The third of six Wildcards just misses out on the top ten, strangely managing to get a ranking from essentially every part of the spectrum, yet another demonstration of how subjective this contest really is.
This is the tenth part in a series of articles which will count down to revealing what game was voted as the 2015 USCL Game of the Year. For more information on exactly how this process works and the prize information, please refer to: Game of the Year Contest
GM Stripunsky nicely finished the game with the flashy 28… Qxd3!!, forcing immediate resignation
FM Alex Barnett (1st Place, 20 Points): This is what I call a chess game! Black played like a straight up boss–didn’t give an inch out of the opening, found a way to get some play on the Queenside, and then started going nuts! Lol after g4-g5 leading nowhere, Black was like ok thanks bro I was going Ne8-d6 anyway. Maybe the maneuver didn’t occur to him, until White decided to him out a little with g4-g5, lol. Bh3, Qb6 demonstrates how sad White’s position is. Who even considers Rxc3??? Just to post the Knight on a3 and then bring the dark-square pain. I would have never thought of that. What a sicko. And just when the Bishop is tired of being useless on h3 and goes back to its starting square…Black sacrifices his Queen for a Rook, which can be recaptured by two pieces, forcing resignation. GOTY IMO
FM Ron Young (4th Place, 17 Points): I tried to find out the name of the problem theme the end of this game represents, but there doesn’t seem to be one. And it makes sense: Bf1 fails to do anything, because the Rook on d3 prevents mate on c3, and replacing the Rook with a Bishop won’t help. Obviously. It doesn’t take a master to figure that out. So why would there be a special term? And if Bartell had been trying to solve a chess problem, he would have realized this. But this was an ordinary game of chess, and there your mind works in a different way, usually one better suited for practical play. But not this time, and kudos to Stripunsky for realizing it. Nice exchange sac, too.
IM Jan van de Mortel (7th Place, 14 Points): As a big fan and protagonist of exchange sacrifices there is a lot I like about this game. By the time White allows the lovely back-rank mating combination (with 26. Qf4?) the pressure was already piling on quickly. The two minor Black pieces are holding White’s major pieces hostage on the Queenside while the poor light squared Bishop is begging for something to do.
SM Craig Hilby (10th Place, 11 Points): After some inaccuracies by White in the opening, Stripunsky seized the initiative by bringing his Knight around to c4. After Tom erroneously opened the center with 18. e4?, Alex played ferociously with the exchange sac 22… Rxc3 and quickly won with flashy tactics. While the wow factor is definitely there, the sacrifice only worked because of White’s poor defense, and the sensible 26. Qb2 keeping the Queen close to the King should have kept the game at least level.
GM Eric Hansen (13th Place, 8 Points): Stripunsky was in a lot of decisive games this year. In this game he concretely takes advantage of White’s slight lack of development. Make that two games where he played a correct exchange sacrifice. Great feel for dynamic play!
FM Varun Krishnan (17th Place, 4 Points): The tactics were short-lived, but they were also exciting! Shockingly, 26. Qf4 is a losing blunder, which Stripunsky exploits by brutally exposing a back rank weakness.
NM Randy Bauer (17th Place, 4 Points): An interesting exchange sacrifice (lots of them among these twenty games), but White totally messes up his position with 26. Qf4 (which badly misplaces the piece) when 26. Qb2 looks pretty solid and then compounds the mistake with 28. Bf1?? which just loses on the spot.
Total Score of Bartell vs Stripunsky: (11th Place, 78 Points)
Stay tuned for ten more such articles as the field shrinks by one game almost every day to see which of the following games will be the 2015 Game of the Year!
11th Place (78 Points): IM Tom Bartell (PHI) vs GM Alex Stripunsky (NJ) 0-1 Article Elimination Article
13th Place (71 Points): GM Timur Gareyev (LV) vs GM Rogelio Barcenilla (ARZ) 1/2-1/2 Article Elimination Article
14th Place (68 Points): NM Ilya Krasik (BOS) vs NM Brandon Jacobson (NJ) 1-0 Article Elimination Article
15th Place (66 Points): GM Daniel Naroditsky (SF) vs GM Wesley So (MIN) 0-1 Article Elimination Article
16th Place (65 Points): GM Illya Nyzhnyk (STL) vs GM Alex Lenderman (MAN) 1-0 Article Elimination Article
17th Place (53 Points): GM Conrad Holt (DAL) vs GM Illya Nyzhnyk (STL) 1-0 Article Elimination Article
18th Place (44 Points): GM Zviad Izoria (MAN) vs SM Mika Brattain (NE) 1-0 Article Elimination Article
20th Place (32 Points): IM Kassa Korley (CAR) vs GM Alex Stripunsky (NJ) 1-0 Article Elimination Article