Monday, September 27, 2010

New England dodges St. Louis 3-GM lineup; Boston tackles San Fran Mechanics

This week, both local USCL teams face off with the West League in Interdivisional play.

New England Nor'easters vs. St. Louis Archbishops
New England gets White on Boards 1+3

New England Nor'easters St. Louis Archbishops
IM Sam Shankland: 2567 vs GM Ben Finegold: 2589
IM David Vigorito: 2524 vs IM Michael Brooks: 2411
FM Chris Chase: 2382 vs NM Jim Voelker: 2141
NM Carey Theil: 2251 vs Margaret Hua: 1770
Avg Rating: 2431 Avg Rating: 2228

St. Louis's lineup is still depleted by the Olympiad, where both GM Yuri Shulman and GM Hikaru Nakamura are doing well for team US. Perfect timing for the Nor'easters, as getting more than a draw from the 3 GM lineup might have been too much for our undefeated locals.

Instead the Nor'easters have their biggest ratings advantage yet, with an equal rating on board 1, a 100 point gap on board 2, a 250 point gap on board 3, and a 400+ gap on board 4.

The biggest challenge for the Nor'easters is the East Coast-(mid)West Coast change to a more rapid Game 75, 30 second delay from the G90 the team has used all season. This may especially affect the USCL neophytes on Boards 3+4, who have already given us some exciting clock adventures. I've seen both Chris and Carey get scalped by underdogs in our Boylston Club G60 cage matches, so watch out for upsets on these boards.

Doing the math, I see New England getting to the marginal 2.5-1.5 yet again this week. The Nor'easters may have dropped to #2 in the Bioniclime power rankings behind New York, but I'd rather be in first place then win an occasional match 4-0.

Come Wednesday to the Boylston Chess Club at 8PM (NOTE TIME CHANGE!) to watch the action live and hear color commentary from other club members.

Boston Blitz vs. San Francisco Mechanics
Boston has White on Boards 1+3

Boston Blitz San Francisco Mechanics
GM Larry Christiansen: 2665 vs GM Jesse Kraai: 2551
IM Marc Esserman: 2492 vs IM Dmitry Zilberstein: 2429
WGM Anya Corke: 2322 vs FM Steven Zierk: 2426
NM Ilya Krasik: 2253 vs NM Yian Liou: 2254
Avg Rating: 2433 Avg Rating: 2415

Kicking off at 8:30 PM, Boston faces a much more even battle.

On Board 1, GM Christiansen with the White pieces has been fearsome this year, while Jesse Kraai is making his 2010 debut as the 4th Mechanic to helm the top board. A testament to the incredible depth of the Mechanics; too bad they can't get all their top players on the Board at the same time. Not that they need it, with a 1st place spot in the West. Still, I say not a good week for Kraai to pick up USCL duties.

On Board 2, Esserman's Velociraptor tactics will be somewhat quelled by having the Black pieces. But Zilberstein's play in the USCL has always been a little tepid, and Marc will be hitting his personal circadian stride around 8:30PM, so....... fireworks could ensue.

On Board 3, San Fran's Zierk must have the edge against Corke, but his so-so results thus far in the League (1/3, two draws and a loss) don't match up well with Anya's stellar results (1.5/2 this year, 2/3 last year with ZERO losses). Small sample size, but I predict Anya to at least secure a draw with the White pieces in this one.

On Board 4, Ilya Krasik faces the insurmountable 1 rating point deficit against Yian Liou. Seriously, to that 1 rating point has to be added another 200 points for the rapidly improving 13 year old, Liou, who scored 6.5/10 last year and 2/3 this year with only 2 losses.

Added to that is an unheralded secret to the Mechanics success-- the early start time. 8:30 for the Blitz is only 5:30 for San Fran, right at the time a 13 year old is still wide awake. They are not only armed with improving players on Board 4, they are armed with AWAKE improving players on Board 4. We don't count Ilya down for the count, but a technical knockout is in the air.

Doing the math, I see a 2.0-2.0 drawn match. However, mixing in the Esserman Velociraptor methods and some make-nice points with Ilya, I'll make a final prediction of 2.25-1.75 for the Blitz.

The Blitz can be seen at the Harvard University Center for Astrophysics starting at 8:30 PM.

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