What's in a name?
Recently, I was asked by FM Mike Klein, the famous "fun-master," to predict the results of the upcoming PRO Chess League. Every week. Accurately. He must've been aware of my background as a handicapper and fantasy football expert, both of which rely heavily on making semi-educated guesses with incomplete data and no real tangible "clue" as to, well, anything, really. Let's just say it's an inexact science and leave it at that.
After perusing the rosters, what struck me most was the high amount of international (read: non-US) teams that are participating. One of chess's greater attributes has always been its ability to draw together cultures and the notion of chess as a global sport is one that is most certainly continued by the PRO Chess League.
So, what is in a name? I have to hand it to the foreigners - they really chose their team monikers wisely. Well, some of them, anyway, are pretty awesome. And so, in this world of inexactitudes that is match prognosticating, if my gut tells me it's close, the team with the cooler name gets the nod. See? Science.
In order of division, I clearly state that the following results will ABSOLUTELY AND WITHOUT DOUBT(!) happen:
Atlanta Kings vs. Miami Champions:
Lenier Dominguez-Perez will be exciting to watch as he blasts the field apart with precisely zero mercy, but Atlanta has good chances in the remaining three matches any given round. 9.5-6.5 Atlanta. Also, Miami clearly hasn't learned anything from their erstwhile "champion," LeBron James. Don't crown yourself before you win! "Champions"... what's in that name?
Buenos Aires Krakens - New Jersey Knockouts: Krakens. Now there's a name. I love the idea of a sea creature from the deep vs. a bunch of New Jersey dudes who just got back from pounding the mat at their local boxing club. 8-8 tie. Benjamin and Stripunsky do just enough to hold the balance.
Carolina Cobras - Philadelphia Inventors: Cobras need to "invent" a name change. Like Kraken. Even goes with the hard "C". Philly by a lot. Let's say 13.5-2.5
Columbus Cardinals - Patagonia Penguins: Patagonia wins, though Brattain plays well. This is a close one, but c'mon. Penguins are clearly the superior fowl, despite their inability to fly. 9-7 PATAGONIA BABY
Monteal Chessbrahs - New York Knights: The bigger question than who will win is: did Eric Hansen name this team or did they name the team after him? Either way, I'm amused. Will be fun to watch Yudasin but in the end, Li Chao dominates. 9.5-6.5 Montreal.
Toronto Dragons -Montclair Sopranos: I guess I'll take Toronto, but this will be a close one. Lenderman plays well, Toronto wins, anyway. Somebody call Tony! 9.5-6.5
Dallas Destiny - St Louis Archbishops: Despite Dallas' plan of listening to Destiny's Child to pump them up during the entire match, I think St. Louis pulls this one out behind Wesley So. 10.5-5.5 The Lou.
Minnesota Blizzard - Portland Rain: In the "battle of the weather", Minnesota's skies are sunnier. 10-6, then some ice fishing, eh?
Rio Grande Ospreys -Las Vegas Desert Rats: Never underestimate Alexandre Kretchetov. Desert Rats pull it off behind a strong showing from their board 4, who goes 3-1 against strong competition. 9-7 LV.
San Diego Surfers - Seattle Sluggers: See, Seattle, you let me down. In a league full of awesome team names, how about "Sleepless in Seattle?" or "Seattle Starbucks?" or "Seattle Supersonics?" (I heard that one isn't taken any more). Anyway, Mikhailevski goes beast-mode and Seattle somehow wins, despite Dreev's 3.5
San Francisco Mechanics - Pittsburgh Pawngrabbers: Shaba plays well, but San Fran's depth overcomes Pittsburgh's board one. 11-4 in favor of the bay.
San Jose Hackers - Webster Windmills: Mamedyarov does what Mamedyarov does and makes these 15-2 games complicated beyond belief, drops a 4-0, and leads San Jose to victory 10-6
Belgrade Sparrows - Odisha Express: I think it sounds like an "Express" would defeat a "Sparrow." Right? 9-7 Odisha.
Budapest Gambit - Mumbai Movers: Many want to know how many Budapest openings we will see, but the real question is how many REVERSE Budapest openings we will see! 1. Nf3 d5 2. e4!!! C'mon guys!!! Budapest 9 Mumbai 7.
Delhi Dynamite - Ljubljana Direwolves: Now, THAT's what I call a team name! (volume 6). Seriously, love the Game of Thrones fans representing all the way from Slovenia. WINTER IS COMING. Ljubljana 14.5 - Delhi 1.5. Also, if Ljubljana wins the whole shebang this year, I am personally starting a movement right now, this instant, to demand that the whole team get matching "Winter is Coming" tattoos. Anyone know how to spell that in Slovenian?
Gorki Stormbringers - Johannesburg Koeksisters: I had to look up what a "Koeksister" was, but man those look awesome. Anyone from Johannesburg wanna ship me some? Also, Stormbringers win behind Shaposhnikov's 4-0. 10-6.
Riga Magicians - Norway Gnomes: an interesting and hard fought 8-8 tie. Hammer brings down the Hammer, but Kovalenko equalizes. Also, I like the thought of a gnome with a hammer.
Shymkent Nomads - Amaravati Yodhas: I sort of doubt this is a Star Wars reference, but I'm going to pretend it is, anyway! Do or do not, there is no try! Yodhas 8.5 Shymkent 7.5.
Abuja Rockstars - London Lions: Should be a fun matchup to watch, but I'll take the Lions 10-6. Also, I am officially offering my free agent services to Abuja. I want to be a rock star.
Amsterdam Mosquitoes - Stockholm Snowballs: Meier brings his "A" game and carries the day. 9-7 Stockholm.
Apeldoorn Apes - Cannes Blockbusters: Love the Cannes name. Simple. Referential. Bravo. Allons-y! Cannes 10 Apeldoorn 6.
Dublin Desperados - Lagos Leatherbacks 12.5-3.5, the Irish are too strong for this one.
Hamburg Swashbucklers - Reykjavik Puffins: If there's one thing I've learned in life it's never, ever bet against a puffin. 9-7 Reykjavik.
London Towers - Marseille Migraines: It's really hard to bet against a team that has two 2700 players on it. MVL goes 4-0, Bacrot 3.5. VIVE LA FRANCE! 13-3 La Marseillaise.
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