Sunday, January 15, 2012

Game of the Year -- 8th Place

This is the thirteenth 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


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

WGM Abrahamyan effectively concluded her attack with 29. f6+!, winning decisive material.

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 (4th Place, 17 points):
The light square weaknesses that first appeared on Black’s Queenside after 8… a5 spread tragically but instructively all the way to the g6 square, while 19. f4!, preparing the lift Rd2-g2, was reminiscent of the famous Esserman-Fedorowicz game. 29. f6+ was a piquant finish.

FM Alisa Melekhina (9th Place, 12 points):
This was probably the only game where I'm sure the winner was out of theory by move 5. White handled an unfamiliar set-up by Black well, and punished him accordingly after Black’s nonchalant 14…Nd7, transferring the Knight to the Queenside instead of playing the solid and defensive 14…Nh7. Even though in hindsight g5 turned out to be very powerful, it is not clear what White’s plan would have been after Nh7. Regardless, White executed a remarkable and forceful attack against a tricky player.

FM Ingvar Johannesson (12th Place, 9 points):
Lots of Sicilian games in this GOTY contest! White's play in this game was very direct and somehow Black just seemed to lack counterplay in this game and was very cooperative in losing this game (for instance giving White a hook for the attack with 11... h6). Having said that, White played a very nice attacking game with a thematic opening of the g-file and then finished it off with the nice 29. f6+

GM Alex Lenderman (13th Place, 8 points):
An interesting sharp Sicilian where White executed the attack well. However, I ranked this game relatively low because the opening just seemed too sloppy to me. Black played a rare line 5... Bd7, possibly influenced by Tatev's last year's game against Angelo Young, where Tatev played f3 on move 6. But here Tatev plays another line with 6. Be3!?, and Black immediately made a sloppy move 6... e5?!, on which Tatev missed the simple move 7. Nb5! simply attacking a7 and d6 (Najdorf went bad for Black without that a6!). That seems to force Black to actually play the unfortunate 7... Bxb5 8. Bxb5+ Nc6 9. Nd5, and White is just clearly better. For instance, 9... Be7 10. c3 and Nxe4 is always dangerous due to Qf3. And if the Bishop is on e7, then Qg4. It's not surprising White missed it and played the primitive conventional 7. Nb3?! because she spent only 31 seconds on that move (Thanks ICC!). Then on move 11, after Black mangled the opening a bit more, White had a strong move 11. Nd2! (Improve your worst piece, and find a weakness in opponent's strucutre). The Knight is coming to c4 to pressure b6, d6, and even e5 a bit, and possibly can try to come to d5 via b6 - a very unpleasant move for Black to meet. And 11. Nd2 d5? 12. Nc4! is just bad for Black.

Instead 11. Rd2?! was played. And then for some reason Eric plays 11... h6?! as simply Be7 and 0-0, getting the King to safety makes much more sense, keeping his Pawn structure in tact and giving counterattacking chances, giving Black a fairly normal game then. 13. Rg1 also didn't make much sense. Either play g4 right away and see if you'll need to play Rg1, or play another move like 13. Qg3!? after which I simply don't see a good response for Black. Black returns the favor with 13... 0-0?!, something that should not be rushed once you've already played h6. 13... Qc7 is a nice waiting move would be very logical and would come with a surprising threat - that is, 13... Qc7 14. g4?! would be met with 14... d5! 15. exd5 Nfxd5 16. Nxd5 Bxd5. 17. Rxd5 then doesn't work due to c2 hanging. 17. Bb5+ Kf8 and after Rd8 Black has a very playable game with about equal chances. Instead Black castled and didn't even defend very well after that to let White exectue such an attack. 14... Nh7 had to be played to cover g5 better. A lot of inaccuracies in this game. Despite the many mistakes, I still gave this game a reasonable ranking since the victor didn't really miss wins, which happened in some other games.

FM Victor Shen (15th Place, 6 points):
A powerful display by Tatev, but a little too one-sided. The attack came crashing through after an unusual opening with nice moves like 19. f4! and 22. Bb5! Perhaps Black should have defended with 14... Nh7 instead of 14... Nd7, to stop 15. g5. 29. f6+ was a nice finish to a clean attacking game.

Total Score of Abrahamyan vs Rodriguez: (8th Place, 52 Points)


Stay tuned for six 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

Semifinals: IM Zhanibek Amanov (LA) vs GM Josh Friedel (CHC) 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


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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