Western Conference Semifinals Preview

Western Conference Semifinals Preview

Nov 9, 2010, 9:04 PM |


By John Gurczak

After a very close nail-biter versus the Seattle Sluggers last week the Arizona Scorpions move on to the Western Conference Semifinals to face the dangerous Miami Sharks. Arizona has struggled against the Sharks the previous two seasons going 0-2 but were able to secure their first victory against them in week 1. Being the #1 seed Arizona will once again receive draw odds this match. Since Miami is seeded 2 seeds below Arizona, Arizona also got to chose which color they wanted. Arizona chose White on boards 1 + 3 and will have black one boards 2 + 4.

Arizona Scorpions(7-4) vs. Miami Sharks (6.5-4.5)

Arizona Receives Draw Odds

All Time Series Record: Miami leads 2-1

Arizona Scorpions Miami Sharks
IM Levon Altounian 2496  GM Julio Becerra 2628 
GM Rogelio Barcenilla 2583  GM Renier Gonzalez 2540
FM Robby Adamson 2363 FM Marcel Martinez 2475
Nick Thompson 2183 Nicholas Rosenthal 2047
Avg. Rating 2406 Avg. Rating 2423



 Board 1 - IM Altounian vs. GM Becerra

Lev is going to have his hands full this match going up against USCL stud and league MVP Julio Becerra. Lev is having a strong season thus far with a +1 score and a performance rating above 2600. Lev will have white this game so his chances to score seem pretty good. Lev will want to control the game right from the start and keep things simple against the tactical Becerra. I don’t have any record of these two every playing before so it is going to be interesting to see how the game will go. I am going to predict Lev will continue his solidness this season and secure the draw for Arizona.

Board 2 - GM Gonzalez vs. GM Barcenilla

Gonzalez and Barcenilla are both having ok seasons performing just a bit under their indicated ratings. Gonzalez seems pretty predictable so this game will likely be some kind of Ruy Lopez, the same opening Becerra and Barcenilla played during week 1. Barcenilla will want to get back on the winning track and although he has black I am going to predict that he wins this match.

Board 3 - FM Adamson vs. FM Martinez

Both players are having great seasons so far with Robby being +2 and Martinez being +4 and scoring 4.5 pts in his last 5 matches. Robby was the hero last week for Arizona and he will be looking to build off of the momentum. These two have played once before with opposite colors in the 2004 U.S. Championship so its hard to say what opening will be played. I think Robby will have a slight advantage the whole game but the it will eventually sizzle out into a draw.

Board 4  – Rosenthal vs. NM Thompson

Board 4 will feature two rising stars that are having above average season thus far. Rosenthal is coming off of 2 consecutive wins versus higher rated opposition including a miniature against FM Shankar last week. Nick has played well so far scoring two wins with black both versus Michael Wang in convincing fashion. These two have never played before and this board will be key for both teams. I am going to predict that a Sicilian of some sort will occur and in the end Nick will pull through with the win after Rosenthal overpushes the position.

Overall this will be an exciting match that can go either way but I think the Scorpions will come through with a 3-1 victory and advance to their first ever USCL Championship. The match is going to be at Abstrax in Phoenix at 7:00 P.M.