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.