Playoffs are finally here. After clinching a playoff spot a while ago, I've been looking forward to the playoffs. Winning the division is nice, its something that we've never done before, but thats not the ultimate goal. The goal is to win the Championships. To that end, lets look at the matchup this week.
Becerra vs Nakamura
This is a rematch of last year. We had the same paring last year against Miami, except this year we are the ones that have draw odds. Last year, we lost, and now we want redemption. If you watched last year's game, Becerra won thanks to a misevaluation by Hikaru. But what you didn't know was that Hikaru was playing from Europe, at 3AM in the morning there. As many of us know, latenight chess can turn ugly. We miss things, make stupid mistakes, and have horrid hallucinations. Thankfully, Hikaru is in Seattle this year and we won't have that problem. Hikaru should win this one.
Serper vs Lugo
This matchup was a surprise to me. I thought Miami was going to use Marcel Martinez on board 2, with Lugo on board 3, so, using Lugo on board 2 was definitely a surprise. Serper with has been almost perfect with white this season, only giving up a draw to Ehlvest. In fact, he's only lost one game this season, and that was with black. Serper should be able to put together a similar game to last week's well deserved Game of the Week.
Moreno Roman v Lee
This lineup beat Arizona 3-1 last week, so I guess thats why Miami chose to go with it. Moreno Roman finally won a game this season, after going 0-2-1. He seems to be working off the rust after not playing in a tournament since the Miami Open in 2008. Michael is a young up and coming player that needed a break, after playing almost every week in the beginning of the season. Hopefully the break will provide a huge boost to him, and this matchup should be very interesting. I have no idea what will happen with this game.
Chen v Rodriguez
Seeing Eric on board 4 was no surprise. He's been stellar, losing only one game this year to Chicago's Young. This will be a tough game, but Howard does have the white pieces. Howard is hard to beat as white, so I'll hedge my bet and predict a draw here.
Well, all we need is a draw to advance, and hopefully we can get it from our top two boards. With a boost from Howard and Michael, we hopefully won't need to rely on draw odds, though it gives us a big psychological edge in which both Rodriguez and Moreno Roman have to push for a win.
Elsewhere in the West, I think San Fransisco is going to advance 2.5-1.5.