Thursday, January 1, 2009

Game of the Year -- 19th Place

This is the second 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.


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

With both players in severe time trouble, Black missed the nice shot 27... Bh3+!!, and soon after the wild game ended in a draw.

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 Ingvar Johannesson (9th Place, 12 points):
An exciting game with some very inventive moves and tactics but on the other hand a very mistake ridden game as well. 27... Bh3+! would have been a nice move; instead White should be winning after 27... Qh6?, but immediately throws it right back with 28. Ne7? which pulls it down in the rankings.

FM Daniel Ludwig (15th Place, 6 points):
This was an extremely exciting game for both good and bad reasons, a game that I vividly recall watching. This game could easily be ranked higher, but the problem I have with it is that the players burned so much clock in just the first fifteen moves that it radically affected the quality later on; but the game was fun to watch, with the result always unclear. Early on, it was Black who had the edge, but gave it away with 20... f4, allowing White to get a winning position. Zaikov played some really nifty tactics to achieve a winning position, but unfortunately blew it with 26. exf4 (26. h3 was simply winning). Jorge correctly responded with 26... Qg6, but missed the brilliant shot that Lenderman came up with live, 27... Bh3+!! This allowed Zaikov to retain his winning advantage after 27... Qh6, but he immediately blew it with 28. Ne7? Thus Sammour-Hasbun was again better, but under time pressure, went for the draw with 31... Rxc4 (Boston was also in good shape to win the match at that point). So to recap, this game had something like five lead changes, several blunders, and tons of excitement. In my opinion, there was too much poor clock management and major mistakes to rank this any higher, but nonetheless it was one the most memorable games of the season.

FM Ron Young (19th Place, 2 points):
This game helped us through a slow week, and for that we should be grateful, but it has not aged well.

IM Ben Finegold (20th Place, 1 point):
I am not going to rank draws very highly. This game was pretty bad. Black is better, goes nuts, and then he is just lost. White plays badly and missed h3 about six different times. Both sides were lucky to draw.

GM Jan Gustafsson (20th Place, 1 point):
A typical fighting game, but with too many mistakes. 12. e4 allowing the typical Ng4 counterplay looks wrong to me, 16. Be3 also doesn't feel right, it's a Bishop, they're better than Knights! Sammour-Hasbun was in control until he blundered with 20... f4?, opening the White Queen's way to h4. While 23. Rxc5 is fine, 23. h3 instead seems to be just winning. 26. h3 was another chance for White to win. After 27. f5?, Black had 27... Bh3!, but in the game 28. h3 was winning once again. Why all that conscious effort to never push h3? The tables turned again after 28. Ne7? and with 31... Bxf5 Black could just stay a pawn up. A fair draw in the end.

Total Score of Zaikov vs Sammour-Hasbun: (19th Place, 22 Points)


Stay tuned for seventeen 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

Wildcard #3: GM Patrick Wolff (SF) vs IM Marko Zivanic (DAL) 1/2-1/2 Article

Wildcard #4: IM Dmitry Schneider (QNS) vs GM Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS) 1-0 Article

Wildcard #6: FM Bruci Lopez (MIA) vs GM Gregory Serper (SEA) 1-0 Article

Wildcard #7: IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) 1-0 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


Anonymous said...


I was at the match, and it was not at all clear that Boston was going to win when Jorge made the draw. Esserman had a pawn down draw, Eugene was still struggling, and Ilya hadn't yet spun gold on Board 4.

Greg Shahade said...

I agree, Carolina looked to be clearly in the driver's seat for almost the whole match....until the end of course.

Daniel Ludwig said...

Well the game Perelshteyn-Milman was well on its way to being drawn, esserman had taken control (although he gave control back up), and krasik went from much worse to much better after jones started pushing every pawn he had. That was my perspective on things, and really i had little doubt that after this ended in a draw, carolina was done.

Greg Shahade said...

You are way off on the timing Daniel IMO. Carolina was still better on all 3 boards when this game was drawn. Maybe just about even on 4, but Boston definitely didn't have an edge anywhere when this game ended.

Perhaps some players from the match will chime in, but I remember thinking that this draw made Carolina a favorite when it ended. Milman had a better and seemingly unloseable position, same for Simpson, and Krasik game was unclear with it seeming like white had some pull. Meanwhile Carolina needed only even score from those games!

Rihel said...


This is my memory,too. Most of us in the Boston Blitz room felt that Jorge's draw was a disaster for the Blitz, because a draw match was the same as a loss. Marc and Eugene were certainly on the worse ends of a draw at that point, and the feeling on Krasik's board was that he had been worse for most of the game and it wasn't clear that he had turned that around yet. It wasn't until White overstepped the attack, and the other boards had finished, that it became clear that Krasik was actually better.

Anyway, this doesn't change Daniel's point about the quality of the game. If Jorge found Bh3 in that time trouble, this game gets a big boost in the rankings.

Ilya said...

I cannot agree with Ludwig. I remember when Jorge agreed to a draw, I felt relieved as I first thought he had lost judging by his body language. Then, when Jones began repeating moves(both of us were under 3-4 min) I had to get up from the board and try to asses the other boards. Eugene looked worse, Esserman was just down a pawn in a rook endgame. So I sat back down and avoided a 3 fold rep in a position I didnt think was better for me...I hope this clarifies the issue.

Daniel Ludwig said...

okay, well i had faith in you :)