The Playoffs Are Here!!!
By NM Leo Martinez
So the playoffs are finally here! With the Eastern Conference quarterfinals finishing yesterday with New England and Boston advancing tomorrow the Western Conference quarterfinals start. The Arizona Scorpions have the #1 seed and get to choose both the color (they chose White which means they get White on both board 1 and board 3 and Black on boards 2 and 4) and also get draw odds. So in case the teams draw then Arizona advances to the semifinals.
However, draw odds and color are not everything and in the end things are decided on the board. No doubt both teams wanted to put up their absolute best lineups and therefore the matches are the most interesting in the playoffs. The Scorpion – Slugger matchups are below:
Arizona Scorpions (6.5 – 3.5) vs Seattle Sluggers (5.0 – 5.0)
Arizona receives Draw Odds
All Time Series Record: (Arizona leads 3 – 2)
Starts at 9:00 PM ET Time Control – Game in 75 with 30 second increment
|Arizona Scorpions||Seattle Sluggers|
|IM Levon Altounian: 2496||GM Varuzhan Akobian: 2698|
|IM Rogelio Barcenilla: 2583||FM Costin Cozianu: 2557|
|FM Robby Adamson: 2363||FM Slava Mikhailuk: 2431|
|NM Nick Thompson: 2183||Michael Wang: 2103|
|Avg Rating: 2406||Avg Rating: 2447|
|Arizona Total ——-||——- Seattle Total|
Unfortunately, the Scorpions are missing both Danny Rensch (the SPICE CUP) and David Adelberg (World Youth) for this round of the playoffs. However, one of the advantages of a team like Arizona has is that we can put any of our players in our lineup and the team can be strong and around 2400 average.
These matchups are especially interesting as Seattle has decided to put forth their highest rated lineup of the season for this matchup.
Altounian – Akobian is an interesting matchup of two Armenians that immigrated to the US and are now both working at chess full time in their lives. GM Akobian needs no introduction as he just helped assist in the Olympiad for the US and is amongst the best players in the country year after year. He figures to be up at the top of US players for many years to come as he is fairly young still. IM Levon Altounian is perhaps not as high rated and as strong but he has great amount of experience on his side. He is also having a good season with a GM scalp against GM Amanov during week 8 to help Arizona beat the now #2 seed Chicago Blaze. He is also especially strong with White so this should make for an interesting matchup.
Cozianu – Barcenilla is another interesting matchup of two players that have played mostly on board 1 for their teams this season. Both players are also fairly sharp and have had up and down seasons with good wins and not so good losses. Cozianu has impressive wins against GM Benjamin and IM Martinez but has equally unimpressive losses this season against IM Bercys and especially against IM Pruess. However, Rogelio has had an up and down season as well beating FM Mikhailuk, GM Khachiyan, and drawing top 15 player in the world GM Nakamura while losing to Becerra, Gurevich, and Kraai. This should be the game to watch for the match as the winner could easily decide the team that wins the match.
Adamson – Mikhailuk is another game to watch and challenges a strong board 3 player all season against a player (Mikhailuk) who normally plays on board 2 for Seattle. Robby has been very strong for the Scorpions having a solid +2 season at 3.5/5. He has not lost a game all season and beat FM’s Kiewra and Naroditsky to lead Arizona to wins in both matches by a 2.5-1.5 score. However, Mikhailuk is a dangerous opponent that is usually well prepared in the opening and is not afraid to mix it up with evidence from his recent victory against IM David Pruess.
Wang – Thompson is a rematch of board 4 for Week 2 where both teams played each other with the same players. Wang had White in that game as well so it should be interesting to look at the opening in this game and see what improvements or ideas both players have compared to the former game. No doubt everyone will be prepping for such an important match and this game is almost certainly no exception. NM Thompson got the better of Wang in that game and Arizona needs to hope he can repeat the performance in order to advance to the Semifinals.
Overall, very interesting and tight matchups. You can see the game live on ICC Wednesday at 9PM ET or 6PM AZ time or you can see them LIVE at the University of Arizona Campus as well. Here’s a Google/map of the area. And a photo of the building. Good luck to the Seattle Sluggers….And go Arizona Scorpions !