Monday, January 5, 2009

Game of the Year -- 15th Place

This is the sixth 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.


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

Lopez broke through on the Queenside with the strong 26. c6, albeit missing the even stronger 26. Bxa6!!, but nevertheless eventually used this new found pressure to upset his GM opponent.

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 Daniel Ludwig (6th Place, 15 points):
I just don't get why people don't like this game very much. When I first got the list of games that were eligible, I had a feeling that this would be one of the first out. However, every time I was about to eliminate this game I just couldn't find anything wrong with it! Of all the choices, I felt that this was the most complete game. I have often heard people criticize games because they were too short, but certainly not this one. Both players knew the opening well which gave rise to a dynamic middle game, with lots of tension on all parts of the board. Some of my favorite games are the ones that are centered around positional domination that also use tactics to enforce the ideas. This game embodied this ideal, with great technique all the way to the end. 26. c6 was a really nice move, but it's interesting to point out that Bruci could have struck even harder with 26. Bxa6!! After 26... bxa6 27. Qxa6 the Bishop is trapped, and White is nearly winning. Bruci did err a little with 28. Bh4, as 28. Rc5 Qb8 29. Rb1 would have been more effective. After 29. Bc4, Serper made his biggest error of the game when he played 29... Qe8 instead of 29... Qe5 accepting a possible draw. It was after this seemingly slight mistake that Bruci pounced with 30. e5! which made it very tough for Black to get out of his bind. Bruci's play was very impressive afterward as he calmly allowed the d-pawn to keep getting pushed. As someone around the level of Bruci, I'd have to say that one of the toughest things to do when in a better position is to allow your opponent counter chances, especially chances as serious as this. Serper still could have perhaps held a draw, but he panicked with 37... g3 which was not enough to hold on against Bruci's great endgame technique. I'm really interested in seeing how the other judges rank this game because to me it was a great example of a complete game.

FM Ron Young (13th Place, 8 points):
A not bad epic struggle, but the technical portion wasn't very interesting.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (14th Place, 7 points):
A fighting game, but I got the feeling that Black lost the game just as much as White won it, and I also felt that Black could have put up a better fight in the Rook ending. However, after reviewing the game some more, I realized that White played really well, found some strong moves, navigated the position correctly, and in the end just outplayed his strong opponent.

IM Ben Finegold (18th Place, 3 points):
This game is just bad as both sides made lots of errors. I ranked this higher than a couple of other games, but I really expect much more from this level of players.

GM Jan Gustafsson (19th Place, 2 points):
A tough struggle but not high on my list. In the opening 12... e5 and 13... Bg4 is a safe equalizer, but Serper might have avoided that line trying to play for a win. Later on the game went up and down and White seemed a bit better to me in the early middlegame. He missed the cute 28. Bxa6 bxa6 29. Qxa6, trapping the Bishop with a huge edge. Nevertheless White was still better as Serper probably shouldn't have allowed 30. e5. 31. Bxb5 might have been wrong, opening some lines for Black's counterplay, but Black erred with 37... g3? which concluded the game in White's favour as after 37... Rc3 there's still a lot to play for. Not Serper's best effort.

Total Score of Lopez vs Serper: (15th Place, 35 Points)


Stay tuned for thirteen more such articles as the field shrinks by one game almost every day 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 3: GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) vs GM Sergey Kudrin (PHI) 1-0 Article

Week 4: IM Lev Milman (CAR) vs GM Alex Shabalov (NY) 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 9: GM Sergey Kudrin (PHI) vs GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) 1/2-1/2 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 #1: IM Alex Lenderman (QNS) vs IM Emory Tate (CHC) 1-0 Article

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