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Alexander Onischuk vs Alexander Shabalov
"b4 and After" (game of the day Sep-07-2008)
US Championship (2007), Stillwater USA, rd 6, May-20
Semi-Slav Defense: Botvinnik System (D44)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-21-07  Knight13: After winning 5 games in a row, Shabalov decides to jump into the volcanoe.

Good one, Onischuk.

May-21-07  izimbra: Apparently black missed the tactic 17...Qxb4 18. Rb1 Qa5 19. Rxb5 so 17...Bxb4 was necessary.

May-22-07  euripides: Ever since Denker vs Botvinnik, 1945, White has been advised to fianchetto the bishop against the Botvinnik system. So Onischuk's play here will be worth a close look.

<izimbra> If 17...Bb4, perhaps 18.Nxb5 with a dangerous-looking attack ?

May-22-07  Themofro: <Izimbra> No, Bxb4 loses as well, all black moves lose after 17 b4!!,

Here's some analysis of

Onischuk - Shabalov game by John Watson
May 20 2007

The most important game of the tournament thus far ended in a win for last year’s champion Alexander Onischuk. In spite of his tournament standing as the clear frontrunner, a full point and a half ahead, Shabalov was true to his style and played one of the riskiest openings in chess, the Botvinnik System in the Semi-Slav.

<1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5 hxg5 10.Bxg5 Nbd7 11.exf6 Qa5!? 12.Be2 Bb7 13.0–0 0–0–0 14.Qc1!?>

14.Bf3, 14.Bf4, and 14.Qc2 have all been tried.


14...Bd6 15.h4 c5!? (15...Qc7 is safer but must be better for White.) 16.dxc5 Bb8! 17.Rd1? Qc7 with a terrific attack was Agdestein-Hector, Reykjavik 1995.


15.dxc5 Bxc5 16.Qf4 Ne5! is a clever move that gives Black reasonable prospects.

<15...cxd4 16.Rxd4 Bc5?>

Amazingly, his natural move comes close to losing directly. 16...Qb6!? has the idea 17.Nxb5 Qxb5 18.Rxc4+ Kb8 19.Rc8+ Rxc8 20.Bxb5.

<<<<17.b4!!>>> Qxb4>

17...Qc7?! falls short after 18.Bf4 Qc6 (18...e5 19.bxc5 exf4 20.Nxb5) 19.Bf3 Bxd4 (19...Qxf3 20.gxf3 Bxd4 21.Nxb5!) 20.Bxc6 Bxc6 21.a4 Rdg8 22.Bg3 Rxg3 23.hxg3 Ne5 24.axb5 Bb7 (24...Nd3 25.Qa3) 25.Qf4!; Also insufficient is 17...cxb3 18.axb3 Qxa1 19.Qxa1 Bxd4 20.Qc1 Bxc3 21.Qxc3+ Kb8 22.Bxb5; Finally,17...Bxb4 18.Nxb5! Qxb5 19.Rxc4+ Kb8 20.Rb1 is just too strong.

<18.Rb1 Qxb1 19.Qxb1 Bxd4 20.Nxb5 Ne5 21.Bf4>

Black's king is too exposed and he has too much to defend.

<21...Nc6 22.Nd6+ Rxd6 23.Bxd6 c3 24.Bf3 Bb6 25.Bb4 Bd4 26.Bxc3! 1-0>

and Black resigned in view of 26...Bxc3 27.Bxc6 (or 27.Qc2) 27...Bxc6 28.Qc2 Rd8 29.h4.

A game summary:
The line with 11…Qa5 is infrequently played, and the move 14 Qc1! Is an extremely rare move. Possibly Black should play 14…Bd6, although it must give White some advantage. After the natural move 14…c5, Onischuk’s new and unpretentious 15 Rd1! is very hard to meet. Once the rook got to d4, Black still seemed safe enough until White uncorked the remarkable 17 b4!! (probably 16…Qb6 was better than 16…Bc5, but that was almost impossible to see). Although Black had many options, the foundations soon crumbled and Onischuk won this game.

May-22-07  izimbra: <Themofro> That's a good summary. 11...Qa5 looked like a strange choice to begin with compared to Nxf6 and after this game it may be retired.
May-24-07  ToTheKings: I watched this game on the net while it was being played. After Onischuk played b4 I thought to myself 'does that move actually work?' and after a bit of calculation decided this move sets the grandmaster apart from everyone else.

b4 is truly a great move. I predict it will end up in more than one chess book.

May-28-07  Chessmensch: Kavalek analyzes this game in his chess column in the Washington Post, May 28, 2007.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: I reproduced this game on my chess board reading from Chess Life. Funnily, at the time of 17.b4 I had the White rook misplaced in d1 (I had analyzed a line and forgot to return it to d4). Then I analyzed b4 with the White rook in d1... and as far as I can tell, it works too! The main line I looked at was 17...Bxb4 18.Nxb5 Qxb5 19.Bxc4. There are several possibilities, and in the lines I saw, White ends up recovering the piece because eventually the Knight in d7 falls, and White ends up with extra pawns. I am probably wrong (and don't have a chess engine to check) but I thought of sharing that with the rook in d1 White might be able to play b4 anyway.
Sep-07-08  dhotts: It seems to me that 14.Qc1 is a great move and Black's response of 14...c5 shows that it is not effective. Black's 14th move is the critical juncture and finding the right move from here may keep Black's hopes alive. I believe that Black needs to focus his troops on the White king without further compromising his king position so quickly with ...c5. Ideas that need to be explored at Black disposal are ...Bd6, Rdg8 and b4 followed by a Queen to f5 (after b4) or c7 concentrating Black's forces on the white monarch. I have not explored how to take advantage of the situation tactically, but maybe someone can come up with the correct sequence.
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: Wouldn't 21...Rd5 have been better for black? For example, 22. Nxd4 Rhd8 23. Bf3 (23. Bxe5 Rxe5 24. Qa1/Qb2/Qd1 Red5) Bxf3 25. Nxf3 Red5 26. Qe4 Re1+ 27. Ne1 R8d7 28. Qxc4+ Rc7, with the threat of ...Rcc1.
Sep-07-08  Chesstalesfan: To <dhotts>
A nice idea. Let us try: 14..Rg8 15.Ne4 c5 16.Nxc5 Nxc5 17.dxc5 Bh6 or 17..b4 should be rather victorious for black or black has at least the initiative.
Sep-07-08  Manic: <al wazir> I can't make sense of your line after a bit. 22.Nxd4 Rhd8 23.Bf3?? Nxf3 (not bishop, since rook is in the way) 24.Nxf3?? (loses immediately to ...Rd1+). Also, in your line 23.Bxe5 Rxe5 loses a piece as Qd1 (to protect bishop and knight) loses to Red5.

I think 22.Bxe5 should win for white. For example 22...Rxe5 (22...Bxe5?? 23.Nd6+) 23.Bf3 Rxb5 (otherwise Nd6+) 24.Qxb5 Bxh2+ 25.Kf1 Bxf3 26.gxf3

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <Manic>: Yes, it's garbled. I don't recall which line I was thinking of. (This wasn't supposed to be exhaustive analysis, only illustrative.) I may have meant 21...Rd5 22. Nxd4 Rhd8 23. Bxe5 Rxe5 24. Bf3 Bxf3 25. Nxf3 Red5 26. Ne1 Rd1 27. Qe4.

But I don't understand your refutation. After 23. Bxe5 Bxe5 24. Nd6+, 23...Rxd6 looks strong.

Sep-08-08  kevin86: What am I missing? After 26...♗xc3,black has two bishops and a knight for a queen and bishop---or will the "twin pin" following 27 ♗xc6 ♗xc6 28 ♕c2 suffice?
Sep-11-08  Manic: <al wazir> Sorry for the late reply (if you ever read this). I had the rook and bishop captures swapped around. The main line should be 22...Bxe5 and the sideline should be 22...Rxe5?? (I hope this is what you meant).
Apr-05-21  Gaito: A good supplementary game to understand the Botvinnik Anti Meran System is the following one: L Aronson vs Korchnoi, 1947

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