Friday, October 31, 2008

Week 10 Game of the Week

This year we have three judges for Game of the Week, each ranking their top five games. The games are then given from one to five points, based on these rankings, and whichever game receives the most total points wins the award. First place each week will receive a $100 bonus prize, second place $50, and third place $30. Our three judges are: IM Greg Shahade, NM Arun Sharma, and NM Jonathan Hilton. Click here for more details.


1st Place: GM Jaan Ehlvest (TEN) vs GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) 1/2-1/2

Arun Sharma: Very interesting, hard fought game with many interesting moments and tactics. Both sides seemed to navigate several tough positions and find some very good moves. I particularly liked Black's 27... Bf5!, 30... Bh7! A fairly easy pick to me as this game definitely appeared to be of high quality and was very exciting, a tough combination to achieve in the USCL's fast time control. (1st place: 5 points)

Greg Shahade: What's with the love all the draws are getting lately? Also surprised to see the judges are so sophisticated that we notice a draw from the only match that had zero playoff implications and realized that it was clearly deserving of the top prize. It was a wild game with lots of great moments, congrats Jaan and Sergey and also to the judges! (1st place: 5 points)

Jonathan Hilton: This is possibly the most exciting Petroff Defense of all time. Given the innocuous position after move six, one would think a draw was inevitable. Well, I suppose it was: thirty four moves later, a drawn Rook and Pawn endgame was reached. Along the way, at least half a dozen pieces were sacrificed, starting with the rather unoriginal 23. Rxf6, reaching its peak of creativity with 27... Bf5, and eventually petering out with the absurd-looking (yet forced) 34... Rh1. I just wish we could give each player $100! (1st place: 5 points)

Total Score of Ehlvest vs Erenburg: 15 points


2nd Place: GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) vs IM Dmitry Schneider (QNS) 1-0

Arun Sharma: A bit of a one-sided game, but a very powerful effort by Christiansen really dominating the game completely from a fairly tame looking opening and ending the game with the very elegant finish 29. Rxg7+! (2nd place: 4 points)

Greg Shahade: Super one sided game by Christiansen. It was saved by the flashy finish, but also marred by the fact that Schneider resigned before letting Christiansen play it out to an obvious winning position. In a game like this, where it was very one-sided, you need to have a lot of beauty to win, and Schneider's slightly premature resignation probably dropped it from second to third place in my rankings. Also Schneider moved his queen a whole lot. I understand Arun's ranking and also Jonathan's hesitation to rank it at all, it's just one of those games that depends on what you value for a Game of the Week. (3rd Place: 3 points)

Jonathan Hilton: This game was a clean kill by Christiansen and was certainly flashy. I avoided ranking it because not only was it not an upset — a strong GM defeating an IM with the White pieces — but White never had to take any real risks in order to achieve the victory. Out of the thirty four moves, Black made ten moves with the Queen; White's pieces came out easily and naturally, but Black was clearly struggling from the beginning. Still, a nice kill all in all. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Christiansen vs Schneider: 7 points


3rd Place: GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs GM Vinay Bhat (SF) 1/2-1/2

Jonathan Hilton: The game petered out to a draw too soon to take the first place spot, but it was very interesting and almost perfectly played — at least, I haven’t been able to come up with any sizable improvements for either side. 23. Bxa6! secured the draw for White in a very original fashion — I haven't seen many tactics like this one before! If you ask me, I definitely think each player deserves the $15. If you have a small car, that might even fill your gas tank with today's bargain basement prices! (3rd place: 3 points)

Greg Shahade: Of course, as I am not as huge of a theoretician as Arun, I had no idea this had anything to do with theory or the US Champs. I just thought there were sort of cool tactics and no one seemed to make any big mistakes so I put it in fourth place, despite the fact that it was quite a short affair. (4th place: 2 points)

Arun Sharma: I briefly considered this game since it definitely did seem to be of high quality, but while it was going on, it reminded me so much of the Becerra vs Shulman game from the 2008 US Championship (positions identical after move seventeen), and I assumed Becerra had just prepared an improvement for this game. Perhaps that was an incorrect assessment (since White only drew this game after all, but maybe Black had to play perfectly or close to force a draw after White's improvement). While we had plenty of debates last year about whether a game which is nearly all preparation should be a detraction, for instance with Martinez vs Zilberstein, I didn't find the preparation in this game to be anything particularly special and as such I didn't rank it. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Becerra vs Bhat: 5 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

4 points (Greg 4):
NM Michael Lee (SEA) vs NM Warren Harper (ARZ) 0-1

4 points (Jon 4):
IM David Pruess (SF) vs FM Bruci Lopez (MIA) 1/2-1/2

4 points (Arun 3, Jon 1):
IM Eli Vovsha (QNS) vs GM Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS) 0-1

2 points (Arun 2):
FM Osmany Perea (MIA) vs IM Dmitry Zilberstein (SF) 1-0

2 points (Jon 2):
GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) vs GM Joel Benjamin (NJ) 1-0

1 point (Arun 1):
IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) vs IM Emory Tate (CHC) 1-0

1 point (Greg 1):
FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (BAL) vs FM Todd Andrews (TEN) 1-0


John said...

Just a minor correction, but the replayable Ehlvest-Erenburg game shows it ending 1-0, not 1/2-1/2.

Good choice for GOTW, this was definitely an exciting one!

Jonathan Hilton said...

Hey thanks for the positive feedback! =)