NJ Knockouts vs. Boston Blitz

By Michael Goeller

The Knockouts answered their critics and kept their playoff hopes alive last night by drawing the most highly ranked team in the league, the Boston Blitz. The common criticism of the New Jersey Knockouts was that their even record going into last night's match was achieved against the lowest ranked opponents in the US Chess League. They continued their even record, but they raised their level of respect considerably. Let's hope that the draw raises their spirits so that they can make it to the playoffs.

 

Board 1

Joel Benjamin-NJ (2651) - Larry Christiansen-BOS (2669) [D45]

ICC 90 30 u/Internet Chess Club 2007


1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6

2... e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Rc1 a6 8. c5 c6 9. Bd3 b6 10. cxb6 c5 11. O-O Bb7 12. Qe2 Re8 13. Rfd1 c4 14. Bb1 Qxb6 15. Qc2 g6 16. Rd2 Rac8 17. Bf4 Ne4 18. Nxe4 dxe4 19. Ne5 Nxe5 20. dxe5 Bd5 21. Qd1 Rc5 22. Bc2 Rec8 23. Rb1 Rb5 24. b3 c3 25. Rd4 a5 26. Qg4 Qc6 27. h4 Rb4 28. h5 Rxd4 29. exd4 a4 30. hxg6 hxg6 31. Kh2 axb3 32. axb3 Kg7 33. Bg5 Rh8+ 34. Kg1 Qc7 35. Ra1 Qd8 36. Be3 Rh4 37. Qe2 Qh8 0-1 Joel Benjamin-Larry Christiansen/USA 1986

3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3

4. e3 Bf5 5. cxd5 cxd5 6. Qb3 Qc8 7. Bd2 Nc6 8. Bb5 e6 9. O-O Bd6 10. Bb4 Qc7 11. Qa3 Bxb4 12. Qxb4 Qe7 13. Bxc6+ bxc6 14. Qxe7+ Kxe7 15. Ne5 Rhc8 16. Rc1 Nd7 17. Nxc6+ Kd6 18. Na3 a6 19. Na5 Rab8 20. Nb3 Rxc1+ 21. Rxc1 a5 22. Nxa5 g5 23. Rc3 g4 24. Rb3 Ra8 25. Nb5+ Ke7 26. Ra3 Kf6 27. Nc6 Rc8 28. Rc3 Ra8 29. a3 h5 30. b3 h4 31. a4 h3 32. Nd6 Bg6 33. g3 Ra6 34. a5 Nb6 35. Ne8+ Kg5 36. Nc7 Nc4 37. Nxa6 Nd2 38. Ne5 f6 39. Nxg6 1-0 Benjamin,J-Christiansen,L/Chandler 1997

4... e6 5. e3

5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3 Nd7 8. Bd3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 g6 10. O-O Bg7 11. e4 e5 12. d5 Nb6 13. Bb3 O-O 14. h3 Bd7 15. Qe2 Kh7 16. Rfd1 Rae8 17. a4 Qe7 18. a5 Nc8 19. dxc6 bxc6 20. Rd2 f5 21. Rad1 Be6 22. Bxe6 Qxe6 23. Qe3 Rf7 24. Na4 Bf8 25. exf5 gxf5 26. Nc5 Bxc5 27. Qxc5 Rg7 28. Rd8 Qg6 29. Nh4 Qh5 30. Rxe8 Qxd1+ 31. Kh2 Nd6 32. Rxe5 Ne4 33. Qf8 Qh5 34. Qxf5+ Qxf5 35. Nxf5 Rf7 36. Rxe4 Rxf5 37. Re7+ Kg6 38. Rxa7 Rxf2 39. Rb7 Rf5 40. a6 1-0 Benjamin,J-Blatny,P/Chicago 1995

5... Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. e4 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nxe4 9. Qxe4 Bb4+ 10. Bd2 Qa5 11. a3 Bxd2+ 12. Nxd2 c5 13. dxc5 Nxc5 14. Qe3 Qc7 15. b4 Nd7 16. Ne4 b6 17. Rd1 O-O

White may have some imagined edge due to his "queenside pawn majority," but Black should easily hold a draw, which he does.

18. Qg3 Qe5 19. Qxe5 Nxe5










20. Nd6 Bd7 21. Be2 Ba4 22. Rd2 Rfd8 23. f4! Ng6 24. Bf3 Rab8 25. g3 Ne7 26. b5!? Bb3 27. Bd1 Bxd1 28. Kxd1 g6 29. Kc2 Nd5 30. cxd5 Rxd6 31. dxe6 Rc8+ 32. Kd1 Rxe6 33. Re1 Rxe1+ 34. Kxe1 Rc3 35. a4 Ra3 36. Rd4 h5 37. Kf2 Kg7 38. h3 Kf6 39. Kg2 Ke6 40. Re4+ Kf6 41. Rc4 Kf5 42. Rc7 Rxa4 43. Rxf7+ Ke6 44. Rg7 Kf6 45. Rh7 Ra2+ 46. Kf3 Ra3+ 47. Kg2 Ra2+ 48. Kf3 Ra3+

Game drawn by mutual agreement. They didn't quite play down "to bare kings," but it was close, and typical of the battles between these two.

1/2-1/2

Board 2

Jorge Sammour-Hasbun-BOS (2576) - Dean Ippolito-NJ (2433) [C21]

ICC 90 30 u/Internet Chess Club 2007


1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. c3 dxc3 5. bxc3

In their excellent book "Danish Dynamite," Muller and Voigt give this move a "?!" mark. In video commentary after the game, Sammour-Hasbun said that he expected to side-step the Petroff to reach a Two Knights Defense / Scotch Gambit position -- and that he had never played or even seen this position before. Muller and Voigt's recommendation 5. Nxc3 Bxc3+! 6. bxc3 d6 7. Bc4 Nc6 transposes to well-known lines of the Goring Gambit, which they discuss in detail.

5... Bc5

5... Be7!? 6. Bc4 d5! 7. exd5 Nf6 safely transposes to a bad variation of the Urusov Gambit and gives Black easy equality and possibly more due to White's weakened pawn structure.

6. Bc4 d6 7. O-O Nc6 8. Nbd2

White is in no hurry to try to prove compensation, since forcing attempts lead to nothing.

Theory is rather sparse in this line, because quality games are hard to find. But one game was encouraging for White: 8. Bg5 Nf6 (8... Nge7 9. Nd4 followed by f4-f5 perhaps) 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. h3 h6 11. Bh4 Qe7 12. Qc2 Re8 13. Rfe1 Be6 14. Bd5 g5 15. Bg3 Nh5 16. Bh2 Rab8 17. Nb3 Ba3 18. Rad1 Ng7 19. Bg3 Qd7 20. Qd2 Nh5 21. Bh2 a6 22. h4 f6 23. Bxe6+ Qxe6 24. Nbd4 Qf7 25. Nf5 Kh7 26. Qd3?! (26. N3d4!) 26... g4! 27. N3d4 Ne5 28. Qd2 Qg6 29. Rb1 Bc5 30. Kh1 b5! 31. Qd1 Ng7 32. Bf4 Nxf5 33. Nxf5 Bxf2 34. Rf1 g3 35. h5 Qg8 36. Bxh6 Qxa2 37. Ra1 Qc4 38. Qc2 Qf7 0-1 Potaux,O-Kuiper,B/IECG email 1999. Despite the result, it is clear that White found compensation for his pawn before blundering away his initiative.

8... Nf6

8... Nge7!?

9. Nb3 Bb6

9... Nxe4 10. Bxf7+ Kxf7 11. Qd5+ Kf8 12. Qxe4

10. a4 a6 11. Bg5 h6 12. Bh4 Bg4 13. a5 Ba7 14. Nbd4 Ne5

14... Nxd4!? 15. cxd4 g5 16. Bg3 Nxe4 17. Re1 d5 18. Bxc7! Qd7 19. Bb3 O-O 20. Be5

15. Qb3 Nxc4 16. Qxc4

Black has retained the pawn and has played perfectly natural moves, but still has not fully equalized. The pin on the Knight is trouble, and if Black plays ...g5 then he will have no safe place for his King. This is a very tough line to play against.

16... O-O

16... Bxf3 17. Nxf3 g5 18. Bg3

17. e5! dxe5 18. Nxe5 Bh5

18... Bc8 19. Rad1

19. Nf5! Kh7










20. g4! Bg6 21. Rad1 Qe8

It's amazing how defenseless Black is to combat White's beautifully centralized forces.

22. Bxf6 Bxf5 23. gxf5 Rg8!?

23... gxf6 24. Nd7 Qe7 25. Rfe1 Qd8 26. Kf1!

24. Nd7! gxf6+ 25. Kh1 Kh8 26. Qh4 Rg7 27. Qxh6+ Rh7 28. Qxf6+ Rg7 29. Qh6+

29. Ne5 followed by Rd7 is another way to win.

29... Rh7










30. Qxh7+! Kxh7 31. Nf6+ Kg7 32. Nxe8+ Rxe8

White has simplified to a winning Exchange-up ending, which he conducts extremely well to victory despite staunch resistance and evident time pressure.

33. Rfe1 Rh8 34. Re2 Bc5 35. Kg2 Kf6 36. Rd5 Bd6 37. h3 Rg8+ 38. Kf1 Rh8 39. Re3 Rh4 40. Kg2 Rc4 41. Kf3 Rf4+ 42. Ke2 Ra4 43. Kd3 Rf4 44. Ke2 Ra4 45. Re8 Ra2+ 46. Kf1 Bf4 47. h4 Ra3 48. Re4 Bd6 49. Rc4 Ra1+ 50. Kg2 Re1 51. Rg4 Re8 52. c4 Bb4 53. Kf3 Re1 54. Kg2 Re8 55. Rg3 Bd6 56. Rb3 Re4 57. c5 Be5 58. Re3! Rxe3 59. fxe3 Bc3 60. c6! bxc6 61. Rc5 Bd2 62. Rxc6+ Kxf5 63. Rxc7 Kg4 64. Rc4+ Kh5 65. Kf3 Be1 66. Rc6

Black resigns, since 66... Bxa5? loses to 67.Rc5+, so there is no way to stop White from gaining a winning outside passed pawn by Rxa6 etc.

1-0

Board 3

Evan Ju-NJ (2303) - Denys Shmelov-BOS (2391) [B47]

ICC 90 30 u/Internet Chess Club 2007


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. g3 a6 7. Bg2 d6

As with Shen's game, below, Ju's opening shows a lot of influence from Joel Benjamin and bears comparison to Benjamin's game against Charbonneau from USCL Round 5. Benjamin has had long success with this line, which he has been playing for nearly a quarter of a century:

7... Nf6 8. O-O h6 (8... Be7 9. Be3 O-O 10. f4 d6 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Na4 Rb8 13. c4 Rd8 14. Qe2 Rb4 15. b3 c5 16. Nc3 Bb7 17. Rad1 Ba8 18. g4 Rbb8 19. g5 Nd7 20. Rd3 Bc6 21. Bd2 Bf8 22. Rh3 g6 23. f5 Bg7 24. f6 Bh8 25. Rh6 Nf8 26. Qg4 1-0 Benjamin,J-Epp,E/Kona 1998) 9. Nb3 d6 10. a4 Be7 11. f4 O-O 12. Be3 b6 13. Qe2 Rb8 14. g4 Na5 15. g5 hxg5 16. fxg5 Nh7 17. h4 Nc4 18. Bd4 Bd7 19. Rf2 b5 20. axb5 axb5 21. e5 d5 22. Raf1 g6 23. Nd1 b4 24. Rf4 Bb5 25. Qe1 Na5 26. R1f3 Nxb3 27. cxb3 Qc1 28. Bf1 Bxf1 29. Rxf1 Qc2 30. Ne3 Qxb3 31. Ng4 Kg7 32. Qf2 Qh3 33. Nh6 Nxg5 34. hxg5 Bxg5 35. Nxf7 Bxf4 36. Qxf4 Qh7? 37. Rf3? ( likely in time pressure, Benjamin misses 37. Bc5! Rfe8 (37... Rfc8 38. Ng5 Qh6 39. Rf3) 38. Kg2! with a winning attack down the f- and h-files.) 37... Kg8 38. Nh6+ Kg7 39. Nf7 Ra8 40. Kg2 (a second chance for 40. Bc5!) 40... Kg8 41. Qf6? Rxf7 (41... Qxf7!) 42. Qxe6 g5 43. Rf6 Qe4+ 44. Kg3 Qh4+ 45. Kg2 Qe4+ 1/2-1/2 Benjamin,J-Djuric,S/Hastings 1984

8. O-O Bd7 9. Nb3 Nf6 10. f4 Be7 11. g4 h6 12. Qe2 Rc8










The game resembles Benjamin - Charbonneau from Round 5, but Black has not castled yet and instead focuses on generating queenside counterplay.

13. Be3 b5 14. Rae1 b4 15. Nd1 Na5 16. Nd4 Nc4 17. Bf2 h5 18. h3 hxg4 19. hxg4 d5 20. e5 Ne4 21. Bxe4 dxe4

Black has got to be for choice.

22. b3 Na3 23. Qxa6 Bc5 24. c4 O-O?!










25. Nb5! Nxb5 26. cxb5 Rb8 27. Bxc5 Qxc5+ 28. Rf2 Bxb5 29. Qd6! Qxd6 30. exd6 f5

By some miracle, Ju has managed to equalize and holds on for a draw.

31. Ne3 Rbd8 32. Rd1 Bd3 33. Nc4 fxg4 34. Kg2 Rf5 35. Kg3 Rd5 36. Rfd2 Rc5 37. Kxg4 Bxc4 38. bxc4 Rxc4 39. Rd4

Game drawn by mutual agreement

1/2-1/2

Board 4

Chris Williams-BOS (2241) - Victor Shen-NJ (2250) [E11]

ICC 90 30 u/Internet Chess Club 2007


1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Qe7 5. g3 O-O!?

5... Nc6 is Benjamin's usual move here, and you can see his influence as a coach on Shen's play. 6. Bg2 (6. a3 Bxd2+ 7. Qxd2 d6 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Ne4 10. Qc2 f5 11. Nc3 Nxc3 12. Qxc3 e5 13. d5 Nd8 14. c5 Nf7!? 15. cxd6 cxd6 16. Rac1 f4! 0-1 Shtern,I-Benjamin,J/Boston 1988 (33)) (6. Nc3 Bxc3 7. Bxc3 Ne4 8. Rc1 O-O 9. d5 Qc5 10. e3 Nb4 11. Qb3! Nxc3 12. Rxc3 a5 13. a3 Na6 14. Bg2 Qe7 15. Qc2 d6 16. O-O e5 17. Nd2 Bf5 18. Ne4 Gulko,B-Benjamin,J/USA 1988) 6... Bxd2+ 7. Nbxd2 d6 8. O-O O-O 9. e4 e5 10. d5 Nb8 11. Ne1 (11. b4 a5 12. a3 Na6 13. Nb3 Nxe4 14. Nxa5 f5 0-1 Djuric,S-Benjamin,J/Saint John 1988 (38)) 11... a5 12. Nd3 Na6 (12... Bg4!? 13. f3 Bd7 14. Qb3 Na6! 15. Qc3 b6 16. b3 Nc5 17. a3 Nh5 18. Nb2 Qg5 19. b4 Na6 20. Rae1 f5 0-1 Adianto,U-Benjamin,J/New York 1991 (54)) 13. f4 c6 14. h3 Bd7 15. Kh2 cxd5 16. exd5 exf4 17. Rxf4 Nb4 18. Ne4 Nxe4 19. Rxe4 Qf6 20. Nxb4 axb4 21. Qb3 Rfe8 22. Rae1 Rxe4 23. Rxe4 g5 24. Re2 Ra4 25. Re3 h5 26. Rf3 Qe5 27. Re3 Qf6 28. a3 bxa3 29. bxa3 b6 30. Re4 Ra8 31. Qe3 Bf5 32. Re7 Kg7 33. Rb7 Rc8 34. Qe2 h4 35. gxh4 Bg6 36. Qf3 Qe5+ 37. Qg3 Qxg3+ 38. Kxg3 gxh4+ 39. Kxh4 Rxc4+ 40. Kg3 Rc3+ 41. Kf4 1/2-1/2 Gurevich,D-Benjamin,J/Seattle 2000

6. Bg2 Nc6 7. Nc3 Bxc3 8. Bxc3 Ne4 9. Rc1 d6 10. O-O Nxc3 11. Rxc3 a5

This has worked better in practice than the immediate 11... e5 12. d5 Nb8 (12... Nb4?! 13. a3 Na6 14. b4) 13. Nd2 a5 14. c5 Bd7 (14... dxc5 15. Ne4 Na6 16. d6 cxd6 17. Qxd6 Qxd6 18. Nxd6 Rb8 might hold it together) 15. Nc4 Bb5 16. Qb3 Bxc4 17. Qxb7!? Bxe2 18. cxd6 Qxd6 19. Qxa8 Na6 20. Qc6 Bxf1 21. Bxf1 Nb4 22. Qxc7 Qxc7 23. Rxc7 Nxd5 24. Rc5 Rd8 25. Rxa5 Kf8 26. Rb5 e4 27. a4 Nf6 28. a5 Rd1 29. a6 Ra1 30. b4 1-0 Razuvaev,Y-Benjamin,J/Moscow 1987

12. a3

a) A very interesting alternative plan for White led to a fantastic game by Fedorowicz: 12. e4!? e5 13. d5 Nb8 14. Nh4! Na6 15. Qe1! (15. f4 exf4! 16. Rxf4 Nc5=) 15... Nc5 16. f4 f6?! 17. f5! Bd7 18. g4 b5 19. Rh3 Rfb8 20. Ng6!? hxg6? (if 20... Qe8 I think Fedorowicz was planning something like 21. Rxh7!! (21. Qh4 h6) 21... Kxh7 22. Rf3 (22. Qh4+!?) 22... Kg8 23. Rh3 Kf7 24. Rh7 bxc4 (24... Qg8 25. Qh4 bxc4 26. Qh5 Qxh7 27. Qxh7 Rxb2 28. g5 fxg5 29. Qh5 Kf6 30. h4! g4 31. Qg5+ Kf7 32. Qe7+ Kg8 33. Nxe5) 25. Qc3 Na4 26. Qh3 c3 27. bxc3 Rb1+ 28. Bf1 Bb5 29. Qh6 Rxf1+ 30. Kg2 Qg8 31. Nh8+ Qxh8 32. Qh5+ Ke7 33. Rxh8 Rxh8 34. Qxh8 Nxc3 35. Qxg7+) 21. fxg6 Qe8? (21... f5! 22. exf5!) 22. Rh8+ Kxh8 23. Qh4+ Kg8 24. Qh7+ Kf8 25. g5! f5 (25... Ke7 26. gxf6+ Kd8 27. Qxg7 leaves White with killer passed pawns) 26. exf5 Bxf5 27. Rxf5+ Ke7 28. Qxg7+ Kd8 29. Rf8 1-0 Fedorowicz,J-Moskow,E/New York 1992 -- a true brilliancy!

b) Black got all the fun on the kingside, though, in this game: 12. d5 Nb4! 13. a3 Na6 14. Qc2 e5 15. e4?! f5! 16. Nd2 f4 0-1 Kasantsev,A-Anka,E/Budapest 1996 (33)

12... a4! 13. d5 Nd8!?

Apparently played with the interesting plan of ...b6 and ...Nb7, stifling all of White's queenside play.

13... Nb8 has also worked well: 14. Ne1 (14. Nd4) 14... e5 15. c5 dxc5 16. Nd3 Nd7 17. Qc2 Ra5 18. Rc1 b6 19. Rc4 Nf6 20. Rxa4 e4! 21. Ne1 Rxa4 22. Qxa4 Bb7 23. Nc2 Ra8 24. Qb3 Bxd5 25. Qc3 Qe6 0-1 Wronn,B-Buchenau,F/Germany 1991 (40)

14. Qc2 Ra5 15. Ne1 b6 16. Nd3 e5 17. e4 Nb7!? 18. f4!

With the queenside blocked, White reacts naturally by seeking play on the kingside instead, but it becomes a stand-off on that side of the board as well.

18... Nc5 19. f5 f6 20. g4 Bd7 21. Kh1 Nxd3 22. Rxd3 Rc5 23. Rg1 g5!?

If White does not capture en passant, then Black gets all the kingside play.

24. fxg6 hxg6 25. Rc3 Kg7 26. Bf1 Rh8 27. Qf2 g5!?

Taking away White's natural advance g5.

28. Rgg3 Ra5 29. Be2 Raa8 30. Rh3 Raf8 31. Rcg3 Be8 32. Bd1 Bd7 33. Rh5 Be8 34. h4?! Bg6!?

Black looks fine to me after 34... Bxh5 35. gxh5 Rh7 36. Qg2 (36. Bg4 f5!) 36... Kh8 37. hxg5 fxg5 38. Rxg5 Rhf7 . Even if White wins the a-pawn and has two pawns for the Exchange, I like Black here.

35. Qe3 gxh4 36. Rh3 Bxh5! 37. gxh5 Rh7 38. Bg4 Kh8

38... f5!? 39. Bxf5 Rxh5

39. Qf3 Rg8 40. Bf5 Qg7!?

Black is willing to give back the Exchange to keep the position from getting blocked completely.

41. Bg6 Rh6 42. Qf5 Qe7

This is the sort of position that Black feared and White must have been playing for. White's domination of the light squares makes it difficult for Black to liberate himself or develop any good plan. The position may even tend toward zugzwang. But I really don't see how White can pursue an advantage. Williams suggests that 42.Qg4 would have given him chances to play for a win.

43. Kg2










43... Rgxg6+!?

This seems a good practical decision, if Black wants any chance to play for a win and wants to avoid purely passive play.

44. hxg6 Qg7 45. Kf3 Qxg6 46. Qc8+ Kh7 47. Qxc7+ Qg7 48. Qxd6?










As several commenters point out, 48.Qc8! would have led to a draw. But 48. Qxb6 f5! also yields a strong attack for Black. After White's blunder, Black gains a critical tempo on White's Queen that makes all the difference.

48... f5! 49. Qd8 Qg4+ 50. Kf2 Qxh3

Black is up a whole Rook, but White's Queen and passed pawns can generate a lot of confusion. The rest of the game is a wild ride!

51. Qe7+ Kg6 52. d6 Qg3+ 53. Ke2 Qg2+ 54. Kd1 Qf3+ 55. Kd2 Qf2+ 56. Kc3 Qd4+ 57. Kb4 Qxb2+ 58. Kxa4 Qc2+ 59. Kb4 Qd2+ 60. Kb3 Kh5!?

If Black wants to win, he has to avoid things like 60... h3 61. d7 h2 62. Qe8+! Kh7 (62... Kg5 63. d8=Q+ Qxd8 64. Qxd8+!) 63. Qf7+ Kh8 64. Qf8+=

61. Qf7+ Kg4 62. Qxf5+ Kg3 63. Qxe5+ Kg2 64. Qg7+ Kf3 65. e5 h3 66. d7 h2 67. d8=Q Qxd8 68. Qxh6 Qd1+ 69. Kb4 h1=Q

Life gets a lot easier with two queens!

70. Qc6+ Ke2 71. Qxb6 Qb1+ 72. Ka5 Qa8+

White resigns. An incredible game by young Shen to bring NJ a critical point and tie the match!

0-1

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