Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Some years ago a local comedian stated that being a sports fan in Seattle is "like loving a woman you can't stand!" I won't lie, I have only been about 70 percent Seattle fan when it comes to sports teams, what I have noticed is the number of deja vu experiences concerning Seattle sports. Well, here is another one. The Seahawks played Chicago on Sunday without their 5 best players and lost, now Seattle plays Tennessee without there top GM. I tell you, it is eerie! To be fair, the Seahawks should have won, but there is that deja vu thing again. Back to reality. To my eye this match appears to confirm how strong the league has become. Despite drawing with West leading, and perenial powerhouse, San Francisco plus defeating the 2 time defending champions from Dallas this could be the Sluggers toughest match yet! Think about it, besides not having Nakamura Seattle has the challenge of facing 2 GM's and Tennessee hasn't lost to Seattle since 2007! That's right, last season the 2 matches were a tie and a Tennessee victory. All of this adds up to a load of trouble for the Sluggers. Now, take a deep breath and work with me here...

We can break down the match to top boards and bottom boards. Tennessee definitely has the advantage on the top boards with 2 world class GM's, but how much of an advantage? Serper is not chopped liver and certainly has the ability to score on first board. Slava is quite capable of scoring against GM's on board 2, but we shouldn't sugar coat that he is a big underdog against Shabalov. On the bottom 2 boards WGM Rohonyan is experienced and with the white pieces a probable favorite against Bick, while Josh has a rating advantage against Justice. My feeling is that the Sluggers will get 1/2 point out of the top 2 and either Rohonyan or Sinanan will win for sure. Where the match comes down is whether Seattle gets both points on the bottom 2 or not. Josh with Black concerns me a little, but he did win last week. Rohonyan is a pretty solid bet to at least draw. I want to say that Seattle wins to keep up with the West leaders when Slava gets an unexpected plus result, but I am going to predict a 2-2 tie.

In the other Wednesday matches: I like Philly over Queens based on better results with White, New Jersey will defeat Chicago in a close match, I mean time trouble on 2 boards and nobody can keep up close. It seems like all of Chicago's matches are like that. San Francisco will defeat the Knights for a very simple reason, the Knights historically don't come totally to life until the 6th week and finally Dallas over Arizona only because it will cause more confusion in the playoff race.

That's all for now, but keep a look out for my posts... stuff just flies into my head and I have to write it, so this blog could be updated at literally any second!

Have a nice day and ttyl

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sitting around, kind of bored, another couple of days wait for USCL action I started thinking about BionicLime's "Power Rankings". Actually, thinking about how much grief Bio seems to get over them. I understand that every fan feels their team isn't getitng any respect and wants to let the world how unjust this is, never realizing that the world is more in tune with the mathematics Bio uses than the overzealous emotion the fan has, well every fan except for yours truly. Eventually, I decide to try my hand at some rankings, not as an avocation or to produce irrefutable evidence of my team's coming epoch. No, I decided to come up with my own rankings for one reason, entertainment. My own entertainment, but if you get something out of it all the better.

I have neither the patience or spreadsheet skills of BionicLime, so I came up with another way. I wanted my method to be simple because, frankly my boredom is a direct result of being lazy and I don't think it is fair to ask me to change for some stupid rankings. My final plan was this: rank the teams by i) Match score, ii) game points and iii) opponents average rating. Here is my list for the teams after USCL week 4:

1) New Jersey
2) San Francisco
3) Boston
4) Seattle
5) Miami
6) Baltimore
7) Tennessee
8) New York
9) Arizona
10) Queens
11) Dallas
12) Philadelphia
13) Chicago
14) Carolina

Ok, the first thing to note is this isn't a perfect list... I mean it doesn't factor in the level of competition each team has faced. Still, it is based on the teams performance so far. I will be very curious to see how it compares to BionicLime's rankings this week. So much for the science (ugh), now for the perception. I have to tell you that Chicago hasn't really struck me as the second team from the bottom? They got pummeled the first 2 weeks, but have come on by winning over Tennessee and almost drawing with the Mechanics. They might not be as strong as some of the other teams, but they come to play. Next team to make an impression is Dallas. I think the Destiny have suffered from 2 things; inconsistent focus on where to win matches and the other teams are really gunning for them. I don't think they are out of the playoff picture yet. Boston is interesting from the perspective that any reasonable improvement in their record ( my suggestion is a tie with Dallas) would only move them up to second. For all the surprise that the loss to Dallas caused, it was only one match. I would say that Philadelphia is a bit of a disappointment, but maybe their past success was due to over achievement? Otherwise, I don't think any of the teams is much out of place. New Jersey is on top simply because of their perfect match record yet I wouldn't have bet that they would be out of the top 4 at the start ( honesty time: I rarely bet on anything and when I do it is not on somebody else ). That is my perception of the league after 4 rounds.

Two matches on Monday night. Baltimore vs. Boston - this is one of those matches that reminds me of "vector analysis". That is, Baltimore is coming off a win, has some momentum and is running into Boston which seems to have refound the train tracks it was on. Baltimore is a favorite on board 2 while Boston has the edge on 3 and 4. I just have the notion that this is too good an opportunity for Baltimore and they will pull it out. Carolina - Miami 2 teams playing for completely different things. Miami is looking to stay in the race for first in the west while Carolina is looking to earn some respect. We can gauge how much vigor the Cobras have for the rest of the season on this match by their performance here. Miami is the easy pick, and as I said I am lazy so i will take them.

Well, that killed a good 30 minutes... wonder if I have any cheesy puffs around here???

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Fearless Captain

Ride Captain Ride

Week 4 is in the books and the league is chugging along. Seems like just another week, you know Jersey won, Frisco won, Seattle won... oh yeah Seattle won! They defeated the 2 time defending champs from Dallas by 3-1 and keeps them on directly on the heels of the Mechanics. Here is a look.

Bd. 1 For the second week in a row Nakamura faced the Reti/English by fianchettoing the QB followed by c5 and then K-side fianchetto. Ah, I remember the days when this was termed "the two pockets" defense. Anyway, Bartholomew on first board for the Destiny arranged to play Nd5 and exchange knights and black square B's while opening the c-file. Eventually all the heavy pieces came off on the c-file leaving an ending of 1 knight and white square B each. White had more space, but Black had a better knight plus more flexible center pawns. Bartholomew was short of time which might have led to some of his problems. Naka reached a knight versus bishop ending. One question I had was at move 48 if White hadn't exchanged e4xf5 would the result have been the same. In the game Naka used a very nimble knight and a central pawn wedge to get the point

Bd. 2 Opened as a Reti with d5,c6,Bg4 for Black. Slava played Ne5 and then d4 in the opening. It resolved itself into a position where White had c5,d4,f4,g3 in and 2 B's versus a very compact c6,e6 for Black with 2 B's. Ludwig decided to leave an exchange on d5, but couldn't get anything going. A second exchange was gone in the melee and Slava avoided any accidents to score the point.

Bd. 3 Kiewra played the Rossolimo Sicilian the old fashioned way, with c3 and d4 instead of a quick exchange on c6. I don't think Lee was entirely familiar with the line, but kept his position stable. White sac'd an exchange on e5 for the black square B and lots of chances, forcing Lee to defend. Michael gave the exchange back, but Kiewra kept a pawn advantage. Black sac'd his B on h3 for some kind of phantom which didn't materialize and after a couple of tactical flurries lost.

Bd. 4 Went directly into a Semi Slav. Both sides manoueverd for some moves, with Black having handing c and d pawns. They proved to be a liability as Black was not able to inject an activity into the position. Eventually Sinanan picked up the c5 pawn followed by a6, then forced queens off. The pure rook ending appeared a bit rushed, but then Josh had been playing with less than 3 minutes for many moves. Eventually the board was cleaned up and Zorigt called it a night.

Ok, I will be honest... except for the course of board 1 and the rambuctious play by White late on board 4 I pretty much had this match nailed. Michael and Josh got a point between them and Seattle won the match. I didn't see Slava winning, but it was a bonus. The Sluggers seem to be picking up a bit of momentum at a good time. Their next match is with Tennessee, a squad that defeated them last year and just narrowly missed defeating Miami last week. They will not be pushovers. The potential clash of Ehlvest and Nakamura on board 1 will be quite interesting and past history suggests that Seattle has trouble on board 3 versus either Andrews or Bick. We will have to wait to see the actual lineups, but for now it promises to be a very interesting contest.

In the other matches, I picked incorrectly for New York over NJ and thought the Inventors would be a tougher test for Boston. I did get Queens defeating Carolina. So, I am 2 - 4 in matches and minus 6 in game points. Maybe that game point idea wasn't so hot?

ttyl and have a nice day

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Louie Louie

Happy Tuesday everybody, at least those of you where it is still Tuesday. The matches last night were quite entertaining and I just wanted to give a shout out to the 6 teams that played. Yeah, even the despised Mechanics get a big thumbs up. They seem to have found a keeper in GM Kraai. Look what I am saying, how many teams wouldn't find a GM a keeper? Anyway, I want to give a big thumbs up to the Blaze and the Tempo. Also, I think that all the prediction stuff in the league is great, but we should be keeping track of how many game points off hte predictors are. Like last night, I had the Baltimore - Arizona score correct, but was off by 1/2 point in each of the other two matches. So, I am 1 - 2 in matches and -1 game point. Just a suggestion.

A little different topic, I want to thank Dean Wormer... er, I mean the Commissioner for not giving me any demerits so far this season. I have tried to behave myself, but sometimes I just say stuff. Thank you Mr Commissioner Still, I feel a chill on my backside. I could be wrong here, but I kind of think my name is in there someplace ( Ok, I have to avoid the "you talkin' to me" references here as one 70's movie reference is going to be more than enough for a whole bunch of the audience). Seems that I kind of owe somebody somewhere an explanation. I gotta throw myself on the mercy of the court ( "Trust me, I am pre-law" "I thought you were pre-med?" "what's the difference?"). Arizona has all kinds of bloggers and it is hard to keep track, you know? When Blogger A comments about one of my guys poor opening play, I kind of view it as a work in progress, when Blogger B also comments on it, I figure there is a pecedent. Am I wrong? "The question isn't whether one of the team broke a few opening rules, he did (wink)". So, I just went along with it. You know, I gotta figure all them Arizona guys are college educated, so they know what they are doing? I was the first in my family to go to college, so I was also the first to drop out! I just want to say that I agree with... not sure if I call him Mr. Adamson, Wavemaster or Blogger C (my hero Wolverine would use "bub" but I don't think I can use that in the third person... can I?) in that this is all meant for fun and improving our enjoyment of the game! Take it all with a grain of salt. I would like to extend my hand to... still not sure how to reference him... and say " good match and good luck". Then as he extends his hand I of course pull mine back and wipe my cowlick with a slight "psych" echoing from my lips. Just to be clear, I will follow the lead of my more learned USCL colleagues, using them as beacons for my future efforts.

I would like to thank the following: Harold Ramis, John Landis, Faber College, the great John Belushi (rip), Mr. Robby Adamson, GM- elect Robert Hess, FM Daniel Rensch, The Commissioner, Dr. Seuss, Dean Faber and of course the incomparable Eddie Chang. For anyone who doesn't understand my references I suggest you look for a little film titled "Animal House" and get a life. Thank you and have a nice day

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Smoke on the Water

Ok, took a quick time out from the Emmy's to post this. Please don't get the wrong idea, I in no way find the Emmys, or Greatest Race or even Sunday Night Football more important than the USCL matchups, just that my computer had been comandeered to follow an Ebay auction of the original genuine never before seen in this country at this price edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls. So, I was finally able to wrestle the laptop back after explaining that I was certain the scrolls would be up on Ebay again and everyone knows that the second time around the price is way down. So, on to the show!

Dallas v. Seattle
This is a matchup in the Power rankings (updated thank's to BionicLime between the #6 and # 2 teams. This could go a ways in weeding out contenders in the West.

Bd. 1 Bartholomew is white against Nakamura. There is a weird thing being a Seattle fan with Nakamura on first board, I almost feel guilty picking him to win each week. This will be the second black in a row (Dallas was listed first on the sheet), but Nakamura seems to have even more flair playing with the black pieces. I am a bit surprised that Dallas wouldn't try Stopa or Zivanic on board one as a more solid approach.

Bd. 2 Mikhailuk versus Ludwig. This is a good matchup for Seattle as Slava isn't likely to get involved in any theory, real or imaginary. He plays what he plays. Also, Slava has some history with the Destiny... check the last time they lost a playoff match.

Bd. 3 Kiewra up against Lee. This is certainly a prepared pairing. Kiewra seems to play the White pieces against the Sicilian with a certain aplomb. This could be a problem for Lee, it will certainly be a telling board for the match.

Bd. 4 is Sinanan - Zorigt. This could be a real tough game to watch. I know that the players will give a lot, but I don't believe either of them goes to a lot of effort to either have a prepared surprise in the opening or to seek complications. (note to Eddie: please don't have Slava and Josh both playing White in the same match... young children are likely to get the wrong idea about chess... or even middle aged people for that matter).

Dallas is going to try to sneak this match past on boards 2 and 3. If they win both, Seattle is kaput. If Josh and Michael score a point between them then Seattle will win. I really think this is one of the easiest Seattle matches to handicap. I am leaning toward a tie, but 2.5 is certainly possible for the Sluggers.

All of the Emmy categories I like are done, so I will give my thoughts on the other matches this week.


Chicago (10) v. SF (1) - The Blaze are a plucky lot, you gotta say that. To make this short though, an important saying I learned when I was young, "you don't throw rocks at people with machine guns!" SF has some machine guns. SF 3-1

Baltimore (14) v. Arizona (7) - First time meeting. I think the Kingfishers are a bit surprised by their current standing and look at this match as quite important. Arizona is pretty confident that they are a contender and just look at this as another match they should win. One thing to note is that this is the only match where both teams rating average is below 2400. This will be decided by the experience of the older Kingfishers
Baltimore 2.5 - Arizona 1.5

Miami (4) v. Tennessee (8) - This looks like a trap to me. Simply put I think that Tennessee will win this match 2.5 - 1.5

Wed. Matches

New Jersey (3) v. New York (5) - Knights revenge. NJ isn't better on the top 2, no jumbo lineup with Ippolito, New York has a score to settle, Stonewallamania! 2.5 -1.5 NY

Carolina (13) v. Queens (12) - Ok, explain to me how a team with 3 2500 players is number 12? If you can't explain it to me, then explain it to the Cobras. This could be a wipeout, I mean a really ugly wipeout. 3-1 Queens

Boston (11) v. Philadelphia (9) - I really gotta think that 3rd board is critical here. If Bartell holds then the Inventors win. Actually, I don't think that anything has gone well for either of these squads yet this season. No reason to see this as the turn around point. Tie

So, that is all for now. ttyl

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hazy Shade of Winter

But look around,
leaves are brown now
And the sky
is a hazy shade of winter

Topic for discussion: Perception versus science! Talk amongst yourselves! It is week 4 of the USCL season which is the time that matches start having some real relevance. Oh, I know how all the teams have little rivalries and grudges that would carry on no matter what, but now we are getting to the stage where teams are getting separated into the serious contenders and the delirious pretenders. Or possibly, it is just our view of it that makes the teams seem to shape their future aspirations? I bring this up because we have a "Power Ranking" to discuss thanks to that devoted servant of the USCL BionicLime. Very nice, very pretty, very... nice. I don't really quite know what else to say. The Limester has done a great job of getting this list together and even states that there is a scientific formula which is used! Bravo I say, Bravisimo! Thing is, I kind of feel like this science is... misguided? Here is where we witness the separation of perception and science. In the first place, I would never question the placement of Boston at 11, though Bio saw fit to include a disclaimer. That is part of his perception, that Boston backers would be in an outrage that their beloved heroes would be anywhere lower than just slightly above first place! I of course share that perception, but it is irrelevant. Let us not think of Boston, instead let our minds wonder to the breezy shores of Miami. Here folks you have a team many regard as a true power in the league, with a 2-1 record after three rounds, in position 7 which is two places lower than Dallas, who by the way Miami defeated! Now, let me be clear... I am not suggesting anything negative of either team, for be it from me to try to alter the perception that each of these teams is worthy of much higher stature in the rankings. No no, I am instead intrigued by the science which brought this about. This seems a bit, odd.

Or try this. Checking my local tv listings to see which matches would be worth watching this week I naturally took note of my Sluggers run up with Dallas, a rivalry that carries weight as well as history. I mean, aren't the Sluggers the last team to defeat Dallas in a playoff match? Glancing just a bit further I was of course most happy to see that New York and New Jersey would be at it again, kind of like some something out of " The Godfather " (hey, Robert Deniro as Joel Benjamin?) . With these two matches in mind I quickly jumped over to the power rankings, low and behold Seattle v. Dallas is 3 versus 5, while the Rumble near the Bronx is 1 versus 4 ( I have never been to New York or New Jersey, so just having a little fun, no reason to get upset). Wow, could any matches be closer than those? Well, I am glad you asked me that question. Tennessee at number 8 is hosting Miami at 7! I want you to know that I have the utmost respect for the Tempo, but my perception is that they aren't quite as much of a power as Miami. Is my perception that far off base? You see, there is the rub.

Now, before Biomaniac starts melting down or whatever Lime's do when they get frazzled, let me just say this. I am not trying to denegrate the work that has gone into the power ranking. I am also not trying to get them changed. What I am saying is, don't use the power rankings when talking to your bookie. They are not very useful for purposes of handicapping matches. They do however provide a fun and delightful way to infuse blogs with really stupid stuff, like dumb human tricks.

Back to science and perception. I am reading the "press" coming out of Arizona and wondering just how exactly did the match with Seattle go. You know, how Mikhailuk forgot the rules of the game by playing a lame opening and got what he deserved as opposed to fantastic concept of a double fianchetto to exchange pieces that Barcenilla played. Uh, ok my sarcasm meter just dinged... hang on a second. I mean really, is it necessary to make so much out of lame openings? Nobody down there pointed out that Black went 3.5 out of 4 in the match! There was even less comentary from the Scorps about how there pre mach prediction was... lame. I know that there will be flames about this all over the place, but I am sticking up for a player on my team. I don't pull punches on the Sluggers ( kind of a pun there), so why should you guys?

Perception. The Sluggers are probably feeling real good with themselves. I sure hope not. Their next match is with Dallas. It is easy to play a match with a team that is ahead or has the same score and get psyched for it. Dallas is behind in the crosstable, but looking to get back into the race. This is an important match for the Sluggers and I hope they know that and react accordingly. We can't just expect them to get lucky every time. I don't know what the lineup is going to be, but whoever is playing boards 3 and 4 have to know that they are most likely underdogs, get ready with that thought in mind. Those are likely to be the boards that decide the match.

Ok, I have exhaled again. Time to let somebody else rant. I have only one request. If you are going to comment on my post, at least bring something to the table. When you see a comment from Anonymous that says "Idiot" you know that somebody's mother got them up to 5 letter words, but not into the complete sentence concept. Please, make this interesting.

Thanks and ttyl

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

25 or 6 to 4

Sometimes in life you find things that just keep making you scratch your head, no matter how many times you see or experience them. I think that Seattle - Arizona matches are going to be that way. At least, that has been the story so far.

Nakamura slowly overcame the slow down approach of Barcenilla. Picking up a pawn, then giving it back to activiate both rooks and bishop Naka was able to create a net and through it.

Ginsburg on board 2 just played simple chess. When it appeared that Mikhailuk might be making some progress the f4 pawn recieved more attention than Slava would have liked. Inevitably the game slipped into thrash around mode as the bishops of opposite color were either a drawing tool (for White) or enough to win (for Black). Ginsburg was ultimately correct as the black squares were a coffin for Slava.

Josh on board 4 kept trying to pick up something, but Leo Martinez had more than enough to keep it level. Note to Josh; have a line ready for the Hedgehog.

That left the Rensch - Lee encounter on board 3. With Seattle leading 1.5 - .5 this game and board 2 entered into the critical phase of "Seattle has less than 2 minutes on the clock" territory. Michael had lost a pawn in the middle game, but was able to assemble quite a formidable force for counterplay. Rensch went astray by pushing his king to b1 where Lee had an a greeting party prepared. The Arizona third board eventually gave up a piece for 3 pawns and attempted to muddy matters in Lee's time situation. Problem was that the White pieces were a little short of squares. Rensch overlooked a tactic and Lee picked up a second piece simultaneously exchanging rooks. Seattle wins!

Good match. Both teams put out some entertaining efforts. Seattle got some good play from the lower boards this time around. Quite a far cry from the last time these 2 teams faced off, last season when Arizona thrashed the Sluggers 3-1 in the final week of the regular season.

Ok, that's all for now. ttyl

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pick up the Pieces

Hey, good day to be chessplayer. Feeling a bit out of the norm, usually I just post pre and post match. Well, I was riding the ferry across the Puget Sound, sun was shining and I thought that it would be a good time to post. And you know, in this league there is more than enough going on to keep eveybody writing. Anyway...

Couple of thoughts about the Monday night matches (Sep. 14). I want to thank Mssrs. Charbonneau and Schneider for delving into the pond of chess where Fritz wasn't mechanical. I suspect that there might have been some kind of secret analysis cooked up years ago between these two that encouraged a wager and such is how the opening occured. In any case, Bravo! Next, of course is the Boston debacle, made worse by the prediction of Mr. Phelps. Well, I think this was an ingenious ploy! Consider the consequences. If Boston had won then all is well as they puff out their chests and proclaim there dominance of the defending champions. If they lose, then it is simply a matter of luck and best of all when they lose by an overwhelming score as happened then it is obvious that the rest of the league is against the Blitz, so they need to band together to keep from weathering the storm of adversity. Very clever, I would not be surprised if they lost 0-4 at the request of their manager(s)! Very sneaky, very clever. Be warned rest of the league, Boston is now more powerful than ever!

Different not, the upcoming epic between your Sluggers of Seattle and the accursed Scorpions of Arizona. GM Ramirez of Arizona has posted a prediction and I would like to thank him for his efforts. Very enlightening. I have already posted my view of the match, so I have no further comment on the outcome. I would, however, appreciate a review of the academic credentials of GM Ramirez. Looking at the numbers and explanations of them leads me to suspect that GM Ramirez either missed a couple of classes or accidentally read his Shakespeare in prep for a psych exam. Or possibly the standards for education at GM Ramirez' alma mater (UTD) are a wee bit askew. I mean no harm what so ever, just checking so that I get the correct wager in at Las Veg... er I mean I can comment appropriately on the blog. All in all, I think an tie is just the right result. Actually, when you consider the actions of a certain GM transplanted to Holland perhaps a tie is indicated. Kharma and stuff like that.

Now, for the important part. I have decided that the titles of these "blog" bits is too boring, so I am going with rock titles. Hope it helps.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rd. 3 Seattle vs. Arizona

Week 3 and a matchup of two undefeated teams. The odd part is, Seattle hasn't won any matches yet! Each team has reason to feel that an undefeated streak through the 3rd week of the season is likely.

Seattle can feel confident that Nakamura on board one is not an underdog even with the black pieces. This limits the match to a 3 board affair with Seattle having white on 2 of those boards. It is just the way that the rating system and GM's work I guess.

Board 2 is the most intriguing, only because of the history from the end of last season between Mikhailuk and Ginsburg. A couple of different moves in that last round and Arizona would have gone to the playoffs. Ginsburg will likely be looking for a bit of payback and is unlikely to give anything away. If there is any place where Arizona might expect kharma to work for them it is right here.

Rensch on board 3 has the only rating advantage listed ( to be honest, the USCL rules on ratings doesn't seem to reflect the numbers posted on the pairing sheet ). Lee is improving, but hasn't shown his best in the USCL. This is definitely the board where Arizona can look to make hay.

Leo Martinez is going hoping to use some of the expertise he has in match predictions to work some magic on board 4. On the Seattle side Josh Sinanan has yet to bust out, much like Lee, and is looking for any opportunity.

The match looks like a real landslide for Seattle, but don't be fooled. The Scorpions have a lot to play for, an undefeated string this season as well as some bad luck from last season. Arizona can win this match on the bottom 3 boards, it is very possible. For Seattle the season so far has been a 50/50 proposition... that is get 50 percent on the top 2 boards and 50 percent on the bottom two. To me this is not a surprise, I has a brief conversation with some of the Sluggers about a month before the season and suggested that it didn't matter how well they did on the top boards, that they needed better play on the lower boards. Doesn't seem to have rung through to them yet. I am going to predict a tie, that way everybody stays undefeated and can wait for next week.

Message to Sluggers fans everywhere, especially my friend Mulfish. I have set up a Twitter account HA81chess where I am going to try to keep up on the match. Not sure how it will work, I don't type very fast any more, but at least it will keep the news fresh and the Commish won't have problems linking to it. Just go out to www.twitter.com and look for HA81chess, that is wher I should be. I will have a post match wrap on this blog right here.

Ok, see you all later

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rd. 2 update

I kind of posted without meaning to.. Oh well.

7:35 update

kind of a surprise on board 3. Bonin exchanged c5 x b4 and then plopped in Nd4. Lee captured on d4 once, then instead of playing Nc3-e2 followed by d3-d4 with a big plus he just played Qb3. It is possible that he didn't like lines after Ne2 and d4 where Black pushed d5 and just accepts less space.

I gotta tell you folks, the only thing worse than haveing your opponent play a move you never expected is blogging about others (likely better players) making moves you don't expect!

Oh, looks like a big whoops on board 1. Kachieshvilli was winning e3, Naka set a small snag, Kachi then played Bc3 and it looks like it is just losing a piece for Black as Naka captured on e3 and then c3, Black Queen on e3 was defending Be3 and Re8 from White Qa4. Ugghhhh!

Another big change, on board 2. Just as I said the armies could only barely see each other, Charbonneau played e5 and then f5. Ok, we have made contact. I wonder of Pascal is going to sac the Knight on d4? something like 14...d6xe5 15.f5xe6 e5xd4 16.e6xf7+?

Board 4 has changed also. White arranged doubled rooks on the a-file and then moved Bg2 to d3. Black played a6, Kc7 and Rb8 as a defensive redoubt while advancing all the k-side pawns f5 / g5 and h5.

Well, this is about what I expected. Nakamura won, Lee wasn't able to exploit a positional advantage, Serper is 2 pawns down in a double rook ending after fighting through an attack by Charbonneau and Chen is either blocking or blocked, either way neither side has a chance to break through. This looks like a tie to me. Good night!

live update from Sluggers - Knights USCL Rd. 2

6:50 PST

Got home, move stuff around and finally got to the match. Here is how it looks right now...

Bd. 1 Nakamura played 1.b3, Kachieshvilli played d5 and c5 to which Naka went for the Nimzovich attack (instead of a Bird), Kachi played Nf6 and g6 to get a reversed Queens Indian and Naka played Bb2xf6 doubling the f pawns. From that point, the position officially became.. a mess. Naka plays for activity, takes an isolated e-pawn and advances q-side majority. Maybe a little better for White.

Bd. 2 is still in the opening, a Kan Sicilian (Serper fav) with 4.Bd3. Charbonneau has set up a Maroczy. There are good a bad to this for Serper, good that he isn't already way behind on time, bad that his past results in the USCL from this formation aren't the greatest. little better for White

Bd. 3 Another still in the opening. Symmetrical English, Lee opted for the Botvinnik formation and Bonin countered with an interesting sequence of b6 and Bb7, then fianchetto the other side. This is about the sort of thing I had expected and will tell how mature Michael has become, or possibly how mature Bonin already is!

Bd. 4 QP game with 3.g3. Chen opted for a London setup, exchanged Q's on b3 and Bf5 x Nb1. On the face of it this appears equal, but either side has trumps to play with and could turn matters.

Back in a bit

7:10 update

Bd. 1 has changed. White squared B's got exchanged on e6 and Black recaptured with a Rook, then doubled on the e-file aiming at the e3 pawn. Naka is getting the Q-side pawns revved up to go further and kind of defending e3 by observing a Re8 with his Qa4, so if Rxe3 the Qxe8+ will pick up 2 Rooks for the lady. I don't think it will go that way though.

On Bd. 2 the players are still marking out their fighting zone. In other words, no real contact between armies. This is fairly normal in the hedgehog.

Down to board 3 we find that Lee has advanced b2-b4. I think this is good for White because Bonin threw the move a6 in and so an exchange b4xc5 will present an issue for Black... if d6xc5 then b6 is being observed by Rb1 and has no pawn support on a7, while b6xc5 loses the Bb7.

Board 4 has changed a bunch. Chen castled long, Sturt arranged f3, e4 and then e5. This is good for White as Black's counterplay is far off. I feel kind of odd saying that, but here is the point. Black can create some play by g7-g5 , Bf8-h6 and Rg8, but that all takes a bunch of time and at the end White might just take the g-file and be happy. It is because of the White space advantage.

Back soon

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rd. 2 vs. New York Knights

Crossing division lines in week 2 of the USCL seems a bit odd, but that is the schedule for Seattle and New York. These teams have a bit of a rivalry as they have played each of the past 3 seasons ( all 3 of Seattle's seasons in the league ). New York won the first 2 and Seattle won last year. This is surely a critical match for each team as the Knights lost in the first round and Seattle failed to win in round 1. Let's have a look...

Nakamura plays for the first time this year for Seattle and faces veteran GM Kacheishvilli. Nakamura is establishing his place in world chess and will no doubt look to further that in this match. Still, Kacheishvilli is no pushover.

Board 2 harkens back to the first time these teams met as GM Charbonneau had white against GM Serper in that match also. Having white favors Charbonneau, while Serper just broke a similar stretch last week as Black against Freidel.

Rising star Michael Lee will have white against veteran Bonin on third board. On paper this would favor Seattle, but Bonin is very cagey and will certainly have something in mind to misdirect the Seattle wunderkind.

A double indoctrination is the setup on board 4 as Raven Sturt for New York and Howard CHen for Seattle will face off. This is a board where the help of other team members could decide the affair. Last year Seattle won when first timer Andy May came better prepared in an obscure line of the Caro, likely the result of work with a team mate. That might favor the Knights a bit.

This looks like a case of White being the favorite on each board, so a tie would be a likely result. If I was betting on this I would break it down to 2 matches. Seattle should win on board 1 and has good chances of holding on 2. Board 3 has the best chances of ending peacefully while 4 is a complete guess. Also, I would suspect that Serper is in much better form this season than last and will likely produce some quite good results.

Actually, I wouldn't go through all that. I would simply say that the middle 2 boards are likely to offset, Seattle on 1 and NY on 4. I think a 2 - 2 tie is likely.

The other 2 Tuesday night matches will do quite a lot to determine the pecking order in the East. Queens lost last week to Boston and this week face a Baltimore team that was victorious in round 1. If the Pioneers lose another they will be in trouble, like 2 par secs into Borg space kind of trouble. New Jersey beat their nemesis New York last week and now will face a Philadelphia team that was predicted to do a lot, but lost in the first round. If the Knockouts win again this week they will be off to a fast start with some groing confidence. Philadelphia is probably the favorite, but not winning this week wil raise a lot of questions. So, all in all it should be quite an interesting evening.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Looking Around...

Hey, people ask me why am I a Sluggers fan? Well, what can I say? I live in the area, know some of the players, get paid lots of do-ra-mi (just kidding). So, I am a fan. Also, it kind of relates. The Sluggers don't get a lot of airtime on the USCL kind of like I don't get much response to my posts, kindred spirits sort of. Now, looking at the current batch of blogs all I can say is... at least I have one monotone voice. Might not be pretty, but at least you know where I am coming from. Here is what I mean...

End of the first round of the USCL and here is what we know from the different teams blogs. Queens lost their match with Boston due to a dumb rule, the Queens bottom board didn't understand 3.d3 and they play in a really red room. Boston won the match despite having really droopy faces only an hour before hand (what was that Sox score again?). NJKO won basically on simple puns while the "official" New York team lost because nobody was blogging (what was that Yanks score?). Tennessee won but don't have a blog, so we can start to wonder about UFO's (lot of them in that part of the country). Miami doesn't have a blog and they won also, maybe there is something to not blogging? Dallas has the most boring blog, of course being captain/ first board and blogger you gotta think Bartholomew would have some time to keep things lively. Arizona predicted they would win and the did win and their blog was simply an illustration of what the game list looks like on ICC. Very creative! Your third board makes it to the cover of Chess Life and you put directions to "Joe's Chllie Bar" in the blog. Another thing about the Scorpions, whoever is taking their pictures should backup just a couple more feet because some of those pictures looks like they were from the cutting room floor of a 50's sci fi film. Ok, that wasn't fair, the most boring blog is in Baltimore... Season roster, week 1 lineup, week 1 scores, games from week 1, week 2 coming soon. Geeeezz!! Our friends the Mechanics show you how to blog. First they get Josh Friedel to expose his obvious paranoia by blaming poor Arun Sharma for making one bad move while he, Friedel, attempted to tarnish Arun's reputation. Good try Josh, coulda picked a better target though, Arun rep... squatch! Then the Mechanics get John Boy to annotate his game in John's age old monotone (yes kids, John sounded EXACTLY like that 30 years ago). Very schizophrenic indeed. What next? Do we get a team in Toronto called the "Toronto Eh files" and their blog is all in half French half Canadian? Un- freaking- real! I am just up here telling you what I saw and how I interpreted it, while all these other blogs are scanning the gamut fron the Enquirer to the Little Nickel want ads! Wow, what a racket.

At this point I put in my disclaimer. All of the ideas or thoughts written here are mine, mine alone and do not represent the attitudes or feelings of any Slugger player, coach or sponser. If anyonw reading this is offended, too bad. That is just how it is.

Have a nice day

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Round 1 wrap

There is no other way to say it, that was not what I expected. The Sluggers came through for us and.... didn't lose! That old saying about a tie is "like kissing your sister" sorta rings true here. Let's talk...

Serper did a great job pulling a little opening surprise on Friedel. Avid Mechanics fan f-pawn had pointed out that these 2 have faced each other 5 times with White winning every one. That came to an end, and a lucky thing it did. Serper does like that structure with an open d-file and semi open c-file to work with.

Second board looked about the way I had thought, a QGD Exchange variation. I don't know if Eric prep'd for it or not, but they followed some previous games up to 10. Bg3 by White. I am not sure why 10.e3 wouldn't be ok for White, but I know that Eric has his reasons. Anyway, I think that Preuss was able to combine his more recent practice with some youth to outplay Eric in the endgame.

Donaldson - Lee on board 3 was quite interesting. John gambitted a pawn, not normal for the English, the older player or John, but that is what happened. White got a nice bind for a pawn, but not much more and Lee defended. If anything I would suppose that this could be a lesson for Michael in terms of preparation.

Board 4 is where things were oh so close. The game left standard practice quite early on as Sinanan plunked the h-pawn up the board. The structural advantage this offered Josh had a price as winning the f5 pawn was going to involve some tactics. In the end White had 2 pawns for the exchange with the 2 Bishops and Rook against 2Rooks and Bishop situation. My feeling is that as soon as this became clarified Josh went into prevent mode. Instead of 22. b3 which gave Black a hook to try to work with Josh can play Rd1 or 000 as Black playing Bxc4 allows Rd7+ which is like near death for Black. Even so the real culprit came later when the black square bishop was relocated to c3. I think this is a total misread of the position. If White keeps the B on the h4-d8 diagonal, plays Rd1 and works the f-pawn forward to f5 Black is lost. Frankly, I don't see any design for a good defense for Black. In the end of the actual game every aimed to have a B on a different color and a draw was agreed.

So, I forecast that the Sluggers would lose based on history, they pulled out a tie based on some tough play and could have won based on better calculation. I won't complain, mostly because I predicted incorrectly. Oh well.

Ok, the Sluggers next opps play Wed. as New York faces New Jersey.

See you later when board assignments are up!