Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week One, part one

Queens vs. Boston:

Can they do that? Boston, 3-1.

Miami vs. Dallas:

Miami needs a quick start, before the late nights start to take their toll. A bit of time odds helps. Miami, 2.5-1.5.

San Francisco vs. Seattle:

I can't totally ignore my season's predictions. I meant what I said and I said what I meant. Word is life. Seattle, 2.5-1.5.

Extended Forecast

First, thanks to Arun Sharma for doing the work of figuring out the best legal lineups for each team, which makes determining everyone's order a mere formality.

Eastern Division:

Philadelphia Inventors

Philadelphia’s best lineup looks very strong indeed but they look formidable enough with any of the top four lineups. Flexibility is key, especially in the regular season, so I expect to see them place high.

New York Knights

First, please note that Fedorowicz and Norowitz together creates a great opportunity for a budding chess poet. As Norowitz seems likely to man board three very often, much will depend on how well the other teams keep abreast of the latest theoretical developments in the Stonewall attack.

Queens Pioneers

I seem to remember reading that Queens was going to call itself the “Entourage” this year, perhaps in reference to the fact that they are without their star of last season and are left with flunkies and hangers-on. Still, consider how well Ed McMahon did for himself, even after Carson retired.

Baltimore Kingfishers

Looks like a solid team, with a variety of reasonable lineups. I guess they'll be right there. But where will there be?

Boston Blitz

Compared to most teams, Boston seems to have fewer notable defections either to or from. Good for the fans who get attached to their favorites. Bad for me, though, as it makes it hard to say anything new. But I'll try, let's see.....when you just miss, it's natural to believe that next season will be yours. But when you just miss again, your confidence gets shaken; you start to wonder if you ever can put it all together. I wish I had the luxury of waiting to see their first post-match video to gauge how much of the old confidence remains. As is, I suppose it is in tatters.

New Jersey Knockouts

Potentially a very strong team, but less flexible than many, as they need the Benjamin-Gulko tandem to really frighten. I seem to recall Gulko taking rather a light schedule last season. I think he needs to schedule a few more lessons this year. I have a feeling he won't, though.

Carolina Cobras

If there's anything more annoying than one more Yankee in Carolina, it's one less Yankee in Carolina. Or, be careful what you wish for; you just might get it. IM Jonathan Schroer, strong player, Zaikov, Simpson, Jones et al. will need to be overachievers (pride optional).

Western Division:

Dallas Destiny

There must be a reason for Dallas’s back-to-back (usage note: “straight” begins with three) titles, because they happened, and nothing happens without a reason. Maybe attending the same school, or being all about the same age, means more team spirit. Or maybe the prospect of BMOC-hood is extra incentive. Or maybe they all play chess well. Or maybe there is nothing else to do in Dallas so they are always able to field a strong lineup. In any case, I expect them to do well again.

Seattle Sluggers

The team looks pretty strong with either one GM or two playing. They're kind of old, I guess. Even Hikaru is past the first bloom of youth.

San Francisco Mechanics

I notice that Liou figures in all San Francisco’s best lineups. In fact, it looks hard for them to field a legal lineup that does not include him. So it seems safe to say that SF’s fortunes will be awfully dependent on his performance. I hate to put such pressure on a kid’s shoulder. But maybe some kind person will put equal pressure on his other shoulder.

Chicago Blaze

Arun’s #2 lineup looked better to me than the #1. But that can’t be, as the #1 counts Shulman as 2590. So they look pretty tough. They probably don't study together, but I assume at least that no one is driving 100+ miles to the match site.

Miami Sharks:

Becerra seems to play every week, so they should be ok if that continues. But there is always the chance that it won't. And staying awake at an hour when their West coast opponents are just waking up could be a challenge.

Tennessee Tempo

Last year, Tennessee needed Ehlvest in the lineup each week to avoid giving significant rating odds. With Shabalov added to the roster, that is no longer so. But…will either of them drive all the way down by himself, or must the lineup always include either both or neither? And where are they coming from? Do chess players actually live anywhere? The questions are obvious, the answers less so.

Arizona Scorpions

I've been trying to figure out what makes teams do well in this league, apart from high average rating. San Francisco has done well with young hardcore types who study together a lot, while Dallas has won twice with UTD-based teams which I presume also study together a lot. Arizona, I understand, counts on eating together at various restaurants to build team spirit. I'm not sure this is the ticket to success.


I hope no one is seriously expecting, months in advance, a board-by-board breakdown of matches that are unlikely to take place to begin with. In the East, I will predict that regular season form holds up through the playoffs; so Philly over Baltimore, New York over Queens, Philly over New York. In the West, though, although I have picked Dallas to win the division, I think Hikaru will make sure his schedule is clear for the postseason and that Seattle will beat San Francisco and Dallas in turn (Dallas having beaten Chicago meantime). In the finals, with a 2-2 tie a distinct possibility, Hikaru's legendary blitz prowess makes Seattle the favorite.

So there you have it. But do watch all the matches anyway, because it is always interesting to see how things happen.