After having been the victim of the Week 1 Game of the Week, GM Charbonneau rebounded very nicely in Week 2, claiming the top honor for himself and helping his team score a dominating win in the subway rivalry.
GM Charbonneau opened up the position with the nice tactic 31. Nxg5!, winning a big game for his team
IM Victor Shen (1st Place, 3 Points): Messy games this week. I liked this one best even though it looked like both players were playing some funny looking moves during/following the opening. 31. Nxg5 was a nice shot, after which it looks like Black’s position is crumbling. I’ll admit I wasn’t completely in love with the game, as perhaps Black’s 29… Nd8 was just a blunder, but in the other two games the loser put up too feeble resistance to get the top vote.
FM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (1st Place, 3 Points): Last week we saw GM Charbonneau getting the short end of the stick in the GOTW contest but this week he seems poised to make a turnaround! The board one matchup of the “Subway Series” featured a reversed Benoni in which I was surprised by Hungaski’s 14… Rb8. Surely it must be more natural to play 14… a5 in order to prevent b4, and in my database a5 was played every time the text position was reached!
Nevertheless Black reached a completely satisfactory position after 20… f5 which claimed more territory on the board and the situation remained the same after White’s thematic 22. f4 strike to which Hungaski retaliated with 24…g5! At this point it seemed to me that Black was doing very well with his extra space and the d4 pawn secure. On top of this, White’s pieces were not completely ideal, notably his Knight on f2. However this piece was about to go from zero to hero as Charbonneau found an ideal remedy to Dr. Tarrasch’s disease: he simply sacrificed the Knight! Perhaps 28… b5 was the culprit for Black’s misfortune, but with White’s clever Rook shuffle he was already beginning to exert some pressure. After the star move 31. Nxg5! Black’s position crumbled, and Charbonneau confidently realized his advantage. An interesting game which showcased the latent dynamism of White’s approach.
FM Alex Barnett (1st Place, 3 Points): This one is probably the highest quality hands down except for maybe Winer vs Enkhbat, but that game put me to sleep. I like how White played rather innocuously in the opening and then turned it into a reverse Benoni and brought the pain. Also 31. Nxg5 was pretty cool. This game was sound positionally and tactically, pretty sick game by White.
Chess.com (1st Place, 3 Points): 53% of vote
IM Salvijus Bercys (2nd Place, 2 Points): Tough luck for Charbonneau. I enjoyed his “No openings, let’s play chess.” Problem was one moment decided the fate of the game. 1st place had overall better fight while in this game Black just tried to salvage a lost position for over half the game.
Total score of Charbonneau vs Hungaski: 14 Points
FM Rodriguez began a nice tactical sequence with 19… Nxh3!, eventually getting the best of the complications in what turned out to be the only decisive game of the match, giving his team a big win
IM Salvijus Bercys (1st Place, 3 Points): This week’s quality is far above last week’s. 1st and 2nd place games were almost impossible to separate, but the nod goes to Rodriguez because he had some truly creative moves and showed amazing patience in his attack. I don’t like that White played reactionary chess the entire game, but the moves themselves weren’t bad even if too passive.
FM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (2nd Place, 2 Points): In what started as a seemingly timid opening Rodriguez displayed aggressive intentions by maneuvering his King to h8 and Knight to g8 in order to send his f pawn marching up the board. Neimer responded by seizing space on the Queenside, but it looked sensible to hit back with 9. d4 in order to counter the flank attack with a blow to the center. Instead after 9. b4 Black quickly marshalled his forces towards White’s King who in turn was seemingly unperturbed and played the unimpressive 11. b5, merely sending the Knight on a beneficial route. Similarly to the Charbonneau game, the Knight had an impressive tour of continuing (from d8) to e6->f4-> h3->f2. Unfortunately our hero did not reach the 1st rank.
Actually when Black launched his sacrificial tirade with 19… Nxh3 I was seriously wondering about 19… Nxg2 which looks quite devastating. Interestingly enough in last week’s GOTW candidate Korba vs Banik the player holding the Black pieces played a similar sacrifice with Nxa3 but instead also had the shot of Nxb2! Anyway back to the game at present, I was puzzled by White’s decision to play 22. Kf1? as it seemed to lose in an obvious manner. Following 22… Bxf5 Black set up a nasty threat of 23… Bd3+ 24. Re2 Rxf3!+ 25. gxf Qg1# so things seemed pretty forced from there on. Instead Neimer should have tried 22. Kh2 or even Kh1 as at least he still does not have to resign! Furthermore by my count he is up a Rook which is some consolation for the predicament his King is in. However even in this case Black’s attack looks ferocious and in a practical game (and probably even objectively) there is no doubt in my mind of the final result. Direct, strong, and punishing chess from Rodriguez in response to his opponent’s inaccurate set up.
Chess.com (2nd Place, 2 Points): 33% of vote
IM Victor Shen (3rd Place, 1 Point): I’m sorry, but what is this?
FM Alex Barnett (3rd Place, 1 Point): Ok what is this lol? I could be wrong, and this game could be one of the most brilliant games ever because I’m not using an engine….but just after playing through this game a couple times, it looks pretty gross. White just didn’t know what he was doing and got run over, and Black is good at tactics so it got ugly quick. That’s all I saw. I usually like games like this, but White just kind of let Black walk all over him.
Total score of Neimer vs Rodriguez: 9 Points
FM Winer played the nice 24. Rc5!, one of many accurate moves on his way to a nice positional win
IM Victor Shen (2nd Place, 2 Points): I almost gave this one my first place vote right off the bat, as it looked like a nice clean squeeze. Then I realized Black accelerated his demise by pushing his h pawn for no reason, making it just a bit too easy for White. I’m judging games, which means I have to judge the play of BOTH players – so unfortunately Black’s weak resistance counts against this game.
FM Alex Barnett (2nd Place, 2 Points): It’s a closish call between this and Winer vs Enkhbat for this one. The other game is clearly higher quality but was just sooooooooooooooooooo boring. I know it’s probably played by a strong GM grinding someone down in very instructive fashion so okay whatever I’m going to pick this one. I like the piece shuffling by White too, reminds me of the World Cup recently. Not much to say here … small advantage, grind grind grind. Kramnik style. Something I wish I were better at.
IM Salvijus Bercys (3rd Place, 1 Point): This game was nicely played by White but 22… g6?? and 23… b5?? were positional suicide. I can’t even look at that game after those moves because Black is positionally dead lost.
FM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (3rd Place, 1 Point): Enkhbat’s a6 Slav yielded him a solid but passive position and pretty soon White achieved a d4 player’s dream situation. With no active plan and all pawn breaks prevented, Black was subjected to slow torture. 23… b5? is a move that I am skeptical about as now Black will certainly lose his Pawns. Enkhbat should have at least tried to justify the lunge by playing on the b-file but it is not clear if that could accomplish much. In the game Winer was quite the Petrosian and really took his time with moves like 29. h3!, 33. g3!, 34. Kg2!, 36. Kf3!, and 40. Kg2! Slowly but surely White realized his advantage and won an instructive game.
Chess.com (3rd Place, 1 Point): 14% of vote
Total score of Winer vs Enkhbat: 7 Points