Week 8 Previews
By FM Robby Adamson
After a one week absence from picking (because I was playing from Phoenix) – here are the Monday match predictions for Week 8 (even though I am playing, from Tucson. All 4 matches have major playoff implications – this week should decide the fate of many teams.
New Jersey Knockouts vs Manhattan Applesauce
Manhattan needs a victory here to maintain their playoff aspirations in the tightly contested Eastern Division. NJ probably needs to run the table to make the playoffs – something they are fully capable of doing. I predict NJ gets it done. Joel should defeat IM Lev Milman given his rustyness. Mackenzie Molner’s game will be “cool” and the Shen brothers should score 1-1.5/2.NJ wins 3-1.
Baltimore Kingfishers vs Philadelphia Inventors
Erenberg has been a monster this season and should get it done with white, versus Bartell, who has faired well this season as well. Philly needs IM Costigan to win on board 4 for Philly to have a chance. At least the Philadelphia has the Phillies. Baltimore wins 2.5-1.5
Dallas Destiny vs Seattle Sluggers
Dallas has a balanced team and is better than their record indicates. No one seems to give IM Sadorra his props – he has had an incredible season thus far – Did you know he is tied for 3rd in the MVP ranking? Dallas gets it done, somehow. Why has GM Gregory Serper not played this year??? Dallas wins 2.5-1.5.
Arizona Scorpions vs Chicago Blaze
A big match for both teams – both teams want it badly as first place is on the line. Hard to predict any of the4 boards. The Altounian – Amanov match will be interesting battle of 2 positional players. Will either play risky? No worries on Angel Young – Aldama – both sides will go for the throat a game that will probably decide the match. Skipping my game of course, Gauri Shankar has a rating edge over our John Gurczak – but John is battle tested and drew the highest rated player any of our board 4′s have faced this year. Overall, Chicago has a rating edge, but somehow I predict an Arizona victory. If Arizona loses, I know I will get 15 calls from Sevan Muradian – so please Arizona win!
New York Knights vs New England Nor’easters
Perhaps the most anticipated match of the season as the NY Knights square off against the unbeaten New England Nor’easters. New England has surprised everyone with their fantastic start, and basically has used a very balanced lineup all season. NY has decided to employ the stacked lineup of 2 GM’s and very strong IM (Irina Krush) versus New England’s more balanced roster. Whenever you use the stacked lineup, you better win because it usually means the other team has the edge on 4th board. The key for New England to score 1-1.5 minimum on board 1-3. So how can that happen here? I think it starts with IM Sam Shankland holding down the sometimes-USCL-vulerable GM Giorgi Kacheisvilli. I am sure Sam will have something prepped versus the very booked up Sam Shankland. It goes without saying (that saying is so dumb since you always say it in order to use that clause anyway) that NE needs to win on 4th board. How does NY win this match? I think they need to come through with their whites on board 1 and 3. This should be an exciting match – I want to predict a tie, because it feels like that kind of match. But no one, even New England is going to be happy with a tie. An interesting side note here is that if NY loses this match, they are in danger of dropping into a tie for 3rd. Despite my overall feeling of a tie match, I have to think NY comes through and wins.NY wins 2.5-1.5.
Carolina Cobras vs Boston Blitz
You have to admire Carolina’s effort each week as they are severely out-rated in most matches each week and of course this match is no exception. Carolina will put up a good fight as usual but when you are out-rated on every board, it makes things tough. Good to see Carolina’s Richard Herbst make his USCL debut. Unfortunately he goes to Duke University. Boston wins 3-1.
St. Louis Arch Bishops vs San Francisco Mechanics
Definitely the match I am going to follow tonight – St. Louis puts forth the 3 GM lineup of Nakamura, Shulman, and Ben Finegold while SF goes with a more balanced lineup. How does St. Louis win? Same as with NY – gotta score 2.5/3 on board 1-3, and of course any point scored on 4th is gravy. How does SF win? First, GM Panda Friedel needs to score against Nakamura – which is not entirely out of the question. GM Hikaru Nakamura never plays real openings in the USCL which takes a little bit of an edge away, but clearly Nakamura is favored. If SF can score something on board 1 and win with a big rating edge on 4th, they only need half a point on board 2 or 3 to tie the match. Overall, the smart money is on a tie match, just because in the USCL the favorite doesnt always win, and we have seen that every week, most recently with NY vs Carolina and some previous St. Louis matches. Now that St. Louis has their “A lineup” I think the pressure is on to win, and they get it done and basically clinch a playoff spot. St. Louis wins a close one 2.5-1.5.
Miami Sharks vs Los Angeles Vibe
This is an elimination match – both sides desperately need to win and Miami is on a bit of a roll despite a horrendous 0-3 start to the season. Miami has a relatively stacked lineup but LA counters with a GM on board 1 and balance on the rest. Board 1 should be a a balanced affair with GM Julio Becerra vs. GM Melik Khachiyan. Like the St. Louis and NY matches, LA has a rating edge on 4th and needs to convert for a chance to win. In another close match, and it very wel could end in a tie or LA win, I expect Miami to get it done. Miami wins 2.5-1.5.