Alex and Alex Still on Top Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
May 22, 2007
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Sergei Kudrin and Boris Gulko took on tourney leaders Alexander Onischuk and Alexander Shabalov today.

by Jennifer Shahade

In the penultimate round of the 2007 Frank Berry U.S. Championship (May 15-23, Stillwater, Oklahoma) Alex Shabalov and Alexander Onischuk drew against Boris Gulko and Sergey Kudrin. The Alexes still lead the pack with 6/8 going into the final round. They will trade opponents in the final round as Shabalov plays Kudrin with White, and Onischuk takes on Boris Gulko, also with White. I asked both Onischuk and Shabalov about the interesting idea posted by Greg Shahade of allowing duplicate pairings in such a long Swiss. The top scorers too often face off in the middle, resulting in somewhat anti-climactic final rounds. Shabalov loved the idea, perhaps because he wanted revenge against Onischuk, this time holding the white pieces. Onischuk didn't seem to understand the question, though he did express general disatisfaction with Swisses. If they both win, we will see a tiebreak match. In the case of a large tie for first (i.e- draws on boards one and two), only the top two advance to the tiebreak-at this point, Onischuk, Shabalov and Kaidanov lead on tiebreaks. It is nearly certain that both Alexes will try to avoid tiebreaks and play very hard for the clear win so be sure to watch the games live tomorrow,which begin at 1 PM EST.



Shabalov played aggressively against Gulko, winning the exchange for a pawn on move 22. However, Boris had plenty of compensation. After the game, Shabalov was frustrated to miss a chance to win with a better move order: 27...d3+! instead of 27...Rac8. Now 28.Kg2 Rc8 29.Nc8 is impossible due to the hanging knight on b7. 29...Rc3 was a cute possibility, but doesn't lead to much after 30.Ne4. So Shabalov just took the perpetual.

Kaidanov won a pretty attacking game against Ivanov on board three, putting him in striking distance of first place with 5.5/8 (together with Yury Shulman and Sergey Kudrin.)

Gregory Kaidanov-Alexander Ivanov


White to Move

Black just played 25...f6 and Kaidanov uncorked 26.h6! Black can't take either piece. In the game, Ivanov did take on e5, but resigned after Be7 Ne7 Rg7+Kh8 Qg5. Black can't stop all the threats, like Qe7 or Rh7+ Kh7 Qg7#. If Nf5, Qg6 mates. If fxg5, White smothers Black with h7+ Kh8 Ng6#.


Position after Ng6#



Organizer and tournament namesake Frank Berry reads a local Stillwater paper's coverage of the U.S. Championship.

Standings after 8 rounds

1-2. 6.0/8- Alexander Onischuk and Alexander Shabalov
3-5-5.5/8 Gregory Kaidanov, Sergey Kudrin and Yury Shulman
6-10- 5/8- Hikaru Nakamura, Jaan Ehlvest, Julio Becerra and Boris Gulko.

View crosstable.

Fantasy chess is heating up! A full report will more stats than ever will follow shortly. Also be sure to read about the exciting best U.S. Championship game prizes on chessninja's daily dirt.

Round 9 pairings

Bd White Player Name
Black Player Name
1 GM ALEX SHABALOV   GM SERGEY KUDRIN
2 GM ALEX ONISCHUK   GM BORIS GULKO
3 GM YURY SHULMAN   GM GREG KAIDANOV
4 GM HIKARU NAKAMURA   GM JULIO BECERRA
5 GM JAAN EHLVEST   GM ALEX STRIPUNSKY
6 GM ILDAR IBRAGIMOV   GM ALEX IVANOV
7 GM VARUZHAN AKOBIAN   IM ENRICO SEVILLANO
8 GM EUGENE PERELSHTEYN   GM MELIK KHACHIYAN
9 FM ROBERT HESS   GM ALEX YERMOLINSKY
10 FM MICHAEL LANGER   GM DMITRY GUREVICH
11 IM IRINA KRUSH   FM JOE BRADFORD
12 IM MICHAEL MULYAR   IM JOSHUA FRIEDEL
13 IM DAVID PRUESS   FM RAY ROBSON
14 IM JUSTIN SARKAR   IM BRYAN SMITH
15 WFM CHOUCH AIRAPETIAN   IM RON BURNETT
16 MICHAEL AIGNER   GM WALTER BROWNE
17 IM JAY BONIN   FM MOVSES MOVSISYAN
18 TOM BRAUNLICH   WFM IRYNA ZENYUK

 
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