Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Quarrel for the Laurel

I don't remember offhand if in the past I headlined the final matches (a la "Chicago vs. New York"), but my emerging ├Žsthetic sense tells me it is inelegant to do so, as there is obviously only one match I can be talking about, and if anyone doesn't know without my telling them, then he is not a real USCL fan and can hardly expect me to cater to him.

I liked Chicago from the start of the season because of the variety of strong lineups they could field, and as if to prove it, tonight they are putting up one that is about a hundred points lower rated than last week's. New York's great strength was in their variety of underrated kids they could field, but as I am sure you have read, none of those kids are available this week, so honorary kid-for-life emeritus John Fernandez is stepping in(to it?). My sense of bloodlust is almost as strong as my ├Žsthetic sense, so I would like to see Chicago punished for their lack of same, evidenced by their agreeing to this substitution. But I think they are just good enough to prevail. So my official pick is Chicago, but in the event of a tie, I favor New York in the blitz playoff. Of course, New York always has very good chances to get all four players to the site, being a compact city with lots of public transit options, so they are looking good on that front as well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Division Finals

New York vs. Manhattan:

The US Chess League is tough at any time, but the postseason (for those who have not been there) is a real test of one's mettle, or manhood, you might even say, if you are not squeamish. Just look at this week's matches--only sixteen names to play with, of which I have used up about half already. And most of the others I have beaten my head against many times, sometimes desperately. But as I indicated, I lack the squeam gene.

It will help today if you are familiar with the characters who peopled "Life in Hell", Matt Groening's pre-"Simpsons" comic strip, that used to run in the alternative rags. Even if you are familiar, it will help quite a bit if you kinda work with me and get into the spirit of things. I borrowed a character without authorization, so let us hope Groening is as cool as the author of Captain Goodvibes obviously is. Should he prove less, though, and sue and put the league out of business, at least we go out on a brighter note than Joe Paterno.

And I am picking Manhattan again, the odds givers, because...well, it would approach unseemliness for me to say it again.

Chicago vs. Los Angeles:

Now this match features a truly gaudy pair of W/L records. But then, gaud is the greatest (cryptic clue to the jumble above). But the gaudiest are the greatestest, and right now, that means Chicago.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Division Semifinals

Chicago vs. Dallas:

I am doing this last-minute; no time to darken or color so the scrambled words at left are HYLACK, NICEMD, ACELLO, ASITES, and the word balloons read "Hey, what did you find out for me about that -------- ----?" and "Just fly to JFK and follow the signs to the AirTrain", respectively. And despite the diligent preparation on the part of Dallas implied by the drawing, I pick Chicago to win and advance.

San Francisco vs. Los Angeles:

I like San Francisco, as they are very solid on the top three boards, by which I mean I think they will be pressing to win up there and are likely to draw where they fail to win. But I don't like them so much as to pick them to advance in the face of the draw odds they are giving. If anybody is keeping score, I pick San Francisco to win the match, because that seems the likeliest among the three (SF wins, drawn match, LA wins) outcomes, but I pick LA to advance, because I like having two chances out of three.

Philadelphia vs. Manhattan:

I like Manhattan's lineup a little better. Of course, as I rationalized above, there is the draw odds and the two-chances-in-three thing, but if that feels like wimping out to me, it must look positively despicable to you. Manhattan to win, then.

New York vs. Boston:

Ok, I think I can finesse this one. I favor New York slightly based on the lineups, and they do have draw odds. When you have draw odds, the other team has to go overboard trying to win, and so they lose more often than they would normally. So, I pick New York to win and advance.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Week Ten, part two

New Jersey vs. Boston:

I apologize to that portion of my readership who are not familiar with 1970's Australian comic strips, as they have no real chance to understand this one. But I am trying to grow my brand and who knows, maybe next time YOUR niche interest will be represented.

I thought of asterisking "bonker" to the effect that it is not in my dictionary, so it is not going to be the answer word. But even if it happens to be in your dictionary, you might guess (correctly) that I would not have spelt it all out if I meant it to be the answer word, except perhaps on April Fool's Day, but one of the unfortunate things about this league is the lack of opportunity for April Fool's gags.

Anyway, New Jersey to win, which will be sad for Boston if it happens, but of course maybe it won't.

New York vs. Philadelphia:

Although any type of normal outcome works out well for Philly, I predict the particular one where they win the match.

Carolina vs. Manhattan:

Manhattan is in the annoying situation of having good tiebreaks, but still possibly needing to win their match. It almost makes one say, "why bother?". But they are a young team, have probably not been beaten down too much by life yet, and I think they will find the strength to continue and prevail.

Baltimore vs. New England:

The defending leaguce champs do not control their own destiny, but as clever sportswriters are fond of pointing out, nobody "controls" his destiny, because then it isn't "destiny". I pick New England to win and then get lucky somewhere, but remember that I'm right even if I'm only half right.

Btw, we had a real live "Nor'easter" in the Northeast this past week, which did worse damage to places that didn't really get damaged than Irene. Many branches down, even without much wind. Apparently this was because snow + leaves = too much weight for the branches to support. Additionally, this storm did not disprove global warming.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Week Ten, part one

Dallas vs. Miami:

Playing to a tie is like kissing your sister, and Miami has a better looking sister than Dallas. But just this once, give some thought to the sister who has to be kissed by her brother. Do you think she is any happier? I think Dallas will win so there won't have to be any kissing.

San Francisco vs. St. Louis:

But why not, after all. I say the Nics win and grab a playoff spot.

Chicago vs. Arizona:

Arizona's chances to continue beyond this week took a hit while I was writing this, as Nakamura has been scratched and so St. Louis, Arizona's horse, is now a big dog in its match with San Francisco. Now I'm stuck with Arizona to win a probably meaningless match. I'll have to write faster next time.

Los Angeles vs. Seattle:

The park hustler Ralph liked to sing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" when his opponents blundered stuff. I thought this was much more apposite than "trick or treat", as favored by the two rival kiddies in "Searching for Bobby Fischer". On the other hand, the latter does not require any singing ability. Anyway, for Halloween, in honor of my pagan ancestors, I pick Seattle to trick, and LA to treat.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Week Nine, part two

New Jersey vs. New York:

Ben Franklin compared New Jersey to a keg tapped at both ends. Of course, he never metaphor he didn't like. Anyway, Philly has done its tapping so New York must respond in kind or fall behind. But at least they get the bubbly part. New York.

New England vs. Carolina:

I think he did it, or will do it. New England.

Dallas vs. San Francisco:

Four teams are seriously fighting for the final two playoff spots in the West and these are two of them. Of the two, Dallas has the worse tiebreak propects, so to win this match would clearly be the smart thing to do. They seem pretty smart. One of them even wears glasses. Dallas gets the nod.

St. Louis vs. Seattle:

First, the B-53 gets dismantled and now Hikaru. If I am any judge of trends, it's a good time to invest in bows and arrows. And Seattle.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week Nine, part one

Philadelphia vs. Manhattan:

Manhattan can virtually clinch a spot by winning here and I was on the verge of picking them to do so. But Fisher has been so strong on Four that that feels kind of nuts. And as we all know and are often reminded this time of year, sometimes you don't. Philadelphia.

Boston vs. Baltimore:

Boston unaccustomedly has to scrounge for a playoff spot, but scrounging is a skill that anyone can learn and I believe that Boston will.

Miami vs. Chicago:

Chicago has to give some time odds, but not too overwhelmingly much. It's tempting to pick against perfection and go for the genius points, but I'm with Bill Walsh; I'd rather be an artist. Which brings us to...

Arizona vs. Los Angeles:

Arizona. And Chicago, which I hinted at but did not quite state just above because it would have messed up my smooth segue into this match. And I'm an artist.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Week Eight, part two

New England vs. New Jersey:

New Jersey needs this so badly that they don't need it at all. Does that paradox have a name? Anyway, I think they could really just about win this match, so I'm picking them.

Manhattan vs. Baltimore:

Manhattan's four players tonight are all in their twenties, just when the human brain is at its peak effectiveness. How is that for good timing? If they can't win now, just imagine what the rest of their lives will be like. I do pick them to win, though.

Miami vs. St. Louis:

The scrambled word on top of the column on the right is in fact OJLACE, just in case you think the J looks like a T that looks like a J. And though the scene depicted in the jumbles usually is of the team I am picking to win, Kim Kardashian does not have the tail to wag the dog of this prediction. I pick Miami by a lot.

Dallas vs. Chicago:

Anything can happen, but it usually doesn't. Chicago again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week Eight, part one

Philadelphia vs. New York:

Looking at Panchanathan's USCL game history, he seems to draw remarkably often. It makes me feel even more astute for my SF-Arizona analysis below. If Panch does in fact manage to neutralize Kacheishvili, the performance of his teammates so far this season makes their chances in this match look pretty good. It does not logically follow from this, though, that Philadelphia is to be favored, so let me state it explicitly. Philadelphia is to be favored.

Carolina vs. Boston:

Mosiyenko lacks a picture on this site, which leads me to assume "kid", which in this league usually means "underrated", because that's what separates the men kids from the boy kids. That plus Boston's significant rating edge elsewhere makes them seem the clear choice.

San Francisco vs. Arizona:

This jumble was drawn with a government-issue #2 pencil, and it writes well enough, but the eraser is too firm, which is probably what caused the metal thing that holds the eraser to fall out the first time I moved to erase. So although the government may waste money on many things, pencils seem not to be one of them.

I guess I am picking Arizona although I don't remember why; it may be simply because that is the way the jumble points. Of course, I have always identified more with the tail than with the dog. Also, though chess was invented in India, the Persians invented checkmate.*

Seattle vs. Los Angeles:

Migratory patterns resulted in a flourishing chess culture in the area of Los Angeles in the early 21st century, which in turn lead me to pick the Vibe in this match.

* Astute analysis, as explained under Philly-NY.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week Seven, part two

Manhattan vs. New England:

I think I prefer New England. Oh, it's a chess match? Manhattan, then. Actually, accordingtowikipedia (hereafter "ATW"), Manhattan clam chowder was actually invented by Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island, and it was dubbed "Manhattan"-style by haughty New Englanders who felt that "calling someone a New Yorker was an insult". Not to agree or disagree, but it strikes me suddenly that I can't think of any famous songs about Boston. A few spring to mind that sort of reference Boston, such as the "write ZOOM" jingle, the "Cheers" theme, and the Kingston Trio's "MTA". Is there something obvious I am overlooking?

Baltimore vs. Carolina:

IMO, this is not the most strained jumble of all time. There was one about the Yangtse river that I think still holds the record. If you disagree, though, well, records were made to be broken. Drawing the period at the end of the "_ _ _ _ _" in the word balloon was probably overly retentive from the anal point of view, and liable to cause confusion, so I guess I won't do it anymore. Baltimore.

Chicago vs. San Francisco:

Each board looks to me like Chicago shouldn't lose, and a couple of them it seems like they might win. SF has greater need, but Chi has greater greed. I'll stick with the Blaze.

Arizona vs. Dallas:

Molner has performed well this season and with the white pieces, I count him the favorite on top board. Adelberg has black on Four, so he can't play the Catalan. It's all falling into place for Arizona.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week Seven, part one

Boston vs. Philadelphia:

The Philadelphia Flyers spoiled the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup ceremony this week and I see that trend continuing, minus the cup and the ceremony. Philadelphia.

New York vs. New Jersey:

If I were to point out a propos of this match that New Jersey holds a lifetime 5-3 edge over New York, and if Phil Mushnick of the NY Post sports section were suddenly to start covering the USCL, I would be eviscerated for mindlessly spouting an inane and irrelevant statistic. I think I'll hang on to my intestines, thank you. New York.

Los Angeles vs. Miami:

This one is for advanced solvers. Advanced in just what, you may decide. LA.

Seattle vs. St. Louis:

If memory serves, St. Louis is more often on the giving end of time odds than the receiving. If if it doesn't, hey, I still have my emotions and motor functions to work with. The Archies, #1 with a bullet this week.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week Six, part two

Miami vs. New England:

I tend to pick Miami when it's close and Becerra seems likely to get a Ruy Lopez. But being a diligent researcher, I checked Hungaski's opening history and found he plays a mix of things against 1 e4. So I predict no Ruy Lopez, and New England wins the match.

Chicago vs. Baltimore:

A tough match that Chicago could just conceivably not win. Ok, I've crawled out jst about far enough on that limb. Chicago.

St. Louis vs. Philadelphia:

I seem to have regressed a couple of centuries in my understanding of perspective. Luckily, this is the 21st century, so there are plenty still to work with. This would also have worked out better as the color drawing this week, since the logos would then have stood out more, but tradition is not to be trifled with. Anyway, Philadelpia. By two, even.

San Francisco vs. Manhattan:

I didn't really know Jay Whitehead, but he was friendly when I spoke to him on the phone. I see San Francisco winning for the former Berkeley Rioter.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week Six, part one

Carolina vs. Dallas:

Perhaps a brief explanation is in order here: in resuming my increasingly desperate search for jumble ideas, I came across an “indie pop” combo of which I had never heard called “Ivy”. This is no reflection on them, as I am pretty far removed from the music scene, but I fear it is possible to be in much closer touch than I am and still be unfamiliar with this band. But after exposing myself to the dangers that lurk on just about every song lyrics site on the web, I feel it would be a sad waste to refuse to avail myself of the use of a song title from the brand new Ivy album that was scheduled to be released this past September 20 and for all I know was in fact. The drawing is based on the one photograph that the band has on their web site; I imagine in an actual concert they would be holding instruments. Also, the guy on the right looks less effeminate/androgynous in the actual photo (and, I assume, in real life) than he turned out in my rendition, so apologies to him. And Dallas by two.

Boston vs. Arizona:

Larry C is playing making his season debut tonight. Does this mean he is a big Red Sox fan? Not that I would gloat. As the famous Athenian lawgiver Solon used to say, back in the Golden Age, before the financial crisis, "count no man happy until he is dead. Only lucky". "Happy" had a different connotation then, and so did "lucky", but the point remains. Arizona.

New York vs. Seattle:

When a 59-points-per-board rating average dog wins, that is a full-blown upset. This is where I make my name. But I will give the players their share of credit. Seattle.

New Jersey vs. Los Angeles:

A late switch in the New Jersey lineup leads to big time odds and big rating deficit. This on top of the glamour odds they always have to spot New York and Manhattan makes it hard to see NJ getting much tabloid space. LA.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Week Five, part two

New York vs. Manhattan:

I once arrived about 40 minutes late for a game against Walter Shipman, and eventually lost. In the post-mortem he attributed the move that got me into trouble as likely due to the time I had sacrificed. I didn't see why time was so much likelier the culprit than faulty understanding, but I suspected it was his way of chiding me for being so late, even though outwardly he didn't act offended. Anyway, the lesson was clear, but apparently not to everyone. Manhattan.

Philadelphia vs. Baltimore:

Damon Runyon once wrote "the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet." At least, if you don't have to beat a point spread or lay money odds. I don't. Philadelphia.

Chicago vs. St. Louis:

This jumble came hard, and it is just as hard to say what the point of it is. Even so, I would be remiss in not thanking Yahoo's "search assist" feature for its help. I still use Yahoo as my home page, simply because my primary email is there, simply because it already was when Google started to take over and there didn't seem enough point in changing to change. It is likely that Google's search assist would have served just as well, but I don't think I need to thank it for what it would have done when it didn't actually do anything. One for the Ethicist's column.

The "surprise answer", to use the language of the newspaper Jumble™,® or whatever (to give them their due), is 7,6, though the end got slighty cut off in the picture. Chicago "FTW", as the kids say.

San Francisco vs. Seattle:

In the Cold War classic "How to Beat the Russians at Chess", the late Edmar Mednis wrote "the Russians, though far from invincible with White, are more likely to lose with Black". Twenty-two years after the Berlin Wall came down, I think we can recognize and state out loud that the Russians are people just as we are, and that we Americans too, though far from invincible with White, are more likely to lose with Black. I think that Kraai will not lose and that the Mechanics will win, but I only have to be right about the latter thing, and really, what's going to happen if I'm wrong twice?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week Five, part one

New England vs. Boston:

Last week's Kacheishvili-Sammour game was featured in the New York Times on Sunday the 25th (yesterday, if you are reading this hot off the press). It shared the space with a couple of other news items and there was a partial game from the recent Women's Grand Prix in Russia, but K-S was the star attraction. That, IMO, is even more prestigious than being the sole feature, because it makes clear that a choice was made and the USCL game deemed worthy of most attention.

I just noticed that this is already the second meeting of the year for these teams. Imagine if the Brooklyn Dodgers were done with the New York Giants by the end of May? Perhaps the league feared street riots in the event of a late-season showdown. Of course, if the Nor'easters don't step it up soon, this may turn out to be late-season after all, for practical purposes. I say they do. New England by a NECCO wafer.

New Jersey vs. Carolina:

The Cobras by a tongue-length.

Arizona vs. Miami:

Another rematch. Maybe the schedule maker is just not very imaginative. I take a certain satisfaction in the fact that I had the experience in my chess career of sealing a move before the green movement to save the envelope came along. But sadly, having a game adjudicated seems destined to remain unchecked on my bucket list. The Mateer-Pelaez game in Week One, though, finished just this way! In Anno Domini 2011, or this year, whatever your religious persuasion. I may have made this my jumble game had I noticed it earlier, but maybe next year. Anyway, I say Miami takes its revenge today. By a flagler.

Dallas vs. Los Angeles:

I guess when you're overwhelmed by such weird letters as C, Y, and J, it seems as though the order hardly matters, but I am pretty sure it is "Patrycza" and not "Patrcyza". However, I am not Polish, even though ten to fifteen thousand years ago a patrilineal ancestor of mine of European origin was born on the grassy steppes in the region of present-day Ukraine or Southern Russia, so I could well be mistaken. The Vibe by a shiver.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week Four, part two

Manhattan vs. New Jersey:

And the Sauce will be boss.

Carolina vs. New York:

Last week saw the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and there were many solemn commemorations, but I now will share a more light-hearted chess-related remembrance of the WTC. One day during the Kasparov-Anand world championship match, the day's game had just ended, and a woman asked where the bathroom was. She was pointed to a room with the word "black" taped to the door. This did in fact match her approximate skin color, but she was nonetheless taken aback, as it was already 1995 and she was comfortably north of the Mason-Dixon line. She briefly rationalized that a hundred-odd floors above street level, the winds of history might blow somewhat differently. Eventually, though, she realized that she had been directed to one of the player bathrooms, since they began to shut down the space as soon as the day's game was over.

I allowed on Monday that to call my pick of New England over Philadelphia an "upset special" would be grossly hyperbolic, but in light of the 0.5-3.5 outcome, I have changed my mind. That was the "upset special". If you missed it, buy your ticket now for next week's. New York.

St. Louis vs. Arizona:

St. Louis's lineup of GM, IM, FM, Untitled is ├Žsthetically pleasing, but Arizona's IM, IM, FM, FM, while perhaps more commonplace, is nonetheless in quiet good taste. Scorpions.

Los Angeles vs. Chicago:

I may be missing a golden opportunity here, but I used "Amanov" in one of last year's jumbles. I do reserve the right, though, to use either Amanov's first name, if I learn how to pronounce them. On the other hand, maybe it's better not to learn the offical correct pronunciation, because that way, I get to decide. Anyway, let us hope that the losing Amanov deals with defeat better than I did when Angelo won the battle of the Youngs. Chicago.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week Four, part one

Philadelphia vs. New England:

I don't mean to get off cheaply on my promise by picking an upset that's not really an upset, but as I don't know Wednesday's lineups just now, I can't promise that won't happen. New England.

Baltimore vs. Boston:

Ironically, though the term "sneakers" for what are also known as "tennis shoes" is thought to have originated in Boston, it is Baltimore whose lineup spells out KEDS reading down. I therefore pick the latter to walk over the former.

Miami vs. San Francisco:

I know it's boring to pick just by adding numbers, but with three Mechanics having Wikipedia pages to just one Shark, it's too convenient to resist. San Francisco.

Seattle vs. Dallas:

Ok, this one is even a bit more strained than usual. But at least it's in color. Dallas.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Week Three, part two

New York vs. Boston:

Are you ready to jummmmblllle? Well, you'll have to wait, because I'm going to begin with a riddle: what is black and white and green all over? Maybe next time, after somebody shows me how, I'll hide the answer in a spoiler box, but since I can't figure it out myself, I'm just going to give you the answer straight out, namely.....this jumble! I saved a sheet of paper by drawing this on the other side of last week's. Unfortunately, some of the old puzzle shows through and gives the new one sort of a dirty appearance. I cleaned it up a bit with the paint program but I stopped when it got complicated and I got tired, so I guess I won't repeat this experiment. Sorry, rain forest, I did try.

And New York by a (slightly dirty) sanchez.

New Jersey vs. Philadelphia:

This looks closer than it looks, as far as I can see. But even if New Jersey is underrated, Philly may yet be accurately rated. Philadelphia by an erving.

Dallas vs. St. Louis:

In the old days on ICC, there was a particular clique within a particular demi-monde that used to talk about the "Hua", which I recall came from a Brazilian cartoon and was something like "the Force" in the Star Wars universe. But this is not Brazil, is certainly not a cartoon, and is totally not the old days. I pick Dallas by a spanarkle.

Los Angeles vs. San Francisco:

I think I should really try to pick at least one upset each week, to liven things up some. But as I've just decided this right now, I only have one match to choose from this week, and that isn't fair. Therefore, San Francisco by a cepeda.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week Three, part one

Manhattan vs. Carolina:

I have missed a couple of chances to look smart by picking Carolina. But I really would not like to be thought smarter than I am. Manhattan.

New England vs. Baltimore:

They say you're only as good as your last match, which would mean New England isn't very. But I say you're only as good as your next match. Wow, that's almost good enough to go into the fortune cookie business for. New England.

Seattle vs. Miami:

Seattle by a Mumphrey.

Arizona vs. Chicago:

In Winston Churchill's WW II memoir, he recounted a little chat he had with Stalin at one of the Big Three meetings in which he mentioned a one-day trip to NYC that Molotov had taken after a conference in Washington had broken up. He felt suddenly remorseful when he realized that he may have got Molotov in trouble with his boss. Churchill reports, though, that Stalin made a joke out of it, saying, "no no, you're wrong, he did not go to New York. He went to Chicago to be with his fellow gangsters." Everybody laughed, and Churchill felt relieved at apparently not having done any real damage. But in the book "Nikita Khrushchev Remembers", written during the author's forced-but-not-too-uncomfortable retirement, Khrushchev reports that ever afterward, Stalin suspected Molotov of being an American agent. And on the Dick Cavett show in the early 1970's, the French actor Alain Delon told of how at the age of about fifteen he had stowed (stown?) away on a ship to America, with plans to go to Chicago, which he associated with Dillinger and Capone. Unfortunately, Cavett, who had already corrected Delon on a couple of minor matters of pronunciation, corrected him yet again, as Delon had given the "g" in "Dillinger" the swallowing treatment, as in "swallowing". After this, Delon didn't feel like talking much and the interview suffered.

Anyway, the point is that I was thinking of making some comparison of Chicago and Arizona in which the former is the home of working gangsters in their prime while the latter is where they retire, thanks in part to the government's witness protection program HALLELUJAH, MY COMPUTER CRASHED BUT EVERYTHING HERE WAS SAVED because that seemed more interesting than simply pointing to Chicago's hundred-point average rating edge, but it wasn't coming together too easily and there are the twin considerations of certainly overdone and possibly offensive, but I thought I would illustrate just how wide-spread is Chicago's gangster image for the sake of anyone in the future who needs to fill space writing about Chicago. Chicago.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Week Two, part two

Boston vs. Manhattan:

And the prognosticator of the century picks Boston.

Baltimore vs. New Jersey:

New Jersey, because chess is 99% emotional.

Chicago vs. Miami:

Chicago still looks very good despite their late lineup switch and subsequent time odds. White pieces on the two boards where they have about a 300 point rating bulge looks like a great chance for a 2-0 lead and a 2-0 lead is a very promising start to a match. Bet Chi, and don’t be bashful about it.

San Francisco vs. Dallas:

If I were perfect, this matchup would put even my infallibility to the test. Pretty scary. But I’ll just close my eyes and pick Fs;;sd.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Week Two, part one

New England vs. New York:

Now that the pressure of the never-losing-and-usually-winning streak is off, New England is free to deal with the pressure of possibly starting this season 0-2. I think there is a lesson here. New York by a hoffmann.

Philadelphia vs. Carolina:

Carolina's giving time odds was an unfortunate accident, but my picking them despite it would be an out-and-out dis. I am more respectful that that. Philadelphia by a rind.

St. Louis vs. Los Angeles:

LA by a robert d. james.

Arizona vs. Seattle:

When Seattle is on the right, their boxing kangaroo logo faces away from the opponents. That's not very intimidating. Arizona by two shakeds of a scorp's tail.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Week One, part two

Boston vs. New England:

King Kong vs. Godzilla postponed due to weather? Ok, we'll say it was for the sake of the fans. I think the gorilla will justify its top bananadom. New England by a Francis.

Carolina vs. New Jersey:

New Jersey by a Kidd (but which one?).

Baltimore vs. New York:

If craigslist enabled one killer, the September 2010 USCF ratings list created a whole gangful. New York by a flegenheimer (I'm tiring of the sports thing).

St. Louis vs. San Francisco:

San Francisco's big bulge in the middle could be the new fashion. 3-1, them.

Seattle vs. Chicago:

One of the magic things from childhood that I remember is when my father would come home with the papers on Sunday, when the comic section (which also included a Jumble) would be in glorious color. Now these days, not only are daily color comics commonplace but even the regular news sections are often drenched in color, to the point that color doesn't seem special anymore. It is hard to turn the tide of "progress" but feeling that it is better to snuff out one candle than to curse the light, I will try to return the magic to color by making it a once-a-week thing again.

The reason the four scrambled words appear all over the place is that I was trying to trick the scanner into scanning the whole page, and it worked.

Chicago by a Boerwinkle.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Week One, part one

Manhattan vs. Philadelphia:

I've written before about the problem of picking matches without having to say "2.5-1.5" all the time, which I find boring both to write and to look at. I've experimented with stock phrases from other sports such as "by a nose", and with team-specific phrases like "by a scorpion's tail", but I'm kind of tired of those, also. So my new thing will be to treat a proper name as a noun meaning "point". "Oiwin" (later "the Maven", and still later "Hondo") in the New York Post used to do that with his baseball and football picks, so there is nothing original about it but at least it's easy and the supply is plentiful. Philadelphia by a schmidt.

Miami vs. Arizona:

I remember being at a restaurant frequented by, among others, ladies of the evening (it was an all-night place, so it was convenient in that regard). A man approached one of these LOTEs and asked "are you available?", and received the reply "I'm available, but I'm not free". I am reminded by this when I look at Miami's lineup, because although these guys can play, the question is: can they play? Tonight, at least, at appears that they can. Miami by a csonka.

Los Angeles vs. Dallas:

A year later, I still haven't figured out how to turn off the "smart" feature of my scanner that insists on cropping these drawings. In my defense, I have not had to for any other purpose during the offseason. Anyway, I finally got most of it to copy and I even stumbled upon a way to improve the contrast. I think this drawing might be improved by adding another spectator who replies differently from the player, but at this point it is unlikely I will edit it.

Therefore, Dallas by a staubach.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Last Will and Testament

First of all, congrats to the league on reaching its seventh season! If it were a schoolchild, it’d be entering first grade. If it were a teacher, it’d be eligible for sabbatical leave. The only downside I can see is for anyone who gambled on league merchandise becoming a rare collector’s item.

I generally start my forecasts with the Eastern division, maybe because it includes more of the older teams or perhaps in deference to its alphabetical primacy. I am worried, though, about the West getting an inferiority complex, so this time I will follow the equally venerable left-to-right tradition and start with the West. As with last year's forecast, the % numbers at the end are the chances I give each team to reach the post-season and to win the whole thing, respectively. Again just as last year, I am not taking any bets based on these percentages.

Western Division:

Chicago Blaze:

There are three obvious ways for a team to be good: have good players, be flexible, and have underrated players. I am respectful of others who believe in things like chemistry and team spirit but for my part, I will adopt a science-based approach. Chicago seems to fare as well as anyone in this regard, especially if Shulman is able to play reasonably often while counted as 2590.

80%, 11%.

Dallas Destiny:

Dallas looks to have many powerful lineups and since many of their players, I assume, are attending UTD, peer pressure to step up to the plate when called will be strong.

60%, 7%.

San Francisco Mechanics:

Both California entries look strong but San Francisco, being more compact than Los Angeles, seems less likely to have problems with players getting lost on their way to the playing site.

55%, 7%.

Seattle Sluggers:

I considered putting these guys lower, as Akobian may end up not playing often. I also considered putting them higher, as he may play every week. In the end, I put them here.

55%, 5%.

Los Angeles Vibe:

Maybe a bit dependent on having one of their top two available to play each week, but after all, they are both chess players, so what else should they be doing? And with the underrated kid role filled they ought to be competitive each week, and even victorious sometimes.

50%, 5%.

St. Louis Arch Bishops:

They still have the best name, and they have perhaps the most recognized US chess player today on their roster. A case could also be made for Kamsky, but when I ran each of them by Akinator the Web Genius, he got Hikaru after forty guesses but failed to come up with Kamsky’s name ever. To be fair, he did at least figure he was after a Brooklyn sporting legend and guessed Joey Chestnut, the champion hot dog eater.

Getting back to the team, I fear St. Louis is too dependent on too few lineups.

40%, 9%.

Arizona Scorpions:

I had these guys higher at first but then I remembered the Phoenix/Tucson division. In pro sports, there is plenty of money for hotels and such but as chess is not yet there so I remain leery of a team that has to cover an entire state.

45%, 5%.

Miami Sharks:

I see Miami has submitted a 2406-average lineup for the first week, so maybe they will survive their sudden lugolessness and amartinezity after all. But it’s a long season, even for players, and I don’t know they’ll be able to be as strong week after week. And let’s not forget the chemistry and team spirit Lugo and Martinez brought.

15%, 1%.

Eastern Division:

New York Knights:

It is standard practice to try to fill the lower end of the roster with underrated, or more precisely, outdated-rated kids, but these guys have made it into an art form. I kid you not. But this team just might.

80%, 11%.

Boston Blitz:

These guys always look very good to me. I’m not any happier about it than you are.

75%, 9%.

Philadelphia Inventors:

Since I first started working out these rankings, I see that Panchanathan has been added to Philadelphia’s roster, which makes them far less dependent on Erenburg’s constant availability. Which is a nice thing, as I am tiring of going on about “flexibility”. On the other hand, kids of today’s post-vinyl post-everything else age might not know what a broken record sounds like.

65%, 9%.

New England Nor'easters:

This team was unprecedentedly successful last season while showing a different look each week, and they look flexible enough again that no one is going to beat them just by filling out the lineup card.

60%, 8%.

New Jersey Knockouts:

Compared to the teams I have ranked above them, they seem to have less abundance of underratedness at the bottom.

50%, 6%.

Manhattan Applesauce:

This team could easily prove me wrong. And I haven’t even said anything! Just goes to show you, doesn’t it.

40%, 4%.

Baltimore Kingfishers:

It is encouraging to see Grandmasters replaced so easily in this league. Except perhaps to the grandmasters. But it’s a tough world out there. Let me just say, in the spirit of this “and the Oscar goes to” age, this team still looks less strong than a few others in the division.

20%, 2%.

Carolina Cobras:

As long as the top three can play, they have plenty of flexibility on board Four. In fact, they may have the MOST flexibility on board four in the LEAGUE in this or ANY year. As long as the top three can play. So I hope the top three realize that once you are an adult, no one cares how well rounded a person you are. You simply have to kick ass.

10%, 1%.