Onischuk Nicks Tourney Leader
By Jennifer Shahade   
May 20, 2007
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Alexander Onischuk, just before the beginning of the sixth round. Photo Jennifer Shahade

by Jennifer Shahade

Going into round six of the U.S. Championship, Alexander Shabalov was a point and a half and a point ahead of the field, but defending champ Alexander Onischuk brought him down a notch on the white side of the Slav. Shabalov naturally placed great importance on his face-off against the defending champion, "If I pass him (Onischuk),nothing can stop me." Onischuk said he did not prepare for this opening , but was only vaguely aware of what to do after 11...Qa5. Consequently, he spent a lot of time on the opening.



The key move of the game, 17.b4! came to Alex as he played 15.Rd1. The key to b4 is that 17...Bxb4 is bad because of Nb5! Qb5 Rxc4+ Bc5 Rb1! (unlike Be3, immediately attacking the pinned piece, Rb1 prevents Qc6-c7, gaining Black tempi while threatening Qg2 and Qh2.) Qa5 Be3 and White is winning. Alex said that his first thought after c5 was to play a4, but that he'd once lost a knight for questionable compensation on b5 and didn't want to repeat the experience after b4 Nb5 a6. Both Alexes agreed after the game that 17...Qc7! ( instead of taking on b4 with either piece), attacking h2, was Shabalov's best chance.

 
Alex Shabalov, pacing during his intense sixth round game.

Irina Krush defeated Josh Friedel in a smooth Classical Sicilian capped by the nice technical move 33...Bd7!




IM Irina Krush, just before her sixth round game against IM Josh Friedel

Varuzhan Akobian had an interesting French defense against Walter Browne. In the post mordem, both GMs agreed that a3 was Walter's key mistake.




Walter Browne and Varuzhan Akobian prefer blindfold to aqua, pink and red analysis.


Round 7 Pairings

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


Standings after Round 6

1. 5.0- Alexander Shabalov
2-4.5- Alexander Onischuk
3-9- 4.0- Ildar Ibragimov, Jaan Ehlvest, Hikaru Nakamura, Yury Shulman, Julio Becerra, Sergey Kudrin and Alexander Ivanov

Click here for complete standings

Fantasy Chess Update by Arun Sharma

Two thirds through the tournament GM Alexander Onischuk finally saw fit to put an end to the amazing run by the behemoth that is GM Shabalov not only making the tourney standings much closer, but also creating a bit more variety amongst the top teams in our fantasy competition. Although GM Shabalov still commands a huge percentage of the top teams to bear his flag, it no longer seems certain that a team will have to contain him to emerge on the top. Gilberto Luna II who had an incredible 1.5 point lead yesterday still has managed to stay atop the standings, but this time with the narrowest of leads, and it should be clear that it's still almost anyone's game at this point. As we are now getting into the nitty gritty of this competition,we will now begin to show the top twenty teams rather than the top ten.

Standings by Points:

25 Points: 1st
24.5 Points: 2nd
24 Points: 3rd - 6th
23.5 Points: 7th - 20th
23 Points: 21st - 38th
22.5 Points: 39th - 62nd
22 Points: 63rd - 91st
21.5 Points: 92nd - 143rd
21 Points: 144th - 195th
20.5 Points: 196th - 244th
20 Points: 245th - 291st
19.5 Points: 292nd - 327th
19 Points: 328th - 353rd
18.5 Points: 354th - 364th
18 Points: 365th - 376th
17.5 Points: 377th - 381st
17 Points: 382nd - 383rd
16.5 Points: 384th - 385th
16 Points: 386th - 387th

1st: Gilberto Luna II (2504.2857) - 25 points

Alex Onischuk 4.5
Jaan Ehlvest 4
Alexander Shabalov 5
Julio Becerra 4
Ray Robson 2.5
Michael Langer 3
Irina Zenyuk 2

Tiebreaker 1: 35.5 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 119 Moves

2nd: Jeremy Madison (2508.2857) - 24.5 Points

Jaan Ehlvest 4
Alexander Shabalov 5
Sergey Kudrin 4
Irina Krush 3.5
Justin Sarkar 2.5
Ray Robson 2.5
Michael Langer 3

Tiebreaker 1: 42 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 128 Moves

3rd: Darrian Robinson (2506) - 24 Points

Alexander Shabalov 5
Eugene Perelshteyn 3.5
Julio Becerra 4
Alex Yermolinsky 3.5
Melikset Khachiyan 3.5
Ray Robson 2.5
Irina Zenyuk 2

Tiebreaker 1: 35.5 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 115 Moves

4th: Valicio Pahla (2508.4286) - 24 points

Hikaru Nakamura 4
Jaan Ehlvest 4
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3.5
Robert Hess 3
Ray Robson 2.5
Irina Zenyuk 2

Tiebreaker 1: 37 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 105 Moves

5th: James Dickson (2508.7143) - 24 Points

Alex Onischuk 4.5
Jaan Ehlvest 4
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3.5
Robert Hess 3
Justin Sarkar 2.5
Tom Braunlich 1.5

Tiebreaker 1: 39 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 113 Moves

6th: Ryan Miller (2509.1429) - 24 points

Alex Onischuk 4.5
Gregory Kaidanov 3.5
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3.5
Robert Hess 3
Ron Burnett 2.5
Irina Zenyuk 2

Tiebreaker 1: 45 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 95 Moves

7th: Olufemi Oyekan (2482.7143) - 23.5 Points

Alex Onischuk 4.5
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3.5
Justin Sarkar 2.5
Ron Burnett 2.5
Ray Robson 2.5
Michael Langer 3

Tiebreaker 1: 38.5 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 155 Moves

8th: Mel Romero (2491.7143) - 23.5 Points

Hikaru Nakamura 4
Alex Onischuk 4.5
Alexander Shabalov 5
Alex Ivanov 4
Ray Robson 2.5
Irina Zenyuk 2
Tom Braunlich 1.5

Tiebreaker 1: 35 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 90 Moves

9th: Makalo Krienko (2492) - 23.5 Points

Hikaru Nakamura 4
Alex Onischuk 4.5
Alexander Shabalov 5
Justin Sarkar 2.5
Ray Robson 2.5
Michael Langer 3
Irina Zenyuk 2

Tiebreaker 1: 40 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 120 Moves

10th: Norbert Albera (2502.5714) - 23.5 Points

Hikaru Nakamura 4
Alex Onischuk 4.5
Yury Shulman 4
Alexander Shabalov 5
Ray Robson 2.5
Chouchanik Airapetian 1.5
Irina Zenyuk 2

Tiebreaker 1: 35 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 120 Moves

11th - 12th: Irina Krush (2504.1429) - 23.5 points

Alex Onischuk 4.5
Jaan Ehlvest 4
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3.5
David Pruess 2
Ray Robson 2.5
Irina Zenyuk 2

Tiebreaker 1: 37 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 89 Moves

11th - 12th: Kevin Villarreal (2504.1429) - 23.5 points

Hikaru Nakamura 4
Alex Onischuk 4.5
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3.5
Jay Bonin 2
Ray Robson 2.5
Irina Zenyuk 2

Tiebreaker 1: 33 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 120 Moves

13th: Alex Chang (2506.2857) - 23.5 Points

Yury Shulman 4
Alexander Shabalov 5
Eugene Perelshteyn 3.5
Melikset Khachiyan 3.5
Irina Krush 3.5
Ron Burnett 2.5
Chouchanik Airapetian 1.5

Tiebreaker 1: 41 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 126 Moves

14th - 15th: Paul Smith (2506.5714) - 23.5 Points

Hikaru Nakamura 4
Alex Onischuk 4.5
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3.5
Ron Burnett 2.5
Ray Robson 2.5
Chouchanik Airapetian 1.5

Tiebreaker 1: 45 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 128 Moves

14th - 15th: Walter Carrara (2506.5714) - 23.5 points

Alex Onischuk 4.5
Alexander Shabalov 5
Alex Stripunsky 3
Alex Ivanov 4
Alex Yermolinsky 3.5
Irina Zenyuk 2
Tom Braunlich 1.5

Tiebreaker 1: 25 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 83 Moves

16th: Andrew Tichenor (2507.4286) - 23.5 Points

Hikaru Nakamura 4
Alex Onischuk 4.5
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3.5
Justin Sarkar 2.5
Ray Robson 2.5
Tom Braunlich 1.5

Tiebreaker 1: 33 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 98 Moves

17th: Ramie Jimenez (2508.2857) - 23.5 Points

Jaan Ehlvest 4
Yury Shulman 4
Julio Becerra 4
Irina Krush 3.5
Michael Mulyar 2.5
Ray Robson 2.5
Michael Langer 3

Tiebreaker 1: 46 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 72 Moves

18th: Joshua Mankey (2508.7143) - 23.5 Points

Hikaru Nakamura 4
Ildar Ibragimov 4
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3
Robert Hess 3
Ray Robson 2
Chouchanik Airapetian 1.5

Tiebreaker 1: 55 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 131 Moves

19th: Mikhail Sher (2509.7143) - 23.5 points

Ildar Ibragimov 4
Yury Shulman 4
Alexander Shabalov 5
Irina Krush 3.5
David Pruess 2
Robert Hess 3
Irina Zenyuk 2

Tiebreaker 1: 37 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 112 Moves

20th: Jasmine Fermin (2509.8571) - 23.5 Points

Hikaru Nakamura 4
Alex Onischuk 4.5
Yury Shulman 4
Alex Ivanov 4
Irina Krush 3.5
Irina Zenyuk 2
Tom Braunlich 1.5

Tiebreaker 1: 34 Points
Tiebreaker 2: 100 Moves

Keys to Success:

Alexander Shabalov 18
Irina Krush 15
Ray Robson 14
Alex Onischuk 13
Irina Zenyuk 12
Hikaru Nakamura 9
Jaan Ehlvest 6
Yury Shulman 5
Robert Hess 5
Justin Sarkar 5
Michael Langer 5
Tom Braunlich 5
Ron Burnett 4
Choucanik Airapetian 4
Alex Ivanov 3
Julio Becerra 3
Ildar Ibragimov 2
Eugene Perelshteyn 2
Alex Yermolinksy 2
Melikset Khachiyan 2
David Pruess 2
Gregory Kaidanov 1
Alex Stripunsky 1
Sergey Kudrin 1
Michael Mulyar 1
Boris Gulko 0
Varuzhan Akobian 0
Dmitry Gurevich 0
Enrico Sevillano 0
Josh Friedel 0
Walter Browne 0
Bryan Smith 0
Jay Bonin 0
Joe Bradford 0
Movses Movsisyan 0
Michael Aigner 0