Person of day - 12 SEPTEMBER 2023
Alexander Shabalov was born and raised in Riga, where he became one of the leaders of a strong generation of Latvian players. Alexander regularly qualified for the USSR youth final, where he played against Valery Salov, Vladimir Epishin, Alexander Khalifman, Lembit Oll, Evgeny Bareev, Alexey Dreev, Ilya Smirin, Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexei Shirov, Boris Gelfand, Vladimir Akopian and other future stars.
In the second half of the 1980s, Shabalov played in several individual and team championships of the Red Army. After his successes at the GMA tournament in Belgrade and Belgorod in 1989, he became an international master.
The young man’s first major milestone was an open tournament in Philadelphia in 1990. Alexander took the first prize and shortly after became a grandmaster and moved to the USA.
He is the four-time winner of the US championship and a winner of multiple Swiss tournaments. He played in four Olympiads for the US and in one with Latvia. At the 1998 Olympiad in Elista, Alexander won silver with his fellow American grandmasters.
“The former US champion Alexander Shabalov trained Gata Kamsky- a candidate for the world championship. And one unfortunate day, Shabalov was smashed in the head by Rustam- Gata’s father and a professional boxer. Later, it emerged that he had cause to do so: Shabalov was speaking to his loved one on the phone and Rustam, who stood next to him, imagined that his son’s second was divulging all the secrets from training.” (Evgeny Gik)
Alexander Onischuk: “It is a strange question when I am asked to compare someone with Shabalov. It is even stranger to compare someone’s findings with Shabalov’s. Shabalov is in his own league. In the last 10 years, no one has won more opens than Alex. He is the best specialist out there. For example, he would play five opens in a row. He would get destroyed in three and win two of them. That is a very reasonable approach in America.”