Tuesday, March 07, 2006

US Champ Round 5: Recap / Round 6 predictions

This round had some fun upsets worth mentioning. Tuvshintugs scalped Becerra as black for her 3rd GM scalp of the tournament. Notice her only loss of the tournament is to Shulman who is in clear first, seems to be a breakout tournament for her. If she nets a few more point she'll be in good shape for a WGM norm or better. Friedel continued his undefeated streak by drawing from a better position against Stripunsky, I might take a look at that game later. Bercy's lost to Kudrin in a tough game, he was completely winning at some point, but then lost the game in time trouble, I might also take a look at that game. Nakamura won again showing he will be able to put pressure on the leaders if they keep drawing (although even if he ties his tiebreaks will be terrible).

This round did not see too much change among the leaders. The key difference was that with Shulman's win as black he also gained another half point on the field in group B. So here are the standings in the two groups:
Group A:
1st: Onischuk, Gurevich (4.0/5)
3rd: Schneider, De Firmian, Friedel, Kudrin (3.5/5)

Womens: Goletiani (3) with her trailiers having only 2 points

Group B:
1st: Shulman (4.5/5)
2nd: Novikov, Christiansen, Shabalov, Tuvshintugs(w) (3.5)

Womens: Tuvshintugs (obviously) with Zatonskih at 3 and other women at 2 or less.

Now let’s move onto my predictions. I realize this is all a little bit silly, but it does force me to look at a couple of games by these players which can't be bad. Yesterday I scored 3/6 again which I consider to be reasonable success (as once again, there are THREE results). This brings my overall record to 14/30; I hope to improve upon this today.

Group A:

GM Kudrin - GM Onischuk 1/2-1/2
So Kudrin can go into the Ruy Lopez and he can also play the Gioco Piano, my bet is on the latter but I imagine it will be a close call. I expect his preparation to be good since he's been playing this line for a while, but at the same time this line tends to be a little drawish and I don't expect Onischuk to push too hard as black, but again I could be wrong.

GM Gurevich - GM De Firmian 1-0
Gurervich is playing quite well, I am no longer going to doubt his play. De Firmian is also playing well, but seems to be having a little more trouble than Gurevich. He was likely dead lost last round against Schneider as black in a very popular line which suggests his preparation is not as good as it should be.

IM Schneider - IM Friedel 0-1
It's a little weird that these two both have the same color they had in round 5, but it's probably because one or both of them was forced not to alternate in a previous round. I'm not sure what type of Ruy Lopez Josh will pick. These two have an even record (1-1) against eachother, but Josh had black both times and they were 2 different lines of the Ruy Lopez and the one Josh won was the archangel so I wouldn't be surprised to see him go back to that. Either way while both of these young players have had good results Josh seems to be in significantly better form so I give the edge to him.

Group B:

GM Christiansen - GM Shulman 1/2-1/2
This is an interesting situation. Christiansen has white so it would seem ready for him to win again, but Shulman seems playing well. Christiansen has also been playing the Tarrasch against the French lately which is exactly the line Shulman played against last round. I think Christiansen plays these fairly modern lines with Ngf3 so I don't know what to expect and when in doubt I'll pick draw. I'm sorry for the copout, but I don't know what else to do. This is also an important game for Shulman as Christiansen is the only player tied for 2nd he hasn't played, if he can keep a half or full point lead with no direct matchups left against his followers he'll be in a really good position.

GM Novikov - GM Shabalov 0-1
Shabalov is actually having a pretty good tournament. His game against Shulman was pretty wild and unclear which was the only game he lost. I predict he will keep up his good play and win.

WFM Tuvshintugs - GM Kamsky 0-1
Kamsky may have draws in his last 4 games, but he is playing 450 points down. I realize Tuvshintugs is obviously playing well and I would like to see her continue, I still think Kamsky will win this, even as black.

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