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Happy Campers

[imagefield_assist|fid=6708|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=200]Hi everyone! I have not blogged in a while. The U.S. Junior Championship and U.S. Women's Championship tournaments were quite exciting, and Jennifer and I had a lot of fun commentating on the games. Congrats to Shankland and Krush, who both qualify for the 2011 U.S. Championship.

Currently, I am teaching at an advanced chess camp for Missouri's best junior players. We have six strong players this week: Kevin Cao, Nick Karlow, Isaiah Gadson, Spencer Finegold, William Tong and Jialin Ding. The camp has been fun and informative. Hopefully, we can run a similar camp next Summer and get 8-10 top juniors.

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Chess Boy Scouts Merit Badge announced in Saint Louis

[imagefield_assist|fid=6705|preset=frontpage_200x200|title=|desc=|link=none|origsize=|align=left|width=200|height=200]Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, who founded the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis with her husband Rex Sinquefield made a special announcement at the closing ceremony of the 2010 U.S. Women’s Championship, held at the the Saint Louis University John Cook School of business. Dr. Sinquefield, who has supported and volunteered for the Boy Scouts for more than 20 years, announced that the Boy Scouts of America just approved Chess as the next Merit Badge for development.

Boys Scouts earn Merit Badges in more than 100 areas from camping to coin collecting.

A Chess Merit Badge would show that the recipient has attained a specified level of knowledge of the game of Chess. This merit badge would focus on the benefits that chess can bring, as this sample from the proposal shows.

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A Perfect Storm

IM Sam Shankland had an atrocious first two rounds at the Junior Closed Championship. After announcing his early retirement from chess before coming to the Junior Closed, Shankland appeared listless as lower-rated opponents made quick work of him in rounds one and two. 

Then, after scoring a win against FM John Bryant in round three, Shankland appeared more relaxed, and was even able to crack a few jokes in his post-mortem analysis with GM Ben Finegold and WGM Jen Shahade. Shankland went on a tear to close out the Junior Closed, scoring six points out of his final seven games.

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Krush Crowned; Three-way tie atop Juniors

By Mike Wilmering

ST. LOUIS, July 19, 2010 -- After an IM Anna Zatonskih draw in round nine, IM Irina Krush won a wild one against WFM Abby Marshall to clinch the 2010 U.S. Women's Championship title with a score of 8/9. This is her third U.S. Women’s Championship title, and her first since 2007.

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Krush, Zatonskih even; Zhao half-point behind Robson

[imagefield_assist|fid=6613|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=200]By Mike Wilmering

SAINT LOUIS, July 18, 2010--Heading into the final round of the 2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, FM Parker Zhao is just a half point behind tourney favorite and defending champion GM Ray Robson, who has a score of 6/8.

In the U.S. Women’s Championship, IM Irina Krush scored a crushing victory over WIM Irina Zenyuk, and a long, hard-fought draw between WFM Tatev Abrahamyan and IM Anna Zatonskih created a two-way-tie for first between Krush and Zatonskih, each with 7/8.

Robson reached into his bag of tricks once again in round eight. After playing the King’s Indian for the first time in more than five years in round seven, Robson started with d4 against FM Darwin Yang, an opening he rarely employs.

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Krushing the King’s Indian

[imagefield_assist|fid=6525|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=200]By Mike Wilmering and Katie Baldetti

SAINT LOUIS, July 17, 2010 -- Round seven featured a crucial match-up between IM Irina Krush and WIM Alisa Melekhina.

Krush, who started the day a half-point behind IM Anna Zatonskih, needed a win with White to keep pace with the “struggling” Zatonskih, who said she hasn’t been playing to her potential this tournament but maintained a score of 5.5/6 coming into today’s round.

Melekhina employed a King’s Indian defense, which created a complicated, double-edged position as she stormed Krush’s kingside.

Krush deviated from the main lines with 14.Nb5, rather than the more normal c5 or b4 in that position, a possible product of her extensive preparation against the King’s Indian.

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A new place on the chess continuum

[imagefield_assist|fid=6470|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=200]By Andi Rosen

Our state chess association recently asked my husband to write an article for the scholastic area of its website on something he refers to as the “chess continuum”---the various points where chess-playing kids might find themselves playing the game, and the time, commitment and expense their families might expect at the various points along the line.

Since our son started out as an 8-year-old player taking a casual park district class and has progressed along the ranks to national master, we thought we’d traveled every road, and if you’re reading this, chances are you have too. From playing at the kitchen table after dinner to all-day scholastic events to planning every major holiday weekend and bit of vacation time to revolve around chess tournaments, and developing Vitamin D deficiencies as the result of having spent countless weekends in hotel basements, we thought we’d traveled every path.

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Action heats up in Saint Louis Championships

By Chris Bird and Katie Baldetti

SAINT LOUIS, July 15, 2010 - Round 6 saw the battle for both the U.S. Women’s and Junior Closed Championships really start to heat up, keeping pace with the blistering temperatures that are currently hitting the Saint Louis area.

In the Women’s Championship, IM Anna Zatonskih managed to stay just a half-point ahead of IM Irina Krush and WFM Tatev Abrahamyan as they all won their respective games. With only three rounds remaining, and their nearest rivals 1½ points behind, it is now clear that the eventual Champion will be one of these players.

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Zhao and Zatonskih bring their A-Game

[imagefield_assist|fid=6075|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=200]By Katie Baldetti and Mike Wilmering

Four Zs squared off in pivotal match-ups today in Saint Louis. Two of them brought their A-game.

IM Anna Zatonskih topped WIM Iryna Zenyuk and NM Parker Zhao outlasted FM Steven Zierk in round-five action.

Zhao earned a full point yet again, pushing his score to 4.5/5 at the 2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, while Zatonskih also bumped her score up to 4.5/5 to take sole possession of first in the Women’s event.

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Zhao takes over lead at Junior Closed, Zatonskih and Krush win

[imagefield_assist|fid=6000|preset=frontpage_200x200|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=240|height=240]By Mike Wilmering

The two highest-ranked players coming into the 2010 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, GM Ray Robson and IM Sam Shankland, faced off today in round four. The game, a typical Caro-Kann in which Shankland castled kingside with Black, was hard fought but ended in a draw after 31 moves.

After the draw, Robson is in a three-way tie for second place with a score of 3/4. A victory today by FM Darwin Yang over tourney-leader FM Warren Harper gives them each 3/4 as well. Shankland’s 1.5/4 puts him in a sixth-place tie with NM Eric Rosen.

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