Monday, November 16, 2009

Knock, Knock, Knockouts on Final's Door

by Joseph Criscuolo

The New Jersey began their quest for the US Chess League Championship with a big win over the Baltimore Kingfishers last week. Now, they must defeat the New York Knights for the third straight time this season in order to face the surprising Western Conference Champion Miami Sharks, who defeated the San Francisco Mechanics.

The Knockouts won both battles between themselves and the Knights, New York Knights is a team that's better than their marginally winning record. The Knockouts chose White on first board and will field the exact same lineup that led them to their decisive 3-1 victory against Baltimore. The lineup features GM Joel Benjamin, IM Dean Ippolito, Mackenzie Molner, and Sean Finn. The New York Knights do the same, bringing the same lineup that upset the Boston Blitz in the first round. Their lineup is GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, GM Pascal Charbonneau, Matt Herman, and Yaacov Norowitz. The Knockouts own draw odds for this match, meaning that all the Knockouts need are two points to make their first championship appearance, against Miami Sharks. While the championship is nice, the Knockouts must concentrate on this match first to prevent a letdown. This game will be played at 7:00 PM ET on Wednesday November 18, with the time control of game 90 with 30 seconds increments after each move.

On board one we see a matchup that already resulted in two draws this season, GM Joel Benjamin playing as white against GM Giorgi Kacheishvili. In the two matchups between the GMs this year, they were all even, though Joel Benjamin probably could have won the second game between the two GMs.

Board two features a matchup that was played the first game of the week of the season, IM Dean Ippolito ( plays as black against GM Pascal Charbonneau. In that game, Ippolito won the USCL Game of the Week prize, weaving a two knights versus pawn mating net against the former Canadian Champion. This type of win is something that may be easy for a player of Ippolito’s caliber, but certainly not one of the easier for those who enjoy this game.

On board three, Mackenzie Molner faces off as white against Matt Herman. The two have met earlier this season, with Mackenzie Molner earning the win in what would be one of two wins for the Knockouts help that decided the match for New Jerseys fourth consecutive win.

On board four, Sean Finn has the dark pieces and will try to beat Yaacov Norowitz. While ratings alone favor Norowitz, Finn’s two wins this season have both come against players with higher ratings, he has defeated WGM Jennifer Shahade for his first ever US Chess League win and earned his first playoff win against WIM Tsagaan Batsettseg.

This game can be seen at the Internet Chess Club (ICC) Wednesday November 18th at 7:00 PM. Change of schedule changed the Western Championship game to Monday so this will be the only game of the night for what has been an exciting season. Watch along as a new Eastern Division Champion will be crowned on this historic night!


Anonymous said...

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Von_Igelfeld said...

I think the bottom two boards are going to split leaving it up to boards 1 and 2. Benjamin rarely loses but likely not to win this particular game ... so draw on board 1. This is all about board 2 which I really think is a very interesting matchup. If Ippolito can hold the draw, I think NJ advances.