Next week, the Knockouts play the first place Boston Blitz. Tune in on Wednesday October 17th at 7:00pm for all the action. And this week, watch all the Wednesday night action of the USCL on the ICC sponsored by PokerStars.com.
And Jayson Lian resigned... And the Knockouts have lost the match 2.5 - 1.5. This takes the Knockouts back to a 3.5 - 3.5 record.
Another draw on Board 3 by repetition. It is 1.5 - 1.5... Only Jayson Lian's game on board 4 remaining!
And 10 seconds later, IM Dean has drawn by repetition on Board 2. The match is tied now 1.0 - 1.0! These two games were not expected to go for the Knockouts, so that fact that the KOs have drawn is another amazing accomplishment by the good guys!
And GM Joel has drown by repetition on Board 1. The match is currently tied 0.5 - 0.5!
Everyone is away from the physical board now, and all are working directly from the computer screen.
Boy, it is close, but not clear exactly what is happening. All boards could draw, all could lose. It is really interesting....
On Board 1, no one is quite clear how Benjamin came out of this, but material is equal, even if Joel has a disadvantage.
On Board 2, Ippolito and Smith are in what looks to be a complete draw.
On Board 3, Friedman is a pawn up, but Costigan's pieces seem a little better placed.
On Board 4, Yeager is way down on the clock, and will be living on the increment soon, while Lian's bishop is still trip for the taking.
It is looking up a little for the KOs!
Another grandmaster agrees with the first, but it is unclear to many others. Here's the critical position, where Kudrin just played 20. Bxe4, and Joel responded with 20...Bg4!
While the majority of titled players believe that Joel is lost on Board 1, one grandmaster is holding out, saying the Joel is, in fact, better. It seems odd to me, but what do I know?
It doesn't look too good for the Knockouts' chances inthe match. GM Joel is having a very tough time on Board 1. IM Dean may exchange into an endgame, but perhaps with a slight disadvantage. On Board 4, Jayson Lian's bishop sac was not accepted, but he still remains in a difficult position. Board 3 is relatively equal.
Jayson Lian has sacced his Bishop on f5. The consensus in the commentary is that is won't work, but in the USCL, you never know. New Jersey has been known to escape with miracles in the past.
Comments on the games are favoring Philadelphia on all boards. GM Hikaru Nakamura is predicting a 4-0 sweep for Philadelphia! Certainly the results cannot be that dramatic for the KOs!?!
Clock check time. Board 1 - Joel is down 22 minutes, and has only 12 minutes remaining. Board 2 - Dean is up 3 minutes, with 27 minutes remaining. Board 3 - Aviv is down 12 minutes with 19 minutes remaining. Board 4 - Jayson is down 8 minutes, with 23 minutes remaining.
An ICC observer with the handle 'mote' made an interesting comment: "Joel Benjamin is the Derek Jeter of American chess". While I'm sure Joel appreciates being compared to Jeter (as Jeter's work ethic and character are impeccable), Joel probably would recoil in horror when he remembered that Jeter is a Yankee. Of course, 'mote' also compared Joel to Joey Ramone. I'll let Joel decide how to respond to that one.
Dean took 33 minutes, and had to retreat his Queen back to f2. The times on the clocks are now approximately equal, and his 35 minutes time advantage has disappeared.
Well, I'm back commenting on the players' physical positions. All of them are actually looking at their physical boards, rather than the screen. That's unusual for so late in the evening. In previous matches, at a few minutes past the two hour point, about half the players are usually at the screen.
Everyone keeps asking about the donuts. Well, there are only six left, and I'm certain they were eaten so quickly tonight because we all need the extra calories to fight the 58 degree temperature of the room.
It appears that Dean Ippolito did not anticipate Smith's 16...Qe7, because he has spent a great deal of time pondering his move. The position does look critical -- here it is...
He is hunched over the board, his head actually extending beyond the fourth rank, and he's looking straight down at the position.
Joel has taken a walk around the room, looked at a few of the Knockouts' games. Them curiously, he turned to face the wall, put his hand on his chin, and pondered the green chalkboard for about 15 seconds. Then, he briskly walked back to his chair.
Finally, on to Board 1. The Knockouts' first board, and team manager GM Joel Benjamin (read office NJKO profile here) has the Black pieces against veteran GM Sergey Kudrin. Kudrin's Giuoco Piano has turned into a deceptively simple position. If I had to guess, it looks very much like a position someone would diagram in a book, with the caption "The End of the Opening Phase", and then discuss the middlegame. Chances for both sides, nothing crazy looking, only one pawn exchanged.
And, after 14 moves, Joel is down only 8 minutes on the clock, which is pretty good for him.
What's up on Board 2? The game started a half-hour late, as the Inventors' IM Bryan Smith (who in his picture looks a little like Seth Green, from Austin Powers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) got caught in traffic - perhaps he needed to invent a flying car. Anyway, Smith has the Black pieces against noted teacher IM Dean Ippolito - you can read his NJKO profile here. Dean has some space in the center, and a Queen and Rook battery aiming down the f-file at Black's castled king position. While White has more space in the center, his Bishop is bad. However, Black is still lagging a bit in development.
Ippolito is up 20 minutes on the clock, but remember he started with an extra 35 minutes. A pawn and a couple of minor pieces have been exchanged for both sides.
Let's move to Board 3. The Inventors' IM Rick Costigan has White against the Knockouts' FM Aviv "sveshi" Friedman. With the Black pieces, Friedman responded with 1...e6 to White's d-pawn sortie, perhaps hoping for White to play 2. e4 and transpose into a French. But White made the unusual move 2. Bf4, which to me looks like from the "Getoutofbookquickly Opening". Most people do not know, but Vladimir Borisovich Getoutofbookquickly was a Ukrainian master of the 19th century, who played what looked like reasonable moves according to Opening Principles 101, but no one ever played before or afterward. FM Friedman responded with 2...Nf6, which according to the statistics at chessgames.com, has a 49% success rate with Black, and only a 33% success rate with white. Only 18% of games that start 1. d4 e6 2. Bf6 Nf6 are drawn, (granted, small sample size).
Looks like Board 2 may turn out to be an exciting battle. After a dozen moves, Costigan is only up 5 minutes on the clock, and while two minor pieces have been exchanged, all the foot soldiers remain.
Let's start on Board 4. We see the Inventors' Daniel Yeager as Black against the Knockouts' sole winner last week, Jayson "I wasn't really born in 1995" Lian, as White.
Jayson started the game with the Queen Pawn, and it quickly went into a Nimzo Indian. Black ended up with what appeared to be an oddly placed dark-squared bishop on a5, outside his pawn chain. On move 11, Black pushed his d-pawn to d5, and we had one of the most fun pawn structures around, the c- and d-pawns of each side in a staredown on c4, c5, d4, and d5. A flurry of exchanges has left white with a half-open c-file and a kingside fill of pawns. Black has a full complement of pawns on the queenside, and some space. Minor pieces are equal. White may need to shelter his king, but his Bishop on d3 peers down both diagonals on the board.
Jayson is up on the clock too, by about 18 minutes. 15 moves have been completed.
It is almost 8:00pm. Time to go around the horn for each game!
I usually wear a sport coat to work, but today I wore a turtleneck and no jacket. I am a fool because it is about 58 degrees in this room. Even the hot coffee is growing icicles.
Tonight, the room is exceedingly cold. The air conditioning is blowing strong and hard, and I'm freezing!
And the Ippolito-Smith game has started! It is a Modern system I've seen a lot. The Bangiev Squares Strategy recommendation for Black is this system with 1...g6, 2...Bg7, 3...c5 against almost anything that White plays (except a queenside fianchetto). Ippolito has decided to gain some space in the center with 4. d5, and now has a strong looking light-squared pawn phalanx in the middle of the board.
The more things change... Bryan Smith will play board 2 after all. There will be a 35 minute time penalty, and the Knockouts' IM Ippolito will have 90 minutes and the Inventors' Smith will have 55 minutes.
From the USCL Commissioner:
**UPDATE** There will be a last second replacement on Board 2. FM Mike Shahade will be replacing IM Bryan Smith. Rules dictate that he will start with a 90-45 time disadvantage... however New Jersey has waived this penalty and it will just be 90-70, as it's 20 minutes past starting time.
Some have commented that this was good sportsmanship on New Jersey's part. Which it is, but it is entirely due to the donuts, which I think Dean is out in the hall devouring right now.
The Inventors' Board 2 has bagged. An emergency replacement for Board 2 has been announced. It is FM Michael Shahade, father of the USCL's commissioner, Greg Shahade. The game has yet to start, and IM Dean Ippolito awaits.
Quietly, on Board 4, young Jayson Lian has the white pieces in a Nimzo Indian. In the line that's there, according to the statistics at chessgames.com, 6. a3 leads only to a 32% winning percentage for white (34% draw, 34% black win).
Conference on the mound. Board 2 of Philadelphia still has not shown.
No pictures tonight, unfortunately. You will just have to imagine the donuts. There are about equal numbers of glazed, powdered, and cinnamon. There are only a few chocolate ones. That will tick off GM Joel, and it is likely he will take out his rage on Kudrin on board one, turning his Giuoco Piano into a Giouco Fortissimo!
According to the statistics at chessgames.com, the line GM Joel Benjamin chose for himself in this line (6...Ba7) is pretty drawish, with 48% of games ending in draws. White does win 33% of the time and Black wins 19% of the time.
On Board 1, Kudrin-Benjamin have played a Giuoco Piano, that apparently follows Sadvakasov - Becerra (Miami 2007) according to IM Mark Ginsburg.
All these crazy openings! On Board 3, we have 1. d4 e6 2. Bf4 ... what?!?
Three of the four games starts. Philly's second board, Bryan Smith, is stuck in his garage inventing something.
The games are about to start. Everyone is here.
Prepare for the epic showdown tonight, as the Knockouts try to extend their winning streak to three matches by lobotomizing the Inventors, who are desperate for a win, which would get them back into playoff contention.