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 Scorpions v. Chicago Blaze
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