Friday, September 24, 2010

Week 5 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.


1st Place: FM Charles Galofre (MIA) vs FM Marcel Milat (SEA) 1-0

How often does one see a game between two such strong players where White has walked his King to c3 by move eleven? Not the most usual of sights, but FM Galofre managed to get the better of the wild game, saving a drawn match for the Sharks.

Arun Sharma (1st place, 5 points): Ok, this game obviously might not have been completely sound, but in terms of excitement/craziness, I can't really recall a USCL game that matched this one in those regards. Given that, even though both sides likely missed some chances to improve, I felt I had to rank this game first. It was actually a very tough choice though as to whether to rank this or the Gurevich game first - a decision which really comes down to what you choose to value most in these games. Whether I made the correct decision or not, I'm quite glad that this and that game managed to take the top two spots as I really felt there were definitely the two most deserving ones of the week.

Greg Shahade (2nd place, 4 points): I think if this game wasn't decided by a relatively huge blunder by Black near the end of the game, it would have won this week's contest unanimously and would have had decent Game of the Year prospects also. It's almost impossible to play a more exciting game than this one, and while the moves weren't always the objective best moves, the fans certainly appreciate such a brand of chess as you could tell by the excited commentary on ICC. Quotes such as "this is the craziest game I've ever seen" and "this game is automatic GOTW" could be heard.

Jeff Ashton (2nd place, 4 points): Very interesting game. I don't consistently vote these "romantic" games so high, but it seemed easier to rank this above the rest. This game definitely stands out from the rest. I know that Black had other alternatives (and maybe was winning with better defensive choices), but I still had to rank this game highly. Also, I apologize in advance to any who tell me how this game followed ______ vs ______ for ______ number of moves. Clearly I knew that, but I was just testing your ability to do a database search.

Michael Aigner (2nd place, 4 points): This Four Knights opening turned into the most exciting game of the season to date, with naked bootlegs by Kings, wacko tactics and clear winning chances for both sides. The game also reminded me of the famous Steinitz quote: "A win by an unsound combination, however showy, fills me with artistic horror."

With this thought, I instead ranked first an impressive positional win by talented junior FM Michael Lee against GM Gonzalez.

Jim Dean (NR, 0 points): There were a couple of reasons I didn't vote for this game. Despite the wild look of the game, they followed the course of two other games quite deeply: Polovodin-Katalymov, 1980 1/2-1/2, and Stewart-Tabatt 2002, 0-1. The move 18. Ke2, as played by Stewart and now Galofre, is as far as I can tell innacurate, though perhaps a better attempt to play for a win as 18. Ke4 seems to lead to a perpetual. With 21... Qf6, Black blundered heinously in a difficult, but objectively favorable (if not winning) position. After 21... Qf6 the position became an easy win for White and with eighteen of the critical twenty one moves lacking originality, and a large blunder deciding the game, I decided to leave this game out of my top five. Fortunately, for all those who disagree, this game didn't need my vote to win!

Total Score of Galofre vs Milat: 17 points


2nd Place: GM Dmitry Gurevich (CHC) vs IM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ) 1-0

GM Gurevich finished off a smooth effort with 36. Rxh7+! forcing mate and helping the Blaze put an end to the Scorpions undefeated season.

Greg Shahade (1st place, 5 points): A deserving almost winner of Game of the Week. It was a sharp game between two strong players that had the fans on the edge on their seats. According to some annotations on the Internet, Black had some chances to improve, but in a practical situation White posed some very difficult problems. Gurevich has been a huge boon for the Chicago Blaze as their stellar record shows.

Jim Dean (1st place, 5 points): I liked the play of both players for quite some time in this game, but unfortunately for Black, 30... c5 was a misstep and Gurevich pounced on the opportunity with some nice play. With this exciting and important win, knocking off the undefeated Scorpions, I felt it was worthy of winning GOTW.

Arun Sharma (2nd place, 4 points): Great game by Gurevich, playing very fearlessly in the middlegame, allowing Barcenilla to capture his g2 Pawn with check. From that to the clever simplification 33. Nxf4! and the finishing shot 26. Rxh7+!, it was simply a really impressive game by him to help the Blaze get off to their best start in history. As noted above, I certainly would have had no problem with this game winning due to its relative cleanliness and high entertainment value, but I feel the Galofre game was a worthy winner also. Just as many things go in this contest, it really is a matter of personal perspective.

Jeff Ashton (4th place, 2 points): There recently were some one-sided games in the KID, and in this game Black played pretty well and had chances in the middlegame. I guess I have a tendency to rank KID games highly.

Michael Aigner (NR, 0 points): This win by Gurevich against one of America's strongest IMs proved central to Chicago's upset of Arizona. White's King's Indian play was standard, and if Black had tried the logical 30... Qf7 intending to triple with Qg6, he would also have been fine. Instead Black hung a pawn and the game with c7-c5, allowing en passant. The flashy mate at the end was not enough to give this game any votes.

Total Score of Gurevich vs Barcenilla: 16 points


3rd Place: GM Eugene Perelshteyn (BOS) vs IM Mackenzie Molner (NJ) 1-0

GM Perelshteyn found the strong idea 16. c4! dxc4 17. Na3, securing him a huge edge which he shortly converted into a material advantage to help Boston win a very tight match.

Jeff Ashton (1st place, 5 points): Interesting opening! It's very nice to see Perelshteyn play positions he understands so well, often very unique positions. I know Perelshteyn has a great find-ways for moving his Queen sideways in the KID against Finachetto setups. I had no idea he likes the idea to the point where he will play it with White.

Jim Dean (2nd place, 4 points): Another nice grind by Perelshteyn, who I thought played both patiently and accurately for much of the game. Without doing anything ridiculous, Black made a couple of "loose" moves on the Queenside, and White obtained an advantage he was able to nurse the entire game. I didn't envy the task of defending Black's position, but to Molner's credit he really made Perelshteyn work for it.

Arun Sharma (5th place, 1 point): I really was unsure how to assess this game overall. Part of me wanted to rank it higher since it seemed like Perelshteyn played quite well, finding some strong ideas and winning a game which ended up being the decider in a very close match between the top two teams in the East last year. On the other hand, this wasn't exactly the most exciting of games, and it also seemed like Black's play that allowed White to obtain his big edge was a bit overly cooperative (the 12... b5 and 13... Rab8 idea in particular). But whether this game belonged in the top three or not, it is nice to occasionally see a smooth positional game get its due compared to the usual tactical slug-fests that we generally see here.

Greg Shahade (5th place, 1 point): A nice solid game from Perelshteyn that won Boston the match, however it was far from the most action packed game in USCL history.

Michael Aigner (NR, 0 points): I probably should have ranked this game third or fourth because I enjoy seeing clean positional wins like this one. White obtained a powerful pair of Bishops on move twelve and used them to weaken Black's Queenside. On the other hand, I originally thought it all looked a bit too easy. We must not take anything away from the difficulty of properly applying "Grandmaster technique" as Perelshteyn did.

Total Score of Perelshteyn vs Molner: 11 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

9 points (Arun 3, Greg 3, Jim 3):
NM Carlito Agner (CAR) vs FM Andrei Zaremba (MAN) 0-1

5 points (Michael 5):
FM Michael Lee (SEA) vs GM Renier Gonzalez (MIA) 1-0

5 points (Jeff 3, Jim 2):
IM Dmitry Schneider (MAN) vs FM Ron Simpson (CAR) 0-1

4 points (Greg 2, Michael 2):
FM Daniel Naroditsky (SF) vs FM Michael Casella (LA) 1-0

3 points (Michael 3):
WFM Bayaraa Zorigt (DAL) vs NM Jim Voelker (STL) 1-0

2 points (Arun 2):
IM Julio Sadorra (DAL) vs IM Michael Brooks (STL) 1-0

1 points (Jeff 1):
GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) vs GM Larry Kaufman (BAL) 1-0

1 points (Jim 1):
IM Angelo Young (CHC) vs IM Daniel Rensch (ARZ) 0-1

1 points (Michael 1):
IM Dionisio Aldama (ARZ) vs IM Florin Felecan (CHC) 1/2-1/2

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hate to write negative comments... so instead i'll compliment Jim Dean. I think his comment shows exactly why Galofre-Milat was an undeserving winner.