Shakmaty Bereolos - The Official Chess Site of Peter Bereolos

5/31/07 - Shabalov wins US Championship

Congratulations to Alexander Shabalov for winning his 4th US Championship. Shabalov looked to be running away with the tournament with a full point lead after a 5-0 start. However, defending champion Alexander Onischuck defeated Shabalov in Round 6 and caught up to him in Round 7 by beating top-seeded Hikaru Nakamura while Shabalov drew US Championship newcomer Jaan Ehlvest. There was no change to the standings in round 8 when Shabalov drew Gulko and Onischuk drew Kudrin. They swapped opponents in the final round and Shabalov defeated Kudrin while Gulko held Onischuk.

Obviously Shabalov was a great choice for my fantasy team. Alas, no one else stood out from the crowd. Gurevich, Pruess, and Burnett all finished with an even 4.5/9, while Krush, Friedel, and Sarkar were all at 4/9. This left me 3 points off of the winning pace. I think the big problem for my team was that they kept playing each other! A total of 6 games were contested among members of my team. If I could have recovered even half of those lost 6 points I could have gotten a prize.

I haven't had a chance to look at many of the games, but still intend to. Hopefully, it will be a source of material until the next US Championship

5/15/07 - 2007 US Championship

This year's US Championship starts this afternoon in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Championship had been run for the past several years by the America's Foundation for Chess, but as so often seems to happen, there was some sort of dispute and they pulled out as the sponsor earlier this year. Thankfully, organizer Frank K. Berry stepped in with a personal donation of $50000 to save the championship. I have to applaud Mr. Berry for this action. I don't think chess in the US can grow without headline events like the US Championship.

Most of the top US players are competing, but there are some notable exceptions. Gata Kamsky is playing in the M-Tel Masters supertournament in Bulgaria, while Yasser Seirawan and Susan Polgar are both in semi-retirement from tournament play. I'm not sure why Alexander Goldin and Joel Benjamin are not playing. I'll speculate that it was the confusing nature of qualification for this year's event caused by the AF4C. I can't remember a time Joel Benjamin was not in the Championship.

The tournament remains a 9-round Swiss, but the field has been reduced to 36 players from 64 of the past few years. I think this is a good change, making the field much stronger. While I am favor of giving opportunities, I think 64 was making our country's premier event a bit diluted with several non-competitive players. Also done away with was the Women's Championship. I think this is also a positive change. Using a Swiss to determine an overall champion has some disadvantages in terms of strength of opposition between two players. Trying to run a tournament within a tournament under a Swiss only further highlights that kind of problem.

It looks like the official site is at MonRoi although I haven't found anywhere yet that says that is "The Official" site. There has also been some coverage by Jennifer Shahade at US Chess Online including a Fantasy Chess contest, which I entered. This contest has simple rules: choose a 7-player team with an average rating less than 2510, the team with the highest total score wins. I went with a team composed mostly of young international masters. I felt these players play some very interesting chess and will be out to prove something in the Championship and hopefully gain some GM norms. These 4 make up the core of my team: Josh Freidel and David Pruess from the US Chess League Champion San Francisco Mechanics; Irina Krush, one of the best female players in the country; and Justin Sarkar. I also added two GMs from opposite ends of the spectrum, former champion Alex Shabalov who is capable of playing some absolutely spectacular chess when he is on his game and Dimitry Gurevich, a solid veteran GM who is still in search of his first US Championship. Finally, my team is rounded out by my Tennessee Tempo teammate Ron Burnett. While he doesn't have the youth of the other IMs on my team, I know he would like to get a GM norm just a much as they would. Good Luck Ron!

I'm not sure how much coverage I'll be able to provide of the early rounds as my schedule is a bit packed this week. But I'll try to get in a few highlights and catch up during the weekend.