Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Game of the Year -- 15th Place

This is the sixth 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


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

GM Kraai nicely exploited his opponent's misplaced Queen with 20. c3!, and with the threat of his Queen being trapped, Black was forced to shed material after which White converted easily.

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 Ron Young (2nd Place, 19 points):
My father was never a tournament player and probably never beat a stronger player than my mother, who was likewise not a tournament player and never beat a stronger player than my father, but even so, years after the Fischer vs Spassky World Championship Match (i.e., the FIDE-recognized one, played in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1972), he remembered Fischer's Queen being trapped "in the lower-left hand corner of the board" in the eleventh game. This makes me wonder whether there is a genetic component to chess appreciation, as I feel much the same way about Queen trappings as Jerry Hanken used to feel about Queen sacrifices, and, I believe, with more justice. After all, it's easy to give away such a powerful piece but not at all easy to trap it.

GM Alex Lenderman (4th Place, 17 points):
Very nice effort by Jesse! Another topical line, a sharp Sicilian where White plays actively, sacrifises a couple of Pawns for an initiative, and the initiative ends up being a deciding factor.

Looks like taking the Pawns was a dangerous proposition, but once you play a line like this where you play h5, it already becomes very sharp and risky. 14... Qc5!? or 14... Bc5!? were probably safer, though again once you play such a sharp line, you can't blame Julio for going after the Pawns as a logical follow-up. Probably the real error (though not very obvious) is 19... Ba6?!, exchanging his defender, and misplacing his Rook slightly. Then after that White's initiative went full-steam. Instead, 19... Rc8!! was a very interesting computer try (can't blame either one for not seeing it or underestimating it. This move also has a real hidden trap. First of all, if White tries the same move 20. c3, then in all the lines, Rb8+ is not a problem and after 20... bxc3 21. Bc1 Bxf2+ Black gets too many pawns. But the main hidden trap is if White goes for the apparently winning line 20. Ra1? Qb2 21. Nc4?! seemingly trapping the Queen, then comes 21... Bxf2+!! 22. Kxf2 Rxc4! 23. bxc4 Qd4+, and Black is simply winning with many Pawns for the exchange, and now Black is the one attacking!

Probably after 19... Rc8, 20... Bc1 Qa2 21. Bb2 is best with a lasting initiatve for the two pawns. A possible line (of course not only line) is 21... Be7!? 22. Re2!? d6 23. c3 Ra1 24. Qxa1 Qxa1 leaving a huge mess. I have to admit I didn't analyze this game super-deeply like I would my own game, but still even though I would prefer White with the initiative, it's clear that it's still a game in all these lines.

It seems like White could've done better than this, without allowing the 19... Rc8 resource. Instead of 18. Rb1?!, perhaps 18. Bf4! is stronger. Be5 is a very powerful threat, and now after 18... d6 19. Bb5+ Ke7 20. e5 ne4!? the only try is 21. exd6+ Kf8 22. Be5!, and either way Black captures on f2, White will be better. On 22... Nxf2 Bxb2 23. Nxd1+ Bd4 24. Bxd4 Nxd4 25. Nc3 Bc6 White is better because of the passed Pawn. And on 22... Bxf2+ 23. Kf1 Nc3 the only move is 24. bxc3 Qxc3 25. Kxf2 Qc5+ 26. Qd4 Qxb5 27. axb4, Black gets the piece back but because of the King on f8, and White pawn on d6, Black is under serious pressure. There were probably some little variations that were omitted but with the help of the computer of course all of this is easy to find. Of course we cannot blame the players for missing most of these lines, as probably even the elite GMS wouldn't see all of this.

Finally, on move 24, probably instead of 24... Qa2?! which is completely hopeless, 24... Qxc1!? was probably still lost but a better practical try, at least killing some dangerous pieces for a useless Queen. The reason this game missed Top 3 is because of some of these imperfections, and because White's initiative was a bit too straightforward. Still because of how sharp and topical and interesting this game was, I decided to give this game a pretty high ranking.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (18th Place, 3 points):
A Taimanov Sicilian. Seems like every other game I look at here is a Sicilian! Anyway it seemed that the the 15... Qxb2 Pawn grab was a bit risky, and then 19... Ba6 was a mistake which seems to just lose by force. After that White just needed to snuff out some counterplay up a Rook. White played well but a bad game by his opponent, following up an already dubious idea with a blunder.

FM Alisa Melekhina (19th Place, 2 points):
This game involved several jarring maneuvers by Black while neglecting sound chess principles. Black's lack of development quickly turned into a nightmare when White won a Rook and a Knight, depriving Black of any counterplay.

FM Victor Shen (19th Place, 2 points):
Black played very enterprisingly, if not outright riskily, though objectively wasn't doing too badly until his 19th move. 19... Ba6 allowed the White Knight to reach d3, entrapping the Black Queen and forcing Black to shed material. GM Kraai showed nice tactical precision, but it just didn't seem like Sadorra's day; he made life a little too hard on himself for this game to merit a higher ranking.

Total Score of Kraai vs Sadorra: (15th Place, 43 Points)


Stay tuned for thirteen 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 8: GM Julio Becerra (MIA) vs FM Joaquin Banawa (STL) 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 #3: IM Marc Esserman (BOS) vs GM John Fedorowicz (NY) 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

Wildcard #7: GM Sam Shankland (NE) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 1-0 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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