The New Jersey Knockouts battle the Baltimore Kingfishers in a United States Chess League match that means a great deal to both teams and will determine how the Eastern Division Standings will look the next week. With last week's tragic loss to the Scorpions, the Knockouts are now tied with the Boston Blitz for first place with 5-1 records. The match that may determine who wins first place in the East will happen next Monday, but both teams have to take things game-by-game because a loss to a weaker team could negate any advantage. This week's match begins at 7:15 PM Eastern tomorrow night, Wednesday October 14, 2009.
The Knockouts face a Baltimore Kingfisher team that must approach every match like it is a playoff game. A win against Baltimore will solidify the Knockouts in the standings, as it will only allow Baltimore to tie the Knockouts at the end of the season. The Knockouts know not to take the Kingfishers lightly, as the Kingfishers are desperate. The Knockouts are employing a powerful double-GM lineup with Joel Benjamin, Boris Gulko, Albert Kapengut, and Anna Matlin against the Kingfisher lineup of Tegshsuren Enkhbat, Larry Kaufman, Shinsaku Uesugi, and Jared Defibaugh. The Baltimore Kingfishers have white on boards one and three, while the Knockouts will have black on boards two and four. Knockouts have a big advantage in rating on boards one and two, as well as a smaller advantage in rating on board three.
Playing as black on board one, GM Joel Benjamin takes on USCL veteran IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat. Benjamin looks for to rebound from his only loss this season, against Arizona's Ramirez, a game that won the USCL Game of the Week. Aside from that lone loss, Benjamin has been the Knockouts top scorer as he has dominated with points in all of his first five games; without him, who knows where the Knockouts would be?
Playing as white on board two is GM Boris Gulko who can earn an impressive 6-0 USCL player record against World Senior Champion, GM Larry Kaufman. Gulko is arguably the most dangerous board two player in the history of the US Chess League, with two big wins this season against the New York Knights and Carolina Cobras. There are definitely many teams that wish they had Boris Gulko on their first board, much less second.
On board three, famous trainer and theoretician IM Albert Kapengut faces off as black against FM Shinsaku Uesugi. Albert Kapengut made a huge difference on board three against Mehemed Pasalic of the Chicago Blaze in week five, which was the difference maker, when the Knockouts won their fifth consecutive match.
Playing as white on board four, Anna Matlin faces off against Jared Defibaugh. Defibaugh clearly owns the higher rating, but Matlin has had USCL success against higher rated players, winning upset of the week in week two against Rahul Swaminathan of the Philadelphia Inventors. Anna Matlin is currently 1-1 this season, with the one loss against Yaacov Norowitz of New York.
The match can be seen Wednesday October 14 at 7:15 PM ET at the Internet Chess Club. The Knockouts look to reserve their ticket to the playoffs and prepare for a USCL blistering barn burner next week against the Boston Blitz.
The Knockouts are sponsored by the New Jersey State Chess Federation.