Thursday, January 26, 2012

Game of the Year -- 2nd Place

This is the final part in a series of articles which has counted down to revealing what game was voted as the 2011 USCL Game of the Year. For more information on exactly how this process worked and the prize information, please refer to: Game of the Year Contest


2nd Place: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Lev Milman (MAN) 1-0

In his typical style, SM Sammour-Hasbun finished off the creative game with the nice tactical blow 31. Rd7!

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 Ingvar Johannesson (1st Place, 20 points):
A great game by Sammour-Hasbun. This seems like the type of opening that should suit Sammour-Hasbun brilliantly. He just seemed to outplayed Milman completely, and yet it's hard to find any big mistakes by Black, White just kept on making good move after good move!

It's hard to pinpoint where Black went wrong, after 24... Bd5 25. Bf3 the game seems to be over, and even there it's hard to find an improvement. Only slight criticism was not going 28. Qg3, but the game continuation was very convincing, and we had a standard flashy Sammour-Hasbun finish. I went a bit back and forth with my first through third picks, but this ended up being my GOTY.

GM Alex Lenderman (3rd Place, 18 points):
Very nice effort by Sammour-Hasbun, and this game shows his power with the initiative. Very nice attack after a topical line in a sharp Sicilian, the Poisioned Pawn. The reason it's only third place is because Black started playing a bit too passively with 15... Qd6 followed by 15... Qc7, which wasn't best in this type of position. 15... Qa5 followed by Qg5, or maybe even h3 included somewhere probably was more to the point with an unclear game as there were some topical games played in this line. Since it seemed Black gave White too much of a free hand in this game compared to my Top Two finishers and because it wasn't a playoff game, I wound up giving it third.

FM Victor Shen (3rd Place, 18 points):
A nice attacking game where Sammour-Hasbun really showed a great understanding of the Poisoned Pawn positions. Both players were playing quite well, navigating through the complications until Milman erred first with the unbelievably natural 21... Bc5+. The subtle problem with this move was that it allowed Ng7+, a bigger deal than he had probably expected. Sammour-Hasbun then paralyzed Black with his Knight, traded off Black's active light squared Bishop that was controlling d7, took control of the d-file, and won nicely. All in all, a complicated game where Sammour-Hasbun showed his great feel for dynamic positions.

FM Alisa Melekhina (6th Place, 15 points):
When deciding between Sammour-Hasbun's three highly qualified submissions, this was relatively the weakest link of the three. Granted, all of the moves were logical, and the attack was tactical and powerful, but this has become almost the norm for Sammour-Hasbun. Therefore, I was more impressed with his other games where he was on the defensive vs. Kacheishvili and in an unusual endgame setting vs. Hungaski, compared to the baseline of this game. All three of his games are praiseworthy for their consistency, and it was difficult to choose.

FM Ron Young (9th Place, 12 points):
Having studied the works of Reuben Fine and Nikolai Krogius, I know a bit about chess psychology, and I think the point of flicking the Bishop away with 7… h6 before going for the Poisoned Pawn is to say "you’re just the type who would wimp out with 8. Nb3 in the normal order". But though Black waved the red cape, a matador does need a picador, and there was no sword in Sammour-Hasbun's neck. I don’t know if Black missed something about Ng7+, but a check (i.e., 21… Bc5+) that gives one’s own King some elbow room does usually seem tempting.

Total Score of Sammour-Hasbun vs Milman: (2nd Place, 83 Points)


Game of the Year Final Standings:

1st Place (90 Points): GM Cristian Chirila (DAL) vs GM Melikset Khachiyan (LA) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

2nd Place (83 Points): SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Lev Milman (MAN) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

3rd Place (73 Points): GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) vs SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

4th Place (70 Points): SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Robert Hungaski (NE) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

5th Place (66 Points): GM Yury Shulman (CHC) vs GM Cristian Chirila (DAL) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

6th Place (62 Points): GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) vs GM Varuzhan Akobian (SEA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

7th Place (56 Points): IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA) vs GM Josh Friedel (CHC) 0-1 Article Elimination Article

8th Place (52 Points): WGM Tatev Abrahamyan (LA) vs FM Eric Rodriguez (MIA) 1-0 Article Elimination Article

9th Place (51 Points): IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA) vs FM Slava Mikhailuk (SEA) 1-0 Article Elimination 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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