Shabalov on his Win over Hikaru
By Elizabeth Vicary and Jennifer Shahade   
April 7, 2007
Photo E.Vicary

Five rounds into the Foxwoods Open, Gata Kamsky, Jaan Ehlvest and Alexander Shabalov lead the crosstable with 4.5/5 each.

Alexander defeated Hikaru with the black pieces in round 5. "I have been waiting for this for two years," Alex said. The last time they faced off was in the 2005 Foxwoods Open. In addition to excellent form, Alex is bringing new facial hair to Foxwoods. When asked if he grew a mustache to look like Topalov, Alex responded: "Yeah, with a mustache, you start playing like Fritz."


Notes by Alexander Shabalov as told to Elizabeth Vicary

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Qc2 Nbd7 6.Nc3 Bd6 7.g4 h6 8.Rg1 He played Rg1 real fast. I hadn't looked at this line for a while.... His idea is if I take on c4, Bxc4, and if I played ...b5, I wasn't sure if Bxe6 is coming or not, so I decided not to take any chances.... that's why I played 8...Qe7... 8...Qe7
I wanted to see where we deviated from theory.... ah two morons played it before with Bf1....(Filgueira - Bosco Buenos Aires 1993). Let's just say we both didn't know anything.... we're both improvising. From a theoretical point of view, it's garbage. Like a theoretical line would be .... e5 maybe? What's this game ... Gelfand - Leko?!
9...dxc4 10.e4 e5 11.g5 Nh5 12.Bxc4 exd4 13.Nxd4 Nb6 14.Be2 Nf4 15.Be3 h5 16.0–0–0 g6 17.Kb1 Bd7 18.Qd2 Nxe2 19.Ndxe2 Be5 20.f4 Nc4 21.Qd3 Nxe3 22.Qxe3 Bc7 23.Qd4 Rf8 24.Rge1 Bb6 25.Qc4 Qe6 26.Qxe6+
Instead of this move, he should play Nd5. It's a piece sac, but the endgame after trading queens is slightly better for Black. If 26.Nd5 cxd5 27.exd5 Qf5+ 28.Ka1 Kd8 29.Nd4! White has positional compensation after 29...Bxd4 30.Qxd4 b6 31.d6
26...Bxe6 27.f5 Bd7 28.Nf4 Bc7 29.Nce2 Rg8 30.Nd3 b6 31.Nef4 0–0–0 32.b4 Kb7 33.a3 Bc8 34.Kc2 gxf5 35.e5 Rd4 36.Re3 Rgd8 37.Rh1 a5 38.bxa5 b5 39.Nxh5 f4 40.Ndxf4
Hikaru took with the wrong knight, but he had less than a minute. At the time, I felt I would be winning after Nhxf4; I felt the cross pins should be deadly, but Fritz shows a nice variation. 40.Nhxf4 Bf5 41.Rf1 c5 42.Kc1 I didn't see Kc1 during the game: it's a typical computer move. After we trade on d3, white will take on f7. Then fritz thinks it's even. Although, really, there's no such thing as equal in this position. 42...Bxd3 43.Rxd3 Rxd3 44.Nxd3 Rxd3 45.Rxf7
40...Bf5+ 41.Kb3 c5 42.Rc1 c4+ 43.Kb2 Bxa5 44.Ne2 Rd2+0–1
EV: So did you grow a mustache to look like Topalov?As: Yeah, with a mustache you start playing like Fritz.

After his second round draw with Justin Sarkar (who is having an excellent tournament, on four points including a win against Alexander Ivanov), Gata has been stringing his wins along. In round 5, he crushed IM Jesse Kraai's French defense:


Ehlvest's most important game to 4.5/5 was a clean Najdorf win against fellow GM Eugene Perelshteyn:


Ray Robson is just half a point out of first place, with four points. In round 2, he defeated Pavel Blatny:


In the third round, Robson lost his only point so far, to Eugene Perelshteyn. Eugene said, "He didn't play very aggressively in the opening and I got an advantage,"adding jokingly, "Children can't play endgames."


The game of the tournament so far was the round five down and dirty slugfest between GM Zviad Izoria and Yury Shulman. If all draws were like this, I'm sure organizers would just say: "bring it on!"


Stay tuned for more Foxwoods updates this weekend. Check out for live games and the Foxwoods Open homepagefor updated standings and games.