Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interview With Arizona Scorpion IM Mark Ginsburg

Elizabeth Vicary says: How did you come to be on the Arizona team? Were you a founding member? A hired gun? A strange apparition in the night?

Mark Ginsburg says: I was living and working in Chicago then came back to Tucson when that work arrangement ended. So now I'm living in Tucson and hence a "local."
At some point, I was going to be transferred to San Jose so in another reality I could have been a "Mechanic." I'm not a founding member... I think Leo Martinez founded the club then invited me when he learned I was coming back to Tucson.

Elizabeth Vicary says: So you're saying you were a tack-on at the end?

Mark Ginsburg says: Not quite an afterthought, more like an early 'n solid addition. :)

Elizabeth Vicary says: In New York, we have some team props, or more accurately, Jay Bonin has a sword and shield. Do you have any Scorpion related team spirit items?

Mark Ginsburg says: I just want to say I liked living in SF in the year 1999-2000 very much so I have positive feelings towards the Mechanics. :)
Now I will answer your q :) We have Amanda Mateer as a Spirit Item. No kiddie crap like Bonin's toys … Let me rephrase: no kiddie crap *yet*. I am sure Robby will think of something

Elizabeth Vicary says: How is Amanda Mateer like a scorpion?

Amanda Mateer

Mark Ginsburg says: She giggles and if you play back the giggle at a faster speed, it sounds like an SSSS.

Elizabeth Vicary says: ok, so... related question. I have a pair, ok, 2 pair, of NY Knights underwear. I would have misgivings, however, about wearing underwear with a frightening scorpion on it. Aren't you afraid your female fans might share my hesitation?

Mark Ginsburg says: Are "they" selling scorpions underwear? If so, yes. I think Scorpions gear is most definitely a little scary. I found a real one in my boot the hard way

Elizabeth Vicary says: Scary enough to change your logo to, perhaps, a fuzzy cat?

Mark Ginsburg says: I think an Agave Plant would be nice. Agave makes mescal.... we could all be trippin' balls to be consonant with our logo.

Elizabeth Vicary says: wow. Okay, moving on…How much will you be in the AZ line up? Do you have any say in what the weekly team composition is? If so, what line up strategies can you reveal?

Mark Ginsburg says: I would like to play as much as possible. We have two possible locations and players split up between Phoenix and Tucson. Some of us can travel. Levon, Warren Harper, Robby and I are in Tucson. Aldama, Barcenilla, Rensch are in Phoenix area. It's up to us *where* to play the match; there are numerous possible lineups, very complex.

Elizabeth Vicary says: any predictions for the team you expect to see from Dallas? Where do you think they are strongest and weakest against you guys?

Mark Ginsburg says: I am not sure who they will play... they have a lot of strong players. Our best hope to do damage is board 4. Since they have so many 2500s, they have to go down to a relatively weaker board 4. As a strategist, I need Board One to hold, Boards 2 and 3 to get 0.5 at least, and a win on 4. Quite honestly, in USCL, anything can happen. In our first match, our 2350 played much worse than that. But if we have a player who buckles down and is Joe Solid without freakouts, we have good chances on 4.

Elizabeth Vicary says: yeah, what happened with Warren there?

Mark Ginsburg says: He was probably nervous. Was lost the first time I glanced at his board! Levon and I grimaced, but what can we do? He was just lost. I think he got some lines mixed up. Our prep session was dreadful.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Tell us about your prep sessions.

Mark Ginsburg says: They are not good. We try to have one solid prep per match... but we need to bring them above the level of nonsensical. I didn't help in the prep session, laying on a sofa and yelling I was tired.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Tell me what you guessed for each game

Mark Ginsburg says: I was gonna say, NY would have benefited greatly from a productive prep before the Boston match.
We guessed Warren's opp would go for a 4. e3 Nimzo. And he didn't. He went for a 4. a3 Saemisch. Warren acted as if the Saemisch was totally foreign territory for him.
Robby lent me a book so that I could repeat a recent draw I had vs Pasalic OTB, a Taimonov. And then I varied with a Kan.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Why did you do that? That’s not guessing wrong

Mark Ginsburg says: I did it because I an enamored with putting my N on d7 in Sicilians, a bias of mine. But Nc6 is more active. :) Delchev's book, which was new to me, is a nice book. (on the Taimonov).
Levon did some private prep, he was out of town for our group prep. Obviously his prep went well. Robby just played on 'general considerations' vs Burgess.... that went well except for his nerves playing tricks and driving him down to 8 secs.

Elizabeth Vicary says: But what did he expect in opening? And did he get it?

Mark Ginsburg says: Some kind of slow sicilian, yes, he got it. I just wanted to give a link to levon and robby's notes to their games; it helps answer some prep questions.

Elizabeth Vicary says: ok, on to your evaluations of other teams...Who do you think will make the playoffs?

Mark Ginsburg says: In the West, I think SF is the best. I think we have serious competition with Dallas for #2. West is tough…
We are extremely hard to predict, we have so many faces. In fact our lineup has us always contesting matches tightly, and never being crushed, but never blowing anyone away! We are compact.
Aldama is one of those strong guys who does well when he pops his head up. I believe he’s originally Cuban. Barcenilla is a very strong practical player esp. at faster time limits ... but who knows if they will be allergic to the peculiar ICC format or not. Maybe they will pull through and score heavily. Rensch is a very good attacker.
Elizabeth Vicary says: Will he only be playing as white?
Mark Ginsburg says: He is strong as white, but who knows. I wanna play white sometime :)
Elizabeth Vicary says: Okay, so any thoughts on league play in general? How is it different than OTB play? Do you believe some people are seriously affected by playing on computer screen?

Mark Ginsburg says: Yes, many players are seriously adversely affected by computer play. I tried out moving on a physical board myself, and it worked out well (Amanda relayed and so did Ben Marmont). As long as there is not frantic "Robby-esque" time pressure.

Elizabeth Vicary says: what did you guys do after the game? Any celebrations?

Mark Ginsburg says: We went nuts. We went to Applebees and we were all emotionally wrecked by the tension. We ordered a billion drinks in the 15 minute window we had before last-call. Of course, the underaged Warren and Amanda and Ben did not have alcohol because we are a law-abiding team. I was probably screaming out "Up in the Air, Junior Birdman!" I have a pic to go along with that.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Great, skype it to me. What does it mean?

Mark Ginsburg says: It's something you say while flapping your arms. You sort of make bird-eyes then flap your elbows and yell that out. It's an art-form.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Okay, now for the difficult analogy question part of this interview. Ready?
Which of the Arizona Scorpions is most like …

a kitchen appliance, and what kind?

Mark Ginsburg says: Levon is a highly efficient microwave

Elizabeth Vicary says: mode of transportation, and what kind?

Mark Ginsburg says: Warren is a dirt bike with big shocks.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Ethnic cuisine, and what kind?

Mark Ginsburg says: I am Indian buffet lunch

Elizabeth Vicary says: Grammatical mistake, and what kind?

Mark Ginsburg says: Aldama is an improper failure to space an ellipsis

Elizabeth Vicary says: Farm product, and what?

Mark Ginsburg says: Rensch is a wheat thresher

Elizabeth Vicary says: That's not a product. That's an implement.

Mark Ginsburg says: That's a farm tool. So for product I will say "cereal.":)
Toasted Oats.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Still Rensch?

Mark Ginsburg says: Toasted HONEY Oats. Yes. Heart-Healthy.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Consitutional amendment, and which one?

Mark Ginsburg says: FM Ken Larsen is the Women's Right to Vote.

Elizabeth Vicary says: Typical undergraduate essay topic, and what?

Mark Ginsburg says: Leo Martinez is the tried and true "Understanding the Beginnings of the Cold War."

Elizabeth Vicary says: And lastly…Beatles song, and which one?

Mark Ginsburg says: I would like to be "Blue Jay Way" for its much maligned "mystical" influences.

Elizabeth Vicary says: is there anything else you would like to say?

Mark Ginsburg says: I would like to thank you for letting me bla bla and most importantly, if I impugned any player or team in my stupid blog, remember "all press is good press." Teams and fans, keep the contro in controversy!


Tom Panelas said...

A fun interview. Regarding Warren Harper, let's also give credit where credit is due: Ilan Meerovich played a nice game.

Anonymous said...

Harper sucks, he should be kicked off the team, I live in Arizona and I refuse to root for a team whose 4th board loses like that!

Anonymous said...

A lot of guys (even GMs) lose horribly in the USCL. Just have to get used to it.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I really hate deleting comments, but please try to restrain yourself from being a total asshole like the previous poster.

Warren is a great player who had a bad day. Anyone can lose a game and make it look bad in an opening they are unfamiliar with. You are a total prick.

Anonymous said...


I meant the player who played the bad game has to get used to the USCL milieu (playing versus an empty chair and a computer screen) - it is unsettling. Even GMs have a hard time adjusting in some cases.

There is a "breaking in period" in some cases to play up to level.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

No not you, Mark. The anon commentor who posted before you. I just didn't see your comment until after I'd posted mine.

Anonymous said...

No you are a dumb b...tch, I know it is your blog, but it doesn't mean you need make a dumb comment every 30 seconds, does it? You don't like to hear facts, tough-- Ce la vie, he played horribly and he lost like a b...tch to a weak player, everyone needs to accept responsibility for their blunders especially in a team sport. The problem is that American culture dictates sugarcoating everything and putting a positive spin on everything, even when there is nothing positive that can come out of it. When people shoot straight no one likes it because no one has the to take the criticism anymore, u see it in sports and now u see it here too. STFU~!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well i don't know about these excuses presumably Meerovich was also playing his first game in the league and look how well he adjusted.

Anonymous said...

Yes, leave dumb troll's comment (11:31 p.m. anon and 1:29 a.m. anon) up.

Both have educational value. They contain a great lesson for Internet habitues: just about every blog (every chess blog, at least) has a subgroup of anonymous cowards who regularly post hostile comments that are really about themselves, under the guise of attacking someone else. You needn't have any clinical training to recognize that.

Sometimes these self-flagellators are quite explicit that they are their own post's target. Just this past week I saw one on a blog I help administer, that told the initial post's author to "grow some ba**s" and "at least be man enough to post under your real name."

That post was anonymous, of course.


-Jon Jacobs

Anonymous said...

Those posts are hilarious but I cant help but feel that the guy may have a point.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

oh cmon, he's talking about a 17 year old kid who lost a single game of chess. and he feels like "you suck, you should be off the team" is a legitimate "criticism"??

he's some 12 year old 1400 who wants to be on the team and can't even spell his pseudo-pretentious foreign phrases. he does not have a point.

LMartinez said...

Warren is definitely not going to be off the team for losing a game. It's very easy to criticize from outside without knowing what the league is all about. I'm pretty sure every player has lost to a player 200 points less than them and more. Anyways we won the match anyways which is all that matters. I can pretty much guarantee you that Warren is going to be playing just as much as everyone else on the team.

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

Warren Harper played so bad its NOT even funny. Any player can lose a game but to lose in such a ridiculous fashion is beyond comprehension ( over - rated for sure). The move f5 means he memorizes openings and doesn't understand chess. PLEASE don't play this kid. He is not even really a Scorpion! He just moved here! There should be a "residency" law that states " a player would have to reside for AT LEAST one year in state of the USCL team" He makes Tucson and Arizona look bad. Tucson has reputation( national champions) under-rated..etc. He is not a "REAL" Arizona ( especially Tucson) player. We have heard of Rensch, Barcenilla, Martinez , etc..people we ALL know and want to root for! Who is this f5 chump that could have cost us the match? I want to root for Arizona players,but he will cost you the match next time you put him. This sucks because I thought we had a chance, but not anymore. Especially since Leo will probably play him next time and give him white to try and "avenge" his sorry @ss thinking ( f5) - Also Harper is going to be so nervous he will lose anyways !

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous poster that we should let this one game define Warren Harper's career.

Anonymous said...

Quite honestly, I dont understand Arizon's excuses reagrding the manner of Harper's stink up the blabber about being new to the league etc... Everyone is new Meerovich didnt let it get to him, if u play bad chess you lose, whether its online or otb, lets wait for rd 2 though to make conclusions.

Anonymous said...

I agree with previous poster. The first round was bad but okay its only one game.

However if this game is bad then we can make the conclusion that that Harper is probably 400 points overrated and only became 2300 and stayed there for a few years due to an endless streak of good fortune, because there is of course a lot of luck in chess.

Anonymous said...

Wait, isnt this the kid who didnt know the en passant rule, which led a big TD mixup at some recent tournament. Yikes!@@@@@@

Anonymous said...

Yes this sounds like the kid. The previous comments are correct, he has no talent, just endless memorization of opening lines. Well if black plays 1..g6 , 2..b6 I am curious to see how badly Harper will play.I knew Leo would play him again. This is a bad call on the manager's part. He should not let emotion get involved in managing a team(winning team!).Everyone knows the truth now against Harper, avoid sharp opening lines because that is how he got 2300. Play closed position chess and he will screw up move by move..Lev needs to give this kid some lessons! Larsen is much better player, complete opposite of Harper and same rating. I am rooting for Rensch against John "The Brat". This will be the most exciting game. Both players are young and calculate deeply. John is easy to prepare against and will try something different to avoid Robby's preparation.GO RENSCH! Robby has a easy game against Mini - Dmitry. Levon will draw.

Ron Young said...

I once played a guy who had been written up in Chess Life years earlier (c. 1968) for beating Mike Valvo at the age of 13 (that is, the kid was 13. Valvo was about 26). As a feat of child prodigiousness, this game was thought by a 90-year old veteran master on the scene to be comparable only to Morphy-Loewenthal, Corzo-Capablanca, and D. Byrne-Fischer. our game, I declined to play exf6 e.p. but later played exd6 e.p., and he claimed it was illegal, as I had already had the chance to capture e.p. with my king pawn.

The point is this: the en passant rule has baffled even some of the greatest talents ever to streak across the chessic sky. If one fully grasps the rule himself, he is certainly entitled to puff out his chest but should not sneer at others whose understanding is less profound.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Ron Young is an artist of the comment.

Anonymous said...

He lost again, to some girl i never heard of.. pathetic, please bench this guy