Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Generation

Time to look back on the season for the Seattle Sluggers. The first thing I would like to point out is that the Sluggers had only one lineup change adding Howard Chen replacing Andy May. Other teams made many more changes, mostly major upgrades on higher boards. The upshot was that as the season started the Sluggers were looking to have an experience factor on their side. To start the season the schedule had the Sluggers face San Francisco and New York right out of the gate, two teams the Sluggers have some history with. Both matches ended in ties with both matches going the same, Seattle wins on first board , loses on second and draws on the bottom two. It seems that the Sluggers lower boards weren't looking for the maximum in either of these two matches and let some superior positions slide. Arizona in the third round was a change as Michael Lee was able to produce a small bit of magic and win from a worse position, giving the Seattle side a win and starting them on a streak. Nakamura had returned and Josh Sinanan had found his stride, so in the fourth round a 3-1 win over defending champs Dallas seemed a harbinger of Seattle's growing confidence. Facing Tennessee's double GM lineup next the Sluggers got another surprise boost when Mikhailuk defeated GM Shabalov to go with Sinanan's victory, 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 was now their 3rd win in a row. In round 6 it was wins by Serper and Sinanan that propelled the Sluggers past Queens, followed by a win over Miami with Nakamura and Sinanan once again supplying the victories. In round 8 Tennessee used the No GM's lineup while the Sluggers had both of their big guns scheduled. The surprise of the match was 4th board Howard Chen providing a text book like example in winning over one of Seattle's previous nemesis' John Bick. At the point Seattle had won 6 matches in a row, had 7/8 match points and had clinched a playoff spot. Round 9 had the return of the Arizona team. The Sluggers lost on that night when Josh missed a tricky win and Marcel was not able to see through the complications, scoring only one draw on the bottom boards while Naka was held to a draw. No one honestly expected the Sluggers to win out in the regular season, this loss was likely a real make or break point for them, at least in my opinion. It seemed to me that the Sluggers were winning on the outside boards and holding fast in the middle, Seattle's opponents would feel the pressure on those boards and consequently the opponent's middle boards would strive for more. My feeling is that the Sluggers middle boards could count on some highly aggressive, perhaps even risky, play from their opponents and could use that knowledge with a little preparation. In round 10 Seattle saw the Chicago Blaze for the only time this season. Marcel did a fine job of winning on 3, but Sinanan muffed a seriously better position and lost and the match ended in a tie. Going into the first round of hte playoffs the Sluggers had a lot to be confident of, they were going to have their double GM lineup available and a level of confidence that was new to them. The match with Miami should be a perfect example for future USCL teams in team psychology. With a surprising loss by the best player in the league as the first result the rest of the Sluggers had to change their mindset with an air of distress while the Sharks players were benefitted in thinking that they only needed draws. The end result was both frustrating and distasteful for the Sluggers as they lost 3 1/2 - 1/2. My feeling is that the season wasn't a failure as in any sense. Yes, they expected more, but that's why we play them. Sinanan proved that he is quite a good fourth board, Chen was a very pleasant surprise as a fill in, Marcel proved to be valuable, Michael had his moments but would do well with more preparation, Slava was his usual self as a rock sometimes and a turtle at others , and both Nakamura and Serper had stellar years. If the Sluggers players are serious about team chess all they need to do is to have some preparation and having a plan for each match. The disappointing thing is that these were almost my exact same words from last year. So, on to next season...

Which brings me to... me. I am done. That's right kiddies, the evil HA81 won't terrorize you with big words, sematic probes or quotes from people older than Greg Shahade. When I started I figured that 3 seasons would be enough to know whether it was a continuing project/hobby or not. Well, the answer has been obvious to me for a while. My hope was to provide an alternative to the more standard blogs in the league, I tried to adopt the role of the "fan in the stands". It didn't seem to succeed, though not through a lack of trying. My identity turned out to be an issue with some people, though I suspect more knew than let on. By now everyone knows who I am and so there is no need in going into that. I would like to submit the words of the greatest William ever, "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet". Ok, since that is out of the way i would like to share an opinion (you didn't really think I would go gently into that good night?). For my money the best blog on the USCL is Arizona, but that is because they have 500 people doing it. While I congratulate the Scorps on their blog, I think it is simply ridiculous that more teams can't recruit players to write for them. Probably I am to blame because everybody is afraid to find a blogger like me on their doorstep, but think about it. If there were more active blogs it should increase interest. Teams could cross link back and forth in their blogs to get a better effect. Not only that but more responses should be appearing on blogs in order to give direction to the bloggers. This will meet with a lot of guffaws, but It seems to me that it will go a long way to increasing the popularity of the league if we could limit the trash talking and work to have complete understandable sentences. Just a thought. With that, no more Twitter, no more blog, no more rants coming to your local pc, no more HA81. I am requesting that Eddie remove my email from the Sluggers blog so that I can't get back on, that way if someone posts as HA81 we can be sure it isn't me. In that same vein, I won't be reading this any more, you are all on your own.

I want to thank all the Sluggers players from Giorgi, Nat, Loren, Andy, Slava, Eric, John, Katerina, Josh, Hikaru, Gregory, Marcel, Michael and Howard as well as Eddie. Thanks to all the other players in the league, to Bioniclime and of course to Greg/the Commish/ Dean Wormer. I will likely get reprimanded for forgetting somebody, but hey that's how it goes when you get to be 52.

People try to put us down,
just because we get around,
things they do look awful cold,
hope I die before I get old,
this is my generation, my generation babe,
why don't you all fade away,
don't try and dig what we all say,
I'm not trying to cause a big sensation,
just talking about my generation,
my generation

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Ever watch the weather forecasters and wonder how they got their jobs? I mean, they are either stating the obvious or giving a forecast that has no chance of being right. Think about it from their side. That is how I feel today. Last night the Sluggers lost to the Miami Sharks by 3 1/2 to 1/2. Guess Roy was right when he said "you're gonna need a bigger boat!"

Bd. 1 Everything else in the match has to be seen in the light of what happened here. Facing GM Becerra with the Black pieces GM Nakamura opted to take the unusual course of playing the Nimzovich Sicilian with 2... Nf6. Some GM's have a limited repertoire and will stick with their openings to the end, but Nakamura doesn't fit that category. Consequently, a lot of possibilities can be read into the choice of this offbeat line. My read was that Hikaru felt he needed to win for Seattle to get through, it was best to bypass the lines that Becerra was well versed in, possibly pick something that could turn sharp quickly. I would not fault Naka for taking such an approach, though in a team match it seems a bit speculative. Anyway, booking up on a sharp line in the Sicilian sure wouldn't be the last thing we would expect. The only problem is, it appears that Nakamura didn't brush up on the Nimzo sicilian and was just kind of winging it. The result was that he resigned on move 12. This must rank very high on the lists of total surprises in league history.

Bd. 2 Lugo was late to start, but considering the styles and repertoires of the 2 players the time element was not very critical. An exchange QGD appeared on the board, a line that is ok for Black but fits Serper's style well. The game turned into a bit of siege warfare on the c6 pawn, when Serper attempted to open a second front it proved useless. Lugo was able to keep equality very close until the end when Serper pressed too hard and ended up losing a knight and pawn ending.

Bd. 3 Lee faced a line in the Moscow Sicilian (3. Bb5+) that is fairly normal in the variation with a quick d5. Roman met this with surprising energy that netted him a pawn. Michael played hard to get through to an ending, though extremely short on time. Clock issues led to some interesting decisions by both sides, but Roman was able to keep at least the extra pawn. Struggling to eliminate all the q-side pawns Michael was surprised by a quick shift of White's attention to the g-pawn and the rest of the K-side sank with it.

Bd. 4 Another 3.Bb5+ Sicilian, this time with Black playing for a dynamic imbalance of the 2 B's for development. Chen did a good job of limiting Black's play for a long while and ended up with a good bind on the Q-side light squares. I would suggest to Howard that he investigate 2 things: first that he played Nb4-d5 too soon and secondly a plan of making the b7 point a focus with either Ra4-b4 or possibly getting the king to defend c4 and then pushing b4-b5 might work better. As it was the assault on the d6 pawn lacked enough umph to get through and Chen had spent all his resources in the effort, eventually holding a rook and pawn versus rook ending.

So, that's the Season for the Sluggers. For much of the season they relied on strength on first board to carry them and it did. When that strength failed, so did they. No bad luck, no misfortune, no calamity of errors. In this match the Miami players found a way to win the match and pulled it off. They were the better players and deserve full credit for the victory. Congratulations to Miami and good luck going forward.

There is no point in going into what the team needs or how it can improve. Time will dictate those terms for us. We can be sure that next season will be tougher because the Sluggers will recieve a first place schedule, likely to include matches with 2 of the best teams in the East to go along with the best efforts of the Western division competitors. But, that is what makes it fun.

Thanks this time to Eddie, Josh, Marcel, Slava, Michael, John, Gregory, Eric, Howard and Katerina for making it a lot of fun this year. And also Hikaru, who we would not have won the division without. Thanks and have a nice day.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Preview of Seattle v Miami

Playoffs are finally here. After clinching a playoff spot a while ago, I've been looking forward to the playoffs. Winning the division is nice, its something that we've never done before, but thats not the ultimate goal. The goal is to win the Championships. To that end, lets look at the matchup this week.

Becerra vs Nakamura

This is a rematch of last year. We had the same paring last year against Miami, except this year we are the ones that have draw odds. Last year, we lost, and now we want redemption. If you watched last year's game, Becerra won thanks to a misevaluation by Hikaru. But what you didn't know was that Hikaru was playing from Europe, at 3AM in the morning there. As many of us know, latenight chess can turn ugly. We miss things, make stupid mistakes, and have horrid hallucinations. Thankfully, Hikaru is in Seattle this year and we won't have that problem. Hikaru should win this one.

Serper vs Lugo

This matchup was a surprise to me. I thought Miami was going to use Marcel Martinez on board 2, with Lugo on board 3, so, using Lugo on board 2 was definitely a surprise. Serper with has been almost perfect with white this season, only giving up a draw to Ehlvest. In fact, he's only lost one game this season, and that was with black. Serper should be able to put together a similar game to last week's well deserved Game of the Week.

Moreno Roman v Lee

This lineup beat Arizona 3-1 last week, so I guess thats why Miami chose to go with it. Moreno Roman finally won a game this season, after going 0-2-1. He seems to be working off the rust after not playing in a tournament since the Miami Open in 2008. Michael is a young up and coming player that needed a break, after playing almost every week in the beginning of the season. Hopefully the break will provide a huge boost to him, and this matchup should be very interesting. I have no idea what will happen with this game.

Chen v Rodriguez

Seeing Eric on board 4 was no surprise. He's been stellar, losing only one game this year to Chicago's Young. This will be a tough game, but Howard does have the white pieces. Howard is hard to beat as white, so I'll hedge my bet and predict a draw here.

Well, all we need is a draw to advance, and hopefully we can get it from our top two boards. With a boost from Howard and Michael, we hopefully won't need to rely on draw odds, though it gives us a big psychological edge in which both Rodriguez and Moreno Roman have to push for a win.

Elsewhere in the West, I think San Fransisco is going to advance 2.5-1.5.

Eddie Chang

Sunday, November 8, 2009

People Get Ready

At last, the playoffs are here! That special time that we have been hoping and waiting for, the Playoffs. My feeling is that there is no debate about the playoff teams being the best 8 in the league and it has worked out to have some interesting matchups right out of the gate. It is imperative to remember when predicting playoffs that some teams will have draw odds, so that does "skew the view" as it were. Here's how I see it.

New Jersey vs. Baltimore - The Knockouts had missed the previous two seasons with late season let downs, but not this time around. They started fast and only had one misstep. Their strength has been outstanding play on the top 3 boards. Baltimore was the first USCL champion, but has fallen to the bottom of the East the past 2 seasons. They have a well rounded lineup that hasn't found a rhythm for their matches. If we take the first board matchup as a wash, then the Knockouts have some advantage in the middle while the Kingfishers have the advantage on 4th. So, for the Kingfishers to win the match they have to get extra performances from the middle two boards. I could see the Kingfishers putting up 3 draws on 1-3 and winning on 4th board, but I wouldn't be on it. New Jersey has too much going.

Boston - New York - This one is a lot closer than most people might realize. Check this out, looking at points by board for these two teams: board 1 both teams had 6, board 2 Boston had 4.5 New York 4, board 3 is at 5.5 each and board 4 Boston has 7.5 and New York 6.5. As I suggested prior to last weeks match both teams have substituted liberally, New York kept GM Kachieshvilli, filled in boards 2 and 3 then moved Norowitz to 4. Boston has gone with a completely new group. To be honest, I like the Knights in this matchup. We have to remember that Charbonneau was once a feared Blitz killer. to the point that Boston had put a bounty on him. Actually, the games where the Knights are black will be key, if they stay even on those boards their chances are pretty good.

Arizona and San Francisco - The Scorpions have made the playoffs and will be greated by one of the best teams in the league. Arizona has surprised the best teams this season, but more pointedly have placed themselves in the annual Western Conference free for all. The thing is the Scorps have to win against the Mechanics, so they have to find a board to win and then play tough on the other 3. This is a real hill for them especially with Bhat on 2nd and the improving youngsters on 3 and 4.

Miami - Seattle - the other half of the backyard brawl in the west. Ok, so Seattle and Miami aren't really "backyard" distance, the thing is these teams have been very closely matched in the past few seasons. You know the old saying about familiarity, well this would be an example. Taking the view of Seattle, the matchup that really jumps out at me is second board. Serper with white will be a demon for Lugo. If Seattle gets a point there it is pretty reasonable to think that Nakamura will hold, which leaves it to Lee and Chen to get one draw. In the first place Nakamura might still be stinging from losing with black to Becerra in last years round 1, then we add that Chen has been a bit of a surprise with his solid play and finally Lee is due to break out of the bad luck he has had in the league. Bottom line, Seattle can afford an accident on a lower board and Miami can't.

That's all for now. Thanks to eveyone and be sure to follow the Sluggers match on Twitter, look for HA81chess. ttyl and have a nice day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Spirits in the Material World : Interview with HA81

Glancing either way up the street it is safe as no autos are approaching. Crossing the street to the arranged location strides follow briskly. Stepping through the door glanced around the room. A head moved, it was unmistakably him. There was a nod of affirmation. A voice asked what the order was and a finger was pointed at a donut. Picking up the cup and plate then proceeding towards the face. Standing to offer his hand the plate and cup were place on the table. As the tablet come out of the bag it was clear no one else was within ear shot. A quick sip and the interview started

MI: Good morning, Thank you for agreeing to do this
HA81: My pleasure, I am always at the disposal of the media
MI: you are looking well
HA81: Thank you, the climate seems to favor you as well
MI: I have grown used to it. Down to business. First question, how did you come to blog for the Sluggers?
HA81: Well, saw an ad in the newspaper, sent in a note, got a call, talked to a guy, sent a sample, bought the guy a coffee and talked to another guy, did a small dance and finally got the gig. Yeah, that's about it
MI: I see, has it been worth the effort?
HA81: Well, I don't get paid if that is what you are asking. Otherwise, it has been fun and kind rewarding in a way.
MI: How so?
HA81: Like anything else, the feeling of accomplishment. In this case that there is some element of an audience out there that reads my stuff.
MI: What is your view of your audience?
HA81: Not sure how you mean that? What do I think constitutes my audience? Well, they are kind of like me.
MI: Ok, I see. What I meant is how do you see your interaction with the readers?
HA81: Yeah, right. That was part of the talk with the guy. There was no clear direction given to me about what or how to write, as long as I didn't use foul language. So, I kind of had to work my way along. At first I was doing the "news at 11" standard, you know "he put his rook on the 7th and it proved to be very good there", crap... er stuff like that. Then I noticed that everyone was doing that and probably better. So, I tried a different tack. I played on several teams that won the local team league...
MI: is that the old Puget Sound League?
HA81: yeah, the PSL. I think I was on 8 winners in 10 years or something. Anyway, I remembered how my teams would approach matches and I attempted to share that. It seemed like a good idea and it was WRONG! I got no feed back at all as well as finding out that nobody on the team read my stuff. So, I kind of had to go back to the standard crap, but this time I didn't tailor it to fit what was expected or normal, I put my own feelings and emotion into it. The end result is, half of the league tells me to stop ranting.
MI: Ok, so you don't see the rest of the league as part of your audience? How do you feel about the rest of the leagues reaction to your blog?
HA81: The rest of the league is more than welcome to read my stuff and leave remarks. You know that the bloggers are a big part of the league because the blogs are the conduit to the fans. . Bioniclime does a really great job of getting interest from around the league and Ron Young figured out the jumble deal, that stuff is really fun. I mentioned this in a previous post that our league has fans who are players, not just folks who pretend to know what it is like to play, and part of the deal doing the blog is to create a forum for the fans to react and interact. Ok, how does it make me feel? Well, you see I write my stuff from the perspective of a Sluggers fan and so other people around the league aren't going to understand or appreciate that as much. I find my stuff is real different from the other bloggers. I get along with the other bloggers I have talked to. So, with all of that aside I would say that I see the rest of the league in 3 groups: a whole bunch of chess players who are just that, like me they are chess players, second group is a small cluster of agitators who figure they can get 20 seconds of the spotlight by telling me what a bozo i am or that one of the Sluggers should feel humiliated for losing to a lower rated player or something, third group would be players who get involved in threads that they are incapable of understanding because to be honest these people are third from the left on the graph of human evolution, you know the first ones who don't have their knuckles dragging...
MI: Uh, are you sure you want to depict part of the audience that way?
HA81: yeah, sure, why not? He knows who he is.
MI: Not afraid of making enemies?
HA81: Enemies? I am half Irish, I started out with enemies. Besides, it is only a freaking game after all.
MI: You know, I have noted that your blog involves a bit more controversy than the others, do you think that is related to your writing style or your content?
HA81: That is a very good question. Yeah, my style of writing is a bit more flamboyant than some of the others, but isn't the color I bring a positive? As for content, that's a big bag. At the core of it, any controversy on the blog is based in confrontation. My feeling is that the controversy isn't derived from differing points of view. No, the simple fact that I try to hold the responders to a standard - no free pass for imbicelic insults or saying things that have no thought behind them - that causes controversy. In this regard, we are talking about groups 2 and 3 in my previous comment. I invite people to take shots at me, but do some thinking about it... make me work for my counter remarks. As for any controversy concerning my run ins with titled players, I would say that there is a pecking order in the league, I am at the bottom of it but won't allow that to prevent me from standing up. To be honest though, I have no idea why this is even a topic because this stuff never makes it to the league, I mean there isn't any "McLaughlin Group" to debate the pros an cons regarding differences.
MI: I see, yes. You said that your writing is different from the other bloggers, how so?
HA81: Let me try this; how many times do you see predictions? How many times do you see post match wrap ups? Yeah, so everybody posts late Sunday or early Monday and then on Thursday. So, the first thing I did was write a post about how the other bloggers were kind of letting down, nex t thing I get a comment from Elizabeth Vicary. So, I kind of got a little momentum there. I started trying little things to change up how the blog was coming across, I still had to write match wrap ups though. I guess it is just looking for something new to try.
Mi: Why have you kept your identity concealed?
HA81: No one has asked me who I am
MI: So, it is as simple as that? If someone asked you your name you would tell them?
HA81: No
MI: Well then, you are actively remaining anonymous?
HA81: Uh, I don't see how it makes a difference? I am not a famous name, my name doesn't appear in Chess Life, I don't play in any of the big opens or the Amateur Team events, so if I use my name everyone will just wonder who the heck I am. That is anonymity as well, isn't it?
MI: I don't know about that. Having a real name on the blog would seem to give it more respectability, after all you yourself have commented about "anonymous" posters...
HA81: I can see where this is going. I have not used my "real name" for a couple of reasons, but mostly because it keeps a bit of intrigue in the writing. Your next question is going to be about the hypocrisy of me keeping a secret identity yet denouncing others for replying on the blog anonymously, right?
MI: Ok, lets say that would be next question...
HA81; that is easy. How often do I go onto the "Anonymous" blog and tell them that they aren't a good enough player to write about the USCL? Hmm? Never, because they aren't on any blog of their own. More simply try this, If I go onto ICC and ask about HA81 there is a chance someone will say "oh yeah, that fool who blogs, he is an idiot", but if I ask about Anonymous, there won't be anything. Does that help?
MI: Well, no not really. Why don't you announce your identity? What will it take?
HA81: Simple. This is America, if I get a good enough offer I will reveal who I am. That is the difference.
MI: Ok, moving on. Have you done any other writing?
HA81: Oh my yes
MI: Well? Such as?
HA81: Uh, I write checks, notes to my aunt, short set of instructions for co-workers...
MI: No, I mean have you done any other chess writing
HA81: ... term papers, small snipets of poetry... (pauses) Of course! I have written elsewhere about chess
MI: (slight bit of impatience) Ok, what else have you written?
HA81; (waves his right forefinger) No, what you mean is where can you find my identity. Sorry, not going to work today. Why don't we talk about the Sluggers?
MI: Very well. The Sluggers have had a good season this year, what has been the difference from past seasons? Is it Nakamura?
HA81: Well, there have been a few things. First off, Serper has played quite well this season and that has been a boost. Also, Sinanan on fourth board has done a tremendous job. Both of those guys should get a lot of credit for the teams success. Nakamura is great, but still only one point. Where he makes a difference is in the minds of the other players. The lower boards on the Sluggers kind of get the feeling that they should try to play up to his standards and that acts as motivation. Great for the team.
MI: Have you ever thought about playing for the Sluggers?
HA81: (rolling his eyes) Yeah, sure. All Star 4th board for the Sluggers!. I thought about it, then realized that I have a job I have to be at on Thursday mornings, I would probably be good for 30 to 35 moves and then it would be my bedtime. Besides, I have really good tv on Wednesday nights.
MI: I see. Who is your favorite Slugger player?
HA81: Oh, I don't know. I have known Eric (Tangborn) since we were both teens, I always root for him. Slava plays so hard it is hard to ignore him. I would say one of them.
MI: That is a bit of a surprise, I would have thought one of the GM's
HA81: No, not me. Sorry.
MI: Do you have any ideas of how the Sluggers could increase their popularity?
HA81: Yeah, I have a couple. Talk to the local high school chess coordinator and arrange a match, say 2 weeks before the season, between one of the better high school teams and some of the Sluggers. It wouldn't have to be any of the titled players, just the guys holding down 3rd and 4th board maybe. Set it up like a real internet match, with the Sluggers at home and the high schoolers at their place. I think that would draw some attention. Also, I had an idea to have some of the old time players from Seatte or the Puget Sound play a similar squad of Sluggers, but at a mall. You could have banners or something. Play it up to the public.
MI: Where do you see the league going and how do you percieve your place in it?
HA81: Uh, that is tough. I do not have any information about official league direction and am certainly not privy to the inner workings, so what I say is totally off the cuff. I have heard rumors that there is more expansion in the works, that could work really well. If the league got to 16 teams they could set it up like the 1960's NFL where there were 2 Divisions and 2 conferences in each division, so 4 conferences of 4 teams. Then for a 10 week schedule arrange it so that the teams play each other twice and then each team in one conference plays each of the teams in one other conference, then rotate which conference plays which on a yearly basis. For example, if a team came to LA you could have a Pacific conference with Seattle, San Francisco, LA and Arizona, then you could have a Southern or Dixie conference with Miami, Dallas, Tennessee and Carolina. Year one each of the Pacific teams has 6 matches against their conference brethern and 1 game each against the teams in the Southern conference. 10 games! That would lend itself to direct rivalries and give that a boost, also if the teams in a conference are all in the same time zone it would relieve a bit of the situation where New York is starting at 9 PM wondering if they will get 5 hours sleep before work the next day and Seattle is playing at 6 PM coming almost directly from work without time to freshen up. That would seem a positive to me. Another thing I can see is having 3 boards with a rating limit and the 4th board being strictly a junior or possibly a senior board. I am not thinking that teams could aim to pick up points by having Lenderman or Robson playing off the top 3 boards, instead it would seem likely that each team could recruit 1 or 2 aspiring local high school players and include them in the team. If little Bobby came home and told his parents that the local USCL team wants him to play, it is likely that Bobby's parents will have to find out what USCL stands for, but after that it is like free marketing. Those are just a couple of thoughts. As for my place in it? Probably very minimal if any. This season is likely it for me, I think that my contributions to the league are about done. My efforts would start to become routine and mundane, which is the furthest thing that I am aiming for. Probably just a fan and from where I live and watch the matches not many folk can here me yelling and cheering.
MI: Very surprising. From your writing my feeling is that your are one of the most passionate characters in the USCL and you are saying that you will walk away?
HA81: Yup, walk away with a perfect record no wins, no losses no draws.
MI: Ok, well that is about all I had. Do you have anything you want to share with the readers?
HA81:Yeah. When are we going to have USCL trading cards? Why don't we have an All Star match? Really want to spice things up, you could add an element of randomness like, Round 3 next year the teams can play their 4 players in any order! Or Round 5 we don't have prematch color allocations, each game draws lots for colors!! Or how about something like Sunday night on ICC the managers of paired teams compete in a trivia game to determine who gets to decide colors? Why did Greg stop doing his weekly video recap? Creativity, that is what this league needs more of.
MI: Very good thank you again...
HA81: One final thing. If any of the readers has an idea of who I am, not the Commish or anybody who I have revealed my identity to, then leave a comment with what you think my name is and why. I am certain that at least one person out there knows me, but I would bet it is an older person because all the clues I have left are from the before time. Thank you

Thursday, November 5, 2009

You Got That Right

"I like to drink and dance all night,

comes to a fix not afraid to fight,

you got that right,

Said you got that right

Sure got that right"

For the first time in their short history the Seattle Sluggers have won the Western Division regular season crown. Last night they scrapped out a 2-2 tie with Chicago in a very convoluted match. The title had actually fallen into the Sluggers hands earlier as San Francisco's 2-2 result with Dallas as well as Arizona's surprise 3-1 loss to Miami had finished before the end of the Sluggers' games. Let's try to pin down what happened in the Sluggers games last night.

Serper - van de Mortel started out 1.c4 Nf6 and worked itself into a Botvinnik English with c5. Black played to control d4 and Serper tried something a bit new with a quick Bg5. After some tussling over the d4 square and Black putting up e6 and f5, White could claim the advantage because of better rook coordination and a b6 pawn that was under observation. After a couple of minor tactical skirmishes from which Serper won a pawn he settled for a rook on the seventh and f/g/h pawns versus an h6 pawn and a passer on the b file that had the black rook in front of it. A small bit of technique brought the point to Serper.
Felecan vs. Mikhailuk saw Slava facing the Rossolimo line with an early Bxc6. Once again Slava built a solid formation, but spent a lot of clock in doing it. White advancing h4 must seems to have upset Slava as 26... Rg7 turned out to be almost an immediate loser. Possibly Slava should have sought to sit tight, make a few quick moves to get some time back and work from there, but alas he didn't.
Milat - Pasalic saw a line of the Paulsen that was popular in the 60's, so I am not sure if Marcel had something prepared or was just going with a hunch. By move 20 the game had turned into an ending with White having 4 pawn islands to 2 for Black, but White's c-pawn was a passer. Pasalic appears to have relied on the "simplicity" of the position too much and allowed Marcel to activate a rook on the seventh and then allow White's otherwise piteous Bd3 to jump to c4 and become a monster. Black then lost the a pawn and in an effort to mix things up missed a pin that won a piece. Nice work by Marcel
The Rosen - Sinanan matchup on board 4 is one that I am sure most of us can relate to. Rosen played for an K-side rollup right out of the opening, but was too mechanical about it. Josh played nice simple moves to get equality, then a superiority in the center. After 18...f5 White's forces appear to be stumbling around trying to find each other. The game then turned into a spitting contest, White on the a1-h8 line and Black down a8-h1. This was simply winning for Black because the only defense White could offer on the white diagonal was with pieces covering squares whereas Black had a heavily defended pawn on g7 to limit operations on the black line. Josh further increased his advantage with the second very good move he played 29... Rd4. After that White's Bb2 is completely blotted out and whatever White's 2 rooks might be worth is more than offset by the activity on the long white line. At this point Josh had 18 minutes and Rosen less than 3. Move 31 Josh missed an easy crusher with 31...Rxf4 which plays on the overwork of White's Rf2, this is the cleanest line as White can't even try Kf1 to escape. Later Josh missed another easy try when he played 36...c4, where I think that 36...b5 threatening c4 seems much better. I say this for a couple of reasons: after b5/c4 Black will have Bc5 coming and White's attempt to block with d4 is taken e.p., second is that 36...c4 37.bxc4 Qxc4 removed the Black Q from the long diagonal and allowed White to get his pieces moving, and lastly White is very short of time and looking for any easy moves which immediately include simple captures like 37.bxc4. The final blow followed in an almost logical manner, Rosen took the f5 pawn and pressured g7 to which Josh responded by taking the f4 pawn, instead playing Bc5 will dramatically limit White's play and a line such as 38. Nxf5 Bc5 39. d4 Qd5 40. Ng3 Bd6 will see material equality restored, but with White back in the box on that long diagonal. At move 39 Josh correctly avoided 39. Qe6 Qxe6 40.Rxe6 Bd7 41.Bxg7+ Rxg7+ 42. Nxg7 but the damage was done and all Rosen had to do was avoid losing on time. So, a tie match.

Congratulations are due to the Sluggers players and manager. They found a way to win 6 matches, tie 3 and lose only 1. At the start of the season Seattle was one of the teams in the West with chances to win in the regular season primarily because the Sluggers could field 2 GM's. The uncertaintity with the Sluggers was consistency on the other boards, but each of the players has responded by winning or drawing crucial games. This is not a team of 2 GM's, but 4 players all looking to get whatever is necessary to win matches. So, now to the playoffs!

Here is my quick take on the playoffs. In the east New Jersey faces Baltimore and Boston gets New York. New Jersey has been the class of the league from the start and with a chance to field 3 2500 rated players present a formidable challenge. Baltimore is back in the playoffs after a couple of down years and with 2 GM's of their own could pose a real challenge to the Knockouts. Boston is the defending Eastern conference champ and remains a true monster of a team. Twice this season they got shut out, yet won 7 other matches which is only surpassed by Jersey's 8. New York has been a real roller coaster team this season. Still, the Knights have 3 GM's on the roster and it wouldn't surprise many if they got on a roll to the finals. New Jersey and Boston are the favorites considering the draw odds, yet I would suggest that if New Jersey doesn't win on second board or Boston on third either result could be a shock.
In the West, Seattle faces Miami while San Francisco will battle Arizona. The Scorpions have the toughest road as playoff newbies. A disturbing sign is that after defeating Seattle in week 9 the Scorpions were firmly in second and talking about chances at first if Chicago could pull off an upset, yet at the end they find themselves in third. My feeling is that Arizona will regret losing the draw odds to the Mechanics, but having beaten both of the division regular season winners Arizona is full of surprises. Seattle and Miami is a rematch of last years first round match, but with roles reversed. The Sluggers would do well to consider the model of Dallas: take no undue chances, look to get a win on one board and then work to force the other team to beat you. This might be the exact perfect model for the Sluggers, especially with Nakamura playing.
Ok, that's all for now. There should be a special post later this week. Thanks to all the readers and anyone who follows on Twitter. ttyl and have a nice day

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

Week 10 is upon us as it always does, but this time there is much less noise in the background. Out of 8 playoff spots we know 7 of the teams for certain and the 8th only needs to avoid tripping up. So, you say to yourself, why should we watch the matches for round 10 if things are already determined? Well, 2 reasons. The positioning of teams in the western division is uncertain. The second reason is that the teams that are out of the playoffs will most certainly have something to say about the playoff setup and be sure that those teams would love nothing more than to be involved by beating a contender. The cross conference matchup is Tennessee and Baltimore. The Kingfishers are on the verge of the 4th playoff spot in the East, while the Tempo have seen the ground slide beneath them. Baltimore looks like they are coming with a playoff ready lineup and should be the favorites. Tennessee can cause trouble if they get points from the middle 2 boards. New Jersey faces Queens. It seems that the Pioneers should be a power in the East, but have been under a cloud since a round 1 fingerfehler cost them a match with Boston. New Jersey is looking to keep form for the playoffs, while Queens needs some outside help to get in. The Knockouts are likely to be everyones favorite in the match, yet looking at the players it would seem that the only thing NJ has over Queens is confidence. Philadelphia is the team that is hoping for a Tennessee upset as it would increase their chances of getting in. Still, the Inventors have to be aware that they are facing a Carolina team that has found itself in the past few weeks and has nothing to play for other than the upset. Possibly the most interesting match this week is Boston - New York, because they will face each other in the first round of the playoffs. I wonder if the Knights are doing a little bit of lineup swapping to create a bit of doubt. You have to admit, if the Knights win this week what each team will be looking to change for round 1 of the playoffs. Dallas plays San Francisco in what is basically a rivalry match The Destiny are out of the playoffs, but as 2 time defending champ they aren't going to wimper their way out of the season. For the Mechanics there is some chance of better placement for the playoffs and they have opened the wildlife exhibit by have a Wolff and Bhat on the top boards. Miami gets the Scorpions this week as both teams look to sharpen up for the playoffs. Miami will be seeing the Sluggers next and probably looking to find a couple extra teeth for that match. Arizona is in second in the West and wants to win to keep that placement. Last match is the Sluggers and Chicago Blaze.

Seattle is fielding a moderate lineup with Serper, Mikhailuk, Milat and Sinanan. Chicago counters with the 3 IM's van de Mortel, Felecan and Pasalic with Rosen on 4th. Board 1 will be quite interesting as van de Mortel has played above his rating this season and Serper has been very steady. Sinanan looks like a solid favorite on 4th boad, though a similar situation happened last week. To me it looks like the place the match will be decided is in the middle. Slava and Marcel have both shown strength that has surprised some folks. Slava just needs to get comfortable quickly and not fall behind on time, while Marcel is just rounding into playing shape. I don't know what the rules are as far as Marcel's playing in the playoffs, but the other 3 are certain to see action. The Sluggers could fall out of first place with a loss and Arizona win or third if the Mechanics get a blow out. Chicago has played with great spun the whole season and none of the Sluggers or their fans should look beyond that. I like the Sluggers to win the match.

You may have noticed that I didn't pick winners in any of the other matches, reverting to my old form. Just nostalgia I guess. So, I will be posting after the matches.

Thanks this week to Patrick Wolff and Vinay Bhat for being good sports, to all the 3rd board players in the league... they get no respect, to the Commish, Mulfish and all the readers. ttyl and have a nice day

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Catch the Wind

Welcome readers to another day in paradise. Just in from raking leaves, it started to drizzle with the cold wind blowing rain from left to right, ah simply a great time to consider how best to express things. Learning my lessons in these conditions were instrumental in winning championships in two states. Yeah, I kind of know how the pieces move, though certainly not at the level of a titled player. Ah, but those are matters for the dim light of the past, we are in the here and now. Yeah, now, now I would like to thank Marcel Milat for posting on the Sluggers blog, though I fear my vision may have suffered a bit. It seems that all the other active sites for USCL have multiple bloggers, while I am the lone voice from the Northwest. One thing Marcel, no blood test needed. The pharmaceutical industry is big enough without players having blood tests every time they realize there was a better move or a continuation was misevaluated. Again, Thanks. Also, no one has commented on my picture. I had it done special for the Commish, he said it was lame to use the Sluggers logo all the time for my stuff, so I found a picture and sent it to him. Don't you think it shows off all my best features?

Observing the leaves push together likes pieces in a puzzle I was able to deduce the pattern around me. For those who are fresh to my writing or had a vacation, please check out my last post and all the comments. I stress, all the comments. Once you have finished the comments, you will possible understand my predicament. It works out the same all the time, I am nobody and where do I have the nerve to talk about famous people. I didn't want to believe that 2 letters had so much power, but there in the comments it is evident. Ilya makes it clear that having a title means your word is gold and "Anonymous" questions why a titled player would even stoop to respond to me! It's all back again, I am from Seattle, I have the audacity to question the authority of titled players, I am nobody and I rant. Ok, so what's your point?

NOW! Before you tell us what your point it, allow me to clarify mine. At one point in the game Mateer - Sinanan IM Ginsburg made a comment "she should make him pay for turning down the draw" in the game channel on ICC. I made reference to this, that I didn't think it was appropriate and was surprised that this had occured. Some anonymous character and Ilya both replied that it is silly to take such comments seriously on ICC. As much as I would like to agree, it just ain't so. If I make a comment that Ilya is an unschooled lug who doesn't bathe and he replies that he will break my neck, ha ha everyone gets a laugh and we all go quietly with our business. If I say that Ilya should accept a draw from Anonymous because of x y and z, people ignore me because my handle might as well be invisible. But what if someone with an IM next to there handle makes a comment about a player turning down a draw? Do the folks who read that take special note of it? Will aspiring players watching to pick up what they can from the games make a mental note about it? Well, you know Ilya was certainly willing to agree that Mr. Ginsburg having IM next to his name was worth more than my name. Anonymous went further to infer that I didn't have the right to question anyone with IM next to their names. Quite suspicious to me, these are people who supposedly know that on some level we are all equal on ICC. Maybe not playing strength, but at some point we are all players and kibitzers, aren't we? No, we are not. I am despised because I don't have a title. Well, ok then... I guess we know where things stand in that regard.

One more thing about this is how it happened. Josh is playing a game, he isn't even supposed to see kibitzes while he is playing. Comments that are made about moves are like the ether, just there. But when a kibitzer states that a player should suffer a result based on a decision made because of a team situation something has gone amiss. Josh can't defend himself, come out and say " I did this because the team needs a win", because he isn't even supposed to know that the comment was made. This wrankles heavily of 4th grade and talking about the uncoordinated kid behind their back. Mr. Ginsburg makes a point that a half game point is worth more than nothing, but he fails to note that a half a match point would have been worth a great deal more. In much the same way that it was not devulged on ICC at the time that Josh wasn't playing on because he faced a lower rated player or a female, that he played on to help his team. I have no hostility towards Mr. Ginsburg, he just did things as he saw them. Yet, it seems to me that IM Ginsburg would do well to contact Josh Sinanan and explain to Josh what happened and what his motives were. For all I know, Josh is completely unaware of this incident, but do we still talk about the unpopular kids behind their backs?

Ok, I will try to post again before the week 10 matches... I just have so many leaves to rake! Thanks for reading and have a nice day

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Slugger wants to submit blood drug test after blown position

Arizona played a good match this week against the sluggers. Naka never really got one of his types of positions (messy), Slava was under pressure in an anti grunfeld that shows how a few of us old timers are getting rusty and Josh while missing his changes to win after white played Kg2 (allowing e3 winning) was probably only deserving of a draw.

Here are some annotations to my game with Robby which has some theoretical value to the overall evaluation of a topical line in the Benko.

Milat,Marcel - Adamson,Robby [A58]

US Chess League, 26.10.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 No Trop this week. Time for something a little sharper 2...c5 3.d5 b5 Robby has an impressive repetoire in the benko. A quick search of games for Robby shows he might be one of the leading theorticians in the Benko. In preparing for the game, you quickly find he plays the benko against d4 and only a few other sidelines. Problem is he plays the benko well. He has had many good positions againt GMs and draws with Elvest and Dlugy etc. 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.g3 d6 8.Bg2 Bg7 9.Nf3 Nbd7 10.Rb1 10 Rb1 has been considered one of the critical lines of the benko since 2001/2002 and has support from the super GM level including Kramnik. [10.0–0 Nb6 Here is a game with Robby in his element against a higher rated opponent. 11.Ne1 Nfd7 12.Nc2 Ne5 13.Ne3 Nbc4 14.Nxc4 Nxc4 15.Qa4+ Qd7 16.Qc2 Qb7 17.a3 0–0 18.b3 Rfb8!! Diagram


19.Rb1 (19.bxc4 Qb3 20.Qxb3 Rxb3³) 19...Na5 20.b4 cxb4 21.axb4 Qc7 22.bxa5 Rxb1 23.Qxb1 Qxc3 24.Qe4 Bf6 25.g4 Qc4 26.g5 Qxe4 27.Bxe4 Bc3 28.Bf3 Bc4 29.Bf4 Rxa5 30.Rc1 Ra1 31.Rxa1 ½–½ Kiriakov,P (2565)-Adamson,R (2344)/Minneapolis 2005/CBM 107] 10...Nb6 Diagram


10...Nb6 seems to be currently thought of as the most reliable defence for black. Black had first experimented with Qa5 ideas or 0–0 and Qa5 ideas before returning to Nb6. The idea is to quickly pressure d5 and if white play e4 to support d5 to try to return the bishop to the a6-f1 diagonal where the king might be trapped in the center and where the d3 square will be weakened. 11.b3 Mutipurpose move. In some lines black can play Bc4 and xd5 and b3 helps to let white play Bb2 or suport a4. 11...Bc8! [11...Bb7 12.Nh4 0–0 13.0–0] 12.Nh4! [Bc8 sets up the trap that the natural 0–0 allows Bf5 hitting Rb1 and white can not play e4 and next will be Ne4 for black with a slight edge. 12.0–0? Bf5 13.Rb2 Ne4³; 12.e4 White has tremendous compensation 12...Ba6 ] 12...h6 Both sides are battling for f5 13.Qc2 [13.0–0? g5 14.Nf3 Bf5³] 13...Qd7!? 14.Bb2!? The main branch in modern theory appears here. Some folks propose Bd2 here. This lends support to the c3 night and protects the b4 square which in some lines can have a Nb4 occur for black if he were to win the d pawn. In some cases the bishop also support a b4 pawn break. Of course the negative is that it really does not blunt the Bg7 and is rather passive. [14.Bd2 g5 15.Nf3 Nfxd5 16.Nxd5 Nxd5 17.Nxg5 Bb7 (17...hxg5 18.Bxd5 Bb7 19.Bxb7 Qxb7 20.f3 g4 21.Bc3 Bxc3+ 22.Qxc3 Rh7 23.Rb2 (23.0–0) 23...gxf3 24.exf3 Qb4 25.Qxb4 cxb4 26.h4 f5 27.Kf2) 18.Nf3 Ra3 19.0–0 0–0© 20.e4 Nb4 21.Bxb4 cxb4 22.Qd2 Bxe4] 14...g5 15.Nf3 Bb7!? [this might be a alternative for black. It pretty well forces e4 for white and leads to messy positions. White still might have a pull but they are quite weird positions. 15...Qf5!? 16.e4™ (16.Qd1?! Bb7 17.0–0 Nbxd5 18.Nxd5 Qxd5³) 16...Qg6 17.0–0 0–0 (17...Nfd7 18.Rfe1 Ne5 19.Nxe5 Bxe5 20.Na4 Nd7 21.b4 (21.f4 gxf4 22.gxf4 Bxb2 23.Qxb2 Rg8) 21...Bxb2 22.Rxb2 c4 23.Qxc4 0–0) 18.Rfd1 (18.Qd2 Qh5 (18...Ng4 19.Rfe1 Nd7²) 19.e5 Ng4 20.exd6 exd6 21.Rfe1 Nd7 22.Na4 Bxb2 23.Qxb2± f6 (23...c4 24.h3 Nge5 25.Nxe5 Nxe5 26.Nb6 Rb8 27.g4 Qh4 28.Rxe5 dxe5 29.bxc4 f5 30.c5 fxg4 31.hxg4 Qxg4 32.Re1 Ba6) 24.Qc2) 18...Bg4 19.h3 Bxf3 20.Bxf3± h5 21.a4 g4 22.hxg4 hxg4 23.Bg2 Nfd7 24.Ne2 Bxb2 25.Qxb2 Ne5 26.Nf4 Qg7] 16.Rd1 [16.e4 Ba6 17.h4 g4 18.Nd2 0–0] 16...0–0 [16...c4 17.0–0 0–0 18.e4 cxb3 19.axb3± Ng4 20.Nd4 Ba6 21.Rfe1 (21.Bh3 Bxf1) 21...Ne5 22.Nf5 Rfc8 23.f4 Qa7 24.fxe5 Nxd5+ 25.Kh1 Nxc3 26.Bxc3 Bxe5] 17.0–0 Ra7N [17...Nfxd5 Nd5 might be blacks best but white generally has a slight pull still even in some of the ending that could arise 18.Nxd5 Nxd5 a) 18...Bxd5 19.Bxg7 Kxg7 20.Nxg5 hxg5 21.Bxd5 Nxd5 22.Rxd5 f6 (22...f5 23.Qd2 Kg6 24.e4 Qe6 (24...f4 25.e5 Qh3 26.exd6 e6 27.Rxc5 Rxa2 28.Qd3+ Kh6) 25.exf5+ Rxf5 26.Rxf5 Qxf5 27.Re1 Ra7 28.a4 g4 29.a5 Kf7 30.Qe2 e5 31.a6 Qc8 32.Ra1 Ke7 33.Qb5) 23.f4 Qe6 (23...gxf4 24.Rxf4 Rh8 25.a4 Qh3 26.Rf2 Rab8 27.Qe4 Qd7 28.Qe3 Rb4 29.Rf4 Rhb8 30.Rxb4 Rxb4 31.Rh5 Qb7 32.a5 Rxb3 33.Qh6+ Kf7 34.Qh7+ Ke8 35.Qf5 Kd8 36.Rh8+ Kc7 37.Qe6 Rb1+ 38.Kf2 Rb4 39.Qxe7+ Kc6 40.Qe8+ Qd7 41.Qxd7+ Kxd7 42.a6 Ra4 43.a7) 24.e4 gxf4 25.Rxf4 Rh8; b) 18...Bxd5; 19.Bxg7 (19.Nxg5 hxg5 20.Bxg7 Nb4 (20...Kxg7 21.Bxd5 Bxd5) 21.Qc3 Rfb8 a) 21...Bxg2 22.Bxf8 Rxf8 23.Kxg2; b) 21...Nxa2 22.Qb2 Rfb8 23.Bh6 (23.Bxb7 Rxb7 24.Bh8 f6 25.Bxf6 exf6) 23...f6 24.Qc2 Qe8 25.Bxb7 Rxb7 26.f4 Qh5 b1) 26...g4 27.Qf5 (27.Qe4 Rb4 28.Qf5 Kh8 (28...Nc3 29.Qxg4+ Kf7 30.Rd3 Qg8 31.Qf3 Kg6 32.Rxc3 Kxh6) 29.Rxd6 Qf7 30.Rd7 Qh7 31.Qd5 Rbb8 32.Qh5 Rd8 (32...Nc3 33.Bg7+ Kg8 34.Qxh7+ Kxh7 35.Bxf6 Nxe2+ 36.Kg2 Rxb3 37.Rxe7+ Kg6) 33.Bg7+ Kg8) 27...Kh8 (27...Qf7 28.Rd5) 28.Qxg4 Qg8 29.Qh5 Qh7 (29...Qe8 30.Qf3 Rab8 31.Rd5 (31.Ra1 Kh7) 31...Rxb3 32.Qg4 Qg8) 30.Ra1 Rxb3 31.f5 Rb4 32.Rxa2 Rxa2 33.Qe8+ Qg8 34.Qxe7 Rg4 35.Qxf6+ Kh7 36.Bf4; b2) 26...gxf4 27.Rxf4 Rb4 28.e4 Qg6 29.Rh4 Kf7 30.Be3 Ra3 31.Qd2 Rxe4 32.Qd5+ Re6 33.Bd2 f5 34.Re1; 27.fxg5 Nb4 28.Qe4; 22.Bxb7 Rxb7 (22...Qxb7 23.Bh6 a) 23.a3; b) 23.Bh8 f6 (23...Kf8 24.Qg7+ Ke8 25.Qxg5 f6 26.Qh5+ Kd7 27.Bxf6 exf6 28.Qxc5 d5) 24.Bxf6 exf6 25.Rxd6 (25.Qxf6 d5 26.Qxg5+ (26.e4 Qg7 27.Qe6+) 26...Qg7 27.Qc1) ; 23...f6 24.h4 gxh4 a) 24...Kh7 25.hxg5 Qe4 26.Qc1 (26.a4 Nc6 27.Qd2 Nd4 28.gxf6 Qxe2 29.Qf4 e5 30.Qc1) 26...Nxa2 27.Qd2 fxg5 (27...Rxb3 28.gxf6 Nc3 29.fxe7 Nxe2+ 30.Kh2 Nd4 31.Qf4 Qxe7 32.Rfe1 Qb7 33.Rxd4 Rf3 34.Re7+ Qxe7 35.Qxf3 cxd4 36.Qxa8 Kxh6 37.Qh8+ Kg6 38.Qxd4; 27...Kg6 28.gxf6 exf6 29.Bf4 Rxb3 30.Rfe1; 27...d5) 28.Qxg5 Rg8 29.Qh5 Qg4 (29...Qg6 30.Qh4 Qxh6 31.Qxe7+ Qg7 32.Qxd6 Rge8 33.Qxc5 Nc3 34.Qf5+ Kg8 35.Rd7 Re7 36.Rxe7 Qxe7 37.Qg6+ Kf8 38.Kg2 Qe4+) 30.Qf7+ Kxh6 31.Qxe7 Rg7 32.Rxd6+ Kh7 33.Qe3 Qf5 (33...Rf8 34.Ra1 Nb4 35.Rh6+ Kg8 36.Qxc5 Qf5) ; b) 24...Qe4 25.hxg5 Kh7 26.f3; 25.Qc4+ Kh7 a) 25...e6 26.Qxe6+; b) 25...d5 26.Qxh4 Rxa2 (26...Qd7 27.e4 d4 28.Qh5 Qe8 29.Qg4+ Kf7 30.e5 Qh8 31.e6+ Ke8 32.Qh5+ Kd8 33.Qxc5 Qxh6 34.Rxd4+ Ke8 35.Rh4 Qg7 36.Qf5) 27.Qh5 e5 28.Qg6+ Kh8; 26.Qxh4 Rh8 27.e4 Kg6 (27...Rxa2 28.Kg2 Nc2 29.Rh1 Kg8 30.Qg4+ Kf7 31.Qg7+) ) 23.Bh6 f6 24.f4 g4 a) 24...Rxa2 25.fxg5 Kh7 (25...Qg4 26.gxf6 e5 27.Rxd6 Qxe2 28.f7+ Rxf7 29.Rd8+ Kh7 30.Rxf7+ Kg6 31.Rg7+ Kxh6 32.Qc1+ Kxg7 33.Qg5+) 26.gxf6; b) 24...Nxa2 25.Qc4+ e6 26.fxg5 f5 27.e4 Rb4 28.Qxc5 dxc5 29.Rxd7 Rxe4 30.Ra1 Rd4 31.Rg7+ Kh8 32.Rf7 Kg8 33.g6 e5 34.Rf1 f4 35.Rg7+ Kh8 36.Re7 Kg8 37.gxf4 Nc3 38.Rg7+ Kh8 39.fxe5 Rg4+ 40.Kh1 Ne4 41.Rh7+ Kg8 42.Ra7 Rd8 43.Rg7+ Kh8 44.Rd7 Ra8 45.Rf8+ Rxf8 46.g7+ Kh7 (46...Rxg7 47.Bxg7+ Kg8 48.Bxf8 Kxf8) 47.gxf8Q+; 25.f5 a) 25.a3 Rxa3 26.f5 Qb5 27.Qe3 Qe8 28.Qe4; b) 25.a3 Kh7 26.axb4 Rxb4 (26...Kxh6 27.bxc5 Qc6 28.b4 Rc8 29.Qe3 (29.Rc1 Qe4 30.f5 Rxb4 (30...Qxb4 31.Qe3+ Kh7 32.Rb1 Qxb1 33.Rxb1 Rxb1+ 34.Kf2 Rb7 35.cxd6 exd6 36.Qd4 Rf8 37.Qxg4 Rd7 38.h4 d5 39.e3 Re7 40.Qd1 Re5 41.Qh5+ Kg8 42.Qg6+ Kh8 43.g4 Re4 44.Kf3 Re5 45.g5 fxg5 46.f6 Re7 47.hxg5 Rc7 48.Qf5 Kg8 49.g6 d4 50.Qd5+ Kh8 51.Qe5 Kg8 52.Kg4 (52.f7+) 52...Ra7 53.Qd5+ Kh8 54.Qxd4) ) 29...dxc5 30.f5+ Kh7 31.Rf4 cxb4 32.Qb3 Qc5+ (32...e5 33.fxe6 Re7 34.Rxf6 Qc5+ 35.Kf1 Kg7 36.Rf4 Rf8 37.Rd7 Rxf4+ 38.gxf4 Kf6 39.Rxe7 Kxe7 40.e3) 33.Rdd4) 27.Bg5 fxg5 28.Qc2+ Kg7 (28...Kh8 29.Qg6 Rd4 30.Rxd4 cxd4 31.fxg5) ; 25...Qb5 26.Qe3 Kh7 27.a4 Qe8 28.Rf4 Qg8 29.Re4) 19...Kxg7 20.Nxg5 Nf6 (20...hxg5 21.Bxd5 Rh8 (21...Bxd5 22.Rxd5 f6) 22.e4 f6 23.f3 Ra7 24.Rf2 Rha8 25.a4 Rb8 26.f4 Bxd5 27.exd5 Qg4 28.Re1 Rb4 29.fxg5 Qxg5 30.Rfe2 Kf8 31.Qh7 Rbb7 32.Qd3 Rb4 33.a5 Rd4 34.Qh7 Rg4 35.a6 Qg6 36.Qh8+ Qg8 37.Qh3 Ke8 38.Re6 Kd8 39.Qf1 Rg5 40.Qb5 Kc8 41.Rxd6 Rxg3+ 42.Kh1 Rc7 43.a7 Rxa7 44.Rc6+ 1–0 Gustafsson,J (2513)-Kasparov,S (2458)/Deizisau 2002/CBM 087 ext) 21.Bxb7 (21.Nf3 Be4 22.Qb2 Qa7 23.Rd2 Qa3 24.Qa1 Qb4 25.Rfd1 Ra6 26.Nh4 Rfa8 27.Bxe4 Qxe4 28.f3 Qe3+ 29.Kh1 e6 30.Ng2 Qe5) 21...Qxb7 22.Nf3 Qe4 23.Qb2 Ra7 (23...d5 24.Rc1 Rfc8 25.Rfd1 d4 26.b4 Rab8 27.Rc4 Rxb4 28.Rxb4 cxb4 29.Rxd4 Rc2 30.Rxe4 Rxb2 31.Rxe7 Nd5) 24.Rd3 Rfa8 25.a4 Rb7 26.Re3 Qg4 27.Rd1 Rxa4 (27...Qh3 28.Qc2 a) 28.Nh4 Rxa4 29.Rf3; b) 28.Qa1 Kg8 29.Qc1 Ng4 (29...Rab8 30.Qc2 Ng4 31.Rc3 Rb4 32.a5 R4b7 33.a6 Ra7 34.Ra1 Rb6 35.Qd3 Kg7 36.Rc4 Nf6 37.Nh4 Rbxa6 38.Rxa6 Rxa6 39.Ra4 Rxa4 40.bxa4) 30.Re4 Rab8 (30...Rxb3 31.Qf4 Rb4 32.Rxb4 cxb4 33.Qxb4) ; 28...Kg8) 28.Rxe7] 18.e4™ Rc8 19.Rfe1! This has the threat of e5 with the idea that Nd5 will open up the game favorably for white. 19...Ng4 [19...c4 20.Nd4± (20.e5 Nfxd5 21.e6 fxe6 22.Qg6 Qe8= 23.Qxe6+; 20.h4!?) 20...cxb3 21.axb3 Ra2 22.Nxa2 Rxc2 23.Nxc2 Qc7 24.Ne3 Nbd7 25.Nb4 Qb6 26.Nc6 e5 27.Nc4 Qc7 28.Ne7+ Kh8 29.Nf5 Bf8 30.Rc1 Qb8 31.Ba3 Ne8 32.Bh3 Ba6 33.Nxh6 Bxh6 34.Bxd7 Bxc4 35.bxc4 Qa7 36.Bxe8 Qxa3 37.Bxf7 g4 38.Ra1 Qb4 39.Bh5 Qxc4 40.Bxg4 Bd2 41.Reb1 Qc7 42.Ra6 Ba5 43.Rb5 Be1 44.h4 Qc2 45.Rb8+ Kg7 46.Rb7+ Kg6] 20.h4 This is one of the negatives of blacks position. Normally if white plays h4 black would play g4. Now g5 and the black kingside becomes soft 20...Ne5 [‹20...gxh4 21.Nxh4 Bd4 22.Bh3 Diagram


I was hoping this position would arrise. Black can with the exchange but at the cost of allowing nf5 and no protection around the king. 22...Bxf2+ 23.Kg2 Bxe1 24.Rxe1+- And like most computers... they slowly start to like white position 24...Rca8 25.Nf5] 21.Nxe5 Bxe5 22.hxg5 hxg5 23.Qe2! g4 black can not allow qh5 24.Qe3! again tickeling black with the idea of Qh6. The nice thing about this square is that c4 play will not work with Nb6 and Bc3 is not going to work either. Actually during the game, I was not sure of what plan black could attempt given it would be his turn. 24...Kh7™ 25.f4?? I sometimes wonder if drug testing in chess has any merits at all. I know its politics for attempting to get chess into the Olympic circle. Here I would have liked to have seen the IOC check my blood content level for perscription drugs (Arizona voodoo??). Of course f4 was based on a few major hallucinations starting with the thought that Seattle had not won a single US Chess League game of the week in 2009 and I might be able to do that with gf3 Kf2!! (with the idea of Rh1 later). [25.Bf1! leads to an overwhelming position. Ironically this was my first candidate move. Sigh.. I think I need to play more chess.... Ra5 26.Kg2 Kg6 27.Be2 f6 28.Rh1 Rg8 29.Qh6+ Kf7 30.Qh5+ Rg6 31.Rh4 Bc8 32.Bc1 Bxc3] 25...gxf3 26.Qxf3 [26.Kf2?? This is the move I almost played. 26...fxg2 (26...Bxg3+ 27.Kxf3+-) 27.Qg5 When white has a good game except for Qh3!! winning for black.] 26...Rg8 27.Qh5+ [¹27.Qxf7+ Rg7 28.Qh5+ Kg8] 27...Kg7 28.Bh3 Qe8 Here Robby offered a draw and i only saw the perp. ½–½ 29.Na4 [¹29.Nb5 Qxb5 30.Bxe5+ dxe5 31.Qxe5+ Kf8 32.Qb8+ Bc8 33.Bxc8 The computer prefer white here, but to be truthful I did not even see Qb8 when thinking about Nb5.] 29...Bxb2 30.Nxb2 Rxa2 31.Qg5+ Kf8 32.Qh6+=

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Many Rivers to Cross

I have to say that I could not think of a better song title or song for tonight's match with Arizona. The final was 3-1 for the Scorpions and they fully deserved to win the match, without any question. To make this as simple as possible for any readers who don't like to read, the Sluggers played a match in which they displayed all their short comings and very few of their strengths. Here is a quick recap:

Bd. 1 Ramirez met 1. e4 with Alekhine's defense, Nakamura chose the exchange variation. Black was willing to keep a compact and fairly solid position, Naka seemed to be making small gestures but in the end Ramirez had a liquidation that won black a pawn but left bishops of opposite color.

Bd. 2 Slava played a Grunfeld setup against the english in which Whtie had Qa4+ to h4. This is a kind of tricky bit for Black which Slava didn't handle well. He was dreadfully behind on time and lost a pawn. Altounian didn't let up and scored the full point.

Bd. 3 a Benko broke out between Milat and Adamson, a topical line with 10 Rb1 followed. For some reason Black put h6 and g5 in which afforded White a ready made idea. Marcel did his best to create an accident on the g or h files, but was unable and with both sides low on time a draw was agreed.

Bd. 4 Sinanan played the Nimzo, Mateer replied with 4. Qc2 00 5. e4. This has become a popular line, which I don't know the theory of. Josh created a really good chance based on play down the h1-a8 diagonal, but missed what I think was an excellent chance at move 20 where I thought 20...e3 was quite strong. Slowly White crawled out of trouble, offered a draw which was refused in order to play on and then Josh's boat just went over.

In a way this was a perfect storm. With Black the Sluggers were not prepared at all and got caught out for it, both blacks were way behind on time in the early opening phases. Combined with Naka's worst performance of the season, with all due credit to Ramirez, and Seattle just didn't have any umph. This is very much like matches that they played last season where they were underdogs and just seemed to accept that status. Let's hope that isn't really the case.

Next up is Chicago, a team with surprising aspirations to get into the playoffs. We know they will be coming to play, so lets hope the Sluggers do as well.

ttyl and have a nice day

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunshine Superman

There's no denying it, the best score he had ever gotten at trivia. He had finished first before, but not by that margin. Still, there had been greater scores. How things had changed. In younger days a victory would have meant cause for ice cream and dreams of greater glory, now it was merely a time to reflect on the circumstances of a particular time. "Oh well, no time to waste. Matches are up, let's see who is playing this week". His fingers deftly typed the letters and pressed return. As the page opened his mind had wondered, to the different fortunes and how to portray them. "Ah, here we are" he mused as the page appeared. Yes, things had changed a lot. A slight dismay whisped by him as he read the names "Queens and Carolina". One team had higher aspirations and the other was coming off unexpected success, now they were both playing out the season. The difference was that the Cobras still played a little beyond themselves. Queens by a length, it will be an upset. Another team that gives it a lot of effort is Chicago, this week they face Dallas. "The abyss" he thought, "Dallas is on the lip of elimination. Will they panic? Will they through some kind of changeup?" Checking the lineups he noticed that Dallas had an A player in the lineup. Well, they seem to be going with their 3 best horses on top. "Ok, Dallas will keep the suspense for another week, the Destiny by margin on prelined note paper". Down scrolled the screen as he watched the names in the San Francisco versus Tennessee match appear. " Holy Moly, is Tennessee banking on their 4th board having a slingshot or some such?" Shrugging he typed "SF 3-1" keeping the hope that he wasn't short changing somebody. Taking a sip of tea he became aware that the types of matches had changed. Monday was a showcase mostly for teams that weren't in a race, teams showing what they had without any thought to final standings. The first match listed for Wednesday had a team hungry for a win to advance their playoff chances against a team thumping around the league. The Inventors are an eyelash from playoff possibilities, while the Knockouts are full of unexpected status as the premier team in the league. " Don't be fooled" grinding his teeth at the possibilities, " The Inventors are looking to play even on 1, 2 and 4 then take their chances with a veteran. Good trick, if it works. No, I don't see it, but there is credit enough for all. Tie" He wrote the words and bit his lip, " the Knockouts are in the playoffs and don't face the Knights again in the regular season, yet their history in finishing the season is poor. Tie!". New York and Baltimore, these teams were closely matched. " The difference will be on the middle boards. Even if the Knights win on 4th board, the Kingfishers will surprise them. Baltimore will win by a tail". He chuckled to himself, a fish tail that is he thought. A bit of amusement was well timed as he noted the next match. Boston faces Miami in a match where only the Sharks can affect their playoff position. "What really matters is that both teams have something to prove. The Blitz may not give a fig what the rest of the league thinks, but they have to answer to themselves at some point. Miami is composed and will be prepared. So, what do I base my decision on?" He sipped more tea and glanced at the clock. "Of course! It is right in front of me. The Blitz have been beating St. Mary's Sisters of the weak pawn and teams like that. They haven't found their way past a winning team yet. I can't go against a trend like that. Miami will win by the difference of the respective teams fourth board IQ". He knew trouble was ahead, but it always had been. Nothing new there. So, we are down to the Arizona and Seattle match up. Fully aware that even a loss wouldn't drop Seattle from first or from the playoffs, he wondered what was the teams motivation? "Play them, one at a time". he knew it was a cliche. Still, no one really understood it as well as he did. "They have a match to play, so they play. Hikaru, Slava and Josh... been pretty steady so far. Almost sounds like a law firm." As much as he liked the names, the thing that was obvious was that Seattle players had been able to avoid bad streaks. That would suggest Marcel would have a fine game. Still, it wasn't easy. Suspicion, Arizona listed an A player on fourth board. "A trick?" he wondered. Well, if it was a trick it would turn out to be a real doozy. Checking Arizona's point of view he noted that getting a 2600 player on first board is pretty good, except when that player is outrated by 150 points. This seemed out of whack. "It must be some kind of kharma thing" he tried to persuade himself. "No, they have to play the matches too. That is the Scorpions motivation". Seattle was vey likely to win on the outside boards and only needed some kind of score in the middle. As if to make a note of a special ingridient in an old family recipe he pointed at the screen. " A modest victory for Seattle. The Sluggers shall prevail by the distance between 2 raindrops". There it was done. All of the matches had been verified. As always he checked again, just to be sure no one snuck in when he wasn't looking

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Let the Good Times Roll

Hi to all the readers, we are back again. If you ask me what I will remember about week 8 I will likely tell you " some teams really defined themselves". Yup, that is what I would say. I don't really try to be cryptic, but I find it comes in handy quite often. Let me explain, but first a quick recap of the Sluggers match up with Tennessee.

At lineup time it was pretty obvious that Seattle expected a couple more GM's to play than actually did, while Tennessee aimed to try a little bit of "small ball" by getting some extra strength on the lower boards. In Arun Sharma's recent "Mid Season All Star" post he picked John Bick as the allstar 3rd board, so it seemed like a stroke of genius when the Tempo were able to push him down to 4th board. No moss growing on them Tempo players (note to league officials: is it ok to refer to multiple Tennessee players as "Tempi"?) . So, the match started. Nakamura on board 1 seems to be using 1...b6 to good effect and had another opportunity as Ron Burnett shot out 1.Nf3. Serper started with 1.c4 and 2.g3 which was his standard fare coming up, to which Andrews used a move order which has become standard since the late 80's. Bereolos and Readey on board 3 started with 1.d4 d6 2.c4 e5 and followed with the shadow boxing that seems to come from this line. Finally, an advance Caro popped up on board 4 as Chen and Bick looked like they were ready for this matchup. It somehow worked out that board 4 went very quickly as Bick played c5 a little early to which Chen found a really good response with c4, the center blew open and black's king was stuck on e8. After a couple of tactics Bick was compelled to give up the queen for a rook and bishop with Chen grabbing a couple of pawns on the way with check. This was over surprisingly quickly. Nakamura didn't appear to play for equality, but got there anyway. Burnett's decision to exchange black square bishop for knight on c5 just propelled Black into activity and a miscalculation followed that cost white a piece. Meanwhile, Bereolos and Readey were brushing up on the modern rules where players can move the pieces more than 3 squares at a time. Andrews on board 2 made what I consider a questionable choice by going for a Kings Indian formation and giving Serper the opportunity to play the Botvinnik formation ( note to readers: please don't read that last sentence aloud to any spouse, significant other or close friend who is not a chess player as that last sentence spells out "Geek" in the outside world). Serper put his pieces on the squares he wanted, played a minor combination, kept Andrews staggering, picked up the exchange and finally trapped Todd's queen. At this point I noted that Bereolos had offered a draw to Readey, which was declined! This surprised me a lot, but to each his own. This game went on for quite a while and ended as a draw, though Readey missed a couple of places to improve greatly. So, a 3.5 - .5 victory to keep the Sluggers in first place. Any time a team fields 2 GM's it seems as if they should be heavy favorites, but in this case there is more to it. Chen played a very creditable game on 4th board, while Readey did a fine job on 3rd. This indicates that Seattle it getting points from places other than the top. Tennessee was unfortunate to run into the Sluggers right now, because as well as having the 2 GM's they have a lot of momentum. Sometimes a team gets a little run going and it just seems to build on itself, that is where the Sluggers seem to be right now. The Tempo deserve full credit for finding a formula to give themselves a chance and for playing tough.

A team on a roll. Remember last season? The team on the roll was the Carolina Cobras, who won matches that seemed well beyong their resources. This season they are struggling to get any kind of a run going. So, when they faced the New York Knights there was plenty of reason to pick the Knights. Well folks, this is why they play them. The Cobras were able to get a tie in a match that belonged to the Knights. We should send out kudos to the Cobras for continuing to play hard and seek out points that aren't apparent to the rest of us. Philly and Baltimore played to a tie, which combined with the Knights tie to do absolutely nothing to clarify the playoff standings except take one more week away. The Mechanics pumelled the Pioneers,. I want to say that Queens has the appearance of a team that has plenty of talent, but no real direction... they haven't devised ways to win matches. Dallas had a great chance to leap back into the playoffs with a match versus the Miami Sharks, but were only able to tie. Arizona confirmed their status as a playoff team with a win over Chicago. The Blaze have played every match to the hilt and with a little bit of a swing could have been in the playoff chase. And finally, the New Jersey Knockouts made it clear that they are serious about not just making the playoffs, but making some noise there with a 4-0 thrashing of Boston. This doesn't affect playoff standings in terms of making the post season, but now Boston will have to get some help to get the draw odds that are now in the possesion of New Jersey. What we found from all of this is that there are some teams who have found the path to Olympus, some teams who are looking and some teams who are more than happy to make the trail as dusty as possible.

Ok, in week 9 the big matchup is Seattle and Arizona as the top 2 teams in the West square off. The Scorpions have been a refreshing presence in the league this year, but there is one thing I gotta say. You know, they have at least 3 folks who regularly blog and closer to 5 or 6 who throw stuff out there while I am only me. If it takes 5 or 6 of them to match me, the Scorps have a ways to go, though I must admit to having a couple of their albums in the 80's. This brings me to my final deal. Bloggers, we got rapped in the mouth by a certain member of a certain team that is in the northeast and just lost their second shutout match. This season seems to have a lot of posts by Arizona, New Jersey, Chicago and... me. Boston got in there a bit, but seem to be real quiet, except for a certain member of their team who's mouth is only slightly smaller than his ego. There have to be other folks out there who want to let us know what they think? Or rant? Or vent? Or just have a voice? Come on guys, lets hear some more from you. SF, are you guys really so busy? Miami, I know you don't have cold weather so do some talking. Dallas! Hey, Bartholomew you said you were going to spice things up? New York, you gotta be kidding me that you don't have something to say? You guys can't really be thinking that we don't want to hear from you? We do. So, let's hear it!!!

Ok, thanks as always to the Commish, Mulfish, the kids in the lunch line, Todd Andrews for explaining what was going to happen if a certain member of a certain team accidentally found himself below the Mason Dixon Line, to all my readers the "4 to 9ers" and of course to Mom who taught me the best gambling odds should be less than the confidence I have in myself. ttyl and have a nice day

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Karn Evil #9

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends,
We're so glad you could attend, come inside come inside,
There behind the glass stands a real blade of grass,
Be careful as you pass, move along move along

Week 8 and the pairings are up, good to be here to share a few moments with the readers in their busy lives. I have to tell you, the USCL is really a lot of fun and there is a simple reason for that. Think about it, there are a whole bunch of us who wake up on Saturday's and Sundays in the fall or winter so that we will be certain to watch football on TV, later in the year it will be hoops. After watching our favorite teams we go on the blogging sites and critique the coaches and officials, the failures of the players and the insanity of the beer commercials. Here in the USCL we can do pretty much the same, well except for the beer commercials. There is a difference. I never played organized sports past high school and have no idea what it is like to compete at those levels, nor have I ever been on the field or court with any of the players I see on TV. I have played in tournaments against a whole bunch of the USCL players and expect to look across at some of them again! Oh no, I am not a titled player or anything like, don't get me wrong I have been in a ton of team leagues and know what it takes to play and win. That's the deal, just because the players in the USCL are stronger or have higher ratings doesn't deny the fact that we have all been in the pits of playing chess right there along side them, as opposed to pro/college sports where very few of us have any idea what is involved. Yeah, this league is a lot closer to home and that makes it so much fun. So, as I start to embarass myself again with these inane predictions, let the USCL know what you think. I am certain that the Commish is more than welcome to ideas and comments. Ok? Bring on the next act!

Monday sees the match that so many have had circled, the Boston-New Jersey showdown. But first there we should comment on the other 2 Monday night menageries. Dallas faces Miami. This is it for the Destiny, they can still make the playoffs and have a certain amount of their fate in their own hands, but it has to start here. It looks like they are seeing it the same way I am by having Ludwig and Kiewra in the middle. If they can pick up a score on the outside boards Dallas has a cood chance to win the match. Miami is still a formidable team, but have misplaced some of the magic they had last year. I have a feeling that the Destiny aren't quite done yet and will pull this off by width of a caterpillars nose (Note to Ron Young: I am trying out this scoring system using words... hope it works). Chicago has Arizona on Monday as wll. Both teams are coming off surprise victories last weel. Chicago's Jan van de Mortel has proven to be a barrel of fun on first board, but the Blaze don't have Angelo Young. Combine that with Arizona's push to the playoffs and I see the Scrops winning by the distance between major cities on an AZ state road map. Now, the Blitz and Knockouts setup. It is surprising that neither Christiansen or Benjamin is playing, but the quality of top board matchups doesn't fall with Gulko vs. Perelshtyn and Sammour=Hasbun up against Ippolito. Boston has an advantage on third board, while the Knockouts have high expectations for youngster Ng on 4. I want to think that Boston has an advantage based on the difference on third board, but NJ has been showing a lot of resilience so far. If there is going to be a surprise in the match I suspect it will be on board 2, though that is entirely a hunch. I am going to say the match ends in a tie.

Wednesday starts off with the Knights against the Cobras. Carolina picked up there best result of the season last week, but the New Yorkers have some battle tested players back. This one goes to the Knights by the width of one of them streets in the Big Apple. Philly has Baltimore. The Inventors could move into the bottom playoff position with a win and are trying to find a hot hand on board 1. The Kingfishers have been in a funk all season and I don't see them getting out of it. I like the Inventors by a crack in a bell. San Francisco faces the Queens squad this week. The Mechanics are going with the same lineup as last week, there must be some scheduling issues for them as the risk of going further down the playoff list is nothing to sneeze at. Queens is looking to make a late pull into the playoff race in the East. The Mechanics are a tough bunch and I really don't like picking an eastern team in 6th place over a western team in 3rd place, but it looks to me like Queens has a better group on the first 3 boards and will win by a donut hole. Now we get to the Sluggers and the Tempo match. This is one of those times where you kind of look at the matchups and wonder just exactly who Kreskin is working for. Seattle put their 2 GM's out there, obviously anticipating the Tempo would do the same, and Tennessee has sold some carrots on the top two to get potatoes on the bottom 2. Ok, sounds like I am saying "Seattle on first 2 and Tennessee on the bottom", but not quite that easy. I have faced Burnett online a bunch of times and have the utmost respect for him as well as Todd Andrews, but when you go into the cage with the lions you gotta think that very few good things are going to happen. It would seem that if there are going to be results that don't fit the schedule it would be on one of the two bottom boards. I am thinking board 3 will be the place the match goes one way or the other. Bereolos and Readey are similar types of players and I think I know what opening it will be ( I don't want to give away anyone's secretes here, but the opening line I am thinking is on page 234 of the.... cough, cough, uh never mind). I think the match will be a tie with Seattle have about a 1/3 of a point chance for victory.

Ok, Alfred Hitchcock is on and I gotta go. Remember to let your USCL team or the Commish know how much you enjoy this league. Big thanks to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, to Eddie, to that whiny guy in the Sluggers mascot costume, to Joe the pizza delivery man and of course Dean Wormer. ttyl and have a nice day

Friday, October 16, 2009

Heart Full of Soul

HIYA, HIYA, HIYA, HIYA…!!! It is a great day to be writing. Sky is gray, rain is falling from right to left (October in Seattle is very windy) and the only thing less interesting than the local news is, well news from any where else! It is a great day! Before we get to all the razzmatazz from this past week, I want to share a thought with the other bloggers in the USCL. I have to pay tribute to my “spiritual superior”. Like Darth Vader kneeling before the Emperor, I bow my head in tribute to the force that has guided my hand in blogging. Of course, I recommend all of this person’s worCheck this guy out, I am pretty certain you can all pick up plenty of tips on interesting communication from him! Ok, on to the party…!!!!

Sluggers match with the Sharks. I had convinced myself to pick the Sluggers to win based on some pretty reasonable thinking. Therein was the problem, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am neither reasonable or a thinker. Behind the scenes I was kicking myself for not looking at the facts. Seattle had found their way to the top of the western division, had Nakamura coming back and were facing a Miami team that appeared to be in the middle of the blues, you know the depression of staying up to 4 a.m. to see your favorite terrible sci-fi movie only to find out they cut out the one scene you loved and now you had to be up at 6:30 to go to work? Yeah, that feeling. All of these things were really negatives for the Sluggers; never a team to accept success well, this was the equivalent of winning a brand new Porsche as the price of gas hits $5 a gallon. Still, I had to watch… it is my duty. Sinanan on board 4 had a pretty standard game, got to a Benoni type position with b5-b4 in, then did a slight shuffle of pieces to the left (does anyone remember “The Time Warp”?) and finished with a bit of nice technique. Well done. Milat made his season debut on board 3 and surprised me by playing the Zot /Trompovski (quick note to Marcel… “Dude, tough to get to the Belgrade after that sequence”). This one deteriorated quickly into a contest of who could mis-interpret Reinfeld more effectively. To be fair, Marcel found everything in the house to try to win and it wasn’t quite enough. On board 2 Slava took a choice in the opening to give up the exchange for a pawn and cut Martinez’ attacking chances down. It appears that White then went looking for a rabbit, while Slava just “slowly rolled along”. In a game where either side certainly had places to press for more, a draw was found via a rook opposition. Matchups of GM’s in the USCL has become pretty common and we know that those GM’s just don’t like being outdone at anything. So, as if the efforts on boards 2 and 3 weren’t enough Becerra and Nakamura got together to give us plenty more excitement. I had predicted that Nakamura would open with 1.g3, this had been his usual previously in USCL matches, and was quite intrigued when he opted for the Veresov. It turned out to be an inspired choice as White was presented with a huge space advantage and plenty of time in the opening. I would bet that Nakamura changed his mind at a couple of points, seeking the “perfect” route instead of just a pawn or some such ( I hope he writes the game up in his blog). Slowly Becerra worked his way out of the dungeon and emerged with equality. So, tied match right? WRONG!! I don’t know if he just misjudged, misanalyzed or simply overplayed but Becerra went directly into a losing ending by offering a queen exchange. Nakamura found a very direct line to victory from there. So, another use of reflections to collect a 2 ½ - 1 ½ victory. Let’s be clear, except for board 4 all the games swung around at least once and had the potential for any result, plus every player seemed to have some sort of issue with the clock. This was a close match between division rivals. Next up for the Sluggers is a rematch with the Tennessee boys who will likely by sporting their 2 GM’s again.

On a more self serving angle; note to IM Mark Ginsburg ( please, please, please Eddie, can I call him Dr. Demento?) when you are considering the opening to focus on this week keep in mind that this week there were 2 Zots, 1 Veresov, 1 aborted Stonewall and of course the Young – Bick encounter. Work with the league here to get across to the readers how Sunye Neto – Quinteros Lone Pine 77 had morphed into Young – Bick USCL 2009. Changing topics here, I appreciate the Arizona folks for all their efforts in blogging and want the rest of the league to show their approval as well. However, I think there should be a rule limiting players to less than 3 “nicknames”. Please, Dr. Dem… er, I mean IM Ginsburg sir, I am your age and enjoy quite a bit about your writing, but giving each player on the squad 3 or more nicknames is a bit much. If J. Edgar Hoover were alive the Tucson area would be drowning in FBI agents trying to figure out what secrets you are passing to the KGB via these nicknames! Thank you.

Donuts! That should be the battle cry for at least a couple of the USCL teams. Anyone who knows/remembers “The Tick” can relate this to “spoon”. I am however suspicious, thinking back on GM Benjamin’s comments about “energy drinks” and donuts, then seeing this. Coincidence?

Special big thanks go out this week to John Bick and Angelo Young, spirits of chess from a different dimension, to all the players out there pushing digital wood, to all the “four – to – niners” where ever they may be, absolutely to my friend Mulfish, The Arizona team for being good sports and of course to the Commish. Ttyl and have a nice day!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Many tasks at hand. Of course, it was a day off and some how there were always lots of tasks for a day off. He glanced out the window as the view was filled with a sudden burst of sunshine. "Check the USCL first!", his mind concluded the best first step. Checking for updates and rereading posts for new comments there was one thing that was fairly obvious, either the USCF or the Commish was going to have to make some sort of ruling about the consumption of donuts . "Quite a change in a week, the Knockouts have gone from looking for a record 6-0 start to worrying about fried pastries." His direction of thought jumped to the changes of the past week. "Not an unusual result in the league, nobody got 3/4 of a point for almost winning or anything like that" , his face changed expression as his eyes squinted "Four-to Niners?" The mind would be boggled. Such things didn't happen in a universe directed by string theory, only in the universes of upside down gravity. "NO! There is the clue!" Yes, 429 was a special number in his memory. As a youngster his mother had taught him about the odds in Vegas, where they happened to live, and one of the things she ingrained in him was that you would never see a smaller number listed first, " 2 to 1 you will see, 3 to 1 sometimes, even 7 to 2, but never a smaller number first like 4 to 9". He could here her words in his mind, those exact words, 4 to 9!. It was mom letting him know that she was well. Having been on the run for that whole "Yes, we produce wonderful dry wines in Washington state" fiasco. Everyone knows that 'Dry" and "Washington" can't be used together. "Thanks Mom" he thought. Now, there are matchups to consider.

New York versus Philadelphia looks pretty easy. "Of course I will root for the Inventors first board, I remember him as a fine lad in Alaska, scratched arm and all", yet that won't change the outcome. The Knights are picking up momentum and will win this one easily
Carolina and Dallas, " Poor scheduling committee, didn't have a clue" Carolina has run completely out of magic dust and the Destiny are trying to get out of the rear view mirror in the West playoff race. Dallas will win, by the minimum, but will win
Wednesday night has only in division matches for each side on Wednesday
Boston and Queens. His head turned for an instant as a could blocked the sunlight for a moment. Boston would be the obvious pick, obvious to those who didn't observe. The Blitz know they have a big match next week and could be looking ahead, not really very likely as the Boston players seemed to focus on their immediate surrounding quite well. No, there are 2 factors to consider. Queens took a hard loss last week where a tie seemed almost certain, this is the point where they need to make some advances in the standings. Combine that with the most recent trend, Red Sox swept in playoffs and Patriots defeated by some oversized ponies, and you have the makings of a surprise result. I can't pick Queens to win because that would have too dramatic an effect on next weeks predictions (how many of us think Boston would lose 2 in a row?). Tie
The Knockouts face the Kingfishers. Baltimore isn't fielding there best team, so their chances go way down. The Knockouts get back on track.
Chicago is kind of like the little train that can't. Their lineup jumps around too much. The Tempo have their GM's on hand and will win easily. Board 3 will be the focus for much of this match as Bick and Young are possibly the 2 best board 3's . "That is another change" he thought, "Arun is back?"
Sf and Arizona face off. The Mechanics have a problem, a simple big problem. They have too many GM's! Anytime that the Mechanics have Donaldson on 2nd board it means that a bunch of their GM's are busy. Arizona has a problem, they don't have Ramirez playing this week. The obvious thought would be that the Mechanics still have more talent, but the Scorpions are coming off their win over the Knockouts. Teams that have problems are usually lucky to tie, so I think both teams will be lucky this week.
"Finally, the Seattle match" he peers at the names while his mind races to the donut dish. He nodded as he noticed Nakamura would have white and possibly a little bit to play for, considering what happened between these teams in last years playoffs. Sinanan on 4 has been pretty close to a rock. "That has been a real surprise" he sipped some coffee. "Milat is making his appearance for the season, very clever!" Weighing things up a strange feeling came to him. " Miami often has young underrated players on the lower boards, but Marcel is very solid and Josh is playing well. Seattle has the advantage there" another chocolate donut, " Nakamura is not likely to base anything on payback, but is the better player and trying to get past Slava is like trying to climb over a brown bear" his fingers felt a bit numb. Quickly he jumped to the season schedule. "All the matches are tough, pretty even league. Still, if the Sluggers get past this match the rest of the division will be racing with one leg tied behind their backs". How could he do it? This was sure to be a hard match, but logic was in charge. "Logic, the thinking man's way of explaining the obvious!" he whispered. Yes, it was time. "Seattle will win this match, probably 3-1, but a simple win will be enough". There, he had said it. No way to go back now. It was certainly quite a change from the week before, predicting a Seattle victory, but it was only a change in perseption. Gods be damned, it was the right prediction and he knew it. Still, the chocolate didn't taste right...

All the best to whoever reads this, to GM Joel Benjamin who has proven that the best players do read the blogs (sort of), to all the guys in the Omega Theta Pi house, Dean Wormer and of course to "mom" in 429.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Too Old to Rock n' Roll, Too Young to Die!

He fumbled slightly as another piece of wood went onto the fire. Early morning was like that for him. He didn't have trouble waking up, his eyes seemed to open at the same time no matter what season it was, but getting up had become a chore. It was age. Bad pawns, bad bishops, bad pairings and age, the tormenters of chess players. "They follow us to the end" he thought. On to the task at hand, a summary of the previous evenings escapades.

" I arrived after only a couple of moves, Serper had played the French again, Lee was well into a Panno Kings Indian, a surprising choice of Semi Tarrasch QGD on board 4 and Slava had started with Nf3 and g3." He was working to find the correct words. "Checking back a few moments later, I found that Josh had played the e4 line of the Semi-Tarrasch, good! That line has been good for White since the Botvinnik - Petrosian match". He stopped for a moment, gazing out the window at the darkness. All the games seemed so hopeful, his prediction might have been born of fright. "After my salad I checked again. Serper's game looked ok, but playing g6 seeemed very provocative. Sinanan was surely aware that pushing d5 and then e5 as a temporary pawn sac was an accepted lever in that line and Slava had finally pushed up the c-pawn to the 4th rank. This all seemed well, only the board 3 game was a question. Lee had given up the white square bishop to establish a Nd4 and Zaremba was building the Q-side advance. I hope that Michael has the feel for proper timing, I seem to remember that Black should try to time the f5 break so that Nf6 arrived to support a d5 push. I just hope..." He poured some coffee and wondered how much more chess there was in him. It had been a long time. His prediction wasn't based on a simple whimsy of "pick against the team to win", it had been based on those years of playing, the catastrophe's he had been witness to or victim of. He had some notes, now where had he left them. "Dinner finished and I was back again. Serper's game had changed drastically, all the minors were off and only a queen plus rook each. Serper had a passer on the d-file which combined very well with White's k-side weakness looked very promising. This was more than countered on the bottom boards. Josh looked to have waited too long and Black had what appeared to be good play on the Q-side. Worse yet, Lee had mis judged the position by ignoring the f5 break and playing a5 instead. All the white squares were now a problem for Michael. Slava had been presented with a small opportunity based on the black knight on d7 guarding a Nf6 and a Bc5, This looked quite promising, but possibly not enough." Remembering his thoughts at the time, he considered. "That seemed the lowest point and it felt like I had seen this match from the Sluggers before." Anyone who thought he didn't pick the Sluggers to win hadn't read any of his work from previous years. "My next check in made me think of a whirlpool. The board 1 game seemed well in control and Serper only needed to avoid a perpetual, but Lee had lost. Too bad, games like that are hard for King's Indian fans. Sinanan's game had turned around totally as he had the c-file, a more active king and a passer on d6! On board 2 something crazy had happened as Slava was one pawn down and looked to lose another on c5. It happens so often, some milk turns to cream and some turns sour." Another cup of coffee was needed, also a donut. "I watched Serper wrap up his game very neatly and began to watch board 4. As Josh got closer to victory I knew that my prediction had been accurate. Actually, it was quite good that way. Dallas had won, Miami and SF had tied as I thought. Boston was victorious, but eveyone picked that one. As soon as Katz resigned I started to put together some things about the match and realized I had left detail unattended. Slava's game wasn't finished, so I quickly went to it. What was this! Bishops of opposite color and all pawns on the same side of the board! Incredible! It almost seemed impossible, yet there it was. Seattle had won the match!" Writing the words he knew that some would question him yet again for failing to pick Seattle for victory. "The fools, did they not see how close the Pioneers were to victory? Simple play on board 1, a little more iniitiative on board 4, perhaps a bit better technique on 2? How would that have played in the blogs? No, I feel fine about my prediction. If my credibility is the price to pay, then so be it!" He peered out the window again. The darkness had given way to fog. A slight smile came to him. "Happy for victory? Of course, but results come and go. There will be other results to be concerned about. Satisfaction in picking 3 matches correctly, hardly. I cannot mimic the Oracle of Delphi and feel lucky to get any right. I smile because my friend Mulfish had forseen events accurately. Plus, I seem to have a couple of readers... what more can I hope for?"
With all things in place he begins to lay down the words, wondering again how much chess there was left...