Once again the GOTW Judges didn’t end up agreeing with the public, choosing in favor of this game instead of the game which the fans seemed to be favoring in the poll, Kekelidze vs Korley. But with this smashing victory, after a tough Week 1 loss, GM Finegold helped put the Arch Bishops more than back on track with a surprising match sweep of Baltimore.
GM Alex Yermolinsky (1st Place, 3 Points)
IM John Bartholomew (1st Place, 3 Points): GM Finegold was on the wrong side of a GOTW contender last week, but – as great players do – he finds a convincing way to bounce right back, leading St. Louis to a resounding sweep in the process. With 10. Ng5! White launched an offensive against the Black King and kept the fires continually stoked with key supporting moves like 11. b4!, 15. h4, and 17. Rd1!. The star move was 22. Rh4!, including the Rook in the final assault. White’s creativity and attacking verve get full marks from me.
FM Kayden Troff (1st Place, 3 Points): Both players seemed to play well, but GM Finegold was able to find several strong moves to keep weakening his opponent’s position, and it led him to a nice quick victory. 10. Ng5 seemed to start it off for him as he compelled 10… g6 weakening Black’s dark squares which was rather key with Black having already traded off his dark-squared Bishop. Then White followed it up with strong moves like 11. b4, 13. Qd3 -> Qd4 (further attacking the dark squares), 17. Rd1 (stopping Black’s idea of d6 and e5), 20. Qe5 (covering his bases and protecting against gxh5), then finally 22. Rh4 23. Rxg4 and 24. Rf4 finishing his dark square triumph. Strong moves and good technique!
FM Victor Shen (2nd Place, 2 Points): Clearly GM Huschenbeth did not see Finegold vs Gelfand 1989. If he had, he would’ve understood that if you play c5 against Ben in the Nimzo, you will resign on the 25th move.
FM Elliot Liu (2nd Place, 2 Points): A week after being on the wrong side of Week 1’s third place in Game of the Week, GM Finegold rebounded with a fine performance. He developed a strong initiative after 10. Ng5! and 11. b4! and did not let Huschenbeth escape a powerful attack on the Kingside. The pin on the dark squares with the Bishop on c3 and the Queen on d4 was particularly nasty. Once the h-file was ripped open, it was only a matter of time until curtains.
Total score of Finegold vs Huschenbeth: 13 Points
With 38… Ke5!, FM Korley finished off a daring King march to the center and soon had it pay off, winning decisive material
FM Victor Shen (1st Place, 3 Points): A GM and a college student Duke it out. White was probably better out of the opening, but then he forgot about his Kingside. Everybody wrote FM Korley off before the match began so he marched his King up to e5 and won his opponent’s Queen. In the remaining fifteen moves, White displayed remarkable tenacity but Black’s Karpovian technique was just too much. Seeing the final move 57… Bf4!!, stopping check, White accepted that Black had found the only winning plan in the position and therefore resigned.
FM Elliot Liu (1st Place, 3 Points): While the opening was rather unusual and unassuming, the middlegame was cray cray. Opposite colored Bishop games are always drawn right? I’m sorry, but when you play 38… Ke5 like a boss with an opposing Queen, two Rooks, a Bishop, and five pawns still on the board, and you’re just safely chillin…AND you win!?!? You deserve to win Game of the Week. Especially because at one point, we all have to learn how to convert a Queen, Bishop, and Pawn vs. Rook advantage (see the position after move 51). Very instructive indeed.
GM Alex Yermolinsky (2nd Place, 2 Points)
FM Kayden Troff (2nd Place, 2 Points): I also found this game really strong. FM Korley played really nicely, but I felt like GM Kekelidze had more control over the game for a while. Black bided his time first making sure his Queenside was covered with b5, a5, and b4. The position was very complicated and all of a sudden when he played 26… h5 his pieces quickly came to life with Bf4 and Qg5. I felt like White missed an opportunity by not playing 34. c6 making sure Black always had to worry about c7 ideas. After 34. Rb8+ suddenly Black started marching his King halfway up the board with Ke7 -> Kf6 ->Ke5, and it was over quickly.
IM John Bartholomew (3rd Place, 1 Point): This game was very exciting and also contained an eye-pleasing King maneuver (…Kf8-e7-f6-e5!). FM Korley ought to be commended for his resourcefulness and counter-attacking prowess! I ultimately ranked this game last, though, because White let slip the majority of his opening advantage with overambitious play on the Queenside.
Total score of Kekelidze vs Korley: 11 Points
After strategically building up a very strong advantage, IM Wang finally infiltrated with 45. Qd6!, compelling his opponent to pitch material which he quickly converted
IM John Bartholomew (2nd Place, 2 Points): An extremely smooth positional effort from IM Puchen Wang. Karpovian, really! I was tempted to promote this game to first, as I think White played nearly perfectly against the isolated Queen’s Pawn. Still, I have a nagging feeling that Black made things a bit easy for White, especially with 24… Bxd4?, which amounts to strategic suicide (24… f6! with the idea of 25. Bf4 Qf7 looks best, though in fairness to David this isn’t too natural). Compared to Finegold vs Huschenbeth, White had to expend considerably less effort to win. Still a very fine game overall.
GM Alex Yermolinsky (3rd Place, 1 Point)
FM Victor Shen (3rd Place, 1 Point): Good play by White but not Black’s day. After Black got tangled up following the opening, White seized control and never let go.
FM Kayden Troff (3rd Place, 1 Point): Another great game! I thought IM Wang showed some excellent technique all throughout the game. But when it came down to it I felt like the other two games had more exciting and creative ideas. Although this game was really strong I didn’t see a lot of outside the box ideas. I was excited about 20. Kh2, but also I don’t see why White cannot play 20. f3 immediately (I still do like Kh2 though avoiding any counterplay even though f3 is still possible). White found the strong 23. Bd3 following it up with Qc2, which destroyed Black’s Kingside. After that he used the weaknesses he had created to finish the game nicely.
FM Elliot Liu (3rd Place, 1 Point): Opposite colored Bishop games are always drawn Part Two … NOT. With strong positional play, IM Wang dominated the dark squares, turned IM Vigorito’s light-squared Bishop on g6 into a big Pawn, and methodically picked apart his defenses. Vigorito attempted to copy Korley’s strategy of King-charging into the center on the board, but that strategy unfortunately backfired here. This game was well played by Wang but comparing it to the other two Game of the Week candidates, however, it just falls a little bit short.
Total score of Wang vs Vigorito: 6 Points