by Joseph Criscuolo
Now that the New Jersey Knockouts have officially clinched a playoff berth for the first time in their three season history, they can set their sights on their first division title. They must finish ahead of this week's opponent, the always tough Boston Blitz. This could be the match that decides who finishes first in the Eastern Division. After seven matches, both teams have won six games and not lost a single match against a division opponent, with both teams losing their only match in interleague play. Boston currently holds the lead in the tiebraker, as they have more game points with 19 against the Knockouts who have 17.5. The teams have played two USCL matches in their history, with the New Jersey Knockouts owning the better side of the 1.5-0.5 score. Last season the Knockouts defeated the Boston Blitz in week four by a score of 3-1.
The New Jersey Knockouts will field the lineup of Boris Gulko, Dean Ippolito, Victor Shen, and Andrew Ng against the Boston line up of Eugene Perelshteyn, Jorge Sammour-Hasbun, Marc Esserman, and Andrew Wang. There are many stories in this matchup. This is the first matchup without GM Joel Benjamin, who has played every game on first board this season, and has been influential in making the team what it is today as he has earned at least a draw in every game the Knockouts have won. Filling in for Joel Benjamin on board one is GM Boris Gulko, whom was asked to join the team by Joel Benjamin to join the team in the summer of 2008 when the two did a photo shoot for a local magazine; Boris Gulko was happy to join, and the rest was history. While the Knockouts top rated player isn’t playing, neither is the Boston Blitz’s top player, Larry Christiansen, who has played four games for the Blitz this season. Instead, Eugene Perelshteyn will be on board one for the Blitz. The matchup appears even, as the Knockouts are fielding higher rated players on boards one and four while the Blitz feature higher rated players on boards two and three.
GM Boris Gulko plays his first game on board one as white against GM Eugene Perelshteyn. Boris Gulko’s has won all six of his USCL games, with three of them coming from this season, two of them coming against fellow grandmasters Larry Kaufman and Pascal Charbonneau and the other one being an incredible game of the week against Oleg Zaikov. Gulko’s opponent Eugene Perelshteyn is undefeated this season in four games, with a 3.5-0.5 record.
On board two IM Dean Ippolito will face off with the black pieces against Jorge Sammour-Hasbun. The two have faced off before in the United States Chess League in a game where the Knockouts tied the Blitz in week eight of 2007, a game that Jorge Sammour-Hasbun won. This season Dean Ippolito has a record of 2.5-1.5 with two wins, one draw, and one loss, while Sammour-Hasbun has a win and a loss.
On board three, Victor Shen faces off as white against Marc Esserman. This will be Shen’s second game of the season, with the only game for Shen coming in week one with a win against Matt Herman of the New York Knights in a 2.5-1.5 win for the Knockouts. In six matches this season, Esserman has an excellent record of 4.5-1.5.
Playing as black on board four is Andrew Ng against Andrew Wang. Andrew Ng looks for his first win of the season, with his only game being a loss at board four against Eric Rosen of the Chicago Blaze. Last season, Andrew Ng had a record of 1.5-1.5 with a win, a draw, and a loss, his only win coming against Elvin Wilson of the Philadelphia Inventors. In two games, both against fourth boards of the Queens Pioneers, Andrew Wang has two wins this season.
This exciting match can be seen on the night of Monday October 19 at 7:00 PM Eastern time on the Internet Chess Club. As with all games between east coast teams, the time control will be game in 90 minutes with time increments of 30 seconds. Fans of the US Chess League can also see the Dallas Destiny play the Miami Sharks at 8:00 PM and the Chicago Blaze play the Arizona Scorpions at 9:00 PM. Those games have a big impact of the playoff picture in the US Chess League.