Thursday, October 4, 2007

Week 6 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 Larry Christiansen (BOS) vs GM Patrick Wolff (SF) 1-0

Arun Sharma: Although this game seemed a bit one-sided in looking back on it, I still felt it was a very impressive performance by the legendary attacker. One very nice move was 20. g3!, a rather quite looking move which was really the main catalyst in gearing up White’s attack. Of course, the likely star move was 27. Nd5!!, which really tore Black’s position apart and forced the win of a piece. After that, the simple liquidating move, 34. Bxf5! was a nice finishing touch to a great game. This was a huge win by Christiansen to help the Blitz knock off the defending champions and put the Blitz in prime position to take the division title for the second year in a row. (1st place: 5 points)

Greg Shahade: A game that's typical of Christiansen's style. He threw everything but the kitchen sink at Wolff, causing him to walk his king from the kingside over to the queenside, where it was eventually cornered by the finishing blow, 38. c4. It was probably a clear mistake for Wolff to accept Christiansen's sacrifice with 20....Qxg3. This gave Christiansen exactly the kind of position he thrives in....a raging attack against the black king. Overall a very crowd pleasing performance, that exemplified Christiansen's strength's while showing that Wolff still has a bit of rust to shake off. (1st place: 5 points)

Jonathan Hilton: This week’s competition was a close race between Christiansen and Becerra. I especially liked the way Christiansen allowed his pawn structure to be “damaged” by 15. … dxe4 in return for attacking chances. 20. g3! was a nice touch. I cannot understand why Black took it! Retreating the queen with 20. … Qc7 would have kept the game balanced, though White would still have the ability to work up a dangerous attack by running the g-pawn up to g5. After Black’s king was forced to run to the center, the game was all but over. (2nd place: 4 points)

Total Score of Christiansen vs Wolff: 14 points


2nd Place: GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs GM Alex Stripunsky (QNS) 1-0

Jonathan Hilton: It seems as if, for better or worse, I end up voting for a Sicilian to take first place in the Game of the Week competition! Whereas last week I voted for Benjamin’s crushing pawn storm with White over Charbonneau, this week I’m praising Becerra’s piece play. Becerra played the solid yet flexible 12. Qh3 rather than launching into an immediate pawn storm, and his choice paid off. His pawn sacrifice 13. e5!! could hardly have been declined: on 13. … Be7 White takes on d6, brings his knight to e4, and opens the center further with f4-f5. After the sacrifice, Becerra simply kept the piece pressure up the entire game, and Stripunsky was eventually forced to capitulate. A decisive victory! (1st Place: 5 points)

Arun Sharma: Though, like the Christiansen game, this might have appeared one-sided in retrospect, it still was a very impressive game by the victor, the sort which really won Becerra the MVP last season. Beginning with 13. e5! followed by 14. f5!, Becerra gained a nice initiative which Stripunsky could never seem to strip him of, being threatened with disaster basically every move until he could hold out no longer when hit with the nice tactic 27. Rd1! to which there was no answer. Another great performance by MVP Leader Becerra to help keep Miami’s slim playoff hopes alive. (2nd place: 4 points)

Greg Shahade: It was a really tough decision for me this week, as to whether this game or Christiansen-Wolff should retain first place. I would have been fine with either of these games as the winner, as both were impressive demolitions of strong opponents. The main differences in this game and the Christiansen-Wolff game were that in this game white was attacking a stationary target (the black king remained on e8 for most of the game), while in the Christiansen game the black king ran all over the place. I suspect that even though this game didn't win the GotW prize, it will still be in the running for the game of the year contest. This season we are going to have the 13 game of the week winners, along with 7 wildcards (games chosen by the GotW judges that we feel deserve a shot), for a total of 20 games. We expect to have many more judges as well, probably at least 6-8 in total, so it should be really exciting! In any case I would be very surprised if this game doesn't get chosen as a wildcard.
(2nd place: 4 points)

Total Score of Becerra vs Stripunsky: 13 points


3rd Place: FM Todd Andrews (TN) vs IM Larry Kaufman (BAL) 1-0

Arun Sharma: This was a very well-played game by Andrews speared by the nice sacrifice 26. Ngf5!, forcing open Kaufman’s King to which Kaufman soon had to return the piece to avoid being mated which forced the game into a pawn up ending for White which he managed to convert without much trouble. After his very rough first season, Andrews has performed quite well this season, and he and the remainder of the Tennessee season could be a much better performing team next year if they continue to improve. (3rd place: 3 points)

Jonathan Hilton: This game is a classic, textbook example of a Ruy Lopez. I couldn’t spot any errors in Andrews’ execution of this ancient Ruy middlegame plan of sacrificing a knight on f5. I suspect this game must have taken a lot of patience to play, as it was seventy-eight moves long! (3rd place: 3 points)

Greg Shahade: A nice effort from Andrews, in what was probably his best USCL game to date. The opening buildup was impressive and I only didn't rank it higher because the game went so long and wasn't especially flashy. Also while watching the game I got the impression that Andrews technique left a bit to be desired but after looking at it again, it seems reasonable, and actually a testament to Kaufman that he resisted as well as he did. Maybe I need a little more patience like my two esteemed colleagues? (5th place: 1 point)

Total Score of Andrews vs Kaufman: 7 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

4 points (Greg 2, Jon 2): NM Craig Jones (CAR) vs Jayson Lian (NJ) 0-1

3 points (Greg 3):
Gregory Young (SF) vs NM Chris Williams (BOS) 0-1

2 points (Arun 2): IM Alejandro Moreno Roman (MIA) vs NM Parker Zhao (QNS) 0-1

2 points (Arun 1, Jon 1):
IM Jay Bonin (NY) vs FM John Readey (SEA) 1-0

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