NJKOs Fall Back in Race for Playoffs
White to play.The New Jersey Knockouts lost to Carolina on Monday night, reducing their chances for the playoffs considerably. I have posted the games online with some annotations. GM Joel Benjamin won a very nice game on Board One, which was practically a model for how White should play an isolani position. It also had a nice conclusion (see diagram above). But it was NJ Champ Molner's loss on Board Two that really decided the outcome of the match. After playing a brilliant opening and middlegame and gaining a piece advantage, Molner faltered just when he should have headed for the endgame with 32...Qd4! Instead, he kept the queens on in a complicated position and erred, likely in time pressure, turning a likely win into a loss. Our bottom boards were pretty well outplayed, and Carolina should have gained two points on Boards 3 and 4, but once Molner lost a draw was all they needed.
With the loss, New Jersey slips two games back of Queens in the standings and only has a shot at a Wild Card berth in the playoffs.