Thursday, October 18, 2007
NJ Knockouts Stop the Blitz
In last night's US Chess League action, The New Jersey Knockouts answered their critics and kept their playoff hopes alive by drawing the most highly ranked team in the league, the Boston Blitz. I have annotated the games and posted them online.
The best games of the night were the decisive ones. On Board 2, Jorge Sammour-Hasbun played an attractive tactical game using an underestimated line of the Scotch Gambit (beginning 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Bb4+) against Dean Ippolito. Though Ippolito held onto the gambit pawn and made no obvious errors, Sammour was able to use his initiative to create a decisive attack that left him up the Exchange, which he was able to turn into a win despite evident time pressure. This game will certainly be a contender for game of the week. The loss for New Jersey on Board 2 was fortunately balanced by a win on Board 4 by the young Victor Shen in a wild game where both sides created second Queens. Shen has struggled against his usually more mature opponents, but this game showed him at his best.
The common criticism of the New Jersey Knockouts has been that their even record was achieved against the lowest ranked opponents in the League. They continued their even record, but they raised their level of respect considerably last night. Let's hope that the draw also raises their spirits so that they can make it to the playoffs.