Monday, October 20, 2008

USCL Week9: Sluggers and Tempo

Ah, another week another obstacle to hurdle. To be fair, the Sluggers did kind of put this one out there on their own. This week they face the Tempo of Tennessee. The Sluggers drew their last match with Tennessee which was a bit of a disappointment for many followers. I remember making a comment about how ratings wouldn’t do the Sluggers any good, that it took determination to win. That is what I will find interesting this time around, the Sluggers have a much clearer picture of what they need to do to get into the playoffs and that should give them focus.

Serper has White on board one versus Ehlvest, I wonder if these two have ever played previously? Ehlvest has been cleaning up in his USCL engagements so far, but I don’t think he will climb over a determined Serper. Second board will be a spot to watch as Mikhailuk has Black against IM Ron Burnett. Slava has had 2 very good games in a row which should be a great sign for Seattle, but Burnett has a pointy kind of sharp style that has cause Slava some problems in the past. WGM Rohonyan plays board 3 again, this time against FM Todd Andrews. Andrews has had some terrible luck in the USCL, but against Dallas he got a bit of payback. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep up for him. John Readey has Black in an unfamiliar position on board 4 and his opponent is John Bick. Usually this would be seen as a big plus for Seattle because Readey has been on 3rd board and doing ok. If there is a hitch it is that Bick play’s 1.d4 a lot and the last time Readey saw that in a USCL match he kind of got ground down. Bick seems to like either the regular Averbach line or 5.Bg5 directly.

Ok, if you are a fan of the Sluggers this match should scare you. They have pulled themselves back up into the race and are facing a lower ranked team. They have white on boards 1 and 3, have a player on board 4 who is experienced at a higher board and have more to play for. In chess complacency is the state a player falls into when they become convinced that enough factors away from the board are in their favor that they don’t need to concentrate on factors at the board. In teams this is even more difficult because results on any or all of the boards may affect the players approach. My opinion is that Seattle has been a bit susceptible to this. That makes this a wee bit tenuous for Sluggers faithful.

I would tell the Sluggers that if they need to think about one of the factors I listed it would be the last one, they are playing for a playoff spot. None of the matchups is so wide in playing strength that either team can point to it and form their team strategy around it. Seattle is not likely to win this match with the White pieces, but the players of Black have a tendency and a history of doing more than expected. For Tennessee to win this they have to get a big push from Burnett.

The tension builds with every passing week.

And now for our Freudian Slip of the week, lets see what the USCL put out for us

Seattle Sluggers (4.5-3.5) vs Tennessee Tempo (2.0-6.0)

All Time Series Record (San Francisco leads 3.5-0.5)

Starts at 9:00 PM ET Time Control - Game 75 with 30 second increment

Uh, Greg... I realize the whole west coast seems like one big resort, but come on!

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