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.