Monday, January 2, 2012

Game of the Year -- 16th Place

This is the fifth 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


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

A wild tactical series of blows began with 18... Qxe5, with GM Sadorra eventually getting the upper hand after a long battle.

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 (2nd Place, 19 points):
I really liked this game and wanted to give it first place for awhile. It was very creative by both sides and certainly exciting. Unfortunately, Black made a huge error with 17... Re8 which could have been decisively punished by 18. Nb5 Qe5 19. Bxf4 Qxf4 20. Nd6, winning in all variations due to Black's tied up pieces. It seemed very natural and essential to play something like 17... Nc5 instead to unravel and develop. Sadorra's 18. e5 was second best; after a flurry of tactics he ended up wtih a Rook and two pieces vs. a Queen. He found the right set up for his pieces and overcame Black with the cute 46. Kh3!, threatening mate. Had it not been for Black's strange 17th move, and White's subsequent failure to find the correct punishment, I may have bumped this game up. It was a rich game full of complications, and Sadorra has to be complimented for his nice handling of such unusual and complex positions.

FM Ron Young (8th Place, 13 points):
One of the “bataille royale” category of nominees and a fun game with a lot of nice points. Black’s Queen could perhaps have held against the RNB, but it is easier to work together than to work alone.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (17th Place, 4 points):
Some Pawn sac line in the Ragozin that I am not familiar with. White sacrifices a pawn but has the Bishop pair and some attacking chances. White seemed to miss 18. Nb5 which seems to win either a piece or give White an overwhelming position up the exchange. 23. Rxa8 is also an interesting moment; White elects to have two Rooks vs Queen and two Pawns but later it is Rook and two pieces vs Queen and Pawns. Instead White could have gone for being a piece up with some practical problems. In the endgame it somehow felt to me like Black should be ok, but he somehow never got his Queenside Pawns rolling, and Sadorra skillfully used his minor pieces to create problems for the King and managed to win.

FM Alisa Melekhina (17th Place, 4 points):
As soon as the players exited theory around move sixteen, the game was plagued with inaccuracies such as 23. Rxa8 instead of 23. f3 and missed opportunities such as 26... Nxf3. While this game certainly featured interesting imbalances easy to get lost in during analysis, neither player was able to successfully navigate them, and the final mate seemed like it was more of the result of a time-scramble than a deserved win. Black had many chances for a draw such as 24… Nf4+, but like in the Nakamura game he over-pushed and lost.

GM Alex Lenderman (18th Place, 3 points):
Nice fighting game and probably entertaining for the fans but too many mistakes, especially early on. Black played the opening rather poorly, gave White a big initiative, a nice Nxd5! resource, and then did not defend the initiative well. Still, 17... Nc5 would have kept the game level instead of the incorrect 17... Re8? (Queenside has to be developed!). Also, 14.Qf3 for White looks like it would give White's initiative more power, for example, 14... N7b6 15. Rab1 Qa3 16. e4!. And on 15... Qc3 16. Be4! is strong. White's next few moves also didn't seem most accurate, which in fact allowed Black's Nc5. But after Black's 17... Re8?, if White found 18. Nb5! followed by Nd6, he is already winning as Black's pieces are too tangled up, and White would have too many threats.

18. e5?! should also be good enough, but later White played 23. Rxa8?. Why not 23. f3 Rxe8 24. fxg4, just leaving White up a piece? Instead, by move 29, Black was already slightly better with the Queen and a few passed Pawns, and after 29... g6, taking away some key penetration squares, Black is not really in danger of losing. White then did a good job maintaining the pressure and keeping the position equal until Black, with a few inaccuracies, got a worse position, and then 39... b5? was a losing move (time pressure).

At the very end of the game White also missed a very nice win, although it was indeed very hard to see. 42. Ne5!! was a winner as after 42... Qf1+ 43. Kg4 Qh1 44. Rf7+ Kh6 45. Rf6! Qh5+ 46. Kf4 Qg5+ 47. Ke4, and the key is 47... Qxf6 fails to 48. Ng4+ - this looks like a study! While we can't blame the players too much for missing that, the earlier moments were already enough to rank this game low. Black's last mistake was 44... Qe1?, allowing Be4 and Rf6. 44... Qa1! instead still kept Black in the game, looking for counterplay through qe5-h5, and White probably had nothing better probably than 45. Rf7 Qe5 46. Nf4, where White would probably be winning in the long run, but it's far from clear. True, maybe I could have ranked this game higher for its fighting spirit, but to me the early part of the game really spoils it.

Total Score of Sadorra vs Battaglini: (16th Place, 43 Points)


Stay tuned for fourteen 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 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 #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


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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