Friday, January 23, 2009

Game of the Year -- 4th Place

This is the seventeenth 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.


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

After cleverly luring Black's Queen away from the Kingside, Kuljasevic brought his own Queen back with 46. Qd2! and struck a fatal blow to the Black King before Bhat could recover.

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 (3rd Place, 18 points):
One word is all it takes to describe this game: clutch. Both players were under five minutes when it became clear that in order for Dallas to advance, Davorin had to win. I recall watching and being amused by all the Dallas fans who were convinced Davorin was winning, and all the San Francisco fans who were likewise convinced it was a draw. I myself had doubts about Kul-J's chances, but that's when he began playing the best moves for about the final fifteen moves. I especially liked the idea he used of transferring the Queen to the Queenside and then immediately back to the Kingside, with the deep idea of throwing the Black Queen out of defensive position. You can dissect this game however you like, but in the end, it isn't doing the game justice if you don't consider the context, and with that in mind it was a great game even though the moves weren't all that spectacular because if it were simply about the entertainment value of the moves, this game would probably be placed closer to thirteenth than third.

GM Jan Gustafsson (4th Place, 17 points):
Another great game by Mr. Kuljasevic; I'm really starting to wonder why I'd never heard of this guy!

A topical line of the Slav was played, resembling some Topalov vs Kramnik games. I used to think Black was absolutely fine there, but suffering badly against both Bacrot and Vaganian in that very line has taught me otherwise. Kuljasevic makes another good case for White's chances in that line, the space advantage and attacking chances seem to more than compensate White's "bad" Bishop and Black's play on the c-file.

Both sides played well in this game, but I am a bit skeptical about Bhat's decision to go 22... g5, which seems to ease White's attack. Bhat played very well to stay in the game afterward though; 34. Nf4 might not have been the most precise (34. Rg3!), and 39... R8c3 looks like an improvement, when Black might still be fine. As it was, White built up a decisive attack with simple looking, logical moves getting rid of the key defenders.

Not quite flashy enough to be a winner, but again I am impressed with Kuljasevic's strong and logical play. I might just have to hire him for my Hamburg team!

IM Ben Finegold (7th Place, 14 points):
White plays pretty well and has a slight edge, then Black equalizes. After a lot of random moves, Black plays 45... Qb6? and loses. A difficult maneuvering game. I ranked this game higher than normal as Bhat is really tough to beat in the USCL.

FM Ron Young (8th Place, 13 points):
Sometimes I'll overstuff a bag of garbage and have difficulty pushing it down the chute in the hallway. I'll push the hatch closed, but the bag will not go quite all the way in, so I open the hatch, push the bag some with my hand, close the hatch again, open and nudge the bag, etc., until finally the bag is all the way in and falls down the chute. The play here from moves forty four through forty six resemble this action, and 47. Nf4 finally sends Black down the chute.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (11th Place, 10 points):
Somehow this game didn't do much for me even though I understand the situation was tense because of the match situation and the winner advancing. A pretty hard fought game which seemed pretty even near the end. What kills the mood for me is I don't know if what decided the game was brilliant accuracy by White or if he just got lucky maneuvering around in time trouble. Although it didn't do much for me, it was rather well played overall plus it had some drama, and I feel it deserves a ranking in the middle of the pack.

Total Score of Kuljasevic vs Bhat: (4th Place, 72 Points)


Stay tuned for two 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 5: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM David Pruess (SF) 1-0 Article

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


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

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