12 May 2014

Commentary: 2014 U.S. Championship - Round 2

This game from round 2 of the ongoing U.S. Championship (Women's section) is one of the more interesting Hedgehog-type games I've seen.  The opening normally requires a good deal of maneuvering from both sides, with White enjoying a small space advantage early on, but Black being very solid and hard to make progress against.  While the English is a common way to reach this formation, it's also possible via the Sicilian, for example.

Black, the now-famous teenage player Ashritha Eswaran, I think erred in selecting to transpose into this opening against GM Irina Krush.  These types of positional battles are bound to favor the more experienced and prepared side, which in this case must be White.  Eswaran in fact goes astray with an innocuous looking move (15...a6) - something that is easy to do in the Hedgehog - that leads to a loss of a pawn, thanks to an overloaded queen and White's chance to reposition her pieces with tempo.  Krush then relentlessly applies pressure until her opponent cracks.  A valuable game to study, from both sides.

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