US Champion Sam Shankland Wins Capablanca Memorial

Sam Shankland at the 2018 US Championships. Photo: Lennart Ootes
Just weeks after becoming the newly crowned US Champion, Sam Shankland won the 2018 Capablanca Memorial by a convincing 1.5 point margin. Shankland went undefeated and finished with +5. This victory brings Shankland to a new peak FIDE rating, 2717, and boosts him into the top 30 players in the world.
Shankland's victories throughout the tournament were based on excellent piece activity and precise calculation. Can you find how Shankland gained the advantage in this double-edged position against Lazaro Bruzon Batista?

Sam Shankland vs. Lazaro Bruzon Batista

White to move.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "Capablanca Memorial"]
[Site "Havana CUB"]
[Date "2018.05.16"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Samuel Shankland"]
[Black "Lazaro Bruzon Batista"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "D37"]
[WhiteElo "2671"]
[BlackElo "2664"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r3r1k1/p4pp1/1p5p/2pPn2B/2P1Nqb1/2Q1R3/P4PPP/4R1K1 w - - 0 26"]
[PlyCount "9"]
[EventDate "2018.05.08"]26. Nd6 $1 ({Also strong is} 26. Ng3 $1 f6 27. Bxe8 Rxe8 28. Re4 Qg5 29. f4)
26... Red8 ({If} 26... Bxh5 27. Nxe8 Rxe8 (27... f6 28. Re4 Qf5 29. f4 Ng6 30.
Qg3) 28. Rxe5) 27. Rxe5 ({In the game, Shankland went on to win with} 27. Qxe5
Qxe5 28. Bxf7+ Kf8 29. Rxe5 Rxd6 30. Be8 Bd7 31. Bxd7 Rxd7 32. a4 a6 33. Rb1
Rb8 34. g3 Rdb7 35. d6 Rd8 36. Rd5 Kf7 37. f4 Ke6 38. f5+ Kf6 39. Kf2 Rdb8 40.
Kf3) 27... Rxd6 28. g3 Qf3 (28... Qd4 29. Qxd4 cxd4 30. Bxg4) 29. Qxf3 Bxf3 30.
Bxf3 *[/pgn]
Between this win and his unexpected victory at the US Championship over the "Big Three" American players, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, and Hikaru Nakamura, Shankland has been on an incredible winning streak, gaining 46 rating points and rising 40 spots in the world rankings. What's next for this impressive American super-grandmaster?
  For more information on Sam Shankland, check out: Find GM Shankland's new book, Small Steps to Giant Improvement, on US Chess Sales. 
Vanessa West is a regular writer and digital assistant for US Chess News. She won the 2017 Chess Journalist of the Year award. You can follow her on Twitter: @Vanessa__West  

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