Friday, December 30, 2011
Game of the Year -- 19th Place
This is the second part in a series of articles which will count down to revealing what game was voted as the 2011 USCL Game of the Year. For more information on exactly how this process works and the prize information, please refer to: Game of the Year Contest
19th Place: Christopher Wu (NJ) vs NM James Black (MAN) 1-0
With the calm 28. Rxg7!, despite allowing the capture of his Queen with check, NM Wu quickly finished off a nice mating attack
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 Alex Lenderman (11th Place, 10 points): Christopher Wu definitely did his homework and demonstrated that he knew the straightforward plan following the opening theory in the Paulsen g3 line. But Black simply made it too easy. 19... d5 was very much called for to blunt White's attack and to pressure the e4 pawn, thus trying to gain a grip on the f5 square. If White then plays 20. f5, seemingly the only topical line, then after 20... gxf5 Black is up a pawn and seems fine and defending. So perhaps White's 19. Nd1?! didn't turn out too well after all even though it is very topical - perhaps 19. Qf2 was instead called for. Either way White's opening shouldn't have been a success, but White got what he wanted after 19... b5?! 20. Ne3.
Black could've still played 20... d5 instead of the lemon 20... Kh8? though with less effect because the f5 square is already guarded by the Knight. But what really got this game out of the top ten was the fact that White botched a clear win and let Black get back into the game. If White found 22. Nf6! or 22. f5!? first, then 22... Bxf6 is forced (mate on h7 is threatened) after which 23. gxf6 Ng8 24. f5! exf5 25. Bh6! with mate coming, then this game probably would make the top ten though probably not top five. But unfortunately this was missed and after 22. Bc3? e5 23. fxe5?! (even here 23. f5 was stronger and probably winning though more complicated), 23... Bxg4! 24. Qxg4 if Black had found 24... b4! instead of 24... dxe5?, the game would have been still unclear. If White tries 25. Bd4!? then 25... Qc4! holds f7 and now very importantly, the Bishop is deflected into a bad square, d4, where now exd6 is impossible due to Bxd4+ winning for Black. Therefore, Black will simply regain a Pawn with a fine game! Most White can hope for here is a slight advantage after 25. c3!? dxe5 26. Bf2. 25... Nc6 besides the natural dxe5 is also possible. White can also try 25. Be1!? Bxe5 26. Rxf7 but of course this is a much better version for Black with the Bishop nice and active instead of being behind a Pawn on e5. 26... Kg8 for Black after 26. Rxf7, and Black has good play. If 27. Rf1, then 27... Qxc2, and if 27. Rf2?! then 27... a4! and Bd4. Finally White can try the most principled 25. exd6 Qa7+ 26. Kh1 bxc3 27. dxe7 Rxe7 28. bxc3, and again most White can hope for is a slight edge and the game is still very much in doubt 27. Rxf7? fails miserably to 27... cxb2, and the Pawn will be a problem for White.
With this stuff being missed, and Black's defense also not being ideal, after 24... dxe5? 25. Rxf7, White won with a nice mating pattern, a beautiful finish. The fact that it was a nice finish and not GMs playing, I bumped the ranking up a little bit to eleventh, but with all the inaccuracies and the straightforward nature of it, it wasn't good enough for me for the top ten.
FM Ingvar Johannesson (14th Place, 7 points): Another sharp Sicilian. White's attacking scheme is well known, and this had been played before up to 18. Rf1. Black seemed to somewhat voluntarily place his head on the guillotine with the seemingly redundant move 20... Kh8. White could have been more clinical with 22. Nf6 which is just crushing after 22... Bxf6 23. gxf6 Ng8 24. f5. So overall bad play by Black, and White even missed some stuff. The rest of the game was rather straightforward but even though somewhat obvious, we must give White a cookie for allowing his Queen to be captured with check, nice finish.
FM Alisa Melekhina (14th Place, 7 points): Amongst the other choices, this Board Four game did not seem out of place at all. After being on the offensive, White martyred his Queen to finish Black off in a study-like fashion. Black should have put up more resistance by playing 19... d5, possibly following up with Nf5. White blazed through with a thematic attack, but it most likely would not have succeeded against better defense. This reminds me of some of my own earlier (and even current) games when I used to play the Closed Sicilian or Grand Prix attack and would score quick victories over unwitting opponents, but this style of chess is a bit immature, and I look forward to seeing these players grow out of it as they progress.
FM Ron Young (16th Place, 5 points): Letting one's Queen go with check is not an everyday activity, but once White got to land his Rook on f7 with capture, it was clearly time for the Black King to start writing his memoirs.
FM Victor Shen (20th Place, 1 point): A nice attacking effort by the young Wu. Unfortunately, as Black didn't put up very much resistance (Wu could have even ended things as early as move 22 with Nf6!), I couldn't give this a higher ranking. Leaving the Queen en prise (with check!) was a nice touch though.
Total Score of Wu vs Black: (19th Place, 30 Points)
Stay tuned for seventeen more such articles as the field shrinks by one game almost every day to see which of the following games will be the 2011 Game of the Year!
Week 2: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Lev Milman (MAN) 1-0 Article
Week 3: GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 0-1 Article
Week 5: GM Cristian Chirila (DAL) vs GM Melikset Khachiyan (LA) 0-1 Article
Week 6: GM Julio Sadorra (DAL) vs IM Gabriel Battaglini (CAR) 1-0 Article
Week 7: WGM Tatev Abrahamyan (LA) vs FM Eric Rodriguez (MIA) 1-0 Article
Week 8: GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs FM Joaquin Banawa (STL) 1-0 Article
Week 9: GM Jesse Kraai (SF) vs GM Julio Sadorra (DAL) 1-0 Article
Week 10: GM Yury Shulman (CHC) vs IM Mackenzie Molner (ARZ) 1-0 Article
Quarterfinals: GM Yury Shulman (CHC) vs GM Cristian Chirila (DAL) 1-0 Article
Semifinals: IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA) vs GM Josh Friedel (CHC) 0-1 Article
Championship: GM Mesgen Amanov (CHC) vs GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) 0-1 Article
Wildcard #1: GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) vs GM Varuzhan Akobian (SEA) 1-0 Article
Wildcard #2: GM Mesgen Amanov (CHC) vs IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA) 1-0 Article
Wildcard #3: IM Marc Esserman (BOS) vs GM John Fedorowicz (NY) 1-0 Article
Wildcard #4: GM Hikaru Nakamura (STL) vs GM Melikset Khachiyan (LA) 0-1 Article
Wildcard #5: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Robert Hungaski (NE) 1-0 Article
Wildcard #6: IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA) vs FM Slava Mikhailuk (SEA) 1-0 Article
Wildcard #7: GM Sam Shankland (NE) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 1-0 Article
19th Place (30 Points): Christopher Wu (NJ) vs NM James Black (MAN) 1-0 Article Elimination Article
20th Place (27 Points): IM Conrad Holt (DAL) vs FM Joel Banawa (LA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article