Friday, October 1, 2010

Week 6 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: GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) vs GM Jesse Kraai (SF) 1-0

With several pieces hanging, GM Christiansen got the best of the complications with 25. Nxh5! Qxh5 26. Rhg1, eventually breaking down GM Kraai's defenses and helping Boston win a very important match.

Arun Sharma (1st place, 5 points): A very natural pick as this game was quite interesting from the beginning and stayed that way until the end. It's impressive the way Christiansen always seems to manage to create such a fearsome attack from a position where it previously seemed very tough to create attacking chances due to the closed nature of the position, even with the Kings on opposite sides of the board.

Jeff Ashton (1st place, 5 points): Interesting opening, unusual position, and creative attacking play.

Greg Shahade (1st place, 5 points): A fun attacking game by Christiansen, with a unique opening and some interesting defensive attempts by Kraai. Christiansen seems incapable of going a season without winning a Game of the Week prize. Maybe we should institute a bonus for future seasons for unanimous Game of the Week choices?!

Michael Aigner (1st place, 5 points): The provocative 2. b3 variation versus the French leads to attacking chances against Black's King position. Aggressive Pawn play by 13. h4, 20. g4, and 29. f4 break down the defenses. After White loads Alekhine's Gun** on the g-file, the f-pawn wreaks havoc with 33. f5 and 35. f6. The final move 39.Qh6 - forcing checkmate - simply was the cherry on top. I bet we'll be reading about this game in a future book.

**To be precise, Alekhine's Gun is R-R-Q with the Queen in the back.

Jim Dean (1st place, 5 points): This was a really tough week as there were several games that I evaluated similarly in GOTW value. This game felt like the most obvious choice though since it was well played and had plenty of action with the players castling on opposite wings. Congrats to GM Christiansen on the first unanimous GOTW victory in a long time!

Total Score of Christiansen vs Kraai: 25 points


2nd Place: GM Larry Kaufman (BAL) vs IM Daniel Rensch (ARZ) 1-0

GM Kaufman effectively ended the game with the strong 28. R1h5!, after which the mating attack quickly netted White a decisive material advantage, giving Baltimore a narrow but very important victory.

Arun Sharma (2nd place, 4 points): Simply a very strong game by Kaufman, building up a brutal Kingside attack while simultaneously easily defusing Rensch's attempts to create similar threats on the opposite side. Winning in such a clean and convincing fashion against such a strong opponent is always impressive.

Jeff Ashton (2nd place, 4 points): Not the most interesting opening, not the most unusual position, and simple, straight forward attacking play. I must say that I enjoy Larry Kaufman's games very much.

Greg Shahade (5th place, 1 point): Very clean play from Kaufman. Rensch has performed quite well so far in 2010, but Kaufman made it look easy with a very thematic Kingside attack.

Michael Aigner (NR, 0 points): White executes a simple yet effective attack by creating twin threats: doubling Rooks on the h-file and penetrating with the Queen on the a1-h8 long diagonal. I considered this game but didn't give it a vote because the knockout seemed a bit too easy, especially after 23... f5.

Jim Dean (NR, 0 points): This game was one of about ten or so that I considered strongly for my top five. GM Kaufman played very well, and I can see how my fellow judges would include this performance in their list. In the end, I simply found a handful of other games more attractive.

Total Score of Kaufman vs Rensch: 9 points


3rd Place: GM Alex Lenderman (NY) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) 0-1

GM Becerra finally put an end to GM Lenderman's incredible undefeated streak with the nice positional blow, 37... Ba2!, giving him a very favorable endgame which he converted cleanly, keeping Miami in the thick of the playoff race after a very tough start.

Michael Aigner (2nd place, 4 points): This game represents a big change of pace from most games under consideration for GOTW. Black gained sufficient space with his Pawns, which allowed his minor pieces to dominate the center of the board. At the end, White's bad Bishop was helpless against Black's strong Knight. I enjoyed watching such a straightforward and instructive positional squeeze.

Greg Shahade (3rd place, 3 points): A strong display by Becerra. A slow positional buildup and breakthrough against the previously undefeated Lenderman.

Arun Sharma (5th place, 1 point): This game obviously caught my eye due to Lenderman's incredible league record, but the game itself also definitely imo was very impressive also. Although there might not have been much in the way of excitement, it's always impressive to see such positional play in a game, slowly but surely creating a very dominating game against a strong GM from a position which only a bit earlier looked very drawish.

Jeff Ashton (NR, 0 points): Nice game and almost voted for it. Well played.

Jim Dean (NR, 0 points): GM Becerra was very persistent in this game and played well to get a favorable Q+N vs. Q+B endgame. I probably marked this game down slightly since 45... g3 looks like it would induce an immediate resignation, but even so this game seemed very well played on the whole.

Total Score of Lenderman vs Becerra: 8 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

6 points (Greg 4, Arun 2):
FM Ralph Zimmer (BAL) vs NM David Adelberg (ARZ) 1-0

6 points (Jim 4, Jeff 2):
IM Dmitry Zilberstein (SF) vs IM Marc Esserman (BOS) 0-1

6 points (Jeff 3, Jim 3):
IM Salvijus Bercys (DAL) vs IM Jonathan Schroer (CAR) 1-0

5 points (Michael 3, Greg 2):
IM Andranik Matikozyan (LA) vs GM Alex Stripunsky (MAN) 0-1

4 points (Arun 3, Jeff 1):
FM Ron Simpson (CAR) vs IM Julio Sadorra (DAL) 0-1

2 points (Michael 2):
FM Michael Lee (SEA) vs IM Albert Kapengut (NJ) 1-0

2 points (Jim 2):
IM Michael Brooks (STL) vs IM David Vigorito (NE) 0-1

1 point (Michael 1):
IM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ) vs GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) 1/2-1/2

1 point (Jim 1):
Sean Finn (NJ) vs Alex Guo (SEA) 0-1


Anonymous said...

It's a shame that once again perfect play gets no consideration because the opponent ostensibly played poorly.

Anonymous said...

Some odd choices this week. I would pick:

1) Lenderman-Becerra
2) Matikozyan-Stripunsky
3) Zimmer-Adelberg
4) Christiansen-Kraai
5) Finn-Guo

Anonymous said...

What's with ashtons silence. Only reason I come here is cuz of his comments. Probably greg and arun censored him

Arun Sharma said...

Nope, as you might have seen from the most recent blog here, *I* do not censor almost anyone!

Anonymous said...


fpawn said...

It is all my fault. Sorry folks.