1PP/R1BQ1RK1 w k - 0 12"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:37"]
[BlackClock "0:02:05"]

12. axb5 $1 {For the exchange White gets a pawn and plenty of useful central
squares. The position is closed and the extra exchange of Black is not as
strong as one might think.} Qxa1 13. bxc6 O-O ({Stuart felt that Black can do
better if he brings the queen home at once:} 13... Qa5 14. Ne5 Qc7 {Indeed
this is so, but White has decent compensation for the exchange after something
like-} 15. Ba3 O-O 16. Bc4 $44) 14. Ne5 Ne8 15. f5 Nc7 {[%csl Ya1] Now the
queen will be excluded from the game for a very long time.} 16. Bc4 Bd6 17. Nd3
e5 18. Qh5 Ne8 {Diagram [#]} 19. f6 $3 {[%csl Ya1,Yb8,Gc4,Yc8,Gd3,Gf1,Gg3,Rg8,
Gh5] Very energetic play! White uses his piece majority to attack on the
king's flank.} Be6 {Black gets checkmated or loses loads of material in case
of:} (19... Nxf6 20. Rxf6 gxf6 21. Qh4 (21. Qh6 Bg4 22. h3) 21... Be7 22. Nh5
Kh8 23. Nxf6 Bxf6 24. Qxf6+ Kg8 25. Qg5+ Kh8 26. Qxe5+ {[%csl Rb8,Rh8][%cal
Re5b8,Re5h8]}) (19... gxf6 20. Rxf6 $1 Nxf6 21. Qg5+ Kh8 22. Qxf6+ Kg8 23. Nh5
{[%csl Rg7][%cal Rf6g7]}) 20. Bxe6 g6 21. Qf3 $18 {The game is essentially
over.} (21. Qg4 {is a bit faster-} fxe6 22. f7+ Kg7 23. Qxe6 Qa5 24. Nxe5 $18)
21... fxe6 22. f7+ Kh8 23. fxe8=Q Rbxe8 24. Qg4 Rxf1+ 25. Kxf1 c4 26. bxc4 Qa4
27. c5 Bc7 28. Qg5 Qxc2 29. Ke2 Qc4 {Diagram [#]} 30. h4 $1 {The king will
soon have no guards left.} Qb5 31. h5 Qxc6 32. hxg6 Qd7 33. Nh5 Bd8 34. Qxe5+
Kg8 35. c6 Qe7 {Diagram [#]} 36. Ba3 $1 {[%csl Ye7,Rg8][%cal Re5g7,Ra3e7]
Despite the time trouble Staurt finishes in style.} Bc7 37. gxh7+ Qxh7 38. Qg5+
Kh8 39. Nf6 Bd8 40. Nxh7 Bxg5 41. Nxg5 Kg7 42. Nc5 e5 43. c7 Kf6 44. Nge6 Rc8
45. g4 a5 46. Kd3 Ke7 47. Kc4 Kd6 48. g5 Kc6 49. g6 a4 50. Nd8+ Kxc7 51. g7 1-0


In Asuncion

The Panamercian U20 Junior championships were scheduled to take place in the middle of May. For various reasons the dates were moved to the end of June (21-28) and this gave a chance to my student Ashritha Eswaran from USA to take part in the event.
Panamerican championships gather together the players from both South and North America. However, it is not very usual for the North American players to participate at these events. One of the reasons is the distance. Another, I suspect is the language barrier. In most of the South American countries people hardly speak English.

This was not the case though in Paraguay. The organizer of the event Ronald Zarza Pelissier is a man of German origin and speaks fluently Deutsch. His English is also very good. Add to these linguistic advantages the pure will to help and you will know why Asuncion was a very successful host of the event.
The tournament took place in the offices of the ABC color downtown. The venue was easily accessible and comfortable.
Players from eleven countries took part in the women event. The top seed and experienced Ann Chumpitaz of Peru played steadily throughout the event and won the trophy convincingly with 8/9.

Ann is already an established player; she participated at the Olympiad in Istanbul. In general, Peru dominated the event. The silver was claimed by a very talented Mitzy Mishe Caballero Quijano. She scored 7.5/9. Just like Ann she did not lose a game. However there is an important difference between the two players. Chumpitaz played her last championship while Mitzy is only thirteen years old!
The charming Ivette Ale Garcia Morales took bronze. This is a huge achievement for her country and Ivette hopes that Mexico will show even better results in the future.

Ashritha Eswaran took good fifth place, which would not be too bad if we did not see her games. She missed plenty of points in completely won positions. We have a lot of food for thought after the event!

In the boy’s section the rating favourite Cristobal Villagra Henriquez (rated 2459)proved better than his opponents and won the title for Chile. Despite the draw in the third round and the loss in fourth he managed to calm down and win five games till the end of the event.
A curious moment happened during the price giving when Cristobal did not show in time to take his trophy. I thought that he is chasing a flight but it appeared that there was a much more important thing to do- he was watching the football match of his compatriots with Brazil…

In this section a pleasant surprise was the second place of Diego Blandon Villa of Columbia. Third was Giuseppe Leiva of Peru.
Both winners of the boys and girls event earned a GM norm. It is Cristobal’s second norm.
Chess in Paraguay is becoming more and more popular these days thanks to the efforts of their best player. GM Axel Bachman recently crossed the 2600+ rating mark. In fact not only crossed but sky-rocketed to the 2652 mark. Axel is a national hero in his country.
Another remarkable person is the third seeded in the boy’s section Guillermo Vazquez. He is good in there things. Chess, where he is an FM, mathematics (he’s heading for Olympics in South Africa after the Panam) and software. I am using the chance to express my gratitude to his parents for the wonderful barbecue evening that they organized for the players of the event. (A blitz tournament with prices also took place then!)
I would also like to thank Ronald Zarza Pelissier for the wonderful organization as well as to all the arbiters and organizers involved in the event.


North American Youth in Sleepy Hollow

A short journey from the Grand Station with the Metro-North Hudson Line will bring you to a very famous village. Tarrytown is considered part of New York by some although it has an independent status. It is beautifully situated in the forests on the shore of the Hudson River. The fact that the village is close to the City-that-Never-Sleeps and at the same time is away from the pollution made it a perfect location for some of the USA’s finest. Lyndhurst and Rockefeller mansions are certainly points of interest.
However, Tarrytown became famous for the book Sleepy Hollow (and I guess the movie with Johnny Depp afterwards). The creepy story was written by the prominent American author Washington Irving. Sunnyside, the historic home of the author from where he took inspiration for the book is situated close by to the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Tarrytown. This was the venue of the North American Youth Championship which took place between 12-16 Junes.

In the last two years this competition was conducted and Canada (2013) and Mexico (2012) and the Americans were happy to host the event again.
Technically speaking, all the countries from North America are eligible to take part in the tournament, but due to various reasons the medals are in contend of the abovementioned countries. All age groups compete except for the twenty-year old players.
The schedule is tight. Nine rounds in just five days, ninety minutes per game per each player (and thirty seconds increment per move), double rounds every day except for the first one.
Nevertheless, the event attracts a lot of players and the main reason is the norms and titles that the players can earn. For instance, the gold medalists in the under 18 and 16 sections are awarded with an IM/WIM titles, while the under 12 and 14 years receive FM titles. This is also one of the reasons why some of the kids prefer to compete in the upper sections.
The tournaments went smoothly for most of the rating favourites.

Annie Wang and Aleksander Katz won the under 18 sections. Annie Zhao and Viswanadha Kesav took home the gold in under 16 sections. All of them are now proud International Masters.
The rest of the winners are:
Under 14- Jason Shi.
Under 12: Martha Samadashvili and David Brodsky
Under 10: Kylie Tan and Maximillian Lu
Under 8: Julia Kuleshova and Arthur Guo.
Almost all the top honors were for USA, with Canada bringing back home two golds.
Photo gallery by Dora Leticia for the official site here.

A couple of things should be said about the tournament. Although the organization was at a very good level, I believe that the organizers made a mistake by merging the boys and girls groups in the under eight section. There indeed weren’t too many players, but the number of the girls was eight, that would have been a very good round-robin event. By merging the groups, the pairings became more random and the factor luck was increased. It also was not quite clear to me how the arbiters were doing the pairings. In the second round three players with 2 points were facing three players with a point. It was not that they have played each other. These strange anomalies happened later as well.
The second thing was the behavior of a particular participant. A girl, who played in the under 12 section and who seems to be experienced in the art of dirty tricking. In the seventh round in a lost position the girl went to ask for an advice from her father (which is forbidden). He told her to offer a draw. She did it, on four occasions (at least). The father also took part in the process. He approached the mother of the opponent and told her to take the draw, as the tournament is spoiled for both the girls anyways (!) then in the time trouble the tricky girl showed a powerful variety of cheap tricks (like offering a candy while the opponent has ten seconds on the clock). She succeed, the flag felt.
Unfortunately, this was not the only case and as you can see, this school was obviously well supported and trained under the parent’s guidance. This particular lady made it to a decisive game for the medals.
Alas, at the end it all backfired. The girl was pictured while consulting with the father. And the game went for her opponent. Still, the question remains. Do we need to tolerate this?
The tournament was quickly over. It is good that New York never sleeps and I got a chance to briefly visit it with my friend Ted Castro, the founder and head coach of the Norcal House of Chess.


USA Championships

The weather changes very quickly in Saint Louis. One day is hot and humid, the next day the temperature drops down about twenty degrees. It rains and rains and then suddenly the sun appears as if nothing happened.
The USA championship was following the weather forecast. No one knew what happens until the very end. Especially, at the gentlemen’s tournament.
It was Alex Lenderman who took the lead after four rounds, scoring excellent 3.5/4. His tournament preparation seemed perfect.
However, two losses after and Alex got overshadowed by Varuzhan Akobian. The latter started solidly with four draws but those were followed by four straight wins. Var was greatly supported by his good friend GM Gabriel Sargissian and was not shy of opening preparation either.
In the meanwhile, the rating favourites were not doing that well. Timur Gareev started well with 3/4, but then lost a game and… made only three draws till the end of the event. It seems as Timur before and after a loss are two completely different players.
The reigning champion Gata Kamsky was having trouble in scoring full points. He stood solidly on +2 score almost till the end of the tournament. He did not lose a game, but everyone was extremely solid when playing the champion and Gata just could not score.
It was not a great surprise that somewhere around the tournament equator Kamsky was very pessimistic about his chances.
Contrary to him, Lenderman kept optimistic and after his second straight loss posted the following comment on his facebook page: ”Behind all the clouds and rain there still always is sun!”
And the sun shone on his street again. In the next rounds he took back his plusses to make it to a decisive final round game against Akobian.
None of them was able to score though and they were caught up by Kamsky who won his last game to Josh Friedel. It was a three-way tie!
Surprisingly, it was the champion who had the best tie-break. Thus, he could wait for the finalist in the Armageddon game between Lenderman and Akobian. According to the rules, in case of a tie the champion had to be determined in a rapid play-off, and if needed an Armageddon game should have been played. Akobian won with Black and had to play Kamsky in the final.
In the meanwhile, the ladies section looked no less thrilling.
The main contenders for the title Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih were caught up by the “Blue Penguin” Tatev Abrahamian in the final round (purple here). Krush had the best tie-break, thus Zatonskih and Abrahamian had to define the second finalist in yet another Armageddon game.
An excellent opportunity for all the spectators!

Zatonskih was the favourite and she quickly got great attacking position. Alas, she forgot to give a couple of forced (and needed checks!) and instead of converting the attack into a win felt into desperate position. Abrahamian on her behalf did not even care about the win and forced a draw to secure her final spot. This was already a sensation!
The final matches were Kamsky-Akobian and Krush-Abrahamian.
The more experienced player though kept their own. Both Kamsky and Krush won their white games and drew with black. The champions defended the titles.
Krush won her sixth championship and Kamsky-fifth!
Looking back at the championship one can only admire to the excellent organization.
The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis CCSCSL which hosted the event is situated at the best part of the city, surrounded by original and beautiful private residences. While walking around you can spot squirrels and wild rabbits walking freely in the bushes.
The park and the zoo are situated in Forrest Park within a walking distance as well as the Historical and Art museums. The luxurious Chase Plaza hotel hosted the players and on their way to the venue they had plentiful choice of excellent food. They could also visit the Lester’s restaurant which is literally attached to the club whenever they like.
Facing the CCSCSL is the Hall of fame with the largest chess piece in the world in front of it. There on the free day a chess/music show took place where the games were accompanied by psychedelic music.
The organizers have provided tickets to all the players for the baseball match of the local St. Louis Cardinals team but it was cancelled due to the rain.
The main sponsor of the event and founder of the club Rex Sinquefield lived with the chess battles and did not miss a move of the tournaments.
My young student Ashritha Eswaran did very well at the event and scored 3.5/9. Unfortunately, she came one point short to the WIM norm. A draw in the final round (in a very promising position!) would be sufficient for a fifth place.
This is irrelevant though as a much more important and valuable thing is the experience that she got from the tournament. A curious fact is that Ashritha is the only USA born player in the ladies ‘section.
Oh, yes, she was also awarded the best game price of the women event for her first round win:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "USA-ch (Women)"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2014.05.08"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Ni, Viktorija"]
[Black "Eswaran, Ashritha"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A46"]
[WhiteElo "2206"]
[BlackElo "1979"]
[Annotator "Dejan Bojkov"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/4p1k1/1pR3p1/1PbP3p/P6K/8/8 w - - 0 55"]
[PlyCount "58"]
[EventDate "2014.05.08"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[EventCategory "1"]
[Source "Chessbase"]
[SourceDate "2014.05.24"]

{Viktorija had conducted the middlegame very well and achieved much better
position. However, this took plenty of time on her clock and she was already
feeling the discomfort of the second time trouble.} 55. Re5 {A step in the
wrong direction. White could have won with the study-like:} (55. a4 $1 Bf1+ 56.
Kh2 bxa4 57. b5 g4 (57... a3 58. b6 Ba6 59. Ra5) 58. Kg1 $3 {[%csl Rf1][%cal
Yg1f1] Which wins decisive tempo in comparison to the line:} (58. b6 g3+ 59.
Kg1 Ba6 60. Ra5 $2 {when it is Black who wins:} Bb7 61. Ra7 Bf3 62. b7 h3 63.
b8=Q h2+ 64. Kf1 h1=Q#) 58... Bd3 59. b6 Be4 60. d5 $1 $18 {[%csl Ye4][%cal
Rb6b7,Ye4b7] Diagram [#]}) 55... Kh5 56. a4 $6 ({It was probably not too late
to admit the mistake-} 56. Rc5) 56... bxa4 {Now a forced line runs:} 57. b5 a3
58. b6 a2 59. Ra5 Bd5 60. Kh2 (60. b7 Bxb7 61. Rxa2 g4+ 62. Kh2 Kg5 {does not
seem like something that White would like to play.}) ({It was only here that
White realized that the calculated "coup the grace":} 60. Rxa2 {has a flaw:}
g4+ 61. Kh2 g3+ 62. Kh3 (62. Kg1 h3 $19) 62... Bxa2 63. b7 {Diagram [#]} Bc4 $3
{[%csl Rf1,Yh3][%cal Rc4f1,Rf1h3]} 64. b8=Q (64. Kg2 Bd5+ {[%csl Yb7,Yg2][%cal
Rd5b7,Rd5g2]}) 64... Bf1# {[%csl Yh3]}) 60... g4 61. Ra3 Kg5 62. Ra5 Kh5 63.
Ra3 g3+ {Ashritha realized that she has no losing chances anymore and started
looking for the win.} 64. Kh3 {The only move.} (64. Kg1 h3 {[%cal Gh3h2] loses
on the spot.}) 64... Kg5 65. Ra5 Kh5 66. Ra3 Kg5 {Ashritha was also low on
time and decided to repeat the moves to gain some time.} 67. Ra5 Kh5 68. Ra3
Kg5 69. Ra5 Kh5 {True, she repeated them four times instead of two and
Viktorija could have claimed the draw. In the meanwhile the annotators J.
Shahade and Y. Seirawan as well as M. Ashley were somewhat disappointingly
anticipating the draw offer, when the thunder came:} 70. Ra3 {Diagram [#]} e5
$3 {A bautiful winning theme. Ashritha have spotted it long before the move
repetition!} 71. dxe5 {Played with seconds on the clock, I do not think that
anyone can blame Viktorija for not finding the idea:} (71. b7 $1 Bxb7 72. Rxa2
Bc8+ ({Or:} 72... exd4 73. Ra5+ Kg6 74. Ra4 $11) 73. Kg2 Kg4 74. dxe5 h3+ 75.
Kg1 {[%csl Yg3,Rh2,Yh3][%cal Ra2h2,Rh3h2] and White is saving herself thanks
to the sacrficie of the rook for the two pawns.}) ({One point of the idea is
seen in the line:} 71. Rxa2 Bxa2 72. b7 Be6+ 73. Kg2 Bd5+ $19) 71... Bc4 $1 {
[%cal Rc4f1] This bishop is a magical piece!} 72. Kg2 (72. b7 Bf1#) 72... Kg4 {
[%cal Gh4h3,Ga2a1,Rc4d5] All of a sudden all the black pieces are perfectly
co-ordinated.} 73. b7 Bd5+ {A tempo! And... wrong... The win was instant:} (
73... h3+ $1 74. Kg1 h2+ 75. Kg2 Bd5+ {[%cal Rh2h1]}) 74. Kf1 Bxb7 75. Ra4+ Kf3
76. Rxa2 {Diagram [#] It is once again a draw. But it ain't over until it is
over...} h3 77. Kg1 Bd5 78. Rd2 Bc4 79. Rc2 {White slips one more time and one
more study idea will appear on the board.} ({White does not need the pawn-} 79.
e6 $1 {was the cleanest road to the draw-} Bxe6 80. Rd3+ Kf4 81. Rd4+ Ke3 82.
Rh4 $11) ({It was not that obvious which square to choose for the rook, but
the fourth rank check was needed! Therefore:} 79. Rb2 $1 Be2 (79... Bd5 80. e6
Bxe6 81. Rb5) 80. Rb3+ $1 {This is the big difference!} Kf4 81. Rb4+ Kg5 82.
Rb1 Bf3 83. Rb2 $11) 79... Be2 $1 {[%csl Ge2,Gf3,Yg1,Gg3,Gh3][%cal Rh3h2] The
black pieces surrounded the king.} 80. Rc3+ ({No time for queening-} 80. e6 h2+
81. Kh1 Kf2 82. Rxe2+ Kxe2 83. Kg2 h1=Q+ $1 84. Kxh1 Kf2 85. e7 g2+ 86. Kh2
g1=Q+ 87. Kh3 Qg3#) 80... Kg4 81. e6 h2+ 82. Kg2 {Diagram [#]} ({Or the
familiar checkmate:} 82. Kh1 Bf3+ (82... Kh3 {[%cal Re2f1,Rf1g2] would also
work.}) 83. Rxf3 Kxf3 84. e7 Kf2 85. e8=Q g2+ 86. Kxh2 g1=Q+ 87. Kh3 Qg3#)
82... Bf1+ $3 83. Kh1 Kh3 {Checkmate is inevitable.} (83... Kh3 84. Rc2 g2+ 85.
Rxg2 Bxg2#) 0-1


The First Free Day

Roughly a month ago my student's father wrote an email. "Ashritha got a wild card for the USA women championship. Should she accept?" "Of course she should, if she could. This is a chance that you might get only once in your life."
Ashritha Eswaran is only 13 but for the last three years that we worked she made a lot of a progress. Three years ago she had the rating of 1400. Currently Ashrtha is above 2200 (USCF) which makes her a national master and had already won the USA national title for girls twice.
In order to take part in the event the youngster had to receive a special permission from her school authorities.
Here we are in Saint Louis, the chess capital of USA. The official recognition of the city came from the United States Senate on 6-th of May, just a couple of days before the start of the new significant event.
No other city deserves this title more that Saint Louis.
“Since 2009, we’ve worked to raise the prominence and profile of the U.S. Championships,” Rich said. ”We’re honored the U.S. Chess Federation once again awarded these prestigious events to Saint Louis, and we hope our U.S. Champions will continue to serve as role models for young chess players across the country.” 
“Since 2009, we've worked to raise the prominence and profile of the U.S. Championships,” said Toni Rich
executive director of the CCSCSL. ”We’re honored the U.S. Chess Federation once again awarded these prestigious events to Saint Louis, and we hope our U.S. Champions will continue to serve as role models for young chess players across the country.” 
This is the sixth time in a row that the club hosts the championship. The conditions are fantastic. I have never seen anything that well organized.
The players are treated like kings. Royal price fund, first class hospitality, exclusive photo sessions for each participant. Everything is set up to the every little detail.
The audience is spoiled by the exceptional coverage of the event. Three of the best American commentators explain the games for all the major sites. Gorgeous Jennifer Shahade and lucid Yasser Seirawan make a great TV couple while the expansive Maurice Ashley appearances on air make the shows even more entertaining.
GMs Robert Hess and Benjamin Finegold annotate life for the visitors of the Leste'sr restaurant.
The commentators were very excited about Ashritha's win in the first round. In a study-like endgame she managed to pull out the point with a beautiful maneuver. Some of their comments:
"The position is too complicated for the annotators"- Ben Finegold.
"I would like to take her (Ashritha Eswaran) home and be her trainer." Maurice Ashley.
Second round was tough for my young student. She lost basically out of the opening to the reigning champion Irina Krush. However, on the third round she managed to score her second point.
Her game ended last once more, juts like in the first round and was once again very entertaining:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "U.S. Women's Championship 2014"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2014.05.10"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Eswaran, Ashritha"]
[Black "Baginskaite, Camilla"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B92"]
[WhiteElo "1979"]
[BlackElo "2267"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "7Q/6Q1/3p4/3q4/Pp6/6K1/2k2P2/4q3 w - - 0 58"]
[PlyCount "9"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

{[%csl Gd5,Ge1,Yg7,Yh8]} {As you can easily guess, the game was very
complicated prior to this moment. At first Baginskaite outplayed her young
opponent, but then Ashritha managed to muddy the waters and turn the tables.
She won a pawn and entered a complicated queen and pawn endgame. It was once
again Kamila Baginskaite who showed great understanding in the endgame. She
centralized her pieces to the maximum to get dangerous counterplay which led
to the posiiton on the diagram. It is White who starts the checks, but Black
is better co-ordinated. The main problem for Baginskaite was that she felt in
time trouble again.} 58. Qb2+ Kd3 $1 {Once again the best move.} ({Black can
draw after:} 58... Kd1 59. Qa1+ Ke2 60. Qe8+ Qe5+ 61. Qaxe5+ dxe5 62. Qxe5+ Kd1
63. Qxe1+ Kxe1 64. a5 b3 65. a6 b2 66. a7 b1=Q 67. a8=Q Qg6+ $11) 59. Qh7+ Qde4
60. Qb3+ {The culmination of the dramatic battle.} Kd4 {The most experienced
player blunders.} ({Both players missed that after:} 60... Qc3 $1 {The
seemingly deadly check:} 61. Qd1+ $2 ({White should instead play for a draw
with:} 61. Qxe4+ Kxe4+ 62. f3+ Kd4 $17) {would be answered with a counter-check
} 61... Kc4+ $1 {[%csl Rh7][%cal Rc3g3,Re4h7]}) 61. Qxe4+ Qxe4 (61... Kxe4 62.
Qe6+ {[%csl Re1,Re4][%cal Re6e1]}) 62. Qxb4+ {Here Baginskaite wanted to play
the move Kd4-d5 but instead took the queen by mistake. While the arbiter was
preparing to add two minutes on Ashritha's clock the frustrated Camilla
resigned explaining that she is just lost. Indeed, it is so. The cameras then
showed the frustrated Baginskaite analyzing the game on her own at the empty
hall, trying to fugure out what went wrong. Chess can be a cruel game.} 1-0

Sunday was a free day for the ladies tournament. It is Mother's Day in USA and women are celebrating. The long-time rivals Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih are co-leading after three rounds with 2.5/3.
The man tournament has a convincing leader. Alexander Lenderman shows great preparation and has achieved 3.5/4. The reigning champion Gata Kamsky have scored his first full point only on Sunday.
Unfortunately no player will be eligible for the Fischer price these year as all the players have lost points.


Ashritha's Interview

The USA championships starts today in Saint Louis. The youngest player in the event is my student Ashritha Eswaran.
A short interview with her was taken a couple of days ago for CBS: