by Joseph Criscuolo
If the New Jersey Knockouts want to go to 3-0, they will have to make life miserable for the 0-2 Carolina Cobras. The Knockouts appear to really want to go 3 for 3, with the Knockouts out-rating the Cobras significantly on the top 3 boards. The exciting lineup for the Knockouts has 2 GMs, the always dangerous Joel Benjamin and the legendary Boris Gulko at board two. If that isn’t enough, we get to see the NJ State Champion Dean Ippolito on the third board! Finally, young and upcoming star for the Knockouts Arthur Shen will be playing on board 4.
Certainly the Knockouts want this match - the playoffs may not be enough for them - they definitely want more. Certainly, they won’t be completely satisfied until they win the United States Chess League Championship. Looking at the playoff picture, last year the Knockouts would have needed 5 points to make the playoff, they had 4.5 and failed. This year, having 3 wins in the first 3 games would give them 7 games to get only 2 more, which is something they easily can achieve.
On board 1 we have GM Joel Benjamin as black facing off against IM Jonathan Schroer. Joel Benjamin has been great for the Knockouts, winning on board 1 last week against GM Sergey Kudrin. Benjamin is worried about being considered the favorites for every game, but this is a game where if everyone gets the job done, the Knockouts will be 3-0.
On board 2 we have the legendary GM Boris Gulko as white facing off against FM Oleg Zaikov. This is Boris Gulko’s first game of the season. Last year he had three wins in three games. With such a rating difference between Zaikov and Gulko, look for Gulko to do what the Knockouts need him to do.
On board 3, we have IM Dean Ippolito as black facing off against FM Ron Simpson. Ippolito has been solid this year, with 1 win and 1 draw. A player like Dean Ippolito at board 3 is never a good thing for an opponent, and ratings suggest Ippolito may be too much for Simpson.
On board 4, we have Arthur Shen, as white, facing off against NM Craig Jones. This is the second match for the young Shen, who looks for his first win in the USCL. This is the only board where the Cobras have a rating advantage, but the young Shen is ready for the challenge.
The game is on Monday September 14 at 7:00 pm on ICC as always. Be there to see if the Knockouts can do what they should do, win their third match of the year.
The Knockouts are sponsored by the New Jersey State Chess Federation.
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