Apparently there has been a vote for the best chess game of 2006 - a little late, perhaps? - and the winner is the game that Topalov won against Aronian in Wijk Aan Zee.
I'm not sure I'm not a bit sniffy about games which are won by an idea seen in home preparation, however deep the chess understanding on display (it being not at all straightforward to see that White has got more than enough for the exchange). It was a fine game all the same, and I wonder whether the loser had it in mind when he beat Anand this year in Morelia. The finale of that game reminds me a little of the earlier one.
Anyway, it got me wondering what would be the Streatham and Brixton Game of the Year for 2006. I'm not in a good position to make a judgement, having only seen the games up to the middle of March (and only those played in the matches I took part in) so any nominations will have to come, as it were, from the floor. So in lieu of that, here's what I think is my best game of 2006.
There's an objective basis for the choice: my opponent, the Spanish FIDE Master Antonio López Del Alamo, was the highest rated player that I beat last year (FIDE 2300 when the game was played and a Spanish rating of 2316) and the only titled player I defeated. There were a couple of near-misses - the won ending that I drew against an International Master in Marianske Lazne, or for that matter, the drawn ending that I lost against a Grandmaster in Benasque, a draw against a GM being worth a win against anybody else (at least if, like me, you've lost every time you've played a GM).
But it's also a nice game, one typical of the way I like to play if not so typical of the way it usually works out. Keep it simple, point your pieces at the opponent's weaknesses and have faith in a sound position when the complications start. It's a King's Indian Fianchetto, too, an opening with which I have an enormous plus record: and, from a very brief check with the computer, it doesn't seem to be badly flawed. Although I've not always played the best move, I don't seem ever to have thrown it away - which is interesting, since when his rooks came into my position towards the end I wasn't at all sure, at the time, that he didn't have at least a draw.
It was played at the same Benasque event as the missed draw against the grandmaster, just a couple of rounds later. Here it is. See if you like it.