FM Robby Adamson previews the Scorpion-Knockout Matchup!
You can check out more from the Scorpions from their blog.
The Arizona Scorpions (2-3) face their toughest challenge yet in their Week 6 encounter with the New Jersey Knockouts. Lead by GM Joel Benjamin, the Knockouts are 5-0 in the league, and look to become the first team in U.S. Chess League history to start the season 6-0. New Jersey experienced heartache their first two years in the league when they failed to make the playoffs, but this year have established themselves as the team to beat in the East and perhaps in the U.S. Chess League.
The Scorpions are currently tied for 4th with the Tennessee Tempo in the extremely competitive Western Division. The Dallas Destiny, who we were fortunate to draw with in our last match after a memorable ending, is only half match point behind. The last 5 weeks will play an instrumental role in who makes the playoffs.
Let’s look at the matchups.
Board 1 – GM Alejandro “I am Not Always Distracted” Ramirez (2623) vs. GM Joel “I am not stuck in the 1980’s like Mark Ginsburg” Benjamin (2621)
Every GM vs. GM matchup is intriguing, but this should be a great one. Alejandro “She was not even at the latest match” Ramirez plays both 1.d4 and 1.e4, and is a solid player, while Joel “I do not look like Glenn Panner” Benjamin is known for playing unorthodox lines but lines where he has a lot of experience with – something that makes him difficult to prepare for. Alejandro has fared well thus far, scoring 2/3 (2 wins, 1 loss), while Joel is an outstanding 4/5 (3 wins, 2 draws), and he really should be 4.5/5 if he had converted against GM Giorgi Kacheisvili. Given the closeness in rating and strength between the 2 players, I would call this game a toss-up.
Board 2 – IM Dean Ippolito (2537) – GM-Elect Rogelio “GM-Blues Are Over” Barcenilla (2583)
Dean Ippolito has been playing a lot recently and for the most part has had great results. I believe that in the pursuit of GM norms and the GM title, Dean has begun playing much sharper lines. On the other side of the board, it seems that ever since the GM-Blues have hit GM-Elect Rogelio Barcenilla, Rogelio has not played like his true self. The Scorpions hope Rogelio snaps out of his funk and plays with the skill and energy that gave him the GM title. I fully expect another toss-up. Yes, that’s 2 toss-ups so far, out of 2 games.
Board 3 – IM-Elect Danny “AZ Obsessions” Rensch (2414)- SM Mackenzie”Mac” Molner (2428)
Now that Danny has made IM and got that monkey off his back (though there are others beyond the scope of this article, such as obsessions with Steve Nash and Kurt Warner– thus his son’s name “Nash” and “Warner”), Scorpion fans hope Danny can get on track and win his first game in the USCL. Danny faces my good friend Mackenzie Molner, who, rumor had it – ok not rumor – he actually called me and begged me to play because it would be “cool”.
In any event, knowing both of these players, I expect a mess. While Danny probably will not intentionally try to create a mess, Mackenzie can’t help but create one – it’s his nature. When analyzing with Mac recently, I honestly could not predict any of his moves, as he defeated his higher rated opponent. Mac looked incredulously at me, puzzled at why I would not have converted his winning advantage in the same, completely unsound and reckless way. Truth be told, I have no idea what will happen here – another toss-up!!
Board 4 – Sean “Next year at the camp, can we have a Texas Holdem Tournament” Finn (2133) vs. David “Don’t Mess with My Najdorf” Adelberg (2191)
Ok – a great story about Sean (I still play the Goring Gambit) Finn and another USCL member to be named later. Sean was one of the original 10 students who attended my chess camp in 2004. Apparently Sean became obsessed with poker before the camp that during his plane trip to Arizona, he had to change planes in Dallas, where he happened to not only meet during his layover another camp participant, Miami’s Matan Prilleltensky, but managed to drop $60-$80 while playing poker against Matan (apparently they were so obsessed with poker that they both almost missed their flight). So at the end of the camp, one of the improvements suggested by Sean was whether we could have a poker tournament the following year – thus the quote above. Fortunately, I didn’t take him up on the offer. No word on whether Sean ever paid Matan.
Now onto the game – This game will feature a battle of styles. Sean is a wild, tactical, and imaginative player who could not name a single positional concept even if he was spotted a few key words. David on the other hand is a very solid player who has done well for the Scorpions thus far (2.5/3). Congratulations are in order for David who finished 2nd in Game of the Week voting http://usclnews.blogspot.com/2009/10/week-5-game-of-week.html for his win last week on board 4. http://www.uschessleague.com/games/zorigtadelberg09.htm.
Whoever wins the battle of styles wins this game. Yep, you guessed it, another toss-up!
With 4 toss-ups, log into ICC Monday night at 6 pm Arizona time to watch another exciting match against the NJ Knockouts!