Monday, March 06, 2006

US Champ Rd 4: Recap / Rd 5 predictions

Today’s round produced some strange results. If I get some time later tonight I will be sure to annotate some interesting games, feel free to leave comments if you have any suggestions for games. Right now I'm thinking Abrahamyan - Liu (mostly because of final fortress) and maybe Goletiani - Kraai to see if there was a win at the end, plus probably at least one more. As for the results here's a strange stat: Out of the 16 games in group A, 12 were decisive and 4 were drawn and this was the section with a clear leader. In group B however, there were only 4 decisive games and 12 drawn, but really most games seemed to be hard fought so nothing to complain over.
Some important games were Goldin-Gurevich where Gurevich will now be tied only with Onishuk for first. He'll have black again next round against Onishuk in a game that will likely be very important for determining the group A winner. Friedel and Schneider joined the group close behind in 3rd with their wins rounding out that pack with De Firmian.

In group B one of the few decisive results was also one of the most important ones. Shulman beat Shabalov on board 1 continuing to show the good form we saw at the World Cup. He has a very creative style with a classical base that is often a lot of fun to watch. He has black against Ivanov tomorrow so I won't be expecting another win out of him.

So first I'd like to point out that while I did score 3/6 again yesterday, this is not so bad considering there are 3 possible results in a game. This brings my overall record to 8/18, but hopefully I'll do better today. So here are my predictions:

Group A:

GM Onischuk - GM Gurevich 1-0

This is a rematch of these two players from last year's US Championship round 9 where Onischuk won convincingly. I don't see a repeat of Gurevich's 25 move loss from last year as looking at the game it looks like it was due to bad opening preparation. This is the type of mistake I doubt he'll let happen twice. However it seems Gurevich has been playing the Benko lately along with his usual weird Benoni's which a player like Onischuk might just make look like a matter of technique.

IM Schneider - GM De Firmian 0-1

Looking over some games I find myself fairly unimpressed with Schneider's preparation against the Najdorf whereas De Firmian is a known specialist in that line. It's possible Schneider will cook up something to get a nice advantage, but I have a feeling it won't be good enough especially if he plays the English attack.

GM Stripunsky - IM Friedel 1/2-1/2
Stripunsky played 1. c4 (he almost always plays 1. e4) against Friedel last time they played and it seemed to be specific preparation so I wouldn't be too surprised to even see an English opening again. Stripunsky seems to enjoy his delayed exchange variation, but I don't see him tricking Josh up. Good luck Josh, feel free to mess up my prediction with a win.

Group B:

GM Ivanov, A - GM Shulman 1/2 - 1/2
While in general I am amazed by Ivanov's preparation I am not particularly impressed with his preparation against the French and I think Shulman will get a good game, however as Ivanov plays a solid line I don't think Shulman should be able to win too easily either. This should be an important game for contention, a loss for Shulman would be bad but not disastrous so he might try to play for a win.

GM Novikov - GM Christiansen 1/2-1/2 [Yes, I realize I changed this, but if you read the comment this is obviously what I meant]
I think Christiansen has been pretty solid as black so far so I wouldn't be surprised to see him hold another one and get ready to give us another explosive game as white. I think Christiansen might get into a little bit of trouble, but he has shown his class by defending quite a few tough positions so far so I expect this to continue.

GM Yermolinsky - GM Kamsky 1/2 - 1/2
This has been feeling like a very reliable prediction for Kamsky so I don't see any reason to switch. The Yerminator will "be back" to win games in later rounds. Between the top 2 seeds of the tournament combine for a 50% score which is rather unimpressive.

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