Thursday, October 09, 2008

NJKOs Miss Chance to Overtake Queens

Gulko - Vovsha
White to play.

The New Jersey Knockouts missed a great chance to overtake the Queens Pioneers on Monday night, October 6, in Week #7 of US Chess League action, when they only drew their match 2-2 despite having excellent winning chances in the two drawn games. I have posted the games online with notes.

On Board One, GM Joel Benjamin used his bulletproof Philidor Defense (as he did against Kudrin in Week #5) to gain at least equality. But late in the game, Alex Stripunsky faltered and gave Benjamin excellent winning chances in a very complex Queen ending. Perhaps expecting that Andrew Ng had an easy win, Benjamin played it safe and eventually allowed Stripunsky to escape with a draw by perpetual check. On Board Two, GM Boris Gulko continued to see his opponents crumble like feta cheese before him as he smashed Eli Vovsha's Pirc in one of the more interesting attacking games of the night (see diagram above, where Gulko began his assault). On Board Three, there was a great struggle between fellow IMs and MVP hopefuls Alex Lenderman and Dean Ippolito in an unusual Rossolimo Sicilian line. Lenderman eventually sacrificed a Rook for two Bishops to create what turned out to be a winning bind on the position, taking a full point in excellent style. And on Board Four, rising junior Ng missed several winning continuations in the endgame after playing some excellent positional chess in a Closed Giuoco.

In the long run, however, the match will likely make little difference in New Jersey's chances of winning the league title, since the two teams will probably meet again in the finals. Let's hope that the third time is the charm....

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