Thursday, May 15, 2008

Game of the Year -- 2nd Place

This is the final part in a weekly series of articles which has been counting down to revealing what game was voted as the 2007 USCL Game of the Year. For more information on exactly how this process has worked and the prize information, please refer to: Game of the Year Preview.


2nd Place: GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs IM Drasko Boskovic (DAL) 0-1

IM Boskovic was forced to sac the exchange after 31. c5 which created a very unbalanced position where he was better able to sift through the complications than his opponent.

Below are the comments from the judges on why they ranked the game where they did and in parentheses is the ranking given by that judge and the number of points awarded for that ranking.

WGM Jennifer Shahade (1st Place, 20 points):
In a way, I wish that the Game of the Year Money was divided in a way so that the losing player gets some too - sort of like a bad beat jackpot in poker, where the "winner" gets 80%, the "loser" 10%, and the lucky bystanders share the rest. This game proves that artful chess games require two authors. Becerra went right into the fire with 32. Bc4, even though he knew that it was complicated. Boskovic used the principle of "playing on both sides of the board" (with 45... Bg4, 48... g5, 49... Kh5, etc.) in a position where it would not occur to most people to think that way. Finally when the tactics exploded in the mid 30s till the end of the game, there were countless opportunities for either sides to blunder. It's a testament to how serious both of them took the competition that they rose to the demands of the position and both found one good move after another. Until Becerra didn't that is, when he played 57. Qd7. I'm not sure how this will place in the final standings but congrats for being my number one USCL pick of 2007!

GM Alex Shabalov (1st Place, 20 points):
Excellent defensive effort by Dallas #1. The forced exchange sac led to an extremely tense unbalanced middlegame, where Black just turned out to be more precise and showed more determination.

FM Ron Young (3rd Place, 18 points):
A great fighting game, no question. Epic. But I want to avoid too touchy-feely an approach to the rankings and anyway, epics get plenty of respect elsewhere.

FM Dennis Monokroussos (8th Place, 13 points):
A very exciting game. There's an old joke about marriage, that a man chases a woman until she catches him; that's a good description of this game. (I'm not calling Boskovic a woman, of course!) Becerra fought all over the board to generate play, and it was all Boskovic could do to stay afloat and generate some counterplay of his own. In a way 32. c5 was the decisive moment. Becerra won the exchange and maintained an advantage, but lost control as the position randomized. With 45. c6! he would have been safe and better, but after 45. a4 the tables started turning. 50... Qg4 let White off the hook, but the trend was going Black's way and after 56. Qe8+ and especially 57. Qd7? Black regained the advantage and brought home the point. A real thriller!

FM Robby Adamson (8th Place, 13 points):
Oh man did I want to give this game higher marks. It was only after some analysis that I actually moved this game off my Top Three pedastal, and down to where I have it now. Julio played well throughout, but Boskovic hung in there and kept the game unbalanced. Although Julio missed several wins, I was impressed with Boskovic keeping the game goinge. I struggled with this game as I said before. If Boskovic had not been worse for much of the game, it would have ended up higher. I award this game thirteen points.

Total Score of Becerra vs Boskovic: (2nd Place, 84 Points)

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