The FIDE world championship in San Luis, Argentina, overshadowed other chess events this month. It did not distract Alexander Shabalov from sharing first place with Ukrainian champion Alexander Areshchenko at the 14th Monarch Assurance International tournament in Port Erin on the British Isle of Man.

The former U.S. champion gets drawn away by other subjects. Mainly girls. He thinks about them at least half the time during his games. "You can tell if it's closer to fifty or seventy-five percent by the quality of the game. Fifty percent is great chess, seventy-five percent I can play okay, but where it is really dangerous is when it slips up to ninety percent," Shabalov is quoted by Jennifer Shahade in her unique study of women's chess champions, "Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport," recently issued by Siles Press.

Breaking the Blockade

Both Areshchenko and Shabalov scored seven points in nine games, but the American grandmaster won the trophy and the title of Manx Monarch on tiebreak. The 19-year-old Areshchenko is one of many talented Ukrainian teenagers. He loves to attack, but his win against Mikhail Kobalia, a solid Russian grandmaster and former analyst for Garry Kasparov, shows great maturity in preparing the assault. In the Scotch Opening, Areshchenko first destroyed black's blockade in the center, sacrificing one rook. He later offered his other rook for a powerful attack against the black king.


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 Qf6 6.c3 Nge7 7.g3 d5! (Black has to take action in the center quickly. Otherwise, white plays 8.Bg2 and takes the opportunity away.) 8.Bg2 Bxd4 (Black tries to avoid the variation 8...dxe4 9.Nb5!? Bxe3 10.Nxc7+ Kf8 11.0-0 Rb8 12.fxe3 Qe5 13.Qb3 f5 with theory concluding that "both sides stand terribly.") 9.cxd4 dxe4 (Black gave up his bishop pair to isolate white's d-pawn.) 10.Nc3 0-0 (The once-popular 10...Bf5 was lately successfully contested with the sharp 11.d5!?) 11.Nxe4 Qg6 12.0-0 Nb4 (The current Asian champion, Zhang Zhong of China, recently played 12...Rd8 but did not equalize.)

13.Nc5!? (The knight will tie up black's queenside. Meantime, white can develop his heavy pieces and begin to fight for the square d5. Previously, 13.Nc3 was played with a mixed success.) 13...Nbd5 14.Re1 c6 15.Rc1 Rb8 16.Qd2 Qd6?! (The queen comes to support the blockade on d5. After 16...Rd8 17.Bg5 f6 18.Bf4, the black queen is excluded from the queenside. Bringing out the bishop from c8 is also not easy; for example, after 16...Bf5 17.Bf4! Nxf4 18.Qxf4, the white pieces dominate on the dark squares.) 17.Bg5! (Provoking the weakening of the diagonal a2-g8.) 17...f6 18.Ne4 Qc7 (After 18...Qd8 19.Bf4 Ra8 20.Nc5 the black pieces are driven back.)

19.Nc3! ( The white knight circles around, challenging the blockade on d5 by using the pin on the c-file. One point is 19...Nxc3? 20.Bf4! and white wins.) 19...Qd6 (The queen walks onto a minefield and white's attack explodes. After 19...Qd8 20.Bf4 Nxf4 21.Qxf4 Bd7 22.d5 opening up the game is in white's favor. And after 19...fxg5 20.Nxd5 Nxd5 21.Bxd5+ Kh8 22.Qxg5 Qb6 23.Bb3 Qxd4 24.Qc5 white is better developed.)

20.Rxe7! (This exchange sacrifice breaks the blockade.) 20...Qxe7 (The only move. For example, after 20...Nxc3 21.Rxg7+! Kxg7 22.Bh6+ Kg8 23.Bxf8 Qxf8 24.bxc3 wins; or after 20...Nxe7 21.Bf4! decides; and after 20...fxg5 21.Nxd5 cxd5 22.Rcc7 wins.) 21.Nxd5 cxd5 22.Bxd5+ Kh8 (Forced, since after 22...Be6 23.Re1! fxg5 24.Rxe6 the black queen can't hide.) 23.Bf4 Ra8 24.Rc7 Qd8 25.Bg2 Re8 (After 25...g5? 26.Qc2! Bd7 27.Bxb7 is to white's favor.) 26.d5! (Marching this strong passed pawn is a prelude to a rook sacrifice.) 26...g5?! (Chasing the white rook from the seventh rank with 26...Re7 was preferable, although after 27.Rc1 white's d-pawn ties up black's pieces.)

27.Bxg5! (A stunning rook sacrifice, preserving winning chances. After 27.Qc2?! Re1+ 28.Bf1 Qxc7 29.Bxc7 Bh3 30.Qd3 Kg7 31.d6 Kf8 32.d7 Rxf1+ 33.Qxf1 Bxf1 34.Kxf1 Ke7 a draw is likely.) 27...Qxc7 (After 27...fxg5? 28.Qc3+ mates soon.) 28.Bxf6+ Kg8 29.Qg5+ Kf8 30.Qh6+ Kg8 31.Qg5+ Kf8 32.Bc3! (White continues to press against overwhelming odds: two rooks against a bishop. Of course, he still has a draw at hand.) 32...a5? (Black cracks under pressure, but he has only one narrow path to equalize: 32...Qe7! 33.Qh6+ Kg8 34.Be4! Bh3! 35.d6 Qf7! 36.Qg5+ Kf8 37.Qh6+ with a perpetual check.) 33.Qh6+ Kg8 34.Qg5+ Kf8 35.Qh6+ Kg8 (The previous repetitions of moves won time on the clock but ruined the natural flow of the game. This strange habit was often taught by former Soviet coaches.)

36.Qf6! (Finally going for it! White threatens mate in two or to win a queen.) 36...Re1+ 37.Bxe1 Qg7 (After 37...Ra6 38.Qg5+ Rg6 39.Qe3 is very uncomfortable for black.) 38.Qd8+ Qf8 39.Qg5+ Qg7 40.Qd8+ Qf8 41.Qh4 Qf5 42.Be4 Qg4? (A final blunder, but 42...Qd7 43.Bc3 Ra6 44.Bd3 b5 45.Qd4 is hopeless anyway.) 43.Qxh7+ (After 43...Kf8 44.Bg6 Qf3 45.d6 Qf6 46.Bc3 wins.) Black resigned.

Solution to today's study by A. Hildebrand (White:Ka8,Ba4,P:a5; Black:Kc8,Bb8,P:e6): 1.Bd7+! Kc7 2.Bxe6 Kc6 3.Bd7+! Kc7 4.Bb5 Kc8 5.Ba6+ Kc7 6.Bb7! wins.

White wins.