Sunday, March 05, 2006

US Championship Rd 3: Oh No! The King is Dead

Sometimes I report about things that are not news, however, the loss by Nakamura to bring his overall record to .5-2.5 is definitely news. I think this pretty much eliminates him from any reasonable shot at contention and I think a section winner will have AT LEAST 6.5 and his tiebreak will be horrible if he ties for this score. Congratulations to Baginskaite for her nice upset as for other significant games/results:
Benjamin - Friedel is a complicated endgame with Benjamin having sacrificed a piece for 3 pawns, hard to assess, black probably isn't losing, but hard to say. At the top Becerra drew Kamsky after Kamsky didn't play my recommended 2... e6 Sicilian and instead went for a Ruy Lopez in which Becerra played the same double edge line as in Benjamin - Friedel, but it eventually petered out to a draw. I was completely wrong in the Ibragimov game where De Firmian beat Ibragimov quite nicely, there were actually some complications I was looking at even in the end until Ibragimov just blundered mate with 37.. Qd6, but instead 37. Qc8 is a mess, it might look like just a clear loss for black, but that a-pawn is actually quite dangerous and I'm still not sure about the evaluations. I kept looking at lines with fritz and getting to a position with a +4 evaluation only to see it instantly change to -8, quite wild.

Quite a few other decisive games, especially on the bottom boards, but as we move further up the draws were much more prevalent. Don't accuse players of being too peaceful please it is just very hard to win at this level and sometimes a draw is the best you can do. Maybe the hometown hero Elliot Liu will get a crack at Nakamura next round after losing what looked like a good position against IM Stan Kriventsov. [Update: I am "cracked out" according to my friend Mike, it's quite clear Nakamura and Liu cannot play as they're in different groups. My bad.] Either way there were definitely a lot of fights this round even if not all of them ended in decisive games. Even the Gurevich - Dlugy game the commentators were accusing of being an early draw attempt ended with Gurevich getting his first win over a now more "experienced" Dlugy who is probably a little out of form but still good to see.

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