Saturday, November 28, 2009

Miami-New York: The brawl for it all

Monday, December 7

First, let us take a moment to remember Arizona.

Second, this match. On board one, we can expect a Caro-Kann. Becerra has not faced the Caro in the USCL, but since he is a classicalist I imagine he plays either 3. Nc3 or Nd2.

Charbonneau always opens with the king’s pawn, which none of Lugo’s USCL opponents have done since 2006. Who were they all trying to impress, I wonder. I can just see them lifting their little pinkies in the air as they delicately slid their pawns forward to d4. There won’t be any of that here, as Charbonneau is a reliable king pawn player, and Lugo normally meets 1. e4 with …e5. With the economy the way it is, they are smoking fifties on Wall Street this year, so I’d expect Charbonneau to be looking for extra thrills on the chessboard. Maybe an Evans or some such.

A Sicilian seems likely on board three. But with only one match going and for the championship, no less, I’d recommend that the spectator follow every game regardless of what opening.

Norowitz is the biggest advocate of the Stonewall since the Nixon White House. Rodriguez usually defends 1. d4 Nf6 and then tries something sharp, so probably neither player will get what he wants, at least, not in the opening.

The beginner thinks no further ahead than the next move. The experienced player keeps the endgame in mind from the start. The truly thoughtful look all the way to the blitz playoff that would follow a drawn match. Blitz generally is a young man’s game, and blitz immediately after a grueling slow game ought to be even more favorable to youth. New York has the younger squad, so I think Miami ought to press a bit harder to avoid overtime. Increasing the contempt factor by two-tenths of a pawn sounds about right. Still, I expect New York to take it in regulation by a midnight whisker.



_ _OO_

_ _O_ _O_

THE  "_ _ _ _'_    _ _ _ _ _'  "

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Sheppard is my Lord

What with the longer-than-the-Soccer-War-the-War-of-the-Stray-Dog-and-the-War-of-the-Cricket-Match-combined break before the championship match, I have decided to expand my horizons a bit while hopefully keeping my skills in shape while not entirely neglecting New York and Miami.

It is easy to forget that beyond the narrow confines of the sixty-four squares, there is a whole wide wonderful world of computers, printers, and pairing sheets. It was in just this world that I was luxuriating last January when I saw, a few feet away, a twelvish kid brandish a rolled-up vinyl chessboard, then suddenly turn the rolled-up board to point at an age-mate and scream* “say hello to my little friend”. But long before twelve-year-old kids were playing with chessboards to pretend to be gangsters from twenty-five-year-old movies, grown men were playing with chessboards to fantasize about playing baseball.

These days, at Steve Immitt’s big January scholastic tournament at the New Yorker Hotel, there is a team room (where kids/coaches/parents chill/eat/make noise) less than ten feet from the directors’ room. There is even a secret back entrance to this latter room for the savvier among those unable to talk their way past the door guard into the sanctum sanctorum**. But back in the Twentieth Century (where I come from), this tournament was held downtown at the Borough of Manhattan Community College***, near the World Trade Center. There, the directors’ room could only be reached by walking down a long hallway, too cold for those without a director’s T-shirt to brave; too dark for those without director’s infra-red glasses to navigate. In a room this private, even a big, burly, thirty-five-year-old ex-New York Yankee could indulge himself in a little audible daydreaming. Joe Ausanio, former relief pitcher and then assistant tournament director, picked up a rolled-up vinyl chessboard and intoned, in a deep staccato, “now-bat-ting-for-the-Yang-keezz, num-ber-Fif-ty-Fouurrr, …..”. If you have ever watched the Yankees (or their opponents, for you haters), I’m sure you hear the voice of the great Bob Sheppard, who announced today that he retired two years ago. Nice career, Bob. Good luck in the rest of your life.

* “Scream” rather overstates it but I wanted to avoid the awkwardness of “say ‘say’”.

** That's "sanCtorum". Get your mind out of the gutter.

*** A fierce chess rival of UMBC (albeit without the cool theme song) in the halcyon days when “Dallas” was just an old TV show, or at most a Debbie-doer.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Division Finals

Monday, November 16:

San Francisco vs. Miami


O_O_ _O

_OOO_ _


O_ _ _O

"_ _ _ _ _ _     _. _."     _ _ _ _ _ _

...leading to a San Francisco victory, 2.5-1.5.

Wednesday, November 18

New Jersey vs. New York

Sometimes, when you write about nothing week after week, you have to take a little break, to recharge the old batteries. So this week I will try writing about something.

It has been suggested on a couple of blogs that draw odds is too great an advantage to give the higher seed in these playoff matches, though there still should be some reward for season-long achievement. A well-known Holland-born 6’5 IM and former co-editor of a chess magazine, connected with a USCL team in the Southwest, for instance, suggests giving the top seed choice of color in the Armageddon game. Now this is not exactly nothing, but I am not sure if it is a bigger edge than getting the lane nearer the equator (with its subsequently weaker gravitational pull) in a high hurdles race. A postseason series in pro basketball or hockey offers home court or ice in the odd game, which is a little bit more, but still seems pretty scant reward for having outperformed the other side by twenty games in the regular season. But those leagues make lots of money, so fairness does not have to rate high among their concerns. And I’ll grant that I always root for 2-2 in the championship match here because that elimination blitz thing they do is fun fun. But trying to make the postseason more exciting always carries the danger of making the regular season (which is most of the season, after all) less. So if a 5-5 team needs to actually defeat an 8-2 team to advance, then so be it, I say. We want a chess champion, not a cheese champion.

On to the match. Looking at the lineups reminds me of another difference between pro sports leagues and the USCL. There, a team can be counted on to field their strongest lineup for the biggest games. In fact, in baseball, what with the greater number of rest days allowing a team to go with fewer starting pitchers, they effectively can go with an even stronger lineup than their strongest. I take it that Gulko (the perfect) was unavailable to play this Wednesday. Even so, Finn seems, from all I know (based entirely on his three league games) to be considerably underrated. I think therefore that New Jersey will manage the 2-2 they need to advance.

P.S. I also look forward to the day when someone can write about chess without feeling the need to make endless sports analogies.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Division Semifinals, part two

Miami vs. Seattle:

O_ _ _O

O_ _ _O

O_ _OO

_O_ _OO

_ _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _ !

So I pick Seattle, despite Roman's Marache-Morphy-like win vs. Adamson last week. And nothing salacious is intended by the oversized pieces in the drawing; proportion is just something I struggle with.

Arizona vs. San Francisco:

San Francisco's lineup features some pretty serious youth but do note that the eldest are on top. Were this not so I might worry for the team's spirit. As is, though, with everyone in his proper place, I worry only for whoever has to play the 12-year old with the 2385 performance rating. The Nics need only a tie to advance but I pick them to win outright.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Division Semifinals, part one

New York vs. Boston

A serious match calls for a serious analysis. For New York to advance, they have to win, and to expect that, I have to find a serious New York edge somewhere. Board Four is a natural place to look but Krasik, despite his non-master status, has played at a 2300+ level this season. He is well past the age where it is possible to improve, so there must be another reason. Maybe all his talk inspires him to live up to it more than it does his opponents to make him eat it. Whatever, I don't see enough to pick NY to overcome the draw odds. 2-2 Boston.

New Jersey vs. Baltimore





AN    '_ _ _ _ _    '_ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _

And I agree. A right result for New Jersey.

P.S. What's up with this underlining? I didn't mean for that to be there.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week Ten

Most of the teams playing tonight, playoff-bound or not, are not competing for
much tonight so I don't think it really fair if I have to. Just something to keep in mind.

Boston vs. New York

_ _ _OO

O_ _OO



_ _ _ _     _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Therefore? Well I think Evan learned from the soda can. New York.

Philadelphia vs. Carolina:

I'm sure Philadelphia was hoping to see a GM or two play for Tennessee tonight, but they themselves are fielding well below their strongest lineup. GMs look nice on a roster, but if you are assembling a team, make sure to find out first if they are hardcore baseball fans who would never miss a World Series game just to play chess. But the Philly lineup obviously like to play chess, so that ought to be worth something. Philadelphia.

New Jersey vs. Queens

Everything is close here but the teams' records. I think Queens would like to salvage something from the season but if not they, then I would. Queens by a nose in a driving finish.

Tennessee vs. Baltimore:

Baltimore needs it, but do they want it? Well, yeah, I suppose they do. Why wouldn't they? Baltimore.

San Francisco vs. Dallas

Most dictionaries or word processors I have seen do not recognize "chessplayer" as one word. But it feels silly in a chess blog to write "chess player". This feels like something I've said already but my web search does not turn it up so I'll continue and if you've heard this before, then please skip to the next match. "Chess player" sounds like something an overenunciating kid in a "Peanuts" TV special would say. Anyway, a well-known New York City chessplayer once said "if I go, I'm taking someone with me". The quote was even immortalized as the name of one of Steve Immitt's insanity tournaments. Dallas is the two-time defending champ but after this match, they are going, at least until next season. I'm betting they will take someone with them. Dallas to win.

Seattle vs. Chicago

Shulman is never going to break Cal Ripken's ironman streak at this rate. But who needs iron when you've got the mortar man? I say Chicago brings Seattle down to earth, or even a few feet below.

Miami vs. Arizona

In Boston-New York, it doesn't really matter who wins. Here, it is clear that it matters but not so clear what result would be most helpful to who. Probably both teams will fall back on native instinct and try to win. Boards two and four look lopsided, but Mateer did pull a big upset last week. Still, save the "has been rated as high as" defenses for people my age. Much will depend on whether we see the Becerra of old, or the old Becerra. I think the former. Miami.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Week Nine, part two

I have postponed even thinking about these matches until an hour and a half before game time, as part of my new disciplined approach to life. The next step is to find something useful to do while I am avoiding this. Maybe next week.

Philadelphia vs. New Jersey:

Kudrin must be thirsting for revenge on the whole world but especially Benjamin. I say he gets it. Shahade kind of has to win for my upset special to work. But why shouldn't she? Back when pitchers used to go nine innings sometimes, people won with black sometimes. Philly by the length of Geno's low-fat menu.

New York vs. Baltimore:

I heard that Kacheishvili's wife was having a baby last time, so congrats and congrats and I hope you play better this week. New York by the breadth of Bloomberg's humility.

Boston vs. Miami:

I pick Boston to lose, but not to be shut out. The Sharks by the length of a Miami winter.

Seattle vs. Arizona





_ _ _ _ _ WAS _ _ _     _ _ _ _ HIS _ _ _ _

Seattle, 3-1.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week Nine, part one

Queens vs. Carolina:

In baseball, no one could care any less about a late-season game betwen two teams not going anywhere. But in chess, we know that each time we sit down to watch, we may witness the creation of a masterpiece that will be talked about long after Dempsey-Firpo, Ali-Foreman and Andrew-Krasik have been forgotten. I pick Queens to squeeze out the odd Botticelli.

Dallas vs. Chicago

I figured this should be the jumble match so I had to wait till last minute to allow for more lineup changes.

_ _OOO_

OOO_ _ _

O_O_ _


_ _ _ _ _ _/_ _ _/_ _

So Chicago by a pizza crust.

San Francisco vs. Tennessee:

If you want to pull off a big upset, the first thing is to make sure you are outrated by as as much as possible. SO far so good. But I don't think the necessary intangibles are present tonight. SF by three lengths.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Week Eight

First, a note on winning margins: "vanishing neck", though its quality is recognized, does grow weaker with use, and things like "stroke", "wicket" and "point after touchdown" might even break the first time. So unless a specific other score is expressly given, 2.5-1.5 is always implied.

Monday, October 19:

New Jersey vs. Boston

USSR co-champion, USA champ, plus score vs. Kasparov, and now Board One in a USCL match. It's been some career for Boris Gulko. With all that, he can't really begrudge Boston a match victory. Boston.

Dallas vs. Miami:

It's hard to figure what to make of the various time odds in this match what with the increments added each move. I propose simple material odds in the future. In my own long career, I was fortunate in catching the latter days of the sealed move era but even I missed out on material odds, announcing checkmates, "gardez le dame" and abandoning games due to the lateness of the hour. That aside, my impression is that Miami has a lot of experience with time odds so I give them the edge here. Miami.

Chicago vs. Arizona

Arizona, because I don't need attention.

Wednesday, October 21:

New York vs. Carolina:

_ _O_O

O_ _OO

O_ _ _ _O

_ _ _OO_

...HE COULD NOT _ _ _ _ /"_ _ _ _ _"

(as usual, I need the slash to maintain the space. Also, I know this is contradicted by history but I don't want to be obvious about everything) New York.

Philadelphia vs. Baltimore

Shahade is making her season debut but Defibaugh is newer to me. I looked it (the name) up and found that it is an "Americanization" of something. Must have been pretty foreign before, eh? Actually, it apparently comes from "Dieffenbach", which must be either a custom-lobotomized version of Crafty, or German, and the Germans have been in this country long enough for Benjamin Franklin to...remark upon their qualities. But that's neither here nor there (note to that comic guy: no real person ever said "good to be hither"; it is ungrammatical and always has been). What is here and there, though, is that the Franklins hold the key to this match in their bifocals and you can put that in your stove and print it. Philadelphia.

San Francisco vs. Queens:

This match features the return of the immigrant to his second home. I think Queens will celebrate with a win, but in any case they will celebrate. Queens.

Tennessee vs. Seattle:

It is tough, I am sure, being from Tennessee and constantly ridiculed as a diverse bunch of cosmopolites, but I do think the hootenanny misses something without the balalaikas. Seattle, 3-1.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Week Seven, part two

Though Monday night's match results did not do much for my batting average, they did at least remove the pressure of picking an "upset of the week", because that has already happened.

Boston vs. Queens:

I admit that I may have picked against Queens in the past because of the old rivalry between Queens and the Bronx over which is the lamest outer borough besides Staten Island (which doesn't really count). This week, though, it's because Boston is just better. The Blitz by a stroke.

Baltimore vs. New Jersey:

If you ever looked at this listing of old Soviet club championships, you were probably confused by the absence of the 1974 Spartak club championship. The results were suppressed because Kapengut and Nukhim Rashkovsky outscored Tigran Petrosian! Well, consider it suppressed no longer. Meanwhile, Geocities is about to experience some suppression of its own. How is that for poetic justice? The only thing that could make life better would be if Nukhim were on the team instead because that'd be some explosive Jumble material. New Jersey by a length.

Chicago vs. Tennessee

Tennessee may think they are only hurting themselves by underperforming but they are hurting me as well. STOP IT. The Tempo by one ply.

Seattle vs. Miami

Seattle, not because of the revenge factor but just because they are stronger. Next time, it'll be the revenge factor. The Sluggers by majority decision.

Arizona vs. San Francisco:





"_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _"/ _ _ _ _ _ _

(the slash is to make the separation clear)

And Arizona by a wicket.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Week Seven, part one

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the Henry Hudson Parkway (for it is in New York City that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. Soon my mother's old Buick began to stall, and we were stranded somewhere around 130th Street hoping for help to arrive, or at least, nothing at all to happen.

Help arrived, we were towed to a side street and somehow eventually got to the Hell's Kitchen hotel just in time for me to avoid a first-round forfeit. I went on to beat the lower-rated blind guy, and then to share first place in the U1600 tourney for a prize of $2250. Meanwhile, in the concurrent NYC championship, Lev Alburt, Vitaly Zaltsman, Joel Benjamin et al. were fighting it out over nine days for $500. I felt like a kid at Woodrow Roosevelt High School, where the Joker had rigged the milk machine to dispense silver dollars (only where was Susie?). "Kid, there is no easy life in chess" advised the Hoffmann. Was he right? In Chou En-Lai's words, it is too soon to tell. In any case, thanks for the ride, Mom. And a million other things, but this is a chess blog and I'm not much of a memoirist. RIP. New York and Dallas, 3-1.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week Six

Before getting to this week's matches, I'd like to report that I got to make a risqué pun Sunday morning (and what did you accomplish?). I had rested my newspaper on the counter of the local coffee place while awaiting my order, and the girl behind it read the headline about how David Letterman had profaned the Ed Sullivan Theater with a "secret bedroom" that he sometimes shared with attractive young female employees. I was mildly surprised at her expression of disapproval, because firstly who cares, and secondly she is foreign-born and not always up on every aspect of basic American pop culture. So I asked, "disappointed?" and she said, yes, but supposed that it was just "a guy thing" (she does have the American idiom down). The middle-aged (i.e., older than me) woman on the customer side of the counter agreed, saying "it's in their genes", to which I replied "if only we could keep it there". Note that this pun would not have worked online due to the spelling difference. I guess real life still has its uses.

Monday, October 5:

New York vs. Baltimore:

If you've been paying attention lately, you'd have noticed that New York not only wins, but they win in ways that Keres, Smyslov, and Chess Challenger 7 could only dream of. I pick them to win here, 2.5-1.5, but only incidentally, as a means to a higher end.

Chicago vs. Philadelphia:

I don't want to overdramatize, so I'll say simply that nonstandard times call for nonstandard measures. Both teams desperately (oops, drama. Sorry!) need this match but Chicago went with a conventional kind of shakeup, where you add a grandmaster to the lineup, while Philly is trying something a bit off the beaten path. What, there's an elephant in this room? All right, even God had to rest after six days, and his were a lot more successful than Kudrin's first five. So Alex just did what Mike had to do, or vice-versa. Will it work? I say...yeah. 2.5.-1.5, Philly.

Arizona vs. New Jersey:

This is a rare opportunity to pick New Jersey to lose, so I have to take it. Nothing personal but they think the Statue of Liberty should belong to them yet you never hear them say anything about Staten Island. Arizona, 2.5-1.5.

Wednesday, October 7:

Carolina vs. Boston:

I had not heard of Anya Corke before but her Wikipedia page informs me that she is the top player from Hong Kong who is currently playing for England. And as you know, that is saying something (only...what?). Boston, 3-1.

Tennessee vs. Dallas:

I know it is generally fallacious to think that somebody losing last week is now "due" to win and therefore a better bet than he'd have been had he won. Again, though, "generally". I think Shabalov is the exception and he really will bear down this time and no fooling around. Last week, a certain grandmaster in the audience referred to three consecutive moves of Shaba's as "fishy" and "crazy" and "weak". I was tempted to say "oh, my!", but restrained myself. On a chess-related note, I was hoping that Mikhailuk in that game, rather than the simple recapture on move 44 (which did win a few moves later), would play ...Rxd1+ 45. Kxd1 Kxb6 46. Bd8+ Ka6 47. Bxa5 Kxa5 and Black promotes. But win first, please me second. Back to this week's match, Tennessee 2.5-1.5.

San Francisco vs. Miami:

O_ _O_



OO_ _ _O

"_ _ _ _ _ 'n' _ _ _ _ _"

(But...will he get his wish? I don't know...San Fran, 2.5-1.5)

Queens vs. Seattle:

I'm tired of always having to write "2.5-1.5" but unless I want to pick a tie (and if playing a tie is like kissing your sister, then predicting a tie is like daydreaming about it), then I kind of have to most of the time, because it takes a big superiority before 3-1 is likely and that gives me room to be really, really, wrong. So I'm going to start using different phrases to indicate a close match and trust that the reader is smart enough to get my meaning. Seattle by a vanishing neck.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Week Five, part two

Philadelphia vs. Queens:

I'm going to guess that this is the closest matchup in USCL history in terms of average rating difference on each board. Will Kudrin get off the schneid, where it is so comfortable? Will I have to solve my own jumble? I will say that it is cool the way Greg always writes "'releases' his latest jumble", rather than "posts". "Releases" evokes an expectant crowd, such as the ones that used to line up/camp out in front of the record store in order to buy the long-awaited next album by the hot group at the earliest opportunity. "Posts", in contrast, suggests another guy with too much time on his hands.

Anyway, too close to call really. So I'll pick Queens, because I live closer to them, which means they live closer to me. Queens, 2.5-1.5.

New Jersey vs. Chicago:

Make new friends, share a few laughs along the way, and win, lose, or draw, be sure to enjoy the game. New Jersey, 3-1.

New York vs. San Francisco:

They're both pretty good. Too bad they have to play each other. At chess, no less. I'll pick New York because it's good for chess when they win. New York, 2.5-1.5.

Arizona vs. Dallas

_ _OO_

O_ _OO

OOO_ _ _

_OO_ _O

Arizona's fans need not have feared, because.......

"_ _ _ _ _ _ _" was "_ _ _ _ "

Arizona, 2.5-1.5.

Seattle vs. Tennessee:

Strong lineup for Tennessee but how will they react to a last-minute lineup switch that leaves them facing Nakamura? I expect they are ready for it. Tennessee, 2.5-1.5.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Week Five, part one

Baltimore vs. Boston

Not much to choose from as far as records, momentum, and incentive so I'll cast the forecasters crutches aside and let pure insight be my guide. Boston is rated slightly higher. Boston, 2.5-1.5.

Miami vs. Carolina

OO_ _ _


O_ _OO_

O_ _ _OO

Answer: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ THE "_ _ _ _"

But that isn't easy. Miami, 2.5-1.5

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week Four, part two

New Jersey vs. New York

It's no fun if New Jersey wins. Well maybe it is, assuming they are safe enough for the postseason anyway, and a record-setting regular season could heighten playoff fever later. So alright, I guess that's ok. We'll have NJ win this one, 2.5-1.5.

Carolina vs. Queens

OO_ _ _

OO_ _ _

_ _O_OO

O_O_ _O

Coach Jones' top priority was to get his team...

_ _ _ THE _ _ _ _ _ _ _ *

Boston vs. Philadelphia:

Kudrin scored with the Dragon last time, as Jorge got all pinned and shit. But he knows better now. And there's a fair rating edge on 4. Boston by a point.

Dallas vs. Seattle:

Seattle has the champion of the whole USA playing for them. That's about a one-in-75 million probability, the way I figure. That's pretty cool, isn't it. I think so. Seattle, 2.5-1.5

*But maybe not just yet. Queens, 3-1.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Week Four, part one

Miami vs. Tennessee:

HAL-le BER-ry. Miami, 2.5-1.5.

Baltimore vs. Arizona:

The war's begun, Alvin Tostig has a son today and he shall be Levon and he shall be a good man. Plus the usual Mountain Time edge. Arizona, 2.5-1.5.

Chicago vs. San Francisco:

If you think the Game of the Week bunch is mesmerized by titles, my eyelids are getting heavy just looking at San Francisco's lineup. Which brings me to my next topic (and the Nics by a point)........

Of all the talents that I lack, the one I most envy in those who possess it is the ability to accomplish things while asleep. I can't count the number of times I've been working on some problem or other, gone to bed in high hope the solution would come to me in my sleep, only to wake up as clueless as ever.

Some people, though, seem to have the knack. Elias Howe came up with the idea that made his sewing machine work in a dream. Coleridge scribbled down "Kubla Khan" directly upon waking from a dream (albeit an opium-fueled one). Paul McCartney woke up one morning with the tune that became "Yesterday" in his head.

In chess, David Bronstein came up with an opening novelty in his sleep that was a smashing success in its oneiric debut. Karpov once dreamt of a strong line for his opponent from an adjourned position and so was able to study it some before resuming the game.

I often have dreams in which I am playing chess but generally there is something very improbable about the game. Very often, I somehow am playing Black in a game where I had been White a few moments earlier. In one recent dream, there were clams on the board where one would normally expect pawns. However, last night I played a game that made more sense than any other game I remember dreaming and since it is the only game I have played in a while I thought I'd share it here. I am playing White and my opponent is Larry Christiansen.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 d5 4.e5 d4

The move order may have been different, but this is where we were after four moves. Now I played something like Qb3 and a friend who was reading an openings book told me that Leonid Stein called my move "lackluster", and I can't really argue with him. I don't remember if my friend then told me the right move or if I figured it out myself, but I think it was the latter.

5. Qc2!

To appreciate the strength of this move, you have to understand that White's h-pawn is suddenly off the board and so is Black's f-pawn, and Black's e- and d- pawns are somehow back on their original squares (see diagram).

On ...Nh6, 6.Bd3 is pretty crushing. I don't know if I saw this at the time but I assume that Stein did.

5....g6 6.Rxh7 Rxh7 7.Qxg6+ Rf7 8.e6! dxe 9.Ne5! Nh6 10.d4

...and Black will be defenseless after ...Nd7 (or ...Nc6) 11. Bb5, which I would certainly have played if I had stayed asleep any longer.

So don't give up on your dreams. One of these nights, you might get lucky.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week Three

Dallas vs. Boston:

It turns out that if you lean over and look at the side on this computer, there are various outlets and drives, and one of them accommodates a mouse. So I had the use of a mouse this week and was able to go all Raphael.

O_ _ _O


_OOO_ _

OO_ _O_

THE MIGHTY _ _ _ _/_ _ _ _/ _ _ _ DEEP

(Dallas, 2.5-1.5)

Queens vs. New York:

There hasn't been a more dependable Stonewall since the 18th North Carolina emptied their rifles on the Old Mountain Road in Chancellorsville. New York, 2.5-1.5. Yeeeeee-haw!

Baltimore vs. Philadelphia:

If David Zwerling of Portland, Oregon, followed the USCL, he wouldn't have had to write "Parade" magazine to ask "are there any women chess masters?" But though he would then have saved himself a stamp, "Walter Scott" might not have felt he was really earning his $300,000 a year, so maybe it's for the best after all.

As for this match, I don't like to talk about teams that are "due", so I won't. But come on, Philly can't really lose again*. 2.5-1.5, Inventors.

Tennessee vs. Chicago:

Break up the Tempo. Or change it, if that works better. Either way they are making a mockery of the competitive balance this league was supposedly built on. Meanwhile, my job is easier, so there's some silver lining. Tennessee, 2.5-1.5

Miami vs. San Francisco:

I see the Mechanics putting their grip on the match and dealing the Sharks their first losing session. Frisco (yes I'm not a native. I think it sounds cool), 2.5-1.5.

Arizona vs. Seattle:

Assuming Hikaru is over the most famous cold since Napoleon's at Borodino, Seattle looks a comfortable favorite. Scorpions get slugged, 2.5-1.5.

*. can they?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Week Two, part two

Please don't link to this until there is more here. I'm just putting this up for the record and will edit it later. My picks won't change, though, they are Chicago SF Boston and Arizona by the same 2.5-1.5. I know the round has started, but I relayed them to Greg earlier through a third party, I hope, just to avert a scandal such as when Howard Cosell said "I think (Mr. X) probably won (Olympic boxing match) 3-2" but we'll see", just after he, along with the whole world watching on television, heard the ringside judge announce just that into a microphone.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Week Two, part one

I've decided to do a quick (albeit last-minute) jumble today because the other thing I thought maybe I'd do I think probably I won't, at least not right now.

_OO_ _


_ _ _OO_

O_O_ _O

Why was the captain worried? It was.....

A _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _

(The slash simply marks the space between words)

Philly, Baltimore, Seattle. Philly by two, the others by one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Week One, part two

First of all, I apologize that the art this week does not meet the high standards you have come to expect. I am drawing with a touchpad mouse, as I could not figure out how to upload from etch-a-sketch. Also the well is running dry but I figured I'd do a jumble this week at least since all the matches look kind of lopsided and I don't feel I should have to be different just for the sake of being different. Leave that to the wannabes still trying to make a name. I pick all the rating favorites (New York, Baltimore, Philly, Arizona) to win by the same 2.5-1.5 score.

OOO_ _

O_O_ _

_ _ _OOO

_ _O_OO

Cobra fans feared for their player's sanity seeing him try to handle.......

THE "_ _ _ _ _ _ _" _ _ _ _

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week One, part one

Queens vs. Boston:

Can they do that? Boston, 3-1.

Miami vs. Dallas:

Miami needs a quick start, before the late nights start to take their toll. A bit of time odds helps. Miami, 2.5-1.5.

San Francisco vs. Seattle:

I can't totally ignore my season's predictions. I meant what I said and I said what I meant. Word is life. Seattle, 2.5-1.5.

Extended Forecast

First, thanks to Arun Sharma for doing the work of figuring out the best legal lineups for each team, which makes determining everyone's order a mere formality.

Eastern Division:

Philadelphia Inventors

Philadelphia’s best lineup looks very strong indeed but they look formidable enough with any of the top four lineups. Flexibility is key, especially in the regular season, so I expect to see them place high.

New York Knights

First, please note that Fedorowicz and Norowitz together creates a great opportunity for a budding chess poet. As Norowitz seems likely to man board three very often, much will depend on how well the other teams keep abreast of the latest theoretical developments in the Stonewall attack.

Queens Pioneers

I seem to remember reading that Queens was going to call itself the “Entourage” this year, perhaps in reference to the fact that they are without their star of last season and are left with flunkies and hangers-on. Still, consider how well Ed McMahon did for himself, even after Carson retired.

Baltimore Kingfishers

Looks like a solid team, with a variety of reasonable lineups. I guess they'll be right there. But where will there be?

Boston Blitz

Compared to most teams, Boston seems to have fewer notable defections either to or from. Good for the fans who get attached to their favorites. Bad for me, though, as it makes it hard to say anything new. But I'll try, let's see.....when you just miss, it's natural to believe that next season will be yours. But when you just miss again, your confidence gets shaken; you start to wonder if you ever can put it all together. I wish I had the luxury of waiting to see their first post-match video to gauge how much of the old confidence remains. As is, I suppose it is in tatters.

New Jersey Knockouts

Potentially a very strong team, but less flexible than many, as they need the Benjamin-Gulko tandem to really frighten. I seem to recall Gulko taking rather a light schedule last season. I think he needs to schedule a few more lessons this year. I have a feeling he won't, though.

Carolina Cobras

If there's anything more annoying than one more Yankee in Carolina, it's one less Yankee in Carolina. Or, be careful what you wish for; you just might get it. IM Jonathan Schroer, strong player, Zaikov, Simpson, Jones et al. will need to be overachievers (pride optional).

Western Division:

Dallas Destiny

There must be a reason for Dallas’s back-to-back (usage note: “straight” begins with three) titles, because they happened, and nothing happens without a reason. Maybe attending the same school, or being all about the same age, means more team spirit. Or maybe the prospect of BMOC-hood is extra incentive. Or maybe they all play chess well. Or maybe there is nothing else to do in Dallas so they are always able to field a strong lineup. In any case, I expect them to do well again.

Seattle Sluggers

The team looks pretty strong with either one GM or two playing. They're kind of old, I guess. Even Hikaru is past the first bloom of youth.

San Francisco Mechanics

I notice that Liou figures in all San Francisco’s best lineups. In fact, it looks hard for them to field a legal lineup that does not include him. So it seems safe to say that SF’s fortunes will be awfully dependent on his performance. I hate to put such pressure on a kid’s shoulder. But maybe some kind person will put equal pressure on his other shoulder.

Chicago Blaze

Arun’s #2 lineup looked better to me than the #1. But that can’t be, as the #1 counts Shulman as 2590. So they look pretty tough. They probably don't study together, but I assume at least that no one is driving 100+ miles to the match site.

Miami Sharks:

Becerra seems to play every week, so they should be ok if that continues. But there is always the chance that it won't. And staying awake at an hour when their West coast opponents are just waking up could be a challenge.

Tennessee Tempo

Last year, Tennessee needed Ehlvest in the lineup each week to avoid giving significant rating odds. With Shabalov added to the roster, that is no longer so. But…will either of them drive all the way down by himself, or must the lineup always include either both or neither? And where are they coming from? Do chess players actually live anywhere? The questions are obvious, the answers less so.

Arizona Scorpions

I've been trying to figure out what makes teams do well in this league, apart from high average rating. San Francisco has done well with young hardcore types who study together a lot, while Dallas has won twice with UTD-based teams which I presume also study together a lot. Arizona, I understand, counts on eating together at various restaurants to build team spirit. I'm not sure this is the ticket to success.


I hope no one is seriously expecting, months in advance, a board-by-board breakdown of matches that are unlikely to take place to begin with. In the East, I will predict that regular season form holds up through the playoffs; so Philly over Baltimore, New York over Queens, Philly over New York. In the West, though, although I have picked Dallas to win the division, I think Hikaru will make sure his schedule is clear for the postseason and that Seattle will beat San Francisco and Dallas in turn (Dallas having beaten Chicago meantime). In the finals, with a 2-2 tie a distinct possibility, Hikaru's legendary blitz prowess makes Seattle the favorite.

So there you have it. But do watch all the matches anyway, because it is always interesting to see how things happen.