Baltimore-New York: Baltimore could put together a few different lineups that approach the rating limit, but they nonetheless are well under it this week. Perhaps they think they hold the Indian sign over New York and so can give afford to rest their GM’s. My worldview, though, rejects superstition and trusts in science. New York, 2.5-1.5.
Philadelphia-Miami: I wonder why the Philadelphia Inventors don’t call themselves the “Reinventors”, as they seem to think they can do away with their history with a simple name change. This would probably work better if they had also changed cities, or at least their logo. I suppose they didn’t want to insult their new top board Sergey Kudrin, who was the model for the current logo. Miami, by contrast, had a disappointing season in ’06, but they are back with the same name, the same logo, and for the most part, the same players.
History aside, the teams look well-matched today, so I predict a 2-2 tie.
Dallas-Tennessee: Benjamin Lee Eckstein had a sports betting column in the New York Daily News for many years. I remember him from at least as far back as the early Eighties. He would always give you his won-lost record for the season, to let you know just who you were trusting with your hard-earned betting dollars. He was always solidly in the plus. How did he manage? Well, his specialty was baseball games. Baseball betting, unlike football or basketball, is based on money odds rather than a point spread. In fact, I just googled Mr. Eckstein, and I see he is still being paid to pick games today!
I pick Dallas to win.
San Francisco-Carolina: There is an art to showing contempt or lack of seriousness to your opponents; you want to show enough to make them see red without actually handicapping yourself too much. So you may open with something like 1 g4 but then follow up sedately, or bring a bottle of beer to the table but quietly refill it with tap water. I admire Carolina's strategy here but fear they may have gone too far giving the defending champs this big a rating handicap. San Francisco, 3-1.
Seattle-Boston: This one, at least, is easy to call. Boston has a former US champion on Board One. But Seattle has a former Japanese champ on Board THREE. Seattle, 2.5-1.5