Friday, October 10, 2008

Reply to the Mechanics

I shake my head. There are things that seem to exist, like mirages in the sand. Yet, unlike mirages these images have supporting evidence that make them impossible to deny. In my world though, these things have no place, no haven to rest in or sanctuary to give them comfort. Such things appear in the words of my esteemed fellow USCL bloggers, whose words flow from their hands like the river of dreams. I wonder where the words come from? I don't know.

Just in this past week we have seen one of the bloggers upset with Carolina because they didn't do as he expected, he worked it out in his mind that a player should have won but lost instead and the bloggers whole world is upside down? WHAT!!! Ok, players get there feelings hurt because of, uh, the air conditioning is too loud. LIVE WITH IT! I see that Arun can't really explain what the power rankings are measuring. Ok, I kind of suspected that. Of course, we all have to sympathize with Arun as he is getting threats from one of the team captains. I don't really know any of the participants in this episode, but you gotta think somebody was using the extremely recessed parts of their mind for that one. Oh, none of the pickers chose Dallas to beat Philly, despite the fact that Dallas was tied for first in the west and Philly has been playing like mud (uh, do you think their captain has my phone number? Nah!!! couldn't be that lucky). I mean, this
is worse than trying to keep up with a daytime drama. "Oh did you see the look that the Boston player made when the WIM moved the knight?" This is silliness. But, not the end.

I see that the Mechanics have weighed in.

Let’s see, Bhat’s first assertion is that the match was rescheduled due to weather and the arrival of a baby, later in a reply to Chris there is mention that Mr. Bhat expected Seattle wouldn’t field a team and finally he states “ a match had been moved to avert what I saw as a no-show”. Wow, it’s true the longest road is the one to the truth. When the match did happen there was Serper on second… oh wait, it was patently unfair for Seattle to have the same lineup. I seem to note they didn’t have the same lineup. Boy, this is just the stuff of cold war novels, those clever Sluggers covertly passing false information in order to get, Slava on second board! Very devious.

I will now fess up to what could be my part in this. I made light of the possibility that the Mechanics possibly achieved greater success because they were forced to drop their first board. At some level you have to see the logic in this, I mean it be curious if a team achieved a better result without their top player than they might have with him. So, if Wolff plays and Nakamura defeats him while Bhat wins from Mikhailuk the split is the same as what resulted in the actual match. Mr. Bhat, is it really so bad to win by 3 – 1? No, I didn’t think so. Further, Mr. Wolff’s replacement could hardly have been more uncertain; the Mechanics have IM Friedel, IM Preuss, IM Zilberstein, but they ended with IM Donaldson. It would certainly not have been so beneficial to Seattle to have that change. Was it such a successful ruse that you need to proclaim how lucky the Mechanics were to win, unless you are much less confident in your teammates? Very curious.

My final take (not edited because I have no “official” standing). What do I take away from this? The titled players are all taking this very seriously, which is certainly good for the level of chess, maybe a bit too seriously. This last affair clearly indicates that one of the teams doesn’t view the rest of the league as colleagues, that the idea of sportsmanship has devolved to getting in sharp accusations at others in the league and that the camaraderie many observers thought was common among titled players is merely one of those illusions. The people involved that don’t play are certainly having a lot of fun with it, but the enjoyment will dissipate if the level of “gamesmanship” is allowed to extend to such levels. I will formally apologize to the Mechanics for any comments they took as offensive, if they so wish, as I feel that is my responsibility. However, I will not simply ignore this egregious breach of sportsmanship as one players opinion or “take”. I would hope that the league or the commissioner would help to shed some light on this as currently it is nothing more than “he said” without any “she said”. Whatever the facts are around this match or the results of the games, this incident became a large black eye on the league because of Mr. Bhat’s comments.

Thank You.


Vinay Bhat said...

The email I got on Monday said that the match had been rescheduled. Here's what it said: "[due to] an impending storm two of Seattle's players might not have been able to make it to the match and GM Serper's wife gave birth to their second child last night."

I took that to mean 3 of the 4 players weren't showing up. Replacing 3 guys on the day of the match would be a tall order and could essentially make the match a farce, something the league doesn't like to see because it puts a high priority on fair play.

My apologies if I didn't spell that out in the post itself.

The last minute nature of the rescheduling meant that some of our players did not get the message and still traveled across the Bay to the Mechanics on Monday afternoon.

When we played Miami earlier this year, there were serious concerns about Hurricane Ike blowing through Miami. We were notified in advance and were willing to work on a new match date - one of the ideas floated was to play the match at a later date, even though that would mean some of our players would not be around.

Once the Seattle manager knew that Patrick was unavailable to play on Wednesday (and given the Mind Sports Olympiad in China, which is why a few of our other players like Friedel and Pruess are not around), it seemed rather hard-nosed to try and put Serper back in the lineup on Wednesday.

Maybe the time penalty idea was a bit too Draconian - as you note, our lineup changed as well and the date change meant that John could prepare himself to play. I'm willing to admit that the time penalty idea was too harsh.

Also, you wrote: "This last affair clearly indicates that one of the teams doesn’t view the rest of the league as colleagues..."

If you want to cast aspersions on others, please don't spread it to my teammates. What I wrote was my opinion. I don't know if the Seattle team now hates my guts for what I said, but I don't recall blaming them for the situation. If they do find fault with what I said, that's unfortunate, and they have my apologies.

fpawn said...

To say that the replacement for Mr. Wolff could have been almost anyone is a bit naive. It is well known among league members that certain players are in China right now: notably Shabalov, Krush, Zenyuk, Friedel and Pruess. Now let's see what logic tells us:

Friedel and Pruess in China, Wolff on an airplane on Wednesday --> only Bhat is left who has ever played board 1 --> SF can pick between Donaldson and the alternate Zilberstein for board 2.

Suffice it to say, Seattle had a pretty good idea who SF was going to play after the match was rescheduled to Wednesday.

I wish to add that rescheduling a match AT THE LAST MINUTE IS EXTREMELY SERIOUS. As Greg Shahade said in channel 129, it never happened before. In all previous cases when a match was moved, the announcement came several days in advance. While Seattle players were (supposedly) unable to travel to the venue, some SF players (plus at least one spectator) did travel before hearing the news. Don't you think these folks deserve an apology for the sudden change?

As Vinay observed, Caissa smiled on the team being agreeable to the schedule change, both in 2007 and in 2008. Maybe there's a lesson to be learned here. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The comments by HA 81 are infammatory and have the tone of condescension and bitterness.

This is the same person who said perhaps 2 weeks ago that Seattle had no hopes of making the playoffs, and yet this week said "Now we cant win the division." I guess you again went off without thinking.

This guy is a loose cannon and has acted this way for a few years. Although I did not follow the league too closely, a year or so ago, I do know there was a lot of hostility between Seattle and San Francisco. Perhaps this is the reason for HA81's inappropriate tone.

Life is too short to be making ridiculous comments. A comment such as "I do not agree with Vinay Bhat that a time penalty should have been imposed," is much more appropriate. Then you can give reasons for your opinion.

HA81 said...

Mr. Bhat,

Thank you for responding. I am not in any position to accept apologies as I have no official function with the Sluggers, merely a fan. However, knowing the Sluggers a little I seriously doubt that any of them hate you or any of your teammates. After all this is all in good fun. No, if anyone is getting "hate mail" it is this writer. Your points are all well taken, as they were in the first post, however I am still mystified by one comment. In your reply to Chris on your original post, you said:

It's quite possible that John wouldn't have even cared to have a time penalty imposed - but it seemed odd to me that a match had been moved to avert what I saw as a no-show and there was no discussion of a penalty.

I come to this because you state that you saw it as a no-show. My understanding of this was that comment was based around the second board match, with Mr. Serper. The obvious insinuation is that Mr. Serper will be unavailable, so Seattle postponed the match instead of taking a time penalty for second board on Monday and going forth. I can certainly admit that I possibly misunderstood that, but seeing as how my entire case is based on your writing and no other knowledge of events I feel that responsibility for any negative repercussions with the original author. As for aspersions passed on to your teammates? This is a point I will not budge on because you took it upon yourself to take a position about this on the Mechanics website. If it had been your website it would have been different. My point here is simple. Suppose I am a fan of the USCL living in Fairbanks Alaska, I am relying on the Mechanics website for details of the match, the USCL fails to provide anything, Sluggers don’t update their website, all I have is what you wrote. I read your comments and come to the conclusion that the Sluggers manipulated the system, how do I know differently?

Again, thank you for responding.

fPawn, your comments are well taken also. You should know that I am not a USCL member or privy to its inner workings. I am not a USCF member currently either. So, your comment about my naiveté is poor. As well, you miss the point. Mr. Bhat stated that “Seattle got to knock out our highest rated player”, which is true. Ok, The Mechanics lost their highest rated player and Seattle lost their second highest, who does that benefit? The team with IM’s (I listed) or FM’s ? This is my way of suggesting that Mr. Bhat was insinuating something very silly. As for apologizing to the people who made their way to the Mechanics on Monday? Did my post affect them? No, I have nothing to do with them. Bringing them into the discussion is a ploy to divert attention away from the main point(s). If you insist on making this a matter about the fans, then read above and talk to Mr. Bhat

To Anonymous: I may be a loose cannon, but when I believe I am right I will say so. I do not hide behind Anonymous. I have no more time for you.

Vinay Bhat said...

Hmm, well - I don't remember specifically saying Serper was the only potential no-show on Monday. My point was that I saw 3 players not showing up on Monday, and that was the basis for the time penalty idea for Wednesday.

Anyways, as in my first comment, I admit that the entire time penalty idea was a bit too hotheaded.

Also, I haven't reached the point of claiming to be fair and balanced like Fox News just yet. =) I still don't why the others should be "guilty by association." You see this all the time in politics, but it rarely makes much sense to me - if X supports Y, then X goes off on his own and says something stupid, it's not Y's fault that X said something stupid, is it?

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