2003 US Chess Championship
2003 US Chess Championship (Round Six)

The "Home Stretch"

The last third of the tournament still remains and amounts to what would be considered the "home stretch." With three rounds remaining, GMs Gregory Kaidanov, Alexander Shabalov, and Alexander Fishbein are tied for joint 1st followed by a pack of players in 2nd position including FM Stephen Muhammad. Muhammad remains in a good position to "norm" this tournament after drawing with GM Alexander Yermolinsky.

FM Stephen Muhammad vs. GM Alexander Yermolinsky (Round 6)

FM Stephen Muhammad vs. GM Alexander Yermolinsky (Round 6)
(Photo by Jerry Bibuld)

GM Fishbein vaulted into 1st with a win over defending champ in an exciting encounter from beginning to end. Coming out of the under-rated Rossolimo Sicilian, the game settled down into positions common in the Maroczy Bind where black sets up the hedgehog formation. Christiansen spruned an early repetition of moves and prepared to press on with 17. Nf3. The game started to venture into more interesting terrain after 17…Bf8 18.h3 Qh5 19.a4 Nc5 20.b4 Ncd7 21.a5 Rc7 22.Bf4 Rec8 23.c5!?

After a tense battle on the queenside, the game simmered down to a rook ending with black a pawn up. Christiansen made a critical error with 71.Kf2?? allowing Fishbein to either win second pawn with 71… Rxh5 or create two devastating passed pawns with 71…f5! (diagram) Since Christiansen chose the second option, Fishbein sacrificed his extra pawn and the steamrolling pawns became unstoppable. Thus, the champion resigned and may have put an end to his quest for a second consecutive championship. GM Shabalov appears to have the best momentum at this point.

Exciting matchups in Round 7 are: 
Shabalov-Fishbein,  Seirawan-Nakamura,  Akobian-Muhammad, Ashley-Watson, Perelshteyn-Battsetseg.

Report by Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Christiansen-Fishbein (position after 71...f5!)

(Position after 71…f5!)

Round #6 Information Center

Selected Games

GM Anatoly Lein - GM Maurice Ashley, ½-½
FM Stephen Muhammad - GM Alex Yermolinsky, ½-½
GM Larry Christiansen - GM Alexander Fishbein, 0-1
IM Boris Kreiman - IM William Paschall, 1-0
WIM Jennifer Shahade - IM Larry Kaufman, ½-½
IM Gregory Shahade - IM Stanislov Kriventsov, 1-0

PGN download (all 29 games)

Standings after Round 6