Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 7 Lineup/Preview

Monday, 7:15 PM EDT
Time Control 90 min. with 30 sec. increment

Manhattan Applesauce vs. Baltimore Kingfishers
GM Alex Stripunsky (2659) - GM Sergey Erenburg (2646)
IM Lev Milman (2501) - GM Larry Kaufman (2452)
IM Eli Vovsha (2539) - FM Ralph Zimmer (2279)
James Black (2102) - NM Adithya Balasubramanian (2255)

Note: Players in italic have the white pieces.

The Baltimore Kingfishers are rematched against the Manhattan Applesauce, but colors are reversed from Week 2's encounter. Actually, Manhattan is using the same lineup as in Week 2 while Baltimore changed the lower 2 boards. This is an important matchup as Manhattan is in 5th place in the Eastern Division, one and one-half points behind the 4th place Kingfishers. A win here by Baltimore and the Eastern Division Playoff Race could just be a matter of positioning between the top four teams. A Baltimore loss and the final playoff spot could be still be taken by any of five teams though Baltimore would still be up by half a point.

Board 1: GM Alex Stripunsky vs. GM Sergey Erenburg. A rematch from Week 2 with colors reversed. GM Erenburg won that encounter to improve his record against Manhattan to (+2 =2), and GM Stripunsky is now (=4 -1) against Baltimore. Meanwhile, GM Stripunsky has won one game and drawn two games since Week 2 while GM Erenburg has drawn three straight games. I wonder if we'll see a three-peat of the Reti/KIA-like opening of which GM Erenburg has been on the black side twice this season since in neither game was white in any serious trouble. However, let's hope for something different, for variety's sake!

Board 2: GM Larry Kaufman vs. IM Lev Milman. Another rematch from Week 2 with colors reversed! Last time, GM Larry Kaufman won to improve to (+2) against Manhattan while IM Milman is now (+1 =3 -3) against Baltimore. GM Larry Kaufman has played every week since that match, amassing a (+3 =1 -1) season record while IM Milman has played only one game to bring his season record to (+1 -1). GM Kaufman seems to have the hot hand, especially with the positions he has been getting with white. Though don't sleep on IM Milman's chances, as this is the same player who held down Board 1 during Carolina's division-winning run in 2008!

Board 3: IM Eli Vovsha vs. FM Ralph Zimmer. IM Vovsha is (+1 =2 -1) against Baltimore after defeating IM Enkhbat in Week 2, but he has lost two games since that match. His opponent this time is FM Ralph Zimmer, who is (-1) against Manhattan, but won his game last week on Board 4. He will have a much tougher time as FM Zimmer will be outrated by a whopping 260-points and have the black pieces. Anticipate some good preparation!

Board 4: NM Adithya Balasubramanian vs. James Black. Both players are new to the USCL this year. NM Balasubramanian is (=1) on the year and James Black is (+1 -2). NM Balasubramanian has a 153-point rating advantage and the white pieces. He's also known to play some unusual openings, so I don't really know what to expect from this game, except that it will to be fun to watch!

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