King Naka!Trophy Presentations (Quicktime format)
In what was perhaps an appropriate result (given pre-tournament predictions), Hikaru Nakamura has won the U.S. Championship with a stunning performance. His combination of grit, determination and fighting spirit is winning fans by the thousands and he is poised to become the biggest chess star in the U.S. since Bobby Fischer. It is strange that Nakamura (even months ago), a top-three U.S. player, did not make the 2004 U.S. Olympiad team. This victory sends a clear message to those who made such a foolish decision.
With his birthday only four days away, he got the perfect birthday present by ousting Alexander Stripunsky in the two-game playoff. Stripunsky lost his way in the first game by playing an innocuous opening and allowing black to gain initiative on the queenside. It appeared that Stripunsky was going to get counterplay for the exchange, but it never materialized.
In the second game, Nakamura played quietly, but still achieved a winning position when Stripunsky overreached playing to win. Nakamura's win is the best thing that has happened to U.S. chess in decades. In the other playoff encounter, Rusudan Goletiani overpowered the young Tatev Abrahamayan 2-0 to win the women's title.