Shabalov Wins Eastern Chess Congress

GM Alexander Shabalov scored 4 ½ out of 5 and took clear first at the 20th Eastern Chess Congress held at the Dolce Hotel in Basking Ridge, NJ from October 29-31.  Shabalov played three GMs scoring 2 ½ out of 3 in those games and having a tournament performance of 2830!  He started the three day schedule on board one and remained there throughout the weekend and was in clear first after rounds 3, 4, and 5.  Shabalov was the top seeded player and enroute to his victory he defeated second seeded GM Alexander Stripunsky, drew with third seeded GM Joel Benjamin, and defeated fourth seeded GM Mark Paragua.  Shabalov won the $2000 first prize and the $100 bonus for clear first.

Here is Shabalov’s fourth round victory over GM Stripunsky:

Tying for second at 4-1 were GMs Joel Benjamin and Alex Fishbein and IM John Burke.  Each finished with 3 wins and 2 draws.  The second place tie was worth $600.  FMs Sahil Sinha and Boris Privman finished with 3 ½ and each won $600 for splitting the Under 2300 prize.

This year the tournament had a $100 brilliancy prize.  The prize was donated by past USCF President Steve Doyle.  There were several contenders for the prize.

The two co-champions of the Under 2100 section each submitted a game for consideration for the brilliancy prize.  Both games would have been good choices.

In round five Harold Scott defeated David Hauge in an exciting game. After barely making time control with seconds to spare, Hauge sacs a pawn to continue his attack.  Scott defends well and presses his decisive advantage.  However, on move 51, he allowed two much counterplay and Hauge could have drawn with a perpetual check.  But with two minutes on his clock in sudden death in a very complicated position Hauge went for the wrong line.  Here, Scott annotates the game:

The other co-champion was Simon Thomson.  In round three he defeated Nikita Panasenko with a Tal like sacrifice.  It is not clear that 29. Bc5 wins, but it is an amazing move.  Here is the game.

Scott and Hauge each scored 4 ½ out of 5 and won $1050.

Randall Frank finished with 3 out of 5 in the Under 1700 section. Only a last round loss kept him out of the money.  In round 3, he sacrifices a piece for a nice attack.

There was also a nice finish in the following game.  Fireman is wining due to the attack and extra pawn.  Can you find the move that brings home the point?

Fireman vs. Misha

White to move.

All of the above games were considered for the brilliancy, but the winner is Peter Korzeb for his win over Abhimanyu Mishra.  Korzeb sacrifices a queen for mate.  Declining the sacrifice leaves black down a piece with no compensation.

The mixed doubles competition was an exciting finish with many familiar faces in the race.  There were 20 mixed doubles teams competing and in the end, WIM Jennifer Yu and Augusto Gutierrez tied with Stephanie Ballom and Peter Giannatos.  Both teams finished with 7 ½ and each team won $600.  The amazing result was the team of Adia Onyango and David Hauge who tied for third with 6 ½.  After 3 rounds, both Onyango and Hauge were 3-0 and leading both the mixed doubles by a full point and were on board 1 of their respective sections.  It looked like they were cruising for the mixed doubles prize and would finish with a top prize in their section.  Collectively they managed ½ in the final two rounds and tying for third mixed double had to be a major disappointment.  Even though this did not end as well as they would have liked, both Onyango and Hauge have enjoyed much tournament success in the past and I am sure they will do so again in the future.

The section winners were:

Under 2100

Harold Scott & Simon Thomson, 4 ½ –  ½   $1050

Under 1900

Michael Laverty, 4 ½ – ½ $1400

Under 1700

Albert Ye Yao, 5-0, $1300

Under 1500

Daniel Shen, 4 ½ –  ½ $1200

Under 1300

Danny Hoffman, 5-0, $1000

Under 1000

Dylan Clark, 4 ½ – ½, $500

Mixed Doubles

WIM Jennifer Yu & Augusto Gutierrez and Stephanie Ballom & Peter Giannatos, 7 ½ – ½ $600 each team

Blitz Tournament

FM Anthony Renna, 7 -1 $85

NTD Steve Immitt directed for Continental Chess Association assisted by David Hater and Jabari McGreen.   

Full tournament details including some games can be found at www.easternchesscongress.com.

Previous Continental Chess tournaments can be found at the Continental Chess website.

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