Sunday, January 25, 2009

Game of the Year -- 3rd Place

This is the eighteenth 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.


3rd Place: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM David Pruess (SF) 1-0

Sammour-Hasbun had been building up an attack for many moves, having sacrificed two pawns early in the game, and finally crashed through Black's position with 31. Nxe6!! after which the g pawn, which had previously seemed to be serving as more of a defender to the Black King, ended up proving its worth.

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 (1st Place, 20 points):
A double pawn sac for long term compensation, then a piece sac (31. Nxe6), and followed by a quiet move (32. Qf4), make this the Game of the Year, in my opinion. If it was all unsound, sorry, nobody told me.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (3rd Place, 18 points):
Very entertaining game. Sammour-Hasbun goes all in with an inventive attack starting with 12. Nb5 - d6 followed by 15. f5 - f6. It was interesting, but somehow the attack ends up in a positional bind for White, down two pawns. There seems to be no way through, but an inaccuracy by Black allows another sacrifice and after that Sammour-Hasbun's raw tactical talent showcases itself, and he finishes the game in impressive fashion.

GM Jan Gustafsson (5th Place, 16 points):
Not sure what to think about this one. I've never liked these French positions with that ugly c8 Bishop for Black, but that's highly subjective obviously. Castling Queenside and allowing 10... c4 etc. is risky business for sure though. Sammour-Hasbun's concept starting with 12. Nb5 and peaking in 15. f5! and 16. f6 is creative for sure, even though I'm not sure White was actually better after it as my computer is pretty happy with Black. Anyways, he got decent positional compensation and finished very nicely with the fancy 31. Nxe6!! after getting the chance from 30... Qf8. Nice stuff and far from easy to calculate that White is actually winning after 34. Qc7 and 36. Qd6!

Interesting concept, cute finish, but not at the top of my list since I'm not so sure about the objective merits of White's concept and how the position actually was before Pruess went astray with 30... Qf8?? (26... Kg8 also looks strange).

FM Daniel Ludwig (7th Place, 14 points):
This was Jorge's finest game of the season. Typically Jorge beats you with some nice tactical shot that you completely overlooked but not in this case. In this case, Pruess had a long time to see what Jorge was doing, and was still unable to find a way to prevent the catastrophic break through with 31. Nxe6! In fact, Jorge spent moves twenty five through thirty preparing this idea, and during all that time, all Pruess could do was push his Pawns forward in what was a useless attempt to counterattack. Also, Jorge was one of the very fortunate people who had the opportunity to train with Tal, and I could definitely see a lot of Tal's influence in this game. 15. f5! was a great idea, regardless of what a computer might think. It is a deep double pawn sacrifice for long lasting pressure and open files. Tal was known for these sacrifices, without any concrete forced win in mind, just putting his opponent on the hot seat, forcing him to make all the tough choices. Unfortunately for Pruess, when the time came, he didn't have the gusto to play his last big opportunity, 30... e5! However, I can't blame him for not doing this, as I highly doubt I would play it either, considering how out of sync this seems to be with the position. After 31. Nxe6 the game is not quite over, but due to Jorge's relentless play, it seemed easier than it probably was.

IM Ben Finegold (13th Place, 8 points):
A typical game between the weak players of the USCL. White sacrifices a pawn for nothing; Black has no idea how to defend so White equalizes. Then Black misses an obvious tactic and completely falls apart. Looks like a simul game. Once again, don't look at this game with Rybka or Fritz as you will be disappointed. I ranked it pretty highly though because the players have spirit!

Total Score of Sammour-Hasbun vs Pruess: (3rd Place, 76 Points)


Stay tuned for the final article in the next few days as we will announce the 2008 Game of the Year!

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

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


3rd Place (76 Points): SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM David Pruess (SF) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

4th Place (72 Points): IM Davorin Kuljasevic (DAL) vs GM Vinay Bhat (SF) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

5th Place (70 Points): GM Joel Benjamin (NJ) vs GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

6th Place (64 Points): GM Jaan Ehlvest (TEN) vs GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) 1/2-1/2 Article Elimination Article

7th Place (62 Points): IM Alex Lenderman (QNS) vs IM Dean Ippolito (NJ) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

8th Place (60 Points): GM Vinay Bhat (SF) vs IM Emory Tate (CHC) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

9th Place (59 Points): GM Alex Shabalov (NY) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

10th Place (54 Points): IM Alex Lenderman (QNS) vs FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) 1-0 Article Elimination 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


Anonymous said...

Finegold could simul the whole Boston team.

Sac Master said...

Ranked pretty highly? What's your definition of high Finegold?

The Also Biased (who tries not to be), Andrew

Anonymous said...

Simul the whole Boston team? Sure. Maybe he could even score a point or two...

Anonymous said...

What is it with these judges and their HUGE differences of opinions on these games?

I don't know if Ben's disparaging comments about the games are in jest or not, but it's obvious he's got some kind of disdain for the USCL. Should he really be a judge here?

Something is clearly wrong if there is such dissent among the experts. Something needs to be done about this; the judging criteria need to be clearly defined, and the top and bottom rankings need to be thrown out.

If this was just a contest for fun, I wouldn't care, but there's real money involved here.

-Totally Biased Matt

Daniel Ludwig said...

I understand you are upset, but you aren't being reasonable. Experts/judges have always disagreed, that is why there is a panel to get a good representation. Finegold is unjustly negative in his remarks, however he does have a valid point about the game, and he is allowed to think what he wants to. Go ahead and check this last game with the computer, and you will find yourself somewhat disappointed with this game. As for myself, I originally had this game ranked 3rd or 4th, but after looking at it with a computer, I realized that there was so much that Pruess did not take advantage of, and simpler ways would have sufficed for white.

I think it's ridiculous to claim that the system needs to change simply because us judges disagree so much. Let me first point out that these are all the best games of the year, so they are all pretty good games, thus if a game finishes 15th instead of 5th, it's not like it was the 6th worst game of the year, it was good, just not as good in our eyes as some other game. With any rankings/predictions, experts will always disagree in a big way. Especially if it is based on which one is your favorite or which one you think is best. If you asked the top 10 players in the world to rank the 20 greatest games of all time, I'm sure they would disagree just as much as we are.

Also, even amidst all this disagreement, the final 2 games all have high votes, so i think this whole contest thing did get it right in the end. I was checking to see if anyone had any high votes remaining, and only 1 person ranked either of the final 2 as low as 6th. As for myself, the last 2 or my top 2 choices, and i think most others are down to 1&3, 2&3, or 1&4. I will be the first to say that I deeply respect what any GM has to say and offer, but they are still human, so they can still be wrong. For example, take Botvinnik, number 4 on my list of all time great players; when Karpov was 13 and attended his school, Botvinnik said that Karpov would never amount to anything. Obviously he was wrong, and obviously grandmasters are not always correct. If you think that removing high and low votes, and making this panel stronger by taking away us weakies and replacing us with gms, I think that you will find that there is still the same kind of discontinuity.

Anonymous said...


You have good points.

Of course there will be disagreements; it wouldn't be entertaining if there weren't, but it seems unfair when one person's ranking is so different that it totally skews the result for a game, either way. All other sports that use judging (gymnastics, skating, etc.) toss out the extreme scores.

Anyway, this idea was floated in another comment, so it's not just me. I support it, and hope the league considers it for future years.


Daniel Ludwig said...

Yeah, and as Arun said, in order to do that, there have to be more judges. I think the main reason the olympics do that is because of national bias-- judges and athletes working together. It would be naive to say that bias certainly does not exist among the judges, but I don't think anyone is trying to screw over somebody like Jorge for instance.

So yeah, if more people don't mind being a judge, then that sounds like a good plan. I'd say that 2 more should be added before you start dropping high and low.