Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Big One

To anyone disappointed by my miscall of both division finals, let me explain that though I have worked out various formulas, heuristics, and algorithms that enable me to forecast future events pretty accurately, I am not going to waste them on an online chess match.

Ok, now that that is clear, I will spin the dial on this one. Christiansen has not tasted the bitters of defeat this season, beating two GMs and drawing the other seven. I have to give Boston an edge on board one, even with having to move second.

Davorin Kuljasevic (“vicious jerk; vandal” and Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (“senoras: major humbug”) have both been stars this season. I’d give Boston the normal White edge on Two.

Stopa and Shmelov have performed comparably so again an edge to the shinier pieces.

I’d thought I’d read that Williams had broken 2300, but the USCL page indicates only 2241. Is it too out of date or too up to date? Going by USCL performance, though, he rates as a solid favorite with White.

So, it looks like the dial landed on red. Boston, 2.5-1.5. Now let me get out my algorithms again and return to lucrative enterprises.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Western Division Final: Miami vs. Dallas

When I picked Miami to win its wildcard match against San Francisco, I was chided by a west coast correspondent who said that the key to the match was preparation, and that the ‘Nics had it all over the Sharks in that department. So it may have seemed to many at the time, but this was before that existence of the Becerra files was public knowledge. Having to give draw odds in the match, it seemed that a victory with white on Board One would surely have to figure in any winning scenario for Miami. But upon seeing Zilberstein play right into the files versus Martinez, Becerra contented himself with a quick draw, which proved to be all Miami needed.

Miami gave us the Watergate burglars, but what was the real significance to that election of the Republicans capturing the McGovern campaign plans? But were an ambitious young burglar to get his hands on the Becerra files, that could change history. Unless the story was buried on the inside pages, though, I don’t think it’s happened. Therefore I pick Miami to win, 2.5-1.5, and to meet Boston for the championship.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Eastern Division Final: New York vs. Boston

What do the moon landings, the Iraq war, and the Eastern division semi-final have in common? They were all directed from Texas. Of course, both Boston and New York have a player there; Perelshteyn beating Krush in their game (of course, Irina is still the #1 Spice girl). Some have claimed this will give Boston a psychological lift, but I think New York’s (not only Charbonneau’s) motivation for revenge is stronger. Also, New York must feel they dodged a bullet in that the game didn’t take place in this match, as it well might have.

New York chose White on boards one and three, which creates rematches on those two boards. Last time, Christiansen drew comfortably with Nakamura while Shmelov drew uncomfortably with Bonin. Obviously, NY plans to do better this time. On the whole, I think they made the right choice.

Though it is not my job, I want to take this opportunity to note Martha Fierro’s great work on board four for New York. Often the players on the lower boards toil in obscurity, and I would not like them to think they are unappreciated. So once more, great job, Martha! I knew you were a player to watch.

Alright, time to make a pick. I mentioned New York’s revenge motivation, but Boston has one or two bad memories themselves that they’d like to erase. There’s too little to pick from, so I won’t. 2-2 is the way I see it, with Boston advancing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wildcard Round

Philadelphia vs. New York:

One night once upon a time while I was tending the local chess club, Harry from the park introduced me to someone he described as a prospective member. It was probably just an excuse to use the bathroom, but I was always flattered when somebody troubled to make an excuse. Anyway, this 40-something guy described himself as basically a beginner, but he had a plan for storming the chessic heights despite his late introduction to the game. He said he was going to study, study and study until he came up with an idea that nobody had ever thought of before, and very early in the game—about move 5 or 6.

Of course, an experienced chessplayer (such as I was) knows that this is a very hard thing to do, but from Mr. 40-something’s self-description, it seemed like he might be the man to do it. He was smart, he graduated from Harvard at the top of his class, AND his psychiatrist was one of the best in the city. Sad to say, though, years have passed and I have heard nothing more of this 50-something-by-now guy. Hikaru Nakamura, aside from showing great form in Europe these past couple of weeks, has often come out with moves that are very offbeat, if not exactly new, even earlier than move 6. By now I think he is ready with the brand-new stuff. I see him leading his team to a one-point victory.

Miami vs. San Francisco:

To me, hero worship is strictly for kids, so while I admire Magnus Carlsen’s great success at such a young age, I haven’t taken down my posters of Sergey Karjakin. But Julio Becerra’s two consecutive MVP seasons have me looking to make wall space. The shortened time control ought to favor a good king-pawn player, so I think Miami has a solid edge on Board One.

Bhat finally lost last week, but if everything could be predicted so easily, there’d be no need for people like me. Joe DiMaggio followed his 56-game hitting streak with a 16-game streak. On the other hand, the Colorado Rockies won 23 out of 24 and then got swept by Boston. But as I said, if it were so easy, you wouldn’t need me. I think Bhat will bounce back and is a likely winner on Board Two.

Unless I counted wrong, Martinez and Zilberstein have met four times in USCL play, with Marcel winning one and drawing the rest. On the one hand, Marcel has had three whites out of four. On the other hand, this game makes it our out of five. So give Miami the edge on Board Three.

So with the match looking very tight on the top three boards, that makes Board 4 the one to watch (especially if you are a “guest”). Barredo has done quite well this season after an uninspiring 2006. This could be because he is a young player who naturally improved over the course of a year. Or perhaps he is a middle-aged guy who has good days and bad, and just happened to have more good ones this year. With no picture and no DOB listed on the USCL page, I can only guess. But I can still use my head a little bit. He is 2160 for league purposes, and apparently still 2160 currently. This indicates a not-too-active player, and so probably a middle-aged guy who happened to have had mostly good days this year. So Board Four looks like a tossup.

So two slight edges for Miami, one perhaps bigger one for San Francisco, and one tossup. You can do the math. But again, if it were just a question of math, you wouldn’t need me. Without the advantage of draw odds, Miami’s players will just assume they need to win, and will be less distracted about game-versus-match considerations. I pick Miami to win, 2.5-1.5.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Week 10

Boston vs. Philadelphia

Boston looks a little better. I was thinking that they might tie because a tie was as good as a win, but that means a tie is as good as a loss to Philly, doesn’t it. Just goes to show you. So, Boston. 2.5-1.5.

Queens vs. Baltimore

I usually don’t expect much effort from spoilers, but chess is different from most games in that if you lose, there’s a permanent record of it, with all the gory details. And in the electronic age, there’s not even the thought of the scoresheet deteriorating with age to comfort you. So I expect a serious effort from Queens, and with not much to choose from, I see the team that needs to win going crazy. Queens, 2.5-1.5.

New York vs. New Jersey

Though it is rarely talked about, “Pascal Charbonneau” is an anagram of “unhorse Capablanca”. However, it is Benjamin he needs to unhorse and last time Joel stayed comfortably in the saddle. But this time Pascal has white. New Jersey is fielding the same lineup they won with last time. But with Hess and Arnold out for trick-or-treats, Krush is forced to play adults only (lest Hess and Arnold be accused of selfishness, I understand that both will be collecting for UNICEF). With two such strong lineups, the decision may turn on which team is able to get to the match, and during the Village Halloween parade, it takes a silver tongue indeed to talk one’s way past the cops blocking access to Tenth Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Hopefully, Krush and Charbonneau will have their customary early dinner on the block, but boards 3 and 4 still loom as likely forfeits. New Jersey, 2.5-1.5.

Tennessee vs. Carolina

With both teams mathematically eliminated, Coach Jones has emptied the bench. Or maybe he wants to bask in the glory of playing on Board One. But if these matches were being played with plastic and vinyl, in a live setting, it would be the higher matches that were roped off, not the various games on Board One. Still, it is nice to be on the aisle and not have to squeeze between tightly-placed tables all the time.

Anyway, I hope both teams have fun, but what with the tight race among us prognosticators, I can’t afford to empty the benches of my mind. I pick the higher-rated Tempo to win, 3-1.

San Francisco vs. Dallas

First, let’s applaud Dallas for fielding a strong lineup though the match is important only to the other team. WOOHOO, YAY DALLAS! Wolff still has some rust but if I know anything about style*, rust goes better with white than with black. Bhat is perfect, but Kuljasevic is pretty good. Zilberstein has only played once but he seems to remember how to play. Doibani has not played for Dallas this season and being a college student, I doubt she’s been playing in many weekend swisses. So I give Frisco (I don’t pretend to be from there, so I have no problems calling it that) the edge. 2.5-1.5, the ‘Nics.

* I do.

Seattle vs. Miami

Another tough one. It’d be sad if Miami’s heroic upset win of last week were to go to waste. I don’t like to be sad, or even to think about being sad. Miami, 2.5-1.5.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Week 9

Philadelphia vs. New York:

Lapshun is known for playing such offbeat openings as the Orangutan, but you haven’t really experienced him until you’ve taken him into the endgame and seen him demonstrate the Ocelot opposition or the Zebu zugzwang. I’ll bet Kudrin never learned those at the Pioneers Palace. New York, 2.5-1.5.

New Jersey vs. Baltimore:

Don’t look now, but that little kid on Jerry Hanken’s shoulders in Chess Life is now a strong adult grandmaster. I look for him to lead his team to victory. 2.5-1.5, New Jersey.

Queens vs. Boston:

It’s been so long since Stripunsky has played that I’d begun to wonder if he had found another game that he liked better than chess, so it is nice to see him in the lineup tonight. I think he made the right decision. Back in the summer of ’72 I spent a good part of most days at a free camp held at the local public school. One night at home my sister was bragging on the chess prowess of a kid named Elias, telling our mother “he beats men!” So I could hardly believe my opportunity some few days later when said Elias asked me if I wanted to play a game. I said sure, how about...chess? He said “ha ha, why don’t we play.......Candy Land”. He wasn’t feeling so mirthful when he presently found himself mired in the Molasses Swamp. But a mating net brings much more satisfaction than a swamp, and I’ll always wonder how I’d have fared had I gotten to try my double-the-rooks-on-the-king-file opening against him.

But this isn’t summer day camp, and you don’t get a choice of what game to play. So Stripunsky gets his shot against Christiansen. But Boston’s Coach Krasik isn’t going to sit around eating bonbons while his team struggles. He’s taking a board himself. Boston, 2.5-1.5

Carolina vs. Miami:

I can’t say I know how the league Powers That Be came up with the 57 minutes figure but I can tell that it’s a carefully worked-out formula. In any case, I have to admire them for how sternly they dealt with Miami’s last-minute monkey business. The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay. Carolina, 3-1.

Tennessee vs. Dallas:

Living in the skinland, I don’t know very much about heartland players so I tried to measure the fame of all the players here by typing each name into the Yahoo search box to the point where it auto-completed itself as a popular search. This is how far I had to type for Tennessee:

Ronald Burn, Todd Andr, Jerry Wh, Gerald Lar.

Compared to this for Dallas:

Drasko Bo, Davorin Ku, Andrei Zar, Bayaara Z.

So it is clear enough where the fame edge lies. I realize that one’s renown is not always precisely equal to one’s merit, but I can only go by what I know. Dallas, 3-1.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Week 8

New Jersey vs. Boston

The Christiansen-Benjamin game looks like the people’s choice this week so I feel obliged to talk a little about it. Larry is a three-time US champ but with three titles of his own, Joel has shown himself to be more than just another pet rock-owning, mood ring-wearing Fischer boomer. In fact, he probably feels no kinship at all with that whole crowd of fashion-following wannabes. But certainly, many of the 1946-1964 generation of Americans were not born merely because everyone was doing it, but nonetheless, they are all counted as “baby boomers”. So is Joel a “Fischer boomer”. Sorry, Joel, you just are. Alright, on to the game. I guess one of them will win, or it’ll be a draw. But Boston has the edge on 2, and the underrated guys on 3 and 4. The big question is how will Williams react to his first deep draft of the bitters of defeat? i think hell return 2 form cuz thats just the way it is. Boston, 2.5-1.5.

Baltimore vs. Philadelphia

What with five previous meetings, this match is practically a Caissic Army-Navy game with postseason implications . Erenburg hardly plays, it seems, so I’m guessing he won’t be too ambitious against Kudrin. I give Philly the edge then with White on two of the remaining boards. Philadelphia, 2.5-1.5.

Miami vs. Tennessee:

I remember a lot of talk last season about the Martinez-Andrews rivalry or non-rivalry (depending on who you were reading), but they never met, so it was all talk. Now, they really do seem about to play but there’s no talk anywhere, as far as I can see. How's that for paradoxical? Meanwhile, Miami’s lineup this week keeps changing but they still have a healthy rating edge. Let me just say Miami by a point.

Carolina vs. San Francisco:

By the time I fully trusted in the dosage index at Kentucky Derby time it began to fail. Of course, they would always reconjigger the formula to make it work retroactively but I couldn’t do the same with my bets. In any case, Bhat always wins and his rating never goes up, so that makes him a dual qualifier in my book. I pick San Francisco by the odd game.

Dallas vs. Seattle:

Easter and Christmas come around just once a year. But we hear more about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny each year on just those days than we do about Wotan and Thor in all 104 Wednesdays and Thursdays. The point is, you can’t rush tradition, it takes time to grow. That’s how I feel about this match; it’s too soon for me to think about it again. I picked Seattle last week by a point (I even remember without checking), and it worked out pretty well. That’s good enough for me. I’ll pick them again by the same score.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Week 7

Boston vs. New York

Joe Namath became a folk hero when he guaranteed victory in Super Bowl III and then led the three-touchdown-underdog Jets to the win. Mark Messier did the same when the New York Rangers faced double match point in the 1994 Eastern conference finals. And now Hikaru has guaranteed a victory by the Knights this week. Had either Namath’s or Messier’s team lost, though, their bravado would have been looked at as an understandable attempt to rally the underdog. It takes much more courage to guarantee a win when you are 100-point favorites, because Hikaru will become a laughing stock forever if the Knights lose. That wouldn’t be much fun for him, and not much more for his teammates who’ll have to stick up for him all the time. So I think they’ll go all out to avoid that, and squeak out the 2.5-1.5 victory.

Baltimore vs. Queens

I guess that Stripunsky and Ibragimov are off at the International Grandmaster conference. I hope their trip is successful but I’m afraid that Queens will be footing the bill. Baltimore, 2.5-1.5.

Carolina vs. Tennessee

There hasn’t been such a glittering assemblage of talent in Nashville since Hank Williams took the stage with Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl and Little Jimmy Dickens. But Carolina is too involved in the playoff race to let themselves become star-struck. I think they’ll keep their focus and pull out the minimum victory.

San Francisco vs. Miami

It would be easy to say that it’s hard to say who’ll win here, so...let me say it. It’s hard to say who’ll win here. Maybe no one will. I’ll predict a tie.

Seattle vs. Dallas

Neither team here is able to take much advantage of the titled-or-titted bonus, but both are bringing strong teams to the table. Either they have more team spirit than others or there is just less to do there. Seattle seems to have the most underrated player with Sinanan, so that tips the balance for me. Seattle, 2.5-1.5.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Week 6

New Jersey vs. Carolina:

Chess is a young man’s game, and Benjamin has apparently put aside the old man’s systems of his youth. Lian hasn’t played yet, so I can only assume he is a typically underrated kid and probably smart in school. New Jersey, 2.5-1.5.

Miami vs. Queens:

SIX matches to analyze this week, and I’m figuring this one out last, so I may take some lazy shortcuts. On the left, I note that Martinez has been struggling. On the right, I see something that looks suspiciously like a rating floor. One the bottom, the average ratings are pretty close. A tie then. 2-2.

Dallas vs. Philadelphia:

A close match here overall, with Dallas’s biggest (apparent) edge being on Board 3. But Costigan is a rock and never loses, so I’m picking Philly to prevail by a point.

Baltimore vs. Tennessee:

“It’s only on pay-per-view, you won’t find it on free TV...”—Yip Harburg (that’s an “epigraph”. Cool, huh? And did you dig the italics?).

Some of you may remember the “Simpsons” episode about the high-profile boxing match. One of the workers at Homer’s plant invites a few mates to his house to watch the still photos of the bout on the 11 o’clock news and hear occasional between-rounds updates on the radio. We learned that the lot of the big shot is not completely to be envied. Today, chess fans can get together for the same type of warm proletarian camaraderie with Bereolos’s live blog of the Titans’ matches. Our gain, though, is Tennessee’s loss, as they can ill afford to put out less than their strongest lineup. Baltimore, 3-1.

Boston vs. San Francisco:

This seems to be the anticipated match of the week, so I will give it a little more care. Usually I look at these things game by game, but for this, I will try to visualize the whole match at once. Kelleher should not try to out-solid Bhat but instead should play one of his tricky things and amass a big time edge. If things are going well for Boston by then, he can bang out some do-nothing moves, which as we know are the toughest ones to meet in time pressure. Wolff plays Black every week, so maybe he’ll get tired of defending and lash out prematurely. Shmelov shouldn’t press it too hard just because he’s White, because his team looks good elsewhere. If everyone listens to me, I like Boston. I imagine they will, so Boston by 2.5-1.5.

New York vs. Seattle Sluggers:

You may have heard of the Martingale betting system. The bettor bets, say, $5 on an event, and if he loses he doubles up the next week to recoup his losses. If he loses again, he doubles up again, and then again, etc., etc., etc. Etc. This creates the minor possibility of spending the rest of one’s life in debtor’s prison. On the other hand is the fantastic chance to eventually be $5 ahead. Well, you see where I’m going. New York, 2.5-1.5.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Week 5

Before picking this week’s games, I’d like to call everyone’s attention to an overlooked story, namely the fact that I called every match correctly this past week. If you consider each match about a 50/50 proposition (yes, there are slight rating differences between the teams but that is balanced by the presence of three possible match outcomes), then the odds of calling all six correctly is one in two to the sixth power. I haven’t the time to write that number out, but just chew on this—we are talking about a number greater than the number of stars on the Los Angeles Galaxy, or the grains of sand on Sylvia Beach. To quote Aron Nimzowitsch, “it is a pity that I have to say this myself, but as I’d say it if it were my worst enemy, why not if it happens to be me?” Oh, someone out in the expanding-faster-than-the-universe USCL blogosphere had fun with the fact that I didn’t always realize who was playing for which team last week. Well, laugh it up. To quote my other hero, I cried all the way to the bank.

New Jersey vs. New York:

A good team captain knows how to take advantage of the rules, and so if you have two GM’s (one rated 2709) and three women on your roster, then why should you not put out a lineup rated.....2370?!?!?!?

But Charbonneau is better with Black. If anyone really is. So I will amend my initial reaction to merely “2370?!?” and forecast a 2-2 tie.

Boston vs. Baltimore:

Baltimore also has two GM’s and two women, but the ratings don’t allow them to do as much, and 2391 isn’t bad, after all. But Boston still looks too strong. The Blitz, 2.5-1.5.

Queens vs. Philadelphia:

Stripunsky-Kudrin sounds like a Dragon, unless White wants to play 2 c3, but even if he were thinking of doing so, he won’t now that the cat’s out of the bag. So look for White to open the h-file, trade the dark-squared bishops and mate while Black is sacking on c3, taking all white’s pawns and promoting the king-side. But in general, I favor the venerable masters of the Wisdom Kids. Philly, 2.5-1.5.

Tennessee vs. San Francisco:

I tried to find Burnett-Wolff or Wolff-Burnett from the 1987 or was it the 1985 US Junior at but it or they isn’t or aren’t there. I did learn that Burnett played Reshevsky in 1987 and 1990. As Mark Twain might have said if he were me, Reshevsky was astonished at how much the young kid had learned in three years. The test here though is how much Wolff remembers after ten years. He seemed to recall a fair amount in his USCL debut so I’m guessing he’ll hold it together here. SF looks pretty good elsewhere, so I’m picking them by 3-1.

Carolina vs. Seattle:

The higher-rated has Black everywhere, so everyone will be happy to draw. Or maybe everyone will try too hard to win. And then there's this prediction contest; I'm torn between sounding smart and being smart. Gotta make a decision, though, so...a tie. 2-2.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Week 4

Queens vs. New Jersey:

First of all, what’s with scheduling this rematch for so early in the season? I’m afraid that the commissioner, with his mania for figuring the perfect formula for this and that, forgets about the human considerations that give life and color to the league. Though geographically quite near each other, the distinct individual characters of Queens and New Jersey make for a compelling rivalry from which one should really try to milk as much drama as possible. It’s the Midtown Tunnel versus the Holland Tunnel, the 59th Street Bridge vs. the GW Bridge. The Meadowlands versus Flushing Meadow, the Bergen Mall versus the Queens Center Mall. I pick Queens to take the new oaken bucket, 2.5-1.5.

Philadelphia vs. Baltimore:

As I was saying, 77 points rating difference equals about a 60% expected score which out of four equals 2.4 which rounded to the nearest half-point comes to 2.5-1.5 Baltimore.

Tennessee vs. Miami:

Miami is sacrificing a bit of time on two boards, but the total is small enough that the psychological advantage of giving odds outweighs the objective handicap. Miami, 3.5-.5.

Dallas vs. Carolina:

Identical average rating, and both teams won last week. Bosko-Milman sounds like a Sicilian, Schroer-Zaikov sounds like a Slav, and Keaton Kiewra sounds like a White Anglo-Saxon Polish. Jones-Guadalupe sounds like Welsh on a peace treaty. Even so, I think eventually the combatants will be exhausted and we’ll see a 2-2 tie.

Seattle vs. San Francisco:

Readey-Donaldson looks like the renewal of an old rivalry, but I’m not really sure, since I don’t know anything about Readey, other than his living in Seattle and being about Donaldson’s age. About Seattle I do know something, namely that the Pike Place Market is there. This once earned me $575, which is $575 more than I’ll earn by guessing this match here even if I’m exactly right. Therefore, with no more ado, Seattle. 2.5-1.5.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Week 3

Philadelphia vs. Boston:

This is the big match of the day, so I’m not going to cop out. On board one, we have Kudrin, a 1. e4 player, vs. Perelshteyn, a French player. Back in the Seventies and Eighties, the only answer to the Tarrasch (3. Nd2) at the higher levels was 3...c5, recapturing on d5 with the pawn, and IF Black were lucky, making a draw sixty or seventy moves later. Then sometime in the late Eighties, Back began to retake on d5 with the Queen, and then if White were lucky, he’d make it to move 30 before being mated. Somewhat ironically, Kudrin is an adherent of the Tarrasch against the French (or at least he was at the time of the 1979 US Junior championship). I say “ironically” because at a tournament at the Skyline Motor Inn in the winter of ’79-‘80, Kudrin expressed a desire for a banana brandished by a weaker player in the skittles room. Upon being asked for the banana, the weaker player asked for a chess lesson in return. Kudrin then told the weaker player he should develop his knights to c3 and f3, rather than d2 and e2 (but what about a3 and h3, you ask? I guess that is more than one banana’s worth of wisdom). Boston, 2.5-1.5.

Baltimore vs. New Jersey:

This is a tough match to call if you don’t know a certain trick of the forecaster. Look at New Jersey’s lower two boards. Notice that their ratings are just a little bit above the well-known rating floor of 2200. On the bright side, it indicates that Shen and Lunna performed well in their last tournaments before the rating list, which is perhaps what attracted the team organizer to them. On the dark side, though, they may, in a floorless world, have gone instead from 2050 to 2085. Without more time than one can afford to spend in today’s fast-paced world, there is just no way to know that this is not the case. So I pick Baltimore, 2.5-1.5.

Miami vs. Carolina:

One the one hand, Miami needs this match. On the other hand, the reason they need it is they’ve been losing all the time. Much will depend on whether Mederos is a fast-rising youth or a slowly-declining veteran (as to the answer to that question, see above about today’s fast-paced world) The two N’s in Mederos’s first name indicate that he is US-born. On the bright side, it means that no one calls him “Denise”. On the dark side, he probably did not attend the same chess school as Becerra, Lugo and Martinez. I’m picking Carolina by the usual point.

Queens vs. Dallas:

Queens has two small children in the lineup, which is fine. But seating them next to each other is asking for trouble. It is early in the life of the Queens franchise, so chalk this mistake up to inexperience. With my kind of experience, mistakes cannot be excused so readily. So I must demonstrate my savvy and pick Dallas to win, 2.5-1.5.

Seattle vs. Tennessee:

I picked the Tempo to win last week, which drew ridicule from certain quarters. Though one obviously does not get to where I am by putting science so carelessly aside, it was alleged that I had let outside pressure influence my call. And it really did look like Tennessee was going to win until they broke my heart with a corner stalemate. Well, nobody breaks my heart two weeks in a row. Seattle, 3-1.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Week 2

Boston vs. Queens:

This match featurers the first appearance of both Ildar Ibragimov and Jorge Sammour-Hasbun and there has not been a more exciting pair of debutants since Brenda Frazier and Cobina Wright, Jr. took the 1938 social season by storm. Back when he was still known as Cassius Clay, Jorge was a famous child prodigy (ok, he wasn’t really famous, but you have to kind of catch the wave for chess fame). Having kept a low profile during his awkward in-between years, can he make the transition to adult stardom? Will he be Drew Barrymore, or Macauley Culkin? I think Jorge will be Drew, and Ildar will be drawn, and Queens will be lost in Boston. Blitz, it’s, 2-5-1.5.

Carolina vs. Baltimore:

Baltimore brings back its three winners from last week, spotting Carolina an average of fifty points per board. Apparently, Coach B believes in “don’t change your clothes until you lose”. Despite my scientific bent, I also have found this superstitious practice to be uncannily effective. But only in person, not online. Carolina. 3-1, just for fun.

New York vs. Philadelphia:

Some men see things as they are, and ask “why?” I dream of things that never were, and ask “why not?” For instance, why not a Knights victory this week? New York, 2.5-1.5.

Tennis E vs. New Jersey:

It’s been suggested that I rely too much on cold numbers (and numbers don’t get much colder than the ones on the dusty old rating lists some teams use) in making these predictions, and that I give short shrift to intangibles such as a certain team’s miles and miles and miles of heart. Well, maybe so. This past weekend saw Appalachian State beat Michigan in the biggest upset in college football history. So why should we not now see the biggest upset outside of college football history? One that will teach the rest of the country how to spell Tetanusy? I pick the Titans to prevail by a point.

Dallas vs. San Francisco:

Though Dallas has scurrilously been called the “European Union team”, a cursory look at their roster shows that they much more closely resemble a UN team. I don’t want to get carried away with intangibles, but I believe that the semi-tangible issue of color assignment works against San Francisco. Wolff must be rusty and would probably prefer to ease himself back in with a White or two, Bhat always wins anyway, and Pruess is supreme when he’s White. Dallas, 2.5-1.5

Miami vs. Seattle:

I admit that picking the first five matches exhausted me so I cheated and turned to the power ratings. They indicate that neither team can win. Cat’s game.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Week 1

Baltimore-New York: Baltimore could put together a few different lineups that approach the rating limit, but they nonetheless are well under it this week. Perhaps they think they hold the Indian sign over New York and so can give afford to rest their GM’s. My worldview, though, rejects superstition and trusts in science. New York, 2.5-1.5.

Philadelphia-Miami: I wonder why the Philadelphia Inventors don’t call themselves the “Reinventors”, as they seem to think they can do away with their history with a simple name change. This would probably work better if they had also changed cities, or at least their logo. I suppose they didn’t want to insult their new top board Sergey Kudrin, who was the model for the current logo. Miami, by contrast, had a disappointing season in ’06, but they are back with the same name, the same logo, and for the most part, the same players.

History aside, the teams look well-matched today, so I predict a 2-2 tie.

Dallas-Tennessee: Benjamin Lee Eckstein had a sports betting column in the New York Daily News for many years. I remember him from at least as far back as the early Eighties. He would always give you his won-lost record for the season, to let you know just who you were trusting with your hard-earned betting dollars. He was always solidly in the plus. How did he manage? Well, his specialty was baseball games. Baseball betting, unlike football or basketball, is based on money odds rather than a point spread. In fact, I just googled Mr. Eckstein, and I see he is still being paid to pick games today!

I pick Dallas to win.

San Francisco-Carolina: There is an art to showing contempt or lack of seriousness to your opponents; you want to show enough to make them see red without actually handicapping yourself too much. So you may open with something like 1 g4 but then follow up sedately, or bring a bottle of beer to the table but quietly refill it with tap water. I admire Carolina's strategy here but fear they may have gone too far giving the defending champs this big a rating handicap. San Francisco, 3-1.

Seattle-Boston: This one, at least, is easy to call. Boston has a former US champion on Board One. But Seattle has a former Japanese champ on Board THREE. Seattle, 2.5-1.5

Monday, August 27, 2007


Hello there, this is a test!