Thursday, May 24, 2007

Congratulations Alex Shabalov

Alex Shabalov, just after Sergey Kudrin resigned and congratulated Shabalov on his tournament victory. Photo courtesy of the USCF site.

Alex Shabalov won his last game yesterday while Alex Onischuk drew to win the 2007 Frank K. Berry U.S. Chess Championship outright. You can read a full article about the last round at the USCF site.

Alex Shabalov is a true gentleman and was easily one of the most approachable players in the tournament. After the awards ceremony yesterday, a throng of the players, organizers and myself went out to Red Lobster (a restaurant managed by a chess master) to eat and celebrate the tournament's end. Frank Berry, for whom this year's tournament was eponymously named, paid for everyone's meal (although he did recommend -- hint, hint -- that everyone leave a $5 tip for the waitresses). Alex Shabalov left a $100 tip. He was feeling generous after winning the big prize, I guess.

On another note, there is some talk of making Stillwater, Oklahoma, the new Lone Pine of chess tournaments. For the uninitiated, Lone Pine, California, is "a small, friendly town half-way between America's lowest point at Death Valley and its highest at Mt. Whitney," according to Jerry Hanken as he wrote it back in 1976. Lone Pine hosted the annual Louis B. Statham International Tournament, commonly referred to simply as the Lone Pine chess tournaments. It was a place where the top players of the world used to always come and play in some of the strongest Swiss-system competitions every year.

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