Tuesday, November 14, 2006

USCL Division Championships Predictions

USCL Division Championships Predictions:

There are two exciting match-ups tomorrow night on ICC as part of the US Chess League. In the eastern division the Boston Blitz face off against the New York Knights in a classic sports rivalry while in the western division the San Francisco Mechanics take on the Seattle Sluggers of whom one of the biggest season rivalries took place with. Here's the breakdown of each match:

Boston Blitz vs New York Knights (Boston has draw odds)

These two teams met up just a few weeks ago with very similar lineups, the only differences on each side were board 1 for Boston and board 3 for New York, and the two games with the same players have colors reversed. Last time it ended in a 2-2 tie, this isn't good enough for New York this time around (although it wasn't ideal last time around either), which team has improved their chances more?
Board 1:
GM Christiansen - GM Charbonneau
These two have a colorful history in the USCL. In 2 encounters, both times Christiansen having the white pieces, he has failed get on the scoreboard and was posterized in the USCL game of the season from season 1 when Charbonneau managed to come back from a piece down (albeit complicated) position to win. I'm sure Christiansen is eager not to let his score drop to 0-3 with the white pieces and I expect him to have a slight edge in this encounter.

Board 2:
IM Krush - IM Foygel
The last time these two met up was just a few weeks ago with colors reversed. Foygel got the better end of that fight in a line he seemed to know better than Krush it seems unlikely the same thing will happen this week when Krush has the white pieces. Seems like the one thing you should be able to guarantee with the white pieces is getting a position you're comfortable with. Krush should have a slight edge in this match-up, probably similar to the one Christiansen has on board 1.

Board 3:
NM Riordan - FM Hess
This is in my opinion one of the truly tough games to try to say something useful about. I think Riordan having the white pieces should negate any rating edge Hess has, but all 3 results are possible, I think this one is pretty even but a decisive result is likely, could be an important game to the match.

Board 4:
Herman - NM Krasik
It would be easy to think about the encounter these two had a few weeks ago and say "If Herman won with black, he can certainly win with white", well things never work out so easily in practice. Krasik has been tough all season and seems to deserve the edge on board 4.

The key to this match is going to be the Riordan - Hess game. If Hess can win, New York will have very real chances to upset New York, but I think without a full point there they could be without much hope and a loss would all but put the nail in the coffin. I think Boston moves on to the league championships about 75% of the time.
Boston over New York 2.5-1.5

San Francisco Mechanics vs Seattle Sluggers (SF has draw odds)

Certainly for me, the self-proclaimed biggest fan of the Mechanics, this is the match I'll be looking forward to on Wednesday. I won't pretend to be the most objective analyst in this battle, but at the same time, San Francisco already has had an impressive season with 10 straight weeks without a loss which is good news since all they have to do is not lose to move on to the league championships. In my 9 weeks as a prognosticator (I didn't start until week 2) I predicted San Francisco to win 8 times and draw only in the final week of the season when their playoff outcome was crystal clear. I will as I have been almost every Wednesday (except when it was the Monday Night game) be watching the Mechanics live. If you want to see them in action, I highly suggest you stop by this Wednesday.

Board 1:
IM Friedel - IM Serper
So far in their season encounter white has won both games which would bodes well for Friedel who in my opinion is much tougher to face when he's holding the white pieces. I also believe that Friedel has a positive lifetime score against Serper. I think Friedel has got a slight edge in this confrontation.

Board 2:
IM Orlov - IM Bhat
A few weeks ago these two were pitted in what was dubbed a match between two players undefeated in the USCL. Thanks to Bhat's nice victory in that game we don't have to worry that it will be given the same title this time around. I'm guessing it will be a semi-slav which would seem too theoretical compared to much of what Orlov plays which I think should give the edge to the generally well-prepared Bhat. I'm also expecting a somewhat wild encounter as Seattle needs to try to stir things up to give themselves the best chance to make it.

Board 3:
IM Pruess - FM Milat
Milat joined the Sluggers late into the season and played just the minimum two matches to make him eligible for post-season play. Seattle sends in a cold player to try to defend against the Mechanics? I'm guess this will be an Alekine's defense which already spells bad news for the Sluggers, edge to Pruess.

Board 4:
Lee - NM Shankland
This is another match-up we've seen a couple of times this season already. Both times white won, will it be a threepeat for the white pieces? I'm not as confident here. Last time black got a very reasonable position from the opening and just played one misstep to get into some real trouble. After this incident the young Shankland has been under the "nanny cam" having to sit in between two players so he will feel pressured not to move so impulsively. So far this has worked well as Sam has won all other encounters this season. I'm not feeling mean enough to outright claim an edge for SF on all 4 boards so I'll just call this one an "interesting" encounter.

All the Mechanics have to do to move on is not lose, shouldn't be too tough, they've been doing exactly that all season long. I won't even give a % for SF to move on because likely the number I would write down would be illogical (how can you win more than all the encounters anyways??).
San Francisco advances over Seattle 3-1

No comments: