Thursday, September 20, 2007

Week 4 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: GM Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS) vs GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) 0-1

Greg Shahade: A heroic performance from Pascal. Pascal has always owned the Boston Blitz, and this week he came up with a new and creative way to win. The game was an extremely tough affair, with both players posing each other difficult problems throughout. It seemed as if it was going to be okay for Perelshteyn once he captured Pascal's final pawn. I admit that even I was telling everyone that Pascal had virtually no chance to win. As you can see I have a fantastic understanding of chess. Anytime that I am so wrong about the evaluation of a position, and a player proves me wrong by defeating one of the toughest players in the league, you've gotta give him props. Probably with perfect play it would have been a draw, but it's very hard to play perfectly. (1st Place: 5 points)

Arun Sharma: For me the decision for first place wasn’t especially close as this game was quite well played and dramatic in basically every way it could be. With New York trailing the match 1.5 – 0.5 or 2 – 1 for the duration of the ending of this game, it seemed certain that the Knights only chance to salvage the match (and possibly their season) would be a win in this game. It appeared early in the ending that Charbonneau had a likely technically winning position but a far from easy task. Perelshteyn defended the ending very well though managing to win all of Black’s pawns which left most spectators declaring the game “dead draw” with some even commenting “This is boring why don’t they just agree to a draw already”. However their assessment was quite off as Charbonneau weaved a very nice mating net shocking the crowd (including the Commissioner who earlier had told me “He maybe has 1 chance in 100 to win this”) and pulling off a very nice save for the Knights. Though I’m sure New York really wanted to win this match, being able to draw against the Blitz, the unquestionable best team in the league at this point, shows what they are capable of. Once again, the Knights still have it in them to turn their season around, but their time is running short. (1st Place: 5 Points)

Jonathan Hilton: The reason I didn’t rank this game was that I thought White just misplayed the opening and got a very bad game. Kudos are due to Charbonneau for his winning technique of course; however, I think the cause for Perelshteyn’s loss is the fact that he opened up the queenside far too quickly in this highly positional English game. 19. c5? was a serious misjudgment. Black was simply better developed after White opened the game. Instead of 19. c5, White could have played more slowly – there were moves such as 19. e3, taking space in the center, or even 19. Nf3, trying to resolve some of White’s kingside issues by attacking Black’s lose pawns. I’m not even sure 19. gxh4!? followed by 20. Nf3 was that bad an idea. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Perelshteyn vs Charbonneau: 10 points


2nd Place: FM Keaton Kiewra (DAL) vs FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) 1-0

Jonathan Hilton: Kiewra made a bold choice with his striking 13. Nd5!? sacrifice, and the gambit paid off. Although Black certainly had many other defensive tries, I give my to prize to Kiewra for being willing to take the risks needed to outplay his opponent. Especially in the US Chess League, this kind of enterprising play reaps rich rewards more often than not! (1st Place: 5 points)

Greg Shahade: A nice attacking game from Kiewra, which led to him defeating one of the most successful players of the past two seasons in the process. It's hard to find too much wrong with any of Keaton's moves, and while Oleg didn't defend perfectly, it's very difficult to play well when being attacked so viciously, especially in a 75+30 time control. (2nd Place: 4 points)

Arun Sharma: I originally was going to give this game a 5th place ranking, but eventually decided to leave it on the bench. While I agree that Kiewra played nearly flawlessly, his piece sac isn’t exactly unique in that sort of position and in retrospect, the game was just a little too short and one-sided for me to warrant ranking it. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Kiewra vs Zaikov: 9 points


3rd Place: GM Alex Stripunsky (QNS) vs GM Joel Benjamin (NJ) 1-0

Arun Sharma: Queens finally managed to erase their board one demons with this fairly dominating win by Stripunsky. Speared by the nice tactic: 16. Bg5! he neatly forced Benjamin’s King to stay in the center after which he never surrendered the initiative with mating threats and eventually expertly forced a win of decisive material. An impressive win by Stripunsky and the Queens team in finally demonstrating what I believed them to really be capable of before the season. Like New York they have put themselves in somewhat of a hole, but with more matches like this, they could definitely climb out of it. (2nd Place: 4 points)

Jonathan Hilton: Stripunsky dealt Benjamin a harsh blow in this game. I like the way he played it, luring Black’s king into the center and then opening the game. I felt he demonstrated a great deal of understanding of the middlegame and finished his opponent off with a great deal of accuracy. (2nd Place: 4 points)

Greg Shahade: I didn't rank this game. I have to say I'm quite happy that this game didn't win Game of the Week (as it would have if I ranked it 3rd or higher). Both players made a gigantic blunder only a few moves before the end of the game, that could have completely changed the result. 32. b3 was a huge error (32. Rxh7 would win immediately), and Black could have tried 32....Rxd7 33. Qe6 Kf8 34. Rxd7 Qb1+ 35. Kf2 Qf5+, liquidating to an endgame where there is still some fight left. Of course I had the benefit of using a computer to find these lines, but they really aren't all that complicated. Yes the players were in time trouble, but that's not the problem of the above two games, whose winners managed to avoid such mistakes. There is just no way, in my humble opinion, that this game deserves game of the week. Alex did play a fine game, and had control from the beginning of the game to the end against a strong opponent, but you can't have such major oversights by BOTH players only 4 moves away from the end of the game to win this prize. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Stripunsky vs Benjamin: 8 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

7 points (Greg 3, Arun 2, Jon 2): IM Bryan Smith (PHI) vs GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) 0-1

5 points (Jon 3, Greg 2): GM Gregory Serper (SEA) vs IM Josh Friedel (SF) 1-0

3 points (Arun 3): GM Hikaru Nakamura (NY) vs GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) 1/2-1/2

1 point (Greg 1): IM Drasko Boskovic (DAL) vs IM Lev Milman (CAR) 0-1

1 point (Arun 1): FM John Readey (SEA) vs IM John Donaldson (SF) 0-1

1 point (Jon 1): IM Ron Burnett (TN) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) 0-1

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