Congratulations to GM Alexander Shabalov, who is the 2007 U.S. Champion!  After his incredible 5-0 start, Shabba lost to GM Alexander Onischuk, and after he drew two more games Onischuk had caught up, but in the final round Shabalov defeated GM Sergey Kudrin, while Onischuk could only draw against GM Boris Gulko.  Thus Shabalov's score of 7-2 gave him clear first.  Next was Onischuk with 6.5-2.5, who got clear second.

This was Shabalov's 4th U.S. championship.  Apparently modest, he credits his success to an amulet he was wearing, which is supposed to stabilize its wearer's magnetic field, making him more relaxed.  More likely, he just played very well. 

I ended up with 4 points, which was not a great result, but not embarrassing either.

I lost round 7 to Michael Langer, who ended up scoring an international master "norm" in the tournament.  I was clearly winning in that game, but made a bad decision to give up a rook for a bishop, and then got in time pressure in a position where I still should have all the practical chances to win.

During the next round I felt terrible and had a high fever, so I was fortunate to win, albeit against the lowest rated player of the tournament.  I was so sick I wanted to withdraw from the tournament after that game, but after a night's sleep I felt a lot better.

In the final round I played black against IM Justin Sarkar.  At the end of the game I considered giving perpetual check (and thus a draw) necessary, but it quickly became clear when looking at the game afterwards that I should instead have played for a win.

Most of the players are leaving tomorrow - some going home, some to the Chicago Open.  I am leaving for Tulsa tomorrow, where I will play another tournament in a couple of days.  I hope you have enjoyed this blog.  You can also read a final recap of the tournament at www.uschess.org.

-Bryan