Week 2 Preview v. the Roos

Week 2 Preview v. the Roos


With one loss in the books, we turned our attention to the second week's match against the Australia Kangaroos. They don't have the star power of Ding Liren or Caruana+So, but they definitely have two young stars worth keeping one's eyes on: Alexey Sarana (18) of Russia and Anton Smirnov (17) of Australia. These two teenage GMs had been a big part of the team's "overperformance" in the 2018 season, and have continued improving since then. When I analyzed the 'roos, it seemed to me that their best lineups involve both of these guys playing, and so I was not surprised when their lineup was:

Sept FIDE Current
Sarana 2634 2641
Smirnov 2549 2569
Moulthun Ly 2486 2486
Raymond Song 2305 2329
2493.5 2506.25

In evaluating team's strengths, I will use a FIDE rapid rating in place of a FIDE rating if that player has 20+ rapid games in the last year. This is the case for Sarana, who is a few points higher rated in rapid than classical. As you can see, Smirnov and Song have also made some progress in the last couple months, while GM Ly is not playing very actively right now.

What lineup did I come up with to counter the 'roos? Well, just about the only one I had available! Turns out the manager's task is a bit tougher than I realized. I thought with 16 players, and 40+ lineups that come in around 2500, I would be picking and choosing which lineup to use for strategic reasons and for my purpose of spreading games around among all our young players so they each get experience. But instead between work and tournament commitments, I found myself scrambling in the last 12 hours to find a set of 4 players who fit together into a competitive lineup. After 150 emails and untellable stress, we finally wound up with... basically the same lineup as last week v. the Hackers:

Danya 2615 2616
Yannick 2612 2630
Steven 2506 2510
Ezra 2248 2360
2495.25 2529

You can see that Yannick and Ezra are the two Mechanics who have been making rating progress in the last few months. But Steven is full-time into chess now, so although his rating has not changed much in the last three months, he has been playing steadily and is in good form.

Like last week, my prediction would be for a very close match, at the end of which whichever team loses will be able to point to 2 or 3 "what if" moments that would have changed the result of the match. Let's hope our guys keep their cool and their wits at those critical moments as the clock ticks down and the fate of the game hangs in the balance.

This week's match will be played and commented at the Berkeley Chess School (you can always find where our matches are in our schedule). You are invited to come visit any time during the match, which should run from about 6 pm to 8:30 pm. If you can't make it in person, check out our SF Mechanics streaming commentary with myself and FM Andy Lee at https://www.twitch.tv/drdragonitsky .

In this picture from week 1 you can see our commentary team, with Josiah, myself, and Andy looking at the games, while Andrew analyzes along without ever looking at them. There are also pictures of many legendary and local chess figures all around, one of the super cool things about the Mechanics Institute.