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%.