By FM Robby Adamson
The Year 2010 in the US Chess League looks to be a rather balanced league. It will be interesting to see whether improved teams such as Chicago can qualify for the playoffs, and whether new teams like St Louis and Los Angeles will handle their respective first year in the league. Somehow I think there will be a few new teams to the playoffs.
Just like last year, I will try my best to predict the matches. I really hope I can pick better than I did last year because last year was worse than the fall of a certain political parties (insert your favorite punch-bag here). Without further ado, here are the Week 1 predictions:
Monday Matches –
New York Knights vs. Boston Blitz
The first match of the 2010 campaign is again a great match-up between 2 rivalries. I really like New York’s team this year with the use of the 3 underrated juniors (underrated meaning current USCF ratings are much higher than 2009 rating supplement being used) Alec Getz, Alex Ostrovskiy and Justus Williams, as well as heavy-weight GM Giorgi Kacheishvili on board 1. Getz has played well this year, Ostrovskiy is almost 2300, and Justus Williams has improved a lot in the last year. Boston always will be strong when you have GM Larry “Can I please get an ice coffee” Christiansen leading the team, but I think Boston is lacking that underrated player element that always seems to help teams. So who wins this one? I think Larry needs to score the full point against GM Alex Lenderman for Boston to be successful because I think NY is stronger overall. NY wins 2.5-1.5
Philadelphia Inventors vs. New Jersey Knockouts
Philadelphia has a slight rating edge here – but Philly will need a strong outing from IM Bryan Smith who had a superb Philadelphia International this summer. I think Bryan needs to come after GM Joel Benjamin because NJ has a huge edge on board 2. GM Boris Gulko receives his obligatory white vs. FM Tom Bartell and should bring that point home. For that reason, I think NJ wins this one 2.5-1.5.
St. Louis Arch Bishops vs. Los Angeles Vibe
I remember the nervous feeling I had two years ago when I played for the Arizona Scorpions and I am sure there will be a little bit of nervous feelings from both of these expansion teams. But don’t feel too bad for St Louis who has 3 GMs (Naka, Shulman, and Finegold) or LA which has the very experienced GM Melik Khachiyan and some other very talented players. I think its pretty clear that if St Louis survives on boards 3 and 4 this year, they will be very difficult to beat. Even though this match is going to be close, in large part due to the huge rating advantage LA has on board 4, St Louis wins this one 2.5-1.5.
Seattle Sluggers vs. Chicago Blaze
Chicago has a rating edge this match and really looks to be significantly improved. GM Amanov on board 2 (or potentially 3rd!) for future matches is slightly obnoxious. I expect Gurevich to do well on board 1 this year which should help Chicago contend for the playoffs. Seattle on the other hand has replaced Naka with Akobian, but Varuzhan is not playing this week. Chicago wins 3-1.
Wednesday Matches –
Manhattan Applesauce vs. Carolina Cobras
Do Cobras eat apple sauce? If they did, that would give Carolina at least one edge to speak of. Manhattan wins this one, though it will be closer than people will expect. MA wins 2.5-1.5.
New England Nor’easters vs. Baltimore Kingfishers
The other expansion team, New England, has a lot of familiar faces with IM’s Hungaski, Vigorito, and strong FM’s Braden Bournival and Chris Chase. NE also has a huge rating edge. Baltimore is not playing their strongest possible lineup and is an underdog on all boards. That spells disaster for Baltimore.
New England wins 3-1.
San Francisco Mechanics vs. Dallas Destiny
San Francisco busts out the usual obnoxious rating average (2462 – highest of the week) and features the usual cast of underrated juniors, with both Daniel Naroditsky and Steven Zierk each recently picking up IM Norms. Dallas has a strong team as well and really needs a strong performance from Sal “Can we have split (not separate) checks” Bercys. Sal really will need to “Do it Live” for Dallas to hang in there – you know its gonna be an interesting Kings Indian Defense. Overall, I give SF the nod here as youth is served. SF wins by a hair, 2.5-1.5.
Miami Sharks vs. Arizona Scorpions
Last year was a great year to be a fan of the Scorpions. We won the blog award , made the playoffs, and had a great time. Unfortunately we lost in the playoffs – but still a successful year.
This year we see two new strong juniors (NM Nick Thompson and Expert John Gurczak) who will man board 4, as well our most successful board 4 from last year, David Adelberg.
Now onto the match. We will need Rogelio to hold down USCL stalwart, GM Julio Becerra while our other IM’s Dionisio Aldama and Danny Rensch will need to score against fellow IM Blas Lugo and NM Eric Rodriguez. Miami has a 200 point rating edge on board 4 with Charles Galofre against John Gurczak, though John is white. This will be a tough match as it always is when you play Miami. I predict the olive branch here, 2-2 tie.