The long awaited subway matchup is finally upon us. At the beginning of the season, I might have guessed that this match would be the one to determine who would win the East Division, but unfortunately for each team, things probably haven’t gone quite the way they might have envisioned at that time. On the other hand, both of these teams have been on the brink of playoff elimination the last couple weeks and have managed to stave it off until now so this will certainly still be a very hard fought match. It just happens that the stakes for this encounter are slightly different than what I expected as instead of fighting for the division title, they are fighting for their playoff lives as the loser of this match is likely to be near mathematically eliminated from contention. Let’s see how it looks from board to board.
Board 1: Nakamura vs. Vovsha. All season long, I’ve been giving Nakamura an edge (in my mind) in all of his games, but he has yet to validate that faith having not won a game so far. Vovsha on the other hand has really probably surpassed most people’s expectations in not having lost a single game in six matches and really is the main reason why Queens is still in the playoff hunt. While I still have to think Nakamura has an advantage, I’m only willing to call it a slight one at this point. (Slight Edge NY)
Board 2: Schneider vs. Charbonneau. Schneider played quite an impressive first game this season to help the Pioneers stave off elimination, but he will likely need something of a repeat performance if Queens is to avoid elimination for the second consecutive week. Charbonneau has had a somewhat up and down season, playing a few very inspired games like his win vs Perelshteyn, but also a few I think he’d probably choose to forget about given the chance. Like Board One, some advantage for New York here. (Slight Edge NY)
Board 3: Arnold vs. Kleiman. Neither of these players has been especially active in the league thus far making this game a little bit harder to call than the others. Queens does have a slight rating edge, but New York has White so I’d venture this game is fairly close. (Even)
Board 4: Zhao vs. Zenyuk. Zenyuk has looked quite impressive thus far in the league, especially in her last week's victory. Zhao has played a couple fairly impressive games himself though pulling two fairly big upsets nearly defeating Dallas's rock Stopa and also winning against Miami's Moreno Roman. This seems a tough one to call so I’ll cope out. (Even)
Over the board, I have to think New York has an edge; but besides that fact, psychologically I really do like the Knights' chances overall coming off two straight wins (over two of the top three ranked teams in the league) and what they are doing seems somewhat similar to their great run at the end of the last season. Queens of course defied most people’s predictions last week in upsetting the Kingfishers so as in any USCL Match, nothing is even close to a sure thing. However, I don’t see the Knights letting their mirror run of last season end here so I’ll take New York 2.5 – 1.5
(FM Ron Young also predicts New York to win 2.5 - 1.5).