Time Control 60 min. with 30 sec. increment
Arizona Scorpions vs. Baltimore Kingfishers
IM Rogelio Barcenilla (2583) - GM Sergey Erenburg (2646)
IM Daniel Rensch (2471) - GM Larry Kaufman (2452)
FM Warren Harper (2408) - IM Ray Kaufman (2433)
NM David Adelberg (2275) - FM Ralph Zimmer (2279)
Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.
It's Interdivision Week in the USCL; that is, Eastern Division teams play against Western Division teams. That also means the time control is shorter (60 min. with 30 sec. increment) than usual for both teams this week. You may think that would favor Western Division teams as they are used to shorter time controls than the Eastern Division teams, but USCL history shows that interdivisional matchups are fairly even with the West leading the East by only 1 match point (36-35).
For Interdivision Week, the Baltimore Kingfishers face the Arizona Scorpions. They are matched up for the second year in a row. Could this be a budding rivalry? Only the Kaufmans are returning to play from the previous matchup, so it will take some time to grow the individual matchup histories. Now, Baltimore is looking to stay ahead of the pack for the fourth and final Eastern Division playoff spot while Arizona is neck-and-neck with San Francisco for first place in the Western Division. Baltimore is using its highest-rated lineup to date with a 2452.5 rating average. Arizona counters with a strong lineup having a 2434.25 rating average.
Board 1: IM Rogelio Barcenilla vs. GM Sergey Erenburg. IM Barcenilla is (+2 -2) this year while GM Erenburg is (+1 =2). This is the only board with a somewhat significant rating difference as GM Erenburg holds a 63-point rating advantage. All other boards have a rating difference of 25-points or less, so a Baltimore win here and draws on the other boards or another all-drawn match would seem likely. However, who plays just to draw? Expect sharp, exciting battles, especially with the shortened time control! Look for GM Erenburg to come out swinging after being held to two draws previously.
Board 2: GM Larry Kaufman vs. IM Daniel Rensch. GM Larry Kaufman is (=1) against Arizona and has a good (+2 =1 -1) record on Boards 1+2 this season. He will be looking to rebound after an opening miscue last week. However, his opponent, IM Rensch, is spectacular (+3) on Board 3 this season. He moves up a board this week, but that don't take that to mean much as he has achieved that perfect record against 2400-level competition.
Board 3: FM Warren Harper vs. IM Ray Kaufman. FM Harper is (-1) this season while IM Ray Kaufman is (=1) against Arizona and (+1 =1) for the year. Last time against Arizona, IM Ray Kaufman played a tense 119-move draw against FM Adamson. I don't imagine this game will be quite as long, but anticipate that it will be just as tense a struggle!
Board 4: FM Ralph Zimmer vs. NM David Adelberg. Both players have won their last two USCL games, but FM Zimmer is playing his first game of the season while NM Adelberg has played 1 game already. Let's see if either player can keep their streak going, which may turn out to be the key game in this relatively even match.