Sean Higgins, former member of Catalina Foothills National Chess Team, current Tulane student and Tucson native takes a break from his very busy activities and obsessions with doing 10 activities at once to examine all the action from the very exciting and highly anticipated Scorpions-Knockouts Week 6 match-up. Coming into this match New Jersey was a perfect 5-0 in league play while at 2-3 Arizona needed a win.
Scorpions win a thriller! Defeat undefeated Knockouts!
But before we get to the action, let’s take a quick look at what happened last week in the US Chess League:
For those of you who missed last week’s excitement, Arizona drew a thriller when Dallas IM John “Johnny B” Bartholomew hit resign before he could notice a rare one-rook perpetual against the Scorpions’ GM Alejandro “Reaaaaally?” Ramirez.
Meanwhile, in the East, the NJ Knockouts moved to 5-0. The NJ Jets could not pull off the same feat of staying undefeated in the NFL on Sunday, leading me to predict in a comment that Dirty Jersey would also come up short in Week 6 of the USCL. Well, the main reasons I made the prediction were an AZ edge on board 4 and a disbelief that GM Joel Benjamin would reel in a full point with black against Jandi on board 1 to lead the Knockouts to the first 6-0 start in USCL history.
The week in USCL blogging was also exciting: FM Elliot “Did I really send that text message last night?” Liu took a break from going to playboy-themed parties at Stanford to recap Arizona’s match, IM-elect Danny “Why did the Suns trade for Shaq?” Rensch proscribed a cure for the post-norm blues, and IM Mark “Fritz likes the Cordell!” Ginsburg continued his Opening of the Week Column. Meanwhile, GM Joel Benjamin wrote his mid-season thoughts on every team in the USCL. His only thoughts on Arizona were that we blog a lot.
So back to this week:
GM Ramirez – GM Benjamin http://www.uschessleague.com/games/ramirezbenjamin09.htm
The critical point in the match was a GOTW worthy win from Alejandro “Roses are a great way to tell a girl that you like her” Ramirez, who wasn’t handing out any roses today. From a sliiiight edge in the ending he was able to convert with
34.Rxg6!! hxg6 35. f5! gxf5 36.h4! If you don’t see why this combo would have won after 36…Kd7 37. h5 Ke7 headed to f7, ask Leo, who was the first person to whisper the winning move 34.Rxg6 on ICC. (To quote Alejandro, “the idea is that after 37…Ke7 White has
38. Bd4! cutting off all the squares from the knight and if 38…c5 then 39. h6 queens the pawn. If 38…Kf7 then White can trap the knight with 39. b3! and the pawn endgame is lost after 39…c5 40. ba4 cd4 41. ab5 where White queens his b-pawn while the White king is able to stop the Black pawns in time.” Of course Alejandro had to see all of this ahead of time on move 34 with very little time on the clock! –LM)
IM Dean Ippolito – GM-Elect Rogelio Barcenilla http://www.uschessleague.com/games/ippolitobarcenilla09.htm
Board 2 was the cleanest game of the match, with Rogelio “RoBa” Barcenilla reminding us all why he just earned his 3rd GM norm and controlling the game against IM Dean Ippolito from about move 12 on. After 14.Nxe6 by white, Black was all too active. 22…dxe5 gives black a clear edge,
where 26.b4 later would have been met by 26…exf4! And while RoBa certainly played with precision, this game is not quite as GOTW worthy as Jandi’s board 1 victory if we take into account Joel Benjamin’s recent suggestion that GOTW judges take into account a “difficulty factor”; Dean Ippolito didn’t put up too much of a fight against RoBa’s outstanding play.
IM-Elect Danny Rensch – SM Mackenize Molner http://www.uschessleague.com/games/renschmolner09.htm
But the match can’t be won just by two stellar performances on the top boards! IM-Elect Danny “There is no Spoon” Rensch weaseled his way out of some potential trouble on Board 3 to hold the draw against FM Mackenzie “I don’t need to sleep the night before to beat you” Molner. (True story…I’ve seen Mac play as well as ever on close to zero hours of sleep). Rensch’s king was stuck in the center and his a-pawn was a definite target, but after 22.Qxa6 Rxa6 23.Bc4 Ra5 24.Bxd6 he seemed to be slowly but surely clarifying things.
After 38. Re1! (threatening to invade with the rook and attack the Black King) Rhe2 39. Re2 Re2 40.Bxc5 a draw looked likely, and once the bishops came off the board we had a textbook drawn rook ending.
Sean ”I want the record to show I paid Matan” Finn – David Adelberg. http://www.uschessleague.com/games/finnadelberg09.htm
David “Talented Tween” Adelberg also got himself out of trouble to draw on board 4. After 17.Na4!,
Jersey’s Sean “Why’d you cut your hair man?” Finn looked like he had established a significant advantage that he continued to solidify in the upcoming moves.
After the interesting 22.Rc4!? (maybe actually ?! — I liked 22.Nxd7+ Rxd7 23.Rh3, hunting the h-pawn and giving white a slight edge), the talented tween played accurately by giving the exchange back with 22…dxc4 23.Nxd7+ Rxd7, leading to an approximately equal position.
The most important factor for Arizona in taking down the 5-0 Knockouts this week, in my opinion, was controlling the clock. Arizona controlled the clock on every board, and this can be especially important in faster time controls. I don’t think Arizona has ever controlled the clock on every board before like they did this week. This became an important factor: when Ramirez needed time to find 34.Rxg6 winning, he had that time; when Rensch-Molner got messy, Danny had time to find accurate clarifications and dig himself out of a little bit of a hole; and when pawns started to bleed on both sides in Finn-Adelberg, David had the time he needed to stay calm and calculate.
After such a successful week, I only have one suggestion for the Scorpions. We should start doing play-by-play updates like NJ has been doing! For example, at 10:06 pm the Knockouts tweeted (and posted on their blog, because let’s be honest I don’t have a Twitter account): “The room has more tension tonight than usual. Perhaps it is the fast time control. Perhaps it is the chance to make USCL history and go 6-0. Perhaps it is the fact that there are NO DONUTS.”
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!
The third week of Predictions between the Managers is below! The scores after the first week were tied 19-19 but after the second week’s disastrous result from myself (Leo) the score is now Leo 36 – Craig 42. Good luck trying to criticize these predictions!
|Carolina vs New Jersey
|Schroer vs Benjamin||0-1|
|Zaikov vs Gulko||0-1|
|Simpson vs Ippolito||0-1|
|Jones vs. Shen||1-0|
|Leo has New Jersey winning 3-1
|Queens vs New York
|Stripunsky vs Kacheishvili||1/2||0-1|
|Schneider vs Charbonneau||0-1||0-1|
|Zaremba vs Herman||1-0||1-0|
|Vicary vs Norowitz||0-1||0-1|
|Leo has New York winning 2.5-1.5
Craig has New York winning 3-1
|Baltimore vs Philadelphia
|Kritz vs Kudrin||1-0|
|Kaufman vs Lenderman||0-1|
|Uesugi vs Bartell||0-1|
|Battsetseg vs Sivakumar||1-0|
|Leo predicts a draw 2-2
|Dallas vs Boston|
|Stopa vs Christiansen||0-1||0-1|
|Ludwig vs Sammour-Hasbun||0-1||1-0|
|Kiewra vs Martirosov||1-0||1-0|
|Yang vs Krasik||0-1||1-0|
|Leo has Boston winning 3-1
Craig has Dallas winning 3-1
|Tenessee vs Chicago
|Ehlvest vs Felecan||1-0||1-0|
|Andrews vs Young||0-1||0-1|
|Bereolos vs Pasalic||0-1||1/2|
|Bick vs Burgess||1-0||1-0|
|Leo has a draw at 2-2
Craig has Tenessee winning 2.5-1.5
|Miami vs San Francisco
|Becerra vs Friedel||1/2||1-0|
|Lopez vs Kraai||1/2||0-1|
|Lugo vs Shankland||0-1||1/2|
|Alvarez vs Liou||1/2||1/2|
|Leo predicts San Francisco winning 2.5-1.5
Craig has a 2-2 tie
|Arizona vs Seattle
|Barcenilla vs Nakamura||0-1|
|Ginsburg vs Mikhailuk||0-1|
|Rensch vs Lee||1-0|
|Martinez vs Sinanan||1-0|
|Craig has a tie 2-2
Welcome to the 2009 United States Chess League! I will be providing predictions on all of the matches each week (though I may duck predicting for the Arizona Scorpions some weeks, since I might be biased). Please note in my predictions that I do not mean to be too critical of any team or player on a particular match – just one person’s thoughts. Without further ado, here are the predictions for Week 1.
Queens Pioneers v. Boston Blitz
Boston has a nice average rating advantage in this match (2461 to 2401). A nice GM match-up on board 1 with Alexander Stripunsky vs. Larry Christiansen. As happens so often in a game between 2 strong GM’s, the game can be a push. I think Queens needs a victory from Stripunsky in order to win the match. GM Perelshteyn with white against IM Eli Vovsha gives Boston the upper hand. On Board 3, IM Marc Esserman has a rating edge against FM Andrei Zaremba, but Andrei has white, so this is probably a push. Board 4 features expert Shaun Smith and youngster, Andrew Wang – this game might well decide the match. Boston wins 2.5-1.5
Miami Sharks v. Dallas Destiny
Miami has a big advantage both in strength (GM vs. IM), and color (Julio has white). I am looking forward to seeing what GM Julio Becerra plays against IM John Bartholomew’s world-famous Scandinavian Defense (1.e4 d5 2.ed Qd5). Board 2 features new UTD student and USCL rookie, Daniel Ludwig against FM Bruci Lopez. White has a strength advantage and has white, so I give Ludwig the edge. Comparing just boards 1 and 2, I think Miami has a small edge. With board 3, Eric Rodriguez has white against FM Keaton Kiewra, who has not played in a while. Keaton is known for good preparation, so it will be interesting to see how this game goes. Finally, Nelson Lopez has color and slight rating advantage over Miguel Recio, someone I know nothing about. Overall, I think Miami has a very small edge here, though a tie would not surprise me. I predict a tie.
San Francisco Mechanics v. Seattle Sluggers
In the final Monday match of the night, San Francisco catches a break against the Nakamura-less Seattle Sluggers. With that being said, Seattle actually out-rates San Francisco – something that I don’t think matters for this match. Pruess is at a ridiculously low rating of 2410, and having Donaldson on board 3 is as good as its going to get, even though he is facing FM Michael Lee. Board 4 features the debut of SF’s newest master, twelve year old, Yian Liou. Overall, I predict a 2-2 tie.
New York Knights v. New Jersey Knockouts
Upon a quick look at this first match of Wednesday, I was amazed at how stacked and high rated NY is. Kacheisvili v Benjamin is a great board 1 match-up, and Pascal Charbonneau on board 2 is quite strong, especially when Pascal has played board 1 many times. What is interesting is that Yaacov Norowitz on board 4 is now higher rated than their board 3, though of course not per the rating list used by NY. With a rating edge on boards 1 and 2, the Shen brothers are going to have to come up big for NJ. I predict NY wins 3-1.
Carolina Cobras v. Baltimore Kingfishers
Carolina by default has to resort to a balanced lineup (Boards 1-4 all within 150 pts of each other) while Baltimore sports GM Kritz, not an easy match for IM Schroer, as well IM Enkhbat, GM Larry Kaufman (Board 3!), and an expert on board 4. For out-ranked Carolina to have a chance, there will be a lot of pressure on the bottom boards (All-Star Ron Simpson and Craig Jones), and Oleg Zaikov will have to continue his incredible USCL success. I predict Carolina falls a little short in this one, and loses 2.5-1.5.
Philadelphia Inventors v. Tennessee Tempo
Philly has upgraded a lot since their disappointing season last year, with abnormally high rated players on boards 2 and 3 (GM Lenderman and IM Bryan Smith). The always dangerous GM Alexander Shabalov will have to carry the day for Tennessee since they are out-ranked on boards 2 and 3. Philly wins 2.5-1.5.
Arizona welcomes GM Alejandro Ramirez to board 1, while IM Levon Altounian moves down to board 2. Arizona welcomes the first junior and almost master, twelve year old David Adelberg to the team. Chicago features a balanced lineup lead by GM Mitkov, and 2 IM’s. Arizona wins a squeaker, 2.5-1.5.
SUMMARY OF WEEK 1 PREDICTIONS
Queens Pioneers v. Boston Blitz Boston wins 2.5-1.5.
Miami Sharks v. Dallas Destiny Tie 2-2.
San Francisco v. Seattle Sluggers Tie 2-2.
NY Knights v. New Jersey Knockouts NY Knights wins 3-1
Carolina Cobras v. Baltimore Kingfishers Baltimore wins 2.5-1.5
Philadelphia Inventory v. TN Tempo Philly wins 2.5-1.5
AZ Scorpions v. Chicago Blaze Arizona wins 2.5-1.5
A quick look at the matchups for Week 7.
1. Boston Blitz vs New York Knights
Boston bounces back to beat NY – Boston wins 2.5-1.5.
2. Queens Pioneers vs New Jersey Knockouts
NJ hands Queens its 2nd loss in a row. Gulko on 2nd board is a bigger edge for NJ than Lenderman on 3rd vs Ippolito. NJ knocks out Queens 2.5-1.5.
3. Tennessee Tempo vs Chicago Blaze
I picked Tennessee to win 2 straight weeks, but without Ehlvest, Chicago wins 3-1.
4. San Francisco Mechanics vs Seattle Sluggers
Big match for Seattle with the G-Double Lineup. Going safe here, Seattle and San Fran battle to a tie 2-2.
5. Baltimore Kingfishers vs Carolina Cobras
Carolina can put a stamp on their playoff ticket with a win – it doesnt happen this week. Yes, another tie match. Baltimore and Carolina fight to a 2-2 tie.
6. Dallas Destiny vs Philadelphia Inventors
Dallas faces a tough lineup this week against a Philly team that might creep back into playoff contention, and draws Philly 2-2. In much better and more exciting news, the Phillies beat Milwaukee!
7. Arizona Scorpions vs Miami Sharks
AZ wins 2.5-1.5. Go Scorpions!
Lets take a quick look at Week 5 – my predictions will be brief.
For Monday matches -
1. Queens vs. NY Knights
I am calling the upset here (upset because Queens is the lone 4-0 team) – NY will overcome last week’s debacle and prevail over Queens 2.5-1.5
2. Miami vs. Tennessee
Winless Tennessee, riding the Ehlvest wave, will bounce back and win their first match. 2.5-1.5
For Wednesday matches -
3. Philly – New Jersey
NJ trots out an obnoxious 2484 rating advantage, and proves its worth 3-1 (again, if Philly has any chance Kudrin has to beat Benjamin).
4. Baltimore vs. Chicago
No GM this time for Baltimore = no victory. Chicago wins this one 2.5-1.5, though 3-1would not surprise me.
5. San Francisco – Boston
Easily the best match of the night. GM-Elect Vinay Bhat against LarryC will be an exciting one. Shankland – Esserman should be a tactical slugfest between 2 of the hottest players over this past summer. I am going to predict 2-2 tie.
6. Seattle – Dallas
This loses a little bit of luster because Seattle is not using 2 GM lineup but still this looks like an interesting match. Seattle has a chance to upset the champs but I am going to wimp out here and call this a tie 2-2.
7. Arizona – Carolina
Do you even have to ask what I think? Arizona wins 2.5-1.5.
Let’s look quickly to see how I did on my predictions. I think I did pretty well overall but of course the league always has surprises.
Monday Matches -
Baltimore Kingfishers vs Queens Pioneers Queens won 3-1, I predicted 2.5-1.5
2. Seattle Sluggers vs Chicago Blaze Seattle won 2.5-1.5, I predicted the same
I was correct in predicting who won both of these matches, though I did think Baltimore would fare a little better. This easily could have been a 3.5/4 match had Vovsha accepted the draw offered or perhaps even won in a game where he was clearly pressing.
Although Tate took care of business against the youngster Michael Lee, Chicago did not fare that well on the other boards. I have not analyzed Mitkov’s interesting game against Nakamura, but it seemed to be very complex, where Hikaru excels, even if the computer analysis might beat otherwise. Remember, computer analysis is not really relevant in a lot of these games because you are dealing with humans!
3. New Jersey Knockouts vs Boston Blitz New Jersey won 3-1, I predicted a tie
I didnt see this coming at all. I thought Esserman was a lock to win given his current hot streak, but I didnt see the other 3 games ending in such disasterous fashion for Boston. LarryC may not have had his ice coffee before the game – the only possible explanation for losing a piece and having to sac his Q. Boards 2 and 3 pressed given the match situation and it just didnt work out.
4. Carolina Cobras vs New York Knights Carolina won 4-0, I predicted tie 2-2
The Surprise of the 2008 Season. If anyone saw this coming, I want to know who they are, their social security number, and their hottest stock tip. A 4-0 sweep is a very uncommon occurrence no matter who the losing team is, and completely unexpected given the usual strength of the NY team. Congrats to Carolina (our next opponent). NY should bounce back from this forgettable performance though they need to start putting wins together in the East division.
FYI: Did you know that Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals are 2-0?? Say it aint so. I fully expect AZ to lay their usual egg now that they are playing a real team (Redskins).
5. Dallas Destiny vs Miami Sharks Dallas won 2.5-1.5, I predicted a tie
The games here looked very competitive. Dallas continues to impress, this time beating USCL guru Becerra, while the other games all ended in fighting draws.
6. Philadelphia Inventors vs San Francisco Mechanics San Francisco won 3.5-0.5, I predicted SF wins 3-1
Youth was served with wins on boards 3 and 4 from Shanky and Danky. Kudrin never had a chance for any real edge against Wolff, and thus, there went Philly’s chances. On a brighter note my Phillies have a good chance to make the playoffs.
7. Tennessee Tempo vs Arizona Scorpions Arizona won 2.5-1.5, I predicted the same
Congrats to my Scorpions. We defeated a tough Tempo team by a close margin. Kudos for Joel Johnson’s excellent surprise against FM John Bick, as well as IM Rogelio Barcenilla, even though he lost, for facing 2 strong GMs back to back weeks with black, this week Jan Ehlvest (thanks for black- is it time for my root canal?).
Until next week!
Week 3 didnt go too hot, as my Scorpions lost a tough one and I didnt predict very well. This is much tougher than it looks! Lets take a look at each match and see if I can do better. Please note that since I am picking the Scorpions to win every match we play, if the team wins, my predictions will improve!
1. Baltimore Kingfishers vs Queens Pioneers
Tough Matchup for Baltimore. If they are to have a chance, GM Blehm needs a win especially with white, and Zimmer needs to come up big against ultra-hot Parker Zhao. Lenderman on board 2 gives Queens the ultimate edge and thus moves Queens to 4-0. Queens wins 2.5-1.5.
2. Seattle Sluggers vs Chicago Blaze
Shouldnt a 2 GM lineup be illegal? The same could be said when Chicago puts an IM, Angelo Young, on board 4 – something they choose not to do, figuring they needed a GM to play Naka. Nakamura has the edge with white, nice record against Mitkov, etc. Jan has his hands full with Serper, though he is facing him with the white pieces. I am really interested to see board 3 encounter with young and improving Michael Lee, and Emory “I am the World” (expletives omitted) Tate. Seattle wins 2.5-1.5
3. New Jersey Knockouts vs Boston Blitz
Nice matchup between American GM’s Joel Benjamin and LarryC, and a clash in style (a decisive result could mean victory for their team). Esserman on board 4 borders on criminal given his incredible performance in Miami last weekend. Close matchups on boards 2 and 3. Hard call here, but I will go with Boston 2.5-1.5 in a very close match.
4. Carolina Cobras vs New York Knights
Depression in NY was averted as the Knights won their first match last week. Meanwhile, on the home front, the Yankees wont make the playoffs, the Knicks cant seem to play any defense at all and may not win the division unless Patrick Ewing comes out of retirement, and the Jets (ok some NY fans are only Giants fans) couldnt beat Brady-less New England – NE with Brady would have won by 40. Carolina will make this close and could pull upset and tie, but the smart pick is the NY Knights give NY something to celebrate and win 2.5-1.5.
5. Dallas Destiny vs Miami Sharks
A sexy matchup here – Dallas seemingly has 8 IM’s on the roster, and this week they play Kuljasevic against super MVP Becerra on board 1. Bart will do his best to shuffle against Marcel Martinez in what should be a slugfest. Board 3 and 4 are both close matchs. I will take the easy way out here and predict a draw 2-2.
6. Philadelphia Inventors vs San Francisco Mechanics
An obnoxious rating advantage for SF. If Philly has a chance, Kudrin needs to win, something that is possible given Wolff’s inactivity. I have to go with the youth of Shanky and Danky. SF wins 3-1.
7. Tennessee Tempo vs Arizona Scorpions
We all hoped Ehlvest would be Elvis here and not play against us, but Rogelio is a tough cookie. AZ is also pleased to welcome NM Joel Johnson to the team. Even though we are underdogs overall, I can’t pick against my team – AZ wins 2.5-1.5. Go Scorpions!
Now that the US Chess League is in full swing, I am going to give my predictions for the matches. This should be an interesting exercise. Without further ado, here are my Week 3 predictions (unfortunately I am too late for Monday ones):
New York Knights vs Philadelphia Inventors
NY Knights are a talented team, way too talented to start the season 0-3. They will find a way to win their first match. NY wins 2.5-1.5.
Carolina Cobras vs Baltimore Kingfishers
Both teams need a win here. I give an extremely slight edge to Baltimore here, but it wont be enough. I see a tie here, 2-2.
Chicago Blaze vs Tennessee Tempo
GM Mitkov makes his debut for Chicago. This will be closer than most people think. I give Chicago a small edge here, by 2.5-1.5 margin, though it will not surprise me if Tennessee ties or even pulls the upset.
Queens Pioneers vs Arizona Scorpions
I am not picking against my beloved team. AZ plays a solid match and wins in a squeaker, 2.5-1.5. Go Scorpions!
Seattle Sluggers vs New Jersey Knockouts
The best match of the night! I have gone back and forth on this one in my mind. Nakamura should win, especially with the white pieces. However, Joel is a tough cookie and Naka did not fare well in the USCL last year. I expect Naka will come in with a renewed attitude for his new team. Gulko, a sick 2nd board, should win on 2nd board and so it comes down to board 3 and 4. I gotta go with Mackenzie Molner having a small edge on board 3, with a tossup on 4th, and therefore I will pick NJ 2.5-1.5.
Root us on, this time from Mesa!!