Thursday, October 16, 2008

Week 8 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 Sergey Erenburg (BAL) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 1-0

Jonathan Hilton: I think this game deserves to be the undisputed winner of this week's GOTW competition. The game featured no less than three (!!) exchange sacrifices or pseudo-exchange sacrifices by the feared GM, all of which Black decided to decline: 14. f5!, allowing Black to eventually chomp with 16... Bxh1; 18. g6!!, based on the line 18... Nf3? 19. Bxf3 Bxf3 20. Re3 Bxd1? 21. Nd5! Qxc2+ 22. Qxc2 Bxc2 and then the nice intermezzo 23. Nxe7, with check; and finally 22. Rd3!!, once again just hoping Black would take the Rook and allow White’s light-square Bishop free reign. Despite the fact that Baltimore lost to Boston in any case, I think Erenburg produced one of the shiniest gems in recent USCL history. (1st place: 5 points)

Arun Sharma: I can't say I was especially enthused about voting this game first since it was a bit more one-sided than I like my top games to really be (in my view, Erenburg's win from two weeks ago was far more deserving of winning GOTW than this game). Even though there seemed to be a fair selection of good games to choose from this week, I didn't really feel any game particularly stood out. This game, like is typical of Erenburg, seemed virtually flawless by him, and even though the mating attack might not have been the hardest of attacks to finish off, he seemed to really do it nicely, particularly 22. Rd3! As such, given the competition, this seemed to be the best choice for the top spot to me. (1st place: 5 points)

Greg Shahade: Like Arun, I was hesitant to rank this game highly due to the ridiculously one-sided nature of the game. In fact, all five of my games were games that ended in very violent attacks, and I think that in the end I ranked them in order of overall competitiveness. However, sometimes violent attacks against an opponent who doesn't put up much resistance are entertaining, especially when you know they are generally a strong opponent, like SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun. Even though I only ranked this game third I admit it might be the best choice for GOTW. Congrats to GM Erenburg on his great season so far! (3rd place: 3 points)

Total Score of Erenburg vs Sammour-Hasbun: 13 points


2nd Place: IM Alex Lenderman (QNS) vs IM Emory Tate (CHC) 1-0

Greg Shahade: As I mentioned above, I thought that this was by far the most competitive of the five games I ranked. There were a few well played games that I didn't rank, but I found them a bit too boring / dry / positional (such as Benjamin vs Milman, Felecan vs Stripunsky etc). In the end, this was a pretty interesting game, although Tate could have clearly played better at some point in the late stages of the game. I disagree with Arun below when he claims that Tate seemed to have a "very nice position". I felt that it was pretty double-edged the whole time. Anyway it's probably best that Alex not win three GOTWs in a row, or else people will start claiming there's a conspiracy. (1st place: 5 points)

Jonathan Hilton: Alex won this game in what is becoming his trademark style: crunch, calculate, and churn through those tactics. In his interview with Liz Vicary he mentioned training with Dvoretsky books, and I have no doubt that he works with them constantly — he is finding strong moves in difficult positions and steering through difficult, tight-rope situations. All this work he is putting into improving his chess really is paying dividends — both for him (in results) and for the spectators (for excitement). Around move 22 or so I might seriously have preferred the great Tate's position, but Lenderman neutralized Black's central advantage quite well I thought. Then he concentrated on his own strength, the two Bishops, to weave a mating net. I’ll be seriously surprised if this game doesn’t make it into the you-know-what. (2nd Place: 4 points)

Arun Sharma: I definitely liked the tactics at the end of the game, especially 33. Bxa6 (and 14. Nxf7 was also nice, albeit a move that kind of begs to be played in that position). At the same time in spite of the early tactics, it seemed like Black got a very nice position in the middlegame which naturally made me question the effectiveness of Nxf7 and of White's opening in general. I definitely think this game deserved to be ranked on the whole, but again I wasn't (and am still not) sure exactly what sort of ranking was truly appropriate due to the latter fact. (5th place: 1 point)

Total Score of Lenderman vs Tate: 10 points


3rd Place: FM Sam Shankland (SF) vs FM John Bick (TEN) 1-0

Arun Sharma: Mostly a good game by both players, with nice maneuvering, and seemingly well played (at least until 28... h4?), and then nice tactics by Shankland to exploit that mistake with a very artistic finish.

In regards to Greg's below comment about my Boskovic vs Lopez pick, sadly for once in his life (guess it was bound to happen someday), he might be correct; I admit that pick was a tough one. Like Greg to me, it seemed to have the makings of a great game through most of the middlegame; if Lopez had managed to finish off the nice attack he started, it likely would have been an easy first place pick by me. But he didn't do so and there followed some huge blunders by both sides. As I said this really had the makings of a great game to me and should those ending blunders move it from first place to not ranked at all? Perhaps, I don't know, but for me those mistakes moved it from a great game to a good game, the same basic category I put probably eight games from this week, and which of those game should have been first, second, etc. amongst those, I'm really not sure. Again, I had a very tough time picking my order this week. (3rd place: 3 points)

Jonathan Hilton: This was really a nice effort by Shankland. I felt he made some strong tactical choices in executing his Kingside attack. That said, I felt Black really was holding his own in the middlegame until 28... h4?! which seemed to jettison all the work Black had done to make his King safe. Black’s play throughout the game just seemed a little too ambitious — even in the opening stages he really over committed himself to the Queenside. Something like 17. f5 might have blasted Black off the board from the get-go, since although Black can win a Rook, his pieces aren't very active. Still, I think Shankland really deserves this GOTW slot. He's had a lot of strong games in the league and this one had the positional intrigue and decisive tactical play necessary to garner a GOTW slot. (4th place: 2 points)

Greg Shahade: This game only gets ranked due to one beautiful move by FM Shankland (32. Ne8+). The rest of the game was not so exciting, and 28...h4 seemed like a really mysterious decision by FM Bick. However the final move was really quite picturesque, and this is why I ranked the game. Also congrats to Matthew Herman for getting his due consideration this time! Based on my previous formulas, I felt it was the least competitive of all the violent bloodbaths, and so I gave it fifth.

Also, since I have a moment I may as well take some time to express my confusion at some of the other judges' picks. Boskovic vs Lopez had the makings of a good game as it was an interesting position, but then both sides clearly made some errors, and after that, the endgame was horrendously misplayed. Also, I know that Jonathan and Ilya Krasik are great friends, but unfortunately aside from that fact, I can't really explain why he might have ranked that game in third place.
(4th place: 2 points)

Total Score of Shankland vs Bick: 7 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

4 points (Greg 4):
GM Hikaru Nakamura (SEA) vs IM Levon Altounian (ARZ) 1-0

4 points (Arun 4):
IM Drasko Boskovic (DAL) vs FM Bruci Lopez (MIA) 0-1

3 points (Jon 3):
NM Ilya Krasik (BOS) vs FM Ralph Zimmer (BAL) 1-0

2 points (Arun 2):
GM Joel Benjamin (NJ) vs IM Lev Milman (CAR) 1-0

1 point (Jon 1):
FM Ray Kaufman (BAL) vs SM Marc Esserman (BOS) 0-1

1 points (Greg 1):
NM Matt Herman (NY) vs NM Matthew Bengtson (PHI) 1-0


Ilya said...


Anonymous said...

First of, thanks for choosing my game as GOTW (finally :-). Despite it looked like an easy one-sided game, I would point out two critical positions on white's 17th and 18th moves. I am really proud of playing 17.Rhe1 and 18.g6, which are not obvious at all. It seemed like the kingside rook should be operating on the "g" file. However I had to prevent activating black's dark-squared bishop and rook. 17.Rhe1 actually creates a threat of Bc4, forcing black to play Ne5, which game me the tempo to close the "f" file for the black's rook and making black's bishop on e7 passive with 18.g6. The point is that black cannot really play h6, since after Be3, White creates the threats of Nd5 and capture on h6... After the "g" file was opened, and all the black's forces remained passive, it was a question of time (and white's precise play) to finish the game.

For the Week 6 game against GM Benjamin, perhaps some people did not see anything but "fine technique" demonstrated by the Black player, and without deep analysis determined that GM Benjamin had something better to play, I still think it was a game of a very high quality by both players (even after analyzing the game with four GM's and two other FM's). My opponent caused me to find the only moves to survive, and the variations that could have happened include a lot of "kung fu" :-) Unfortunately, since the game was not analyzed deeply, was not appreciated by the judges...

Anyways, thanks again for the award, and I'll try to keep playing fighting chess, even though, it does not seem always like pure kung fu :-)

Sergey Erenburg

Ilya said...

Sergey-- game vs Benjamin was very high quality and deserved GOW that week in my opinion-- as Ive stated in comments that week but this is just pathetic....Jorge joked with me that he is afraid this game will win GOW, I told him "NO WAY", I said at most Hilton will give it 2-3 points but at this point you all know what I think of him....this is just the poorest choice of any GOW so far!

Anonymous said...

Ilya- I'm sorry to say, but you are not objective.
You wrote that after 18...h6 black is fine, but what about 19.Be3? How are you going to parry the Bxh6 and Nd5 threat? How can it be fine for black if none of the pieces is playing? Also after f5, I don't believe Black is "fine", in fact, I think he wouldn't survive after Qe3.
Well, I'd say that the game against GM Benjamin, in my opinion, was much better, but, in comparison to other games, I think that the game against Jorge is still the best of the Week 8. Maybe I got a position with very big advantage after careful play, but according to World Champion Tigran Petrosian: "The hardest thing in chess is to overcome the resistance of the opponent in the winning position". If I haven't found Rd3, and played trivial Bh5, I am not sure that I'd be able to win that position after Bf8, since Jorge is very good in sharp positions...

Sergey Erenburg

mark_larocca said...

First, let me say that I love attacking games like this week's choice. Usually, it is Jorge who is creating them. But, this game deserved consideration and I don't even disagree that it should win. But, I would point out that the same type of White g5 attack in the Herman-Krasik game from last week wasn't even considered for GOTW. Also, I would question why Shmelov-Kaufman wasn't considered. I was at the match and I felt that this game was just as good as the Bd 1 game. However, I was very glad to see that the Krasik-Zimmer game was considered. It was a very well played game by Ilya. As for me, I thought that Shmelov's game was the best of the match.

Chris said...

Congratulations Sergey on a game well played by one of the friendlist GMs on the circuit. Regarding the game I think Sergey was still in preparation, well up until the f5 move sacrificing the rook on h1, which had been played before. Taking with ...exf5 is much better than the ...Rfe8 that Short played against Bacrot and, even just from the short time I have known Sergey, I have no doubt that Sergey knew of at least that game and had looked at this line and this correct capture by Jorge. I think Jorge's mistake was not taking on h1 and defending but then that is not the type of position he wants to be in so he chose to complicate with ...f6. Sergey knuckled down at that point (I think almost 20 mins after using hardly any time on the previous moves) and came up with the very correct plan he has already spoken about and his position is possibly objectively already winning. The fact that he found Rd3!, which was the most decisive way to win, and followed it up accurately with the best moves to keep Jorge under total pressure was very impressive. Once again well done Sergey, enjoy the prize.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Chris.
It does not matter if I was in preparation or not (and yes, I was up to the capture on f5), and I'll explain why I think so.
Four years ago I won a game without making any move of my own against IM Sammulvuo in Budapest. I demonstrated a very powerful novelty and basically played by my analysis. Some people would question if that game would deserve to be the game of the week in the world, but it was, according to the with Garry Kasparov amongst the jury. (He also chose that game as the best one of that week).

With kindest regards,

Chris said...

Yes, I agree that it does not matter if it was preparation or not. For instance, I think Martinez should have won Game of the Year last season for his impressive game, despite most of it been preparation. I assumed you had looked at this line by both how quick you were moving and by knowing the attention to detail you pay to opening theory/knowledge. I'm guessing you've looked at lines involved with taking the rook on h1 and that ...f6 was not something you would have considered during an analysis of that position. That is what makes the win so impressive, when you had to find a not so obvious plan over the board. I honestly don't think that you won GOTW thanks to the first 16 moves of the game but probably your play from Rhe1 which is when you were "on your own."

Ilya said...

Without a doubt Erenberg a very strong and dangerous player but I think Marc and Chris you are missing the point of GOW, it isnt about the biggest kill its about a tough competative game with mutual chances which keeps fans on the edge of their seats all of which this game certainly was NOT. Of course I am biased-- i play for Boston and know Jorge's opinion of this game, lets just say its not a game he is proud of. I cant shake the fact that name tags determine everything, take away name tags or blindfold the judges.. give these games to the same judges, do you really think it would lead to the same outcome?! I highly doubt it...Btw Greg I normaly dont participate in self-advertisement but there is more to my game than meets the eye, I will annotate it shortly.