The New Jersey Knockouts look to cap off an excellent season by earning the Eastern Division title in the United States Chess League. If they are to do that, a good idea is to defeat the Philadelphia Inventors this week, who need a win to stay alive in the playoff race. The last time these two teams met earlier this season, the Knockouts defeated the Inventors by a score of 2.5-1.5 under a strong lineup headed by Joel Benjamin who certainly has to be one of the most important players in the US Chess League.
The Knockouts control their destiny in the East and can clinch first place this week with one of two situations, a Knockouts win combined with a Blitz draw or loss, or a Knockouts draw combined with a Blitz loss. Should one of these happen, the Knockouts will finish first place in the East with the advantage draw odd sand color choice in the first round against the fourth place team in the playoffs. This week's matchup features the Knockouts lineup of Joel Benjamin, Boris Gulko, Victor Shen, and Sean Finn against a tough Inventors lineup of Sergey Kudrin, Tom Bartell, Richard Costigan, and Jennifer Shahade. Time control for this match is game in 90 with 30 second time increments.
Board one features a matchup that was seen in week two, this time GM Joel Benjamin will be playing as black against GM Sergey Kudrin. In their first matchup, Joel Benjamin was victorious against Kudrin, in a 2.5-1.5 win for the Knockouts. Joel Benjamin has an undefeated record of 2-1 against Kudrin in the US Chess League. In the five games he has played, Kudrin has lost all five, it’s hard to imagine him losing a sixth consecutive game, but it’s also hard to see anything stopping Joel Benjamin whose lone loss came against the Arizona Scorpions.
GM Boris Gulko looks to go for his fifth win of the season with the white pieces against former New Jersey Knockout, FM Tommy Bartell. Last week, Gulko came in second the Game of the Week voting. The game will make Boris Gulko eligible to for the USCL All-Star Team, and with a record like his, he is likely to make it. The Knockouts definitely can look forward to having him in the playoffs. With a Benjamin-Gulko one-two punch in the playoffs, the Knockouts certainly give themselves a lineup that is hard to beat.
Off of his big win against the Boston Blitz, Victor Shen plays black on board three and looks to win his third game of the season against IM Richard Costigan. In the two games this season, Victor Shen has two wins including his Game of the Week third place in last week’s sweep of the Boston Blitz against Marc Esserman.
Sean Finn will be playing his second US Chess League match at board with the white pieces against WGM Jennifer Shahade. In his first match, Sean Finn managed to draw David Adelberg of the Arizona Scorpions in the only match which the Knockouts have lost this season so far. This is also Jennifer Shahade’s second game of the year, she defeated Jared Defibaugh of the Baltimore Kingfishers last week. Sean Finn will not be hula hooping during the match. No word on Shahade.
This match can be seen online at the Internet Chess Club on Wednesday, October 28 at 7:00 pm Eastern time. It is one of four matches that can be observed that night, which should be an exciting night in the US Chess League.