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.