In yet another close call, GM Gelashvili’s quick win edged out his teammate SM Herman’s win by a single point.
IM John Bartholomew (1st Place, 3 Points): The crafty GM Tamaz Gelashvili deals GM Sam “King Kong” Shankland his first loss since the 2010 season. I enjoyed White’s decisive attitude in tackling one of the top players in the league; throwing all his Kingside pawns against the Caro-Kann at the expense of development is highly Shirov-esque! Impressively, White’s attack was never out of control, and his superb risk management ultimately yielded the full point. Accurately calculated finish in this one (23. a3! Bc3 24. Bxh6!! +-).
FM Kayden Troff (1st Place, 3 Points): GM Gelashvili played a very nice attacking game! He used half of his Pieces to attack and then sacrificed the other half – what is more GOTW appropriate? This game was very exciting ,and White made some great psychological decisions in the opening. White decided to play into a more complicated and less common opening line, and it seemed like White was preparing for an attack, but how when he has practically no Pieces developed?? I was watching the game and after 23… Bc3 Black seemed to be doing well. But no! White exploded a bomb with 24. Bxh6! and after losing his Rook, he just didn’t care! He then forced Black to take his Bishop also! Finally after the quiet 26. Qd2! with forced mate coming compelled resignation.
FM Elliot Liu (1st Place, 3 Points)
GM Alex Yermolinsky (2nd Place, 2 Points)
IM Victor Shen (3rd Place, 1 Point): Nice attack, but Black had 17… f6! and 18… f4 to get a fine position (messy, but perhaps even better for Black). And then the massacre began. Shankland doesn’t lose very often in the USCL, so this achievement is impressive, but looking at Back’s moves one really has to wonder if this was Shankland or his dog that showed up to play.
Total score of Gelashvili vs Shankland: 12 Points
SM Herman finished off a nice attacking miniature with 21. Rh8+!, forcing mate
GM Alex Yermolinsky (1st Place, 3 Points)
JM Victor Shen (1st Place, 3 Points): Really tough to pick a winner this week, and I went back and forth several times on this one. Beautiful attack by White. I’m always excited to see Herman play because you know something crazy is bound to happen.
FM Kayden Troff (2nd Place, 2 Points): SM Herman had some good control throughout the entire game. Black was looking to attack the center, but White was able to maintain his central advantage. And with his control of the center he didn’t need to worry about the safety of his King and started an assault on the Kingside. The critical moment came on move 16 where White could have played either 16. 0-0 with a positional advantage or go for the much more dynamic 16. g4! which he chose. Then White followed it up nicely with 17. h5! sacrificing his Knight. A very strong attack developed which was finished very nicely with 21. Rh8+!, forcing mate.
FM Elliot Liu (2nd Place, 2 Points)
IM John Bartholomew (3rd Place, 1 Point): SM Herman makes mincemeat out of FM Chase’s Modern Defense. Black overstepped the boundary of reasonable risk with 14… Kh8? and especially 16… hxg4? (though it’s already bad by then). Crisp attacking effort by New York’s formidable Board Three.
Total score of Herman vs Chase: 11 Points
After an already nice tactical sequence, GM Finegold neatly finished off a fine effort with 67… Ke3!, leaving IM Amanov helpless to stop mate despite his extra piece
IM John Bartholomew (2nd Place, 2 Points): A steady game by GM Finegold with a very exquisite finale: 66… h1=Q+! 67. Nxh1 Ke3, and White is absolutely helpless, despite having the move and an extra Knight! This was the last game to finish on Wednesday, and a number of us were discussing the finish in the Chess.com chat (to his credit, GM Magesh Panchanathan was the first to point out Finegold’s lovely idea). We speculated that 56… Qxf3+ was the best way to win, and the computer confirms this in analysis. The game continuation (56… h3) actually would have allowed White to draw with 57. Ke2!, i.e. Qg2+ 58. Ke3 h2 59. Qc8! h1=Q 60. Qh8+ Kg5 61. Qd8+, with a perpetual. This is the only blight on an otherwise excellent game by the Arch Bishops’ leader (buy hey, if Black didn’t play 56…h3, we wouldn’t have seen the awesome finish!).
IM Victor Shen (2nd Place, 2 Points): Great game by GM Finegold, simply outplaying his opponent positionally and squeezing out a win. Originally I gave this first, but the tentative way in which White played the opening and early middlegame allowed Black to get too comfortable and too easy a position, and so I am relegating it to second.
GM Alex Yermolinsky (3rd Place, 1 Points)
FM Kayden Troff (3rd Place, 1 Point): GM Finegold was able to neutralize IM Amanov’s advantage and slowly but surely gained an initiative. Instead of settling for a match clinching win by taking a draw, GM Finegold played on with his strong initiative. It got to the point where Black setup a nice trap for White with 50… Nb3, giving White the choice of 51. Qa6 or 51. Qf2. White, no doubt playing for a win to try to tie the match, played the very tempting 51. Qa6, and Black played into a line that loses his Piece with 51… Nd4! After all the captures Black had a very nice passed Pawn that White couldn’t stop. And to add on to this nice trick Black finished the game nicely with 67… Ke3! forcing mate.
FM Elliot Liu (3rd Place, 1 Point)
Total score of Amanov vs Finegold: 7 Points