Wednesday, September 12, 2007

NJ Knockouts Play Tonight

US Chess League action continues tonight when the New Jersey Knockouts try to swat the Baltimore Kingfishers (7:15 p.m. EST on ICC). Both teams have an even record and all of the match-ups are too close to call. New Jersey might have the edge on the top boards, but the bottom boards are definitely at risk. I predict another draw for New Jersey -- 2:2 again. That may be the best we can hope for....

Board 1
GM Pawel Blehm (B - 2589) vs. GM Joel Benjamin (NJ - 2653)
Even with Black, I think Benjamin is unbeatable and should have a chance for a win here. His performance two weeks ago against Stripunsky was stellar and showed that he is ready for a heavy-weight wrestling match. This one is going to be tough, but I predict a Benjamin victory in a long endgame.

Board 2
IM Dean Ippolito (NJ - 2447) vs. FM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (B - 2411)
Ippolito is very solid and should have held a draw last week as Black but for one bad slip. As White this week he has a good chance to make up for last week's debacle, and no doubt he will be pressing for the win. But Enkhbat is extremely solid as Black and has been very tough to beat in USCL games. If he holds a draw, which seems very possible, then we will need at least a draw on one of the bottom boards.
Board 3
WGM Katerina Rohonyan (B - 2329) vs. NM Victor Shen (NJ - 2218)
Victor did not look so solid last week and should have lost as White if he did not catch a lucky break. I expect him to have trouble as Black, especially against Rohonyan's much greater experience. This is going to be a tough match-up for New Jersey.

Board 4
NM Todd Lunna (NJ - 2221) vs. NM John Rouleau (B - 2295)
White on Board 4 should be a plus for New Jersey, but Lunna's typical opening repertoire is not the best for exploiting that advantage. The young Rouleau did much better than Lunna in the recent US Open and seems to be more on the rise. This one is going to be tough, but Lunna might provide a critical draw.

1 comment:

Michael Goeller said...

Todd Lunna wrote to correct my statement about his US Open performance. I had simply glanced at their final scores in the event without closely examining the crosstable. Here's Todd's analysis:

"You stated that John Rouleau had a better U.S. Open than I did. Well, yes and no. He scored more points. He played more games than I did. ... John Rouleau played 8 of the 9 games 1 forfeit and had 6.5 out of 8. I played 5 games and my score was 4.5 out of 5. My rating went from 2240 to 2259 and John's rating went from 2301 to 2305. So my performance rating for the event was actually higher than John Rouleau's performance rating. Unfortunately he played an opening line with Qd6 where I was not prepared for it. After Ne7 I should have played f4 so I made a mistake and got the worse game and I had to defend like a genius to draw."