Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Week Five

Philadelphia vs. New Jersey:

Big rating edge for NJ. Philly has shown they will not roll over and die, but the downside to that attitude is that you often end up more thoroughly dead as a result. New Jersey, 3-1.

San Francisco vs. Boston:

Watching Larry C drop his queen last week, I was reminded of an Olympic wrestler who had some sort of accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He explained on TV how he came to deal with his reduced physical abilities by analogizing with chess. He used to get very upset whenever he lost his queen, he said. But then one day (after losing his queen) he realized “hey, I’ve still got a rook, knight and bishop to play with!” This week, with Wolff and Friedel otherwsie engaged, San Francisco lost the equivalent of a queen from their lineup. But by now I’m sure they realize that hey, they’ve still got a Bhat, a Pruess and a Shankland to play with. San Francisco, 2.5-1.5.

Seattle vs. Dallas:

Clicking the names, I see that Varizova is now putting her own face to her name, which I take as a sign of increased confidence. I don’t have much idea here so I’ll let that be my decider. Confident Dallas by a point.

Baltimore vs. Chicago

_ O _ _ O O

O O O _ _ _

_ O _ O _

O _ _ _ O

Looks like I forgot to write the caption. It's supposed to say "Fans knew things would get sharp on 2 because....".

Answer: IT WAS THE “_ _ _ _ _” _ _ _ _ _

Chicago, 2.5-1.5

Arizona vs. Carolina:

Looking at each individual pairing, it is surprising to see Arizona’s rating edge as big as it is. Looking at the pairings as a whole, though, with Arizona ahead on each board, it’s surprising to see the ratings as close as they are. With surprises wherever you look, a Carolina victory should not surprise. But I am not simply being glib; à propos of en passant (and it’s not piling on if no one else is talking about it anymore), a commenter on another website wrote: “If your pawn misses a capture because the other player used a two-space move, tough shit,'s always struck me as being a jarring, out-of-character rule that looks like it was invented by someone bitter his pawn-heavy strategy kept getting foiled by the two-space rule.” So it’s a matchup issue; a team that relies heavily on the two-space rule (Arizona) happens to be facing a team of pawn-heavy strategists (Carolina). The ‘Bras, 2.5-1.5.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Week Four

New Jersey vs. Boston:

I’m as tired of picking Boston as you are of me picking them. But whether it’s the chill northern climate that discourages outdoor activities, or the rah-rah spirit of the small town, something is working for them. I think I have to pick them till they lose (but I’m not doubling my bet each week). Oh wait, they already lost. New Jersey, then, by one.

Carolina vs. New York:

Back to righty this week . I tried to get some inspiration by looking up famous right-handed artists, but I couldn’t find anything. It must be discouraging for aspiring dextral talents, but I’m too busy with my men’s rights work to fight for their cause.

New York, 2.5-1.5

Dallas vs. Miami:

I clicked on Vazirova’s name, and she sure looks like Zorigt to me. The guys who run this league are tough to fool, though, and Dallas was busted and sentenced to hard time odds. I predict that this proves good for their souls but bad for their chess game. Miami, 2.5-1.5.

Philadelphia vs. San Francisco:

This “Sally Solomon” sounds like a very wise woman, and she picks Philadelphia. I don’t quite understand why, but I think I have a clue. Kudrin has the Pioneer Palace training, while Smith can see Russia from his house. Still, those ratings on the right are pretty scary. I think I’m going to split this baby in half. Cat’s match.

Tennessee vs. Arizona:

The question here is not who will win the match, but when the league will step in and do something to restore a bit of competitive balance to the league.

Tennessee, 2.5-1.5

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Week Three

New York vs. Philadelphia:

Though my job here is to predict the match outcomes I am going off the meter for a bit to announce that my best bet, lock of the week is that Charboneau-Kudrin will be a draw. Meanwhile, GM Fred Horowitz makes his debut on board 2. I assume he is Al’s kid, in which case, Smith had better watch out for those bishops! With a slightly smaller rating difference, White would feel honor-bound to play for a win and perhaps overpress, but at about 100 points he’ll feel it’s ok to play safe, so a draw is the likely outcome (see, read this blog diligently and once in a while you’ll stumble upon a really profound insight). White has a comparable edge on the bottom two boards, but standing on Isaac Newton’s shoulders, I see that teams at rest tend to stay at rest. Philadelphia, 2.5-1.5.

Carolina vs. Baltimore:

I switched the mouse settings before doing this drawing because, like Da Vinci and Michelangelo, I am left-handed. But after so many years of being too lazy or stupid to change to the lefty setting, I think I am asking for trouble doing it now so I will remain a right-handed computer user and desk sitter.

O O _ _ O

_ _ O O O

O _ O _ O O

O _ _ O O O

Answer Here:

THE "_ _ _ _ _ _ " ALWAYS _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Carolina, 2.5-1.5.

Chicago vs. Tennessee:

Look for Strunk to demonstrate the elements of style as the Blaze amaze, 3-1.

Queens vs. Arizona:

Is Lenderman the guy who plays the Morra Gambit? Too bad he plays Black here against the man who has been teasing us with talk of an exciting new refutation. Speaking of Morra Gambiteers (I wonder who invented that word? Has a nice swashbuckling ring), there is on youtube a clip of Ken Smith at the final table of the WSOP in the 1970s. A poster commented “what’s with the Monopoly guy?” (i.e., “Rich Uncle Pennybags” of whom see . Close resemblance, one must admit). Arizona, 2.5-1.5.

Seattle vs. New Jersey:

[color=white]I wonder what “rating” list these “Knockouts” are using [/color] Oops, didn’t work. Moving along, though, this great matchup of team names may actually be overshadowed by the matchup of players. Gulko is still very strong, but are the Gulkos still America’s first chess family? Two GM’s give New Jersey the edge (sorry, I’m out of profound insight for this week). 2.5-1.5, NJ.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Week Two

New Jersey vs. Queens

Last week, New Jersey won their match despite Benjamin’s losing on board one, and Joel must have wondered how warm the consoling remarks from his teammates would have been had the team not won anyway. I think Joel will win this week and not find himself in that uncomfortable position. Queens, 2.5-1.5.

Philadelphia vs. Baltimore

The family that plays together, slays together. Baltimore, 2.5-1.5.

Boston vs. Carolina

These “Elo” numbers next to the players’ names are the coolest thing since sabermetrics. Boston, 2.5-1.5.

Miami vs. New York:

Miami just missed making the final last season, while New York’s brief history has featured a couple of agonizing near misses. A couple of unfamiliar names grace Miami’s lineup this week, while NY’s features the same old same old. This reflects the contrasting philosophies of the two teams: in Miami, if you can’t cut the mustard, it’s au revoir, sayonara, and hasta la vista while the New York team is more tradition-bound. So while one may envy NY their bonhomie, camaraderie and esprit de corps, the hard-minded bettor has to respect the more competitive attitude embraced by Miami. The Sharks, 2.5-1.5.

Chicago vs. San Francisco:

One nice thing about writing up these predictions here is that I can misspell “Bhat” all I like and there is no penalty, whereas if I’m playing Scrabble® or some other word game, “baht” is a SE Asian currency while “bhat” is a lost turn or lost points. If any of you have this problem too, remember this mnemonic I just thought of—“Vinay Bhat wears a size B hat”. San Francisco, 2.5-1.5.

Tennessee vs. Seattle:

O O O _ _

O _ O _ O

O O _ O _ _

_ O _ O O _

Answer Here:

“_ _ _ _ _ _ _” was off “_ _ _ _ _”

Sorry, but that is the best I could do format-wise. For the first word , unscramble "timvo" to make a five-letter word and use the "circled" letters in positions 1, 2 and 3 toward the final answer. From "tepns" use letters 1, 3 and 5 from the unscrambled word. Etc.

After that, you know the drill. Rearrange the circled letters to form the final answer as suggested by the cartoon (but I'm not going to explain what is said or happening there, because that would be to admit failure as a cartoonist).

Oh, and Seattle, 3-1.

Dallas vs. Arizona

“Bartholomew” is thought by some to derive from “Bar Ptolemy”, which is Ancient-speak for “son of Ptolemy”. As such, John Bartholomew may be related to Cleopatra. If so, it is possible that he is snake-bitten (oh, I see they’re the “scorpions”. Too late to go back now. Anyway, close enough). Therefore, I pick Arizona, 2.5-1.5.