Shabalov Wins Boston Chess Congress

Shabalov - usopen GM Alexander Shabalov at the 2015 US Open, Photo FM Mike Klein
The 4th Annual Boston Chess Congress was held January 8-10th at the Hyatt Hotel in Boston Massachusetts.  At the top of the crosstable, there was a true diversity of nationalities as 5 federations from three continenants made up the top 10 titled players.  Continuing the international flavor there was a true melting pot of national heritage among all players even the USA players.  The foreign contingent was led by English GM Luke Mcshane.  Rated over 2800 USCF, the smart money was on McShane to win the tournament.  However, just like 200 years ago, there was an upset in this historic city and the British did not win.  Mcshane actually lost in the first round to FM William Kelleher from Massachustetts.  Mcshane did win the rest of his games to tie for 2nd at 4-1. Also finishing in the tie at 4-1 were Canadian GM Eric Hansen, and GMs Eugene Perelshteyn and Alexander Ivanov.   At the top of the crosstable all alone is four time US Chess Champion Alexander Shabalov.  Born in Latvia, Shabavov has been a USA player since settling in Pittsburgh in 1992.  Shabalov started the tournament with 2 1/2 drawing Ivanov in round 3.  This set up a Sunday morning matchip where he faced the only perfect score and even though GM Perelshtyn was white and was leading by 1/2 point, Shabalov won and entered the last round as one of the four players at 3 1/2.  In the money round, GM Ivanov had white versus GM Hansen on board one and ended in a draw.  This enabled Shabalov to take clear first with his win over IM Steven Zierk.  Here is that decisive last round game.

[Event "Boston Chess Congress"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.01.10"]
[White "Shabalov, Alexander"]
[Black "Zierk, Steven"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "2622"]
[BlackElo "2581"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 g6 3. e3 Bg7 4. Nf3 O-O 5. Be2 d5 6. Nbd2 c5 7. c3 Qb6 8. Qb3
Qxb3 9. axb3 cxd4 10. exd4 Nc6 11. b4 Nh5 12. Be3 a5 13. O-O b6 14. b5 Na7 15.
Ne5 Nf6 16. b4 axb4 17. Nc6 Bg4 18. Nxe7+ Kh8 19. Bxg4 Nxg4 20. Nxd5 Nxb5 21.
Rxa8 Rxa8 22. cxb4 Nxd4 23. Nxb6 Rb8 24. Ndc4 Nxe3 25. fxe3 Nc2 26. Rxf7 Nxe3
27. Nxe3 Rxb6 28. Rd7 Rb8 29. Nd5 Rf8 30. g3 g5 31. Kg2 h5 32. b5 Bd4 33. Nf4
gxf4 34. Rxd4 fxg3 35. Kxg3 Kg7 36. b6 Rb8 37. Rb4 Kf6 38. b7 Ke5 39. Kh4 Kd6
40. Kxh5 1-0[/pgn]
The prizes were increased due to a good turnout.  The $12,000 prize fund was based on 220 entries, but there were 258 players and the prizes were increased accordingly. Shabalov won $1274 plus a $107 bonus for the first place finish.   The only 5-0 score in the tournament was in the Under 1300 section.  Subba Ayyagari was seeded 33rd of the 39 rated players in the section.  He was paired up all 5 rounds and won all 5 rounds!  The perfect score was worth $425. In all the other sections, 4 1/2 points either won or tied for first. In the Under 2100 section, WFM Martha Samadashvili started with a half point bye and then went 4-0.  She was joined in the winner's circle by Ryan Rust.  Each won $796. In the Under 1900 section, Botakoz Koshkarova finished with 4 1/2 for clear first. Continuing the international flavor of this tournament, Koshkarova is now living in Massachusetts but still lists Kazakstan as her host federation.  Her win was worth $1061. In the Under 1700 section, Uygar Polat from Turkey tied for first with Kevin Zimerman.  Kevin also started with a half point bye and went 4-0.  They each won $743. Elliott Wu won the Under 1500 section by winning his first 4 games and drawing the last round to secure first.  His efforts were worth $849. The first mixed doubles team was Koskkarova and Brian Dobosh.  They split the $849 first mixed doubles prize. The blitz tournament also had an increased prize fund as 22 players participated. Ilya Krasik and Michael Mahoney each scored 7-1 and won $82.50. The tournament was directed by Bob Messenger and Boyd Reed for the Continental Chess Association. Full details of this tournament can be found at  Archives of previous CCA events are at