Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Game of the Year Updated Predictions
Now that we are midway through the GOTY contest, it seemed that such a momentous occasion (only took a little over two months after all!) called for me to, instead of providing an article that no one reads with simple percentages, to write a much longer, more complete article (that no one will read anyway) detailing the ten games remaining in the contest and where I think they will finish.
Naturally some things will have to change from my original article given that the Top Ten games weren't precisely the ones I felt they would be and of course, now that I have much more insight to how the judges are ranking the games, obviously some of my viewpoints will change.
Overall, I must say I'm quite pleased with the way things have turned out so far. Sure I, like pretty much anyone would have, made some mistakes about where certain games would wind up, but on the whole it seems my ideas were reasonably in tune with most of what wound up happening and hopefully it will stay that way.
While of course some of the individual judge rankings have definitely surprised me also, they too, like the overall rankings seem to be fairly in tune with what I basically was expecting. I definitely like the fact that nearly all the judges seem to be emphasizing the quality factor as the utmost point when ranking the games. At the same time (not that this is a bad thing), a lot of the "intangibles" (like match situation, playoff consequences) seem to be being virtually ignored which definitely changes the outlook on certain games. Here's what I think will wind up happening as of now.
10th Place: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) 1-0. Obviously a game that I misplaced (predicted 15th and would have ranked 14th), but I'm honestly not sure in exactly what way I really misjudged this game (and it seems even more people besides simply the judges disagree with me about this game, given how many votes this game has gotten in the GOTY Poll). My main feeling about it was that Black seemed to be better for most of the game, until White turned a nice tactical trick on him, and because of that the judges wouldn't think too highly of it as a whole. Clearly I was mistaken (as I often am) about that, but I nonetheless still feel this is the mostly likely candidate to go next.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 19%
Probability of Winning: 3%
Number of Points: 54
9th Place: IM Vinay Bhat (SF) vs GM Hikaru Nakamura (NY) 1-0. Despite the amount of heckling I took in placing this game so low when so many think it should win, nothing that has happened has dissuaded me from believing that this isn't about the right place for this game to wind up (closer to the opposite in fact). I still feel however, as I did before the contest began, that this game is a fair anomaly (which is why I am placing its chances of winning or finishing in the Top Five to be higher than its neighbors) and really no ranking will be especially surprising for it. But since the judges seem to be definitely holding a game's quality in high regard, and this game falls short of most of the remaining games in that sense, this placing should still be about where this game will wind up despite its off the charts excitement value.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 33%
Probability of Winning: 6%
Number of Points: 63
8th Place: IM Bryan Smith (PHI) vs GM Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS) 1-0. This is unquestionably a game I made a big mistake on (predicted 14th, would have ranked 16th). After all, I have been one of the biggest advocates of a games' quality factor being considered the most important thing in this contest, and if this game had any real attraction, it was definitely that (and also, the intangibles that I felt this game was lacking like relevance to the match situation, etc. are clearly not being regarded much by the judges). At the same time, now that we're into the top ten contenders of the contest, none of the other games this is currently competing against were exactly of low quality, and I still feel that this games' other aesthetic qualities don't quite measure up to most of the others (which is why I ranked it so low to begin with). Thus, while I respect this game being a Top Ten finisher, I still don't see it as likely to be in the Top Five.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 22%
Probability of Winning: 2%
Number of Points: 57
7th Place: GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) vs GM Patrick Wolff (SF) 1-0. I felt the major attraction of this game was the flashy middle-game moves, but in terms of sheer quality, I'm not really sure that this game quite has what it takes to be near the very top. By his own admission, GM Christiansen felt he didn't play the opening particularly well, and though he played the middlegame superbly, his opponent's play seemed a little overly cooperative in allowing that to happen. This will still get a few high rankings for the nice middlegame tactics, but I'm just not sure anymore if it's going to be able to quite make it into the Top Five. This now really seems like the most appropriate ranking for it.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 45%
Probability of Winning: 6%
Number of Points: 67
6th Place: GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs IM Drasko Boskovic (DAL) 0-1. For some reason, pretty much everyone seems to be far more impressed by this game than I really was. I've given up on figuring out why that is, but my guess still is that the quality of this game wasn't as high as most of the others. On the other hand, the other detractions I felt it had (finishing after the overall match had been decided, etc.) are once again not likely to be taken into much account so who can really be sure where exactly this will wind up. This is just the best guess I can make for this game at this moment.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 46%
Probability of Winning: 5%
Number of Points: 68
5th Place: IM Josh Friedel (SF) vs GM Gregory Serper (SEA) 1-0. I feel it is appopriate to begin the discussion of this game with a quote by our esteemed commissioner from an email to myself and fellow judge Jonathan Hilton which occurred while we were picking the Wildcard Games: "Also you are both on crack for your last picks, neither game has any chance of finishing even 10th Place." (in reference to my picking this game and Jonathan's pick of Bonin vs Shmelov). While proving Greg wrong occurs so often that I hardly think about it anymore, I still will never get tired of sharing every such instance with you readers.
Ok, now that I've gotten that off my chest, this game seems like it has good marks in all the relevant categories and thus a reasonably likely Top Five finsher, but I just don't quite get that tip-top feeling from it so I don't think it's especially likely to get in the Top Three. To be honest, I'm not sure it even should be in the Top Five, but I really wanted to spite Greg for his ridiculous comments above and putting it as such here seems to be as good a way to do that as any.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 47%
Probability of Winning: 4%
Number of Points: 69
4th Place: IM Lev Milman (CAR) vs IM Ron Burnett (TN) 0-1. As time has gone by, this game has slowly seemed more and more impressive to me. I recall right after this game was played not really being sure if Black's early exchange sacrifice was really as good as the game's outcome seemed to suggest or if White simply hadn't played well afterwards. But since so many players stronger than I seem to be praising how good an understanding of the position the sacrifice demonstrated, I clearly didn't give it the appropriate credit at first. I think I'm doing so here as the impressive play plus nice finish make it seem quite likely for this game to wind up about here.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 54%
Probability of Winning: 7%
Number of Points: 73
3rd Place: GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs GM Alex Stripunsky (QNS) 1-0. When I first predicted this game as the winner, I admit that had something to do with making a somewhat unconventional pick for the top spot (since after all, the first two years the winner of this contest was not a game most were expecting). However, given what a staunch defender I am of the numbers evening out in the end, I'll make a more conventional pick at this stage. While I feel this game still has a real chance to win based largely on the great play by Becerra, one detraction that I might not have appropriately noted was the large one-sidedness of the game, a factor many judges took note of in the recently eliminated Zilberstein vs Bartholomew contest. Just all recent developments have made me more and more convinced that first place is going to come down to the two games I've listed below.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 68%
Probability of Winning: 13%
Number of Points: 78
2nd Place: FM Marcel Martinez (MIA) vs IM Dmitry Zilberstein (SF) 1-0. Nothing really has changed in my overall view on this game since from when it was played to now. I think it definitely has a very good chance to win, but it also seems reasonably likely that one or even two of the judges will be fairly turned off by the fact that the game was essentially all preparation and wind up giving it a non-stellar ranking. Given how close I feel the contest for the top spot might be between this game and the below game, that could well be all it takes to knock this game down to second so that's where I'll still predict it to wind up.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 82%
Probability of Winning: 26%
Number of Points: 84
1st Place: GM Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS) vs GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) 0-1. The more I've thought about it, I've come to the firm conclusion that this game is really the best overall package, and thus the most likely to come out on top. Once again, it just seems in all the pertinent categories that it should get very high marks, and it seems unlikely that any judge will randomly give it a non-high ranking (like may happen with the Martinez game) and as such, the safest choice for the top game.
Probability of finishing in Top Five: 84%
Probability of Winning: 28%
Number of Points: 86
Hopefully, now that we are inching closer and closer to the prize echelons of this contest, interest in what happens increases. I know, I for one, am really looking forward to see what happens!