Friday, January 9, 2009

Game of the Year -- 11th Place

This is the tenth part in a series of articles which will count down to revealing what game was voted as the 2008 USCL Game of the Year. For more information on exactly how this process works and the prize information, please refer to: Game of the Year Contest.


11th Place: IM Lev Milman (CAR) vs GM Alex Shabalov (NY) 1-0

Despite the paucity of material on the board, Milman uncorked the nice 43. h4!, forcing the Black King into mate.

Below are the comments from the judges on why they ranked the game where they did and in parentheses is the ranking given by that judge and the number of points awarded for that ranking.

FM Ron Young (7th Place, 14 points):
It has been alleged that this game lacks in swashbuckling, but you've got to like a player who wins the ending with just the pieces he began the game with.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (8th Place, 13 points):
This seems like a very nice technical effort by White. White emerges from the opening with a tiny but very comfortable edge, and he increased it slowly but surely to win a pawn and when Black tries to stir up counterplay, White finds a nice aesthetic mating pattern out of nowhere to finish the game up nicely. I tend to like such clean games sometimes even more than "flashy" games. The level of the opposition with the Black pieces who was made to look very bad in this game compelled me to rank this in the top half of the competition.

IM Ben Finegold (8th Place, 13 points):
This reminded me of Kuljasevic vs Becerra 1-0. Milman plays excellent chess, and Shabalov loses slowly. The game is boring for a USCL game (aka well played) so I did not rank it in the top five, simply due to its lack of excitement. A nice win against a strong player though.

FM Daniel Ludwig (13th Place, 8 points):
Lev played fantastic; there is nothing bad I can say about the way he played. Shabalov scared me at first, making it look like he was going to play a standard Berlin. However, he threw in the dubious 5... a6 after which things became interesting. I don't think there is any need to play 8. g4, but Lev did it anyways. Shabalov could have had a slight edge with 12... O-O-O instead of 12... Kf7 and also have kept things much closer with 15... Rh4 instead of 15... Re8. The reason I did not put this higher is because firstly, Shabalov did not defend nearly as well as Shabalov is capable of, and number two, the remaining choices had so much more excitement than this game. Once again, it was a great game, very instructive, just no serious complications.

GM Jan Gustafsson (18th Place, 3 points):
A good technical job and high level play by Milman, but still it looks like Shabalov mainly did it to himself in this one. I'm not that familiar with the opening, but it looks like 12... O-O-O might be an improvement. The ending after 12... Kf7 looks nice for White, and 17... Rh6 and 19... b5 didn't help Black's cause either. Good game, but too boring for a GOTY.

Total Score of Milman vs Shabalov: (11th Place, 51 Points)


Stay tuned for nine more such articles as the field shrinks by one game every couple of days to see which of the following games will be the 2008 Game of the Year!

Week 1: GM Alex Shabalov (NY) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 0-1 Article

Week 2: GM Vinay Bhat (SF) vs IM Emory Tate (CHC) 1-0 Article

Week 5: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM David Pruess (SF) 1-0 Article

Week 6: IM Alex Lenderman (QNS) vs FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) 1-0 Article

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

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

Week 10: GM Jaan Ehlvest (TEN) vs GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) 1/2-1/2 Article

Quarterfinals: IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) vs GM Vinay Bhat (SF) 1-0 Article

Championship: GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) vs IM Marko Zivanic (DAL) 1-0 Article

Wildcard #2: GM Joel Benjamin (NJ) vs GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) 0-1 Article


11th Place (51 Points): IM Lev Milman (CAR) vs GM Alex Shabalov (NY) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

12th Place (46 Points): GM Sergey Kudrin (PHI) vs GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) 1/2-1/2 Article Elimination Article

13th Place (44 Points): IM Alex Lenderman (QNS) vs IM Emory Tate (CHC) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

14th Place (42 Points): GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) vs GM Sergey Kudrin (PHI) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

15th Place (35 Points): FM Bruci Lopez (MIA) vs GM Gregory Serper (SEA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

16th Place (34 Points): IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

17th Place (32 Points): GM Patrick Wolff (SF) vs IM Marko Zivanic (DAL) 1/2-1/2 Article Elimination Article

18th Place (27 Points): IM Dmitry Schneider (QNS) vs GM Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

19th Place (22 Points): FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 1/2-1/2 Article Elimination Article

20th Place (18 Points): GM Jaan Ehlvest (TEN) vs IM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

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