Friday, October 2, 2009

Week 5 Game of the Week

This year we have five judges for Game of the Week, each ranking their top five games. The games are then given from one to five points, based on these rankings, and whichever game receives the most total points wins the award. First place each week will receive a $150 bonus prize, second place $75, and third place $50. Our five judges are: IM Greg Shahade, FM Jim Dean, NM Michael Aigner, NM Jeff Ashton, and NM Arun Sharma. Click here for more details.


1st Place: GM Giorgi Kacheishvili (NY) vs GM Josh Friedel (SF) 1-0

GM Kacheishvili played the powerful 19. Rxd4! Bxd4 20. Qf5+ and quickly overwhelmed the exposed Black King to force liquidation into an easy ending.

Michael Aigner: I tried hard to find a way to rank this game lower than first, but I simply could not. Kacheishvili essayed a brilliant piece of opening preparation in a line of the Nimzo Indian that, at least statistically, was supposed to be decent for Black. The Panda never stood a chance; he played perfectly according to Rybka and still became extinct by move thirty. The efficient exchange sacrifice 19. Rxd4 sealed Black's fate. The game stands out way above this week's competition because of

(a) Theoretical Significance
(b) Depth of the Combination (three sacrifices of a piece or exchange)
(c) Strength of the Opponent

(1st place: 5 points)

Greg Shahade: Before I get started please let me point out that I think this was a great week for the Game of the Week contest. I believe that there were at least five games that would likely have won if they were played last week, and maybe even more?

In any case I thought this was a great game by Kacheishvili. It had most of the key ingredients:

(a) Nice opening preparation
(b) Strong play by the winning side and reasonable defense by the losing side
(c) Some exciting tactics and sacrifices.

In my mind this game was a very worthy winner.

(2nd place: 4 points)

Jeff Ashton: I liked this game:

(a) Interesting opening variation with theoretical significance.
(b) Exciting dynamic middlegame play and fun high risk chess for the fans to watch.
(c) Excellent endgame play by Kachieshvili. This was my favorite part of the game.

(2nd place: 4 points)

Jim Dean: This game just didn't capture my interest much despite the fact that Kacheishvili clearly played very well. Friedel played what may be a new move with 12.. Nc6 (my database is not completely up to date, so I'm not certain), and it might be quite good, but to my eyes Black's position looks really difficult to play right out of the gate. Kacheishvili makes the exposed King extremely uncomfortable with a series of accurate moves and didn't seem to have any problems with his endgame technique. (NR: 0 points)

Arun Sharma: This was a game I had a very difficult time deciding on as it kept on moving around in my rankings, at one point being at the top, another point near the middle, and in the end winding up sixth. It was a very good game by Kacheishvili with a very strong novelty (I think a novelty), 17. Qc2! Add to that how well the winner played on the whole, this was a natural choice for a top pick and would have been in most weeks.

However, there were many great games this week, and I had a really hard time deciding which good ones would not end up making the Top Five, and unfortunately this wound up being amongst those few that did not do so. The main issue I had with it was the position before 17. Qc2! is fairly well known, and while Kacheishvili found a great novelty, that in my view was really the only truly salient point of this game as 19. Rxd4 is fairly obvious and after 20. Qf5+, Black's position is close to resignable already.

Nevertheless, one cannot dispute the fact of how well the victor in this game played so I definitely cannot argue with the decision to make this this week's winner even if I personally found some other games more intriguing. (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Kacheishvili vs Friedel: 13 points


2nd Place: WFM Bayaraa Zorigt (DAL) vs David Adelberg (ARZ) 0-1

Young Adelberg pounced with the typical, but well timed, exchange sac 15... Rxc3! and followed up very strongly, overwhelming White's defenses and never allowing any counterattack.

Jim Dean: I really enjoyed this game and was impressed with young Adelberg's handling of the attack after the thematic exchange sacrifice. Black doesn't hesitate to boldly grab the initiative with 15... Rxc3 and really poured it on with constant pressure while not giving white anything in the way of counter-attacking chances. An excellent win that was much needed by his team who struggled on the middle boards. (1st place: 5 points)

Michael Aigner: Twelve year old star David Adelberg shatters his opponent's King position with a thematic 15... Rxc3 exchange sacrifice and then follows up with crisp tactics. Moves such as 19... b4 and 20... d5 demonstrate an understanding of the essence of the Najdorf: material means little in the Hunt for the White King. The Bishop and Knight checkmate at the end put an artistic exclamation mark on an already elegant game. Bonus points for the win against a higher rated and higher titled opponent with the Black pieces. I ranked this game third behind Herman vs Naroditsky mainly because of the non-aggressive play by White leading up to the exchange sacrifice, almost daring Black to go for it. Which Adelberg did, spectacularly!
(3rd place: 3 points)

Arun Sharma: Very high class play by Adelberg topped off with a cute finish. This was another game I was not sure how to rank since as other judges noted, the Rxc3 idea is not exactly a novel one. On the other hand, it seemed that Adelberg played very well throughout (something which is quite rare for Board Four games), conducting the attack very precisely and not permitting any counterplay. As such, I think this game was very deserving of the strong ranking it received. (3rd place: 3 points)

Jeff Ashton: This game was simple and thematic. The attack on the Queenside and ideas such as Rxc3 have been seen countless times. Nonetheless, I can't let that take away from such a beautiful game with an immaculate finish. When I watch Sportscenter on ESPN, I am usually impressed by similar slam dunks even if I've "seen the idea" before. I can appreciate this game even though I've seen the idea so many times. Great play by Adelberg. (5th place: 1 point)

Greg Shahade: Maybe I was a bit harsh on this game, considering that it was played on Board Four. The thing is that I used to play this opening, and I won many games like this in blitz and action chess all of the time. Nothing that David did was something I haven't seen many times before as when they let you take on c3 like that, often it results in a relatively easy victory. Again, I try to give extra consideration to Board Four, because it's obviously tougher to play like a 2700 GM when your rating is 2200, but I just got the feeling that it was too easy for David, and honestly I'm happy I didn't rank it because I feel strongly that this game should not have won first place (and it would have if I had simply given it fourth place!). (NR: 0 points)

Total Score of Zorigt vs Adelberg: 12 points


3rd Place: NM Matt Herman (NY) vs FM Daniel Naroditsky (SF) 1-0

Herman played the somewhat atypical 19. Bd5, daring Black to accept a d5 sac of a Bishop rather than the more usual Knight. Naroditsky declined but was still unable to stop White's vicious attack when it inevitably came anyway.

Greg Shahade: A lot of comments have been made about how Jeff Ashton, or other judges, may be "whacko" judges. At this point I have no option but to agree! First of all in a game this complex I find it absurd to rely so heavily on Fritz/Rybka analysis. The time control is 75+30, do we really expect players to find perfect moves in such an insanely sharp position?

Secondly, I'm not sure if it was a deep bit of preparation from Herman or just over the board inspiration, but he played so many sharp attacking moves, and the game was so energetic and exciting, that as I saw the GOTW results coming in I was deeply disappointed in my fellow judges (Until Aigner sent his in last, and it was granted a reprieve and a tie for third place. Fortunately the very strong IM Cyrus Lakdawala gave it the nod for third place!). Don't be surprised to see this game chosen as one of my Wildcard picks, as I think it will likely crack the Top Ten if given the chance, even without the huge name recognition of the players involved.

I noticed there were many awesome games this week while watching, and when I sat down to look at them I honestly had no clue which ones I would rank highly, but after just one look at the energy of this game I couldn't imagine how any other game could surpass it.
(1st place: 5 points)

Michael Aigner: This game was by far the most spectacular of the week. However, my initial impression was that the players traded mistakes somewhere around move nineteen or twenty. After time to reflect, with help from Rybka and friends, I found out that White had way more attacking resources than I expected. Veritable insanity! While it wouldn't surprise me if Black holds the fort somehow, we cannot expect a perfect defense in a practical game played between two human beings at a modestly fast time control. (2nd place: 4 points)

Arun Sharma: This was a very tricky game to rank, a game I'm really not surprised that there were very different opinions on. I personally tend to fall somewhere in the middle in terms of where this game should be (as you can see by my ranking!). I understand why Greg and Michael ranked it so highly as it was definitely the most creative and probably most interesting game of the week. I also understand why Jeff and Jim did not rank it given that there obviously were numerous errors.

Honestly, my first instinct when I looked at candidates this week was to rank this game first or second, but I agree with Greg that there were many good games this week, and I just happened to like the games I picked higher a bit better than this one. I did not use a computer to analyze this as others might have so I didn't really have a sense of how "sound" the ideas were, but again I tend to still appreciate those who play such creative ideas even if they are refutable with perfect play as obviously no one plays perfectly in the league (or anywhere!).

I was fairly surprised the game I ranked first got no other votes as it was a very clean and well played game by the victor where the losing side did not really make any big errors, but again there were a bunch of good games this week, and it doesn't shock me that there were varying opinions. (4th place: 2 points)

Jeff Ashton: Seeing this game is a real treat - if you look at it in Chessbase while holding down the "right arrow" key and not letting go until the end.

With some closer examination, it appears that White is rewarded for making poor decisions.

Maybe the sacrifice was fun for others to watch. Not me. I don't care for this game at all. I wish I could delete it from my memory. It would be more appropriate to fine Herman $50 than to award him this amount.

The sacrificial play should have lead to an easy win for Black, not White winning a GOTW prize.

I have a routine of first looking over the games without computer assistance. My first reaction was that White's sacrifices cannot be 100% sound, but it could lead to interesting complications in a fast time control. Also, there is a chance that the sacrifice is actually better than it appears. There is no way that this move can actually be as bad as it looks. When I looked at the game more closely with both Rybka 3 and Fritz 11, it seems that I was being way too nice in my initial assessment! I have never seen a GOTW contender (let alone top finisher) receive so many "red lights" from both Rybka and Fritz.

White did show creativity. I think it's ok that Herman won the game. These things happen. Heroic play should be rewarded with lucky wins. Attacking is cool. Attackers are the good guys, defenders are the bad guys, I get it. I just can't be happy with that kind of play leading to a GOTW prize and outranking much better games.

I don't have a huge problem with unsound sacrifices in general, but it seems that even after Black defends inaccurately he should still be better and winning. If a sacrifice leads to a losing position when accepted or declined, then it is just a bad sacrifice. It is a usually a waste of clock time to even analyze such an idea.

I do understand that there have been many less sound sacrifices made by great players (Mikhail Tal, Emory Tate, etc.) so I will try my best to move on.

I do want to mention how some other players got robbed this week. There were two other games with interesting sacrifices (Smith vs Vovsha and Moreno Roman vs Klein) that were actually sound. Furthermore, I think Joel Benjamin should finally finish high in GOTW. Benjamin is playing incredible well every single game, but unfortunately his games have been too technical for many people to enjoy. Finally, he played a game that is simple enough for players of all levels to appreciate. I was hoping Joel Benjamin would get his due credit with a Top Three finish.

This week was one of the hardest weeks to judge. There were so many games that I had trouble placing in a first through fifth order, and this did not even strike me as a contender. After hearing the news that it won third place, I had to look at the game to see if I made some obvious mistake ... but nope!

I do not claim to have a complete understanding of this game so if anyone knows if team "Jeff-Rybka-Fritz" is overlooking something, please share it with the rest of us!

To Mr. Herman: Please don't be too offended by my rant. I am still in shock while writing this. I do think you are playing well above your rating in general (not this game), and I appreciate your contributions to chess. I am just completely outraged by my fellow judges so I apologize for taking out my anger on your sacrifices. While your fans are sending me hate mail, I will be doing the same to my fellow judges. (NR: 0 points)

Jim Dean: I strongly considered this game for my list based on the fact that it was wild and entertaining. Both players played with gusto, but such positions are very difficult to play accurately, and as such, there were quite a few evaluation swings and arguable missteps. With 26... Re6, Black seems to really put the nail in his own coffin as 27. Bd4 is a killer. Still, Black was very much in the game until then. (NR: 0 points)

(NOTE: We had to bring in a tiebreaker judge because this game and Vovsha vs Smith were tied on points and on all tiebreakers for third place. Thanks to IM Cyrus Lakdawala for graciously agreeing to assist us in this capacity)

Tiebreaker Judge, IM Cyrus Lakdawala: Both games were really nice, but I thought the Najdorf was the more creative game and would give it the prize.

Total Score of Herman vs Naroditsky: 11 points


Other Considered Games (judges' scores in parenthesis)

11 points (Jeff 5, Arun 4, Jim 2):
IM Eli Vovsha (QNS) vs IM Bryan Smith (PHI) 0-1

8 points (Jim 4, Michael 2, Jeff 2):
IM Alejandro Moreno Roman (MIA) vs FM Mike Klein (CAR) 0-1

5 points (Arun 5):
IM Salvijus Bercys (DAL) vs IM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ) 1-0

5 points (Greg 3, Michael 1, Jim 1):
IM Albert Kapengut (NJ) vs IM Mehmed Pasalic (CHC) 1-0

3 points (Jeff 3):
GM Joel Benjamin (NJ) vs IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC) 1-0

3 points (Jim 3):
GM Sergey Kudrin (PHI) vs GM Alex Stripunsky (QNS) 0-1

3 points (Greg 2, Arun 1):
FM Oleg Zaikov (CAR) vs IM Blas Lugo (MIA) 0-1

1 point (Greg 1):
FM Tom Bartell (PHI) vs FM Andrei Zaremba (QNS) 0-1


John C. Fernandez said...

The voting system has to be dramatically changed. We can't keep seeing judges not ranking winners in the top 5.

Arun Sharma said...

How would you suggest the system be changed though? Short of having the judges rank more than just their Top Five games (which some weeks, like this one, might be desirable, but I think most weeks five games is more than enough), I don't see how you can avoid judges sometimes not ranking the top game. "GOTW" is simply too subjective for that not to happen on occasion, especially with five judges.

Anonymous said...

Just have one judge, that way the winning game was always ranked first by everyone!

Ilya said...

I think I suggested how to change the system a few weeks ago, no one is paying attention and you should ! First you vote the same way, then you revote based on the top 5 games left, it can be top 10 etc... Kind of like having a run off election. Jeff Ashton's rant is "amazing".

John C. Fernandez said...

Top 10 makes sense. That way you force the judges to evaluate the games that end up in the Top 3.

Jeffy enjoys provoking people. Those comments are retarded and have nothing to do with chess. Create your own blog if you want to rant and rave.

John C. Fernandez said...

Also, I'm not sure I get Arun's comment about Matt's game:

"I also understand why Jeff and Jim did not rank it given that there obviously were numerous errors."

Uh, really? Where? Nd7 and Re6 were lemons obviously, but what about by Matt? Really nice ideas like Bd5, Nc3, and especially the cool f4!

A bit of advice for using computers since most of you don't know how: If you're going to have a program like Rybka analyze a game like this, you best let it sit there for a minute or two per move. You can't go over these games at 9 ply like people like Jeff seem to.

Arun Sharma said...

In regards to what Ilya suggested, I think that's certainly a viable idea, but I'm not sure I really agree with it. Main thing about GOTW is that having multiple judges allows different ways of looking at things to be put into play, and the hope is that even with differing opinions, that the "consensus" (the highest totaling game) is the best choice in something so subjective in nature. If we were to do two rounds of it, then essentially every judge would be influenced by the other judges which really kind of destroys that aspect.

That's not to say that that system would not be better, I think that in itself is very much a matter of opinion, but I honestly doubt there would still not be the same kind of discontinuity. I mean just looking at this week's commentary, do you really think either Greg or Jeff is going to convince the other to change their opinion about the Herman game? Would that game really have wound up in a different place even if we had two judging rounds?

In regards to the Herman game and the errors, like I said I do not use a computer so I can only make my best assessment of what happened, and yes Black had a couple of errors, and I felt White did as well as it did seem to me that Black likely could have escaped at a couple of points with some extra material without getting his fingers burned. Again, maybe I was mistaken, but I can only make the best assessment that I can from looking at the game.

I also don't really agree with ranking more than five games a week. For one, that obviously makes it more work, but most importantly, five games in the majority of weeks tends to be very sufficient as often times I have to pick some games that I really do not like (not so for this week, but it has happened).

But the main issue is, some weeks (like this one) it might be best if the judges had to rank their top ten games, and in other weeks it would be best if the judges had to rank only their top three (like last week imo). As such, I think five, based on experience, is a pretty good standard to go with.

Michael Aigner said...

Wow, this thread amazing, if not sad.

1. Kacheishvili game: I spent quite a bit of time studying with Chessbase and Rybka trying to figure out where the novelty was and where Friedel messed up. This was a challenge because Friedel played 100% of Rybka moves until it was hopeless. If we assume that the new move 12... Nc6 loses, then we must conclude that 7... d5 is dubious (!!), as every move in between seems forced. Note: neither Megabase nor Rybka like the plausible alternative 12... Qxd4--I played through some lines and Black is worse (+0.7), at best. Once I realized that Kacheishvili refuted a line starting on move 7, then I realized how spectacular

2. Herman game: Analyzing this game by turning on Rybka and looking at evaluations leads to nowhere! The only respectable way to review this game is to use our human judgment, supplemented by computer to check out the tactics. For example, move 19... exd5 starts out at -2 but, after play through the obvious moves, you end up somewhere near equality (in a position that I would actually prefer White).

3. Bercys game: I had this ranked #6. Considering the large number of sharp and exciting sacrifices this week, I could not justify ranking a nice positional game. Maybe now Arun knows how I felt in weeks 3 and 4 when the judges largely ignored nice positional games.

4. Ranking more games: I must respectfully disagree with John Fernandez. Judges already put in a heck of a lot of effort! I spend about 3-4 hours each week combing through the games and writing up my paragraphs. I have an Excel spreadsheet for every round. Picking five games is already tough, as there are often many games that are very different, yet somehow equally good. Picking ten is even more work, especially when we have to pick between a lot of boring or blunder-filled games like in the past two weeks.

The real culprit is the lack of a definition of what constitutes a "Game of the Week". Should it be simply the most violent game, as Greg Shahade has said several times? Or do positional squeezes and endgame virtuosos count as well? What about a spectacular game that is marred by blunders? Now what you have is five judges looking for a wide array of characteristics, each arriving at his own Game of the Week.

I, for one, refuse to give honors to a game where the loser was doing reasonably well for most of it and should have been up an uncompensated pawn less than ten moves before the end. And yet, the Becerra-Friedel game in round 3 managed to finish in the #2 spot.

It is a fun system, but none of us can expect it to be perfect.

To close, I am not a GM or even a FM, but I enjoy the game and try my best to understand it. I've made a couple of mistakes and no doubt I'll make some more in the second half of the season.

Michael Aigner, a.k.a. fpawn

Daniel said...

It looks to me like you guys are doing a good job. The three games I would have picked all ended up top3 (though in a different order). I think people will always find thigns to complain about. As I recall last season, the complaints got so bad it was question if GOTW shouldn't be removed entirely. I am glad it did not come to that.

I will say one shouldn't be so harsh on the bd4 guys. Maybe it would be good to add a few minor standards rules to what constitutes a GOTW. I should think stuff like "the loser put up good resistance" would make everyone's list.

Anyways, keep up the good work.

Hikaru Nakamura said...

I think that the commissioner needs to place a fine on Jeff Ashton for his absurd comments and remarks involving GOTW. For someone who has not played competitive chess in going on 10 years to simply flip on Rybka for 5 seconds and trust an evaluation in such a sharp position is wrong.

I strongly suggest Jeff take a look at my game with Beliavsky in the Kings Indian from Amsterdam. Using this rybka rationale, every move in that game is a blunder too despite the fact that many GMs think it is the game of the year. Perhaps we should be led to believe that Jeff Ashton is simply better than everyone else.


Michael Aigner said...

I totally agree that board 4's should not be automatically devalued. In spite of a formula that discriminates against them, there are two board 4's (Norowitz and Liou) among the top 8 players in the league (and three if you count Bick). I am glad that Adelberg was able to break through the ice and got second place.

Michael Aigner

John Bartholomew said...


I defended Jeff Ashton in a previous GOTW, but his comments this week are pretty over the top - even by USCL standards.

Herman-Naroditsky should have won easily this week. This game had it all: a sharp opening, fantastic complications, original play, and the high drama of a very competitive match. There were indeed many good games this week, but this one had GOTW written all over it. The judges quoting Rybka analysis and playing arm-chair quarterback just aren't seeing the bigger picture.

Kudos to Greg for 100% nailing it this week. To the other judges: cmon guys, get with the program!! :)

Bionic Lime said...

The week 5 whackometer!

Was is whacko this week?

fluffy said...

anyone who did not have Kachi-Panda in their top 5 hs no business being a judge.

Matthew Herman said...

Smyslov, Keres, Kortchnoi, Timman, Khalifman and Adams. That's a partial list of players who have had the black pieces after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 b6 5. Nge2 Ba6 6. a3 Be7 7. Nf4 and played 7. ..d5. Well done, Giorgi.

The position in Zorigt-Adelberg after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f3 Be7 8.Qd2 b5 9.h4 Bb7 10.g4 Nbd7 11.0-0-0 0-0 12.Be3 Nb6 13.Bd3 Nfd7 14.Qf2 Rc8 15.g5 Rxc3 16.bxc3 Qc7 17.Ne2 Na4

is exactly that of the classic Movsesian-Kasparov (Sarajevo, 2000), except that Zorigt's decision to go Bc1-g5-e3 cost her a tempo to go Kc1-b1, as did the ill-fated Movsesian. I'm not sure if Adelberg knew this game and he conducted the attack quite well, but to be a tempo up on a Kasparov victory is a good spot to be in after 17 moves. Kasparov also found the attacking themes of ..b4 and ..d5. It's not Scholar's mate, to be sure, but no more original than the spectacular Esserman-Simpson.

Smith's 15. ..b4 is a very interesting idea that's been recently essayed by Stocek, Gawain Jones and Carlsson (not "wonderboy"). Smith conducted the attack with great precision, but Vovsha's handling of the position did not seem to fit the spirit of the Yugoslav, with all his pieces moving backwards. The critical test is clearly 16. bc, but if not prepared then the practical decision to keep things tidy is understandable.

Main Entry: ho·ri·zon
Pronunciation: \hə-ˈrī-zən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English orizon, from Late Latin horizont-, horizon, from Greek horizont-, horizōn, from present participle of horizein to bound, define, from horos boundary; perhaps akin to Latin urvum curved part of a plow
Date: 14th century

1 a : the apparent junction of earth and sky b : the great circle on the celestial sphere formed by the intersection of the celestial sphere with a plane tangent to the earth's surface at an observer's position — see azimuth illustration c : range of perception or experience d : something that might be attained


Jeffrey Ashton said...

Good morning everyone!

I only have a minutes but I'll try to say a few things then I'll try to check up on the comments before the next round begins.

-I'm glad that people are commenting again. Last few weeks were boring.

-Rybka is probably over-used. I probably like it too much since my old roommate wrote the program. As I said earlier, I prefer to "check" my analysis with Rybka instead of relying on it. I do know how to use it and am aware of things like ply.

-I didn't think this was a controversy because: Benjamin, Smith's, Klein's, and a few more were much better games in my opinion. So with me, Herman wasn't in contention anyway. Again, are you mad about the result or the comments? If I said "Great game by Herman. I didn't vote for it, but it was top notch and could have won first place any other week" then there probably wouldn't be 13 comments on day 1(and counting).

-If Nakamura's game against Beliavsky were played last week, there is a good chance that I would have given it the nod for GOTW. Herman's game? Nope!

-After looking at some of the commentary, I can concede that White's sacrifice has more value than I originally gave credit, but it is still shaky and unclear. And again, the other games were just better. Does anyone else think that Benjamin, Klein, or Smith might have been robbed? I think Benjamin is the most underrated.

-Apparently strong comments encourage interesting discussion so I will continue to do so even if Commissioner Greg fines me!

-The judging system is good. It's silly to expect that every single judge have the same games listed in their top 5 especially on weeks like this. For the most part, we do agree more than disagree. I'm actually surprised that we agree as much as we do.

Our judging system is designed to produce common denominators. The common denominators become the winners. Simple.
You can expect that almost every week there will be some differences in our decisions, but there will usually be a few common denominators that lead to top finishes in GOTW. Look at the results again!

-USCL judging takes several hours already. There are many great ideas but a lot of you are playing "armchair commissioner". This year we have 5 dedicated judges willing to dedicate several hours a week because they like the USCL and would like to see it grow. 20 years from now, can we expect judges to dedicate twice as much time as we dedicate now? Maybe, maybe not.

If the results were poor, then we should think about changing the system. I think it's not broken and we don't need to fix it.

-For the most part, the GOTW results are pretty accurate and the judges are "getting it right".
Some of the judges (Fpawn and I) aren't saying things that everyone wants to hear, and this makes people emotional.

If this is a problem, it should be considered a PR problem.

Having issues with "controversial commentary" and poor GOTW rankings are two entirely different things.

Do you define whacko judging by "whacko comments" or by the judgments that we 5 collectively make?

Again, look closely at the GOTW results and see how unsatisfied you are.

I personally enjoy interesting comments even if I don't agree with them. It's a lot more interesting than the "both teams played hard" attitude that some of you claim that you want to see.

Alex Lenderman said...

Agreed with fluffy! Arun Sharma is a great judge though and very consistent so I can't say anything. I just want to say that this week was very hard to judge because there were just so many great games to pick upon and everybody has their own flavor. And for god's sake, can people please stop picking on Jeff? I remember last year people were picking on Jon Hilton so much, that he lost desire in it probably. And why?! Everyone has their own judging style and own style about which games are considered the best. It seems to me that Jeff like John both prefer positional masterpieces and endgame virtosos rather than attacking games with some inaccuracies. I have no problem with that and it is completely understandable. I rememebr Jeff was the only person who ranked my game against Larry Kaufman this year and last year John Hilton was the only person who ranked my game against Mark Ginsburg last year. Both of these games in my opinion are the best games so far for me in my career in USCL, better in my opinion than all the GOTW's that I got prizes in. So please no hard feelings! This is all for fun. It is terrible for me to see so many terrible comments about judges who after all volunteer their time and and without them it would not even exist. That is my comment. Go ahead say anything you want to me ! :)


Jeffrey Ashton said...

Alex Lenderman:

Thanks. You are truly a genius. I think your post (Like John Bartholomew's from two weeks ago) is brilliant! If you ever move to a State that doesn't have a USCL team, I hope you become a judge because you are wise beyond your years.

We do all have our own favorites based on predilection. We all have our favorite chess players, our favorite chess books, and our own taste for GOTW.

I like books like "Endgame Strategy" and "The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played" while others like books like "How to beat your dad in chess" and "303 tricky checkmates". I like Crosswords and Sudoku, other people like Word Searches and Mazes. Different strokes for different folks.

My criteria was posted earlier in an article:

"Overall I was looking for two things:

(a) Makes people like chess more. i.e. entertaining attack or creative play
(b) Good quality game (not too idiotic). Basically provides a cool "luckometer" trend analysis/Rybka infinite analysis tests."

Jeffrey Ashton said...

There is another factor that I didn't mention at the time, but I like games that are educational and would be good "lecture" material for a group containing students of different rating levels. Maybe if I had to pick one "test" it would be this "lecture for multiple rating levels" test.

The United States Chess League is special because it makes chess extremely exciting and enjoyable for many players of different levels. We are basically promoting chess and allowing new audiences to enjoy the game while entertaining the current audience greatly.

Judging is very subjective:
GOTW is not "Best Game" necessarily and I understand that. If that were true, then maybe Joel Benjamin and other 70 move games would do better (and I would rank them number 1 consistently). So in a way, I, and other judges sometimes have to "dumb things down" a bit by not picking the most perfectly played game, but something that is well played and entertaining. This is why it is a subjective process. Every judge has their own way of striking the perfect balance.

In a way, picking GOTW is a lot like picking the Top 10 plays on ESPN Sportscenter. Slam Dunks, Alleyoops, and 30 point deficits turning into a comeback get the attention, while "Pick and Rolls" and various defensive setups get ignored. This phenomenon can be very upsetting to those who think they know a lot about basketball! Some might even say "Who are these idiots at ESPN who wear these fancy suits who never played in the NBA to decide which plays are top 10".

Just like picking the Top 10 plays, there is no real science that can lead to GOTW perfection.

Subjective judging processes are used very often in competition when there is a lot on the line, arguably more than $150 and recognition in the chess world.

Ever watch Olympic Figure Skating? In some countries it's not so fun winning Silver Medal because of some judge who uses methods that you disagree with. In some Olympic Sports, judges are told to flash a 1 or 2 digit number on a piece of paper over their head. Now that's primitive! Again, a LOT is on the line for these Olympic athletes. You could argue that "American Idol" uses better judging methods than Olympic judges. It could be argued endlessly.

We USCL judges put hours into trying our best to dissect these games. Olympic judges experience "recency bias" and they aren't allowed to use replay footage. We have the luxury of reviewing games repeatedly and analyzing the game to best make an informed decision.

If you do the math, allowing 5 judges to each pick 5, really helps kill the GOTW "swings". You could even argue that Commissioner's over-caution is lame and boring!

I guarantee that no matter what we do to pick Game of the Week, there will always be outrage. If there is some ULTIMATE process that actually does work best there will be other disadvantages: You might not have any judges who are willing to put in the hours it would take. Fans might have to wait a few extra days to learn who wins GOTW. Worst case scenario: Maybe the process will be so perfect that you won't have the mid-week entertainment of dissecting judges comments and searching for flaws.

By the way, I definitely enjoy attacking games too as does pretty much the whole chess world: I voted highly for Friedel's attack a couple of weeks ago, as well as several attacking games from this week. I was more satisfied by Klein's and Smith's attack even though it wasn't
"2DAXTRM" like Herman's.

I don't blame the fans for their comments although the anonymous hate mail and threats are slightly creepy (but usually amusing).

When I choose my words, I know there will be different reactions.

When people are talking about the USCL, it is a very good thing!

USCL is the best!

Thanks for your interest!

Ilya said...

Alex, I think you are missing the point. Yes, we appreciate the judges work, yes they work for free...However, this is a contest about the best games of the week; a contest where USCL player's masterpieces get evaluated ....this is not a contest of which judges compete has the the most ridiculous and longest rant, this is not the the judges contest, this is not Jeff Ahston's contest! Also Jeff, either you dont use rybka(my suggestion) or if you do, have someone who really knows how it works--show you embecile how to do it right. When you dont know how it works, you end up looking like a fool, which is what happened to Jeff Ashton this week and this what Herman alluded to by providing definitions of "HORIZON". I know it may SEEM great that we get lot of passionate responses but the direction of these comments is obviously misguided, as it is the games themselves that should be generating such vigorous debate.

Jeffrey Ashton said...

Quick, name your top 10 favorite chess games of all time. Name them in order. Think about it for a few hours if you really have to. Easy project? Who can name their top 5 favorite games of all time in order? Maybe more but still not easy.

Now try naming your top 10 favorite games played this month.
Name your top 10 favorite games played this week. Name your top 10 favorite games played in one tournament that happened this week.

Doing this with just 5 games is already pretty challenging. Sometimes there is a lot of junk out there and sometimes there is too much good stuff.

Trimming the fat and turning trash into treasure is our job sometimes!

We should just have a 1st place winner and give the 2nd and 3rd place money to the judges. How come no one has suggested that idea?

More fun questions to ponder:

What are your top 12 favorite foods?

5 favorite colors?

3 favorite ice cream flavors?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I bet the annon poster with da caps was Jeff himself. Man, fight back!! Dont let them stuffffffff you into lockers, that aint right.

Arun Sharma said...

First off, in regards to Jeff Ashton's comments, I think people are overreacting a bit to his obvious joking (i.e. fine Herman $50). On the other hand, his comments were obviously designed to do just that: get people to react, and I can't blame people much for doing so even if I think it's going a bit over the top.

In regards to "fluffy said... anyone who did not have Kachi-Panda in their top 5 hs no business being a judge."

I'm really honestly getting tired of this sort of nonsense. I never mind when people express their own viewpoints on what should and should not win GOTW every week, that's part of what makes it fun. But this constant, frankly super egotistical, attitude of "This person's OPINIONS do not agree with my own so they obviously should not be a judge" is really getting old.

I guess this can't be repeated enough times for people to get it, but everyone has their own views on what should and should not constitute a "GOTW", and people should just accept that sometimes that view does not match their own.

After all, we have two strong IMs, Greg Shahade and John Bartholomew, both of whom have strongly advocated that Herman vs Naroditsky should have won this week, and if fluffy was a judge and ranked Kacheishvili vs Friedel first (as he seems to allude that he would have), I'm sure he would greatly appreciate it if Shahade or Bartholomew then came on and commented "Wow fluffy obviously has no business being a judge, he didn't rank the Herman game first"

As I said, this general attitude that too many people seem to have that they, and they alone, have somehow been designated as the ultimate authority on which games should and should not be ranked every week is really getting tiresome. But anyone who is convinced that they can definitely do a better job than me, by all means apply to take over for me. Should you do so, it will definitely be interesting to see just how long it will take for there to be a similar complaint made about you.

I personally am in favor of what the first anon in this post suggested: have only one judge so the winning game is always ranked first by every judge (maybe that would lessen the complaining some at least!). I hereby nominate Jeff Ashton to be the sole judge in future weeks as he undoubtedly provides the most amusing commentary if nothing else!

JimD said...

Hello all, Jim Dean here. I thought I'd drop in and put forth my two cents. I apologize in advance if my comments are a bit disorganized. I think the real "culprit" here (I'm not sure that there is one) as Michael (fpawn) stated earlier is that there is no clear criteria that we are supposed to use when judging games for GOTW. My system for judging the games is probably less sophisicated than Michael's (no spreadsheet is used), and I still find it very difficult and time consuming to come up with my top five. I think it is quite easy to underestimate the task of doing so in complete solitude in a relatively short period of time, quite frankly.

To be honest, sometimes I feel like the process is a bit like having ten attractive women walk into a room and having a group of friends rank them on appearance in our own way in a relatively short period of time. Doing so, in my opinion, would lead to very mixed results in many cases and likewise I'm never surprised when it happens during GOTW.

Sure, some of my friends have bad taste, but others insist the same about me. The point is, sometimes a game catches your eye in a particular way and you can become drawn to it for one reason or another, and other games.....not so much. It isn't necessarily because we aren't trying hard enough or that we suck at chess. I've often disagreed with some of Michael's comments regarding certain games (mostly the Esserman games), but I really appreciate the fact that he is very consistent with his criteria and in some cases has gone out of his way to explain it. Truthfully, it is not always easy to be consistent from week to week, and I've certainly made some mistakes along the way, the most notable in my opinion the omission of the Gulko-Zaikov game.

Anyway, I'm basically agreeing with Lenderman's sentiments...It is great that there is all the discussion about the games, but try not to have a heart attack if someone doesn't see the same beauty in particular game as you do. If your game doesn't make my list it is not neccessarily because I didn't think it was a good game. Sometimes I see nine or ten games that I'd be proud of in a given week. Bottom line is, I think everyone on the panel puts plenty of effort into it and none of us are complete morons (even Jeff). This doesn't mean you cant wholeheartedly disagree with our picks of course, but there is no point in not being respectful. Thanks for listening....


Elizabeth Vicary said...

It’s remarkable how many of the most interesting comment threads on chess websites take the basic form “Is Person(s) X insane/evil/totally retarded?”

Ilya said...

I have a radical idea, lets get rid of all the judges and just have the league vote on GOTW, its like having a poll on the side of this page, except this time it will actually count.

Michael Aigner said...

Bad idea. GOTW should not be a popularity contest. We already have seen allegations of judges picking based on personal biases, something that will only increase with a non-scientific poll.

Matthew Herman said...

Jeff's personal comments lacked class and his analysis, clarity. The objection is not to his aesthetic preferences, which everyone has and a diverse range of which is good, but to the utter lack of consistency, temperament and intellectual honesty in his judging.

It does the league and Jeff no favors when other comments here attempt to obscure that very clear fact with "let's all get along" material.

He made a bold claim that my game was unsound (later upgraded to "shaky and unclear", when in fact Chess has only three results, the above which is not one of them) and an insult to his sensibilities. He has waffled between "I do my own analysis" and "my criteria is an interesting rybka luck-o-meter", while acknowledging that he is using an old computer that in the time frame available to the judges for analysing this game, could not possibly have reached sufficient depth to make a conclusive negative judgment. Michael's comments are demonstrative on that point.

There are more effective ways to be a provocateur than the old saw of "you play checkers, I play chess" (alluded to by his perception of his critics' book preferences).

Arun, it's not personal nor inappropriate for someone to express an opinion with the construct of, "XYZ has no business being ABC because of GHI". It's a phrase that's seen in many contexts and, in this case, expresses the utter shock that a game that effectively refutes a variation played on multiple occasions by Smyslov, Keres and Kortchnoi is somehow not one of the 5 best games of the week, while a game that basically copies Movsesian-Kasparov is lauded.

Alex, with all due respect, this is not about the preference between a devastating attack and a sparkling positional masterpiece. If Ashton chose to vote for 5 instructive rook endgames, that would be consistent. What is inconsistent is not voting for a game because he didn't understand it, when it clearly satisfied his "entertaining attack or creative play" criterion.

John C. Fernandez said...

Just admit it - the cleanest simplest games are easier to judge. Zorgit's loss was clean - you knew the youngster didn't make a mistake, so you voted high for it.

Those that didn't look closely at the Herman game underestimated it, simply figuring that something had to be unsound there. You actually have to spend quite a bit of time to realize that it isn't unsound at all, which admittedly is way too much to ask.

Now that everyone who dismissed it is taking a second look, you're realizing it probably isn't the bad game y'all thought it was.

Matt, the lesson for you is simple: play simpler chess, that way the judges won't keep overlooking you. Copy some Kasparov game move for move and you'll get 2nd place next time. Serves you right for doing original work and asking too much of the horribly overburdened judges.

Michael Aigner said...

I love how many posters harp on a single game, implying that anyone who failed to pick that game as #1 is an idiot. Has anyone actually proven Herman's sacrifices to be *sound*, or have we merely concluded that the attack is playable at the faster time control? My point is that this game was exciting and creative, but lacked the clarity that Kacheishvili demonstrated in refuting a line played by Smyslov, Korchnoi and others. In fact, even Herman made that point.

Now will all of you who think you are geniuses and can't consider other viewpoints please let the judges do their job? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

In regards to the previous post: the situation is tricky because both games involve NY pllayers winning and hence Herman can't state outright that those who picked Giorgi's game are fools. Therefore much more kogical to attack game which got 2nd place, especially since it was played by a bunch of " nobodies."

Arun Sharma said...


Arun, it's not personal nor inappropriate for someone to express an opinion with the construct of, "XYZ has no business being ABC because of GHI"

Well you might think so, but I personally do not agree at all. After all, there seem to be many posters who seem to be mostly amused by Ashton's comments while you speak of a lack of class and the like, and I personally find the comment made by fluffy to be just as classless as you probably find anything that was said by Jeff. For instance, both you and Jfernandez have basically implied that the Adelberg game was not especially deserving, and I'm sure if Jim Dean (who ranked it first) or someone who agrees him came on here and said that the two of you are stupid for not considering that a great game, that you would appreciate that just as much as I appreciated fluffy's comment.

But once again that's really not the main issue here, the inherent problem lies more in what Michael basically said, that when every poster assumes they they are a genius and that anyone who doesn't share their opinions is an idiot, it obviously leads nowhere.

To a point this doesn't surprise me, I've been dealing with nonsense of this nature ever since GOTW started involving $ prizes at the beginning of the 2007 Season, and I guess it was naive of me to think that people would eventually come to accept that those who hold different viewpoints then them are not necessarily idiots.

I mean we've had three 2600+ GMs as judges for the last three Game of the Year Contests and similar complaints were levied about them - it really just amazes me how every poster can assume that in something so subjective that they are always the correct one, no matter if they are dealing with players who are leaps and bounds better than they are.

Matthew Herman said...

Anonymous: Why would I trash Giorgi's game? It was a historically significant masterpiece.

The whole point is that it is not about the "who", but the "what" on the board. The Adelberg game was nice, but it was basically a carbon copy of Movsesian-Kasparov. That's not an insult to Jim Dean, the talented Mr. Adelberg or anyone else -- it's a fact.

And Arun, my point was not to defend fluffy but that there's nothing inherently wrong (i.e. in general) with the construct he used as long as it's backed by solid, relevant evidence. To wit, if a game is a significant novelty refuting a historically important opening played by some of the greatest players of all-time, it's not unreasonable to conclude that anyone who thinks that game doesn't belong in the top 5 of a game of the week contest seems to lack proper chess judgment.

Let's focus on substance.

I cannot speak for the other posters, but this isn't about people being idiots, it's about their stated guidelines being absolutely trampled on, followed with classless personal insults.

Arun Sharma said...

Well, I suppose that's something that we'll just have to agree to disagree on. The problem seems to me more to be the fact that you have taken the viewpoint that both Giorgi's game and your own game were both very good (not an unreasonable view at all, but nevertheless a subjective one), and since fluffy's rude comment was in favor of that viewpoint, you somehow consider them "not personal and not unreasonable". Yet when Jeff Ashton's view that your game was not good is contrary to your opinion, his comments thereby become "personal classless insults".

What I really found most amusing about fluffy's comment (prepare for a bit of nostalgia!) is this thread from the end of the 2007 Season:

where there was vigorous complaining about who won the "Blogger of the Year Award", and fluffy himself (Vigorito) was blasting anyone who questioned the end decision with "Hey, it's subjective, you're being ridiculous if you complain about it", yet when someone else makes a decision he doesn't like on something which is just as subjective, he thinks it's appropriate to make a comment like that.

Does anyone else see the hypocrisy here?

Jeffrey Ashton said...

I'll respond to Mr. Herman since it's only fair. This is also a general response to some others:

I think your game should not have won GOTW because there are other games that are vastly superior to yours. Nothing personal. After looking at other comments and yours, I'm not as outraged that you won.

You have a right to feel annoyed, but cheer up. You won 3rd place!

Everyone: I do not intend on taking any "sensitivity" classes in the near future so I will MOST LIKELY continue to write comments like I have. That's what I do and that's what I will continue to do. I like to keep the comments clean, and keep it simple. I will try my best not to traumatize anyone.
These comments from some of the USCL fans are amusing. Please share some more. If you don't like my comments, Blame Commissioner Greg. He is a loose cannon!

I did rank Brian Smith's win and Michael Klein's win above Herman's. For some of the fans, take a look at the games, look at my rankings, and think about your Rybka comments again. Rybka says Brian Smith is a blunder-machine but I don't care! Rybka says something stupid about how Klein is losing on move 6 after some stupid Qb3 c5 trick. Also good news, to make everyone happy I will no longer be using Rybka.

Rybka is stupid at times, I know this. That is why I plan on switching to Crafty V.20 this week.

I think it would have been fair if Brian Smith got 1st place and Klein got a top place.

Stop picking and choosing "weak points" in my comments, and read the part that says I like looking at the games without a computer at all first.I like to use Rybka to check my analysis. This is "old school" to some. I'm all for Hybrid game analysis!

I thought Smith's and Klein's were much better games and they are similar to Herman's in the respect that they have attacks. Those games are superior to Herman's game in my opinion.

Rybka says Brian Smith is losing after b4 (although I am now aware that it has been played several times before). I am familiar with "Horizon Effect" and the computer's inability to understand some sacrifices.

You can say it's inconsistent of me to like Brian Smith's game and not Herman's, and you can say that I am overusing Rybka. You do have to pick one though... it can't really be both.

This whole inconsistency theory is completely stupid by the way. Does it have to be inconsistent if I don't care for Tal's play but like Morphy's? Just because they are both considered attacking players, there are a lot of other differences and subtle factors.

If every strong player in the world wrote a "My 10 favorite games book" they would look entirely different. If every attacking player wrote a book like that, they would look very different as well.

As I said before, there were much better games than that one. Don't over-think it. It is still slightly sickening to see how it got ranked over other games. I think Shmelov-Erenburg is a lot better than Herman's game also by the way.

If you look closely at the judgments, and not my comments, you will see that Rybka would hate my GOTW judging methods.

In response to the nasty thing said to another judge: It would have been completely logical if the GOTW winner didn't even make the top 5 list. There were too many good games this week so a lot of interesting things can happen. Arguably, it's just as ridiculous that Joel Benjamin wasn't in some people's top 5.

Jeffrey Ashton said...

For judging ideas: I think the best way to silence the GOTW fans is to just eliminate judge comments!Or eliminate mine at least. Occasionally I feel that the fans are often looking desperately, and dissecting every piece of information out there so they can act like degenerates!

Also here is another suggestion: Stop wasting your time looking at what judges did NOT vote for, but look at what they DID vote for

I think there many "Prima donnas" in the chess world and that's fine with me. It makes it fun and funny. I wish sometimes they wouldn't take themselves so seriously though. It's just kind of saddening to watch them stress out so much.

Jeffrey Ashton said...

Ok, I didn't read Herman's recent comment carefully enough the first time, as I missed some parts of it.

I don't know how you define "personal insult" but I criticized your game and GOTW judgment in a way that you disagree with. I used the logic "This game should not win GOTW because of your game not being better than others, and some reasons why your game is not better than others is.."

You seem pretty upset for someone who won 3rd place over many other great games played by other great players such as yourself.

There was no "personal insult" by me. I would have no idea how to personally insult you. I know you like to quote dictionaries so maybe you can come up with something on this one in regards to the definition of personal insult. We could change this into an argument over semantics perhaps.

You claiming that I am personally insulting you is personally insulting to me! I'm kidding about this.

I do not know, nor have I ever heard of you until a month ago. Maybe I met you or even played you and it slipped from my memory. My apologies. Again, I said things that you did not like to hear about your play and the GOTW result. Sorry if this hurts your feelings.

First time I saw your name was when you were criticizing my Esserman vote. That was noble of you. You did not seem to like the fact that I said nice things about his play, maybe too nice, then gave it the no-vote. Maybe that was inconsistent of me? At least you were classy in your comments, and your questions were reasonable and objective.

It's kind of ironic how this time I gave you the no-vote and I say things that are very congruent to my vote. Also you actually won a prize by the way. It's not like you "bubbled" and got 4th place.
This week I'm not being inconsistent, I'm just "mean and wrong". Can you at least find a consistent way to personally insult me?

Again, it was selfless of you to defend Esserman in a way that you felt was right. This?

You might be offended by my "I never heard of you" and attempt to spin it in a way that makes me look "personally insulting". Fact is, I was asked to judge because for me, nothing is personal! I've been "out of the loop" and I live in a very large city that has no chess team. I guess you can spin that in various ways too!

When properly motivated you can spin any comments that you disagree with. You can also use statistics to lie about things as well! Perhaps you are a fan of "Fox News". Sorry, that is getting close to a personal insult. You can highlight certain areas and ignore others. I know this, and I don't defend against these attacks very well as I write very long posts. As a matter of fact, I encourage them!

I find the spinsters and comment analysis to be entertaining for myself and the USCL fans. Otherwise I would use a "both teams played hard" approach to commentating.

Jeffrey Ashton said...

Either it's good that I use computer analysis, bad that I use it, inconsistent because I use multiple streams of analysis, or you could call it a thorough hybrid method. You could argue that the "Prius" is an inconsistent car perhaps. There are countless ways to spin things to benefit you.

I don't know what your goal is at the moment: Are you just looking for some extra high fives in addition to your 3rd place victory?

You can spin things by highlighting certain parts of my paragraphs that you find to weaken my arguments. You can call me a "provocateur" by pointing out some Sudoku comment that I made and act like you are insulted. Clever because at the same time you can make someone appear to be somewhat of a snob. Honing in on the "$50 fine" comment could also be a nice tactic, but way too obvious.

Obviously your strategy is to discredit those you disagree with or those you feel might hurt your image.

I really have to ask: Are you personally offended?

Are you really upset? Do you feel there is injustice? Would you be a happier person if the whole world said your game is brilliant and you are the next Bobby Fischer? Are you on a mission to banish judges who you disagree with? Are you on a crusade to make the chess world more PC? Are you just a fan of logic that everything must make perfect sense in the way you see it? My goal is to promote the USCL. What's yours? Looking to strike a deal with Nike perhaps? Someone earlier suggested that my criticism could effect sponsorship money. Maybe you could sue me for libel.

I really find it hard to believe that a rational human being of your intellect can be too upset by this, but maybe it's selfish of me to assume this.

I do respect those who irrationally defend injustices to their peers and teammates, i.e. "my buddy should have won GOTW ARGH!" I think it is noble even when they are completely wrong but they are looking out. That's part of "the code".

This, is just silly.

John Bartholomew said...

LOL, wow.

Well, based on that quad-post outburst I think it's safe to say Jeff Ashton won't be voting for any Matthew Herman games in future GOTW's.

Motion to dismiss a compromised judge?

p.s. Nothing personal's just hard to believe you will judge Matt's games completely impartially from here on out...

Daniel said...

I really do have to say that while I applaud the judges for their good work...

I would add there is no reason for Ashton inflammatory and insulting rhetoric. The judges should be kind to players regardless if they have preferred favorite games over the one in question. There is no reason to even in jest saying insulting words.

Also, Joel Benjamin himself spoke to the poor quality of his most recent game so I don't even know why that was ever considered GOTW material by anyone.

Anyways, to answer Arun's question,

I would change the system by 1) establishing some base line requirements for it to be gotw such as pretty good resistance from the losing participant.
2) Remove all commentary towards the players themselves in the judging and leave it restricted jsut to the game to avoid all these negative insults that people like Ashton seem to love.
3) Quit being so harsh on the bd4 guys, they can play nicely too. In fact it might be fair to maybe award a half point to any bd4 game that is being considered? It might make up for their lack of "name recognition" and in the event of a draw would supplant it over the drawing game but without adding too many points to rival superior games.

Matthew Herman said...

Jeff, by "personal", I was referring to your comments that "Herman should be fined $50" -- i.e. things that referred to the player not the game, not that you impugned my character. I stand by my comments that refer purely to the moves on the board and analysis of them, but my sense of humor deserted me and I overreacted in this thread and wherever I insulted you, that was not intended. I am a big fan of the League, and appreciate everyone who volunteers their time to make it happen, including you, from Greg on down.

Arun Sharma said...


Thanks. It's not often we have a post on here which tries to be constructive rather than just complaining or insulting one of the parties involved, but it's still nice to occasionally get them!

In regards to your suggestions, here's what I think.

1) establishing some base line requirements for it to be gotw such as pretty good resistance from the losing participant.

This has been suggested many times, and I have a hard time believing it would improve matters. For one, obviously everyone would have their own opinion about what the "base line requirements" should be so establishing a good set of such guidelines, which would cover all possible games appropriately doesn't really seem possible. Not to mention that the requirements themselves might be very subjective themselves. After all, in your suggestion, what constitutes "pretty good resistance"? That in itself is very subjective. Probably nearly any such guideline would have a similar subjectivity to it.

In short, I just don't see something of this nature making the process any less subjective than it already is.

2) Remove all commentary towards the players themselves in the judging and leave it restricted jsut to the game to avoid all these negative insults that people like Ashton seem to love.

Just as we have multiple judges to get several viewpoints from people who don't look at things the same way, I've always been in favor of the same being true for our comments. As you might have noticed, I tend to just focus on my reasons why I liked a particular game, or whether I wasn't too inspired by it, fairly straightforward approach. The other judges, in particular Jeff and Michael, do it somewhat differently, and personally if I was a reader, I would find it much more entertaining to read five different styles of comments rather than all of them of a similar nature (this is in fact the reason that back in Season Two that Greg decided to have me and Ron Young both do predictions as our styles are completely contrasting).

I do agree though that this week's comments went a bit too far, and I intend to make sure that that does not happen again, but I can't really agree with removing all comments of that style.

3) Quit being so harsh on the bd4 guys, they can play nicely too. In fact it might be fair to maybe award a half point to any bd4 game that is being considered? It might make up for their lack of "name recognition" and in the event of a draw would supplant it over the drawing game but without adding too many points to rival superior games.

It is unfortunate that the lowest board tends to get so little love in this area, as I don't think a Board Four game has won GOTW since Season Two. In my opinion, a game's sheer quality ought to be the most important factor when evaluating it for this contest which naturally tends to put the lowest boards at a severe disadvantage, as typically the other potentially outstanding factors do not allow them to overcome. While it's unfortunate, I can't really disagree with that end result either as trying to require a "GOTW" to be a well played game doesn't seem unreasonable, and I would not agree with handicapping Board Four Games so that people might end up winning GOTW prizes with less deserving games simply because they happen to have lower ratings.

Ron Young said...

Also, let us not forget that neither crosswords nor sudoku are the ne plus ultra of highbrow newspaper puzzles.

Daniel said...

All good responses and valid points Arun but I still think that the system could be improved a little.

In response to my 3) idea. The half point shouldn't be enough to kick the bd4 game up over a superior game just over an equal game. This was the idea behind it, in fact it may be a better tiebreaker idea imo to just simply say a lower board wins in the case of the tie instead of a handicap. Its an idea anyways one that could be easily tested by going back through the old gotw and seeing if this ever would have impacted results.

In the end though, I very much like the judges efforts and the framework you currently have (5 judges, pick 5). I feel that this removes some of the subjectivety just by sheer numbers. The aesthetics of an individual judge should never be discouraged (ie a particular attraction to one game). Something I think several complainers have been overly harsh about.

Anyways, I was just trying to be constructive. I don't appreciate all the negativity unless it is accompanied by suggestions. I really would just like to continue to applaud the effort. I enjoy the GOTW. It should not be hard to tone down some of the inflammatory rhetoric though.

Ilya said...

Quite honestly, I am getting tired of reading these comments, thet are mostly insipid and go around in circles in terms of their argument, Ashton just sounds like a drunk rambling bum. The obvious question is why am I reading it and bothering to post. First of all I am reading this quite selectively any Ashton comment gets skipped, now I am forced to do thge same for Arun because he too is exceeding reasonable space. Ok nough venting... Here is what I propose: Since we have judges who think they are premadonas, their influences and impact on Gotw need to be lessened. I propose a hybride system, 5 judges score count as 50 % and the league general vote (all players) counts as the other 50%, in case of ties our omnipotent commishioner gets to make the tiebreaking decision. League voting is to be conducting by team managers via email and submited to Greg, if someone doesn't vote its ok, so long as majority votes.

Jeffrey Ashton said...

Specific Constructive Idea to Better The League:

I propose that we have a blog post after each round titled "USCL Fans and players pick your GOTW!" They will be asked to leave their top 5 picks in order and why.
To avoid biasing judges, Arun should make sure that the blog is moderated and not release any of the comments until after all 5 judges have made their decisions.
These fans that offer their 5 picks will have the most credibility when it comes to criticizing the judges. I guarantee that I will listen to these people very carefully, much more than the "OMG STUPID IDIOT JUDGE!" people.
If BionicLime has the time, maybe we can see some extra whacko-meter material.
I am offering a challenge that I am sure many USCL Fans will be willing to accept.
Perhaps someone will do such a great job and they can replace me when Commissioner Greg comes to his senses and lets me go!

One last thing:
Herman is a very nice guy with a lot of class as I have learned recently. I never have and I never will hold any ill feelings towards him or anyone else in the league. Everyone is more than welcome to hold ill feelings towards me!
I wish Mr. Herman the best of luck and I am sure he will enjoy more GOTW success.
Anyone who participates in the USCL when they are not only playing their game is doing a great service for the USCL and chess in general.
Even those who I consider to be impulsive, angry, irrational and at times too crude in their remarks, I'd rather have you around than apathetic fans.

Ilya said...

I was thinking... one of the reasons for this type of "comment "explosion on GOTW articles( besides Jeff's ranting) is the general lack of feedback possibilities to the matches themselves. Way back in 2005, Greg and Arun used to do a short recap of matches with diagrams...It was cool but it was more work for them and now that role has been passed on to the individual teams blogs. However, the problem is in the lack of "centralization" that the uscl blog provides, people are too lazy to go and make comments on every team's blog, especially on ones not related to their team. Solution-- go back to the old format where the recap of games or at least post-match results on are subject to open league-wide discussion(comments enabled). This will quench the thirst of emotional bloggers across the league and alleviate some pressure of GOTW articles.

Arun Sharma said...

I kind of like Ilya's idea. I think it's great there is so much blogging being done, but at the same time with so many different posts, it's hard to keep track of everything or have a centralized discussion anywhere.

I know there were plans (I think after Season Two) to start a forums page on the USCL site which unfortunately never materialized. Perhaps it's something to look into for the future though...

Anonymous said...

Fine Ashton!