USCL Week 8 preview/predictions
I've been extremely busy this week, and completely forgot to post predictions! Hence I'll just leave these here and run, given that the matches start in half an hour...
|New York Knights||New Jersey Knockouts|
|GM Gata Kamsky: 2785||1.0||0.0||GM Alex Stripunsky: 2656|
|SM Matt Herman: 2439||0.0||1.0||GM Joel Benjamin: 2634|
|SM Nicolas Checa: 2396||0.5||0.5||NM John Michael Burke: 2295|
|FM Aravind Kumar: 2201||0.5||0.5||Aaron Jacobson: 2139|
|Average Rating: 2455||Average Rating: 2431|
|New York Total||2.0||2.0||New Jersey Total|
I have to admit I'm not entirely confident in this match, given that New York looks like the best team in the league by a significant margin coming into this week. Nonetheless, we have serious chances to shake up the division here. With GM Kamsky finally finding his form and GM Stripunsky still struggling to get on track, the huge board 2 advantage we have is almost completely nullified. Also, Herman is no stranger to this matchup, knocking NJ out of the playoffs last year with a ridiculous swindle against GM Benjamin. The bottom boards are in New York's favor on paper, but with the oldest of the four being like 14 years old, it's basically impossible to say anything of real substance. Checa-JMB will probably be a big highlight of the night, with those two being some of the strongest kids in the country.
|Philadelphia Inventors||Manhattan Applesauce|
|FM Dov Gorman: 2400||0.0||1.0||GM Robert Hungaski: 2551|
|FM Rodion Rubenchik: 2329||0.5||0.5||FM Andrew Shvartsman: 2432|
|IM Richard Costigan: 2288||0.5||0.5||SM Ryan Goldenberg: 2384|
|NM Todd Bryant: 2201||0.5||0.5||NM Ben Gershenov: 2210|
|Average Rating: 2305||Average Rating: 2394|
|Philadelphia Total||1.5||2.5||Manhattan Total|
Philly pulled off magic in the first half of the season, but without IM Bartell they've looked exactly like they look on paper - a heavily understaffed team that simply can't compete with the rest of the league. This is quite possibly a playoff-style match, with the winner in prime position to get into the postseason and the loser facing a very difficult road in. I feel like Philadelphia will manage to make this interesting, but Manhattan just has them heavily outmatched.
|Connecticut Dreadnoughts||Carolina Cobras|
|GM Oliver Barbosa: 2579||1.0||0.0||IM Kassa Korley: 2486|
|FM Leif Pressman: 2432||0.5||0.5||FM Andrey Chumachenko: 2435|
|SM Joshua Colas: 2400||0.0||1.0||NM Ilker Bozkurt: 2383|
|FM Jason Shi: 2220||0.0||1.0||NM Kevin Mo: 2334|
|Average Rating: 2408||Average Rating: 2410|
|Connecticut Total||1.5||2.5||Carolina Total|
Connecticut looked great at the halfway point, but they've floundered in the absence of GM Lenderman. Though they remain a pretty good team, they're really struggling to put points on the board. Carolina, on the other hand, came out of nowhere to suddenly vault themselves into realistic playoff hopes, though they're still way on the outside looking in. A win tonight might be the push they need to make a late playoff run. They have big advantages on the bottom boards, with white and a rating edge on board 4 as well as a hot NM Bozkurt on board 3. They'll realistically need both those games to go their way for the point.
|Baltimore Kingfishers||Miami Sharks|
|GM Niclas Huschenbeth: 2603||0.5||0.5||GM Julio Becerra: 2626|
|GM Larry Kaufman: 2391||0.0||1.0||GM Renier Gonzalez: 2510|
|NM Jared Defibaugh: 2325||0.5||0.5||NM Federico Gonzalez: 2315|
|FM Ralph Zimmer: 2268||0.5||0.5||Vlad Yanovsky: 2165|
|Average Rating: 2397||Average Rating: 2404|
|Baltimore Total||1.5||2.5||Miami Total|
Miami in the second half of the season is a very different team from Miami in the first half of the season, and they're proving that once again this year. This may also be a de facto playoff match, as the winner will have solid control of their destiny going forward. GM Becerra has at least as many winning chances as FM Zimmer has, while Miami has to be happy with the matchups on the middle boards. The Sharks aren't going away easily.
|New England Nor'easters||Boston Blitz|
|IM David Vigorito: 2519||0.5||0.5||IM Steven Zierk: 2543|
|SM Mika Brattain: 2453||0.0||1.0||FM Denys Shmelov: 2473|
|FM Steven Winer: 2419||1.0||0.0||NM Chris Williams: 2310|
|NM Greg Kaden: 2170||0.0||1.0||NM Ilya Krasik: 2264|
|Average Rating: 2390||Average Rating: 2398|
|New England Total||1.5||2.5||Boston Total|
In a night where almost every match has serious playoff implications, this contest is probably going to be overlooked by all but the fans of these teams. New England clearly gave up when they started adding 1600s to their roster, while Boston's chances are only theoretical (but hey, you never know). Nonetheless, it's a pretty even matchup, and the pride factor here should make it interesting. Krasik's season has been just miserable thus far, and I'd like to see him at least collect a couple of points before the season ends. The middle boards are fairly evenly matched, with Winer and Shmelov probably having about the same winning chances. Finally, the top board is a pretty even contest. I'll give the nod to Boston, because they at least can keep it in the back of their minds that miracles can happen.
As usual, a huge thank you to our sponsors, PokerStars (who recently hosted an apparently excellent tournament in the Isle of Man; check it out!) and ICC!