And yet another draw takes the top prize in the final week of the regular season, with IM Vigorito’s third nomination finally snaring him the top prize after two second places earlier in the season.
In the midst of a very interesting game, FM Shvartsman played the interesting maneuver 22… Be7-h4-g3, and after some fireworks a perpetual ensued
GM Giorgi Margvelashvili (1st Place, 5 Points): A very typical KID game. I thought White had the upper hand, but Shvartsman found a very interesting idea 22… Be7 followed by Bh4. I am sure both players missed some chances, but overall a high quality game with few inaccuracies.
IM Greg Shahade (1st Place, 5 Points): An exciting game and well played by both sides. At moments each player looked as though they might be winning.
IM Salvijus Bercys (1st Place, 5 Points): The clear winner for me this week. Najdorf-ish KID attack going back and forth while White takes control of the Queenside. Very fun to play and watch.
FM Jason Doss (2nd Place, 4 Points): I feel like White didn’t get what he deserved this game. It’s a tight-rope walk through-out the opening, which I guess tha’ts pretty natural in these kind of King’s Indians. Sharp play from both sides make this perhaps look more exciting than it actually was. I’d love to know how long these players were in preparation.
FM Elliott Liu (5th Place, 1 Point): A game where a draw was probably an unlikely result, the King’s Indian lived up to its reputation once again, featuring many mistakes by both sides in complex positions. Interestingly enough, none of these “turning points” ended up translating into a win for either color in this situation, however. Because these inaccuracies influenced the overall quality of the game, I had to rank it as the lower of the draws.
Total score of Vigorito vs Shvartsman: 20 Points
With 26. Rg2!, GM Bhat’s positional dominance soon proved decisive
FM Jason Doss (1st Place, 5 Points): White looks better from beginning to end. It’s instructional how Bhat takes over the light squares and shuts down Black’s early Kingside aggression. I particularly liked White’s 26. Rg2, a wonderful Pawn sac to finish off the penetration.
FM Elliott Liu (1st Place, 5 Points): In the cleanest victory of this week’s selections, White strategically outplayed Black. 17… f4 was probably dubious as it allowed White to activate his light squared Bishop and cement the central pawn structure with 23. f3. The plan of 25. g3! and 26. Rg2! was a great find though, and I would have to assume that Black didn’t see it as his position collapsed only a few moves later. A well played game by Bhat.
GM Giorgi Margvelashvili (3rd Place, 3 Points): Black got slowly outplayed, and 26. Rg2 was nice. Nothing spectacular, however.
IM Greg Shahade (3rd Place, 3 Points): A nice game by Bhat but 17… f4 is positionally horrendous and makes his job really easy.
IM Salvijus Bercys (5th Place, 1 Point): I am simply not intrigued. White won, sure. But … I don’t know. Just meh.
Total score of Bhat vs Remlinger: 17 Points
After an interesting opening, FM Barnett continued the trend with the strong exchange sacrifice 14. Rxf6!, eventually scoring the victory
GM Giorgi Margvelashvili (2nd Place, 4 Points): Allowing 14. Rxf6! exchange sacrifice was not a very good idea. Black offered no resistance afterwards and deservedly lost the game. However, King’s Gambit is just cool, which earned Barnett the second place in my rankings.
IM Greg Shahade (2nd Place, 4 Points): When he isn’t ranking other people’s games, Barnett sacks exchanges and grinds people down in the endgame. I wasn’t excited to put this game in second place, because the exchange sac shouldn’t be too difficult for any 2200+ player to find, especially one with great attacking skill, but the other games left me quite uninspired this week. Too bad for him this win was just short of pushing Baltimore into the playoffs.
FM Jason Doss (3rd Place, 3 Points): White pretty much gets everything you can hope for from a Bishop’s Gambit. Barnett correctly evaluates the exchange sac while his Queen snacks on lots of Pawns. Well played, but perhaps a bit too easy for a top spot.
FM Elliott Liu (3rd Place, 3 Points): Black clearly did not know or understand the opening well and was already lost after 14. Rxf6! White proceeded to take all of Black’s pawns and never let Black back into the game. Style points for 57. c8=N.
IM Salvijus Bercys (4th Place, 2 Points): What? Is this chess, or a comedy hour?
Total score of Barnett vs Kim: 16 Points
A very interesting sequence of offensive and defensive fireworks began with FM Kavutskiy’s 19. Nxf7!
IM Salvijus Bercys (2nd Place, 4 Points): Black stabilized the game after a pretty typical sacrifice by White and nicely rebuffed it. Not sure if it’s a sound sac though.
FM Elliott Liu (2nd Place, 4 Points): It’s always tough publicly judging games where both players are your friends. This game featured a lot of big swings — maybe even more so than Vigorito vs. Shvartsman. In fact, this selection might have received my pick for GOTW had White finished off Black earlier on in the game and converted the victory. Achieving a comfortable advantage out of the opening, White eventually crashed through and had Black on the ropes. The first critical moment was on move 25 when White was winning and had a blistering attack but spoiled his advantage with 25. Bf5?, which allowed Black to consolidate with 25… Qg7. Instead, a move like 25. f3 would have really challenged Black’s ability to survive. Understandably rattled by this change in the nature of the position, White unfortunately ended up losing the game and did not find the correct way to draw with 35. g3! after Black had gotten a little too fancy and allowed his opponent a chance to save the position.
GM Giorgi Margvelashvili (4th Place, 2 Points): Had Kavutskiy found 25. Kf1!! this game would definitely end up being my number one choice. After White missed this opportunity, Cameron found a great defensive idea (27… Be5!), and White’s attack fizzled out slowly. Good game by both sides.
FM Jason Doss (4th Place, 2 Points): White plays an exciting sacrifice with 19. Nxf7 from what would typically be a very tame opening setup. As often the case when there is a three Pawns vs. piece imbalance, just one slip and that extra piece’s activity can become very strong. After that Black seems to be in the driver’s seat until White apparently has a chance to even up the position with 39. g3, but slips up with Kh1, and the position crumbles. A bit of an emotional roller coaster this one is.
IM Greg Shahade (5th Place, 1 Point): Every week there seems to be a game where one side makes some interesting sacrifices, has an ok position and then blunders horribly to lose in one move (25. Bf5 was bad due to Qg7 and 35. g3 seems forced, not easy to find for White but no reason Black should be getting any brilliancy prize because his opponent doesn’t find the best moves while attacking). Not sure why these games keep getting nominated but as long as they do I’ll keep ranking them in last place.
Total score of Kavutskiy vs Wheeler: 13 Points
In the midst of another tactical flurry, GM Stukopin played the interesting 29… Rxc3!?
IM Salvijus Bercys (3rd Place, 3 Points): Once again, pretty boring of a game. What’s there to judge? I don’t like how White played ever since 14. Qd2. Maybe 14. Ne5!?
IM Greg Shahade (4th Place, 2 Points): A relatively unexciting game except for one five move flurry in the middle (moves 26-31). Not nearly enough to get game of the week when over half of the game is a normal looking rook endgame.
FM Elliott Liu (4th Place, 2 Points): Unlike the other draw in this week’s choices, this game was very well played by both sides. Neither player made major mistakes, and the dynamics in the middlegame positions changed frequently, which made for a very interesting fight. A draw was probably a fair outcome.
GM Giorgi Margvelashvili (5th Place, 1 Point): This game had many ups and downs and fighting chess, but I don’t think it was very exciting.
FM Jason Doss (5th Place, 1 Point): A very odd game. Black seemed to do quite well out of the opening. It had that French-vibe to it while getting out the ‘bad’ bishop viia d7-e8-h5. Black gets a bit over-zealous, and White gets some chances at an edge as a result. Well fought, both players were obviously pushing hard, as it went down all the way to K vs. K.
Total score of Altounian vs Stukopin: 9 Points