Friday, January 13, 2012

Game of the Year -- 10th Place

This is the eleventh 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


10th Place: GM Yury Shulman (CHC) vs IM Mackenzie Molner (ARZ) 1-0

With 35. Qa7!, GM Shulman tranposed to a favorable endgame which he skillfully converted.

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.

FM Victor Shen (7th Place, 14 points):
This was another nice positional game by Shulman, who just had a more pleasant position throughout and exerted pressure on his opponent. Black, already in a slightly difficult endgame, erred with 33... dxe5 giving White a passed d-pawn which decided the game. Overall however, this was pretty well played by both sides; at first glance it was hard to say where Black made a real mistake.

GM Alex Lenderman (8th Place, 13 points):
A nice effort by Shulman. 9. exd5 I think isn't a recommended way to play, instead 9. b5!? is more unclear and probably a more topical way of playing this line. After 9... exd5?! White seems to have a free hand, where he gets the pressure and space advantage for nothing, not even a pawn, which Yury exhibited very nicely and won a decent straightforward game. But there were inaccuracies that ended up making this game a little bit lower-ranked. 13. cxd5 maybe should not have been rushed, as 13. Re1!? ( moving the Rook avoids Ba6 tricks). The line can go 13. Re1 Re8 14. cxd5 c4 15. Qd4 Nc5 16. Qxc4 Ba6 17. Qd4! And if instead of 15... Nc5, 15.. Rc8 then 16. Bf1 Qc7 17. e4 Nc5 18. Bg5, and again White seems to have an edge.

In the game Yury took on d5 right away, which meant after 13... c4 14. Qd4 wasn't as good due to Nc5 with the c4 Pawn now being taboo due to Ba6! So Yury played then 14. e4, which still promised an edge. So cxd5 was not inaccurate, and Re1 wasn't necessary better, just interesting, but some real inaccuracies/mistakes were to come. On move 27, Kg2?! was played, which allowed 27... Nb8 making the advantage much smaller for White. Instead 27. Qb4 or 27. Qd4 wins a Pawn after 27... Nb8 28. Qxc4 Nxc6 29. Rc1! (Maybe Yury missed this move?). The line would likely continue 29... b5! 30. Qxc6 (30. Qxb5? Qa5 -/+) Qb8 31. Qa6 Rc4! 32. Rxc4 bxc4 33. Qxc4 Qxb2 34. Qd3 Rc8 35. Rf2, and White is still up a pretty healthy pawn and will soon try to exploit his center. This seems much better than what could've happened in the game. In the game, White, after 27. Kg2?! Nc5! 28. Qd4 b5, instead 28... Nb3! 29. Qc3 (Qxc4? Nd2) Qd7!, and Black is still very much fighting as e5 is controlled, and it's unclear how White really improves his game, even though I'd still probably prefer White. Maybe White has to sacrifice the exchange but then black perhaps can sacrifice it back so it's probably closer to equal than +/= to be honest.

In the game instead 28... b5 was played which was followed by 29. Re3 a6 30. e5 and now 30... Nb3?! was played at the wrong time. 30... Qd7 was more tenacious, not allowing Qa7 tricks, and e6 is impossible then due to Nxe6! Black didn't defend perfectly afterwards, thus allowing White to get a winning game which he could have exploited easier with 36. Rf7! or 36. Rf5!?, and the d-pawn would be completely decisive. Instead 36. Rxe5?! let Black back into the game and on move 39, instead of 39... Kf7? (losing move allowing basically everything, 39... Rf8! actually still holds the position. (40. Re7 Rf6! 41. d7 Nxd7). After 39... Rf8 Black is still very much in the game despite White being better. Relatively best for White would be to play slowly with 40. h4!? and then Black can create some counterplay with 40... Rf6!? 41. Re5 Rxd6 42. Rxc5 Rd2+, and Black gets some chances. That might not be the best variation though because there White is probably still winning. However, on 40. h4, 40... h5! then in some Knight endgames, White cannot gain space with g4-g5. Point is, instead of White being completely winning, Black can now fight based on certain nuances. I don't think that was something Shulman really planned on allowing. As good of a positional effort it was all around, from good opening, to decent middlegame to decent endgame, this game wasn't completely special and also had flaws that kept it only in 8th place. Still good game though.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (11th Place, 10 points):
A positional game out of a Nimzo. Seemed like a strong game from Shulman, just piling up the positional pressure and crashing through in the endgame. I really found 16. Bxc5 interesting, giving up the Bishop pair but instead fighting for the weakened light squares using the d4 square as a springboard for the Knight. Black didn't make any obvious mistakes, perhaps only 39... Kf7 in the endgame is a mistake when 39... Rf8 seems to give good chances to fight for a draw as it's not clear how to activate the White King (since Rook exchanges mean the d6 pawn can be picked up).

FM Alisa Melekhina (13th Place, 8 points):
Another positional game from Shulman, this time using the Rubinstein to neutralize a very dynamic player. After Black opted to go for 9... exd5 instead of 9... b5, White again realized his slight advantage by patiently maneuvering his pieces until he was ready to initiate a decisive breakthrough with e5. Black was unable to patch up the weaknesses in his position, leaving him with little chances for counterplay in the meantime.

FM Ron Young (18th Place, 3 points):
As others have said (credit where it is due), White played cleanly, but Black could have made it tougher toward the end, which is not unusual, but it did not all add up to much excitement for me.

Total Score of Shulman vs Molner: (10th Place, 48 Points)


Stay tuned for eight 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 7: WGM Tatev Abrahamyan (LA) vs FM Eric Rodriguez (MIA) 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

Wildcard #1: GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) vs GM Varuzhan Akobian (SEA) 1-0 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


10th Place (48 Points): GM Yury Shulman (CHC) vs IM Mackenzie Molner (ARZ) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

11th Place (47 Points): GM Mesgen Amanov (CHC) vs GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

12th Place (46 Points): IM Marc Esserman (BOS) vs GM John Fedorowicz (NY) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

13th Place (45 Points): GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs FM Joaquin Banawa (STL) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

14th Place (44 Points): GM Sam Shankland (NE) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

15th Place (43 Points): GM Jesse Kraai (SF) vs GM Julio Sadorra (DAL) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

16th Place (43 Points): GM Julio Sadorra (DAL) vs IM Gabriel Battaglini (CAR) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

17th Place (42 Points): GM Mesgen Amanov (CHC) vs IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

18th Place (32 Points): GM Hikaru Nakamura (STL) vs GM Melikset Khachiyan (LA) 0-1 Article Elimination 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

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