Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kingfishers vs. Inventors

I don't consider myself much of a baseball fan, but I do pay attention enough to know that the Orioles beat the Yankees on Friday night. Since my permanent residence is in Yankee territory I suppose that would make me a Yankee fan by default. However, all that can be put on hold when you are in Baltimore late at night sitting in the middle of a bar, with a whole bunch of hard core Oriole fans, where the slightest notion of support for the Yankees would certainly prove to be an unwise decision that would bring an otherwise fun night to a abrupt end. Don't get me wrong, I like the Orioles. After all, I have been in Baltimore for the last four years and I drive right past Camden Yards at least twice a day.


While we are not facing NY in week three (how fitting would that be?) and Philadelphia is certainly not very close to where I live, several of their players are from my neck of the woods and you could normally find me rooting for GM Kudrin and IM Lenderman at the local tournaments. Once again I have to choose where my loyalties lie and once again it is not a very hard choice. Let's take a quick look at the match which sees Baltimore playing white for the first time...

Board 1 GM Leonid Kritz 2654 (BAL) vs. GM Sergey Kudrin 2602 (PHI):

This board sees what should be an exciting GM vs. GM match up between my good friend Leonid Kritz and fellow Connecticitian (!?!? I made that one up because when I googled it I got so many different and bizarre answers) Sergey Kudrin. Kudrin has had his work cut out for him this year. So far he has played Shabalov, Benjamin and now Kritz. Although he has faced some really tough competition, his results leave something to be desired for both him and Philly. Perhaps he is not in form or perhaps it is the commute. Either way, if he doesn't change something quickly, he will have his hands full with black against Kritz. I would have to say that this board looks good for us both on paper and on the board.

Board 2 IM Alex Lenderman 2638 (PHI) vs. GM Larry Kaufman 2444 (BAL):

Needless to say Philadelphia's ability to put Lenderman on board 2 while still playing a 2400+ on board 3 is quite scary. Both Lenderman and Kaufman have been very active and playing well lately. Kaufman recently qualified for the opportunity to defend his World Senior Champion title. Meanwhile, Lenderman won the Atlantic Open and also had a good showing at the NY Open. This is a clear 200 rating point advantage for Philly but it is hard for me to see how Lenderman can keep up with such a busy schedule. I am assuming he must be quite busy with managing, tournaments and a similar commute to Kudrin. I expect to see an intense fight and would not be surprised to see us take a half point or more.

Board 3 FM Shinsaku Uesugi 2354 (BAL) vs. FM Thomas Bartell 2411 (PHI):

I don't have much to say about this match as I don't really know Bartell at all. I suppose he will be trying to have a repeat performance of last week when he was the only player to win for Philly. Meanwhile, Uesugi returns with white this time and will undoubtedly be looking to reverse his start to his USCL career. It is a close match on paper and will be perhaps closer on the board.

Board 4 Kavinayan Sivakumar 2048 (PHI) vs. WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg 2265 (BAL):

Like most 4th boards in the league, Sivakumar is an unknown to me. While quite strong for his age, it is unlikely that he will be able to compete with the strength and experience of WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg who holds a significant rating advantage. Look for Battsetseg to pull through nicely for Baltimore as she did last week with the crucial win. By the way, no word yet on the reason why she has only played in the odd years but I have a hunch that it is just a coincidence after all.

Anyway, what is up with Philadelphia? At the beginning of the season I pegged them to be major contenders for the playoffs, but they have yet to pick up a point. Perhaps they just have not found the right line up, or perhaps the CT/NY to PA commute is taking it's toll (trust me it is not fun). Weaknesses for Philly on boards 1 + 4 give us a nice advantage. Seems like they will have to invent some magic in order to win and recover from weeks 1 + 2. Otherwise I predict Baltimore to continue to win on the field and at the board while Philadelphia's skid will continue to 0-3.

Also, look for more pictures from our matches. I brought my camera last week but the stupid battery died. Fortunately Shinsaku Uesugi's mother Masako was on hand and provided us with some nice pictures as always! I intend to include some pictures in future blogs.


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