In a close vote, GM Molner’s pivotal win, which wound up helping Arizona snare half a match point when things looked very bleak for them early, took the top honors amongst the Week 3 games.
Taking advantage of Black’s awkwardly placed pieces, GM Molner struck with the powerful 24. h4!, giving him a decisive initiative
FM Alex Barnett (1st Place, 5 Points): Yeaaaaa boy! My boy Mac brought it this game! I love watching my friends win, and I love watching the Accelerated Dragon lose. The Qxd4 line is tighter, but I guess Mac was feeling the positional Russian joint this game. Oh NAHHH Mac with the Maroczy Bind joint rolled Perelshteyn right off the board. I love how Mac tried to stay positional, but the true Mac had to eventually come out with the 12. f4 plan, 22. Nb5, 24. h4, 26. h5! That’s what I’m talking about boyyy! Forced the 29… Ne7 blunder because he couldn’t take the heat. Got em!
FM Jason Doss (1st Place, 5 Points): Molner is a boss. This felt like a nice crunch in a Maroczy Bind from beginning to end. White’s space and piece activity seemed to spurn Black into creating more and more weaknesses with no obvious trumps. Maybe this is a bit one-sided, but it is very convincing.
IM Salvijus Bercys (1st Place, 5 Points): Initially, I had this game as number three, but then I saw the remaining two games and moved it up a bit. Molner doesn’t really make an error in this game. He simply wreaked havoc positionally. Always a pleasure to see solid wins where the winning side plays a clean game from beginning to the end (even if Black played some atrociously illogical backward moves).
WIM Viktorija Ni (3rd Place, 3 Points): Instead of 10. Nc2, 10. Qd2 and 10. Rc1 are more popular. Usually White is not worried about 10… Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Bc6 ideas, as he keeps dark squared Bishops and is a bit better. I would refer the reader to the game Tomashevsky – Petrosian 2014. It seems that Mackenzie has never allowed the advantage to slip from his hand, and I wouldn’t have been happy to be on the Black side.
IM Greg Shahade (3rd Place, 3 Points): Molner played well, but it seemed like the game came gift wrapped to him, as Perelshteyn played below his normal strength. Perelshteyn played the opening very oddly with stuff like 13… Nb8, although Molner played not the most popular line and managed to get a very comfortable position. The thematic 14… b5 break by Perelshteyn was the start of his troubles, and when he lashed out with 19… e5, it was just too easy for Molner from there.
Total score of Molner vs Perelshteyn: 21 Points
GM Benjamin got the best of the tactical sequence with 27… Nxb3!, gaining a decisive material advantage
WIM Viktorija Ni (1st Place, 5 Points): I enjoy reading Boris Avrukh’s books. As per Volume Two of Grandmaster Repertoire, White will enjoy some advantage after 8. b3. While all game long Black’s Queen was “out of play”, it really played a key role, and Joel was happy to sacrifice it at the right moment. In the final position White’s pieces are completely scattered around while Black’s pieces were all in harmony and ready to win the game.
IM Greg Shahade (1st Place, 5 Points): Nothing fancy here, just a very well played game from Benjamin. I didn’t want to give this first place because there were no real fireworks, and it just seemed like a smooth and dynamic win against an opponent rated a few hundred points below Benjamin, but the other games all had some flaw that kept me from putting them first.
FM Alex Barnett (2nd Place, 4 Points): Damirrrrrrr! That’s what you get for putting your Pawn on c4! You should have stuck with your 1. d4 2. c3 stuff homie lol. But damn, GM Joel freshened it up this game hard! This plan of 7… Qb6-a6 and just pile every single piece imaginable against the c4 pawn is gangster. Poor Damir couldn’t take the heat. Sorry dude. 16… Qa5 after 16. c5 was smooth too. And just when Damir thought he was getting some counter play with 27. Bc3, GM Joel said oh nahhhh no fun for you, and went 27… Nxb3 and got like 10 billion pieces for the Queen. Sexy game
FM Jason Doss (2nd Place, 4 Points): Queen sac! The b8-Knight did some amazing work this game in just such a short amount of time. I also thought it was instructive how Benjamin fixed and pressured White’s pawns. It is a good game for teaching about creating weaknesses.
IM Salvijus Bercys (4th Place, 2 Points): White had no plan, went from playing for advantage to moving backwards, then overextended and got punished. It’s really that simple. “Good game” by Black … and by good I mean Black didn’t win – White lost.
Total score of Studen vs Benjamin: 20 Points
Paying little heed to White’s advancing a-pawn, GM So plunged forward with 25… e4! with his own Pawn eventually proving to be the decisive factor
IM Salvijus Bercys (2nd Place, 4 Points): I just don’t like this game. The way it flowed annoyed me. I don’t feel that White got outplayed – poor opening choice is the major reason for the loss here. I’ve played my fair share of 3. f3, and it’s not good against decent opponents. It works way better as a one trick pony that can be brought out against opponents who react badly to offbeat openings.
WIM Viktorija Ni (2nd Place, 4 Points): Victor played one of the most popular lines in Grunfeld – 3. f3. The new idea 12. a4-a5 doesn’t seem so critical, since Black was able to nicely transfer the Knight to d6. The position remained complicated with mutual chances until White decided to part with his double Bishop advantage (29. Bxd6), when Black just got very typical opposite color Bishop play with King safety advantage. I would say this was one of my favorite games of the week, because it was very instructive, since from a bit better position White went into a lost one without making any real blunders.
FM Alex Barnett (3rd Place, 3 Points): Damnnn Victor got WRECKED by Wesley So. Black just chilled when it looks like White went a little bit ape. 10. h4, 12. a4 looks hurt. Black just chilled and let White weaken himself, waiting for the opportunity to strike or whatever. I love how Black just ignored the Pawn on a7 because his position was just so much better that he could just let him take the Pawn on a7 then he just hit up the old push push push with the e-pawn, damn. Wesley So is good. I wouldn’t have been able to guess half of this guy’s moves.
FM Jason Doss (3rd Place, 3 Points): I have no idea what is going on most of this game. I was completely confused for the first 30 moves. As Greg pointed out in an earlier game “I am not strong enough to comment on this game”. I did recognize the old adage “passed pawns must be pushed” though! This is why So is one of the world’s top GMs is my guess.
IM Greg Shahade (4th Place, 2 Points): Somehow this game didn’t capture my imagination. It felt to me that Shen was better most of the game, kept missing a few good moves according to my genius computer (such as the hard to play 24. Rxf5), and suddenly So took over. I was going to rank it fifth place but maybe since I don’t understand it so well, I should rank it fourth in case my ignorance is costing this game it’s natural position.
Total score of Shen vs So: 16 Points
NM Jones trumped Black’s seeming pin defense, plunging forward with the Queen sacrifice 34. Nc6! after which, despite the loss of his Queen, soon granted him victory
IM Greg Shahade (2nd Place, 4 Points): I’m not sure that Jones’s exchange sacrifice was a great idea, but the Queen sacrifice definitely was. I like Queen sacs (there were many from this week’s candidates!), and I like fun Board Four games so this one gets second place for me.
WIM Viktorija Ni (4th Place, 2 Points): Typical Reti play, White playing on the Queenside and trying to shut out the Bishop on h7. White was increasing his advantage until move 23, and it seems that after 23. Nb5 White could have won a Pawn and the game with it. But instead, White went for the forced exchange sacrifice and enjoyed interesting compensation on the Queenside. 33… Rb8 seemed that it was tricky idea, but sometimes one tricks himself with his threats!
FM Alex Barnett (5th Place, 1 Point): At first I was like ummmm why was this game picked? Then I played through it again, and it’s actually pretty cool. I was feeling it when the Latina De la Parra was skeeming on the Rook on a5, trapped it with 20… Bd8 etc, but then Jones hit her with the deepness and just took on a4 and then won easily because the Bishop on h7 was just GGd the whole game. Seems like a boring game, but it’s actually pretty tight. Oh yeah and also another illustration of this week’s theme of giving up our Queen in order to convert the advantage into a win. Yayyyyyy. PEACE USCL
FM Jason Doss (5th Place, 1 Point): Another Queen sac! This game was a bit more up and down than the Benjamin game, but still interesting nonetheless. A kind of typical English in most respects. A Queenside squeeze whilst poking at squares like a5-c5.
IM Salvijus Bercys (5th Place, 1 Point): What am I supposed to judge here exactly? Passive openings, and Black misplaying a won position? I am pretty certain 29… e5 followed by 30… d4 is just winning. Next.
Total score of Jones vs De la Parra: 9 Points
GM Naroditsky got the best of the tactical complications with 34. Bg5!, soon giving him a big material edge
IM Salvijus Bercys (3rd Place, 3 Points): Hard to judge this game. I initially thought best game of the week – but Black just missed a tactic? Can you award the best game of the week to a decent game by one player with a blunder from his opponent? Where’s the fun?
FM Alex Barnett (4th Place, 2 Points): So many good games today! It’s pretty sick that this game is my fourth pick lol, it’s prolly the best game objectively and is gunna win first place but whatevs. I like how White played this game overall … I know I don’t know much about theory, but didn’t Black play a little bit suspiciously here? Doesn’t Black usually roll the Knight back to b8 and d7 and just chill? I think the overly ambitious d5 plan played right into Naroditsky’s hands, the trade all then 16. Nf3 and 17. e5 kicking the Rook back then seizing control over the h-file, pretty instructive stuff. The technique was solid too. There seems to be a theme of having overwhelming material for a Queen, two Rooks + a minor piece in this case. GG
FM Jason Doss (4th Place, 2 Points): More Queen sacs! This Queen-sac is a bit more dubious than the others and probably not necessary. A really even game through-out, Naroditsky does a really nice job making the game ridiculously complicated when time gets low.
WIM Viktorija Ni (5th Place, 1 Point): Players were following Bologan-Semenova 2009 game in Zaitsev variation of Spanish game. Alexander improved it with 18… c5, and the position was balanced for a while. Black’s position was fine, until move 33, where he miscalculated, and both players missed 35. Qe4!. After several mutual tactical errors, the position became a technical win for Daniel which he converted convincingly.
IM Greg Shahade (5th Place, 1 Point): Another fun game including a Queen sac, but Ivanov made too many key mistakes for me to rank it highly. Most notably he could have tried 26…. Bh2+ followed by 37… Re8 instead of 36… Kg7. No idea why he didn’t try this as it seems natural to want to keep the Rook instead of letting your opponent capture it.
Total score of Naroditsky vs Ivanov: 9 Points