Hi to all the readers, we are back again. If you ask me what I will remember about week 8 I will likely tell you " some teams really defined themselves". Yup, that is what I would say. I don't really try to be cryptic, but I find it comes in handy quite often. Let me explain, but first a quick recap of the Sluggers match up with Tennessee.
At lineup time it was pretty obvious that Seattle expected a couple more GM's to play than actually did, while Tennessee aimed to try a little bit of "small ball" by getting some extra strength on the lower boards. In Arun Sharma's recent "Mid Season All Star" post he picked John Bick as the allstar 3rd board, so it seemed like a stroke of genius when the Tempo were able to push him down to 4th board. No moss growing on them Tempo players (note to league officials: is it ok to refer to multiple Tennessee players as "Tempi"?) . So, the match started. Nakamura on board 1 seems to be using 1...b6 to good effect and had another opportunity as Ron Burnett shot out 1.Nf3. Serper started with 1.c4 and 2.g3 which was his standard fare coming up, to which Andrews used a move order which has become standard since the late 80's. Bereolos and Readey on board 3 started with 1.d4 d6 2.c4 e5 and followed with the shadow boxing that seems to come from this line. Finally, an advance Caro popped up on board 4 as Chen and Bick looked like they were ready for this matchup. It somehow worked out that board 4 went very quickly as Bick played c5 a little early to which Chen found a really good response with c4, the center blew open and black's king was stuck on e8. After a couple of tactics Bick was compelled to give up the queen for a rook and bishop with Chen grabbing a couple of pawns on the way with check. This was over surprisingly quickly. Nakamura didn't appear to play for equality, but got there anyway. Burnett's decision to exchange black square bishop for knight on c5 just propelled Black into activity and a miscalculation followed that cost white a piece. Meanwhile, Bereolos and Readey were brushing up on the modern rules where players can move the pieces more than 3 squares at a time. Andrews on board 2 made what I consider a questionable choice by going for a Kings Indian formation and giving Serper the opportunity to play the Botvinnik formation ( note to readers: please don't read that last sentence aloud to any spouse, significant other or close friend who is not a chess player as that last sentence spells out "Geek" in the outside world). Serper put his pieces on the squares he wanted, played a minor combination, kept Andrews staggering, picked up the exchange and finally trapped Todd's queen. At this point I noted that Bereolos had offered a draw to Readey, which was declined! This surprised me a lot, but to each his own. This game went on for quite a while and ended as a draw, though Readey missed a couple of places to improve greatly. So, a 3.5 - .5 victory to keep the Sluggers in first place. Any time a team fields 2 GM's it seems as if they should be heavy favorites, but in this case there is more to it. Chen played a very creditable game on 4th board, while Readey did a fine job on 3rd. This indicates that Seattle it getting points from places other than the top. Tennessee was unfortunate to run into the Sluggers right now, because as well as having the 2 GM's they have a lot of momentum. Sometimes a team gets a little run going and it just seems to build on itself, that is where the Sluggers seem to be right now. The Tempo deserve full credit for finding a formula to give themselves a chance and for playing tough.
A team on a roll. Remember last season? The team on the roll was the Carolina Cobras, who won matches that seemed well beyong their resources. This season they are struggling to get any kind of a run going. So, when they faced the New York Knights there was plenty of reason to pick the Knights. Well folks, this is why they play them. The Cobras were able to get a tie in a match that belonged to the Knights. We should send out kudos to the Cobras for continuing to play hard and seek out points that aren't apparent to the rest of us. Philly and Baltimore played to a tie, which combined with the Knights tie to do absolutely nothing to clarify the playoff standings except take one more week away. The Mechanics pumelled the Pioneers,. I want to say that Queens has the appearance of a team that has plenty of talent, but no real direction... they haven't devised ways to win matches. Dallas had a great chance to leap back into the playoffs with a match versus the Miami Sharks, but were only able to tie. Arizona confirmed their status as a playoff team with a win over Chicago. The Blaze have played every match to the hilt and with a little bit of a swing could have been in the playoff chase. And finally, the New Jersey Knockouts made it clear that they are serious about not just making the playoffs, but making some noise there with a 4-0 thrashing of Boston. This doesn't affect playoff standings in terms of making the post season, but now Boston will have to get some help to get the draw odds that are now in the possesion of New Jersey. What we found from all of this is that there are some teams who have found the path to Olympus, some teams who are looking and some teams who are more than happy to make the trail as dusty as possible.
Ok, in week 9 the big matchup is Seattle and Arizona as the top 2 teams in the West square off. The Scorpions have been a refreshing presence in the league this year, but there is one thing I gotta say. You know, they have at least 3 folks who regularly blog and closer to 5 or 6 who throw stuff out there while I am only me. If it takes 5 or 6 of them to match me, the Scorps have a ways to go, though I must admit to having a couple of their albums in the 80's. This brings me to my final deal. Bloggers, we got rapped in the mouth by a certain member of a certain team that is in the northeast and just lost their second shutout match. This season seems to have a lot of posts by Arizona, New Jersey, Chicago and... me. Boston got in there a bit, but seem to be real quiet, except for a certain member of their team who's mouth is only slightly smaller than his ego. There have to be other folks out there who want to let us know what they think? Or rant? Or vent? Or just have a voice? Come on guys, lets hear some more from you. SF, are you guys really so busy? Miami, I know you don't have cold weather so do some talking. Dallas! Hey, Bartholomew you said you were going to spice things up? New York, you gotta be kidding me that you don't have something to say? You guys can't really be thinking that we don't want to hear from you? We do. So, let's hear it!!!
Ok, thanks as always to the Commish, Mulfish, the kids in the lunch line, Todd Andrews for explaining what was going to happen if a certain member of a certain team accidentally found himself below the Mason Dixon Line, to all my readers the "4 to 9ers" and of course to Mom who taught me the best gambling odds should be less than the confidence I have in myself. ttyl and have a nice day