This is the fifteenth 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
6th Place: GM Pascal Charbonneau (NY) vs GM Varuzhan Akobian (SEA) 1-0
With 37. Nd8!, GM Charbonneau finally eliminated Black's key defender after which the Black position unravelled quickly.
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 Alisa Melekhina (5th Place, 16 points): After Akobian’s opportunistic and hasty 10…Nb3 exchanging White’s undeveloped and blocked dark-squared Bishop, Charbonneau effortlessly capitalized on the typical cramped French structure by controlling all of the space in his position. He prevented Black’s pieces from reaching any optimal squares while initiating favorable exchanges. A smooth victory over an esteemed French player.
FM Ingvar Johannesson (8th Place, 13 points): Overall felt like a nice game by Charbonneau. Really strangling Akobian on the White side of a French. Perhaps Akobian made a mistake not just waiting and making Charbonneau show him the win instead of perhaps making it easier than it should have been with 30... h6. Also I thought 20. Nb5 at first glance should have been stronger followed by placing it on d6 and then slowly taking over the f-file. Good game but not enough for top honors.
GM Alex Lenderman (9th Place, 12 points): White played a nice game outplaying a very strong player in one of his main openings. But this game Black didn't seem to play very well and made it a bit too easy for Pascal. For example 16... Rf7?! followed by Nf8?! seemed too passive. Instead 16... Nb8! seems more to the point to follow it up with Nc6 and exert pressure on d4, which makes Ng5 harder to execute. That would also allow the french Bishop some life via the e8-h5 diagonal, and all in all White would have a more difficult task in getting an advantage though I think White's position was already pleasant.
But then White returned the favor slightly with 20. Rf1?!. 20. Nb5 seems much more to the point, threatening Nd6, and boxing all of Black's Pieces, especially his Rook, in. I'm sure White would have been much more happy having the Black Rook on e7 than having it traded! Even the way the game went wasn't pleasant for Black though, 30... h6? seems a little too active. Of course 30... Bd7 and defending without counterplay is not pleasant but actually White doesn't seem to have crystal-clear plan of making progress, and Black is still relatively solid. Instead Black unravled pretty quikcly and the finish was nice.
Because Black's play was not great and since White missed a very important move, 20. Nb5, I could not rank this game higher than this. Also, White's play was very straightforward for the most part.
FM Ron Young (10th Place, 11 points): If "the world’s a chessboard", as per a Reuben Fine book title (you may or may not already have heard of my familiarity with the Fine oeuvre), then White’s King's Knight visited the four corners of the earth in this game, and though it may not assembled the outcasts of Israel or gathered the dispersed of Judah, it did eliminate the Bishop that was the only thing holding Black’s game together at the end, which is all that could reasonably have been asked of it.
FM Victor Shen (11th Place, 10 points): It seemed to me as if Black adopted the wrong set up following the opening and was just strategically worse throughout. It was surprising, as Akobian's moves looked so natural, but Charbonneau's 17. h4! put a lot of pressure on Black's position. Rf7 and Nf8 was probably the wrong set up; perhaps Black should have tried 16... Nb8 to reroute the Knight to c6. On move 20, White could have really put the screws on with 20. Nb5, heading to d6, which would have paralyzed Black and allowed White to take control of the f-file, leading to a completely dominating position. Even in the game, Black was unable to find a coherent plan and was slowly suffocated. A nice strategic win by Charbonneau.
Total Score of Charbonneau vs Akobian: (6th Place, 62 Points)
Stay tuned for four 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
Quarterfinals: GM Yury Shulman (CHC) vs GM Cristian Chirila (DAL) 1-0 Article
Wildcard #5: SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (BOS) vs IM Robert Hungaski (NE) 1-0 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