Thursday, September 13, 2007

Week 3 Game of the Week

This year for game of the week we have three judges, all ranking their top five games. The games are then given anywhere from one to five points, based on these rankings, and whichever game receives the most points wins the award. Also note that this year the winner each week will receive a $100 bonus prize. Our three judges are: IM Greg Shahade, NM Arun Sharma, and Jonathan Hilton. Click here for more details.


1st Place: IM Vinay Bhat (SF) vs GM Hikaru Nakamura (NY) 1-0

Greg Shahade: This game wasn't the best played game of the week, but it was definitely the most exciting and dramatic. We had the largest crowd in USCL history watching this game, including several strong players, even GM Gata Kamsky. Nakamura entertained the crowd by getting off to an incredible 71-1 time advantage yet somehow Vinay Bhat lived on the increment, managing to mix things up and actually win the game. The term "Game of the Week" doesn't indicate that the game must be the best played. Due to pure entertainment value and because of Vinay's heroic performance, this game gets the nod from me. (1st Place: 5 points)

Arun Sharma: To me the decision this week wasn’t especially close as this game had so many things going for it. Aside from the actual game itself, there was the large pre-game hype around it along with the rather large audience it drew (which to my knowledge shattered any previous USCL game’s audience, even those of last year’s finals). The game itself also was fairly amazing in my view the way Nakamura garnered a near 70 to 1 minute time edge along with a material edge which had many spectators predicting Bhat’s imminent demise. But despite all the circumstances, Bhat managed to weather the storm, suddenly unleashing a strong attack against Black’s King, forcing Nakamura to sac the exchange to survive at which point Nakamura offered a draw which was declined and had the spectators scratching their heads asking “Why wouldn’t he take it, White can’t win this!” Just like the earlier assessment, this was again not the case as Bhat skillfully conducted the ending and won this amazing game. Another super impressive performance by the “invincible” Bhat managing to salvage a draw for the team when it looked at one point like they might be swept in the match and doing so with the most delicate moments in the game coming where he was under one minute on his clock against one of best blitz players in the world. (1st Place: 5 Points)

Jonathan Hilton: Vinay Bhat! Although the win was less than “convincing”, in my view any time anyone defeats Nakamura he deserves great laud. Both sides showed creativity in the opening and middlegame, but Bhat won due to his tenacity throughout the entire game, which was incredible given the situation on the clock. Coming back from being a pawn behind, Bhat out-calculated the former US Champion with fantastic attacking chess. He then proceeded to win a difficult technical endgame – rook and h-pawn versus lone bishop, a position that offers chances for both a win and a draw. Nakamura was dealt a rough welcome into the league! (1st place: 5 points)

Total Score of Bhat vs Nakamura: 15 points


2nd Place: IM Jonathan Schroer (CAR) vs IM Blas Lugo (MIA) 1-0

Greg Shahade: An impressive game from Schroer, who outprepared, outcalculated, and outplayed the dangerous IM from Miami. The strength of Schroer's h-pawn, combined with his bishop on c3 was a sight to behold. So far this season Jonathan is doing what Carolina needs him to do. If he can hold down the fort on Board 2, the Cobras could surprise a lot of people this year, as their 3rd+4th boards (Zaikov + Jones) both made the All Star Team in 2006. (2nd Place: 4 points)

Arun Sharma: A solid, very important first win in the USCL for Schroer highlighted by the nice (though fairly forced) exchange sacrifice 24. Rxd5 which totally stunted Lugo’s attack and left his Queen completely misplaced leaving him fairly defenseless against the simple marching of the h-pawn. (4th Place: 2 points)

Jonathan Hilton: Schroer uncorks the ambitious 24. Rxd5!!? exchange sacrifice which gives Black three possible recaptures. The sacrifice not only leads the h-pawn down the board to make a new queen, but it also leads the Carolina Cobras to a surprising victory over Miami! (4th Place: 2 points)

Total Score of Schroer vs Lugo: 8 points


3rd Place: IM Irina Krush (NY) vs IM Vince McCambridge (SF) 1-0

Arun Sharma: Although this game was a bit overshadowed by the game on Board 1 of the NY-SF match, I think it was a very smooth, well-played game by Krush which was of course very important to the match result. Though the end of this game, was quickened by some time pressure blunders from McCambridge, I still felt that Krush played quite well on the whole, nurturing a small edge for most of the game and quickly capitalizing when her opponent faltered.
(2nd Place: 4 points)

Greg Shahade: A nice win by Krush. Throughout the entire game it felt as if she was control and would eventually win. In the end, she remained in control and mated McCambridge in the middle of the board. Please note that the other judges are redundant as I correctly chose the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place game in that order. Not only that but the 4th+5th place game, in voting order, were also correctly ranked by me. (3rd Place: 3 points)

Jonathan Hilton: This game wasn't ranked by Jonathan, although he did give it an "honorable mention." (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Krush vs McCambridge: 7 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

6 points (Jon 4, Greg 2): WGM Katerina Rohonyan (BAL) vs NM Victor Shen (NJ) 1-0

4 points (Jon 3, Greg 1): SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Bryan Smith (PHI) 1-0

3 points (Arun 3): GM Alex Stripunsky (QNS) vs IM Drasko Boskovic (DAL) 0-1

1 point (Arun 1): IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) vs IM Eli Vovsha (QNS) 1/2-1/2

1 point (Jon 1): IM David Pruess (SF) vs IM Jay Bonin (NY) 0-1

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