Saturday, September 15, 2007

US Champion Predicts Board Four of Upcoming Boston - NY Match

Hello blog readers! Sorry for the long delay in updating. I started teaching eighth grade English, and this has taken up an indescribable amount of my time. Plus I posted a little “funny” quiz on Sunday night, but in the cold light of the following morning I decided it was supremely stupid and had to be immediately taken down. I can’t tell you how afraid I seem to be of sounding unfunny. I can only compare it to my fear of death by falling.

Anyway…. Let’s first dispense with the title story. Here’s the conversation:

Elizabeth: Hey, do you think I’m going to win on Monday?
Alex: Sure, of course.
(long pause)
Alex: Who are you playing?
Elizabeth: I’m playing for the Knights. This week it's, errr, Boston, so I guess … black against Krasik or Chris Williams?
(I text Greg and find out my opponent is Williams).
Elizabeth: Williams. He's 23-something -- the kid I played the Sveshnikov against at the Continental.
Alex: Oh yeah, ok, that’s even better.
Elizabeth: (I think for a second and can’t figure this out.) Better than playing Krasik? Why better?
Alex: You won’t have to watch for Rxe4 every move?
If you aren't a diehard USCL fan, I should explain this one. Alex is making a joke about Krasik's victory in a flawed but gutsy and exciting Game of the Week from last season against NY Knight Boris Privman. For some reason, Greg "censored" one judging team's comments about the slugfest. The wildly amusing internet speculation that arose from this turned the game into a perpetual joke between us. See
for more.
Truthfully, I’ve always been horribly, painfully insecure about my chess abilities (yeah, I know, me and everyone else…), (I have to say, rereading this 8 hours later, I seem to be pretty down on myself these days?! ) but I have to say that some high profile games in the last year have done a great deal to allay this anxiety:
1. Panchanathan- Burnett, the second round game from last USCL season. If you missed it, take a look here:
By move 30, GM Panchanathan had a queen for 2 knights in what should have been an easy endgame. Then Burnett moved his knight to attack the queen, and Panchanathan just didn't move it. Just left it there.
2. Then came the Kramnik- Fritz mate in 1 comedy. I mentioned this blunder (in the context of “hasn’t it been a funny year?”) to Greg, and to my astonishment he disagreed vigorously:
“No! Cmon, Kramnik would *never* have made a mistake like that against a human.”
(I think, try to reason this one out for a minute and fail.)
“Huh? Why not?”
“Well, first of all, a human would never think to threaten mate in 1. And second of all, Kramnik would have seen it against a person.”

Readers: this kind of thing happens to me a lot. I don’t understand something and ask for further clarification but instead of clearing up my confusion the explanations only multiply it. Could Greg mean the computer “thought” Kramnik would fall for mate in 1? What would that even mean? Maybe the computer was “hoping” for something? Or maybe Greg’s saying that on some level that the blunder is understandable and therefore limited in circumstance?

I have no idea.

3. And now the latest Nakamura game. He didn't blunder like in the above games, but when he had 70+ minutes and was up a pawn against Vinay's 1.5 minutes, I thought the cat was firmly in the Knight's bag. Of course I’m rooting for New York and all its players; in addition to this hometown loyalty, I have a great deal of respect for Hikaru’s uncompromising nature. It's nice to be able to root for someone who is strong, plays a lot, never cheats and doesn't act like a terrified baby in the last round.

Of course, none of that stopped me laughing my ass off at his game. My friend Adia (who deserves a shout-out: she won the Atlantic Open Under 1200 section clear!) came over for dinner and we followed the action on icc. It makes me almost understand everyone else's love for televised sports.

And the bottom line is that it’s nice to know everyone else also screws up horribly and probably afterwards stays up all night wishing for a painful and private death.

So while I’m sad we have 0.5/3, the upside of this is that I feel much more relaxed about Monday’s match. What’s the worst that can happen?? I’m guessing it will be a Sveshnikov, and these positions always make me feel like I’m floating in deep space, away from the rest of civilization and rational thought.

In other news, my cats want in on the prediction game. Laugh now, doubters, but when Sixy and Doctor Sparky reveal themselves as reincarnations of the Delphi Oracles, you will be knocking down my door to apologize.

Today they’re insisting Moro will crush Svidler; Anand and Kramnik will draw like the boring gits they are; Grischuk edges Aronian in a hotly contested slugfest; and Leko-Gelfand ends peacefully. In the USCL, the felines take Queens over New Jersey, Baltimore over Philly, Dallas over Carolina, San Fran over Seattle, and Miami over Tennessee. They aren’t sure about the Monday NY- Boston match.

Non-chess life highlights: I went to a fantastic Interpol concert last night at Madison Square garden

. Cat Power opened; she has a (deserved) reputation for being disappointing live, and-- true to form --was only so-so. It’s hard to do a good concert in a large space when you’re best at dreamy spacey ballads. But Interpol was brilliant. I'm listening to their new album, Our Love to Admire, nonstop:

You can't hold it too tight,
These matters of security.
You don't have to be wound so tight,
Smoking on the balcony.
But it's like sleaze in the park.
You women, you have no self-control,
The angels remark outside,
You were known for insatiable needs.
I don't know a thing.

Last thing, before I go, a question for any computer brains out there: I have a VHS tape of the late Alex Wojt. giving a lesson on minor piece endings and I'd like to post it on this blog. Any thoughts on how to transfer from VHS to a post-able form, or on how large of a video file a blog will support? Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Williams- Vicary, an easy win for Williams, who is Shaba kidding...


Tom Panelas said...

For VHS to digital transfer this place looks pretty reputable--to the extent you can tell such things from a Web site--and their prices seem not unreasonable. They're in Florida, but with some poking around maybe you can find a place closer to home.

This place is in Manhattan, and (again, judging strictly from their site) they seem to know what they're doing.

In any case, if I had something that precious and irreplaceable I think I'd want to have the transfer done by a trustworthy professional, and maybe I'd be more comfortable putting in that person's hot little hand instead of mailing it. Good luck.

Tom Panelas said...

P.S. I too have wondered whether Kramnik could have made the mate-in-one blunder against a human, and while I can’t think of a solid reason why not, why the nature of the opponent should make a difference (Greg’s explanation escapes me, too), neither can I stop wondering about it. Maybe it’s the fact that he did make it against a computer and has never made such a blunder against a person that keeps nagging at me.

When I started playing chess a few years ago, for the first 6-8 months I would only play Chessmaster 9000. I wouldn’t have dreamed of sitting across the board from a real person: I would have been embarrassed for her/him to see how awful I was. To this day I think I’m more relaxed playing against a computer because when I blunder no sentient being other than me knows about it. Yeah, okay, comparing myself to Kramnik is absurd, so I’ll stop.

One more thing, though: For the record, if the computer “thought” Kramnik would fall for the mate-in-one threat, the computer was right. I’ll leave it to others with more supple minds to unpack the implications of that.

Good luck against Williams. I’ll be rooting for the Knights in that one and hoping the cats are right about Queens over Jersey.

Anonymous said...

My prediction: tight match but Vicary goes down without a fight and writes another nonsense article about "floating in space". Go BEAR!!!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Let's get real Chris is rated over 2300 and he has been on a tear lately beating all the local FM's, he will have Vicary for breakfast, it will be ugly and i think she will be the one to cry.


Anonymous said...

Williams will make deadly mistake of underestimating Vicary.

0-1 in Knights favor, you heard it here 1st!

Anonymous said...

Vicary has no chance....

Anonymous said...

kick his ass

Anonymous said...

What did i tell you people, as soon as left theory she didnt know what to do with her promising position and collapsed like a house of cards. Next time listen up :)