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Three GMs on top after 7 rounds Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
August 12, 2006
Sears Tower and the largest concrete building in America. Who will emerge on top in the U.S. Open? Photo JS

The seventh round was the most exciting so far in the Open. Alexander Shabalov thrilled crowds watching both live and on the internet, with a sacrificial gem against Georgian GM Giorgi Kacheishvili. Meanwhile, on board one Joel Benjamin declined a draw and fought toward the win against slightly higher rated GM Gregory Kaidanov. Shulman defeated IM Alfonso Almeida to join Joel and Alex with 6.5/7.

Standings after 7 rounds

6.5/7- GM Alexander Shabalov, GM Yuri Shulman and GM Joel Benjamin

6/7-GM Zviad Izoria, IM Emilio Cordova, GM John Fedorowicz, IM Angelo Young, IM Justin Sarkar, IM Timothy Taylor, Joel Banawa and Michael Aigner.

View complete standings after Round 7

Sacrificial crunch

GM Alexander Shabalov won a thrilling game against GM Georgi Kacheishvili. Enjoy the fireworks:


GM Alexander Shabalov's sacrificial style was on full display in round 7.

New Joel on fire!


GM Joel Benjamin sacrificed a pawn for a kingside attack in a Ruy Lopez. He had a chance to force a draw with 27.Qf3 Qd8 Qh3 Qh8 Qf3 etc, when Gregory cannot reasonably deviate. "The old Joel might go for the draw." Instead, he played on. One interesting line that Joel pointed out was after 32.Rxh8, when Gregory had a chance to play a misguided in between move, 32...Qe1? After 33.Bd1 Nf2, Black looks strong, until you notice the crushing defensive distraction sacrifice 34.Rh1! After 34...Qxh1 35.Qxe3 or 34...Nxh1 35.Nxd7, the party is over for Black. Gregory, an excellent calculator saw this, but unfortunately for him, Joel soon forced what to the non master eye, might seem like a slightly better endgame with bishop vs. knight. In fact, the ending is totally winning for White. The bishop is just too strong, being able to simultaneously support its own pawn's advances while blocking it's opponents.

"Games like that remind me that I like bishops too!" Joel said. Joel's never been as bishop-crazy as many GMs are; he even championed the Two Knights Tango, which gives up two bishops right off the bat.

Meanwhile, Yuri Shulman defeated IM Alfonso Almeida, to join Joel and Alexander at the top of the Open, with 6.5/7. Things definitely got interesting with Round 7, so stay tuned for the last two rounds!