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My Ten Best Games of 2022
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My Ten Best Games of 2022

alphaous
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Happy New Year! I can't believe another year has passed already, and I, like many of you, can't wait to see what 2023 has in store! But before we get too deep into 2023, let's remember what a crazy year the chess world just had: There were many explosive events in the chess world, from the insane Candidates' tournament, Magnus giving up his title, and of course, the Mangus-Hans drama (man, Magnus sure loves getting into drama tongue.png). Personally, I had a great year in chess as well: I met my primary goal, which was to reach 2000 blitz, and I also had a great year OTB, which propelled my rating to 1500+ USCF, and earned a FIDE rating of 1457. I even had the privilege of visiting the oldest chess club in America! So to celebrate this exciting year, I compiled my ten best games of 2022!


My Three Criteria


To help guide my  game selections, I created these relatively objective criteria to rank  my games on a scale of 1-10 (1 being the worst, and 10 being the best):

  1. Memorability. How much does the game stand out in my mind? How quickly did I remember it? This separates boring games from exciting ones, whether good or bad.
  2. Brilliancy. How good is the game? Did I make many blunders, or was my tactical vision on point? This category mostly speaks for itself, however, I still might grade imperfect games with impressive ideas highly.
  3. Relevance/Intensity. How important is this game? How much focus and motivation does the game require? OTB games will rank highly in this category, whereas almost all of my online games should be ranked a 6 or lower in this category.

This set of criteria gave me a good sense of what to look for in evaluating a game. I eventually managed to pick 10 games, which I ranked by their total scores. When ties happened, I simply chose which game I preferred. Enjoy!

Me finding out that most of my games are trash.


#10: Caro-Kann Crushing


This first game is a blitz game I played in August where I got a dominating position in the Tal Caro-Kann and finished off with a picturesque pawn checkmate. Not the most complicated or impressive, but a fun one nonetheless. 

Let's see how this game was graded using my rubric:

Memorability: 6/10. I didn't remember this game; in fact, it was the last game that  I added. It's a fun game, but hardly more memorable than an average game.

Brilliancy: 8/10. I know it's extremely high, and somehow tied for the highest-graded game in the  Brilliancy category on this entire list, but I rated this game highly because I didn't make any major mistakes, and I played a really good attack.

Relevance/Intensity: 7/10. It's just a blitz game, so there’s no reason to rank it higher here, but I usually take blitz seriously, so there's no reason to rank it lower either.

Total Score: 21/30. It's not a highly ranked game, but it's certainly an above-average game, although my strict relevance criteria does bring down the ratings of a lot of my games.


#9: Computer-Approved Craziness


This was another tactical game in the Caro-Kann where both of our kings went on some long strolls, yet somehow, even with all of the complications, most of my ideas were computer-backed, and the king's walk at the end is quite delightful. 

Memorability: 7/10. This was another game that didn't stand out too much in my mind, despite the fact that it definitely was a fun game.

Brilliancy: 8/10. It was a good game ― I found a few good ideas, and I won fairly cleanly!

Relevance/Intensity: 6/10. It’s just a blitz game, so the game doesn’t stand out in terms of relevance or intensity.

Total Score: 21/30. I chose this game over the following game below because it was more impressive and had more interesting tactics.


#8: My Greatest Move?!


This was a game I played at the beginning of the year, yet I fondly remember this game because a move that I made toward the end of this game is one I called my greatest move in this thread. I think this move is a strong contender simply because of how weird of a  position I was in, and how quickly my move ended the game; this game would have been a tough fight had that move not been possible.

Memorability: 9/10 I would have put a 10, but I'm not sure how easily I would have remembered this game had it not been for the thread.

Brilliancy: 7/10 While Rh7 was really nice, I made a fairly big blunder with Rh8, and missing the free queen was not good either. Overall, I feel that this is a fair grade.

Relevance/Intensity: 5/10 I didn't care as much about my blitz at that time, so it was probably slightly less intense of a game then what I would play now. A small distinction, but I think it warrants a point docking.

Total Score: 21/30 I chose this game to be higher than the other two because it was just a more exciting game with a more brilliant finish.


#7: Trashing Typewriter44


(Don't get mad at the title please Type. 😀) This was a game in an Untitled Tuesday tournament (Like Titled Tuesday but for untitled players, with no prizes, just for fun); this was one of the biggest upsets in my history of competing in these events.

Memorability: 8/10. I remember this game, but not as well as some of the other games on this list. it was mostly a straightforward and somewhat uneventful game.

Brilliancy: 6/10. This rating is perhaps a bit harsh since I played a decent game,  but I didn't find many good ideas quickly, and I got kind of lucky at the end.

Relevance/Intensity: 8/10. UTT is more intense than usual blitz games, especially in gameslike this where the pressure is on Type to avoid an upset, and beating a highly-rated player is on the line.

Total Score: 22/30.


#6: My Shortest OTB Game!


Memorability: 8/10. It was a fairly memorable game, although to be fair, it wasn't the most exciting game, but it had a nice tactic at the end. 

Brilliancy: 7/10. I didn't make any major mistakes and I found a nice combo to win. This game wasn’t too special, but I feel it at least deserves this grade. Also, I noticed that this is the only game here where I was Black, which I find to be amusing.  Am I that much better with White?

Relevance/Intensity: 8/10. It was a USCF-rated classical game at my club, but not as intense as a big tournament, as it has small prizes and a casual environment. If it were a bigger tournament, it likely would have received a higher rating. 

Total Score: 23/30


#5: A Daily Debacle


This is actually the only daily game on this list, which means that I had much more time to calculate the fancy move towards the end. Enjoy!

Memorability: 7/10. This was a good game, and that Rf6 move was enjoyable to play, but it's not my most memorable game overall.

Brilliancy: 8/10. I didn't make any big mistakes in this game and I also found a nice exchange sac at the end. This game wasn’t too spectacular, but it was a quality game nonetheless. 

Relevance/Intensity: 8/10. It was a daily tournament where, if I remember correctly, the winner of our group got to compete for membership prizes. Sadly, I finished second and narrowly missed that opportunity.

Total Score: 23/30. I chose this game to be #5 on my list because I found this exchange sacrifice to be more impressive than the exchange sac in the other game above. 


#4: Crushing a 2300!


This was another Untitled Tuesday game ―  this time against @MikeChesser, a regular at these events, and a 2300-rated player. This victory was, at the time, my best win in any rated time control!

Memorability: 8/10. It was my highest-rated win ever at the time, so it's fairly memorable to me. I teetered between scoring this category at an 8 and a 9 for a while, but I decided to rate it an 8.

Brilliancy: 8/10. This was a solid game: I didn't make any blunders, and I found a fun piece sac, so it was a great game, but not brilliant enough for a 9 rating, in my opinion.

Relevance/Intensity: 8/10. It was another UTT mismatch, so I gave it the same rating as my game with @Typewriter44.

Total Score: 24/30.


#3: En Passant Mate!



The title speaks for itself. tongue.png But seriously, this is probably one of the most memorable games I have ever played, and you might have seen this game from this thread, which I made soon after the game in question. 

Memorability: 10/10 I don't think it gets more memorable than this, this is the rarest checkmate you can get, followed by castling checkmate, which I have yet to achieve.

Brilliancy: 8/10 Objectively, I made several poor moves, but almost all of them were risks taken in order to set up the en passant mate, which I was proud to have spotted from several moves out.

Relevance/Intensity: 6/10 Again, a mostly normal blitz game, relevance-wise

Total Score: 24/30 I chose this over the other game because it's en passant mate. End of discussion.


#2: Facing an NM OTB!


There's an NM who plays at my local club, and since this event had no sections, I got paired with him in the first round of a USCF-rated swiss. Now, to be fair, he is floored, and likely plays for fun at this point, so going toe to toe with him is a bit easier. With that in mind, enjoy! 

Memorability: 10/10. A draw in my first OTB game against an NM is very memorable indeed.

Brilliancy: 7/10. I made one or two mistakes that could have cost me the game, and I MISSED Rxe5! So, on one hand, I drew an NM, but on the other hand, I drew an NM. Either way. I feel that this is a fair grade, especially considering the cool finish that I missed.

Relevance/Intensity: 8/10. The game was held at the same club as the OTB miniature, so I gave it the same grade.

Total Score: 25/30

(Not so) fun fact: We played again in another club tourney, and I was not so lucky this time. I walked into a Reversed Grunfeld, which he knew far better than me, and I got crushed. Have a look if you must: tongue.png

So, without further ado, my best game of 2022 is... 

(Cute) Drumroll please

#1: Outclassing an NM


While I have a few wins against titled players, they are all underwhelming, or dirty flags - except for this game. In this game, I crushed an NM in an endgame in 1+1! now, to be fair, he was around my rating in bullet, so it probably isn't his specialty, but this was still arguably my best win against a titled player. So without further ado, my best game of 2022!

Memorability: 10/10. Pretty much any win against a titled player gets a 10 here, lol, and with an interesting game like this, that rating is guaranteed.

Brilliancy: 8/10. It was a great game, especially for bullet chess, and the finish was enjoyable, but I made a couple of mistakes, and I missed g5, which would have been an even better way to end the game.

Relevance/Intensity: 7/10. I felt that this was a particularly intense game because I was doing well overall, and with him declining the easy repetition and going for an unclear endgame, it suggests that he really wanted to win this game.

Total Score: 25/30. I chose this game as my Number One Game of 2022 because I felt that a win against an NM where I found a nice endgame win is a better game than a draw where I missed the opportunity to secure the win.


Conclusion


My main takeaway from creating this list was the fact that I didn't have any “pure brilliancies,” i.e., games with king hunts or clean games with one or two sacrifices to finish off the game. I have two hypotheses as to why this is the case:

1. I'm at a level where basic sacrifices hardly ever work anymore, but I’m not nearly skilled enough to find complex sacrifices that titled players would discover or even get into positions where those sacrifices are applicable.

2. I need to play more rapid chess. This is less hypothesis and more fact, as I've played a pathetic amount of rapid this year, and with blitz chess, I have less time to calculate brilliant ideas, so my playing quality is lower, which is likely leading to a lack of brilliancies.

So, did you enjoy the post? Let me know in the comments how good or bad my games were, how good or bad my judging criteria were, and if I should continue to rate my best games every year. That's all, and I'll see you next time!