Thursday, November 05, 2009

NJKOs Close Winning Season with Loss to Queens

mate in threeGaspard - Shen, USCL 2009
White to play and win.

The New Jersey Knockouts finished their most successful season to date with a loss to Queens, 3-1. It may have been that Jersey just didn't need the win, while Queens wanted to at least finish above the bottom. After all, it turned out that the Knockouts did not even need to score a single point in their match to go into the post-season with the best record in the League (and the advantages in the playoffs that brings), because Chicago tied Seattle. Only if Seattle had won their match 4-0 and New Jersey lost 0-4 could Seattle have claimed the top spot. Though it was a bitter-sweet way to end a winning season, it got the job done.

I have posted my analysis of the games in a java replay page, or you can download the PGN.

The only win of the night came from young Arthur Shen on Board Four, who was fortunate that his opponent missed a forced mate (see diagram above) in time pressure and allowed Shen to make his extra material count in a very well-played ending. On Board Three, Andrew Ng had a promising attacking position against Elizabeth Vicary but let it all slip away with a painful calculation error in time pressure. On Board Two, Mackenzie Molner repeated a line of the Pirc he had used successfully in a past USCL game, but his opponent Lev Milman was well prepared and dominated the game from start to finish. And on Board One, GM Joel Benjamin had an interesting reversed Bird's Defense position out of the English but played a bit too recklessly and gave his opponent, GM Alex Stripunsky, just too much play on the e-file and it was all downhill from there.

It could have been that the change of venue (from Chapel Hill Academy to Dean of Chess Academy) had some effect. And I definitely don't see any donuts in the picture below.

The NJKOs at Dean of Chess Academy

Though New Jersey seemed to be in trouble for much of their match, they could have relaxed as soon as Chicago's FM Florin Felecan won his game with a remarkable flourish at the finish (see diagram below). After that, it would not even have mattered if Arthur Shen had gotten mated, and the players were able to joke about that kibitzing on ICC during the final moments of Arthur's game. Let's hope that they have such good luck in the playoffs.

calculation puzzleFelecan - Mikhailuk, USCL 2009
White to play and win.

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