by Joseph Criscuolo and Robert N. BernardIts the first week of the United States Chess League season, and the Knockouts are ready to floor the competition! Its the fifth year of the league, and the third year the Knockouts have been in the league.
The Knockouts begin the 2009 USCL season with high hopes, as both 2007 and 2008 ended in disappointment at the hands of the Knights. Both years, the Knockouts just missed the playoffs, losing in the last week to the Knights, who took the playoff spot from New Jersey each year. This year, the USCL scheduling gods have taken it upon themselves to let New Jersey exact revenge in the first week of the season, as the Knockouts take on the Knights this Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 7:00pm on the Internet Chess Club.
A good start to a season will always be a big thing with almost every game deciding whether or not a team will make the playoffs. The New York Knights are located across the Hudson River at the Marshall Chess Club, making this a part of the rivalry between New York and New Jersey, something that always meant something in the eyes of fans in the NY-NJ area. The New Jersey Knockouts will be eying to bring home a division title to the Garden State.
The matchup should provide excitement as the New Jersey Knockouts will provide the talented lineup of Joel Benjamin, Dean Ippolito, Victor Shen, and Arthur Shen. The big story for New Jersey is the first USCL game for the young and upcoming star Arthur Shen who has a bright and promising future. Young talent seems to be a key theme here as both Arthur and Victor Shen represented the United States in the Pan-American Youth Championships in Argentina, with Arthur taking home a silver medal and Victor taking home the gold for the United States!
Let's look at a board-by-board match up.
New Jersey's captain GM Joel Benjamin takes on Kacheishvili on Board 1. Benjamin has the Black pieces. It is Kacheishvili's first season in the league. Benjamin has been the KO's workhorse, playing in 18 of their 20 previous matches.
Board 2 has the Knockouts' IM Dean Ippolito has the White pieces against former USCL MVP GM Pascal Charbonneau. Ippolito, who runs a chess school here in New Jersey, plans to school Pascal Charbonneau on the board.
Board 3 sees Pan-Am gold medalist and US Cadet runner-up Victor Shen taking on Matthew Herman. This is the first match either over the board or in the USCL for these two. Herman is a league veteran as this is his fourth season.
Finally, Board 4 has Arthur Shen against renowned blitz player Yaacov Norowitz (rated 3215 on ICC, with over 20,000 games!) who somehow ended up here on fourth board.
The Knockouts are sponsored by the New Jersey State Chess Federation, and the USCL is generously sponsored by PokerStars.net.