Matchups. That is what everybody looks at. How a specific player performs against another. Captains or managers look for chances to get a player they think has a big plus against another, whether that plus by a playing style or past history. Matchups. All the sideline jockeys talk about matchups, such and such will happen on board one and that will be significant. It’s true, sort of.
Week 8 of the USCL is upon us and the Sluggers are facing the first year Arizona Scorpions. The matchup look here is simple; the Sluggers got a little embarrassed last week while the Scorpions have been smacked two weeks in a row. So, both teams are looking to get turned around this week. Who has the intestinal fortitude to do it? That’s the question.
Nakamura will be White on board 1 against Altounian. This should be a clear plus for Seattle. Second board is Mikhailuk Black versus IM Ginsburg. This will be an interesting match because there is a similarity in approach. Neither player is likely to take big chances and the game will move to a late middlegame situation. This one could be determined more by the clock’s hands than the players (ok, digital clocks don’t have hands, but you know what I mean). On 3rd board WGM Katerina Rohonyan makes her Slugger debut against Robby Adamson. Checking some databases this looks like it will be a French defense, either a Winawer or MacCutcheon, with each player defending their favored side. At fourth board Michael Lee has black against Warren Harper. Each of the teenagers has had good and bad moments in the league, so it could be just a matter of who is more determined.
Sometimes you have to state the obvious. Looking just at matchups Arizona does not have an answer for the strength disparity on board 1. That would suggest that Seattle is a favorite. Arizona is likely looking for some advantage on the bottom two boards, hoping to get good performances there to counter the board 1 situation. I would think that a new face on board 3 works for Seattle as there will be the natural desire to impress the new team.. Board 4 is where a lot of this could be settled as Lee could win or lose without incident. Matchups, Seattle will do well if they have good players on the Black pieces to deal with the matchups Arizona is looking to use.