Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Night Predictions -- Week 6

As we go deeper and deeper into the season, each match's importance only magnifies. To start things off, we have New York taking on Seattle. The Knights at 1 – 4 are clearly treading on the brink of playoff elimination. Obviously not a good position to be in, but if any team has shown an ability to overcome such a deficit, it's New York and interestingly enough, when at the same record last season, a Week 6 win against the very same Sluggers was what started New York's amazing comeback and eventual Semifinal birth. Seattle clearly has other ideas in mind for this year, bringing both of their big guns to the table, undoubtedly intent on reversing the trend that New York has set for this matchup in their first two meetings. Let's look at each board.

New York vs Seattle

Board 1: Fedorowicz vs Nakamura. Nakamura has gotten off to a flying start this season, defeating two strong GMs, and I'm sure he wouldn't mind continuing the trend against his old team. Typically in these GM vs GM showdowns, I almost never can in good conscience put the White player at a disadvantage, but I have to think this is an exception, especially considering that the time control for this game (G/60) is faster than usual for New York (which obviously favors Nakamura). I still think a draw is the most likely outcome, but Nakamura definitely seems like the more likely one to break through should that occur. (Slight Edge SEA)

Board 2: Serper vs Krush. Well, Krush has owned Seattle both times the teams have previously met, but I recall people taking pity on those who would face Gulko on Board Two with Black, and I feel the same way for those who face Serper under the same circumstances. (Edge SEA)

Board 3: Bonin vs Milat. Without a doubt, an extreme key for New York. Bonin came up with a few big wins late last season to help the Knights, and it seems very likely that if the Knights want to win here, that a win on this board is paramount. Milat has looked very solid in his few league outings, but I have a feeling Jay might rise to the occasion, and he has the White pieces. (Slight Edge NY)

Board 4: May vs Rosenberg. May had a very promising first game in the USCL while Rosenberg probably would like to erase the memory of his only game this season. Not exactly a ton of information to go on so the old fashioned approach of the latter player having the Black pieces in exchange for a slight rating advantage puts this where one might expect. (Even)

Unlike most matches, this one definitely seems to contain an over the board edge to one of the two teams. I might be inclined to balance that against the fact that New York has owned this match the first two times, but running through the likely outcomes of each board, it just keeps adding up to one thing to me - a Seattle victory, and one can't ignore basic arithmetic. Seattle 2.5 – 1.5

Arizona vs San Francisco

The same lineup that was brutalized by Boston last week returns to seek redemption this week for the Mechanics against the Scorpions, who still have to be stinging a bit from not being able to knock off the Cobras after being so close.

Board 1: Barcenilla vs Bhat. A tough one to call for sure. Barcenilla has looked quite solid in his first two games, but he (nor can pretty much anyone) can't match Bhat's incredible USCL record. In one sense, Arizona has a rating advantage and the White pieces here, but it's still too hard to bet against Vinay. (Even)

Board 2: Pruess vs Ginsburg. Ginsburg will undoubtedly be looking to atone for his tragic blunder last week, but taking on Pruess with Black isn't an easy task for anyone (well, except me perhaps since I basically own Pruess), but fortunately (for me), Ginsburg isn't me. (Edge SF)

Board 3: Rensch vs Shankland. Rensch has had two sub par performances in the League so far, and if there were a time to change that, it would have to not call it this match, as if Arizona really wants to claim an edge on any board, to me it has to be here. I do think they have one, but given the League Records of the two competitors, I can only call it a small one. (Slight Edge ARZ)

Board 4: Naroditsky vs Martinez. Well Naroditsky has a pretty fair rating advantage and has White so this one seems pretty easy to guess. (Edge SF)

Like the other match, I do think one of the teams definitely has an edge over the board (of course, given the Mechanics vastly underrated Boards Three and Four, that's not exactly atypical for them). I have a feeling also that their team will be very eager to erase the memory of last week and will likely do so in a big way, San Francisco 3 – 1

(FM Ron Young predicts both Seattle and San Francisco to win 2.5 – 1.5).

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