Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Game of the Year -- 12th Place

This is the ninth 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


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

The interesting 25. Ke2! proved to be a very effective shot with IM Esserman scoring a quick victory over a 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 Alex Lenderman (1st Place, 20 points):
This game simply illustrates all of Marc's positive chess traits. In not even his main opening against the Sicilian (the Smith-Morra), he still exhibits amazing preparation. Playing the opening fairly fast making me believe it was preparation. And that great preparation ends with a brilliant novelty (or almost novelty), though a very rare move, 25. Ke2!. For the rest on this game I can just refer you to his wonderful analysis in his very nice article as that says it all. And of course the computer says everything is perfect. Maybe 21... Bxh4+ is too ambitious of a line as 21... Bf6 or 21... Bg7 would be safer. But nevertheless to just nearly refute a popular line and play so accurately at such an important time in the playoffs against a strong booked-up player and GM, really says something.

P.S. instead of 25. Ke2, I think 25. b5 is also very good for White, though maybe not as clear, but Ke2 pretty much seals it probably.

FM Alisa Melekhina (11th Place, 10 points):
At first glance this game had the makings of at least a top five finisher: theoretical battle in the main line of a sharp opening between two strong players, unorthodox piece development, vigilant attack with the King left uncastled, piece and pawn sacrifices, and creative maneuvers all around, but on further examination there was one major flaw – the game was contaminated with preparation. Out of the 32 moves of the game, only at 26... Ne5 by Fedorowicz did the game deviate from previous games. Esserman had improved on the previous Kramnik – Van Wely (Amber-Rapid, 2005) game with the courageous 25. Ke2, but even that was previously employed by one Snape (Jessie Gilbert Celebration, 2008).

Of course Esserman executed the final six moves perfectly, but while his preparation is admirable, and he definitely deserves the win and to have his game nominated, I would hope that the GOTY winner is someone who displays as much creativity and originality on the board as they do off. This is not to detract anything from Esserman, who frequently gets overlooked despite his numerous GM scalps and being one of the most devoted players in the country. This game and his memorable win over Van Wely in the US Open should serve as a reminder that he is not to be taken lightly.

FM Ron Young (13th Place, 8 points):
Wouldn't it be a gas if it turned out that the whole Morra Gambit thing was a big hype and that Esserman never actually played it at all? In any case, he did a good job of prep for this game, and though evidently his would-be TN wasn't actually from Tennessee, he found it himself and though he is completely to be praised for it, they don't give the Oscar to Casablanca every year. Or have I already said all this?

FM Victor Shen (14th Place, 7 points):
An impressive piece of opening preparation from Esserman. Although Ke2 isn't new, it's a nice idea nevertheless. However, I have a strong suspicion that the opening is just dubious for Black (he is just lost after 25. Ke2). I had to go all the way back to around move seventeen to find an acceptable position for Black as the ensuing positions after the h4 Pawn sacrifice seem extremely dangerous. I guess this may have been one of the reasons why the Sveshnikov has virtually disappeared from top level play. Well played by White, but the game ended very quickly after the opening which slightly detracts from the quality and appeal of the game.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (20th Place, 1 point):
Cool game. The idea of clearing the second rank and the Rook maneuvre Ra1-a2-h2 makes a nice aesthetic impression. However I had a recollection of seeing this idea in a Van Wely game before, and I was right, this game was Kramnik vs Van Wely Amber rapid 2005. They copied that game up to move 24 when Esserman deviates with 25. Ke2 but from there they are even following Stopa vs Bogosavlevich from 2005, the new move of the game being 30. Rxh4, Stopa went 30. Bd3, and the position is already winning. A nice win but it seems to me like just superior preparation which is very nice but not worthy of GOTY without the originality.

Total Score of Esserman vs Fedorowicz: (12th Place, 46 Points)


Stay tuned for ten 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

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 #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


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


Anonymous said...

Is this the first time in GOTY history that a game has received both a first and a last place vote?

Once again I think the discrimination against some players in this selection process has been revealed to all.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if someone else with a different name and title played all of Esserman's moves, would they ever get recognized for their brilliance?

Anonymous said...

So the Grandmaster gives it first place and some no-name FM gives it last? This is fair somehow?

The USCL will *never* become a premier chess organization if B.S. like this is allowed to continue. But then the USCL is just Greg Shahade's little hobby. I left when I finally realized it would never amount to more.

It still makes me angry when I think of what the USCL could have been.


Anonymous said...

The judges are volunteering their time to rank these games and getting nothing in return. When someone is willing to do so much work for free, it's completely out of bounds to insult them and call them a "no-name FM".

If you have an issue with the judging, you should have enough common decency to state it without being so insulting to the people involved, all of whom are volunteering their time to try and do something good for chess.

- Greg Shahade

PS - Also maybe you didn't read Ingvar's comment, but the entire game has been played up to move 30, when the position is already completely winning. The game ended on move 32. This no-name FM, was actually familiar with this already played game, while the Grandmaster seemingly wasn't. I find it perfectly acceptable reasoning to give a place a low ranking when the entire game has been played before, save for the final 2 moves which were pretty irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

When the majority of the judges voted it 10 or less and only one voted it 10 or higher, you have to consider that maybe it wasn't the Game of the Year...There's a difference between confidence and blind conceit on where you stand in chess and in the world.

Matt Phelps, your passion for Chess is great to hear, and I actually understand where you're coming from as far as growth and potential, but at the same time you have to look at your own stable. Do you know how much childish drama your team has produced over the years, how many hateful and jealous posts, whether with their names or anonymously (always making it easy to tell). It crosses the line from debate to uncomfortableness and creepiness.

You sound very ungrateful and that was the sort of message to be taken up privately or with more tact. There are definitely other negative areas to focus on and restructure in the league over the judging that you could actually assist with if you cared.

Everyone knew this was coming, where ever this game ended up, if it wasn't first, it was going to get the circus treatment.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the fact that judges volunteer their time to judge these games should make them immune to criticism, especially if it is constructive. This contest is inherently very subjective but IMHO the disparity between 1st and 20th is too great to believe in the diligent nature of the judging process by some. Also, in regards the previous poster, I have to strongly disagree it's the drama off the playing field sort of speak that kept me glued to uscl for many years, where the chess itself keys face it,isn't of the highest quality.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that is a circus is the USCL. These results are so obviously personal. Coming in 12th place in the USCL GOTY is a slap in the face. Esserman deserves better and really should leave for good.


Anonymous said...

Criticism = "I disagree with XXXX's selection for the following reasons"

Extreme wanton disregard and disrespect for someone volunteering their time = "XXXX is a no-name FM".

Anonymous said...

"Do you know how much childish drama your team has produced over the years, how many hateful and jealous posts, whether with their names or anonymously (always making it easy to tell). It crosses the line from debate to uncomfortableness and creepiness."

And then Gabby speaks...

A Fellow International Master said...

Dear Greg,
Please take the time out of your busy schedule to diligently study the Stopa game you so passionately cite for homework before insulting dedicated "amateurs" like Matt Phelps. In the Esserman game, 25. Ke2 forced Grandmaster Fedorowicz to sacrifice a knight with Ne5, whereas in the Stopa game, Black blundered with 23...Rb7, keeping the f-file shut, allowing 25. b5 (winning the knight easily). Of course, these details make Stopa's game completely irrelevant to the contaminated matter at hand (an improvement on Kramnik vs. Van Wely in another game vs. a Grandmaster). Anyone higher than the title of International Master can easily grapple with these subtle transpositional nuances. Please bear in mind, this is the last free chess lesson that I will ever give you.

[Event "Wch U18"]
[Site "Belfort"]
[Date "2005.07.20"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Stopa, Jacek"]
[Black "Bogosavljevic, Boban"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B33"]
[WhiteElo "2460"]
[BlackElo "2302"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2005.07.19"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "11"]
[EventCountry "FRA"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2005.09.01"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8.
Na3 b5 9. Nd5 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c3 O-O 12. Nc2 Bg5 13. a4 bxa4 14. Rxa4 a5
15. Bc4 Rb8 16. Ra2 Kh8 17. Nce3 g6 18. h4 Bxh4 19. g3 Bg5 20. f4 exf4 21. gxf4
Bh4+ 22. Kf1 f5 23. b4 Rb7 24. Rah2 g5 25. b5 Ne5 26. fxe5 dxe5 27. Qb1 fxe4+
28. Ke2 Rbf7 29. Qxe4 Qd6 30. Bd3 Bb7 31. c4 Qa3 32. Qxe5+ Kg8 33. Nf5 Rxf5 34.
Bxf5 Qa2+ 35. Ke3 Qa3+ 36. Kd2 1-0

-Marc Esserman

January 12, 2012 7:03 PM

Anonymous said...

Mr Phelps!

Can I ask you a question? If somebody completely copied a famous game, lets say as a bad example Kasparov-Topalov and lets say black was still a strong player but unaware of this game but they copy it and only change the last 2-3 moves when the game is already decided. Do you feel such a game is worthy of game of the year with no originality whatsoever? I think Mr. Johanneson made a good argument for his ranking wether he is a "no-name FM" (not that I've heard of "name-FM's") or something else!

Anonymous said...


I didn't look at the game, probably I should have done so before trusting the judge's comment so blindly.

I think I deserve at least one more free lesson,

- Greg

Anonymous said...



Ilya said...


Anonymous said...

You want to talk about a department in need of restructuring, try the Boston Blitz as a whole. With unhealthy narcissism and mental illness, questionable practices, complete lack of respect for every other team and management, and need of turning anything positive into a negative, I think Matt Phelps can see the first area to improve the league. I know my Knights had some incidents in the past that were corrected and were made to be lessons learned. I suggest other teams to find leaders amongst their teams to set good examples for the rest of the players.

Any other league wouldn't allow such foul attitudes to progress.

Anonymous said...

Marc Esserman's games have 0 originality and he is not even worth his lowly IM title.

Marc, now that I have insulted you and your chess prowess, can I have a free lesson too?

Spittin Narcissism said...

"No mercy for the weak, and especially for the ugly
My victory's complete, can't compete with "completely lovely" That's why you got your gluteus kicked by the beauteous Along with all the hideous that's lurkin' within my radius
Looks do kill, now I'm the last fighter standin',
The grand champion, gor-geous hunk of a man in
Possesion of the spoils of my trip to the top,
And top-notch hip-hop is how I hand me my props, now check it

I'm the most beautifullest thing in this world*, and I'm the
Reason this world exists, and what I hurl is
Techniques that ya can't resist, even your girl is
Buttcheeks compared to my prettiness, after I twirl my Opponents get used to lying in prostration, and every nation
Is in appreciation of my victims' degradation
Ya think it's narcissism? Hell, it's just truism,"

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah lol, ny knights certainly corrected the issue of self- narcissism.....hahaha, ahem where is infamous krush letters sent in anger to the entire league. Buddy please get your head reout of your ass, let that be your new years resolution. Arun, post them as exbitits of extreme selfishness and self-narcissism

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the implied insult to FM Johannesson and certainly appreciate him donating his time to the league, but therein lies the entire problem. The league is run by volunteers in their spare time, especially the Commissioner. One year there are multiple GM judges, the next year there's one with the rest being lower rated FMs. They are tasked with judging games by much higher rated players (in most cases). Sure it's just for entertainment, but there is real money involved, and more importantly, reputations at stake for aspiring professional players. It's almost not fair to the judges. Also, there's no clear criteria for judging these games, even after six years. And who's fault is that? Not the judges. Again, I'm sorry the post came across as an insult to Ingvar; he's certainly a much better player than I'll ever be.
But he's not a better player than Fedorowicz, Esserman or Lenderman.

There was huge potential for the USCL. Huge. It could have become a source of some of the best chess in the world. It could have paved the way for actual world class competition to be played using the Internet. And it could have become the greatest avenue for professional players to pursue in the USA. But none of this has happened. I tried to bring about changes I felt would bring this potential along. Believe me, but I was shot down categorically by Greg. And yes, I'm bitter about it.
Later, one of my suggestions was actually enacted (increased roster size), but did I receive any acknowledgement? No. I gave much more to this league than any of the judges, and my meager efforts to help produce a truly professional, world class organization were ignored.

I also noticed I'm one of the few who posted using an actual login. I have never posted anonymously.


Anonymous said...

I opt to use anonymous due to the fact that I am a GM in the league, it is much easier to voice opinions once out of it. I would not want a 1400 strength player rating my games, but I feel comfortable enough with anyone in the league using outside help to be able to have a good understanding of games, I don't think they will have my understanding across the board, but with tools and a lot of time to study, it would be insulting not to think an FM could make a reasonable analysis of a game involving a GM. You see a lot of decent sports players who never panned out as all stars become commentators for their sports, and have a full understanding of the game. Mike Bibby knows the talent behind Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire and has a full understanding of his sport. Most all star selections if not all for every sport comes from coaches and other players who are not Walt Frazier or Willis Reed. Every now and then you'll see an all star player get schooled, and GM lose to a non-GM, because while there might be much greater talent on one end, they are still in the same arena, playing in the same league. So I think you are still pretty insulting towards FM Johannesson, I don't think you are doing it intentionally, but it still comes off disrespectful. I feel as if IM Marc Esserman and IM Jan van de Mortel could give a great analysis of a game played by GM Eugene Perelshteyn.

Going back to a lot of comments concerning your team, I would have to agree. Not pinpointing your team as the only problem, but in general a lot of professionalism is needed within teams, no fouls will be called for childish or disrespectful behavior. Not going into detail out of respect for a friend to keep this matter quiet, I had a fairly young up and comer write to a mutual friend expressing major uncomfortableness playing on a strong team due to the general attitude and ethics of the more seasoned players who controlled the politics behind the scenes. If young adults are to be involved in the league, talks or advertisement concerning drugs should be viewed as inappropriate.

I agree that managers need to play a bigger part on controlling their players. Instead you have the same clowns doing the same things year after year with no accountability, thinking they are justified to be bullies. Not pinpointing your team, but including it as one of the more troubled teams, you'd be a liar to think the Boston Blitz have their attitudes and egos in check to become a "premier team" to set an example for future players and draw outside interest.

I think you truly care about the league, and implore you to come back in some fashion. I think more discussion needs to be made by grown men and women, leaders of teams, managers, and commissioners. I get the hint of frustration from lack of discussion, I agree that a lot more is needed, I'd be willing to get involved in some sort of collective towards bettering the league, if done properly, in a mature setting, I'd be willing to commit my time and effort.

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true beta-curious anonymous GM. Probably plays the Hippo and Catalan. Just my guess.

-Anonymous league FM.

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully balance of talking a lot about nothing but pretending to be talking with substance, carefully veiled and disguised, how the hell can u help if u don't even sign your name??? Come out of the closet, it is not too late.

Data(C) said...

I just came across this interesting fight. Maybe it has game of the week

Oh, nevermind. I just did a cross-check with my database. This putrid piece
reeks of preparation. The stench!

Contamination, complete.

[Event "???????? ?? ??? ???? ?????????????"]
[Site "??? ????, ?? ???"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[EventDate "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "NN"
[ECO "B06"]
[WhiteElo "????"]
[BlackElo "????"]
[PlyCount "53"]

1. e4 d6 2. d4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. Bc4 e6 5. Bb3 Nd7 6. Bg5 Ne7
7. Qd2 h6 8. Be3 b6 9. Nc3 Bb7 10. OO Nf6 11. d5 exd5
12. exd5 a6 13. Rfe1 Kf8 14. Re2 Kg8 15. Rae1 b5 16. Bf4 Nf5
17. a3 Qd7 18. h3 h5 19. Ne4 Nh7 20. c3 Re8 21. Nfg5 f6
22. Nc5 Rxe2 23. Qxe2 dxc5 24. d6+ c4 25. Bxc4+ bxc4 26. Qxc4+
Kf8 27. Re7 1-0

Anonymous said...

is this the score of Esserman-Joel Benjamin??