Monday, October 29, 2007

Good vs. Evil (Part Two)

It’s been crazy times for ol’ BlueEyedRook. The non-chess world has been consuming way too much of his time. It’s been two long weeks without a posting – that’s way too long.

My apologies.

Well, what is there to talk about? D’uh! There is only one thing to talk about -- this Wednesday night’s WWIII-style matchup between the Boston Blitz and the Philadelphia Inventors. What’s at stake? EVERYTHING! The entire Eastern conference of the USCL for starters. Then there is the psychological prize that the winner will take into the playoffs – where Boston and Philadelphia will very likely meet one last time.

Team manager Michael Shahade would kill me if I (even jokingly) made any predictions about the game. I have learned to keep my fat mouth shut. (see here)). However, let’s discuss a couple factors that will be pivotall to Wednesday’s game.

1) Momentum. Boston itself admits that it is currently in some kind of slump. They . . . . gasp . . . tied both New Jersey and Queens in the previous weeks. (Got to love a team who considers two consecutive draws a slump – if you are trying to intimidate us, Boston, it is working.). Philadelphia, however, is on a winning streak. Indeed, in the previous weeks they beat the very same New Jersey and Queens teams that Boston could only muster draws against. This momentum is clearly noticeable at the individual level tool. For example, Philly NM Bryan Adams hasn’t lost a single game in his last three appearances; Boston’s Chris Williams, on the other hand, has lost his last two games. “Momentum” is a very tricky variable to factor, but all have to agree Philly has the edge here.

2) History. This is not the first game between these two teams. They played very early in the year. The result? A 3.5 to .5 spanking by Boston. This has been (by far) the biggest loss for the Philly squad this year. From a psychological standpoint, this devastating defeat will weigh heavily on the Philly team.

3) Curse(?). The Red Sox won the World Series – sweeping the Rockies four games to nothing. The New England Patriots are looking virtually unstoppable in the NFL (they beat the Redskins 52 to 7 on Sunday!). In short, Boston, as a whole, is having a pretty good frickin’ year. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is Philadelphia. The city really is amazing. It hasn’t won a sports championship since 1983 – the biggest slump for any city fielding four professional sports team (hockey, baseball, basketball, and football). Even better -- the Philadelphia Phillies became the first team this year to lose its 10,000 professional game. The city will always have “Rocky,” but fictional characters aside, the city hasn’t produced a winner of any kind in decades. Will the city’s curse continue into the chess world?

4) Underdog Syndrome. How remarkable is Philadelphia’s performance this year? Well, though they are tied for second place in the East and have assured a playoff spot, they were predicted to win the USCL championship by only 4% of voters in a USCL poll (Boston received 28%; New York 14%). Indeed, many people predicted that Philly would be in the conference's basement (prompting tearful apology letters). Conversations with Team Manager Shahade have suggested that this, indeed, might be Philly’s greatest weapon – they are often sorely underestimated. Will Boston make the same mistake so many others have made this year?

Friday, October 12, 2007


"There is a God somewhere . . . ."

Boston Blitz, the seemingly unstoppable chess juggernaut of the USCL was handed its first loss of the season by the New York Knights Wednesday night.

More than resurrecting New York's imperiled playoff ambitions, Wednesday's win showed the USCL league that Boston is not a an invincible chess machine. . . . it can bleed. And as the the Schwarzeneggar line goes -- "If it bleeds, we can kill it." (click here for quote -- Predator, love that movie! ). The Knights' win gives hope to the all the teams in the East that some how, some way, they too can overcome the Boston chess monster.

Reality, however, prevents too much optimism. The Blitz were without two of their strongest players Wednesday night. And as we all know from their websites and blog postings, Boston is by far the most enthusiastic and spirited team in the league. (For God's sake, they even have a song -- "Chris is Awesome" which I love by the way.). Simply put -- there is no way you can crush this team's morale (indeed, Wednesday's loss may have only empowered it).

Still, we learned that the Blitz is beatable. . . . it can, indeed, lose. Hopefully the other chess teams will learn from New York's efforts. (Personal prediction: every team from here on out will announce before playing the Blitz that they "guarantee" victory!).

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The UnHoly Beast . . . .

"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns . . . . and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
-- Revelations 13:1 to 13:4

Like a Ted Kennedy Senatorial campaign or a Ben Affleck romantic-comedy (ex. Jersey Girl -- blah!), an evil, seemingly insurmountable force has emerged from the depths of Boston. Its name is the "Boston Blitz" and much like the dreaded Seven-Headed Beast that will terrorize mankind during the "End of Days," this chess-juggernaut/anti-christ is wreaking havoc among the USCL chess world.

Its ominous number is not 666, but .905 the insane (but probably, “oh, so horribly accurate”) calculation the Boylston Chess Club has assigned to the Blitz as a power rating (see here). And its many heads are not of leopards or other Biblical entities, but Boston’s chess elite – seemingly able to dominate any players unfortunate enough to be scheduled against them.

As the season looms on, and more teams fall by the Beast’s cursed wayside (our beloved Philly team was beat 3.5/.5!) . . . the question on most people’s minds is “can It be killed?”

It might take a Second Coming of Christ. . . . or GM Pascal Charbonneau and a couple of his clones (see here). Until then, all we mortals can do is just tremble in fear, tear at our hair in agony, and pray to God -- in his ultimate mercy -- to grant us deliverance.

Believe it or not that's my way of saying "good luck" to the New York Knights -- playing the Blitz this Wednesday night. (I got to visit your chess club this weekend -- very nice! I appreciate the hospitality!).