Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Game of the Year -- 9th Place
This is the twelfth 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.
9th Place: GM Alex Shabalov (NY) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 0-1
How many players would put their King smack in the middle of the board with all the major pieces still on for a bit of extra material against a player like Shabalov? Not many probably, but Sammour-Hasbun defended the position flawlessly and went on to win.
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.
GM Jan Gustafsson (1st Place, 20 points): My favorite! Shabalov introduces a novelty in a topical opening with 16. Qc2 instead of following in Topalov's footsteps with 16. Bg4. In my experience, being surprised by a new move in a super sharp line like this one is one of the toughest situations there are in chess. Sammour-Hasbun deserves a lot of credit for his, as far as I can see, flawless reaction and handling of the complications, which might just refute Shabalov's novelty. 16... Qxd4 is already a committal and strong decision, and 19... Nf8! seems the only way to keep an edge as the tempting 19... Kd6 only leads to equality according to my helpers. Over the next couple moves I'm also unable to find even the slightest flaw in Black's play; the cold-blooded 30... Rxa2 especially impressed me. Ok, later he might have had some options to finish the game off quicker, but a great tactician like Shabalov still never got a chance to fight back. This game has a lot going for it:
- A fashionable opening, leading to crazy positions with a strange material balance.
- A novelty by Shabalov, making the game an important contribution to the development of this line.
- Almost perfect high-quality play from the winner, rightly judging he is better after returning the Rook with 19... Nf8!
- A win with the Black pieces against a very strong opponent, adding some upset value to the game.
I'm aware this was round one, and that Shabalov always loses in round one, but that doesn't diminish the achievement of the winner and the quality of his play.
FM Ingvar Johannesson (2nd Place, 19 points): Fascinated by this game for some reason. The material balance throughout is very weird and the relative King safety with the King on e5 in the middle of the game makes a nice aesthetic impression. Sammour-Hasbun's tactical talent simply shines through in this very inventive game, both nice defense and then a nice finish after the momentum went over to Black. I gave this second place as it is probably the most interesting game of the lot. I had places two through four pretty evenly matched, but I'll give second to Sammour-Hasbun, no matter whether he wins or loses, his games are very entertaining and interesting!
IM Ben Finegold (10th Place, 11 points): An interesting theoretical line. Black slowly takes over the game, as White never seems to have enough compensation for his material deficit. Shabalov wins and loses a lot of games like this.
FM Ron Young (15th Place, 6 points): Tal used to own the f7 square, and there seem to be more claimants to its inheritance than there were to Howard Hughes's fortune. We can look forward to seeing still more pretenders to the legacy crawl out from the woodwork.
FM Daniel Ludwig (18th Place, 3 points): There seems to be something about Botvinnik's and Moscow's winning game prizes. Don't believe me? Take a look at Nunn/Emms/Burgess's mammoth book of greatest games. Of all the great games they list after 1990 or so, half of them seem to be Botvinnik's, and I disagree with this. I don't think a game should be ranked any higher simply because of the sharp looking opening theory. Already at move fifteen the crowd is probably on the edge of their seats wondering if 12. Nxf7 was come up with over the board, but this is nothing new so let's not credit the players and this game for the false excitement. The point where the game left theoretical paths was at 16. Qc2, the first move that the players actually came up with themselves, which was already a big mistake, and so hardly a good game thus far. After 16. Qc2 Sammour-Hasbun had to simply play a series of greedy captures to reach a winning position which he easily converted. So while Sammour-Hasbun played well, I felt that having to only play a few good moves, capitalizing on poor play by White, did not warrant a higher ranking.
Total Score of Shabalov vs Sammour-Hasbun: (9th Place, 59 Points)
Stay tuned for seven 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 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 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
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