Sunday, October 4, 2009

Joel Benjamin's Midseason Report

Midseason Report
by Joel Benjamin

After five rounds, The New Jersey Knockouts are on top at 5-0 and all is well with the world. I thought I might share a few observations on the action so far...

The New York Knights

New York’s 2.5-2,5 record is misleading. The Knights have faced a brutal schedule, including the two strongest teams in the West (Seattle and San Francisco) and the invincible Knockouts. They’re strong at the corners with Kacheishvili and Norowitz, and improved production on board two could really turn things around. But will they give HOF GM Johnny a shot? The Knights will easily make the playoffs and have as good a chance as anyone to get through to the finals.

Inventors' Team Blueprint

Philadelphia had high hopes this season with the acquisition of Alex Lenderman, but Sergey Kudrin’s stunning 0-5 has killed them. The Inventors will have to win some games on board one if they have any hopes of making a miracle comeback for the playoffs.

Cinder-lina No More

Last year Carolina was a heart-warming Cinderella story, a balanced team with a competitive first board. Losing Lev Milman, who graduated from Duke and came home to play for Queens, was a big blow. Jon Schroer is playing out of position on board one, but the real reason for their 0-5 start is lack of production on bottom. Last year Ron Simpson notched 7 ½ out of 10 on board three. This year, against much stronger opposition, he is 0-4. Mojo apparently does not transfer from one season to the next.

New Jersey's Timing

New Jersey is a consistent 4-1 on boards one, two, and three. Our kids have not scored as well so far on board four. Does this mean we are vulnerable if our higher boards are held to a standoff, or unstoppable if we win board four? In the timing is everything department: The one time we lost board three, Anna Matlin won on board four to defeat the Inventors.

San Fran Panda

Every year I think San Francisco is the best team, but they don’t seem to be that in the end. Obviously Shankland is extremely tough on three and Yian Liou has been a find for them on board four, but they need for Josh “the Panda” Friedel to scarf down some magic bamboo and get going on board one.

Dallas's Destiny

The fans were all shocked to see Dallas start so poorly after winning the league title two years running. They still have a shot at the playoffs, especially if they do not resign prematurely for the rest of the season. You certainly don’t want to count out a team that can beat a powerful Boston squad 4-0! The Destiny will battle it out with Arizona and Tennessee for the last playoff spot in the West, and I don’t know who should be the favorite to get it.

Arizona's Bloggers

The Arizona Scorpions are winning the blogging race hands down, led by Mark Ginsburg’s consistently entertaining and insightful Opening of the Week column.


It is said that Queens’ Andrei Zaremba’s large DD iced coffee is a potent cocktail, but New Jersey’s DD Box of Joe is leading the way so far.

Game of the Week

The judging for Game of the Week has been very uneven. I think Greg Shahade and Michael Aigner are doing very good jobs, and Arun Sharma is okay as well, but Jeff Ashton and Jim Dean seems to have no clue. In week five, I couldn’t understand how Dean saw fit to give Kacheishvili no points for his stellar win over Friedel. Dean and Ashton both got it all wrong on Herman-Naroditsky (though Dean at least acknowledged that it was a good game). That was a terrific game, whether it was totally sound or not. Herman is an all out attacking player, and he’s quite right to play in that style. As to Ashton’s comments that Herman should be fined $50 for this game, I’ll say that it took me a few years to realize how good a player Shabalov is, but once I did, I lost my dogmatism.

The Adelberg win, on the other hand, was overrated. I think that was mostly because he is a young, talented, and likeable kid, but the game was completely stock. If Kasparov saw the game he would not fine Adelberg, but he would fine Zorigt.

You would think I should go easy on Ashton because he praised my games effusively, but that was actually the worst part! Only the Schroer game was worthy of points; if he had found the draw at the end it actually would have been a much better game. But giving points to my win over van de Mortel is ridiculous. In a standard position from the opening, my opponent suicided with 16…Bxc3??, forcing me into a completely winning endgame. My moves were pretty good from there, but the game was really easy. I didn’t have a single difficult decision; I could have won in several different ways. It’s not good enough for technical chess to be correct. Going from even to +- in one move means the game was not hard enough.

So let me propose judges consider “degree of difficulty.” If the loser of the game missed some opportunities, that may make the game better, not worse. If it’s a wild, insane position where the winner takes risk, credit him, don’t penalize him. If you can’t see the mistakes without a computer, it might be unfair to expect the winner to do so as well.

On the other hand, I thought Esserman-Bartell was not a very worthy winner. True, it was a weak round (probably Gulko should have won again for his game with Charbonneau, which was a hard-fought tense encounter). I didn’t think Esserman had to work at all for that win.

By the way, how about some love for Kapengut-Pasalic? That game was pretty cool. I hope I can throw patties like that when I’m Albert’s age.

The Knockouts are sponsored by the New Jersey State Chess Federation.


Anonymous said...

Nice, Joel very politely insulted half of USCL, your time will come Mr Benjamin.

Jan van de Mortel said...

As far as the bit about our game goes, I fully concur. Sure, I was on the road by 230am that same morning and the end of our game was my first break since then, but I still wonder why I missed the recapture bxc3 (or even considered Bxc3 to begin with, being a life-long Dragon player).

Anonymous said...

I didnt know Joel was so cocky. Team spirit is one thing but this is just disrespectful. Yeah Kudrin is 0-5 but he is still capable of puting a few staples in your behind.

Alex Lenderman said...

Anyonymouses: I do not understand what in what Joel has said is insulting? I don't understand. First of all introduce yourself if you want to say things like that. Second of all, don't just talk just to talk. Nothing in this report is disrespectful, Joel Benjamin is simply stating honest facts.

fpawn said...

The anonymice are merely girly men who don't have the necessary anatomy to sign a name to their words.

Ilya said...

Well,Gee just got back from a Russian rock concert and what do I see the invincible NJ got spanked, and Joel went down too. Talk about Karma in USCL but as soon as your open your mouth and open it wide to proclaim how great you are... you get beat up. Plenty examples this year in USCL of people eating their words.
It kind of reminds me of a famous russian fable by the great Ivan Krylov, about the Raven and the Fox . The raven climbed high on a tree to eat the cheese it procured. But the fox wanted this cheese so the fox kept flattering the the Raven, saying how beatiful it is, how gorgous is the Raven's voice etc... to the point when the Raven could no longer resist and eventually opened its mouth .....dropping the cheese down to the Fox . The moral of the story for Joel and NJ Knockout dont get a big head thinking you are invicible just because everyone sings you such songs.(The Fable is written in very nice rhymes btw so anyone who can read Russian I highly recommend to do so, its called the Raven and the Fox)

Elizabeth Vicary said...

maybe Ilya could dress up like a fox (or a raven!) and recite (sing!?) the fable-poem in the next boston blitz video?

Anonymous said...

"Quoth the raven 'Nevermore.'"


gmjoel said...

Ilya, you are a complete moron. The only "proclamation" about the Knockouts in the whole article was the word "invincible," which was clearly tongue-in-cheek. Obviously no team is truly invincible, it's ridiculous to think I meant that seriously.

But without your persistent need to publicly express your schadenfreude, the Boston Blitz wouldn't get to be the team people love to hate.

Ilya said...

I thought my comment was quite funny(many told me so) and innocent of any insult. You say you were trying to be funny, but i am not allowed the same? Maybe I need to get a GM title before I can make jokes? Also, Joel I believe Boston loves being hated, especially when this hate isnt based on anything tangible but a few silly blog comments, I know Greg loves it (otherwise he wouldnt explicitly beg for me to stay on the team)and it kind of makes life more interesting in USCL. I dont understand why a classy GM like yourself would choose to get insulted over a joke and lose your cool in this manner. Take it easy "Mr Clean".

Anonymous said...

Joel lost his temper for no reason I think. Mr clean- funny shit ilya.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I think we should begin a “sunshine policy” toward Boston

gmjoel said...

Of course everyone has the right to try to be funny, but I don't think you succeed. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt on their intentions, but your earlier comment just comes off as gloating at the sight of a rival team losing. I wouldn't have dreamed of suggesting that Boston in some way deserved to lose 4-0 to Dallas. Apparently you would have found it humorous; I doubt your teammates would have. [Though after your comments about "karma," maybe you had a hand in the last zero point performance for your team]

Greg may like your shtick, but his views are sometimes controversial. There are a few managers around the league that feel differently about your banter.

I will take into account that you called me "classy" in your reply (and I can laugh at "Mr. Clean"), but some of your ICC comments during the Blitz-Knockouts match("Benjamin is soft"..."Ippo sucks")do not qualify as "making life more interesting." For my part, I apologize for the "complete moron" comment--I shouldn't write something just because I'm thinking it--but you should also consider whether you are really joking or being mean-spirited.