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US Championship 2007 - Michael Aigner blog

Michael Aigner, better known as fpawn on ICC

Posted by Michael Aigner at Friday, May 18, 2007

After yesterday’s lengthy column, today’s blog entry will be shorter.  Your writer is disappointed with himself for blundering away a first a winning opening and then a drawn endgame against FM Michael Langer.  While I give credit to my opponent for finding resourceful moves in a difficult position, if I had found 22… Rc5! 23.c4 Bf7! 24.Qh3 (forced because Qxf5 loses to Bxd5) Qg5 it would have been a whole different story.  The opposite bishops endgame was drawn, but thanks to the presence of queens, I was able to snatch defeat with 60… Qg5 just when draw was imminent after Qxh5.  Apparently the chess gods decided that it was time for me to give back the half point that I had swindled from FM Robert Hess in the previous round.

The pairings for round 4 were not kind to me, as I get my third black in four rounds against IM Michael Mulyar.  I am sure that he will be hungry for a win after getting “krushed” by IM Irina Krush yesterday in a spectacular hail of tactics.  On the other hand, I need any sort of points that I can get just to rekindle my confidence after yesterday’s difficult loss.

At the top of the standings, GM Alexander Shabalov leads the tournament with the only perfect 3-0 score.  As a protege of former world champion Mikhail Tal, Shabalov plays with an aggressive style that must surely please tournament sponsors Frank and Jim Berry.  Certainly GM Ildar Ibragimov’s unusual line in the Winawer French was no match for Shabalov’s attack in round 3.

The chase group at 2.5 out of three consists of the top four rated players in the Championship: Grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Onischuk, Gregory Kaidanov and Jaan Ehlvest.  The main favorites square off today in a wild west shootout as the round 4 pairings are Nakamura-Shabalov and Kaidanov-Onischuk.  Stay tuned to ICC and the MonRoi site for what should be an exciting day of chess.

A sign along the highway announces the US Chess Championship to travellers
A sign along the highway announces the US Chess Championship to travellers.

You can watch five games each day live on ICC (click on the links in the Events list under the Window menu in BlitzIn or in the Activities window in Dasher).  ChessFM will offer audio commentary by IM John Watson live from Stillwater.  Finally, don’t forget to check out the many photos on the MonRoi website.

A few additional notes:

  • I forgot to mention yesterday that the new digital clocks have arrived and were used for rounds 2 and 3.  The time control is G/150 with an increment of 30 seconds per move.
  • The blitz championship tonight is open to the public and I intend to play.
  • Members of the Executive Board and USCF staff will arrive today for a Board meeting on Saturday and Sunday.  This is the final meeting before the USCF elections next month.
The USCF announced that Frank and Jim Berry will host a $25,000 US Women’s Championship in Stillwater in July.  Ten top ranked women will compete in a 10-player round-robin for the national championship.

The fpawn sits in front of the fountain inside the hotel atrium.
Tournament sponsor Frank Berry (right) poses with brother Jim.
(photo courtesy of MonRoi)

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