Week 3 and a matchup of two undefeated teams. The odd part is, Seattle hasn't won any matches yet! Each team has reason to feel that an undefeated streak through the 3rd week of the season is likely.
Seattle can feel confident that Nakamura on board one is not an underdog even with the black pieces. This limits the match to a 3 board affair with Seattle having white on 2 of those boards. It is just the way that the rating system and GM's work I guess.
Board 2 is the most intriguing, only because of the history from the end of last season between Mikhailuk and Ginsburg. A couple of different moves in that last round and Arizona would have gone to the playoffs. Ginsburg will likely be looking for a bit of payback and is unlikely to give anything away. If there is any place where Arizona might expect kharma to work for them it is right here.
Rensch on board 3 has the only rating advantage listed ( to be honest, the USCL rules on ratings doesn't seem to reflect the numbers posted on the pairing sheet ). Lee is improving, but hasn't shown his best in the USCL. This is definitely the board where Arizona can look to make hay.
Leo Martinez is going hoping to use some of the expertise he has in match predictions to work some magic on board 4. On the Seattle side Josh Sinanan has yet to bust out, much like Lee, and is looking for any opportunity.
The match looks like a real landslide for Seattle, but don't be fooled. The Scorpions have a lot to play for, an undefeated string this season as well as some bad luck from last season. Arizona can win this match on the bottom 3 boards, it is very possible. For Seattle the season so far has been a 50/50 proposition... that is get 50 percent on the top 2 boards and 50 percent on the bottom two. To me this is not a surprise, I has a brief conversation with some of the Sluggers about a month before the season and suggested that it didn't matter how well they did on the top boards, that they needed better play on the lower boards. Doesn't seem to have rung through to them yet. I am going to predict a tie, that way everybody stays undefeated and can wait for next week.
Message to Sluggers fans everywhere, especially my friend Mulfish. I have set up a Twitter account HA81chess where I am going to try to keep up on the match. Not sure how it will work, I don't type very fast any more, but at least it will keep the news fresh and the Commish won't have problems linking to it. Just go out to www.twitter.com and look for HA81chess, that is wher I should be. I will have a post match wrap on this blog right here.
Ok, see you all later