Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Week One

Though I am sure everyone eagerly awaits the wisdom of last year’s prediction champ, candor requires me to report that I recall hardly anything from last year or previous years at just this moment. So, although you should give my opinions due respect, do exercise sound money management and don’t start off betting the ranch. Put just a few dollars on this week’s matches and double your bets each week as the season progresses.

New York vs. Boston

I’m having a hard time finding new ways to say “this team will win because their ratings are higher” or “because I picked against them last week” or “because I insulted one of their guys and now I feel bad” but I’ll give it my best shot. Shabalov’s incendiary comments might backfire in a purely physical context, but adrenalin isn’t everything in chess, with its inescapable mental component; and excessive anger may get in the way of clear thinking. New York by a point.

Baltimore vs. New Jersey

I feel like we’ve seen this match before. So here is something I’m pretty sure you haven’t seen before; from my pursuit of the elusive red dot on Yahoo chess (sorry I don’t know how to include diagrams, because this little opus deserves several):

White Some guy Black Our hero

1.d4 d5 2. Bg5 h6 A useful deflection. The bishop will be less on h4 than it is now.

3.Bh4 c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.c4 A revealing moment. White’s Bg5 on move two showed a conscious wish to be seen as a free spirit, but now this very Queen’s Gambit-like move betrays an unconscious but deeply ingrained instinct to conform. 6.ed Qa5+ 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Bf6 ef Bb4 A motif borrowed from the Panov Caro-Kann.

10.dc White, though, is too proud to borrow. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”, and Rybka agrees.

10...Bc3+ 11.bc Qc3+ 12.Ke2 0-0 13.f3 Qb2+ The ordinary player would be all over ...Re8+, but this zwischenzug shows the hand of the master.

14.Ke3 14 Kd3 was cleverer, inviting ... Bf5+ 15 Ke3 Rae8+ 16 Kf4, when suddenly White is attacking. If, however, Black first cuts the king’s retreat with 14... Re8, White is caught between the Scylla of ...Bf5+ and the Charybdis of ...Ba6+. And Rybka agrees.

14... Re8+ 15 Kf4 Qf2 White Resigns

“It is folly to kick against the pricks”, quoth Terence (and Rybka agrees).

New Jersey, 2.5-1.5

Queens vs. Philadelphia

Is Dmitry Schneider related to his brother? And didn’t they use to spell their name differently.... As for this match, youth will be served...on a plate. Philly by one.

Carolina vs. Tennessee

Bad Ronald will look to debut with a splash, and these Cobras won’t be charmed. Carolina, 3-1.

San Francisco vs. Dallas

SF’s young guys seemed underrated last year, so I’ll assume they still are until proven otherwise, especially in a league where each team brings its own rating list. I pick the ‘Nics, 2.5-1.5.

Miami vs. Seattle

The Sharks are feeling free from want.....tonight.....
The Sharks are taking
en passant.....TONIGHT
We said “okay, no Dragon (too slick)"
But we’ll be autoflaggin’, so better be quick

Miami, 2.5-1.5