Saturday, March 11, 2006

US Championship Round 9: Results

Round 9 brought a lot of excitement. There were quite a few players chasing norms and tough fights on the top boards. Nakamura looked like he was just worse against Onischuk then exploded with b5 with a dangerous looking attack. Onischuk showed his defensive genius and held on. Nakamura took his typical risks to push in but in the end the game was just a draw. Shulman looked like he was slightly worse out of the opening but seemed to have moves that looked like they would equalize. He didn't play them and soon found himself the victim of a huge initiative. Even after all this drama it will still be a Onischuk vs Shulman in the rapid playoffs. In the women’s group it ended up being Zatonskih vs Goletiani. All of these should be exciting.

There were quite a few norms achieved this year. Friedel made his 2nd GM norm, Tuvshintugs made a WGM norm despite losing her last four games in a row which just shows how impressive her first five rounds were, and Goletiani made an IM norm. Congratulations to all of these players for their impressive results. Between this result and the result from Friedel's last GM norm he should be pushing the 2500 mark soon.

So my predictions were pretty terrible today with a spectacular 1/6. Oh well, I guarantee you I won't be able to miss this many tomorrow. So the playoffs I think actually will favor Shulman. His rapid ability was shown to be pretty good in the World Cup so my money is on him to take it. This is definitely the underdog, but I like to root for the underdog. As for the women's playoff I think Zatonskih will take this. Goletiani is the defending champion but Zatonskih I think is a significantly stronger player and really just got unlucky last year by having tougher last round pairings allowing Goletiani and Abrahamyan to pass her while she played a tough GM in the last round.

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