The New Jersey Knockouts take first place in the Eastern Division of the United States Chess League after defeating the Carolina Cobras 3-1 with exciting wins by Joel Benjamin, Boris Gulko, and Dean Ippolito. Arthur Shen had a solid game until losing the thread when in time trouble. The win propels Knockouts' record to 3-0, taking sole first place when the Boston Blitz were swept by the Dallas Destiny 0-4, in a new Boston Massacre. The win also drops the defending division champion Carolina Cobras to 0-3, leaving them in the cellar of the East. The highlight of the match was Boris Gulko’s first game the season, which will definitely be a top nominee for game of the week and definitely deserves its own article. The Knockouts look to go an amazing 4-0 when they play the New York Knights in a rematch of the season opener which saw the Knockouts' amazing start to the season.
Due to technical problems with a server creating a beeping noise in the computer room in which they normally play, the games were moved to another room, which wasn’t a problem at all for the Knockouts as they never suffered any disconnections. Unfortunately for the Cobras, they had 3 disconnects at 3 different boards with Benjamin, Ippolito, and Shen, with each player getting an added 2 minutes to their games. Joel Benjamin also got an additional 2 minutes when a Schroer sent Benjamin a draw offer early in their game.
Joel Benjamin’s game was the last one to finish and the one that decided the match. Joel Benjamin’s win against IM Jonathan Schroer gave him a season record of 2.5 out of 3, which is something a great board 1 player can do. The game was close until Jonathan Schroer played 26. Qg2 this allowed Benjamin to win a crucial pawn. Benjamin took that advantage and fought hard in the end game, where his two passed pawns in the center were too much for Schroer.
Boris Gulko’s game against FM Oleg Zaikov was nothing short of legendary. Playing as white in his first game of the year, he would make moves many ordinary players would never conceive. On move 27 he would sacrifice the exchange for a pawn. Move 30, he traded his queen for two rook. On move 32, the game was materially rather unbalanced; Gulko had two bishops, a rook, and five pawns against Zaikov's queen, knight, and four pawns, and had a winning position! Not only that he had 44 minutes while Zaikov had 8 minutes. Zaikov played hopelessly as his queen could not do anything to stop Gulko’s beautiful combination. On move 42, Zaikov resigned, as the only way to save his king would be to play Kg7 which loses his queen after Bc4+. Calling it game of the week would be an understatement. Gulko was serene the entire game, seeming to be able to see these moves quickly, while Zaikov had to use most of his time to be outmatched by Gulko's legendary play.
Dean Ippolito has had a great start to the season and has no signs of slowing down. Dean Ippolito defeated FM Ron Simpson at board 3 as black, improving to an impressive record of 2.5 out of 3 games! Ippolito would gain control of the game early and never look back, winning an exchange at move 18. Following the principles of trading when having a lead in material, Dean Ippolito traded queens right away on the next move and didn’t look back. Just as things looked to be shifting towards Simpson’s favor, he played 32 Kb3? Which Ippolito responded with d5, with Simpson being unable to capture the pawn because of two major pins, the b4 pawn (covering the King) and the Bishop at d4 (covering the Rook,) this would win Ippolito the bishop and force a trade of rooks. The final blow was when Ippolito promoted his h pawn to queen, as Simpson would be unable to promote any of his pawns without preventing mate. Simpson resigned after move 44 with a mating combination that Simpson could not prevent.
In his second USCL game, Arthur Shen came up short again against Craig Jones. However Shen played solidly for most of the game. Late in the game Shen had slightly worse, but tenable position, but he would face time trouble and lose give up queen with less than a minute on his clock. Despite losing, the young Arthur Shen showed that he can become a competitive player in the USCL and he will certainly have a bright chess career.
The New Jersey Knockouts return to action Wednesday September 23 at 7:00 pm on ICC when they take on the New York Knights in a rematch of the first week's action. They continue their quest to win their first four matches and just as important, take away points from their division rivals who would love to take down the top team in the East.
The Knockouts are sponsored by the New Jersey State Chess Federation.Follow the Knockouts on Twitter!
Become a fan of the Knockouts on Facebook!