Hello again Sluggers fans, HA81 coming to you with another exciting season of Sluggermania. This season sees our boys begin versus their arch enemy the San Francisco Mechanics. Usually the Sluggers don't see this tough a match until week 3 or 4, but the obvious point is that the entire league is stronger this year. This could be a harbinger for the season to come, right out of the gate.
Board 1 witnesses GM Friedel as White versus GM Serper. This particular matchup has some history with the majority of it favoring the player with the Whtie pieces. There is only a marginal reason to think this might be different. Friedel has been seen recently advancing the d pawn two squares on the first move with White and that could be a little bit of a break for Serper. In the past Friedel has done a fine Fred Flintstone impression on Serper with 1.e4, so opening with the queen pawn could be gold to Serper's eyes.
Board 2 has the Mechanics pulling a sub in for the first match as IM Preuss comes off the bench to face IM Tangborn. Despite the fact that Eric is listed with a higher rating and the White pieces, it would seem the Preuss must be a favorite as he is much better practice. If Tangborn plays 1.c4 the game is likely to go into some form of exchange QGD where Preuss will be more up to speed right now.
Board 3 sees Washington's current "wunderkind" Michael Lee playing Black against a past prodigy from Tacoma IM John Donaldson. This is likely to be the toughest game of the bunch as John plays a style that has given Michael some trouble. Basically, John puts both gloves up in front of his face and tries to trip the opponent.
Board 4 is where Shinanan has White against Yian Liou. Seattle has a rating average advantage, basically because of a 140 point difference on this board. This will be a critical board for Seattle going forward as past experiences suggest Seattle struggles on the lower boards. Combined with the likelihood that SF has prep'd their fourth board this will be a real test.
To be honest, I don't see Seattle winning this match. The only way it crops up in my mind is if the bottom two board swing heavily for the Sluggers and the top two Mechanics panic. Not real likely, but could happen. I see one win and 3 draws, for the Mechanics... hoping I get it all wrong.
Good Luck Sluggers!