Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week 9 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 Varuzhan Akobian (SEA) vs GM Josh Friedel (SF) 1-0

GM Akobian found the strong 25. e4!, freeing his previously entombed Knight and eventually capitalized on Black's weakened Kingside.

Arun Sharma (1st place, 5 points): It's quite possible that I ranked this game higher than the other judges due to a personal agenda I have both with this line that Black played and the person who happened to be employing it (see this if you're really desperate to know why). But even so, I think this game was definitely a worthy winner as Akobian played very well, in particular his 25. e4! idea along with the way he conducted the ending, especially the 36. Qb1 - Qa1+ idea which simultaneously defended Black's threats while creating threats of his own.

Jim Dean (2nd place, 4 points): Another nice win from Akobian after some ambitious opening play by Black. It seemed like Friedel had a reasonable position until 25. e4!, which seemed to give white both the initiative and the easier position to play. Some good technique followed as Akobian made it look fairly easy in closing out the game.

Greg Shahade (2nd place, 4 points): A very nice and smooth game by Akobian. Friedel seemed to play a very tricky opening, but Akobian navigated his way through the complications and grabbed the initiative with the cute 25. e4

Michael Aigner (4th place, 2 points): Two of America's 20-something GMs renewed their rivalry, and the higher rated Akobian won to make up too many over-the-board losses. It was a fun game, unless of course, you're a San Francisco team member or fan. After gaining a tempo with 20... Rfc8, Black seemed comfortable. Just a few moves later, 24... Qf5 returned that tempo with interest. White's combination starting with 25. e4 and continuing through 31. b5 which crippled Black's position, costing him a Pawn and the game.

This week, four games ended up lumped together at the top of my infallible spreadsheet for GOTW rankings. I needed to find some small quibbles to differentiate the games. In this game, I thought Black equalized without much trouble; plus it is one of two of my candidates from blowout matches. Those two factors caused me to rank three other games higher.

Jeff Ashton (4th place, 2 points): Great game, straight forward, and I can see why some might like it as their favorite or rank it higher than I did.

Total Score of Akobian vs Friedel: 17 points


2nd Place: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Sasha Kaplan (BAL) 1-0

Having been under typical Marshall pressure for the majority of the game, SM Sammour-Hasbun struck back with 24. Bxg5! and eventually got the better of the complications, steering the game into a winning endgame.

Jim Dean (1st place, 5 points): This was my top choice of the week as it seemed like Sammour-Hasbun was extremely accurate during the most critical stages of the game. They went pretty deep into Marshall theory (is twenty moves even deep for the Marshall?), but once the originality began White seemed to find all the right moves and soon Black was in a lost ending that was converted nicely.

Michael Aigner (1st place, 5 points): Kaplan dares to challenge the magician Sammour-Hasbun in a Marshall Attack and goes down in a hail of tactics. The exchange sacrifice on e4 with 17. Nd2 is standard theory for this gambit, yet it set the tone for a wild game. When is the last time you saw three consecutive bishop sacrifices? (24. Bxg5, 24... Bxg3 and 25. Bxf7+) Amazingly, Black throws everything at the White monarch and runs out of pieces. The endgame on move thirty two is a win, but Black's elegant rook maneuver Ra7-g7-g5-c5 was the icing on the cake. The game had all three phases: a highly theoretical opening, a crazy middlegame (with multiple sacrifices), and a technical ending.

There's still little doubt in my mind that this game was the best among my four candidates and should have been GOTW.

Jeff Ashton (2nd place, 4 points): Sammour-Hasbun played like a computer. This is a compliment not an accusation! I know that he is incredibly gifted but inconsistent. I was more inspired by Gonzalez vs Amanav but I can understand if I get bombarded with negative comments for not voting this first.

Greg Shahade (4th place, 2 points): A very short but nice tactical sequence led to a Pawn up endgame for Sammour-Hasbun, and he did a great job to erase the specter of last week's surprising loss.

Arun Sharma (NR, 0 points): I did strongly consider ranking this game since obviously the tactics involved near the end of the middlegame were very interesting and well played by White. But it also seemed like that was the only really interesting part of the game - as others have pointed out the early game was nearly all theory, and the ending, once it came about, seemed fairly easy. Nice tactical flurry again, but I didn't find that, by itself, enough to warrant ranking this game.

Total Score of Sammour-Hasbun vs Kaplan: 16 points


3rd Place: IM Robert Hungaski (NE) vs IM Jonathan Schroer (CAR) 1-0

A parade of captures began with 13. Nxd5?!, resulting in a very messy position which IM Hungaski eventually got the better of.

Greg Shahade (1st place, 5 points): My pick for Game of the Week, Hungaski played really wild and imaginative chess, with a maddening series of captures and desperados by both sides. Most of the fans watching online felt his position was always bad due to his drafty King position, but I didn't see why, and computer analysis seems to confirm that White was always doing fine.

Michael Aigner (2nd place, 4 points): These players combined for one of the wilder games this week and, indeed, the entire season. The fancy trades beginning with 13... Bxh2+ were merely a matter of calculation, but would you have dared play 21. f3, weakening your King and exposing your Queen to a discovered attack? I would not. Clearly Mr. Hungaski is more man than I am, hence his "I am a Man" title. What I didn't understand at the time was that the point behind 21. f3 was to follow up with 24. Kf2. Insanity!

Although my little fish thinks White could have done better, the position after move 28. Qxg5 looks quite hopeless (the dark squares). White ends the game as a model of efficiency, attacking with all four (!) of his pieces, including the King. Someone please grab the fire extinguisher.

Jim Dean (4th place, 2 points): It seems like Schroer has been involved in a lot of interesting games this season and this was another fun one for the spectators. Things fell apart in a hurry for Black towards the end, but it looked like a highly unpleasant position to defend anyway, especially with low time. In any case, a really well played game by Hungaski.

Jeff Ashton (NR, 0 points): This game would have done better on my list previously, but it missed my top list barely.

Arun Sharma (NR, 0 points): This game I almost certainly made an error in not ranking. I obviously found it (just like the second place game) to be interesting, but the main thing that turned me off was that I thought Black was doing very well after all of the captures and yet was in a lost position within a few moves. It's possible that I was in error of my assessment of the original position (if so then White's play was really impressive) in which case I would have definitely given this game a high ranking. But with it seeming that Black had actually gotten the better of the tactical complications and then blundered it away, this game didn't seem to warrant a vote.

Total Score of Hungaski vs Schroer: 11 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

11 points (Jeff 5, Michael 3, Arun 2, Jim 1):
GM Renier Gonzalez (MIA) vs GM Mesgen Amanov (CHC) 0-1

4 points (Arun 4):
WFM Tatev Abrahamayan (LA) vs IM Julio Sadorra (DAL) 1-0

4 points (Jeff 3, Arun 1):
IM Daniel Rensch (ARZ) vs GM Ben Finegold (STL) 0-1

4 points (Arun 3, Greg 1):
IM David Pruess (SF) vs FM Slava Mikhailuk (SEA) 0-1

3 points (Jim 3):
IM Salvijus Bercys (DAL) vs FM Alexandre Kretchetov (LA) 1-0

3 points (Greg 3):
FM Keaton Kiewra (DAL) vs NM Christian Tanaka (LA) 0-1

1 point (Michael 1):
IM Mackenzie Molner (NJ) vs IM Irina Krush (NY) 1-0

1 point (Jeff 1):
GM Dmitry Gurevich (CHC) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) 0-1


Ilya said...

I see my comment praising the judges has been deleted. I want to know why. I would like to point out that I am not Ilya Krasik, believe it or not, he is not the only one with this first name. I demand my comment be reposted!

Arun Sharma said...

I don't know who you are, but your first post made some reference to complaining because the Boston player didn't win so you certainly were trying to give people the impression that you were Ilya Krasik - who himself told me that it wasn't him which is why I deleted your comment.

In any event, anonymous comments are bad enough, but pretending to be someone else might be even worse. Post your full (and real!) name if you want to make a comment like that.

Rihel said...

You know, I expected these games to be in the top three this week, and sure enough, the judges got it more or less correct again.

I might quibble about the order a bit, but good job judges.

Anonymous said...

Imposters are like the biggest cowards, they are scum, amoebas if you wish. The first post was clearly an attempt to impersonate the player from Boston Blitz, if you arent a coward and a lowlife scumbag, why dont you put your REAL name down buddy, or are you weak in the gut deparment?

Dale Charplane

Ilya said...

I am not an imposter, I am a Boston fan named Ilya. Is it so hard to believe? It's not an uncommon name, and Boston is my favorite team so I would feel obliged to speak up when they get spat on, and such opinions are completely unrelated to that of Mr. Krasik. In this case I decided to preempt my fellow Boston fans to keep it down considering the judges made a good call, although Sammour's game came in close second which may lead others to think otherwise. Anyhow, clearly it is a crime to be named Ilya so from now on I will just post anonymously.

David A. Cole said...

I think the judges got this one right as well, and am surprised that Hunganski - Schroer did not finish higher, as the tactics were just exploding all over the place, and enjoyed playing the game through. My guess would be since this was a blowout match, that might have factored into consideration on why this game was not ranked on 2 of the judges scorecards. Akobian - Friedel was a beautiful affair as well, and that too, was a blowout affair as well. Thanks.

David A. Cole, Franklin, NJ

Jeffrey Ashton said...


s. suschitzky said...

I thought it was a fair decision, I was leaning more towards Hungaski for game of the week and blog of the week at that too. (I think usclfans is excluded from blog of the week for being a parody site otherwise I would have definitely given their last blog the win without hesitation)