In another close overall vote where the judges’ opinions clearly differed greatly, a rare fourth board game took the top honor for Week Four. While his team has had a tough start to the season, NM Krasik has contributed two big wins to try to help stem that tide.
1st Place: NM Ilya Krasik (BOS) vs Dennis Li (CON) 1-0
NM Krasik scored a brutal knockout starting with 16. e5!, winning in short order without any obvious mistakes by his opponent
FM Mike Klein (1st Place, 5 Points): In order to win this week, you had to give mate. White’s attack was clinical, even if he was aided by Black’s 20… f6. Was there really nothing better? At first I was going to criticize not playing 28. Rh5+ Kg7 29.Qxg6+ Kf8 30. Rh7 Qxe7 31. Rh8#, but this looks to be a touch slower. Krasik, it seems, was accurate to the end!
GM Robert Hess (2nd Place, 4 Points): Krasik is a beast on the bottom board! This game had everything you could ask for – a well-played opening by both sides, a beautiful Pawn sacrifice with 16. e5, and a vicious attack that led to checkmate. If not for how smoothly Elliot Liu played, this game would have been my top choice. I can barely even see a mistake by Mr. Li (perhaps 17… exd5 was necessary, but this also doesn’t look very comfortable), which makes the win by Krasik that much sweeter.
NM Jeff Ashton (3rd Place, 3 Points): Krasik’s aggressive style of play and entertaining personality is a gift to all chess players. I enjoyed this game.
Total score of Krasik vs Li: 12 Points
2nd/3rd Place: FM Elliott Liu (LV) vs FM Vignesh Panchanatham (SF) 1-0
In an innocent looking position, FM Liu uncorked the incredible shot 36. Rc8!!, winning decisive material
GM Robert Hess (1st Place, 5 Points): This game looked nearly flawless by the White side. It’s not as if Panchanatham made any really egregious errors, either. Liu simply played an unbelievable game, seizing a nagging advantage out of the opening and finding every strong move (23. Re4; 27. Rh4) to weaken his opponent’s position. 34. Rf6! was a lovely move, since Black can’t take because Be3 would result in mate. And 36. Rc8!! was just a phenomenal way to end the game.
FM Mike Klein (3rd Place, 3 Points): If the contest was move of the week instead of game of the week, 36. Rc8 would win twice. Did Elliott drop the mic and go to a Vegas nightclub after playing it? My only question is, where could he have gotten the idea to play Rc8, leaving the Rook en prise to obstruct the eighth rank for a promotion? Hmm, not from a game that I played that I turned into Chess.com Mentor Course: http://grab.by/KvG6? No, couldn’t be that. (I think you owe me a drink at Millionaire Chess, Elliott.)
NM Jeff Ashton (4th Place, 2 Points): A very good example of mental toughness. I like how White maintained the initiative after trading off pieces.
Total score of Liu vs Panchanatham: 10 Points
2nd/3rd Place: NM Richard Francisco (ATL) vs GM Joel Benjamin (NJ) 0-1
In the midst of a tactical melee, GM Benjamin ended up getting the upper hand with the attractive 25… Nxa2!
NM Jeff Ashton (1st Place, 5 Points): Every time I see Benjamin win as Black with g6, I think for a few seconds: “It must be very easy to win with 1… g6 perhaps I can play it and win easily.” And then reality kicks in, and I give up on the idea. I still think Benjamin and a handful of players make winning with Black in these types of games LOOK very easy.
GM Robert Hess (3rd Place, 3 Points): I thought this game had entertaining moments, but I really just feel like Francisco (who is roughly 250 points lower-rated than his Grandmaster opponent) lost this game. That’s not to dismiss Joel’s defensive efforts, as 25… Nxa2 in particular was a nice shot, but White never had to allow any of this. 20. cxd5 looks (to my eyes) good for White, and 25. Rc1 is clearly a blunder. This game boils down to Francisco twice not playing cxd5 when he should have, and he paid for it against the former US Champion.
FM Mike Klein (4th Place, 2 Points): Weirdly I’ve got the two GM wins at the bottom this week. Francisco has been known to destroy some GMs in complicated positions, but after his Queenside got loose he tried to justify it with 19. c4, and I guess it just doesn’t work. He may have known this but felt compelled anyway. We did have 12 captures in 17 ply at one point — you don’t see that everyday. The Modern wins! Long live the Modern.
Total score of Benjamin vs Francisco: 10 Points
In a battle between two of the more successful lower boards in the League, the move 5… g5 epitomized what seemed certain to be a crazy game given both players’ styles
FM Mike Klein (2nd Place, 4 Points): For once, the most exciting game doesn’t get top marks. I loved pretty much every move played by Black in this one, but I suspect somehow that Krasik’s play was more sound. Still, showing that …g5 can be played in yet another opening, I’ve got to rank this high for the chutzpah. If Tony Miles was judging this week, he would awarded this game number one and walked away from his computer.
NM Jeff Ashton (2nd Place, 4 Points): Very exciting play in the early opening and middle-game…you can make a strong argument for any game winning GOTW.
GM Robert Hess (4th Place, 2 Points): Black played an ambitious line with an early …g5, and White responded quite poorly. The piece sacrifice clearly provided insufficient compensation, although Golub did well to restrict his opponent. 14… c4 is a nice move, even though it might appear a bit odd since the action is focused on the Kingside. After returning the piece, the win was easy. Rosenthal didn’t get to touch his Queenside pieces, so the ending was particularly brutal.
Total score of Rosenthal vs Golub: 10 Points
Having had the upper hand for awhile, GM Moradiabadi found a beautiful way to end the game with 42… Qg1+!, winning decisive material
GM Robert Hess (5th Place, 1 Point): It’s not every day you see a player dismantle a strong GM with the Black pieces, especially not one of Xiong’s caliber. Yet Elshan convincingly crushed Jeffery. However, it’s difficult for me to rank this game highly when White was already much worse by move 15. Moradiabadi really didn’t have to work too hard for this one. I more or less chalk this up to a bad day at the office for the rapidly improving fourteen year old.
FM Mike Klein (5th Place, 1 Point): With the Pawn on d3 inviolate, to my eye it seemed obvious the Queen was always going to be better than the two Rooks. Or maybe the experienced GM just made it seem easy? Surely Black saw this Rook sac after 8… b5, which is very nice calculation and judgement. You know it’s a tough slate of games when you easily beat one of America’s top talents as Black, and you get ranked fifth!
NM Jeff Ashton (5th Place, 1 Point): Maybe the game was decided early in the opening, and maybe there was some good preparation followed by obvious mistakes. I don’t know. 8… b5 is already interesting, and what followed was a joy to watch.
Total score of Xiong vs Moradiabadi: 3 Points