Sunday, November 23, 2008

Semifinals 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.


**Since Jonathan Hilton is currently in Dresden, we again will only have two judges this week, Greg and myself.

1st Place: FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 1/2-1/2

Arun Sharma: Not the cleanest of games perhaps, but a very exciting one for certain with a ton of tough moments for both players. Even though there were obviously some mistakes, considering the time situation (both players being under a minute for the majority of the latter part of the game), I felt both did a pretty impressive job in navigating those tough moments quite reasonably considering they only had a few seconds to make each decision (White's 23. Rxc5 and 24. Ne6 idea was quite impressive, and Black's 30... Rc8 was also a nice find). Considering the excitement level of this game along with the fact that the match result was hanging by a thread while it was occurring, it seemed like a natural choice for the top spot. (1st place: 2 points)

Greg Shahade: This was by far the most exciting game of the week. With only eight games to choose from instead of the usual twenty eight, it's going to be tougher to find games that are both well played and exciting. While there were a couple of games that were very well played by one side (Kuljasevic vs Lopez and Zorigt vs Prilleltensky come to mind), both were not very exciting along with being extremely one sided. This game was an action packed dogfight that had the viewers on the edge of their seats. Sure it wasn't a perfect game, but both sides played inspired and uncompromising chess with almost no time remaining on their clocks. (1st place: 2 points)

Total Score of Zaikov vs Sammour-Hasbun: 4 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

2 points (Arun 1, Greg 1):
IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) vs FM Bruci Lopez (MIA) 1-0

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Semifinal Predictions

I continue to be terrible at predicting as going from being in a battle for first in the contest, I'm now in a fight for my life to even get second or perhaps even third. Nevertheless I trudge on.

Carolina vs Boston: Once again I predict Carolina wrong every week with my only saving grace being that most people seem to join me in that errand of futility. Well I've been doing it all season so I sure can't change now. Boston 2.5 – 1.5

Miami vs Dallas: Miami has draw odds in this Semifinals compared to last year, and they really took it to Dallas the last time these teams met, with this very lineup. I have a feeling they'll have a tougher go of it this time at least on the scoreboard, but they should still prevail. Miami 2.5 – 1.5

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quarterfinals 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.


**Due to the lower number of games played, in the Quarterfinals only the first and second place prizes mentioned above will be given out, and in the Semifinals and Finals, only the first place prize will be awarded.

1st Place: IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) vs GM Vinay Bhat (SF) 1-0

Arun Sharma: Very dramatic, high quality game by both players with the latest stages of the game being for all the marbles with the match tied 1.5 – 1.5. It really seemed that both sides, especially considering the time pressure, did quite a good job in navigating a tough position and several tough moments. Kuljasevic in particular really seemed to play the end part of the game very precisely, overwhelming Black's defenses despite a tenacious defensive effort by Bhat. Considering the quality of the game along with the huge drama behind the result, this seemed like an easy choice for the top spot. (1st place: 3 points)

Greg Shahade: While this game wasn't super flashy, it was definitely the most dramatic of the evening. The score was tied 1.5 – 1.5, and Kuljasevic had to win to send Dallas to the SemiFinals. The position was not so clear in that the crowd had very mixed opinions as to what the result would be. It was simply a tough and dramatic fight, with good play from both sides. I'm sure Bhat wasn't happy with his play near the end of the game, but given the time trouble, it wasn't as if he did anything obviously dreadful. Anyway, given the importance of the game, and the fact that both players seemed to put up a good struggle, I ranked it first. (1st place: 3 points)

Jonathan Hilton: This seemed to be the most logical pick for GOTW, but at the time of judging, I found the ending (the last five moves or so) to be rather uninspiring. On closer examination it's actually surprisingly hard to find a significant improvement for Black — the Queen’s eventual migration from the Kingside to the Queenside, leaving Black open to attack, seems nearly unavoidable! Actually, Black's mistake probably had to do with trading rooks. I felt Black should have been fine in the late middle game, when he had both Rooks on the c-file. Still, a nice game by Kuljasevic, and not at all undeserving of the GOTW award considering how precisely White played the last ten moves or so to score the point. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Kuljasevic vs Bhat: 6 points


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

Jonathan Hilton: I felt like this was quite easily this week's hardest fought game. For a long time, I couldn't tell whether Black would have full compensation for the exchange or not; I believe he very well may have, but made a mistake later on, particularly in the transition to the endgame. I think Perelshteyn may have needed to stick a Knight on e4 at some point to block White's Rooks from dominating the seventh rank. An interesting game; I voted the Becerra vs Nakamura game ahead of this one only because Queens eventually lost the match, thus making Schneider's win less critical. (2nd place: 2 points)

Arun Sharma: Very interesting game and another high quality effort by both sides. I too wasn't really sure if Black ever established full compensation for the exchange, but it was still a very interesting idea and definitely a hard fought encounter. Although the end of the game was a bit anticlimactic due to the match situation already having been decided, I still think the game's overall appeal warranted it being ranked. (3rd Place: 1 point)

Greg Shahade: A nice game by Schneider; I'd perhaps have ranked it second if Queens advanced instead of Boston. Again, there was nothing too exciting going on, but Schneider kept pushing and pushing until eventually he broke Perelshteyn's defenses, and I always appreciate it when the defending side makes the opponent work very hard for victory, instead of collapsing quickly under the pressure. (3rd place: 1 point)

Total Score of Schneider vs Perelshteyn: 4 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

3 points (Jon 3):
GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs GM Hikaru Nakamura (SEA) 1-0

2 points (Arun 2):
WFM Bayaraa Zorigt (DAL) vs FM Daniel Naroditsky (SF) 1-0

2 points (Greg 2):
SM Marc Esserman (BOS) vs IM Eli Vovsha (QNS) 1/2-1/2

1 point (Jon 1):
IM Sam Shankland (SF) vs FM Igor Schneider (DAL) 1-0

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quarterfinal Predictions

Although the battle that is the prediction contest may only be for second at this point, there's still plenty of pride left in that so I shall trudge on.

Boston vs Queens: Most people seem to be favoring Boston after their crushing victory over the Pioneers in Week 10. However, we've seen too many times how a lopsided match result can have a completely different outcome when the rematch takes place, and I think Queens will definitely have revenge on their mind. Queens 2.5 – 1.5

New York vs Carolina: I've had basically no success at predicting Carolina matches correctly this year so perhaps picking what the general masses tend to believe will ensure I don't fall further behind in the contest. Plus when you add that in New York's four match winning streak and the Knights having overcome a draw odds match in the playoffs each of the last two years, the choice seems obvious. New York 2.5 – 1.5

San Francisco vs Dallas: The defending champions haven't made it back to the Semifinals the last two years, and this year should be no exception. While the Dallas players can cling to the hope that today might be the day that Sam Shankland leaves society to enter a monastery, too many of us have been holding on to the hope that that day will come for many years with no success. San Francisco 3 – 1

Miami vs Seattle: A fairly tricky match to call, much closer I feel than most seem to think. It largely depends on which version of Nakamura shows up to play this week. Since I can't really make an educated conjecture about that, I'll go down the middle for the overall match. Miami ties Seattle 2 – 2

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Prediction Results -- Week 10

Well other than me horrendously sucking this week, little to report. Barring a bunch of 4 – 0 correct predictions (in the playoffs, no less!), it seems like Ron Young has all but sewn up his second straight victory in this contest. On the bright side, my blazing ineptitude this week has definitely rendered the battle for second and third place quite interesting so we shall see how that ends up transpiring after the Playoffs.

Totals after Week 10:

Ron Young: 97 Points (+14 This Week)
Arun Sharma: 81 Points (+4)
Ed Scimia: 79 Points (+12)
Bioniclime: 77 Points (+10)

CAR over PHI 2.5 – 1.5

ES: CAR 2.5 – 1.5 +3
BL: Tie +0
AS/RY: PHI 2.5 – 1.5 +0

BOS over QNS 3.5 – 0.5

BL/RY: BOS 2.5 – 1.5 +2
ES/AS: Tie +0

NY over NJ 2.5 – 1.5

BL/RY: Correct +3
AS: NY 3 – 1 +2
ES: Tie +0

TEN over BAL 2.5 – 1.5

BL/ES/AS/RY: BAL 2.5 – 1.5 +0

MIA over SF 2.5 – 1.5

BL/ES/RY: Correct +3
AS: Tie +0

DAL over CHC 2.5 – 1.5

ES/RY: Correct +3
BL/AS: DAL 3 – 1 +2

ARZ over SEA 2.5 – 1.5

ES/RY: Correct +3
AS: Tie +0
BL: SEA 2.5 – 1.5 +0