11 May 2013

Commentary - 2013 U.S. Championships, Round 6

In round 6 the last perfect score in the championships dropped, as the women's leader Irina Krush was held to a draw as Black by Sabina Foisor.  For me the most relevant game was Baginskaite-Zatonskih, another Modern Stonewall reached via the Slav move-order along the lines of Zatonskih's round 2 game.

In this game, Baginskaite seems better prepared in general against the Stonewall and must have had some expectation that Zatonskih would go into this line again.  Black nevertheless equalizes easily and holds at least some initiative throughout the game, although White manages to cleverly avoid some lurking Black threats in the early middlegame.  The inflection point of the game occurs on move 26 after a lengthy tactical sequence, where Black reveals a back-rank mate threat that prevents a White pawn recapture and gives her a lasting material advantage.  Black's road to the victory is still quite difficult, however, and White for a long time succeeds in placing various obstacles in her opponent's way.

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