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Shabalov Extinguished

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If Alexander Shabalov was a raging fire for the first five rounds, defending US champion Alexander Onischuk was a big bucket of ice water today. This hot Alex on Alex action went in favor of the Alex with the white pieces in a typically sharp, all-or-nothing Botvinnik Semi-Slav. Shabalov, ever the maximalist, must have figured the only thing better than +5 is +6! Instead he crashed to a brutal 26-move loss to the highly motivated defending champ. Ehlvest came very close to beating Nakamura's new weapon, the Dragon. 43.Ka4 c3+ 44.b4 looks like the St. George variation. Had Shabalov survived this round with a draw it would have been almost impossible for anyone to catch his +5 score in the final three rounds. He's still in clear first place with 5/6, but now the pack has moved up on him and another loss would turn the race into a mad scramble for the $12,000 first prize.

Onischuk is now at 4.5 in clear second and there are seven GMs right behind with four points. In the 7th round Shabalov faces Jaan Ehlvest. The 2005 and 2006 champions face off in Nakamura-Onischuk, which was a tremendous battle at last year's championship in San Diego. If there is a tie for first the top two players on formula tiebreaks play rapid games for the title, but the prize money is divided equally. The top five finishers qualify for the FIDE World Cup, the first stage of the world championship cycle. Official site. Chess Life Online promises on-site reports, fpawn's blog, new 'Gambit' New York Times chess blog (!) by Dylan Loeb McClain.


It seems the "all-or-nothing" Botvinnik Semi-Slav has been played a few times already in the US Championship. Another exciting game from this variation is Zenyuk - Robson which ended 0-1 in round 6.

Yes, the Botvinnik has been pretty popular in this Championship. Two other sharp opening that have made frequent appearances on the lower boards are the Benoni and Benko.

Awesome. Shabalov-Ehlvest is that incredible triple pawn sac Najdorf line we saw Anand win twice at Corus. If that's a draw I'll eat my lunch.

Draw by 3 move repetition. I didn't see that coming.

So what is for lunch Mig? :)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 20, 2007 11:31 PM.

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