Friday, October 24, 2008

Week 9 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 Kudrin (PHI) vs GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) 1/2-1/2

Jonathan Hilton: Put simply, this was probably the only truly exciting game of the League this week that was played with relative accuracy. Most of the other exciting games featured strange blunders, but this one seems to have been played strongly throughout. Although I definitely would have preferred White after Black willingly parted with the Exchange, Christiansen did everything right: he took the center, placed his pieces on active squares, and broke through with his passed d-pawn. It's rare that a game features a Black pawn chain extending from h7 all the way to d3! White eventually managed to cash out with 41. Rxd3 and the game petered out to a draw, but not without some flashy tactical play. I just wish we could give each player $100 rather than having to split it! (1st place: 5 points)

Greg Shahade: I should have ranked this game first. I was having trouble ranking the games this week, because every flashy looking win seemed to involve some hideous blunders by one's opponent or some very cooperative play. I actually skipped this game over in my first look through the games, because of I suppose a bias against draws, but after looking at it again, I realized how favorably it compared to the other games. I didn't go over this game with Fritz or use a fine-toothed comb to examine it, but in the other games this week (except for the one I erroneously ranked first place) every win was achieved by ridiculously obvious blunders by an opponent while in this game it seemed like both sides played quite reasonably/well. I suppose in the Charbonneau vs Erenburg game the blunders weren't obvious, because it was a confusing position, but both sides made enough very clear mistakes where I couldn't rank that too highly.

Anyway enough about those games ... simply put this was a sharp game, seemingly well played by both sides, and so it's a deserving winner!
Also, it's nice to have a drawn game win every once in a while. Congrats to Jonathan Hilton for getting it right as usual :) (2nd place: 4 points)

Arun Sharma: Although I ranked this game second, in retrospect I think it was definitely the best choice for the top prize since as Jonathan pointed out this was a way more accurate game than pretty much any other game this week which was even reasonably exciting. Nice play by both sides in many tough situations, fairly clean, with a hard fought draw probably being the fairest result.

In general though, this week I must say that pretty much all the reasonable candidates for GOTW (except this game) seemed to have a large issue in that the losing side really completely self destructed at some point. I basically had to accept the fact that nearly all the reasonable candidates had that detraction, and so it was going to be necessary to rank some games with that defect. Once I realized that, I went about finding the games amongst those which I felt were the most interesting, and to me the Becerra game was clearly the one that fit the bill best in that regard as both the opening of that game along with the tactics at the end were very interesting. I think ranking it first was probably too high given the blunders involved (as I said, this game should almost certainly have been first), but given the alternatives, it still doesn't seem unreasonable to me still to make it a reasonably high pick.
(2nd place: 4 points)

Total Score of Kudrin vs Christiansen: 13 points


2nd Place: IM Emory Tate (CHC) vs FM Daniel Rensch (ARZ) 1-0

Jonathan Hilton: For me, this game was an obvious pick. Tate's play against Rensch was creative, resourceful, and involved heavy calculation. Although White did seem to win a pawn with a fairly routine tactic in the middlegame, thus making it appear that he would win handily, Rensch live up to his name and put some monkey Rensch's in White's path on the way to the win. White’s decision to play 34. Bc4 is commendable because Tate clearly saw through the Black’s tactics, knowing that if 36...Qxc4, he could play 37. Bxf6! and then 38. Qg3+, winning Black’s loose Rook on b8. Overall, I would say Tate played a very impressive game, using plenty of tactics in a sharp (yet clearly better) position to pack home the point. His transition into the endgame was also very nice, keeping the Black king from returning to h6 or h7 for an f and h pawn draw. (2nd place: 4 points)

Greg Shahade: I think that this game would usually not finish so highly, but as I said earlier, there was a problem with a lot of games this week. While Tate seemed to play well, Rensch was unbelievably cooperative with 27... Nxe5. (3rd Place: 3 points)

Arun Sharma: As mentioned above, I felt Black was a bit more cooperative in this game than I would generally like a top game to be, but it definitely was a well played game by Tate with some very nice tactics (both 28. Rxe5 and 38. Rxc8) and given the other choices, it was probably quite deserving of this ranking that it ended up with. (3rd place: 3 points)

Total Score of Tate vs Rensch: 10 points


3rd Place: SM Mackenzie Molner (NJ) vs FM Osmany Perea (MIA) 1-0

Greg Shahade: Realize that Jonathan Hilton had to break a tie between this game and Benjamin vs Becerra, which Arun Sharma ranked in first place. Arun usually makes reasonable selections but that one was very poor in my opinion, given that I feel Benjamin totally outplayed Becerra, and in time trouble missed the ridiculously obvious 26. Nd4, which would have pretty much won instantly and then got summarily mated in a few moves.

I shouldn't have ranked this game first (second or third probably). It wasn't super exciting, but it was a fighting game, where one side didn't simply roll over and die, and both sides seemed to at least play reasonable moves the entire game without any huge amounts of luck/swindles involved. Also, it's a kind of funny the mutual zugzwang at the end (On move 45 after Kc1, I believe if it's White to move its a draw, Black to move, White is winning etc. because the Rook needs to stay on a2 to meet Kb1 with d2), which is something you don't see all the time.
Black probably had to play 42... g6 to stop this, and perhaps then it's just a draw. (1st place: 5 points)

Jonathan Hilton: I most definitely cast my tiebreak vote to give this third spot to Molner vs Perea. Molner's epic struggle to win the pawn up Rook endgame deserves some credit. Overall, it’s a valiant upset by Molner, who should be over 2400 any day now if he isn't already. I would have picked this game for a top five slot myself, but unfortunately I fell asleep somewhere in the middle of trying to analyze it. I wound up passing it up for five other picks, but this one could have easily been in the mix. There were so many games that just almost cut it, and there were no games that stood head and shoulders above the others. Really, GOTW this week can only be considered first among equals. I think Molner picked the right week to play this game — this is a week where quality was in high demand, more so than excitement, and if there is one thing Molner has, it's a knack for avoiding major inaccuracies. (NR: 0 points)

Arun Sharma: As Jonathan logically points out, the quality of the games this week seemed to be much lower than in general. This was certainly a reasonably played game by both sides, certainly none of the big blunders which were so detracting for some of the other games, but I wouldn't call this game exciting in basically any way (and given what Greg typically seems to favor in his rankings, I'm quite shocked that he would be the judge of us three who'd choose to give this game first). I really have no idea if this game deserved to be ranked and what ranking it deserved if did, but it just didn't suggest itself to me in any way when I looked at it so I didn't rank it. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Molner vs Perea: 5 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

5 points (Arun 5):
GM Joel Benjamin (NJ) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) 0-1

3 points (Jon 3):
SM Gregory Braylovsky (NY) vs FM Ralph Zimmer (BAL) 1-0

3 points (Greg 2, Jon 1):
GM Pascal Charbonneau (PHI) vs GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) 1-0

2 points (Jon 2):
FM Igor Schneider (DAL) vs IM David Pruess (SF) 1-0

2 points (Arun 2):
GM Nikola Mitkov (CHC) vs IM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ) 0-1

1 point (Greg 1):
IM Mark Ginsburg (ARZ) vs IM Jan Van de Mortel (CHC) 1-0

1 point (Arun 1):
FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) vs IM Eli Vovsha (QNS) 0-1


Anonymous said...

We can only hope the judges change next year.

First, Arun really blew it ranking the Benajmin game at all, much less the best game of the week. Are you kidding me? Becerra was dead lost out of the opening and was fortunate Joel did not play it correctly.

The Tate game was poorly played by Rensch - not sure how this got votes. Plus the obvious tactical blunder pointed out by Hilton detracts from this.

Molner - Perea was a fine effort. Why did this not get more love?

Why did Mitkov - Barcenilla not get any love? This was a well played game that had some nice endgame play. I find it amazing this did not get except by 1 judge.

Greg Shahade said...

Personally I felt that the Mitkov vs Barcenilla game was very sloppy by both sides. I'm pretty sure both sides made numerous clear mistakes and it wasn't all that exciting IMO.

For instance in the bishops of opposite ending, allowing black to play g5 (white can play h4) is almost certainly bad. Also I'm pretty sure black had a lot of easier wins than in the game, at least that's how it seemed while watching it.

The Tate game, as stated I wasn't that excited about it, but Tate definitely played well and I didn't like the competition so much.

Also to all anonymous critics, please if you are going to criticize at least give your top 5 rankings, in order.

Carlos said...

anonymous is right but about the wrong game. ranking the molner perea game first? that was boring and stupid why should that get any love. was shahades title earned or did he get an honorary title because of his chess work? i cant really explain that ranking if his title is real thats for darn sure. the becerra pick was pretty terrible also. at least the one halfway nonstupid game won but when the judges make retarded picks every week its tough to take this thing seriously

Elizabeth Vicary said...

What is retarded, boring, and stupid is some asshole insulting Greg for no reason.

Honorary title for chess work? Why don't you make a careful study of IM Greg Shahade's games, Carlos, and then come back and KISS HIS ASS.

FishyMcpatzer said...

LOL Elizabeth. I think that criticism of the judges' picks are fair given their 'convincing' record over so many weeks, but PERSONAL attacks are out of line.

However, it is clear that not enough time is devoted by the judges to the procedure. At the VERY LEAST, the top picks should be briefly analyzed with an engine. This would immediately eliminate such poor selections as Zorigt-Krasik, Zhao-Rensch or Lenderman-Zaikov

Given that these judges volunteer their time (or so I assume), I don't expect them to do this kind of work. Therefore, the league should find the money to pay judges who are preferably strong (>= 2400) players. Otherwise, lets stop this contest since its becoming a farce.

Finally, a friendly note to Jon 'Maverick' Hilton and Greg 'no engine please' Shahade : if you are following the player press conferences of the WCh match you would have noticed that even Kramnik and Anand are often careful to withhold their judgment of moves until an engine is consulted.

The point is, any Fish/Patzer + Rybka >> Hilton/Shahade. How do you (lets face it, 2200 and even 2450 makes you no more than an ordinary fish) expect to evaluate the quality of a game without using one?

Jonathan Hilton said...

I second Liz Vicary. =)

At the same time though, I think I'm finally having my sweet revenge on all those who claimed with joyous, shrieking cries that I was most utterly incompetent. I did so by putting more time and effort into my rankings each week, keeping an eye out for good blog articles on games, and improving my judgment. Although I have made a few errors, I've managed to quit making the major gaffes of the 2007 season.

So let's hear it up for J Hilton! Yeah! Whoo-hoo! Anyhow, we're going to find out one of these days that it was Sam Sloan who posted all this anonymous comments. :)

The reason Mitkov-Barcenilla didn't get any "love" from me is that it was one of many games almost good enough to rank in the top five. My top five picks, with the exception of my fifth pick, were considerably better picks in terms of both quality and excitement. :) One look at my rankings should make that apparent--for instance, you could see that Braylovsky-Zimmer 1-0 was a much more interesting game. I would have liked to see that one snatch third place, since there were some tough middlegame decisions from Braylovsky and good play overall. I love 23. Rc1!, setting up the tactic that ends the game four moves later.

emstrem said...

I voted for the Christiansen game too, just for the fact that it had his old friend the *rook lift in it*, even though he only had one of them. I was surprised to see Benjamin lose in a winning position, but with the birth of his son, his mind might not have been 100% into chess.

I want to say thanks to you Greg for the video updates your doing on the USCL. Your coverage is great brah. Go Phils...

Ilya said...

The only solution ,and I know I've said it before, is to find impartial judges on ICC who live outside the US and are rated over 2400-2500 FIDE. Also 3 judges are NOT enough, I often go to russian language websites which have "game of the month" contests and those usually have about 8 judges vote each month rotating from a pool of about 12 judges or so.... And I honestly dont think it would be hard to persuade some ICC GM's to do this, it gives them much needed publicity to conduct their lessons(lets face it only Americans take lessons on icc).
And I agree that it rather tasteless to attack Greg who is trying to do all of this by himself. But that again goes to my point that Greg needs to "unload" himself a bit, he should not have to be one of the judges....

Greg Shahade said...

Ok few things:

1. The GOTW prize is decided very quickly, usually within 24-48 hours.

2. This is not the most important thing in the world. Also I think it's absurd to look at every game with a fine toothed comb in fritz. Matching the moves to Fritz maybe makes something the most accurately played game, but this isn't called the "most accurately/perfectly played game by both sides" contest. Games that are exciting that contain a few mistakes will almost always win over boring games that are played relatively well. Nobody gives a crap what Fritz thinks, or at least I don't and I think this is perfectly reasonable for a contest of this sort. I mean really some of the greatest and most famous games of all time wouldn't stand up to computer scrutiny. And here we are playing a much much faster time control than those games. If you use fritz to determine winners, the boring games are almost always going to win, because it's obviously much easier to find correct moves in a boring and dry position than one that's actually exciting.

3. The most serious contest is Game of the Year. First of all, there are seven wildcard games that don't win game of the week that are included in that. So anytime we messed up, we will have lots of time to rectify this at the end of the season, and the decision will be less rushed.

After that 5 judges will rank the games and will have quite a bit of time to undergo this task (2 weeks or so). The prize money there is better as well.

Why cant people realize that everyone has their own definition of what a game of the week is, and that it often differs from their own viewpoint? It almost never happens that a GOTW winner isn't ridiculed by someone.

I'm so tired of everyone's absurdly self-righteous belief that they know exactly what games should win all the time and which one's shouldn't. Shabalov judged in the past and of course he was ridiculed too. What do you want us to get Kramnik, Anand and Topalov and tell them they have to spend at least 1 hour analyzing every game? No one wants to know who won GOTW 6 days after the fact, IT'S NOT A SCIENCE MY GOD!

Greg Shahade said...

Ilya the game of the month judges have lots and lots of time to do these rankings, whereas in this case we do them within 24 hours. This league moves quickly, the next week starts just a few days after the previous one. There is no reasonable way to organize the kind of things you seem to be suggesting without it totally disrupting the flow of the league.

Ilya said...

I disagree, you could easily have a few GMS and IMs comb through these games in a few days, lets face it some titled player live on ICC...Also you dont have to have all 6 write their opinion, you could do it ala Supreme court, one write majority opinion and one writing disenting opinion, something in that nature. Saying something wont work before it is even tried is not very convincing to me.

Anonymous said...

2nd Place: IM Emory Tate (CHC) vs FM Daniel Rensch (ARZ) 1-0

Jonathan Hilton: For me, this game was an obvious pick. Tate's play against Rensch was creative, resourceful, and involved heavy calculation. Although White did seem to win a pawn with a fairly routine tactic in the middlegame, thus making it appear that he would win handily

Bizarre. Every other game in the match was much higher quality. Rensch disdains the known 5...e5! to go into a passive position, is dead lost, then is brought back from the dead after numerous inaccuracies and goes on to lose a tortuous ending.

Anonymous said...

It is absurd to rank the Benjamin Becerra game highly when Joel missed the simple Nd4 win at the end.

Arun Sharma said...

I have little to add here, everything has been said before, and I think Greg said it best in that everyone who is somehow under the impression that they know better than everyone else what should and shouldn't win GOTW (like so many in this post seem to) needs to get over it.

Furthermore while I'm wholly willing to admit I've made more than my fair share of mistakes when judging GOTW (and the picking of Benjamin vs Becerra could well have been one of them), and am happy to get advice from people about how I could do it better, anyone who just posts anonymously saying so isn't going to be taken seriously.

Jonathan Hilton did make an interesting suggestion which I think may well be the best solution to this whole issue. From now on the $180 per week awarded in the GOTW contest is just divided amongst the three judges equally (to reward us for our previous work and willingness to endure all this nonsense). That way, we don't even HAVE a GOTW contest at all, no one gets a chance to complain, and so then everyone is happy right? If you have a strong opinion either in favor or opposing this solution, please vote in the poll I've put up to the right about this, and the feedback we get in that regard can help us decide if that's what we should do in the future.

Anonymous said...

I notice the names of the openings are not posted. Is this site meant only for Masters? If so, I apologize for this post. Is this the ALBURT VARIATION of ALEKHINE’S DEFENSE?

Greg Shahade said...

Ilya are you volunteering to find us some GMs/IM's to do this promptly on a weekly basis! Thanks let me know who to get in touch with :)

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I love Ilya's idea of the majority opinion and the dissenting opinion. point counterpoint. amazing possibilities.

but in general I think it is both possible and often a good idea to say certain things won't work before you even try them.

Ilya said...

Well if Greg tried talking to his numerous buddies on ICC and they all turned him down or for some reason he got them to judge and they all mysteriously dissapeared then you could say it didnt work...But to say it at this point is just silly. And yes I will ask around if only Greg takes this seriously and stops putting smiley faces to all responses to my ideas. Even ICC can faciliate this doing this by having an announcement during Wed night games... the sky is the limit Greg if you only there is interest.

Greg Shahade said...

Honestly its not easy finding anyone who is willing to do this every single week on a prompt basis.

I do think that we get the right game more often than not. Probably we have been "right" 7/9 weeks so far this week, if you define right as choosing the game that the majority is happy with. I think that the only time the polls disagreed with our selection was the week where Benjamin vs Erenburg didn't win and perhaps the time that Charbonneau vs Kudrin won.

I don't believe finding a panel of 5 foreign GM's would make this much better. Also I find it ironic that we are being attacked in a week where it seems almost everyone agrees that the correct game won! (at least no one has insulted that particular game).

Ilya I'm serious though, if you find a foreign GM who is willing to do it every single week I'd be glad to include them next season.

Anonymous said...

Greg said...Personally I felt that the Mitkov vs Barcenilla game was very sloppy by both sides....really? "For instance in the bishops of opposite ending, allowing black to play g5 (white can play h4) is almost certainly bad". Hey Greg do u think by playing h4 white can save the game?The truth is no love for Mitkov-Barcenilla game because judges normally don't like simple & pure technique games they like tactical games even though looks like a crappy one. Maybe u forgot something Greg you are one of Barcenilla's victims in a very simple game so u should know the beauty of this kind of game. To Jon Hilton also are u related to Perez or Paris :)try to be more creative don't just pick wild but sometimes crappy games...goodluck to both of you...

Tennessee Tempo said...

Greg Shahade is an IM fish.

Dan said...

First of all, many thanks to the judges who are taking this time to run this contest at all.

To all you critics: 1) learn the art of civility. You may have legitimate points that should be heard but when you start a sentece with 'where did you buy your IM Title greg?' expect to be ignored. 2) As Nigel Davis said... why hide your anonymous? Are you thinking you can call a master a patzer when you are't a master yourself? Please come out with your name if you expect anyone to take you seriously based on your 'assumed expertise' in the matter. When you comment about how wonderfully executed a game is... are you referencing fritz or your own brain?

Finally... my critique! I would like to say I have not been so terribly upset by the games chosen. I would just ask the Judges be a litte nicer in their comments. Okay mistakes happen must you point them out or be harsh? Nominating a game as second or third and saying 'it shouldn't have made it in a normal week...' is INSULTING. Please watch your verbiage.

Also, as a sidenote, I agree with Greg 100% mitkov vs Barcenilla was sloppy on both sides and i'm not even a master noticing the many errors!

Thanks and keep putting in the effort guys! It is really coming together!