Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bad Films Usually Have a Lot of Trees

After humiliating myself in a chess tournament this afternoon (0.5 - 2.5), I flung myself on the couch and turned on the TV. Sunday Night Baseball was on, and while that would normally occupy my attention, I deemed it too intellectual for my fried brain. Instead, the movie "Meatballs", starring Bill Murray, was just starting.

What a mistake.

I watched the entire film, realizing about 15 minutes in that I had seen it a few years ago, and thought it was pretty bad then, but deciding to give it another chance. The only thing that I got out of it is that Bill Murray is a fine actor. And that 1979 has some pretty bad clothing fashion.

Is there a worse film ever made? I didn't laugh, nor did I crack a smile. I sat there stone-faced, wondering how such a load of crap could ever be made. Then, I realized that, there was a worse film, the horrible and tasteless "The Emerald Forest", my pick for the worst film ever.

Both films have a lot of trees in them. Are trees bad?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bobby Fischer's last days

An interesting article about the disposition of Bobby Fischer's assets and his last days is here. Definitely worth reading.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Early Thanksgiving Parade...

Thanksgiving is still months away, but that didn't stop these three turkeys from parading across the street and into someone's driveway this morning in Bloomfield, New Jersey, not 50 yards from our house. I stopped the car, and took this picture with my cell phone.

That, in combination with the bobcat I saw from our front window last week, peaks one's interest in urban ecology. Unfortunately, the bobcat disappeared before I could take a picture of it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Was Jorge Sammour-Hasbun the USCL's rookie of the year?

A few days ago in this blog entry, using the USCL rating system I developed, whether Todd Andrews should have won the USCL's Most Improved Player award. Today, I examine whether Jorge Sammour-Hasbun of the Boston Blitz should have won the Rookie of the Year award.

Sammour-Hasbun had a fantastic year in the USCL. He won six and drew two, without a loss. (Indeed his results in other tournaments have been similarly great; he just repeated as champion of the Dos Hermanas tournament - which was an incredible feat, given the competition he knocked out on the way there.)

But was he really the USCL's rookie of the year? How should that even be defined?

Let's start with the USCL rating system. One measure of whether a player is the rookie of the year is comparing the player's initial assigned rating and the player's rating at the end of the year, on the final 2007 list, and looking for the greatest difference. Remember that initial ratings are assigned by the board on which the player first competed.

Given that criterion, the rookie of the year would be the New York Knights' Irina Zenyuk (also spelled Iryna - I don't know what she prefers). She gained 136 points from her initial rating, while Sammour-Hasbun gained 125. Zenyuk also had an excellent year, with four wins, three draws, and a single loss.

Here are the top five rookies of 2007. They must have played a minimum of three games in 2007 to be included on this list.

1. Irina Zenyuk 2386 (+136, started at 2250, board 4)
2. Jorge Sammour-Hasbun 2575 (+125, started at 2450, board 2)
3. Eric Rodriguez 2370 (+120, started at 2250, board 4)
4. Chris Williams 2363 (+113, started at 2250, board 4)
5. Francisco Guadalupe 2352 (+102, started at 2250, board 4)

What rookie will take the award this year?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Was Todd Andrews the USCL's most improved player?

Todd Andrews won the "Most Improved Player Award" in the United States Chess League last season. Using the USCL rating system I developed, one thing we can check is whether this award was justified.

The easiest measure of this is the greatest difference between the rating on the final 2006 list and the rating on the final 2007 list. We have to set a one criterion, however; the player must have played a minimum of three games in 2007 in order to be eligible for consideration, as well as at least three in 2006 or earlier. (Remember also that the USCL ratings are dependent to some degree on how the player's results contributed to the team's results.)

So, did Todd Andrews have the greatest difference between these two lists? No! That honor goes to Davorin Kuljasevic, who gained 106 points from 2006 to 2007. Andrews gained 101 points in the 2007 season.

Here are the top five most improved players from 2006 to 2007, according to the USCL rating list.

1. Davorin Kuljasevic +106 (2434 to 2540)
2. Todd Andrews +101 (2307 to 2408)
3. Mackensie Molner +74 (2266 to 2339)
4. Jonathan Schroer +55 (2338 to 2393)
5. Marcel Martinez +41 (2345 to 2386)

In an upcoming post, we'll try and figure out the rookie of the year award.

USCL Ratings End of 2005

The USCL Ratings have been calculated for the 2005 season.

As with the 2006 list and the 2007 list, the same conditions apply namely that (1) players must have played in the 2005 season, and (2) players must have played three lifetime USCL games to be published.

Final 2005 USCL Rating List

1 2597 Eugene Perelshteyn
2 2585 Pascal Charbonneau
3 2584 Vinay Bhat
4 2558 Larry Christiansen
5 2552 Alex Stripunsky
6 2552 Alejandro Ramirez
7 2543 Julio Becerra
8 2532 Marcin Kaminsky
9 2527 Vince McCambridge
10 2514 John Donaldson
11 2499 Irina Krush
12 2495 Gregory Braylovsky
13 2481 Magesh Panchanathan
14 2477 Jay Bonin
15 2475 Lev Milman
16 2472 Tegshsuren Enkhbat
17 2445 Peter Vavrak
18 2441 Marcel Martinez
19 2438 Larry Kaufman
20 2427 David Pruess
21 2427 Josh Friedel
22 2423 Norman Rogers
23 2421 Richard Costigan
24 2417 Paul MacIntyre
25 2415 Miguel Espino
26 2411 Dmitry Schneider
27 2405 Dmitry Zilberstein
28 2394 Matthew Bengtson
29 2372 Blas Lugo
30 2369 Elvin Wilson
31 2362 Andrei Zaremba
32 2356 Charles Riordan
33 2348 Carl Boor
34 2344 Katerina Rohonyan
35 2323 Ray Kaufman
36 2320 Tsagaan Battsetseg
37 2302 Matthew Hoekstra
38 2291 Boris Baczynskyj
39 2291 Mark Pinto
40 2288 Jennifer Shahade
41 2287 Bruci Lopez
42 2284 Evan Rosenberg
43 2281 William Kelleher
44 2274 Daniel Fernandez
45 2267 Andy Lee
46 2262 Nicholas Yap
47 2256 Ilya Krasik
48 2255 Andres Suarez
49 2244 John Fernandez
50 2238 Sam Copeland
51 2235 Jose Cabrera
52 2223 Lewis Eisen
53 2203 John Timmel
54 2192 David Pecora
55 2181 Eric Moskow
56 2175 Greg Samsa

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

USCL Expansion Team Logos

Back in December, I posted a review of all the team names and team logos in the United States Chess League. I gave "incomplete" grades to the Chicago Blaze and the Arizona Scorpions, because their logos had not been released yet. Here's what I said then...
  • Arizona "Scorpions" - As I said above, I think there are scorpions in Arizona, and I certainly wouldn't want to encounter one, so this is the most "terrifying" team name. No chess reference, but that's ok. The name rolls off the tongue well. Also, while we'll all be calling them the "Scorps" if they win a lot, we can also call them the "Peons" if they lose. No logo yet. Grade: Incomplete, pending logo.
  • Chicago "Blaze" - Again, I said above that there was a fire in Chicago a long time back, so I suppose this gets the nod for being relevant to the city. And, "blaze" also has a connotation of running rampant over your opponents, so that works. However, it sounds too much like "Blitz". You can't have that many Zs in team names and still stay sane. No logo yet. Grade: Incomplete, pending logo.
Well, the logos were recently released -- the Scorpions earlier today, actually. So, what about these new logos?

The Chicago Blaze logo has a nice echo of the famous water tower in Chicago, and dresses them up nicely as rooks. But the shield? Has a heraldic touch, but not all that relevant. What would have been really funny is if it was a chessboard instead, but the squares between rank 6 and 7 didn't line up properly, which mimics the strange street shift to the left about 50 feet that happens when you drive north in Chicago. Okay, maybe that's too obscure. Overall grade (name and logo): B

The Arizona Scorpions logo is over the top. Way over the top. Way too frightening. So totally not for children. The A-claws are clever. That's all good. What's not so good? The tail should curve the other way which would make the tail look like the top of an S; right now it looks like the top of a question mark. And what does the logo designer have against capital Ns? All the other letters are capitalized - why not the N? Still, it is a mean looking logo and a mean name and they complement one another well. Overall grade (name and logo): A-

Next year, for the 2009 season, I'll review the new team names and logos of the USCL.