Friday, January 21, 2011

Game of the Year -- 1st Place

This is the final part in a series of articles which has counted down to revealing what game was voted as the 2010 USCL Game of the Year. For more information on exactly how this process worked and the prize information, please refer to: Game of the Year Contest.


1st Place: GM Varuzhan Akobian (SEA) vs GM Yury Shulman (STL) 1-0

GM Akobian nicely capitalized on his initiative with 21. Nxf6+!! breaking the position wide open after which his well placed pieces paid a nice dividend eventually scoring him an impressive victory against a super strong opponent.

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):
Wow, a topical opening line, powerful positional play, a correct long-term piece sac, and flawless execution! In the opening, I think 9... b6 is a more critical choice than 9... f6, but that could of course be argued against. Not sure where Black went wrong afterward, White just has very good compensation, and his position is much easier to play. Maybe 20... Bb7 was more resilient. After 21. Nxf6+!! White gets an eternal initiative and never lets go. No complaints, I'll vote for this one.

GM Robert Hess (2nd Place, 19 points):
Var really played one heck of a game. Yury did not seem to have a chance. One reason I ranked this so highly is that both players worked together at the Olympiad and have similar opening repertoires, yet Var seemed in total control. Var came out aggressively and never relinquished his threats, first forcing Yury to weaken all his Pawns, then milking his huge advantage in development and finally sacrificing material and going in for the kill. It is hard to pinpoint Yury's fatal error, and that just makes the game that much better in my eyes. Nicely done.

FM Ron Young (4th Place, 17 points):
Sitting on c3 and f3, White's Bishops seemed to have nothing to do with each other but after the explosion on f6, they swept in and left Black empty-handed. Watching this game was like watching a skilled pair of street scammers in action.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (4th Place, 17 points):
The players don't get much stronger in this league. A very nice game by Varuzhan. He elected to play the very sharp Marshall Gambit. White gambits a Pawn and naturally gets some initiative. He followed that up with a well timed sacrifice on f6 giving life to all his centralized pieces. Shulman simply couldn't handle the pressure and had to crack under the pressure. The easy tactics in the end were also a nice cherry on the top of the cake.

WIM Alisa Melekhina (12th Place, 9 points):
A typical GM game where it's unclear where the crucial mistake was, and Black suddenly finds himself worse. At one point it seemed that Shulman had stabilized and was ready to consolidate his extra pawn, but Akobian's open lines proved too much, eventually facilitating the promotion of the c-pawn that seemed to have suddenly arrived on the seventh rank out of nowhere. A very nice and clean game, that I'm sure could be ranked higher if the other games didn’t display such exciting struggles and tactics. With all the games being so decisive, at this point it just becomes a matter of taste between more creative and original, rather than straightforward wins.

Total Score of Akobian vs Shulman: (1st Place, 82 Points)


Final 2010 Game of the Year Standings:

1st Place (82 Points): GM Varuzhan Akobian (SEA) vs GM Yury Shulman (STL) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

2nd Place (82 Points): SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

3rd Place (79 Points): GM Yury Shulman (STL) vs GM Melikset Khachiyan (LA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

4th Place (68 Points): NM Eric Rosen (CHC) vs Alex Guo (SEA) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

5th Place (65 Points): GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) vs IM Sam Shankland (NE) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

6th Place (64 Points): IM Jonathan Schroer (CAR) vs GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

7th Place (60 Points): GM Larry Christiansen (BOS) vs GM Jesse Kraai (SF) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

8th Place (59 Points): GM Alex Stripunsky (MAN) vs GM Sergey Erenburg (BAL) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

9th Place (58 Points): IM Sam Shankland (NE) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

10th Place (55 Points): IM Daniel Rensch (ARZ) vs WFM Tatev Abrahamyan (LA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

11th Place (53 Points): GM Yury Shulman (STL) vs IM Florin Felecan (CHC) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

12th Place (46 Points): GM Josh Friedel (SF) vs GM Varuzhan Akobian (SEA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

13th Place (42 Points): IM Jonathan Schroer (CAR) vs GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

14th Place (41 Points): IM Robert Hungaski (NE) vs IM Jonathan Schroer (CAR) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

15th Place (40 Points): NM Ilya Krasik (BOS) vs NM Adithya Balasubramanian (BAL) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

16th Place (40 Points): Nicholas Rosenthal (MIA) vs NM Nick Thompson (ARZ) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

17th Place (35 Points): GM Varuzhan Akobian (SEA) vs GM Josh Friedel (SF) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

18th Place (31 Points): GM Dmitry Gurevich (CHC) vs IM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

19th Place (27 Points): FM Charles Galofre (MIA) vs FM Marcel Milat (SEA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

20th Place (23 Points): SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Sasha Kaplan (BAL) 1-0 Article Elimination Article


bruce tarr said...

Its a tough call, Ron Young voted the most consistent throughout the tournament, where as Alisa Melekhina voted properly on more key games where others didn't have the courage to. I lean more towards Alisa Melekhina for fortitude. Even though there was a lot of negativity, thanks to all the judges who helped and took their time out for this.

Anonymous said...

no tough call
Alisa Melekhina hands down was best

DDubov said...

Its hard to vote for a judge considering this was very chaotic and unsound. If only one judge voted next year I would hope it would be WIM Melekhina. She frustrated me a lot through out the voting process being the one to sway games often, I like things cohesive and orderly. Being fair and looking through everyone's voting process, I think she was without bias, was least corrupted by league officials, and had the smartest sense in the order she placed them. (Side-note: I wouldn't mind seeing Robert Hess next year as well.)

DDubov said...

And sorry to create controversy but looking back Jan Gustafsson voted harshly on both of Sam Shanklands games compare to the other judges after admitting openly being advised not to vote for certain types of games and later saying it was just humor. I don't see how he's being voted so strongly in the early morning without one single good word about his voting, yet another corruption on his part, sorry just speaking what I see as the clear truth and injustice.

Anonymous said...

Judges who play ball get the pat on the back in the end.

Chris Santoro said...

Well now is as good of a time as any to plug my new book Open the Barn Door II, now its another Chunky Flap Book which got glowing reviews the first time around. Illustrated in full color. You just open the barn door and take a tour around the barnyard to find out just who's making all the wonderful animal sounds. It's really sturdy, and its small size makes it so easy to toss in a purse or bag for on-the-go entertainment. And to top it all off, Jan Gustafsson is a representational figure animated by a puppeteer, it's on bookshelves the twentieth.

Anonymous said...

I am friends with Jan Gustafsson be it not best of friends but we've hung out and that sort of business. I'd rather post anonymously so not to create waves, but friend or not, just from his inside "jokes" that lead to two games being voted down by a confessed outside influence makes it hard to believe that he's the favored judge in the polls. Again this is not slander towards him or anyone else, he has always been kind to me as a friend, this is facts that have been out in the open.

motor mullen said...

Its like Akobian dropped it into 7th gear and said sorry buddy you thought you had me. I’m checkin out! Nice to see a wildcard sneak its way to win it all. Good job! As far as judging goes, I'll go ahead and give my vote to the pretty little lady who I felt was spot on through out the contest without outside interference.

Sam Shankland said...

Just to set the record straight, when I jokingly called GM Gustafsson out for getting outside influence that was indeed all it was, a joke. I'm not exactly best buddies with Jan, but I've met him a couple times and i can say he is a very friendly and reasonable person and does not seem the type to be "corrupted" in any way. Judging is a very subjective process and it seems really unnecessary for anonymous people to be overly critical. Disagreement and discussion is fine, but let's not forget that everyone's opinion is to be respected (at least if they sign their name) and especially when they are 2650 and doing a great deal of work in playing through all of these games, and for free. Thanks to everyone for making this season so great and thanks to the judges for all of their hard work, people talk about under-appreciation in the league a lot, but somehow they never mention these 5 people even though they are perhaps the biggest example.

Vik said...

I agree the judges did a great job this year. The task was difficult, thankless and didn't pay--Thank you guys! Shankland please retire soon.

Anonymous said...

5000 Deutschmarks say differently!

All Hail Hess!

And Melekhina is cool too.

Anonymous said...

Sam, are you quitting chess? or are you still going to play?

Anonymous said...

I think that for all the randomness of this judging system, it works really well nevertheless.

Anonymous said...

wait Alisa was the judge who ranked Milat-Galofre second...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I thought she made some ridiculous votes, Jan Gustafsson clearly was the best judge, I think most top rated players agree.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Arun made a good wildcard selection! He clearly understands chess better than any of the GOTW judges.

Anonymous said...

if you look at Greg's wildcard article, I'm pretty sure Greg was going to choose the Akobian-Shulman game when he decided to choose the Rosen-Guo game instead.

DDubov said...

I'm almost glad there was a disappointing top three to hopefully get people motivated to create a new system for next year. This contest needs to be shaken up dramatically to keep interest and keep away bias. You can try to suffocate my freedom of speech, but I've been forward enough to talk around and find out who was friends with who prior to this contest and lets just say I change my opinion drastically and want a point system more so than ever.

Anonymous said...

Disappointing? Only second place doesn't belong there IMO.

DDubov's Master said...

DDubov, you have done nothing but complain, whine, and criticize the entire contest. I am curious: what would your rankings have been? Please post them as I'm sure many of us would like to know so that we can laugh about how bad your choices are and the lack of chess understanding you display. You seem to be so fond of doing this to others so how about jumping in the hot seat yourself? And be sure to include your real name rather than some phony "DDubov" handle.

bruce tarr said...

To play the neutral party, isn't Dubov an IM at 2416 strength? While I agree there was some negativity, myself included I think it went well. I don't think he had a specific list in mind, in early posts he kept mentioning a point system to make it less about what a judge might prefer (and to some degree bias) and more towards a system like Olympic Sports which I have to admit I sort of agree on as well. I don't see how your negativity towards him and using an anonymous name yourself would inspire him to reply? Seems very hypocritical.

Dan F said...

I think all in all the judges balanced out the opinions pretty well. But I also support a more defined scoring system, a la Iron Chef. If a game got x points for technical merit, x for creativity, and x for overall opinion, I think it would would help fans (low rated players like me) appreciate the competition more.

2011 Handicapping said...

Eastern Division

1) New York (projected 8 - 2)

2) Baltimore (projected 7.5 - 2.5)

3) Boston (projected 7 - 3)

4) New England (projected 7 - 3)

5) New Jersey (projected 4 - 6)

6) Philadelphia (projected 2 - 8)

7) Manhattan (projected 1.5 - 8.5)

8) Carolina (projected .5 - 9.5)

Western Division

1) Los Angeles (projected 8.5 - 1.5)

2) Seattle (projected 8 - 2)

3) Dallas (projected 7.5 - 2.5)

4) San Francisco (projected 7 - 3)

5) Arizona (projected 3.5 - 6.5)

6) St. Louis (projected 2 - 8)

7) Chicago (projected 1 - 9)

8) Miami (projected 0 - 10)

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there will be anything interesting during the offseason, I'm very close to choosing a new site as my homepage.

Julius G said...

Teams with a lot of potential newcomers should host try outs to help assist them on picking spots for the upcoming season. Its a good way to gauge how players play and how to stack a team. Since there is nothing going on right now, videos and blog entries on it would be interesting. Some polls on possible different rules and regulations would also be interesting to hear and discuss.

The most fascinating story we've heard little about is Greg Shahade and Arun Sharma opting out of their current collective bargaining agreement for a better deal to help pay for investments they have made on new "site changes" and other "expenditures" although rumor has it VCU and Butler really hurt their NCAA sheets and pockets. As bargaining chips, they proposed to extend the regular season by two games, establish a higher GM wage scale, and implement other health and safety issues, like handing out First Aid leaflets, which players are complaining about, saying they clearly have Rite Aid written on them and are free to anyone already. I'd like to hear more from an inside source on how that's coming along.