Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Real-time Match Updates, Week 5 Philadelphia


An interesting endgame in the Ippolito Costigan game. Who will queen first?


Dean is slowing pushing his advantage. If he wins, it will be a huge win for Knockouts. As it is, though, a win is a win!


Andrew Ng has gone home, probably to do his homework. Joel Benjamin is talking with Michael Khodarkovsky, manager and assistant manager planning strategy for the next match, as they await the conclusion of Dean Ippolito's game.


And Andrew has won! The Knockouts win the match 2.5 - 1.5! Only Dean Ippolito's game to finish up!


Andrew is now way ahead.


Andrew looks like he's trying to finish off the game, but he's standing up, pacing around in his t-shirt, since it is so cold in this room.

Now he's coughing. Poor kid is going to get pneumonia!


Ah! Kudrin and Benjamin saw the draw offer, finally, and Board 1 is drawn. The Knockouts lead 1.5 - 0.5


Kudrin and Benjamin just offered a draw to each other. And Joel missed seeing it.


Andrew Ng has emerged from downtown Tactics City up an exchange, but way low on time. He will just need to solidly tiptoe through any potential conterplay and finish off his opponent.


Nice illustration of basic endgame principles on Board 1. In a Bishop endgame, put all your pawns on squares of the opposite color on which the bishop travels. Each side has a dark squared bishop, each side has all their pawns on light squares.


Joel Benjamin just got up, walked over and checked out Dean Ippolito's game. It looks pretty equal, but what do I know? Since the game is wide open, it will probably be decided by a flurry of tactics in time trouble.

Just a guess, though.


Ker-SMASH! Andrew Ng blew apart Black's pawns with the anvil-splitting 24.Nxe6!


On Board 4, Andrew Ng had a nice long think, before uncorking the powerful move 23.Bh5. The threats to f7 are mounting, and his opponent, Elvin Wilson, must do some serious de-stickying to get out of this jam.


On Board 1, Joel Benjamin's game is looking pretty drawish. Same colored square bishops, pawns equal on each side of the board. White's king is still centralized, but it would be difficult to work it.


The team is deep in thought. Joel is staring intently at the computer monitor, but both Andrew and Dean are overlooking their physical boards.

Boris Gulko is in the hallway, chatting!


Andrew Ng is walking quickly around the room. He may be confident about his attack along the h-file, but my bet is that he's also freezing. It is about 58 degrees in here again, and he's only wearing a t-shirt!


Bryan Smith made a blunder, and Gulko played c7, which ended the game immediately. Gulko wins! The Knockouts are ahead 1-0.


Gulko is striding confidently around the room, observing the other games.


On Board 3, ultra solid Dean Ippolito is having no problems with IM Richard Costigan. Costigan has had some good results in the league, but probably hasn't had the luxury of playing too many 2500s on board 3.


To my eye, Board 1, between Joel Benjamin and Sergey Kudrin, looks relatively even. Kudrin's kng is centralized, and he only has two pawn groups (as compared with Benjamin's three), but material is even, and it looks like Joel should not have a problem holding the position.


Gulko just played the exchange sac 23.Rc6, which the chatter seems to believe is a winning or a nearly-winning move. The spectators in the room are getting excited by this. Gulko's victi... opponent, IM Bryan Smith, will have to do some serious tap dancing to defend.


I just got to the site a few minutes ago, so I thought I would give a few match updates. It is a big week in Knockout history. The Knockouts have the strongest average line up in the history of the USCL. Board 1 and 2 are GMs Joel Benjamin and Boris Gulko. Board 3 is IM Dean Ippolito. Board 4 is Knockout alternate, and underrated junior Andrew Ng.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Week 4: Real Time Blogging Returns


And Mac has won! And the Knockouts crush the Blitz 3-1!! Until next week.


An exciting finish on Board 3 -- both players under a minute. Boston has to win in order to draw the match.


Joel just came over to me and gave me the double thumbs up. He's pretty psyched that the KOs have at least drawn.


And Dean Ippolito pulls it out! A big win for NJ on Board 2. The Knockouts have at least drawn the match!


A nice maneuver by Dean Ippolito on Board 2 (34...Nc6), has brought Board 2 back into New Jersey's favor. With a wild melee on Board 3, it is still anybody's ballgame.


When "El Capitan" says "Take a picture of the donuts, blogger!", you do not question. You obey. Thus, here are the Boston Cremes!


Captain Joel Benjamin is carefully studying the demonstration boards, seeing where the next New Jersey point will come from. On Board 2, the situation is still tight, with Dean having five minutes remaining, and Shmelov eight.


And Larry Christensen, lost from move 8, has resigned. Boston and New Jersey now tied 1-1!


Yes, Jayson resigned. Boston up 1-0.


Doesn't look good for the Knockouts on Board 4. Jayson made an error in an endgame in which he was already down, and a few tactics later, he should be down some serious material.


Once again, the room is cold tonight. Jayson Lian has his arms completely tucked inside his t-shirt. Joel Benjamin and Dean Ippolito are folding their arms and covering up. Mac Moldner has half his face inside the front of his shirt.

Clearly no one is going to fall asleep for fear of hypothermia!


Number of people watching the games:
Benjamin: 194
Ippolito: 67
Molner: 54
Lian: 56


Denys Shmelov has bravely declined to take Dean Ippolito's rook on board 2, so the draw is not actually forced. Dean will now have to slug it out with the Blitz player.


Jayson Lian is in tough shape, but he's concentrating very hard at his terminal. Wearing a green t-shirt and jeans, he's been exceedingly still for the half-hour I've been on site.


Dean has just taken 16...Rxe4, probably now forcing the draw on Board 2.


IM Dean Ippolito has been on move for about 15 minutes. He keeps getting up to survey the other boards, deciding whether to force the draw or not.


Now that we've passed the two hour mark, let's recap all the boards.

On Board 1, after a huge blunder in the opening, GM Larry Christensen finds himself down a queen for two bishops against New Jersey Knockout captain GM Joel Benjamin. GM Joel, as usual, is way down on time, with about 20 minutes left to LarryC's 52 minutes. They are on move 18.

On Board 2, IM Dean Ippolito's Nimzo-Indian has brought him to a position where he can practically force a draw if he wants. With 16...Rxe4 17.fxe4 Qh3+, a perpetual could ensue. This might be just the result the Knockouts want on Board 2, with Joel winning on Board 1.

On Board 3, material is virtually equal in Mac Molner's game against Riordan. Mac's slightly better pawn structure may balance out Riordan's development, but it looks like this will be a tough fight.

On Board 4, the Knockout's Jayson Lian is down a pawn against clearly underrated Marc Esserman -- both have a queen, rook, and dark-squared bishop, The game is wide open, with potentially a lot of tactics.


Realtime blogging is back, now from Lincoln Park, NJ, the Chapel Hill Academy. The players have been moving up and about for the past few minutes. Mac Molner took a stroll, Dean ippolito walked around the room and inspected all the boards. Joel Benjamin rushed out of the room with a grimace on his face.


Well, it is time to sign off for about an hour. We'll be back with more live coverage from the New Jersey site at 9:00pm!


The word is that after Joel made the 8.Be3 move, he got up, got a Boston Creme donut, and devoured it. Take that, Blitzpatzers!


Word from the front... Boston Creme Donuts at the site!!!


He played it! The crowd is amped up now for an epic struggle of Man versus Blitz.


On Board 1, GM Joel could play a very cute and exciting move, 8.Be3. The fans are cheering for that move! Play it Joel! Make the fans go WILD!!


Dean Ippolito really impresses me as a solid tournament player. He tries to win as white and will play solidly and draw with black. He doesn't take too many unnecessary risks. He plays in tournaments frequently, and runs his own chess school located in Branchburg, NJ, (see

Check out the results from last week's Miami Open... While he didn't have a spectacular tournament, he never lost, and drew several GMs. Very very solid.

He's also a super-friendly, nice, normal guy.


Ok, this really is a "break the opening principle" night.
  • Benjamin has a knight developed to a3
  • Christensen pulled his queen out on move 4
  • Shmelov pushed four pawns, and developed a knight to h3
  • Ippolito moved five pawns, the same knight twice, and it ended up on h5
  • Molner pushed his rook pawn
Only Riordan on board 3, and both players on board 4 have read their Reinfeld recently.


Kerpow! Something really got into Esserman -- Smith Morra on board 4!


Both sides clearly needs to brush up on their opening principles. Riordan's got his knight on a5, and Ippolito's got his on a5.

Tsk tsk tsk...


Esserman decided to show up. My challenge clearly emboldened him.


Esserman has decided not to show up for his game against fourth board Jayson Lian. Clearly afraid...


On Board 3, Mac Molner has tossed out the Guioco Piano against Riordan, and Riordan has played a Two Knights Defense. As most of the Knockouts' fans, groupies, and entourages know, Big Mac's rarely has a "Quiet Game" and this is likely to be a Guioco Forte instead.


On Board 1, Larry has thrown out a Sicilian with the hyper-accelerated 2...g6. Joel is pondering the brashness of Larry's foolish play.


IM Dean Ippolito on Board 2 has thrown out a Nimzo-Indian against Denys Shmelov. The commentary points out that he didn't lose a game last weekend in Miami. He drew several GMs and ended with a solid result.


And they're off! The games have started.

On Board 1, GM Joel Benjamin has essayed his king pawn a double square foray toward GM Larry Christensen's evil Blitz territory.


The natives are restless... The games have not started yet.... We wanna game! We wanna game!


I am watching the games from here, and will transfer to the New Jersey playing site around 9pm. From there, I can make insidious and flippant comments, like I usually do. But for right now, it looks like I'll have to concentrate on the games.


Live from Wizards of the Mind chess club, here in Springfield, New Jersey.... its real-time blogging of the New Jersey - Boston match in the USCL! How can I blog from here, you ask? Stay tuned!


Real time blogging of the New Jersey Knockouts' match against the Boston Blitz returns tonight! Watch theKnockouts make the pizza-crazed Boston players wish they were stuck on the Garden State Parkway on a beach-travel morning, rather than being demolished by the talents of Benjamin, Ippolito, Molner, and Lian.

The match starts at 7pm, and the blogging will start late, around 9pm or so, as the match is in full swing! So stay tuned to this post, as it will be updated through the evening!

Friday, September 12, 2008

GM Joel Annotates from the NJ-Seattle Match

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This past week, the New Jersey Knockouts tied their match against the Seattle Sluggers, 2-2. New Jersey now sits firmly in third place in the Eastern division, with a 1.5-1.5 record.

We'll get to board 1 in a minute.

On Board 2, the last game to finish, veteran GM, former Soviet and US Champion, and USCL rookie, Boris Gulko, slowly out played his opponent IM Eric Tangborn, and scored the full point. One of the funnier comments that appeared in the chat leading up to this game was given by IM Mark Ginsburg, who said the Gulko could give a simul to the whole Seattle team.

On Board 3, Mac Molner had black against John Readey. A tense game, in which Mac couldn't quite get a kingside attack going, and ended with a repetition.

On Board 4, the KO's Jayson Lian matched up against Josh Sinanan. Jayson was winning toward the end of the game, but low on time, fell into a repetition. The repetition wasn't easy to see, because it didn't come from the more typical alternation of moves, but from a series of different moves leading to the same position.

Back to Board 1, where captain GM Joel Benjamin fell with black to now-nearly-2700-FIDE, and new Seattle Slugger, GM Hikaru Nakamura. While it seemed like Nakamura's opening was taken from a page out of GM Joel's 1987 book "Unorthodox Openings", Nakamura actually claimed that they reached a "relatively standard" opening position.

Indeed, we're in for another treat, as GM Joel sent me some annotations on the crucial parts of the game. I present them here (and blame me for the title, not Joel).

Don't Cry For Me, Nakamura - The Truth Is... (by GM Joel Benjamin)

Wednesday night was a heartbreaker. Jayson played so well, only to be tripped up by a three-time repetition.

I can’t cry about my loss to Nakamura, but the game has been portrayed as two things it’s not...

  • A game of the week candidate
  • One-sided
It certainly wasn’t as good as Pascal’s win. It was very cool how he sneaked in on the light squares while Sergey wasn’t looking. I’m not criticizing Hikaru’s play, now. He didn’t make any mistakes, and he made some cool-looking maneuvers, but he didn’t make any difficult moves either.

Let’s examine:

1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nc3 e5 5.e4 Bg4 6.f3 Be6 7.Nh3 Bc5 8.Qe2 dxe4 9.dxe4 Qd4 10.Nd1 Bc4 11.c3 Qd3 12.Bf1 Qxe2+ 13.Bxe2 Be6 14.Nhf2 Nbd7 15.f4 exf4 16.gxf4 Nb6 17.b4 Bxf2+ 18.Nxf2 Bc4 19.Rg1 0-0-0 20.Rxg7 (D)

Here I played 20...Rhe8?? and after 21.e5 Nd5 22.Rxf7 I noticed that the planned 22…Nxb4 leads to nothing after 23.Bxc4 Nc2+ 24.Ke2 Nxc4 (24…Nxa1 25.Bd3) 25.Rb1. Heck, even 20...Rhg8 was better. I wish I had taken more time on that move. But I should have played…

20...Bxe2 21.Kxe2 Nxe4!! 22.Nxe4 Rhe8 (D - analysis)

Black recoups the piece with an unclear position. White can win a pawn or two in some lines, but he is in danger of losing his bishop. Feel free to run your chess engines on this one. Those of you who scoffed at 19…0-0-0, I accept your apologies now.

I didn’t see the sacrifice during the game, but found it moving the pieces around after the game, and I showed it to my teammates. I’m not one to make excuses for losing (other than when I’m joking), but this possibility should be noted by all those who attempted to assess this game.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Week 2: Knockouts versus Pioneers

In Week 2, the glorious Knockouts were orienteered back to earth by the surprisingly powerful Queens Pioneers. Only captain and board 1, GM Joel Benjamin, was able to grind out a solid, grandmasterly win that ought to compete for game-of-the-week honors.

The remainder of the team was struck by some chess plague. On board 2, Mac Molner got a thorn in his territory, when his opponent's knight crimped his position something wicked with its presence on d6. On board 3, Evan Ju played a relatively even game against IM Alex Lenderman, but was torn down in time trouble, by a nice little combination. On board 4, Victor Shen got his queen trapped in the middle of the board and had to lose a knight to save her.

The US Chess League (sponsored by site has all the games, and you can also find coverage on the Kenilworthian and the "oh-we're-so-darn-lucky-to-have-this-domain-name" site,

Unfortunately, there won't be any real-time from-the-site blogging next week either, but you can catch all the action at ICC.