Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vonnegut Tribute As a Recap of the 2010 Nor'easters victory run

The following is a tribute piece to the Nor'easters season, in the style of Kurt Vonnegut, whose library just opened in Indianapolis. All of this happened, more or less. The chess parts, more or less, are true.

I have come unstuck in time.

It is late summer. I am in the Boylston Chess Club, watching the Nor'easters take on the Cobras. The masters and I are blinking at the chessboard of Vigorito-Simpson, move 10.

After 10.c5 Bxe5 11.dxe5 Nfd7 12.Qc1 Na6 13.Nd2 Qxc5 14.Qxc5 Ndxc5, Vigorito is down a pawn. He went on to win the game and clinch the match for the Nor'easters. So it goes.


Now I am sitting in a restaurant in Davis Square with a member of the Boston Blitz, Marc Esserman and a member of the Nor'easters, Charles Riordan. Marc is showing us a position on my tiny pocket chess board. Marc is unstuck in time, too, and now he is demonstrates on my shabby $5 flat magnetic set his future memory of his game with IM Zilberstein in Week 6. In his memory, the game went:
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxd4 7.Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8.Be2 Na6 9.Ba5 f6 10.Qd8+ Kf7 11.0-0-0 b6 12.Bc3 e5 13.Bd3 Qxg2 14.Ne2 c5 15.Qd6 Bb7 16.Ng3 and Marc continues with a queen sacrifice that leads to a Game of the Year.

Unfortunately, future memories are as unreliable as past ones. When the game actually happened, IM Zilberstein went along up to 16. Bf5, lost more prosaically, and Marc only won Blog Post of the Week. That may have been worth more money. So it goes. I was pretty mad those two days later when I learned Marc's future memory was all a pack of foma.

Some might wonder how a Nor'easter and a Blitz player could have talked about upcoming matches without tearing off a jugular using bare teeth. The idea that the Boston teams hate each other is all a pack of foma, too.

Some other time in the future, the Nor'easters will also be well prepared against the New York Knights, anticipating the games on Boards 1+3 to spin the strong New York squad down to 4th place. So it goes. The Blitz are not the only team to prepare well.

Now I am watching the Blitz play the Nor'easters in Week 4. I'm in London. While I am lecturing at University College London, projecting behind me is this position from Cherniack-Krasik, Board 4, Week 4.

After 17.Qb3, Alex loses a pawn to Bxd2 18.Nxd2 Rxe2 19.Rxe2 Nxd4. He goes on to draw the game and the match. So it goes. It is the only draw during the regular season that New England suffers.

I talk to a Tramalfadorian about what it is like to watch a chess game in four dimensions.

It replies, "Consider what it is like to watch the chessgame in two dimensions, on your ICC, for example."


"Now consider what it is like to play the game in 3-D, on a board, with pieces."

"OK. I get that, too."

"Is there a difference in these two experiences?"

"Not really. They are pretty much the same. The vision and the touch are different. Otherwise, the problems are the same."

"Watching the chess board in 4 dimensions is nothing like going from 2D to 3D."

That is a jerk way to respond, so I ask for some clarity.

"For us, we saw the Blitz-Nor'easters week four match simultaneously with the Blitz-Nor'easters Semi-final match. The combinations that were happening in the other dimensions blew this Tramalfadorian's mind. That, and the parallel of the two Boston teams getting a draw in both matches. "

Of course this is all a pack of foma, but the Tramalfadorian wanted me to like it. They are not very good flirts.


Sometimes I wonder if the Internet could ever acheive consciousness. All those fiber optic neural connections firing. Ones and zeros slithering around coaxial cables to make a brain that becomes self-aware. I ask the Tramalfadorians about this.


"So sure about it?"


"Why not?"

"Have you read an internet chess blog comment section lately? Better chances for the mud of the Earth to become intelligent."

Since Christianity tells us intelligence did spring from the mud, I take that as a maybe.


When I'm stopped on the street, people ask me what I'm working on. I tell them a summary of the greatest team in USCL history. They always ask me what the USCL is. I tell them it stands for the United States Cricket League and that I am a fan from Sri Lanka. I don't, but trust me, this is a better method for getting a date. If you are reading my post, better try this foma over the truth. Let me know how it turns out.


In the Eighteenth Tweet of Bokonon, the Prophet says, "Break all the records to prove you are the best, and you will be hated by all the rest." So it goes.

In the Nineteenth Tweet of Bokonon, the Prophet says, "Make your own luck, or you'll be a sitting duck."

In the Twentieth Tweet of Bokonon, the Prophet says, "When you win, just sit quietly and grin. The loser gets to speak about how you are weak."

Maybe the losers only remember the future when they are better than you. Or maybe they are like the Tramalfadorans, winners in the other dimensions.


I am stuck now in other people's dreams. One dream I can see is this position from Hungaski vs. Sammour Hasbun in Nor'easters-Blitz Semi-Finals. Chess dreams can be the most painful dreams. Chess dreams and the ones where you are standing in your underwear in front of the classroom.
The win for Black is 23...Rxa1 24.Rxa1 cxb2! 25.Rb1 Bxb5+ 26.Kd2 Rd8+ 27.Kc3 Bd3. Instead Black played Bxb5 and eventually got mated, handing the draw and the match victory to New England. So it goes.


I am sitting in a coffeehouse sipping joe when an angry USCL (the chess kind) fan comes up to me to yell at me about this post. "Are you saying that the Nor'easters were lucky to have the best record and win the league championship?" I calmly quote the Fifth Tweet from the Prophet Bokonon. "Do not heed what on the internet you read."

"Sounds like you are saying luck to me."

"Look all around you- those little water droplets under a leaf, the lion's mane, my pinky finger digit. It's all luck, chuck."


Players that the Nor'easters didn't play:


GM Hikaru Nakamura

GM Yuri Shulman


GM Sergey Erenburg


GM Reiner Gonzalez

Charles Galofre


GM Magesh Panchanathan

Almost all the GMs of the Western Division

So it goes.

Here are some other players they didn't face: Bobby Fischer, Gata Kamsky, Alexander Onischuk, Magnus Carlson. Anatoly Karpov. Jason Rihel.


In the First Tweet of Bokonon, the Prophet, says, "It's all luck, chuck."


I am leaving the Nor'easters vs. Miami Sharks Final early, for I am tired. I ate some pizza, the result is unclear. The forfeit win was a boost, but as I leave NE's Alex looks worse on Board 4 (He lost. So it goes.), Sam maybe is at least a safe draw on Board 1 (He won. So it goes.), and the Hungaski game is repeating the position and declining draws (He won. So it goes.) Could still be a playoff and a long night ahead.

I walk home to my old apartment. I can see downtown from there, the solitary Prudential Tower cracking the sky. I still don't know the outcome of the New England match. Then I see Ilya Krasik, member of the perpetual #2 Boston Blitz, scramble up to the tippy-top of the Pru. He looks up at the heavens, thumbs his nose as a gesture of the pent up frustrations of watching the local upstarts take the prize, and freezes his body in place by taking the Ice-9.

So it goes.

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