Friday, September 30, 2011

Week 5 Game of the Week

This year Game of the Week will be decided upon by IM Greg Shahade and NM Arun Sharma together. 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).


1st Place: GM Cristian Chirila (DAL) vs GM Melikset Khachiyan (LA) 0-1

After an interesting opening, GM Khachiyan broke the game open with 20... Rxg2!

A nice performance from GM Khachiyan all around, from his very interesting opening choice to the nice middlegame tactics, and the somewhat unexpected finish. A very exciting game for the fans, with many interesting moments, a game which helped lead Los Angeles to a resounding win over Dallas and put them in the thick of the playoff race, a very worthy winner in our eyes.


2nd Place: IM Mackenzie Molner (ARZ) vs GM Julio Becerra (MIA) 1-0

With the strong 20. Nf5!, IM Molner found a nice tactical line to score a crushing victory over the three time USCL MVP.

Powerful performance by IM Molner, establishing a crushing initiative right out of the opening and using it to good effect with some nice tactics to score a big win over the most successful player in League history. Like the winning this game, this victory was also huge in helping his team, Arizona, get back into the thick of the playoff race and for both reasons, another very worthy choice in our view.


3rd Place: GM Sam Shankland (NE) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 1-0

Despite the hanging Rook, GM Shankland struck with 46. Nxd6!, winning the game with a nice tactical finish after the capture of the d1 Rook.

Exciting game as usual with SM Sammour-Hasbun which definitely contained many interesting moments, in particular the sequence which ended the game. Just an impressive performance by GM Shankland, winning in such a dominating fashion against a player who had knocked off three tough opponents in a row in the previous weeks.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Week 4 Game of the Week

This year Game of the Week will be decided upon by IM Greg Shahade and NM Arun Sharma together. 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).


1st Place: Christopher Wu (NJ) vs NM James Black (MAN) 1-0

With 28. Rxg7!, despite allowing the capture of his Queen with check, Wu produced a nice finish to his mating attack.

A very nice effort by Wu, conducting his attack very smoothly and efficiently and then topping it off with an attractive finish. The only knock on this game might have been that most of it was fairly straightforward, no moves super surprising. But given that White did play very well and finished with a nice flourish, allowing his Queen to be captured with check, we still felt overall that this was a very reasonable choice for first place.


2nd Place: IM Georgi Orlov (SEA) vs IM Salvijus Bercys (DAL) 1-0

IM Orlov found the nice 21. e6!, in part to open his dark squared Bishop, an edge that later proved decisive via a mating attack on g7.

Another very nice attacking performance by the victor - with a nice mating attack seeming to materialize on the Kingside almost out of nowhere when the earlier game seemed to point towards it being determined on the Queenside. The manner in which IM Orlov managed to direct Black forces to the Queenside to help him deliver coup de grace on the Kingside really made this a salient game in our eyes.


3rd Place: GM Mesgen Amanov (CHC) vs IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA) 1-0

Despite being two pieces to the good, without the important resource 20. h6! White would likely be in trouble - just one of many small nuances in this very tricky line.

This game, whereever it might have finished, seemed rather certain to create some controversy, with Greg and I definitely not seeing eye to eye on where it should be at all. In one sense it was an extremely exciting game for the fans, an interesting line, and had many interesting tactics within it. On the other hand, the majority of the exciting part, in particular the Queen sacrifice and the bit right after were not really a novel thing, with this very line being known in Avrukh's Volume Two 1. d4 book up to move 27 as being good (if not outright winning) for White.

So there were obviously some conflicting things involved in trying to decide what exactly this game was deserving of, but we eventually settled on third.

Wherever you personally might have felt this game should finish, there's no question it was a very interesting game, with a position which the computer assesses as better for Black arising, yet all other evidence seeming to indicate that this is not at all the case. Mostly theory or not, a good game for the crowd.

Friday, September 16, 2011

SM Sammour-Hasbun annotates his Game of the Week

[Event "USCL 2011, Week 3 New York vs Boston"]
[White "Kachieshvilli, Giorgi"]
[Black "Sammour-Hasbun, Jorge"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D31"]
[WhiteElo "2653"]
[BlackElo "2604"]
[Annotator "Jorge Sammour-Hasbun"]

1. c4

This move was predicted by Ilya Krasik our assistant manager.

1... e6

1... e5 was our main preparation

2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 c6 4. e4

Ok, this I did not expect at all. Going for blood indeed.

4... dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Qxd4

Ok, so here I kinda have to take the Pawn and just take it like a man. If I don't I would not only be worse, I would not feel right losing due to lack of courage.

7. Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8. Be2 Na6 9. Ba5 f6

After thinking for a while I played this move hoping my opponent would not be too familiar with this line. (9... b6 I believe nowadays most of the attention in this line is around 9... b6 I was not interested in testing theory when I honestly was not even expecting to be in this mess to begin with).

10. Qd8+ Kf7

11. f3?!

A new move according to my database

11... Qc2?

After thinking for awhile I thought if I had my Queen on c2 I would be able to protect the Pawn on h7. (11... Qe3 I'm not yet sure where I should move my Queen, but 11... Qe3 looks ok so far.)

12. Bc3

(12. Nh3 b6 13. Bc3 Ne7 This was my main idea behind 11... Qc2! 14. Qxh8 Bb7 And now I thought, well his Queen is dead. But I completly forgot about this simple and killing move: 15. Ng5+!! Ouch!!)

12... e5

13. f4!

Excellent move!

13... e4?

I really had a good feeling about this move. I was hoping to get my N-from-a6-d3 and not get mated honestly. (13... exf4 I guess I really have to go for this line in order to keep myself alive.)

14. Rd1?

It's hard to believe this move is actually not the best move for White here. (14. f5!! I was worried about this move during the game. To be completly honest I did not realize how strong this move really is - in fact I think I'm just lost after it. Let's see few ways I can try to defend here. 14... Nc5 (14... e3 Hoping to protect g6 from c2 15. c5 +-) 15. Nh3!! Ouch! This move is mean, White is getting ready to hit g5 or h5} Nd3+ 16. Kf1 Nc1 17. Ng5+! fxg5 18. Bh5+ g6 19. fxg6+ hxg6 20. Bxg6+ Kxg6 21. Qe8+ Kh6 22. Qf8+ Kg6 23. Qg7+ Kf5 24. Qf7+ Kg4 25. h3 ++-- hasta la vista baby)

14... Nc5 15. Bb4

(15. f5! Again, this move could be a challenge for Black. 15... Nd3+ 16. Kf1 Bxf5 This move is crazy for Black, but is not really good unless White gets a bit greedy.} 17. Qxa8 Nh6 18. Qxb7+ (18. Qxh8 This would be fun for Black. I would like to show this line just for fun.
18... Bg4!! 19. Re1 Nf5 20. Bxd3 Qxd3+ 21. Ne2 (21. Re2 Ne3+ 22. Kf2 Nd1+ 23. Kf1 Nxc3 24. bxc3 e3 25. Nf3 Bxf3 26. gxf3 g5 -+ Honestly this is just amazing, I have not yet seen a position like this before in my life, down two Rooks, and you are still winning.) 21... Bh3!! 22. gxh3 Qxh3+ 23. Kg1 Qe3+ 24. Kf1 Qf3+ 25. Kg1 Nh4 26. Nf4 e3 27. Re2 Qg4+ 28. Kf1 Qxf4+ 29. Ke1 Qe4 -+ Again this is just amazing!) 18... Kg6 19. Qb3 +-)

15... b6 16. Bxc5 bxc5 17. Nh3 Qxb2

At this point I felt like I had no moves other than taking on b2 and perhaps get my Q back to b6 to get the White Queen out.

18. O-O

Of course I knew White could castle, and I was not to happy about it. At this point I have to take on e2 and pray!

18... Qxe2 19. Ng5+ fxg5 20. fxg5+ Kg6 21. Qe8+ Kxg5

Jesus! One hour before the match I was teaching the kids in the academy how important its to develop your pieces and castle as soon as you can and now here I'm running with my King for my life.

22. Qe5+ Kh6 (only move)

(22... Kg6 23. Rd6+ Nf6 24. Rfxf6+ gxf6 25. Rxf6+) 23. Rd6+ (23. Qf4+ Kh5 = Only move (23... g5 24. Qf8+ Kh5 25. Qf7+ Kg4 (25... Kh4 26. Rde1 Qg4) 26. Rde1 Over))

23. Rd6+ g6

24. Qxh8?

I was not sure about this position, I realized once he takes on h8 he has ideas such as Rxg6+!
(24. Qf4+ Kh5) (24. h4 =) (24. Rxg6+ =)

24... Qe3+ 25. Kh1

25... Qg5

Stopping Rxg6+

26. Rxc6 Bd7 27. Rc7 Rf8 28. Qa1 Nf6 29. Qe1 e3 30. Rxa7 Bc6 31. Qe2

31... Rd8

(31... Ng4!! According to Fritz this move mates in 6 moves)

32. Rxf6 Rd1+ 33. Rf1 Qxg2+ 34. Qxg2 Rxf1#

Kacheshvilli decided it was appropriate to get mated as did our own Board 4.


Week 3 Game of the Week

This year Game of the Week will be decided upon by IM Greg Shahade and NM Arun Sharma together. 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).


1st Place: GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) vs SM Jorge Sammour Hasbun (BOS) 0-1

SM Sammour-Hasbun ended the messy game with the nice tactical sequence 32... Rd1+!, 33. Rf1 Qxg2+ 34. Qxg2 Rxf1#

While a good portion of the early part of this game is theory, as probably could have been expected, the game soon became an amazingly complicated tactical struggle. While during struggles of this sort, often times no one (including the players) has any idea what the optimal continuations are or who is actually winning, it's never surprising to see a player of Sammour-Hasbun's tactical prowess coming out on top. Very exciting game, with an attractive finish, a very deserving winner in both of our eyes.


2nd Place: NM Sam Schmakel (CHC) vs NM Nick Thompson (ARZ) 1-0

With his clock ticking down, NM Schmakel found the clever simplification 41. Qxg6+!, liquidating into a winning ending and helping Chicago achieve a narrow victory.

Clutch performance by NM Schmakel, who, with very little time on his clock and the match result hanging in the balance, found the above tactical shot to force a win. With so much at stake and under so much pressure to find the winning continuation was quite impressive and was a nice way to top off an already strong game by him.


3rd Place: NM Chris Mabe (CAR) vs NM James Black (MAN) 0-1

In an already crazy position, NM James Black threw the game for another loop with 50... Rxe3+, and after forcing NM Mabe to undertake an interesting King walk, eventually emerged victorious.

This was almost certainly one of the craziest games of the week. While, like the game which won, how sound the ideas involved might have been really is anyone's guess, but NM James Black certainly found some nice tactics and attacking moves which definitely seemed to make this game a worthy choice.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Week 2 Game of the Week

This year Game of the Week will be decided upon by IM Greg Shahade and NM Arun Sharma together. 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).


1st Place: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Lev Milman (MAN) 1-0

SM Sammour-Hasbun finished the game with the strong 31. Rd7!, to which there was no answer

While this game seemed somewhat destined to be a slugfest due to the exciting opening, we still wound up making it our top choice of the week. Simply, it was an extremely interesting game, with many moments of difficult choice for both side, and Sammour-Hasbun seemed to navigate the tactical maze quite well, in particular with his finishing shot, 31. Rd7!


2nd Place: GM Hikaru Nakamura (STL) vs GM Melikset Khachiyan (LA) 0-1

The already interesting game was taken for another spin when instead of taking the perpetual check, GM Nakamura boldly pressed forward with 35. Rg1, leading to a wild finish.

This game, wherever it might have ended up finishing, seemed destined for controversy. Some would probably have chosen this to be the unequivocal winner while others wouldn't have even considered it for their top three. Greg and I ourselves didn't exactly see eye to eye on where this game should finish, but in the end we compromised on second place. On one hand, this was a huge upset, one of the most exciting games for the fans, ended up being the match decider, and contained some very interesting play with White declining a perpetual in a very interesting spot. On the other hand, the overall quality of the game, particularly the beginning, wasn't quite what we might have hoped for from an upset of such a strong player. Just one of those very subjective decisions, but hopefully the end placing of this game was at least reasonable.


3rd Place: NM Jared Defibaugh (BAL) vs FM Arthur Shen (NJ) 1-0

After a nice King maneuver, NM Defibaugh finished the game with 72. Kd7!, putting an end to FM Shen's stalemate tricks and winning a crucial match for Baltimore.

Nice endgame tricks by both sides, with Black finding a very good drawing attempt, and White finding a clever way to thwart it. Looking at that, along with the fact that this game ended up being the match decider, it seemed like a reasonable choice for third place.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Week 1 Game of the Week

This year Game of the Week will be decided upon by IM Greg Shahade and NM Arun Sharma together. 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).


1st Place: IM Conrad Holt (DAL) vs FM Joel Banawa (LA) 1-0

The already very interesting game was thrown for another loop with FM Banawa uncorking the strong 23... Nxd5!

This was a rather tough game to judge. It was clearly very exciting and both players displayed some nice creativity, but the inherent nature of such games, particularly in the USCL, is for them to come with their share of mistakes also. And while this encounter certainly did have some blunders, we still decided that it was the best choice for first. Again, it was certainly a very exciting game for the fans as the game seemed to be hang in the balance for many consecutive moves, with essentially every position being a very tough one to find the right move. Given that, it's hardly surprising that there were a few mistakes mixed in, but on the whole both players did quite a good job of navigating the mess which, in our opinion, made this the best choice for Game of the Week.


2nd Place: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Robert Hungaski (NE) 1-0

SM Sammour-Hasbun found the nice shot, 26. Rxd7!, and used the tremendous pressure garnered by this exchange sacrifice to hand both IM Hungaski and New England their first ever USCL defeats.

While this game might not have been the most exciting out there, SM Sammour-Hasbun really played a very nice game throughout, in particular his strong exchange sacrifice. While Black probably could have put up much stronger resistance afterward, being in such a tough position and facing so many threats, it's not at all surprising that White managed to come out on top not soon after.


3rd Place: FM Michael Casella (LA) vs FM Tautvydas Vedrickas (DAL) 1-0

FM Casella struck with 21. Rxe8!, using his opening pressure and a2-g8 diagonal threats to win material.

Another game that was very well played by the victor, sacrificing a Pawn for a nice long term initiative which he used to great effect. Adding to that the nice tactic displayed above along with the mating attack used to finish the game, it was a nice effort by FM Casella. While also somewhat exciting, like the previous game, what prevented this game from gaining serious consideration for first place was that it just seemed a bit too easy as the defending side didn't put up quite enough resistance.