Thursday, October 9, 2008

Week 7 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: IM Alex Lenderman (QNS) vs IM Dean Ippolito (NJ) 1-0

Arun Sharma: Another very sharp, interesting game by Lenderman, and while many (including himself!) felt his last week's game had too many mistakes to be a just winner, I have a feeling many fewer will object to this game as it seemed to contain very few mistakes. On top of that, there were quite a few interesting, flashy tactical moments, White's 19. Bxd6, Black's valiant save attempt 40... Rxc4, and most of all White's 28. Qxf7!, all very nice moves. (1st place: 5 points)

Greg Shahade: Lenderman realized after four weeks that winning just wasn't enough, he had to start winning in style too. I thought this game was a very obvious choice this week, by far it was the most interesting, exciting, tricky, and well played game. Even though Ippolito didn't play perfectly, he played quite reasonably in a losing effort. It was very difficult to see all of Lenderman's ideas in the heat of the battle. Unfortunately Lenderman's captivating play is clearly distracting his teammates, as Queens has just 0.5/2 in the two weeks he has won the GOTW prize! (1st place: 5 points)

Jonathan Hilton: First, congratulations to Lenderman for moving to 6 - 0. And second, congratulations for a well-played win over Ippolito and second GOTW! I felt Black had to be happy with his position at some point in the opening in this game, but I'm just not sure which. He had the two Bishops and a nice center — and then Lenderman simply applied pressure to the center, and it disappeared; then he allowed Black's two Bishops free reign over the board in order to activate his Rooks, and the Bishops wound up seeming insignificant! So, yet again — just like with the Schroer game — it just goes to show how much I really understand about chess! :) 26. g4 and 27. g5 formed a nice tactical sequence; 28. Qxf7! was a very nice finish to it indeed. 40...Rxc4 was a nice stalemate trick but obviously Lenderman had already seen past it, finishing Black off easily in the endgame a pawn up. Lenderman's MVP chances just seem to keep getting better every week! (4th Place: 2 points)

Total Score of Lenderman vs Ippolito: 12 points


2nd Place: FM Tom Bartell (PHI) vs IM John Bartholomew (DAL) 1-0

Jonathan Hilton: I felt this was the best choice for GOTW because it seemed to be solid in every category, from opening to endgame. It was a very nicely played game by Bartell — his decision to go into the endgame an exchange down, simply trusting in his positional supremacy, came as a surprise for me. Overall I think the choices he made in this game were good ones. As for Black's play, Bartholomew's decision to play 13... e4 was probably too weakening. I felt he ought to have good chances for equality after achieving ...e6-e5, despite having given up the two Bishops. Perhaps something like 13... exd4 14. exd4 Qf8 would have served him better. Once Bartell broke up Black's center — and took it for himself with the 18. Rxf6 sacrifice — I felt he was better, though it took a strong show of force to prove it. I liked his idea of playing e3-e4-e5, despite leaving the hole on d5 and weakening the d4 pawn. White essentially has a huge space advantage and pressure in return for material and a few structural weaknesses. In the endgame, I particularly liked 35. h6+! and the sequence of 38. Bd5+ Ke7 39.Bxb7. I also liked White's play to win the h7 pawn. I didn't see any major inaccuracies in this game by Bartell, though computers or strong spectators may have seen something I've missed. (1st place: 5 points)

Arun Sharma: While I'm not really totally certain just how well played a game this really was (as Greg points out, Black missed the very strong 20... Bg3), it definitely didn't seem to contain that many mistakes and was a very interesting effort from Bartell. His exchange sac definitely was as such, and his endgame technique seemed very, very strong, seeming to win with relative ease against such a strong player despite his slight material deficit (though to be fair, Bartholomew's time trouble may well have been a cause of that also). Luckily, I definitely ranked this game high enough to give it a good chance to win, so hopefully, as Greg notes below, he will be the recipient of the harassment this week instead of me. (2nd Place: 4 points)

Greg Shahade: I intended on ranking this game highly, but 20... Bg3 is just too obvious and strong. I have to admit I was very impressed at how much play White had, but as stated, I feel a large part of it was due to some imperfect play by Black. The only reason I gave it fourth anyway is because there weren't so many games to choose from and aside from the one blunder, it was quite an impressive display from Bartell. While glancing at the game briefly during the matches I just assumed he would lose because he was down the exchange and somehow he slowly and convincingly outplayed his opponent. Also the fact that Philly ended up losing the match made it even less of a choice for me. Given the fact that my low vote cost this game the prize, I expect to be getting some angry phone calls from a certain family member/manager. (4th place: 2 points)

Total Score of Bartell vs Bartholomew: 11 points


3rd Place: IM Jonathan Schroer (CAR) vs FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (BAL) 1-0

Greg Shahade: For some reason it seems as if I always rank Schroer's games highly when he wins. I'm not really sure why that is but he seems to win every game in an aggressive and relatievly flashy manner. I thought this game was a very instructive display of isolated pawn/hanging pawn play, and while Enkhbat surely made some inaccurate moves, there were no obvious and gross blunders from what I saw. Qa1 made me happy for some reason. In any case, due to the superior resistance put up by Ippolito, and the more unorthodox type of game that it was, I believe that Lenderman vs Ippolito was clearly the best choice, so for me this was second place by quite a bit. (2nd place: 4 points)

Jonathan Hilton: I thought Schroer’s handling of this game was interesting. He seemed to have a decent position out of the opening (a slight pull with White) around moves 15-16 or so, but then a few moves later it seemed like he'd lost a lot of it; suddenly, Black's hitting up a3 and White’s a2 bishop just seems misplaced. But, it turns out I was fooled into thinking Black’s position was good. It was all according to Schroer's plan, or at least the way he followed up with his position made sense of those things I felt were wrong with his position. The a3 pawn he simply "sacrificed", and the Bishop on a2 eventually supported the decisive breakthrough in the center. Nicely played by Schroer and way to fake out old Judge Hilton! (3rd place: 3 points)

Arun Sharma: Perhaps I should have ranked this higher as the other judges did as it was a very nice, clean cut effort from Schroer, seeming to take a fairly dull, only slightly better looking position for him into a complete winning one in only a few moves without either side seeming to do anything unusual. At the same time, that was the main reason why this game didn't really inspire me as the nice tactics that have a tendency to do just that weren't present here. (5th Place: 1 point)

Total Score of Schroer vs Enkhbat: 8 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

6 points (Jon 4, Arun 2):
FM Osmany Perea (MIA) vs FM Daniel Rensch (ARZ) 1-0

6 points (Arun 3, Greg 3):
GM Boris Gulko (NJ) vs IM Eli Vovsha (QNS) 1-0

1 point (Greg 1):
FM Ralph Zimmer (BAL) vs FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) 0-1

1 point (Jon 1):
GM Vinay Bhat (SF) vs GM Hikaru Nakamura (SEA) 1-0


Anonymous said...

The Love Fest with Lenderman continues.

Matthew Herman said...

What does it take for the bottom boards to get any recognition? I'm obviously biased in this regard, but Herman-Krasik, a wild game without which the East would be decided with 3 weeks to go doesn't garner at least one 5th place vote?

Anonymous said...

Lower boards dont get much props because they are not marketable people for the league and it is perceived that fans will not like the game. A few common denominators for GOTW judging - (1) If you are having a good USCL year like Lenderman, you will get the benefit of the doubt (notice that Lenderman had not won a GOTW and then got it 2 weeks ago in an effort that did not seem GOTW worthy. This was done simply to recognize his good season thus far (2) There has to involve a sacrifice of some sort - a well played game will not win because its not exciting. (3) Boards 3 and 4 have no chance to win GOTW (this is made up for when wild card selections are made but it still shows the favoring of board 1 and 2).

Anonymous said...

You just never know with these judges. I mean bhat-nakamura only getting one point? and from the retarded judge? i mean seriously.we obviously need a new panel if hilton id starting to make shahade and sharma look dumb.

Greg Shahade said...

To those that said Board 3 has no chance of GOTW, news flash: Lenderman vs Ippolito was board 3!

Also I think 4th board received 2nd place a bit ago also.

The Krasik-Herman game was very short, and was decided by a gross blunder that ended the game immediately, it just wasn't GOTW quality IMO. The meat of the game was maybe 5-7 moves long and then it was over.

Also I felt like the Lenderman game did deserve it two weeks ago, but whatever :)

John Fernandez said...

I thought it was pretty clearly shown that there was no "gross blunder that ended the game" in the Herman-Krasik game.

Greg Shahade said...

Jfern huh? ...Nd8 loses the game in one move. Honestly this game was not even in my radar for GOTW. Herman plays g4, the first interesting moment of the game, on move 17. Krasik blunders checkmate in 7 more moves.

I mean really whats going on? There have been many Board 4 games much more dqualified than this.

Anonymous said...

I think that board 4 should get much more recognition than it gets. I mean, look at Schroer-Tegshuren - the game was so one-sided that is wasn't even interesting. Herman-Krasik was a very nice game in which Herman made a brilliant sac which is not usual and converted it very nicely.

mark_larocca said...

Maybe I shouldn't be saying this, but the Herman-Krasik game did deserve game of the week consideration. I just finished analyzing it for my article and the g4 pawn sac required very precise play to hold. Ilya's final move Nd8 was no blunder... there simply were no moves to save the game... so, he took a shot. My analysis will appear over the weekend on the Blitz site. In my opinion, this game was as deserving as the one chosen.
-- Mark LaRocca

Arun Sharma said...

Ok...where to begin. First off, I too am disappointed that Board Four games never seem to win GOTW, but frankly I didn't count on Herman vs Krasik being anyone's example of a Board Four game that should have been ranked highly. Like Greg, I didn't remotely consider that game. After Ne4, Black did commit two mistakes (three if you count Nd8, but perhaps that was not counted as one since while it did blunder mate, Black was already in big trouble by then), and frankly all the moves White made after Ne4 seemed completely obvious, likely the first move most people would suggest in those positions. There have been some Board Four games that I've felt deserved more credit than they got, but I have to say I don't think that that was one of them.

"Lower boards dont get much props because they are not marketable people for the league and it is perceived that fans will not like the game." That's not true at all, at least from my point of view. In many ways, Board Four games are more liked by the fans since they often are more exciting (albeit not as accurate) and don't tend to contain any of the lifeless draws that people hate so much. To me, when judging games, a game's quality factor is the number one issue to me (perhaps it's not to the other two judges, but it definitely is to me), and that's why Board Four games are at such an inherent disadvantage, at least in regards to my rankings. The vast majority of them are of much lower quality than the games of the higher boards, and so clearly the very few games which are of high quality there are far outnumbered by the games on the higher boards.

As for giving Lenderman "the benefit of the doubt" and him winning due to "recognize his good season", that once again is not true at all to me either. I picked his games based on the actual game, the fact that he was 4 - 0 or 5 - 0 prior to them had no bearing on those picks. Obviously, someone who is 6 - 0 is far more likely to win a GOTW prize at some point than someone who has a worse record, but that's merely due to having more games as candidates which obviously increases your chances. As for him winning last week in a "non-worthy" effort, I felt (as many others did also) that the Benjamin vs Erenburg game should have won, but for those saying he was not deserving please answer this: What game (other than the Erenburg game) did YOU feel would have been a worthy winner? It seemed like all the comments that week were centered on saying this, this, and that game weren't deserving, but I didn't see anyone suggesting any better choices.

As for Bhat vs Nakamura, really not sure where the hype from that game comes from again (I personally felt last year's game was over-hyped also). For those who feel that game should have been ranked etc., could you please elaborate as to why (and giving the reason that "wow Nakamura lost" isn't nearly enough by itself). I personally even spoke to Vinay about his game, who told me "Having not even looked at the other games, my game definitely doesn't deserve GOTW." So again, please explain to me why that game should have done well.

Greg Shahade said...

I dunno, maybe I underestimated some of these moves and it deserved some votes, but the fact remains that the interesting part of this game lasted 7 moves, and clearly black didn't put up anywhere close to maximum resistance.

Also to compare it to the winning game, a 50+ move battle with multiple interesting tactical moments that actually occurred over the board, instead of in analysis, seems wrong to me.

Greg Shahade said...

btw I agree this g4 idea seems to be very nice, I underestimated it and perhaps it deserved some votes because I admit the Gulko+Schroer games were definitely quite one sided too. Somehow the meat of those games seemed to be much longer and protracted than this one however.

Jonathan Hilton said...

Hi guys,

What does it take for bottom boards to get any recognition?

Um, Lenderman-Ippolito was on Board #3.

Actually, I suppose I was the only judge to seriously consider ranking Herman-Krasik. I want to apologize to Herman for not picking it because I realize my decision, in hindsight, was biased. Krasik had already lost at least one Sicilian with the Black pieces that I had already ranked-- Bayaraa-Krasik 1-0 from way back, also a fairly nicely-played game by White--and so partly, Herman's game was just old news for me. I'd seen Krasik lose before, my impression is that he's not a strong player, and so I just shrugged and said, well, let's just pick something else. In hindsight, I should have ranked this game.

As for anyone who posted anonymously on this forum, I have only one thing to say:

John Fernandez said...

I think the issue is less the board number, then the strength of the players (Lenderman - Ippolito could have been board 1 and no one would have blinked an eye).

I think the bigger issue is that a very nice game was underestimated, and some games with some ugly flaws (Bartell getting rolled out of the opening and Bartholomew missing 20. ... Bg3, Enkhbat just getting rolled out of the opening, Rensch missing 21. ... Nxd5, playing 30. ... gxh5? and Perea missing 31. g3!, and then Rensch's 32. ... Rxe6?? howler, Vovsha missing Ka8, let alone the Zimmer-Zaikov nightmare), got votes.

I am definitely biased, but gosh, it was a good clean game without any mistakes by Herman.

Matthew Herman said...

Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment. It's not exactly clear what "GOTW" should mean, similar to MVP in baseball/basketball. It's my view that the beauty/excitement of a chess game isn't necessarily measured by its length or by the names of White and Black (as evidenced by many classic 20-30 movers). I thought that the "meat" of the game, though a mere 7-8 moves, was quite complex and sharp, and walking such a precipice is pretty darn exciting.

Arun, yes, my moves were fairly straightforward *after* the decision to play 17. g4 (a true pawn sacrifice), but I had to wade through both the thicket of variations that remained hidden and the clearer path that was chosen during my 20 minute think. Even there, significant complexity remained. If Krasik had opted against 23. ..g6 with 23. ..h6 or Rad8 (as originally suggested by IM Mark Ginsburg), I would have had to find (as I did OTB) 24. Rf6! (as Ginsburg later put it, echoing Fischer-Benko) -- the only move that wins. If he had chosen to accept the pawn differently, with 18. ..Ne4 (as suggested by SM Marc Esserman), an entirely different battle would have arisen after 19. Ne4 Nf5 20. Rf3! Krasik did not play poorly -- all of his moves are defensible up til 22. ..Kh8?, which is not an unreasonable move in such positions.

I understand that the judges don't have the time to examine each game in detail, but in this case it had already sparked significant discussion on many different forums, including the Boylston blog and Mark Ginsburg's blog, and was a decisive game in a pivotal match. I just can't shake the thought (and this was before seeing Jon's post) that if we swapped names with Lenderman-Ippolito (to take nothing away from it, it was quite a battle and definitely deserving), this game would have received far more votes.

Go Knights!

Greg Shahade said...

Poll has been posted, let's let the fans decide :)

Ilya said...

Could somebody tell me why we hilton is a judge, his judgement choices are depressing, he lacks chess understanding and now he is bragging about being biased against a certain uscl player--moi-- in the context of apologizing to another uscl player Matt Herman for not giving his win some more GOW consideration. This is very serious and is a clear violation of impartiality that a judge must posses. hilton acts like is a GM making ridiculous and inacurate statemets at least Shabalov has the title, take my game vs Zorigt for example his claim that white was better or winning easily is a plain lie, in fact I'd be willing to play the position before Bc3? against hilton without computer help and i am sure I would score 10/10 thats how difficult I believe white's position to be. I will personally undertake the task of finding titled judges for next season if Greg does not mind, who will judge the games fairly instead of mothing off left and right with ridiculous insults. Mr hilton, I dont know if that metal object that fell on you in Phily caused severe brain damage but i would think twice about making
personal attack on me.
Mathew, about our game I failed to be impressed with your attempts to prove an advantage after g4 to Marc Esserman, I think Nxe4 is a critical move, I remember looking at it after g4.. probably missing Nf5... Perhaps you have play but i dont think its enough, the fact that I can sack a piece for 3 pawns and even after e5 which gives me at least full compensations makes me doubt the soundness of the whole idea. On the other hand, the idea itself was very interesting and it required some precise moves on my part, anyhow you won a nice game and for that I congradulate you.

Mark Ginsburg said...

I would like it if someone checked what I think is the principal defense in Herman-Krasik, namely the hard to find 21. Ne4 Kh8!! (21...Be7 was played).

See the analysis - it leads to very interesting positions.

Matthew Herman said...


It was a tough battle, as always, thanks.
In each variation, after 17. g4 Ne4 18. Ne4 Nf5 19. Rf3!, Marc's best was to find a line where white takes a perpetual, but I am always fighting for an advantage. The counter-sac on e5 is interesting, but non-intuitive (especially if black believes he has an advantage there!) and leads to further interesting positions. I don't know that anyone is claiming, least of all me, that g4 is a win by force. It is, however, an extremely dangerous practical idea, with at worst unclear equality for white and at best many different opportunities for black to stumble. We don't play chess in a lab.

Mark, I am going to write up my own annotations and post the link. I think white's best is 22. Qd2 (aiming to capture on f6 more favorably), though at the very least black has 22. ..Be7 23. fe, which is a clear improvement on the game (Q on d2 vs h5) and shows the superiority of Kh8.