Time Control 90 min. with 30 sec. increment
New Jersey Knockouts vs. Baltimore Kingfishers
GM Joel Benjamin (2614) - GM Sergey Erenburg (2646)
IM Mackenzie Molner (2548) - IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat (2425)
IM Albert Kapengut (2372) - FM Ralph Zimmer (2279)
Sean Finn (2123) - NM Adithya Balasubramanian (2255)
Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.
The final match of the regular season is upon us! The Baltimore Kingfishers face the New Jersey Knockouts in an elimination match for the final playoff spot. The catch is that Baltimore has a special kind of draw odds: 1 draw on any board means New Jersey is eliminated, but Baltimore could keep playing to have a shot at 3rd place in the Eastern Division. Thus, the New Jersey players will have to go all out for wins from the beginning, which should make for a very entertaining match!
Board 1: GM Joel Benjamin vs. GM Sergey Erenburg. GM Benjamin is (+4 =2 -1) on the season and (+2 =2 -2) against Baltimore. GM Erenburg is (+3 =4) on the season and (+2 -1) against New Jersey with each of those games played against GM Benjamin. Both players are tied for 3rd in the USCL MVP race with 15.0 points (GM Erenburg holds the 2nd tie-breaker, Overall Team Record). GM Erenburg would win the league MVP with a win (20.0 points), a GM Becerra loss, and a non-win by GM Nakamura. GM Benjamin could tie for first with 19.0 points but would not be able to pass GM Becerra on the first tie-breaker (Total games played). With all the possible individual and team achievements on the line, this should be the Game of the Night!
Board 2: IM Tegshsuren Enkhbat vs. IM Mackenzie Molner. IM Enkhbat is (+1 =1 -2) on the season and (+1 =2 -2) against New Jersey. IM Molner is (+1 =1 -2) on the season and (+3 =1 -1) against Baltimore. The must-win situation fits well with IM Molner's well-known aggressive style. Will the white pieces be enough for IM Enkhbat to counter the 123-point rating difference? After all, Baltimore is 3rd best (tied with Arizona at 11.0/18) in the league with the white pieces and New Jersey is last in the league with the black pieces (6.0/18).
Board 3: IM Albert Kapengut vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. IM Kapengut is (+1 =3 -1) on the season and (+1) against Baltimore. FM Zimmer is (+1 =2 -1) and (-1) against New Jersey. Here is another rating advantage for New Jersey in this matchup; this time it is 93 points and the white pieces. However, FM Zimmer has been able to draw his last two games against higher-rated opposition (145 and 192 point differences), so he has proven to be up to the task. The question is how will IM Kapengut needing to play for a win affect the gameplay?
Board 4: NM Adithya Balasubramanian vs. Sean Finn. NM Balasubramanian is (+1 =3) on the season and this will be his first time playing New Jersey. Sean Finn is (-2) on the season and (+1) against Baltimore. This time, Baltimore has a sizable 132-point rating advantage and the white pieces. Also taking into account the previously mentioned color-specific scoring statistics for these teams, this board might be the toughest of all for New Jersey to try to win. Try they will, and that'll be a win for the audience on Monday night!