In a battle between GMs, especially when they have time to prep, a lot is decided by who gets in the first surprise/novelty. It surprises the opponent and avoids the other's preparation. Serper definitely did that with his 1. e4. Technically speaking, its a surprise, but because it was from Serper, it is a novelty. According to my database, Serper has played 1. e4 twice in 2002, once in 2000 against Yermo, and hasn't played 1.e4 fulltime since 1988. It was a beautiful stroke, and I wished that the judges had taken that more into consideration in the Game of the Week voting. I don't know if it would compete with the dramatics of the Eugene-Pascal game, but it was a key game against a team thats been unbeaten since 2005. It was a beautifully played game.
On Board 2, Orlov played a great game against David Pruess. I liked Orlov's position. It seemed that the bishop was going to have to retreat to e3 where it would get exchanged. After that, Orlov has a nice outpost for his knight on e5 and a weak e-pawn to play against. Bxc5 was bad due to the Re5. Though I think Orlov was the only person in the world to see Re5. I missed it, obviously David missed it, and so did all the internet kibitzers, including Pascal who was commenting on it as well.
On 3, Donaldson played a masterful Botvinnik System against Readey, getting the pivotal d5 break in and slowly squeezed Readey. Readey did miss quite a few lines that seems to lead to a draw.
On the final board, Josh did a great job with the closed Sicilian, managing to reach a position with better bishops and a slightly better pawn formation. Then Naroditsky just sac'ed the exchange and proceeded to get grounded down.
Next week, we play against Carolina. They are definitely not to be taken lightly. One of the stronger teams in the tough Western Division. Luckily we only have to play against them once this year. I will do my due diligence as usual, but will not be attending the match, since I will be playing in the U2000 section in Miami. Josh Sinanan will handle the match. And so I'll be sleeping with the enemy. I'm rooming with Josh Friedel and David Pruess for the tournament, so this will prove to be interesting.
Seattle Sluggers Manager