Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Preview-- Blitz vs. Kingfishers

The Boston Blitz must win this week, or their playoff position becomes very tenuous. Right now, with a 3-4 record, they are still in 4th place in the East. If they lose, they will suddenly be tied with New York, a team that had seemed very small in the rearview mirror just two weeks ago.

Right now, the Kingfishers have a terrible record, with just 1.5 points, but a victory on Wednesday will give them playoff hopes again.

Let's take a look at the matchups.

Baltimore Kingfishers (White on 1 & 3) vs the Boston Blitz (White on 2 & 4)
GM Sergey Erenburg: 2592 vs. SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun: 2576
IM Larry Kaufman: 2424 vs. SM Denys Shmelov: 2446
FM Ray Kaufman: 2348 vs. NM Marc Esserman: 2307
FM Ralph Zimmer: 2328 vs. NM Ilya Krasik: 2144

My bleak predictions-- the Blitz lose on all 4 boards. Sorry, but I'm writing this as I watch the Red Sox get pummeled yet again by former cellar-dwellers, the Tampa Bay Rays. My Boston fandom is bleak at the moment. Seriously, though, let's take a closer look.

Board 1 Sergey Erenburg vs. Sammour-Hasbun. I like seeing Jorge on Board 1 for the Blitz with the Black pieces, especially since GM Larry Christiansen may have suffered some kind of terrible blundering disease of late. Also, Erenburg likes to eat the previous generation of US Champions for lunch in this league. Just check out his two victories over Joel Benjamin, here and here. Erenburg has quietly been putting in a very strong year, and as of Week 7, is Bionic Lime's Silver Medalist for Board 1. He also is at the very top of the Bionic Lime rating list for the USCL. Jorge, for all his skills, is only 20th. Jorge will certainly make it a double-edged game with lots of chances for both sides, but Erenburg gets my nod this week.

Board 2 IM Larry Kaufman vs. Denys Shmelov. Unfortunately for Baltimore, the rest of their players are at the bottom of Bionic Lime's rating list. Kaufman can't seem to find any wins this year. I don't think he will find one this week, either. However, my bleak mood suggests to me that Shmelov also won't find a win this week.

Board 3 Ray Kaufman vs. Marc Esserman. Normally, Baltimore would have no shot at upending the red-hot Marc Esserman on Board 3. They makes things worse by violating the never-have-two-people-with-the-same-last-name-playing-at-the-same-time-on-one-team rule. Furthermore, Marc is in the TOP 10 of Bionic Lime's rating list, and a current Board 3 Bronze medalist. Yet, my dour attitude and massive prognosticating skills suggest something different this week. I predict that Marc is afraid to play as Black this week, since he can't employ the Smith-Morra Gambit. Marc will also be cowed after he finally reads a recent article in the Boston Globe, in which Patrick Wolff annotates his Smith-Morra win against Jayson Lian earlier this year but also directly disses the Smith-Morra and suggests it is only worth playing in childhood. Marc is going to flee, and the time penalties given against the Blitz on Board 3 will keep David Vigorito or Charles Riordan from playing at their best (and without preparation!) Kaufman, as he appears to be doing this year, will make efforts to lose, but loss will elude Ray this week.

Board 4. Zimmer vs. Krasik. Ilya has one thing going for him this week-- he doesn't have the Black pieces, so there is no way he can roll out his rather porous Sicilian Defence this week. Krasik is in the bottom 10 of Bionic Lime's rating list (one notch above Ray Kaufman); Zimmer is not much higher. It is a battle all the way to the bottom. Maybe this board could be invigorated if they are allowed to take all the pieces that their Board 1 teammates capture and place them on their board, in a sort of half-a-game of bughouse. It is clear that Baltimore and Boston are lacking that talented 15 year old that can bring low ratings and spectacular master-class games. We'll just have to settle for what they bring us this week instead -- a 13-4 rout by the opposing team.

Just remember, Boston fans, what happened the last time a team routed us badly in the playoffs. We went on to win 4 in a row against the Yanks and we swept the World Series.

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