Week 6 Predictions
By FM Robby Adamson
The US Chess League has come to the halfway point. The San Francisco Mechanics and the Arizona Scorpions lead the West Division with a 4-1 record, with the Chicago Blaze a half-point behind in the standings. Meanwhile in the East Division, the New England Nor’ easterns are in sole possession of first place, sporting a USCL-best record of 4.5-.5, with New York Knights just a half-game back at 4-1 . Many of the teams that have underperformed thus far are fully capable of getting back into playoff position by stringing together a few wins in a row. Let’s take a look at both the Monday and Wednesday Matches – all of which are inter-league contests.
Monday Matches -
New York Knights vs Miami Sharks
Not often that you get two GM vs. GM matchupsin a match, but this match has just that. Alex Lenderman gets the board 1 assignment for NY against Miami’s Julio Becerra, while Renier Gonzalez looks to bounce back from an unfortunate loss last week to take on NY’s Pascal Charbonneau. Miami needs to split on boards 1 and 2 at a minimum to prevail. The higher rated FM Marcel Martinez needs to take advantage of his 100 point rating advantage, albeit with black, against NY’s Matt Herman. NY has a nice rating edge on board 4 over USCL-newcomer Nicolas Rosenthal, who does have white, which should balance things somewhat. Miami always is very capable of doing damage, and while I sort of expect a tie match, somehow I think NY will get it done, but barely. NY wins 2.5-1.5.
Dallas Destiny vs Carolina Cobras
Dallas looks to bounce back from a disappointing first half of the season when they face the Carolina Panthers. Carolina will look to ride the hot hand of NM Craig Jones and FM Ron ”I have 200 pieces of Endgame Clothing shirts” Simpson. I expect another close match here – but Dallas’s rating edge on boards 1 and 2 should carry the day. Dallas wins 2.5-1.5.
Philadelphia Inventors vs Chicago Blaze
Hard to figure out this next match – both teams are fielding identical teams. I am going to guess that the GM board 1 encounter between Magesh Panchanathan and Dmitry Gurevich will end in a draw. Board 2, between FM Tom Bartell and IM Angelo Young could decide the match but also will end in a draw. This means the match comes down to board 3 and 4. IM Angelo Young complained to me that I never pick Chicago to win – Ok, Chicago wins 2.5-1.5.
Los Angeles Vibe vs Manhattan Applesauce
Both teams need to win this match – so expect excellent efforts from both teams. Boards 3 and 4 should decide the match – and I think the Vibe are a little better on these boards. The key for Manhattan is to get a win on board 2, with Eli Vovsha having white and a nice rating advantage. LA wins 2.5-1.5.
Wednesday Matches -
New England Nor’easters vs St. Louis Arch Bishops
New England puts its USCL best record on the line vs. St Louis, who must be anxious to get their second win of the season. Provided GM Ben Finegold doesnt win, New England should coast to a victory. St Louis, given their rating disadvantage on board 3 and 4, will probably be ecstatic about a tie match here, so they need to get 1.5/2 on the top boards and hope for something positive on board 3 and 4. New England coasts to victory 3-1.
Boston Blitz vs San Francisco Mechanics
Another close match – highlighted by another GM matchup between Boston’s LarryC and SF’s Jesse Kraai. Overall, Boston seems to be a slight favorite here. The key for SF is probably SF’s board 4, NM Yian Liou vs. Boston’s NM Ilya Krasik. The key for Boston is LarryC coming through on board 1. I will take a suggestion/technique out of Seattle’s Alex Guo playbook here and flip a coin – Boston wins 2.5-1.5. (It came up tails)
Seattle Sluggers vs New Jersey Knockouts
The average ratings of the teams are close, but somehow it seems NJ is a favorite. The key for Seattle is to hold on boards 1 and 2 and come through with FM Michael Lee and Alex Guo on boards 3 and 4, respectively. If NJ splits on boards 3 and 4, they win going away, especially if Mackenzie Molner comes up with some cool moves. NJ wins 3-1.
Arizona Scorpions vs Baltimore Kingfishers
The final match of the night features two improved teams. Baltimore shows they are serious about improving their record by putting forth the highest rated lineup of the year. GM Sergey Erenberg has played almost every week, and features 2 GMs and an IM, with a very experienced master on board 4. Arizona counters with their 6th different lineup of the year. Looking at all four boards, it is hard to see where either team has an appreciable advantage. The colors for each team compensate for whatever rating deficiency they might have on that board. As always, I pick objectively, except when it concerns AZ. AZ Scorpions win 2.5-1.5.