The most successful player in League history again showed everyone why with a dazzling attacking game against a very strong GM. Behind their longtime leader, the Sharks will look to defend their 2013 Championship by first clinching a postseason spot with at least a draw in the final week vs Atlanta in what should be one of many great matches.
In a brutal attacking effort, GM Becerra smashed through with 29. Rxe6+!, scoring an impressive victory against a very strong opponent
GM Cristian Chirila (1st Place, 5 Points): Battle of the Julios, clearly dominated by one of them from one way to the other. Becerra continues to be one of the most spectacular players in the USCL, delivering an almost perfect attack in this game. Knowing how good Sadorra’s French usually is, this game proves to me that it deserves to get the top spot this week.
FM Jason Doss (1st Place, 5 Points): This is a pretty brutal affair. Sadorra perhaps ignores White’s King-side attacking chances for one move too much, that or he doesn’t get his own breakthrough quick enough. Either way it leads to Becerra mercilessly surrounding and punishing the Black King. It is pretty one-sided but very instructive.
IM Greg Shahade (1st Place, 5 Points): By far the best game of the week. I expect this game will get voted unanimously as the winner of this week’s contest. Lots of awesome tactics from USCL legend, Julio Becerra.
WIM Viktorija Ni (2nd Place, 4 Points): Both players were following the game Leko vs Ivanchuk (2005) until move 12. As I understand it, White’s idea is to attack uncastled King on the Kingside while Black’s idea is to get counter play on the Queenside. White was able to successfully prevent the attack on the Queenside while also creating a strong attack on the Kingside by simply bringing all his pieces. I felt that White’s play was pretty clean, without giving any real chances to his opponent. The final tactical massacre was really impressive.
IM Salvijus Bercys (4th Place, 2 Points): How is Black’s position even playable after 11… c4? Looks so easy for White.
Total score of Becerra vs Sadorra: 21 Points
With the standard motif 16. g6!, IM Bregadze threw another twist into the already interesting game, but this proved to be only the prelude as the game proceeded for a remarkable hundred more moves
WIM Viktorija Ni (1st Place, 5 Points): I feel there was not much theory involved in this game. I like it a lot because it is suits my chess style well too. I like to advance my pieces, attack my opponent’s King and play long games with all results possible. I would definitely put Levan’s game first place this week for this reason – it was a long as well as a nervous game. He was keeping up the pressure for a long time forcing his opponent to finally commit the suicidal Rd2 on move 118!
IM Salvijus Bercys (1st Place, 5 Points): Lots of fight and grit in this game as well as nuances. Could be analyzed for hours, but this game intrigued me the most.
GM Cristian Chirila (2nd Place, 4 Points): Great game from Bregadze up to a point, could have easily been first in my opinion if he wouldn’t have squandered his advantage in the endgame. An ultimate blunder by Shmelov in a completely drawish position gave the laurels to Bregadze. This is in second place and not third simply because of the amazing 16. g6!
FM Jason Doss (3rd Place, 3 Points): The cool thematic idea of the g6 pawn sac followed up by h5 (and h6) is played in this game, and if you’re an amateur that hasn’t seen this idea then take notes because it is an important one. The ensuing material imbalance is then played very well by White, poking holes into the weakened Black King constantly creating more weakness for the Queen to penetrate. The only sad thing is how hard Black fought to save this difficult game just to fall a little short at the end with a terrible blunder.
IM Greg Shahade (4th Place, 2 Points): This game was severely held back by the ending, as White seemingly won on a blunder because Black pressed too hard at the last second. Yes it was definitely an interesting game but I don’t believe in ranking games high when one side pushes for a win in a drawn position and immediately blunders after doing so. The same thing happened in a Stripunsky loss a few weeks ago.
Total score of Bregadze vs Shmelov: 19 Points
In a seemingly boring Exchange Slav, GM Paragua lightened things up with the energetic 14… f4?! followed by 15… Nxd4, leading to a very interesting bout of complications
FM Jason Doss (2nd Place, 4 Points): My first impression whilst the game was being played was ‘Noooooo! Not an Exchange Slav, noooooo’. Paragua quickly wipes away my tears with 14… f4, followed by 15… Nxd4, and a battle ensues. Paragua gets mad props for avoiding so many equal lines to try and mix things up, even risking a loss. Objectively White should have won this game many times over, but whatever, I liked Black’s spirit.
IM Greg Shahade (2nd Place, 4 Points): Far behind the first place game in my rankings but still enough for second. As interesting a game as you’ll ever expect to see from an Exchange Slav with some fun sacrificial attempts by Paragua.
WIM Viktorija Ni (3rd Place, 3 Points): Black first sacrificed the Pawn on f4 and later the Knight on d4, trying to open White’s King as much as possible. Another idea might be instead of moving f4, just to move b5 with the idea of Na5 and not allowing the White Knight to get to c5 or b6 via Na4. It felt like White’s extra Bishop should have been enough to win the game, but Black’s tough resistance managed to save the game when White failed to find a winning Rook trade on move 50.
IM Salvijus Bercys (3rd Place, 3 Points): Interesting draw, but my top two games just seemed better.
GM Cristian Chirila (5th Place, 1 Point): Very interesting sacrifice by Paragua. A not very typical Exchange Slav, where one would expect pieces to get exchanged and a draw to be agreed upon fast. In turn both players were in a fighting mood and allowed the character of the position to change, offering the viewers a nice spectacle. Only last spot just because the other games were so good.
Total score of Brattain vs Paragua: 15 Points
In standard Sicillian style, GM Kore sacrificed the exchange with 17… Rxb3, another prelude to a very long and interesting struggle
IM Salvijus Bercys (2nd Place, 4 Points): This game is just so interesting to watch for the initiative alone. I don’t know why Black couldn’t win, but White had so much pressure for those pawns.
GM Cristian Chirila (3rd Place, 3 Points): What a game, being myself an ex-Dragon player I can relate to the dazzling complications and material imbalances that appeared in this battle. Both players fought till their last breath trying to win the game, and in the end the fair result was reached.
IM Greg Shahade (3rd Place, 3 Points): An action packed game where Black seemed to be consolidating but White had nagging pressure throughout. It was a close call between this and my second place game for the second spot.
WIM Viktorija Ni (4th Place, 2 Points): A typical Sicilian opening with opposite side castling with a lot of tactical moments. I also felt that it was really a hard fought game. Kore had a material advantage, but his King was pretty weak, and it was hard to use his material advantage because of it. Unfortunately when needing to take care of your King, sometimes there is no possibility to exploit a material advantage. I can only imagine how hard it was to calculate all the possibilities for both of them in time trouble.
FM Jason Doss (4th Place, 2 Points): It looked like Kore was going to take the point home most of the game, but Zierk barely holds him off. It’s hard to believe that all Black’s steamrolling pawns weren’t enough. Gotta hand it to Zierk, his poking and prodding between those Pawns made it a very difficult practical task.
Total score of Zierk vs Kore: 14 Points
Despite the shortness of the game, it seemed to have plenty of interesting moments, including when FM Duckworth uncorked the apparent novelty 10. d5!?
GM Cristian Chirila (4th Place, 2 Points): A wild game, purely aesthetic from a tactical point of view. Not the most perfect game and definitely not one to consider for the top spot in my chart.
WIM Viktorija Ni (5th Place, 1 Point): Looking at this game made me realize that it is now time for me to learn a new opening! I found three games in Chessbase in this line played by GMs Adams and Mikhalevski. Duckworth played a novelty on the move 10 with d5, instead of the usual continuation 10. Bc1. Black’s position might look strange, but Houdini actually “thinks” that Black is better. After Ben’s 12… b6, White was able to find a perpetual and finish this game rather soon.
FM Jason Doss (5th Place, 1 Point): Woah. Much of this game had been played before up to 10. d5 (at least in my database). It is a neat novelty, but still, half of the moves are based upon a perpetual check and not so interesting. The game is cute, and it’s fun to look at possibilities for the attack and defense to keep fighting. The actual finish seems kind of lame.
IM Greg Shahade (5th Place, 1 Point): Definitely an exciting 17 move draw, but then again … it was only 17 moves.
IM Salvijus Bercys (5th Place, 1 Point): Home prep draw? I don’t know. Seems too perfect for a draw.
Total score of Duckworth vs Finegold: 6 Points