Monday, August 30, 2010

Week Two, part one

New Jersey vs. New York:

I'm afraid that Gulko will soon forget how to play with Black, but I guess that is his problem, not New Jersey's. I expect Kacheishvili to hold and New York's advantage on the lower three boards to see them through to victory. New York by a minute*.

I don't think I noticed the Shen brothers before, or maybe the younger one was not yet 2200 last season. But I guess they are the youngest brother pair to make USCF master. If so, whose record did they break? Offhand, I guess the Whiteheads, but that seems too long ago. If we are counting sisters and foreigners, though, I guess the Polgars probably hold the sibling record.

Carolina vs. New England:

I try not to use the super-obvious puns in the jumbles, but I hate to waste them entirely. Look for the Nor'easters to breeze to victory. 3-1, New England.

Miami vs. San Francisco:

No Ruy for Becerra this week; at best he can hope for a Petroff. I expect Wolff to hold on board one and that SF will break through somewhere below. San Francisco by a heartbeat.

Arizona vs. Seattle



OO_ _O


"_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _ _"

The lazy bum ought to just get up, because the thrills won't wait. The Scorps by a nibble.

* I guess I can afford to explain once a season. "Team X by an anything" always means "by a point". I just don't like to say "point" all the time. It's like the "he said, she ejaculated, he vociferated" problem in dialogue but that can be dodged by just dispensing with it altogether.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Week One, part two

Manhattan vs. Carolina

Giving time odds on two boards is an interesting psychological gambit by heavy dog Carolina. But to really play with Manhattan's heads, the Cobras need to give material odds and that is not within USCL rules. 3-1, Applesauce.

New England vs. Baltimore:





"THE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - "

New England, 3-1.

San Francisco vs. Dallas:

If Naroditsky's cherubic appearance in his USCL pic is intimidating, there is a more recent one on his own site where he towers above the 3 and 3/4" King (to say nothing of the rest of the pieces). But even if you avoid intimidation, life is sometimes hard and so it seems to be to anyone facing the SF lineup. The 'Nics by a point at the buzzer.

Miami vs. Arizona:

I usually like Miami when it looks like Becerra will get to play a Ruy. This time, too. Miami, 2.5-1.5.

Week One, part one

New York vs. Boston

I pick the defending champs to win this one but it does offend my sensibilities some for three newcomers to play in the opening match. Let them make the coffee runs for a couple of weeks while the heroes of 2009 bask in the limelight. New York, 2.5-1.5.

Philadelphia vs. New Jersey

Each board here matches Youth vs. Experience, but New Jersey has put its experience on top and Philadelphia theirs at the bottom. My pick is based on the idea that professional players work harder to keep up to date, so you want your old guys to be GM’s. Also I am assuming that Finn is underrated somehow, even though his rating is not quite completely unchanged from 2009. Maybe he just played in the Amateur Team. New Jersey, 2.5-1.5.

St. Louis vs. Los Angeles:

_O_O O O


O O_ _O O

"_ _ _    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _"

St. Louis by a point.

Seattle vs. Chicago

It may be they way they are brought up on "touch move" in Chicago, but for whatever reason, a big edge for the Blaze here. Chicago, 3-1.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What's Gonna Happen

The odds-obsessed league commisioner has asked me to include percentage chances of each team both to make the postseason and to win the whole thing, so those numbers appear at the end of each team's paragraph.

Eastern Division:

New York Knights:

This team looked strong last year, and won the title. This year, they look stronger, what with the way-underrated kids and top performer Alex Lenderman, whose vagabond shoes, longing to stray, have landed him in New York.

80%, 13%.

New Jersey Knockouts:

See below.

75%, 11%.

Boston Blitz:

See above.

70%, 9%.

Baltimore Kingfishers:

Since losing Pascal Charbonneau, who led the team to the inaugural USCL title in 2005, Baltimore has struggled quite a bit, despite fielding reasonable teams. This year’s version looks similar to recent ones, but Sasha Kaplan is some new blood, which can’t hurt. And if you underperform long enough, then you’re not really underperforming, and I believe Baltimore has in fact been underperforming, so I think that this season they will perform well enough to see the post-season.

54%, 7%.

New England Nor'easters:

The Northeast has traditionally suffered from an inferiority complex regarding severe weather, so it is gratifying to see the attempt to make “Nor’easters” sound as frightening as “Hurricanes”, “Cyclones”, or “Earthquakes”. New England’s strength is its flexible lineup, but I suspect the GGGg-style lineup has the edge over the balanced one, so I see NE finishing just outside the unpromised land. Bourneval has been one of the more prominent kibitzers in past seasons, so whether he can make the adjustment to player may be key.

51%, 5%.

Manhattan Applesauce:

I’ll grant that “Applesauce” has more relevance to Manhattan than “Pioneers” did to Queens, but I still don’t really get it. My best guess is that is meant to lull their opponents. If it were up to me, they’d be simply “the Manhattan” and use a cocktail glass as their logo. I suppose their players are more partial to vodka than to whiskey, though. Anyway, a strong enough roster, but it looks to me like too many of them wear suits all day and have to use too much of the chess part of their brains during the day to be able to handle a tough game at night.

46%, 4%.

Philadelphia Inventors:

Philadelphia can approach the rating limit with its roster but it needs its top two players playing to do so. History indicates that this is unlikely to be the case every week. Though the past is an imperfect predictor, the future hasn’t happened yet, so it’s all I’ve got.

23.7%, .98%.

Carolina Cobras:

As the only team in the East unable to approach the rating limit with any lineup, Carolina looks in for a long season. But if you like what you’re doing, that isn’t such a terrible thing, is it?

.3%, .02%.

Western Division:

Arizona Scorpions:

I was curious whether Arizona could use their top three plus Mateer, and it seems that they can, just barely. With the other underrated kids, they look pretty flexible, unless maybe they are still splitting between Phoenix and Tucson, because I don’t know who lives where. I’m sure they’ll work out some reasonable scheme, though. They ought to make it to the post-season.

75%, 11%.

San Francisco Mechanics:

Always a good team and they ought to prove so again. Tough guys on top, underrated guys on bottom, and better flexibility than most. Also, a number of pros or semi-pros who are probably up to date on the principles of the New Chess.

70%, 10%.

St. Louis Arch Bishops:

“St. Louis Arch Bishops” reminds me of those silly bar drinks that are invented for the sake of the name. But whereas “slow comfortable screw against the wall” simply takes up a small bit of menu space, this team is committed to playing ten weeks of four-hour matches. Of chess, no less! But they do have some quite good chessplayers, including two of the four recent US Championship finalists. Better still, judging from the Week One announced lineups, Shulman is even going to play this year! It feels almost like cheating to look at the posted lineups, but I really needed to know, with such an all-walks-of-life type of roster, whether St. Louis could field a normal and competitive lineup. And it seems they can.

60%, 9%.

Miami Sharks:

Another team that changes little from year to year, and yet another team that is using the September 2009 rating list (what is it about that list, anyway? The centerfold?). Anyway, though they lack a super-versatile roster, Miami does have a record of fielding a tough lineup each week, so I expect them to field tough enough to make it to the postseason.

55%, 5%.

Los Angeles Vibe:

First of all, I don’t see what “Vibe” has to do with chess, Los Angeles, or intimidation. But having said that I guess it is incumbent on me to suggest an improvement, so how about the “Bl0-0ds”, which covers all three? As for the team, they’ve got a good pair of underrated kids so if the top guys do ok, the team should do well.

45%, 5%.

Chicago Fire:

Though not as strong on paper as last year’s team looked on paper, the players on this team play, which makes up for a lot of paper. I don’t know much about Amanov other than nothing whatsoever, but I am guessing that his 2500 rating is more accurate than his 2400 one, what with his GM title and all.

40%, 4%.

Dallas Destiny:

Though a youngy, collegeish team, Dallas is sadly lacking in vastly underrated players, which seem almost a necessity in these tough times.

30%, 3%.

Seattle Sluggers:

It is hard to replace a guy like Nakamura but you can’t complain about Akobian. That is, though, contingent on his playing and I see he is missing from the Week One lineup. Again, I know it’s cheating to look but there is no Good Conduct medal for USCL predictors.

25%, 3%.

Oh yeah. It is a pet theory of mine that when you fall just short one season, you are a big threat to win the following season, but if you don’t win then either, self-doubt sets in and a shake-up is probably necessary before you win the whole thing. Makes me kinda hope New Jersey does win, because I’d hate to have to be the one to tell Benjamin or Gulko, “sorry, a shake-up is necessary. You’re off the team”. But that is why I favor Jersey over Boston: because they have just missed only once.