Sharks, Cars, and Suicide
First of all, I want to preface this preview with an apology: this will be my worst write-up for the Scorpions that I have done. My liver is reeling from this weekend, I can’t breathe out of my nose, I’m sleep deprived, and I just got back from a class where my world famous professor rambled on about Hardy-Weinberg Principle Chi-squared testing for two hours—YAY! Okay Elliott, stop whining. Anyway…
both teams will make the playoffs, so not as much to play for other than seeding, but Arizona can actually tie for first in the West with Seattle if the Scorpions win and the rainy city inhabitants lose.
GM Julio “¿Hablo Inglès?” Becerra vs. GM Alejandro “I Don’t Know How To Drive” Ramirez
(Disclaimer: I have no knowledge about Alejandro’s actual driving ability, but I know it’s at least better than Robby’s and Amanda’s)
This game will be exciting, obviously because both players are Latino (although Handi somehow didn’t acquire the dominant “I love to attack crazily” allele). Becerra will of course go for the jugular and come out with guns blazing. These two last played with the current colors over the board at the 2008 UTD GM Invitational where the game ended in a hard-fought draw after 44 moves. Julio will open with 1.e4 as always (once again because nearly every Latino player plays 1.e4), but the question is what will Ramirez respond with on his first move (he played Alekhine’s 1…Nf6 in the 2008 game—maybe a good choice again)? He has many flexible choices at his disposal (i.e. Sicilian and French along with Alekhine’s), so it’s really up to Alejandro to determine what type of game he’d like to steer the position towards. This stylistic direction will most likely determine the outcome of the game. I recommend Alejandro plays something solid like he did last time because I think complications would favor Julio. If Handi can successfully equalize, I think he can hold a very dangerous opponent to a solid draw.
IM Levon “I Am Going To Go For a Win This Time!” Altounian vs. IM Blas “I Have The Coolest First Name” Lugo
Levon is white, the rating favorite, and really needs to try to win this game for his team, mainly based on the fact that board 4 is a problem (sorry Amanda, love you!). No matter how he goes for it—either via slow, methodical, python squeeze or busting out of his solid cocoon for an attempted blitzkrieg—Mr. Reliable Consistency has to try to push, force the issue, and win this game at all costs. However, everyone knows Blas will be ready for a fight, and for those who aren’t familiar with him, he is a capable player whose strength is much greater (at least 100 points) than the meaningless four-digit number that follows his name (Lugo has also whooped me twice a few years ago). I know Blas plays Slav as Black, which is obviously way too exciting for Levon to even come close to challenging, so maybe Altounian will open with the flexible 1.Nf3 to see how Lugo responds or maybe Levon should play English with 1.c4, which would most likely result in a reversed closed Dragon such as: 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nb6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.d3 0-0 9.a3 etc. because I think Blas plays something along these lines (although I could obviously be wrong). Of course, Levon should really play the Botvinnik variation of the Slav or one of those crazy Meran lines or something like that. *[Wishful thinking by me]*. Regardless of what the opening is, I believe Altounian will come through in the clutch again for his team and ultimately prevail in this intriguing match-up.
IM Alejandro Moreno “No, I Don’t Have As Many Middle Names as Handi” Roman vs. Robby “Yesterday, I Became Eligible For Senior Benefits” Adamson
Happy Birthday Robby (to the readers: it actually was his birthday)! Congratulations, you’re old! You also suck at driving. Now, just don’t lose this game. Nothing would make Robby and the Scorpions happier than a big win on Board 3. I think this may be the most pivotal game of the match. The winner here will most likely lead his team to victory. Moreno Roman will actually not play 1.e4 (I will be very surprised if he does) because he clearly favors Queen-pawn systems. What remains to be seen is if Adamson chooses to repeat his Two Knights Tango or if he tries to go into some sort of Benko or Benoni. I will predict a toss-up: will the veteran IM secure a victory for his team or will Birthday Baby-face deliver a present with a masterful performance?
Madame Amanda “I Almost Killed Elliott Liu When He Was In My Car” Mateer vs. Eric “The Last Time I Played A Girl With Initials ‘A.M.’ I Lost In 14 Moves!” Rodriguez
Alright so for those who don’t know, these two nicknames are actually TRUE! FACT! CORRECT! So…first of all, Amanda, you ARE the world’s worst driver, congratulations (yes, hard to believe, but worse than Larry)! To make a long story short, ms. Directionally Challenged made a left turn into an oncoming semi with me in the passenger seat. Okay, I guess I am being mean. I only say she is a bad driver because I almost died, but besides that she isn’t too bad (“too” is the key word here). And secondly, Eric, my homeboy, remember back in the U.S. Open in 2007 when you played another “A.M.” with Black, lost in 14 moves because you forgot how to play chess, and wanted to kill yourself? Well, in case you or anyone else did, thought I’d revive this gem: I present to you ms. Abby Marshall vs. Eric Rodriguez.
Yo, so Amanda you have the whole “A.M” thing on your side this week. Also, you showed the world your undercover beastly strength with that previous 300 point upset, so there’s no reason why history won’t repeat itself. Unfortunately, I have a feeling E-Rod will play more like A-Rod this week, so just pretend you’re Madonna or something (hopefully sports enthusiasts understand). I assume Eric will try to Benoni you, so, um, good luck with that. But seriously, make the game cool. In a shocker, I predict Rodriguez to win this game, but ms. Mateer is no pushover…until you actually try to push her.
Verdict: So what does all this mean? I predict an exciting 2-2 draw this week. No, I’m being serious, I actually think 2-2 has a good chance of happening. Both teams have two toss-up games on Boards 1 and 3 and two games where one player is more favored than the other on Boards 2 and 4. I still think Robby’s game is the most crucial because in this specific situation I don’t see Alejandro beating Becerra with the Black pieces unless Julio has to unnecessarily push, which I’m assuming he shouldn’t considering both teams are already in the playoffs. I will conclude by saying it has honestly been a pleasure guest-writing for the Scorpions from time to time this USCL season, and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Peace!
Alright, back to Mendelian recombinant population genetics and lactose coevolution