There isn’t a formal set of criteria to judge the Most Beautiful Game prize on… and beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder. To some it must involve a sacrifice or something flashy, to others beauty arises from the artistic application of logic and precision. I must declare my prejudice towards games that are fundamentally well played, but I did take account of the respective strengths of the players and to some extent judged players against their own standards.
Sometimes you get games that are very entertaining despite some of the play being objectively flawed, such as Pearl Yung’s remarkable win over Ion Kloprogge with Black where after the opening her only developed piece was her King in the middle of the board, yet her extra pawn and strong centre fully justified her play.
Firstly, a special mention to Franz Oswald for his win over Marko Grabovac on August 1st 2019. Although Marko was no doubt rusty after an absence from the game he set Franz plenty of problems, but Franz played the whole game at a strength well above his rating and was able to score a big upset. Marko made only one blunder after getting a small edge from the opening with Black and Franz swooped on it with b4!, gaining an advantage he never let slip. There were a few inaccuracies later by both players that prevented me from choosing it as the winner, but nevertheless it was an impressive win by Franz.
The winning game features a well timed thematic exchange sacrifice against one of the clubs best players, which seizes control of the dark squares and ultimately causes the collapse of White’s position. Black plays the whole game very accurately, including the clever attacking ‘retreat’ …Qc7, paradoxically to pressure White’s overprotected e5 pawn and eventually win it and break through in the centre.
The winner of the 2019 Most Beautiful Game prize is Kyle Gibson, for his extremely well executed win against Garry Lycett on June 6th 2019.
IM Guy West
26 Nov 2019