Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Game of the Year 6th Place Critique

Well I definitely never would have expected this. One might have been able to guess that based on the percentages I gave for this week's elimination, but it still has me in fair shock as everything inside me was convinced this game was almost assuredly going to be in the top couple spots (and sure for those of you who love to point out how often I'm wrong, not being in the top couple is still a long ways from not being in the Top Five). Let's see what judging calamity caused this travesty.

Robby Adamson: I definitely can't be faulting this judge for what happened; the only thing really of note is his saying that the piece sacrifice was "forced" while FM Monokroussos describes it as "panicky". Who's correct? Well I know better than to get in the middle of these judge fights so I'll move on.

Alex Shabalov: I like the double nickname and the ranking so not much to say here.

Ron Young: Saying that Black's only pressure in the ending was to avoid the fifty move rule and three-fold repetition seems a bit odd to me, since you know, winning the ending to begin with doesn't seem like the easiest of tasks (especially if you'd asked the spectators that night, including our esteemed commissioner, as to what they thought his chances to win that ending were).

Jennifer Shahade: Jenn doesn't seem to list any detraction for this game so I'm not sure why she only ranked it in the middle of the pack especially given the positives she noted.

Dennis Monokroussos: While I find this ranking quite shocking (especially since Dennis has been the most consistent judge in his choices, and this is the first one which he has completely differed from the rest of the pack). While it's difficult to argue with his assessments (given you know, he uses a computer to help himself make them), even if he felt this game's quality wasn't that high, I still find it hard to believe it could be lower than the majority of the other GOTY contenders, but his note about excitement is what really surprised me. Granted, as someone who watched all these games live, I have a different perspective, but given this game was from the biggest rivalry in the USCL (Boston vs New York), occurred on Monday night, was clearly going to determine the match outcome, and was an ending which had all the spectators declaring "dead draw" and things of that nature, I'm really not sure what else someone could want for excitement (as FM Adamson points out himself). Of course, as I alluded, someone not having watched this game live could have a completely different perspective on the game (and he seems to be aware that others will disagree with him based on his ending with "Sorry"), but in entirety given all the other games involved, 15th just seems like way too low a ranking to me.

Tune in next week to see which the first money game winner is!


Dennis Monokroussos said...

Always glad to make you happy, Arun.

You make it sound like my checking with the computer is somehow a bad thing, but my feeling is that I don't want to cost someone well-deserved money by missing something big (either underestimating or overestimating).

Let me add, however, that I found the game pretty boring well before my third pass through the games (which is when I used the computer, to check my general assessments), and there's no way it could have been a top 5 game for me. Had I been watching the game live, and cared who won between Boston and New York, and got caught up in the whole "it's a dead draw...it's a draw...holy cow, he's going to win!" excitement I might have felt differently. But as a game to replay? Eh. Two peers facing off in an interesting game resulting in an ending that may have always been a forced win (even if not easily recognized as such) isn't GOTY material. It was a good, fighting win by Charbonneau, but it wasn't spectacular, there were several serious errors, it didn't involve an upset, and while something was at stake that week, it wasn't a playoff round.

Incidentally, the comments on my blog about the game, two from those who didn't watch it live and one from someone who did, agreed with my judgment. (And I definitely don't have an audience of yes-men on the blog!)

So while I acknowledge the drama of the game as a live event, and realize that lots of New Englanders and New Yorkers love to hate each other, I reiterate my inability to see how the game in itself, on its merits, could win GOTY.

Dennis Monokroussos said...

An addendum about that ending and "dead draws". I remember an old game where both my opponent and I were experts, and it reached two bishops and rook pawn vs. bishop. I had the two bishops, but because my extra was a "wrong-colored" one my opponent thought it was a draw. Not only did he think this, but he huffed and puffed, threw his hands up in the air, shook his head, spoke out loud and practically berated me for continuing. He basically did everything but try to get me committed for playing it out.

As it turned out, and as I showed in the game itself, not being cowed by his antics, it was in fact a fairly simple win. (Here's the basic idea: White: Kg6, Bc4, Bf8, ph6. Black: Kh8, Bb2. White to move: 1.Bg7+ and thanks for playing.) My extra, "wrong" bishop was in fact quite useful, as it helped me create mating threats the other bishop was incapable of preventing.

Something like that may have been at work in the Perelshteyn-Charbonneau game. The spectators were perhaps transfixed by the opposite-colored bishops, thinking that made the game a dead draw. ("R + N vs. R is a draw; add opposite colored bishops which are drawish too; therefore, the whole thing is a draw.") The reality is that the defender's position is precarious at best, so while the spectators may have been surprised and amazed, it might well have been the case that it was a win all along. In that case, what we had was good technique by Charbonneau, but not some sort of quasi-miracle on the chessboard.

At the end of the day, though, my opponent didn't apologize for his conduct, the truth on the board notwithstanding, so I already know not to hold my breath on this one either.

Arun Sharma said...

I didn't mean to imply that checking with a computer is a bad thing -- I think it's closer to the other side personally, to get a real sense of exactly how well the game was played you absolutely do need to use one. The only reason why I might view it with some disdain is due to the same reason we have disallowed computer evaluations during the USCL, the way it spoils the intrigue for those watching. For the same reason, it does somewhat ruin the chance for any debate on subjects like this when someone has "scientific" evidence that there side is correct (and that to me is one of the things I like most about USCL, the analyzing of the games and if I were to use a computer to do it rather than myself I wouldn't really learn as much).

In regards to your comment about not getting swept up about it due to not really caring who won between Boston and NY and the like. Well, one of the reasons we have these sorts of awards (GOTW, GOTY) is to give the players and fans more excitement, and I can assure you the majority of them do care who wins between Boston and NY and given this game was going to determine exactly that, I don't see how that couldn't at least be a minor factor. In regards to it not being a playoff round etc. (i.e. was less exciting in some sense), having witnessed every match in USCL history, I can assure you that the excitement over this match in general was more than pretty much any playoff match that has happened (even more so than I think than the Semifinal match between these two teams as that match was a fairly lopsided victory for Boston despite the closeness of the final score). Plus that match shattered all previous records for number of viewers we had in any USCL match (including last year's Finals though naturally Hikaru playing was a large reason for that). Everyone of course has their own view about things of that nature, but it does seem that the judges might have given the "playoff" games an extra boost simply because of when they happened (given that all three of the playoff games made it into the Top Five). While I agree those might deserve a bit of extra consideration due to that fact, I don't feel that it should be a big enough one that it would put all three of those games into the Top Five.

As for what others think about the game, obviously there are thousands of different opinions and no one is truly correct, but it does seem a few people have posted (though they hide behind the shield of anonymity) expressing surprise over that ranking, and I personally have spoken to several players much stronger than either you or I, all of whom seem to agree with my general assessment of the game and the sort of ranking it deserved.

In regards to whether the ending was actually a draw vs. a win, that doesn't seem especially relevant to me (as I recall GM Charbonneau posted after the game that he felt it was likely a win all along, in reply to someone claiming Perelshteyn missed a thousand draws in the ending). The point, I reiterate, was that all of the spectators (several GMs included) felt that it was a total draw (as I recall one GM in particular even praised GM Perelshteyn for "saving" the game by winning all of Black's pawns, and the Commissioner himself told me Charbonneau had a 1 / 100 chance to win that ending). I don't think opposite colored bishops had anything to do with that, just as you said the general impression that R + Minor Piece vs. R is a draw so adding a minor piece to each side seemed materialistically that it shouldn't change that fact).

As to whether this game should win GOTY or not, once again everyone will have their own opinion about that, and mine happens to be that while this game might have had some errors, it still was a higher quality game than the majority of the other GOTY contenders, and whether you found it exciting or not, based on all the factors, I still don't see how it could be viewed as less exciting than the majority of the other contenders. As such, ranking it in the bottom 30% just doesn't seem to add up to me.

Dennis Monokroussos said...

A last clarification.

1. Exciting? As a spectacle, yes, absolutely.

2. Exciting? As a collection of moves? Not to me, and probably not to many people presented with the moves apart from its background context.

3. Well-played? By Charbonneau, yes, very (with one exception). By Perelshteyn, no.

4. Boston vs. New York? Despite the maps of the world they sell in NYC which make Manhattan occupy the vast majority of the earth's space, it just ain't so. While the game's importance from a popularity contest and buzz standpoint could definitely serve as a tiebreaker, I feel it would be wrong for me to let that outweigh what seem better and/or more interesting and entertaining games.

5. But 15th place? It could have been a little higher - maybe even around 10th place. The pros were that it involved GMs and that Black played pretty well. The cons were that White made some serious errors, the trend was all in one direction, and aside from a brief tactical flurry, there were no real diagram moments.

Anonymous said...

arun your comment was too short, please post a longer one next time thank you.

Arun Sharma said...

Well I suppose Dennis and I will just have to agree to disagree, and that's fine, it's subjective and again obviously no one is truly correct. No hard feelings -- remember, blasting the judges when I disagree with them is something Greg specifically instructed me to do!

As to my previous comment being too long, I think Dennis has to share the blame in that to an extent, after all his two comments were both reasonably long and in order to adequately (at least in my view) respond to his points how could my response not be long?

Dennis Monokroussos said...

Happy to share the blame for your comment's length.

vishank said...

i think the game should have got 8th place


Ilya said...

In general I feel that Dennis is the most meticulously working judge who takes this seriously and doesn't let his emotions get the better of him, I think even last season proved that he was also the most fair and balanced of all judges(if I may steal the self- phrasing line from the not so fair and balanced FOX Network :) )