Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An Incredibly Long Interview With Boston Blitz Manager Matt Phelps



1. If you were trapped on a desert island for eternity with no possibility of rescue and could choose to have with you:
a. 5 books
b. 5 albums
c. 1 chess player
d. 1 member of the USCF executive board and
e. 1 luxury item,
What would you choose? (The island already contains a chessboard and clock)


Forgetting the personal tragedy of being away from my family and friends, I would concentrate on the amount of time I'd have to occupy myself:

a: · The Oxford English Dictionary - I can read dictionary entries for hours. Finding new words, etymology, etc. fascinates me.
· Laszlo Polgar's "Brick" (5334 Problems) - That should keep me busy for a while.
· Kasparov's "My Great Predecessors" series (does that count as 1?)
· Some random epic historical novel - Preferably 900+ pages
· "Basic Shipbuilding" - To get me off this damn island!
b: · "Revolver"
· Beethoven's 9th performed by the Berlin Orchestra conducted by Von Karajan
· "Solid Gold Hits of the 80's"
· "London Calling" by The Clash
· "The Best Damn Thing" by Avril Lavigne - I confess that I'm addicted to the song "Girlfriend"
c. Larry Christiansen - Great chess stories, and he's a regular guy who can talk about baseball and golf.

d. Sam Sloan - I know he's a former member, but I still want to hit him on the head with a coconut.

e. A yacht.

2. Who are your favorite and least favorite USCL opponents and why? (You may answer individuals and/or teams)

NY and Charbonneau for obvious reasons. Hasn't his visa run out yet?


3. If you had to play for/ manage a different USCL team, which would it be and why?

I guess SF. I like the city, and I know Friedel from his Blitz days. I also knew Wolff back in the day, though he won't remember me. We played about a billion tournaments at the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center in Watertown, Mass. He'll remember that site.

4. Describe your preparations for USCL games, including, but not limited to: opening preparation, pre-game superstitions, and interactions with teammates.

I do what every chess organizer does; I move tables and chairs around. The USCL adds the pleasure of setting up computers at each table too.

5. If you could choose the next USCL expansion team, which city would you choose, which players would you draft, and why?
Anything but another NY team! PLEASE!

6. If you could hand pick any seven people to serve on the USCF executive board, who would they be?

Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. Oh, did you mean NEW members?

7. If someone were to post on internet newsgroups as “The Fake You,” what kinds of things would they write to discredit you?

That I'm nothing but a middle-aged 1600 player with a paunch who is managing this team so he can hang around good players.

All true.


8. If you could change any one USCF or FIDE rule, which one would it be and why?
I would enact the "Sofia Rules" for every FIDE rated game. I don't mind draws; it's a natural result of a well played game, but the 12 movers completed in ten minutes, total, have got to stop.

9. Any thoughts on Kasparov’s recent appearances on Colbert or Maher?

I wish he still played chess.

10. Which are your top five chess-related websites and why?

http://reassembler.wordpress.com - Derek Slater's blog. Derek is an Mass. Expert, and my US Amateur Team East teammate. There's a lot of chess stuff, but mostly it has eclectic other stuff in it that I like a lot.
http://www.chessbase.com - For the babes
http://www.mterowestchess.org - My "home" chess club.
http://www.uschessleague.com - I like Greg's minimalist approach. No clutter!
http://www.boston-blitz.com - Of course! Chris Bird has done a great job on out team web site.

11. If Bill Gates gave you $500,000 to organize a chess tournament
a. where would you hold it,

In Boston, in an old theater. I love the pictures from the Soviet era with the games on stage in the Hall of Columns.

b. what format would you choose,

Quadruple round-robin

c. who would you invite

Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, Ivanchuk, Morozevich, and Jorge Sammour-Hasbun.

d. what, if any, special rules would you impose?

"Sofia Rules", and no Petroff Defenses.

12. How obsessed are you with chess? In an average week, how much do you study, play and think about chess? If you could choose to be more or less obsessed, would you choose either and to what extent?

I don't study at all. When I'm not managing the Blitz, I play one night a week at the MetroWest Chess Club. I follow all the news sites, blogs, etc. fanatically though.

If I won the lottery, I would study chess 6-8 hours a day. Maybe then I'd get over 1800.

13. In recent years, a number of prose books about the chess world have been published. Have you read any of the following and, if so, what did you think: The Day Kasparov Quit (Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam), Chess Bitch (Jennifer Shahade), The Chess Artist (J. C. Hallman), Kings of New York (Michael Weinreb), The Art of Learning (Josh Waitzkin), King’s Gambit (Paul Hoffman), Engaging Pieces (Howard Goldowsky), How Life Imitates Chess (Gary Kasparov)?

I liked fellow MetroWest CC member Howard Goldowsky's book a lot. We need more like it! Just go out and buy it right now. I started Kasparov's latest, but it got really boring really quickly. Not enough chess stuff for me. It's autographed though!

14. So New York will be your opponent in the Eastern finals. How do you expect to do? Specifically, if they use the same line up as tonight (Nakamura, Krush, Bonin, Zenyuk), how would you expect to do on each board?

Well, we know it's Naka, Charbonneau, Bonin and Zenyuk now. I expect us to win the match of course! I think we match up well on every board.

15. If you could inflict a sudden food poisoning on any one NY player, so that this person would be replaced with their normal alternate (or that team replaced with the one that makes the most sense without the ill player)?

Charbonneau, no question. Day-old sushi Pascal?

16. If you could pick one normal, mainstream opening and force a New York player to play it, who would you pick, what would the opening be, and why?

As a chess fan, I'd love to see Sammour-Hasbun vs. Charbonneau be a Dragon/Yugoslav Attack.. What a fight that would be!

17. If you win the Eastern finals, who do you expect to see as your opponents in the championship? How do you rate your chances against them (board by board)? Are there any lineups you would hope to play against?

(In my best Bill Belichick monotonic drone) We're just taking it one match at a time. We're only thinking about NY on Wednesday.

18. The Chris Williams/ Ilya Krasik dichotomy has to be one of the funnier aspects of your team. How do you see your two fourth boards, in terms of chess strengths/ weaknesses, personality, and impact on the team? What’s your take on the Bournival / Krasik war?

No comment.

19. There are many strong players in the Boston area. How did you choose who would be on the Boston team? Specifically, I’m surprised by the absence of Vigorito, Macintyre, and Bournival.

It's tough! I've had many players ask me about joining the team. In fact, I lobbied the USCL officials (Greg) to increase the team rosters to ten, with two alternates to try and accommodate them; but it wasn't meant to be.

20. How many spectators do you get, on average?

We get about 5-10 people, not counting the Boston Blitz Dancers.

21. How cohesive is the Boston team? Do you guys regularly hang out after matches? Prepare together?

Not so much this year. Last year we closed John Harvard's Brew Pub most Wednesday nights.

22. What have you seen as this year’s strengths and weaknesses? Are their any players you would consider recruiting for next year to fix these weaknesses?

We don't have many weaknesses. We'll have to see where the ratings for the current team members fall for next year, and go from there.

23. Who would you nominate for MVP?

Everyone has played well, but I'll go with Jorge Sammour-Hasbun at 4.5-0.5 with the only nick by GM Nakamura. Denys Shmelov is a VERY close second. Both rookies have had an awesome year.

33 comments:

Rich in Phoenix said...

Hi Liz,

Thanks for all the Interviews you've been doing with the US Chess League players. I especially liked the one with Iryna!

I'll have my NY Knights coffee cup full of the right stuff when I watch the Semi-Finals Wednesday evening.

Rich in Phoenix

Globular said...

My god. That picture of me is about 12 years old, and I never have a beard anymore!

-Matt

Anonymous said...

chess is not healthy

dvigorito said...

I'm not sure why rosters would need to be expanded when Foygel (who I hear from several sources did not want to even play) and Riordan didn't play a single game...

Ilya said...

Vicary could you enlighten us why you are so desperate for tabloid-like scandals, dont be such a "gossip-whore", there are many more interesting things to ask a person besides what they think about Bournival-Krasik.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I did ask him 23 different questions, many of them multi-part.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Also, please do not call me a whore.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Let me just say, while I'm at it, that I'm doing this blog and these interviews because Greg specifically asked me to as a personal favor to him. Not because I'm an attention seeking whore.

And the pictures of me on the internet? Except for the ones on this blog, *I didn't post them*! The editors of the websites did. I wouldn't have the power to do so, even if I wanted to.

Ilya said...

I specifically used quotation marks and a dash to underscore what i meant, and of course I envsioned that it was possible that some dumb ass is gonna try to say that I called you a whore, which i certainly did not!

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Ilya,
I do not think either quotation marks or hyphenation really make it ok to use the word whore when describing a woman.

For example, I would not call you a "stupid asshole." But if I did -- in a moment of weakness -- I certainly would not later defend myself by saying that I wasn't calling you stupid, I was only calling your asshole stupid. Nor would I point out that I put it in quotation marks, so it wasn't really me talking.

Please do not call me a dumb ass either.

Thanks!
Elizabeth

Ron Young said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Young said...

Amen. And awomen. See this story: http://tinyurl.com/3e3spg

Ilya said...

I didn't read Jenn's "Chess Bitch" but somehow she felt it was ok to use the word "Bitch" in a book title no less... As an english teacher Mrs Vicary, I am suprised you FAIL to understand the SEMANTICS of what I said, but maybe i am asking too much here.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elizabeth Vicary said...

I believe Jenn was reclaiming the word bitch, as has been done in the past with words like fag and (perhaps more controversially) nigger.

From my perspective, Ilya, it seems like you chose the word whore because it has a very pointed and very powerful resonance. And it's not really ok to disavow the loaded nature of the word now, just because you happened to get called out on it. I agree that it's not the same as calling me a whore, but it's not really that different either.

Ilya said...

No, you are right, I didnt fully expect the extent of your insecurities. Let me reiterate again that my use of this word was strictly limited to the nature of the gossip you were trying to elicit from my teammates. And was in no shape or form a reference to any kind of promiscuous sexual behavoir. I hope I make myself clear, get over it.

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't have a stake in any of this, but here's what I think. This blog provides entertainment to its readers, and generates publicity for the USCL. If you object to the content, you could either read something else, or suggest changes in a constructive manner. Referring to Ms. Vicary using the words "desperate," "'gossip-whore'," and "some dumb ass" falls totally outside the bounds of civil discourse. It is unbelievably rude to insult her ("I am surprised you fail to understand...but maybe I am asking too much here;" "...I didn't fully expect the extent of your insecurities."), and then tell her to "get over it." It is clear to me that somebody owes her an apology.

Victor Whalen said...

Nobody owes Miss Vicary anything! She is the one that insulted Ilya Krasik! She should be the one to apologize to him!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

oh and my name is chris williams, just to let everyone know i aint scared, frigin sue me.

Anonymous said...

yall can consider this stuff the back stage section of my interview on here, pretty neat huh?

Anonymous said...

i dont like being accused of things i didnt do, and that is my reason for this escapade, vicary accused me of being some sycho stalker, im not a sycho stalker but i can show my balls in blogs when i need to.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Sorry, Chris, but we're not discussing my personal life on this blog, nor do I feel I need to explain myself to you or anyone else.
I did not directly accuse you writing of the earlier posts. What I did was explain to Ilya that I had originally thought the poster might be you or him, but this was in the context of making the point that I had felt that if it indeed was you, then the posts didn't bother me since I know you are a normal, reasonable guy. In other words, I felt if it was you it was just a silly joke and not a real problem. Keep in mind this was immediately following your escapade with Nakamura and LarryC's account, and so it did not seem like an unreasonable idea at the time. In fact, multiple people suggested the idea that it was you to me. I do sincerely apologize if my comments offended you, but I'm glad to see you have gotten me back/ proved your innocence by demanding I explain my private life.

Best,
Elizabeth

Ilya said...

Vicary, why such disrespect, so much agony over my comments but yet they stay, Chris writes something and it gets deleted right away? Dont choke on the turkey bone...

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Ilya,
I'm in England for the holiday, so no chance of me choking on the turkey, but thanks for the thought.
In general, I feel like I've been fairly tolerant of critical comments on this blog. I'm sorry if you feel I'm losing patience. Since you ask, I will explain how I see the difference between your comments and Chris's.
First of all, in my mind Chris has no real reason to be upset with me. To say *after it is clear that someone is innocent* that it crossed your mind that they did something is very very different from accusing them. I did not, and would not have, have accused him without proof. Also, he's been known to play jokes on people on the internet before. It wasn't a totally unreasonable thing to think.
In contrast, while I felt justified in including the questions about your dispute with Brad in the interviews, I understood why it bothered you. I felt justified because you had chosen to have your argument with him in very public forum, the Bolyston Blog. However, if had you asked me to remove the questions, I would have thought it was a reasonable request and would have done so. I know what it's like to feel your privacy is being invaded, and it made sense to me that you could be bothered by it.
Secondly, you and I don't know each other, but I've known Chris for several years. While I wouldn't call him a friend, I would have called him 'an acquaintance with whom I'm friendly.' I would have normally said hi to him at tournaments, for example. I did not expect him to attack me.
But the biggest reason is just the content of what you both wrote. I felt you were way out of line, but, really... whatever.... you just called me stupid names. And the reality is that in the chess world I'm a bitch if I'm not friendly and a whore if I am, so, ok, people can take their choice.
But I'm not going to let Chris use my blog to denigrate my friends or critique my private life. Calling me names is one thing; maligning people I care about is something else.
I hope you find this explanation helpful. Have a lovely holiday.
Elizabeth

Ilya said...

Hmm... An entire essay...Don't they have turkeys in England!?

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Oh well, you know how women are: liable to talk ad infinitum about their emotional reactions to anything at the slightest suggestion that anyone cares....

Turkeys... there seem to be no turkeys here. Aren't they a very American bird? Really the funny thing is the English holiday they have instead of Thanksgiving, not really instead of, actually slightly earlier than and with no connection to. But it was an attempt at a transition. Anyway, the holiday is Guy Falkes Day, long story about King Charles, Parliment, Cromwell, 1660, blah blah, but the point is that all English families make a mock Catholic out of old clothes and newspapers and burn it on a bonfire. And everyone is very jolly.

Vishank said...

ive noticed something. Not to be offending Ilya, sorry but when there is something about you in blogs or articles, i noticed that some comments get deleted. just some advice: try not to get on peoples bad side.

--the new aesop.

Anonymous said...

Miss Vicary: What was that guy talking about in one of your earlier blogs when he said you abused some retard down in Phila?

Anonymous said...

Well, Miss Vicary do I rate an answer?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.