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  GM Alexander Shabalov  
 ... is the 2007 U.S. Champion.  

GM Alexander Shabalov won the title ... for the fourth time. 

Shabalov started with a blistering 5-0 pace. Then a loss to Onischuk, (last year's winner - in round six); could have been a death knell for this exciting player. (In years past, he has not always responded well to a loss, he even admitted this in several interviews.) However two well-played draws and a win against GM Sergey Kudrin; (in the last round); gave him the title and clear first in this tournament.  

The official site.   The USCF Report.  The ChessBase report.   The final TWIC report
A NY Times blog article.   The USCF cross-table for this event.   

Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols that I commonly use when I annotate any chess game. 

Click  HERE  to replay this game  ...  on another server.  

  GM A. Shabalov (2606) - GM S. Kudrin (2556);  
  The 2007 U.S. Championship Tournament (ch-USA)  
  Stillwater, OK (USA, Round #9), 23.05.2007.  

shaba01_medal.gif, 02 KB

  [A.J. Goldsby I]  

The decisive game of the U.S. Championships, and the one that gave Shabalov the title. 

 1.e4 c5;  2.Nf3 Nc6;  3.Bb5,  
The system of play popularized by GM Nicolas Rossolimo
(Most of the time, masters will normally play 3.d2-d4 here, which normally leads to the "Open Sicilian.") 

See my "Game of The Month" column for January, 2004 ... 
for a fair look at the opening system that is used in this game. 


3 ...d6;  
This transposes into a slightly inferior version of the Moscow Variation. 
(1.e4, c5; 2.Nf3, d6; 3.Bb5+, etc.)  

It is common - at the master level, anyway - for Black to fianchetto his KB. (I.e., 3...g6.) 

     [ Probably better was:  3...g6;  4.0-0 Bg7;  5.c3 Nf6;  6.Re1 0-0;  7.d4 cxd4;   
       8.cxd4 d5;  9.e5 Ne4;  10.Nc3 Nxc3;  11.bxc3, "~"  with White owning just   
       a fuzz more terrain than his opponent.  (Maybe - "+/=")  

       A good example of this position would be:   
       GM Zbynek Hracek (2615) - GM Luke McShane (2497); [B31]  
       Bundesliga (9899), Germany; (9.1) / 31,01,1999. 
       {White won a nice game, 1-0 in 36 total moves.}   

       [ See also MCO-14, page # 353; column # 01 and all notes as well.] ]   


 4.0-0 Bd7;  5.Re1 a6;  6.Bf1,  (Maybe - '!')    
This is very profound, and leads to a complex position where - for the most part - tactics take a back seat to strategy and positional play. (White could have also played 6.Bxc6 and 7.d4, with a nice edge.) 


This is the 'book' move here ... but I am not crazy about it. (I think it would be better to try 
and play 6...Nf6, fianchetto my KB, and then try to get some development.)   


 7.h3 Bxf3;  
Black decides to exchange off the Bishop, I might have preferred to play 7...Bh5.   

     [ The alternative was:   
       7...Bh5;  8.c3 Nf6;  9.d3 e6;  10.Nbd2 Be7;  11.g4 Bg6;  12.Nh4 Nd7;    
       13.Ng2 e5;  14.Nf3 h5!?;  15.g5 Nf8;  16.Ngh4 Qd7;  17.d4, "+/="   
       with a solid edge for White.   

       GM Andrei Sokolov (2568) - GM Stelios Halkias (2494); [B51]   
       The 2nd European Champ. (EU-ch) / Ohrid, Macedonia (R9) / 2001.   
        {White won a long game, 1-0 in 56 moves.}  {Search for this game.}  ]   


 8.Qxf3 g6;  9.c3 Bg7;  10.Na3 Nf6;  11.Nc2 Nd7;  12.Rb1 Qb6;  13.b3 0-0;   
The opening is over, White has a small (but distinct) advantage. The only question is, "How does White convert this into something a little more tangible?"   


 14.Bb2 Rac8;  15.Qd1 Rfe8;  16.d4 cxd4;  17.cxd4 Nf8;    
This looks OK, (if a little slow); but perhaps Black should be angling for ...d6-d5? (Say 17...e6; and 18...d5.) Or perhaps even 17...d5 immediately for Black?   

     [ Possibly better was:  17...d5!?; 18.exd5!?, "+/="  18...Nb4;  and it looks 
       like Black should soon regain his Pawn ... with a fairly playable position. ]  


18.Qd2 Na7!?;  Hmmm
This looks inferior, maybe 18...Qa5 would have been a better idea for Black.  


 19.Ne3 Nb5;  20.Rbd1 Ne6;  21.Nc4 Qa7;  22.d5,    
Black has succeeded in forcing White into pushing his QP. (He has also managed to  substantially increase White's advantage.)   


 22...Nf8!?;  (Maybe - '?!' or even '?') 
This looks too passive, the c5-square looked much better.   


 23.Bxg7 Kxg7;  24.a4 Nc7;  25.a5,   
White locks down Black's Q-side Pawns. Also good for White was 25.Be2, "+/="  perhaps with the idea of heading for g4. 


Black wanted to prevent White from playing e5 anytime soon, however this move only creates more holes in Black's pawn-wall. (Better was 25...Nd7 instead.) 


 26.Kh1 Na8;  27.f4 Qb8!?;  28.e5,   
White is intent on tearing holes in Black's Pawn structure, perhaps sensing that the BK is weak. 

shaba_07-usch1.gif, 07 KB

  nqr1rn2/1p2p1kp/p2p1pp1/P2PP3/2N2P2/1P5P/3Q2P1/3RRB1K b  


The critical position has been reached. 

     [ The box likes: 28.Qd4, "+/"  in this position for White. ]  


Now Black allows his Pawns to become corrupted and also gives White an outpost on e6.  
(Better was 28...d6xe5; to be followed by 29...b7-b5.) 


Now White wins at least a Pawn. 
 29.exd6 exd6;  30.Re6 Nc5;  31.Nxd6! Nxe6;  32.Nxe8+ Rxe8;  33.dxe6 Re7;   
This looks forced. (Of course not </= 33...RxP/e6??; because of  34.Qd7+.)   


 34.Qb4 Qe8;  35.Bc4 Nc7;  36.Re1! Nb5;   
Black is doing the best that he can, but his position is horrible right now.   

     [ Not </= 36...Nxe6??;  as  37.Qd6,  "+/-"  wins a piece for White. ]  


 37.Qc5 h5!?;  38.f5! gxf5;  39.Bxb5! axb5;  
This is forced, taking with the BQ is simply met by 40.QxR/e7.   


 40.Qxf5 Qg6;  41.Qxb5 Qg3;  42.Qe2,   
This is good, the box liked the play of 42.Re4 instead.  


 42...Qxb3;  43.Qxh5 Qg3;  ('?')   
A mistake, but one that comes in a position that is completely lost for Black.  


 44.Re4,  "+/-"   Black Resigned.    
A wonderful game by Shabalov, who played strong and logical chess from the first move until the very last. 


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2007. All rights reserved.  


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Click  HERE  to see another Shabalov game from the 2003 U.S. Championship. 

The analysis for this page was prepared with the excellent programChessBase 9.0. 

The HTML was polished with several different tools and programs, (mostly FP)  ...  the text was checked for spelling with MS Word.  

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This page was first generated in: July, 2007.  (Posted on: Monday; July 9th, 2007.)   This game was last edited, altered or saved on:  April 14, 2014 11:19 AM

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