In a very close vote, surprisingly we are now two for two on the season in having drawn contests being voted as the best of the week. But the decision was anything but firm with the three judges’ opinions clearly very varied over all the games.
Some very tricky and interesting play began with 15. Rxe6!, with both sides navigating the resulting complications very well, resulting in a fair draw
IM Teddy Coleman (1st Place, 5 Points): In a game where the material was almost never balanced, both players were up to the challenge and didn’t miss a beat. Dlugy accepted Izoria’s early Pawn sac and had to defend accurately throughout; however, White never had a clear shot to secure the win and had to play equally well to come away with a draw. The game was thrilling and dynamic; the final result was fitting for the quality of play.
IM Michael Bodek (1st Place, 5 Points): Though this game was a short draw between two GMs, it cannot be further from the stereotypical GM draw. Both sides played ambitiously, and the resulting position was sharp and highly imbalanced. White’s initial pawn sacrifice was the first indication that this would be an exciting game, and the sequence of moves starting with 15. Rxe6 led to a long sequence of forcing moves that petered out to the “natural” result of a forced repetition. However, what made this game really stand out was that, unlike in many other crazy games, the moves played in this game were all objectively good, and both players made strong moves from start to finish in a position in which it was not easy to do so.
FM Jason Doss (5th Place, 1 Point): I’m not so excited about this game. It feels like it was an opening line that went into a forced draw, or at least something close. I’d be really interested to know at what point the players were on their own and how much was just prep.
Total score of Izoria vs Dlugy: 11 Points
In a fairly tame looking position, FM Morshedi played the daring 15… f5!?, with his bold sacrifice soon paying off
IM Teddy Coleman (2nd Place, 4 Points): Morshedi rolled the dice with the aggressive and speculative Knight sac 15. … f5. The task of defending proved too daunting for Banik, who immediately found himself under fire. Banik faltered when he played 21. Ng1 instead of 21. Rg1. After that, it was just a matter of execution. Morshedi never gave a window of hope.
FM Jason Doss (2nd Place, 4 Points): For those in the south that know him, Morshedi is a fearless beast. His 15… f5 makes me cringe, but it looks like so much fun. To refute that at the board must have been a nightmare. A lot of high-marks for guts. 18… Qg5-19… Rf3-21… Bxg4, etc. all such fun moves to be able to play.
IM Michael Bodek (3rd Place, 3 Points): Black played a rare branch of the Ruy Lopez and quickly brought the game to unexplored territory. Two sets of pieces were exchanges early on, but right when you would expect a long maneuvering battle to start, Black whips out 15… f5!?. Even though f5 was not objectively best, it was a great practical try that White had difficulty responding to. After White failed to find the cold-blooded computer move 19. Kh1, and instead played 19. Ng4, Black seized his opportunity, brought his pieces into the attack (20… Bc8!) and then flawlessly converted his advantage.
Total score of Banik vs Morshedi: 11 Points
Despite the exchange of Queens, with 32. Ng5!, IM Bartholomew launched a decisive attack on IM Orlov’s King, all of his pieces coordinating beautifully
FM Jason Doss (1st Place, 5 Points): I really enjoyed this game, but my rankings dropped a lot when White traded queens on e5. Regardless, it was a very one sided affair and a sweet crush against the tango. I am guessing it was a pretty easy guess for John to prep for, and if so, very well done. Black never really had anything to grasp onto.
IM Teddy Coleman (4th Place, 2 Points): Orlov’s choice of opening was a bit dodgy, and he ended up on the wrong side of an opposite colored Bishops middle game. White’s Bishop on c3 was a monster and proved a dangerous combo along with White’s advantage in development. Bartholomew executed smoothly in a game where he always had the upper hand.
IM Michael Bodek (4th Place, 2 Points): White played really well, but this game felt a little too one-sided for me to rank it higher. Black tried to play aggressively in the opening, but White just calmly developed his pieces and attained a nice opening edge. After 15… Nxe3?, the position opened up, and White was able to use his lead in development to take over the board and win. It was a great game, however, playing through it, it seemed like Black never had a fighting chance.
Total score of Bartholomew vs Orlov: 9 Points
In a very back and forth game, GM Paragua finally got the overall best of things with the aesthetically pleasing shot, 37. Bg6!
IM Michael Bodek (2nd Place, 4 Points): This was another crazy game, that merits serious consideration for the top spot, though it was a little topsy-turvy with mistakes traded starting with the loss of White’s e-pawn continuing through Black playing 36… Rg8 instead of Re8. Despite a few hiccups in the beginning and near the end, this was a highly exciting game. White did a great job making the game complicated after a somewhat questionable opening, and Black was simply the last to err in a complicated position. That being said, starting from 23. Rxf5 White did a great job taking control of the position, and 37. Bg6 was simply an incredible shot.
FM Jason Doss (3rd Place, 3 Points): Up and down game! It felt like Black played the opening pretty well and equalized without much to worry. Then Mr. Gurevich seems to get a bit greedy and go Pawn grabbing, and the position seems to fall into disarray. White misses a crushing shot with 25. Bxh6! This is really disappointing because it would have justified a lot of his awkward opening setup. After the dust settles, White has a relatively simple position that he converts smoothly.
IM Teddy Coleman (5th Place, 1 Point): After Gurevich secured an early advantage by winning the e5 pawn, he blundered with 22… Qxb3? missing 23. Rxf5. 23… d4 is forced because after 23… exf5 24. Ra3 traps the Queen on b3! The game was tactical and dynamic, where Gurevich still had potential to save the game but buckled under pressure. Paragua proved too tricky, and Gurevich could not hold a challenging position.
Total score of Paragua vs Gurevich: 8 Points
With 31… Ne4!, WGM Heredia proved that two Bishops are not always great, with her monstrous Knights paving the way for her to overwhelm her opponent’s King
IM Teddy Coleman (3rd Place, 3 Points): This is a game where the tide slowly turned on Lebovitz, who didn’t seem to see it coming. With an already weakened Kingside, White made some mysterious choices by playing 27. a4 and 30. a5. While these ineffective moves were played, Heredia took advantage with a strong initiative on the Kingside and finished with a violent attack. Those two Black Knights will be in Lebovitz’s nightmares for weeks…
FM Jason Doss (4th Place, 2 Points): White sort of asked to get crushed this game. That being said, Carla’s execution seemed pretty flawless. High marks for precision by the Black pieces. Low marks because White decided to basically blow up his own Kingside.
IM Michael Bodek (5th Place, 1 Point): In the opening, White prematurely released the tension in the center and shifted his pieces to the Queenside, allowing Black to get unhindered play on the Kingside. White got space on the Queenside; Black got White’s King. Black did a good job conducting the Kingside attack, but it seemed like starting from 19. Nxf3, White did not offer much resistance, and allowed Black to get almost everything desired in the position.
Total score of Lebovitz vs Heredia: 6 Points