by Joseph Criscuolo
The Knockouts suffered their first loss of the season with a win against a very hungry Arizona Scorpions who needed a win to help their playoff cause. At the end of the day, the Knockouts fell 1.0-3.0 to the Scorpions, in their last interdivision game of the regular season. However, the Knockouts will remain on top of the East and be in a tight battle with the Boston Blitz for the Eastern Division. The Knockouts also have a nice advantage of being two wins ahead of the teams tied for third. Perhaps losing is not the worst thing for the Knockouts, as the sports world has seen many teams going undefeated into big games and end up finally losing when it matters. Joel Benjamin and Dean Ippolito suffered their first losses of the seasons on boards one and two, while Mackenzie Molner and Sean Finn managed to draw their games.
The game between Joel Benjamin and Alejandro Ramirez was an Exchange Ruy Lopez that seemed to be equal for much of the tame. Then, Joel Benjamin played 33...Rg6 which gave Ramirez the opportunity to cash in on a nice combination, exchanging rooks and set up a winning endgame. This was Joel Benjamin’s first loss of the year, in what has been an impressive year for the Knockouts' top player.
Dean Ippolito would not be able to build on his success he had benefited from on board two as he fell to Rogelio Barcenilla. Barcenilla would be able to gain a pawn on move 20 which would be the difference maker in that game as it was the beginning of what would be the first lost for Ippolito this season, in what has been an impressive year. Barcenilla would be able to have an overwhelming attack that would prevent the Knockouts from going 6-0.
Mackenzie Molner appeared to have some nice chances against Daniel Rensch. There were times where he might have taken advantage of Rensch’s mistakes and potentially build a huge advantage, but in the end the two players could not gain any decisive advantages and called it a draw after 42 moves.
Sean Finn managed to get a draw in his first US Chess League game against David Adelberg. Finn too had some nice chances where he might have found a win, but could not capitalize on those opportunities and had to settle for a draw with a clearly drawn endgame after move 50.
The Knockouts return to action Wednesday October 14 against the Baltimore Kingfishers, looking to remain undefeated against Eastern Division teams. Baltimore will be fighting hard as they are on the playoff bubble and can’t afford to lose any games. Despite the loss to Arizona, the Knockouts can control their destiny in the Eastern Division when they play the Boston Blitz on Monday October 19th, in what may determine the regular season champions in the East.