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Krush, who claimed her fifth national title with an 8-1 score, may have clinched things in her tense win over Zatonskih, who in the end would finish in second, a half-point behind. Their game proved to be a five-act opera, a classic King’s Indian battle where White’s queenside attack is countered by Black’s mating rush on the kingside.

The first pitched battle subsides after 23. Kh1 Nh7 24. Bb4?! (better might have been 24. Qe2 b5 25. Ba5 Qg5 26. Nb6 Rd8 27. Nb4) Qf6 25. Rc2 Ng5 26. Rfc1 Rg7 27. Nb6 Re8 28. Rc7, when White’s rooks arrive just in time to defang Black’s attack on the g-file.

After the rooks come off, the players probe for advantage in the queen-and-minor piece ending, with Krush scoring a major point by forcing the White bishop to the unproductive a5 square. With the more active pieces, Black tries one more time for a breakthrough and this time succeeds: 50. Qg1+ Ng4!? (also worth looking at was 50…Kh6 51. Qf2 Nxe4 52. fxe4 Qxe4+ 53. Kg1 Qxd5) 51. fxg4? (losing, as White’s cornered king will cost her; Zatonskih had to try 51. Ng2! Kf6 [Qe2 52. Nh4+ Kf6 53. Bd8+ Kf7 54.Bb6 Ke8 55. Ba7 Kd7 56. Bb6 Ke7 57. Nf5+ Kf8 58. Nh4 and Black still must figure out how to break through] 52. Nh4 Qc2 53. Bd8+ Kf7 54. Bb6 Qe2 55. Ba7, and White holds) Qxe4+ 52. Ng2 hxg4 53. Qf2 (Black threatened 53…f3 54. Nh4+ Kh5 55. Qf2 Qxd5 56. Bd8 Qd1+ 57. Qg1 Bg2+ 58. Nxg2 fxg2+ 59. Kxg2 Qf3 mate) Qxd5 (with three pawns for the piece and White’s king in a box, Black is winning) 54. Qc2+ Kg7 55. Bc7 f3 56. Kg1 (Ne3 f2+ 57. Nxd5 f1=Q mate) Bxg2 57. Kf2 Qd4+ Kg3 Qf4+ 59. Kf2 Qxh2 60. Qf5 Bh3+, and White resigned facing 61. Ke3 (or 61. Ke1) Qe2 mate.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@washingtontimes.com.