Monday, November 26, 2007

20 Questions with USCL Commissioner IM Greg Shahade

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:
Really really long ones.
b. 5 albums: Don’t need these I will have internet access so I will download music for free.
c. 1 chess player:
d. 1 luxury item:
the Internet
What would you choose? (The island already contains a chessboard and clock)

2. Quickie questions! What’s your favourite:
a. Fruit?
b. Vegetable? brocolli
c. Ethnic cuisine? Does pizza count
d. Breakfast food? cereal
e. Drink? Looza Peach Nectar. Sometimes Apricot
f. Dessert? Ice cream
g. Classical composer? Bach?
h. Painter? No comment
i. Poet? I’m not very artistic as you can see
j. Novelist? Im bad at this
k. Foreign Country? Brazil?
l. Geographic land formation? This is a dumb question
m. Type of pie? Apple pie but there must be vanilla ice cream to go with it or its worthless
n. Chess piece? bishop
o. Color? blue
p. Word? You know what, I refuse to answer the rest of these questions!!!! No one wants to read this, for Boskovic’s I just skipped through this entire section.
q. Calendar Year? GREG SUCKS
r. Piece of clothing? GREG SUCKS
t. Holiday? GREG SUCKS
u. Day of the week? GREG SUCKS
w. Quality in your friends? KINDNESS AND UNDERSTANDING
x. Season? GREG SUCKS
y. Saying? GREG SUCKS
z. Movie? GREG SUCKS
aa. Book? GREG SUCKS
cc. Time of Day? GREG SUCKS
dd. Smell? GREG SUCKS

(Sorry-- probably some kind of computer virus. EV)

3. Tell us about how the USCL came into being… Exactly when and where did the idea first pop into your head? How long did you bounce the idea around before you began organizing the first season?
I am very impulsive. It came into my head one day at the dentist chair. I immediately went home and started making the phone calls. I was sure I would do it right away.

4. Are you happy with the progress the League has made in its first three years? What goals do you have for next year and the next 5 years?

The progress has been very good. Hopefully it just gets better and better, until we get at least 100k sponsorship for the league each year. Once we get there I will be pretty satisfied.

5. What changes do you expect to see for next year? New Rules? New expansion teams?

There will be two expansion teams of course. There may be some slight rule alterations but nothing too major. Obviously, changes will also occur within teams as ratings change, people move, etc.

6. Which team line-ups do you expect to change most drastically? Are there any teams whose performance was mediocre this year who you expect to improve drastically next year? Any players who were “cheap” this year in terms of rating “cost,” but whose USCF’s have caught up with them and whose chances of being drafted next year have fallen considerably?

I think Boston’s lineup will change dramatically because they will no longer be able to use guys who are 150 points higher rated on the current rating list. I’m sure they will come up with something good over there, and will still be one of the top teams in the league.

7. Which team do you feel was the most lucky this year? Unlucky?

Lucky….hmmm….no team really comes to mind. Maybe Miami, but they were also unlucky in that they had a lot of internal problems. Their qualification for the playoffs after their start was really miraculous though. I wouldn’t exactly call it luck though, they took advantage of the opportunities they were given.

8. What do you look for in a team manager? Who would you give a MVM (most valuable manager) award to?

I look for someone very reliable and responsible, who is sort of obsessed with the league and will do all they can to publicize the league and their team. One day we may have a Most Valuable Manager award but it’s really tough to see how we’d determine the winner.

9. Tell us about your day to day life. How long does running the USCL take? What do you do with the rest of your time?
Now that we are down to just two teams, running the USCL is easy! In general it’s pretty tough, but thank God I have Arun Sharma to help me. The quality of the league would be so much lower if I still had to do everything myself.

10. If FIDE asked you to be their next president, would you accept (they will allow you to run everything from your living room), and if so, what would be at the top of your agenda?

Hmm….probably not, I don’t think I’m prepared to run FIDE. Also International chess is doing OK, at least compared to US Chess.

11. If the US government asked you the same question, would you accept and what would be at the top of your agenda?

Now this I’m prepared for, I accept! Well there are too many poor people, forgotten neighbourhoods, stupid drug laws. I can’t talk about it all in one paragraph but clearly the world would be a much better place.

12. What lessons in team strategy have you gleaned from watching successes and failures in the USCL?

Hmm….I don’t know honestly. I’m not a quick learner, I’ll need 2 more seasons of experience at least.

13. Which team this year do you feel most exceeded your expectations? Which team (would you say) are the biggest losers?

I’d say that Philadelphia and Dallas exceeded expectations more than any other team. As commissioner of the league I’m obviously not going to name who the “biggest losers” are. All of the teams played very hard and had their good moments, and their bad.

14. Tell us about the Game of the Week judging. Do you feel that it could teach us all an important social-psychological lesson in the extent to which people’s semi-objective judgments are influenced by the opinions of others? Are you considering administering a “test” GOTW to future judging candidate hopefuls?

I have no idea what you are talking about. First let me say that my opinions are always totally objective. Also I’d like to say that I completely disagree with at least 3 of my former picks for game of the week. I think that a few of the games that won were totally undeserving, and it’s partly my fault. Like Mr. Krasik, I can barely sleep at night when I think about what I’ve done.

15. What was the most popular item of USCL merchandise ordered?

The mugs. One loyal fan has ordered a mug for every single team.

16. OK, now let me be very clear, I’m not asking you for your personal opinion, but from a professional gambler’s perspective, who would you advise me to wager my ten dollars on in the final?

Gambling is wrong! You will corrupt your mind!

Non-USCL Questions
17. Which chess player (living or dead) do you admire the most?

That’s tough, the ones that you end up admiring always end up doing something unconscionable to make you dislike them. A great example is Topalov, who is loved by everyone and then acts like a total buffoon in his match with Kramnik. There has basically never been any top player whose sole motivation was the improvement of chess. It is always themselves first, and then if they have time and it’s extremely convenient, they will try to do something for the game. The plethora of quick draws is a clear example. Anyone who ever takes a quick draw in a major spectator event is simply saying a big “F YOU” to the fans and everyone who cares about chess, and almost every player does this from time to time.

Kasparov embarrassed the game with his premature draw on national television versus the computer. Anything he says about how he tries so hard to promote the game is a total mockery after that disaster. You have the biggest audience in history watching a game on TV, and he decides he is scared so offers a draw in an extremely complex position. I’m sure the fans who knew little about chess loved that exciting conclusion! This was probably the biggest chance he had to promote the game of chess, but the only thing that interested him was himself. Also all chess organizers are gutless for allowing these draws to begin with.

18. If Bill Gates gave you $500,000 to organize a chess tournament
a. where would you hold it: On the Internet
b. what format would you choose: Well I’d hope that I could use it for more than one event. Throwing so much money into a one time event is not something I like to do, because okay everyone comes and it’s Christmas for a few days, some people get lucky, and then its back to normal where big events are few and far between. I’d ask permission to run an event every few months for a few years, or something like that.
c. who would you invite: I don’t know, different people? Depends. Probably it’d be American players, because I try to promote chess in America
d. what, if any, special rules would you impose: Secret

19. 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 read almost all of them. Jenn’s is great of course, mainly because I’m the star character in the book. Same goes for Kings of New York, Kings Gambit and Engaging Pieces. The others weren’t as good because I was relegated to more of a supporting role or God forbid, perhaps not even mentioned at all!

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

Hmmm,, (at least before they did the terrible makeover),,, (probably got the url wrong, but you know what I mean)

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