Friday, September 3, 2010

Week 2 Game of the Week

This year we have five judges for Game of the Week, each ranking their top five games. The games are then given from one to five points, based on these rankings, and whichever game receives the most total points wins the award. First place each week will receive a $200 bonus prize ($150 going to the winner of the game, $50 to the loser), second place $75, and third place $50 (both second and third going entirely to the winner). Our five judges are: IM Greg Shahade, FM Jim Dean, NM Michael Aigner, NM Jeff Ashton, and NM Arun Sharma. Click here for more details.


*For this week we will have only four judges.

1st Place: GM Yury Shulman (STL) vs IM Florin Felecan (CHC) 0-1

Up two pawns, IM Felecan coolly defused any further counterplay from GM Shulman with the nice exchange sacrifice, 26... Rxc7!, and went on to score one of the biggest upsets in USCL history.

Greg Shahade (1st place, 5 points): Hey when you're a 2400 rated IM, and you beat Shulman with the Black pieces in a must win game for your team, who am I to try take to away your Game of the Week Award?

Jim Dean (1st place, 5 points): This felt like a fairly easy decision. Felecan beats Shulman with Black in a KID, and it's not the first time! Shulman vs Felecan at the Chicago Open in 2009 started the same way, but this time Felecan varied with 7... exd4, rather than 7... h6. It seemed like Felecan was well prepared as he accumulated a large time advantage and played sharply throughout. A very nice win to save the match for the Blaze!

Jeff Ashton (1st place, 5 points): I found it very difficult this week to find a clear GOTW winner. There were a few games that I initially thought I would rank higher, and they ended up not making my top five list.

I don’t really like my first pick that much more than my sixth pick, but I'm still satisfied with my decisions. This was an interesting and surprising game to say the least. I was sure that White would figure out some way to win with his initiative but Felecan defended well. I usually assume that whenever Yury Shulman plays aggressively as White he'll either win convincingly or just figure out some way to win.

Arun Sharma (5th place, 1 point): I'm not at all surprised that, given what a shocking result this was in both the individual game and team outcome, that the other judges all ranked it higher than me though I'm somewhat surprised they unanimously voted it first. I thought Felecan played very sharply and correctly for the majority of the middlegame, but other parts of the game seemed a bit shaky to me. Near the end, it seemed that a few inaccuracies gave Shulman very good drawing chances (for instance with 44. Qc3 instead of 44. Rb2 where it seems difficult for Black to make progress). Add to that, the ending, with 49. Ra3? losing immediately when White can still definitely force Black to work for it, all made it hard for me to feel that this game warranted a top ranking despite all the positives.

But even if, like last week, I didn't personally rank the top game quite as highly as the other judges, I believe once again that the actual winner is a very worthy choice, and congrats to Felecan and the Chicago team for their excellent start to the season!

Total Score of Shulman vs Felecan: 16 points


2nd Place: GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) vs GM Alex Stripunsky (MAN) 1-0

Up a pawn, but potentially facing some dangerous Kingside counterplay with f4 and Ng5 looming, GM Erenburg found the unusual looking, but very strong, defensive move 30. Ba7! and went on to cleanly convert his advantage.

Arun Sharma (1st place, 5 points): Like the first place game, I wasn't especially surprised to see my ranking for this not quite mesh with the other judges (though in the opposite way as the other one!). I know this game didn't have the fireworks that many look for in GOTW candidates, but it was a very clean and well played game by Erenburg - no real mistakes and winning with seeming ease without obvious errors by his opponent. Add to that, the preciseness of some very non-obvious moves by him (for instance the 30. Ba7! move shown above), and I decided to make this my top pick.

Greg Shahade (4th place, 2 points): A very smooth game by Erenburg. In terms of class and quality it could get higher than the fourth place ranking that I gave it, but it lacked the fireworks and drama required for me to give it more points.

Jim Dean (4th place, 2 points): A really well played game by Erenburg, who showed patience in breaking into Stripunsky's defense. I especially liked 41. h4!, and the quick finish that followed. This idea to give up the dark squared bishop on c3, followed by ...f6 has been played by Stripunsky (and others) before such as the game Shabalov vs Stripunsky, Philadelphia Open 2010, where the game was drawn. I suspect Erenburg may have prepared for this as his ensuing
play was strong.

Jeff Ashton (NR, 0 points): Very interesting game. Whenever White wins after Black plays an early Bg7xc3 it just seems like justice has been served. When I first saw the game I thought I would rank it highly for GOTW but I ended up preferring other games. Again, I can’t really say I love my first pick MUCH more than my sixth pick.

Total Score of Erenburg vs Stripunsky: 9 points


3rd Place: FM Victor Shen (NJ) vs FM Alec Getz (NY) 1-0

With both players under a minute, FM Shen broke through with 38. Rxc5! and eventually utilized his connected passed pawns to decisive effect, giving New Jersey a close but very exciting win over New York.

Arun Sharma (2nd place, 4 points): In terms of drama, this game certainly took the cake with the team match being tied for the last large chunk of moves with both players playing on the increment. That, along with the relative messiness of the position, with all three results seeming possible until the very end, made this game a natural choice for a top pick. While obviously the end part of the game had some errors, considering the circumstances both players played quite well and with there being many interesting tactics both on the board and in possible variations (in particular, White having the opportunity to allow Black to have two Queens on the board with 45. b7!), I nearly made this my top pick. Even though I eventually opted for the Erenburg game, since it seemed the winner of that game really made no mistakes, I'm glad this one still managed to make it onto the medal platform.

Greg Shahade (3rd place, 3 points): The balance of the New Jersey vs New York match hung on this game, and there ensued a long time scramble with a lot of funny variations and traps. Probably this game doesn't deserve such a high ranking on pure merit alone, but when you added in the drama factor and the fact that the last twenty five or so moves were played on the thirty second increment, a top three finish seems justified to me.

Jim Dean (5th place, 1 point): This was one of the more exciting games of the week, and I think Shen handled the position well for much of the game. White's Queenside expansion eventually paid off, though Black didn't go quietly and made a nice fight of it. Congratulations to Victor as he continues to build on his excellent World Open performance!

Jeff Ashton (5th place, 1 point): Good game. White's active play on the Queenside was a joy to watch. Perhaps there were a few inaccuracies in complex positions, but still a nice game to say the least.

Final note: I thought there were a lot of high quality games played this week. Usually when it's hard to make GOTW picks it's because the games are just dull (relatively speaking). This week that was not the case. It seems that pretty much every single decisive game was well played or at least very instructive. One game that stood out to me was Vigorito’s win. I thought it would either get a very high or very low ranking. Although technically maybe Vigorito might not have deserved as much credit as I gave him, and perhaps he was objectively speaking worse for too much of the game. Nonetheless, I thought the game was very mysterious and one to be looked at more closely.

Total Score of Shen vs Getz: 9 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

7 points (Greg 4, Arun 3):
GM Boris Gulko (NJ) vs GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) 1-0

5 points (Jim 3, Arun 2):
IM Bryan Smith (PHI) vs GM Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS) 0-1

4 points (Jim 4):
GM Dmitry Gurevich (CHC) vs GM Hikaru Nakamura (STL) 0-1

4 points (Jeff 4):
IM David Vigorito (NE) vs FM Ron Simpson (CAR) 1-0

3 points (Jeff 3):
NM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (NY) vs FM Arthur Shen (NJ) 1-0

3 points (Jeff 2, Greg 1):
SM Denys Shmelov (BOS) vs FM Tom Bartell (PHI) 0-1


Anonymous said...


One should note Florin and Yury were living off increment at the end.

Weren't there supposed to be 5 judges?

Great job guys!

EJ said...

I was really hoping Wang-SEA vs Thompson-ARZ would have gotten a little more love this week. :(

Michael Aigner is the usual fifth judge.

- EJ

fpawn said...

The fifth judge suffered from bad vibes after ingesting too much applesauce while watching the Blaze blitz the Archbishop in Chicago.