Shankland extends lead at the Capablanca Memorial

by Steve Abrahams
5/17/2018 – Just a short time after the end of the US Championship, Sam Shankland continues his winning ways in the Capablanca Memorial event in Havana. His score now after the seventh round is an impressive 5½/7 now a full point ahead of Alexy Dreev the nearest competition. This impressive result has pushed Shankland's live rating well above 2700 to 2715 with three rounds left to play. GM MIKHAIL GOLUBEV looks at the key games so far. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Shankland the story of the event

Back in Havana for the first time in three years, the Capablanca Memorial, which has been running since 1962, is a must-watch event. This years lineup features two Cuban grandmasters, two Russian grandmasters, a Spanish grandmaster, and an American. Many are keeping an eye on Sam Shankland, the newly crowned US Champion as he plays his first event after crossing the 2700 mark last month. He hasn't disappointed and has a comfortable lead heading into the final three rounds. 

hotel and tournament logo

The "Habana Libre Hotel" in the Cuban capital hosts the 53rd edition

Shankland started out strong from round two. He managed to win a nice game over GM Lazaro Bruzon. Bruzon is currently the highest rated player living in Cuba and second highest rated in the field.

Bruzon 0-1 Shankland (annotated by GM Mikhail Golubev)
 

Aleksey Dreev of Russia also had a nice game from round two.  He topped compatriot Aleksandr Rakhmanov with a nice Queen's Gambit where he maintained a slight opening advantage and won a pawn after pressing for 23 moves.

 

23.Qxd5 was enough to gain a pawn and later secure the victory.

Dreev 1-0 Rakhmanov (annotated by GM Mikhail Golubev)
 

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Rounds 5-7: Shankland Pushes Ahead

In rounds five, six and seven Shankland has been on an absolute tear. He has taken down GMs Bacallao, Rakmanov and Bruzon.  

The first of the three was a nice win over the Cuban Yusnel Bacallao in the advanced variation of the Caro-Kann. Black tried the interesting 5...a5 and seemed to do quite, however, Shankland managed to navigate the complications and simplify.

Shankland 1-0 Bacallao (annotated by GM Mikhail Golubev)
 

The double round-robin tournament started with both Shankland and Dreev coming out strong, but Shankland has taken over with wins in rounds six and seven.

Dreev holds strong in second place with 4½/7. His fifth round game saw a nice win over David Anton Guijarro who played the rarely seen 6... Qd8. Dreev seemed to control the board however and converted a two pawn advantage for the win.

In the sixth round, Shankland again managed to get a passed pawn and push for the win.

 

Allowing 35.c7 was just too much for black and the game was finished just six moves later.

Also in round six, Anton bested the down-on-his-luck GM Bruzon, who has scored just two points so far in the event.

 

Round seven was Shankland facing Bruzon for the second time. This time Shankland with white transposed in a Queen's Gambit. Shankland again ended up with an extra passed pawn and again pushed it to the win.

Standings after seven rounds

 

All games

 

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Steve is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, but played and coached chess all across the United States. Steve has attained the titles of National Expert and FIDE Trainer during his career playing and coaching chess.
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KrushonIrina KrushonIrina 5/17/2018 05:13
Shankland now in World Top 30 in live ratings.
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