Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rest of Week 1 Predictions

I'm eagerly anticipating the start of the season, here are my thoughts on the week 1 matches:

Baltimore vs NY Knights:
NY is bringing out a tough line-up with punch top to bottom, Clear edges for NY on boards 1 and 4, slight edge on board 2 for NY and a reasonably close match on board 3 I'll slate NY to take this one handily. An important part of NY's results this season will be their results on the bottom 2 boards. Part of the benefit/problem with having talented youth on board 4 is the inconsistency of youth. Arnold could beat a strong IM one weak and look like a weak master the next. I'm sure he'll gain a steady footing as his chess improves, but it's difficult to hold strong results from week to week sometimes. If he can stay strong, the Knights will win their fair share of matches this season.
NY over Bal 3-1

Philadelphia vs Miami
Philly fans have something to really be excited about this year, they have a team that could be a legitimate contender. If Kudrin can hold fort on the tough board 1 for them the rest of their lineup is capable of some legitimate results. Miami had trouble keeping things together last season and fell apart towards then end. This match looks fairly even top to bottom I think Philadelphia has the white pieces on the boards where it'll matter a little more, I give them the slight edge as they've always been a legitimate team when they've had a real board 1 playign for them.
Phi over Miami 2.5-1.5

Dallas vs Tennessee
Tennessee really isn't as bad a team as their results suggest on paper. Philadelphia will certainly want to destroy them if they get a chance to this season as an impossible loss was to blame for Philadelphia being left out of the playoffs last year. Dallas again has their united nations team going for them but it's a strong united nations team. Tennessee isn't more than 150 points lower on any board and they even have a slight edge on board 4 on paper. I think it'll be a clean victory for Dallas, but that they'll get dinged somewhere for a point.
Dallas over Ten 3-1

San Francisco vs Carolina
The SF squad this year is quite ridiculous. At least 5 of the 8 players on the team have 2 GM norms or more if I'm not mistaken (and I don't know what exactly McCambridge's status is there), that gives them quite a bit of punch all the way down to board 3. Then on board 4 there'll be time shared between a duo of talented youngsters in the country. It wouldn't be impossible to have 4 GM titles on this team by the end of the season or more. Carolina is putting together a similar squad to last year led by the strong and also almost-GM Lev Milman. Josh Friedel vs Lev Milman puts two of the soon-to-be-GM club in a head to head battle to lead off the season. Edge goes to Friedel here with white, but I know this faceoff has some blood behind it. Boards 2 and 3 have a clear edge to the Mechanics and board 4 is fairly even so the Mechanics can be fairly confident going into this contest.
SF over Car 3.5-0.5

Seattle vs Boston
Missing Orlov on board 2 from their lineup in week one will make things difficult for seattle who boasted an impressive regular season record last year before falling to the eventual USCL champions. Boston had a great regular season run last year as well but is also lacking some of the punch they usually bring week to week with Perelshteyn missing on board 2. Either way this should be a tough match. I think it's pretty close on all boards, maybe a slight edge to seattle on board 3 and a slight edge to boston on board 1, overall I think there will be a pair of decisive games each way and a pair of draws to even it out.
Sea TIEs Bos 2-2

Friday, August 24, 2007

US Chess League: Deserving of a post!

What? Me posting? It's almost as if I dont' even play chess anymore. Another season, a different city for me to watch from and about 1/4 the free time I used to have. This season looks to be exciting, more top players getting involved, more promising youth involved, and lineups juiced more than a certain bay-area slugger.

I wish I was ready for some serious week 1 predictions, but it doesn't seem all the lineups are ready yet. But we have a week one match between two expansion teams that should bring some serious excitement to the league. You would think that the new addition of two new tri-city teams would thin out the talent pool in the league, but if anything it seems to have made it deeper and brought out GMs from their hiding places. The very first match of the season features two GMs on board one, not something that has been too common in past seasons. Anyways, here are the lineups:

New Jersey Knockouts Queens Pioneers
GM Joel Benjamin: 2653 GM Alex Stripunsky: 2626
FM Thomas Bartell: 2386 IM Eli Vovsha: 2501
NM Mackenzie Molner: 2355 FM Teddy Coleman: 2285
NM Evan Ju: 2268 WFM Julia Shiber: 2108

Board 1: I'm familiar with both these players, not too familiar with their individual games. I do remember a few nice games by both of them from the 2005 US championship. I also know I've seen both players play 1.e4 and try a few things BESIDES the open sicilian. I think there's a good chance of seeing something like taht in this matchup. Slight edge to Benjamin who I think is probably the slightly stronger player and has white.

Board 2: I'm not familiar with Vovsha at all, seen Bartell play a few nice games, this one is probably a little closer than it looks on paper, but I think the slight edge goes Vovsha who will have the white pieces this should be one of the most important boards for this match.

Board 3: Molner - Coleman
Molner is a former New York Knight. Coleman and he are both young players, Molner seems to be the stronger player but has had problems in some matches last season. Still I think Molner gets the nod on board 3, especially if NJ wants a real edge.

Board 4: Shiber-Ju
I think even with black slight edge to Ju, he seems to have more experience and his youth suggests he's underrated. Board 4 belongs to the kids this year as it has a few times this year.

Overall should be a good start the season.
My prediction: NJ wins 3-1 over Queens