Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2008 Board Three All Stars

If you are wondering what criteria was used to determine these All Stars, please refer to the first post on the subject.

1st Team: IM Alex Lenderman (QNS)

Before we start to go into the Board Three All Stars, it's important to note that the competition for the spots on this board was simply ridiculous in 2008 (as it was for Board Two in 2007). There were a few players who had very strong seasons who were not really even on the radar for consideration, due to the incredibly strong play of those who did make the team. Despite winning League MVP and having an insane score of 7.5 / 8, Lenderman incredibly was not automatically going to make the first team. If either of the other third board All Stars had had a torrid postseason run, they likely would've overtaken Lenderman for this spot. In the end, neither of them did quite enough to push themselves above the League MVP, and so Alex remained in first place. Alex's fine season included wins over IM Dean Ippolito, IM Emory Tate, IM Richard Costigan, and FM Oleg Zaikov, two of which won GOTW.

Also, please note that Alex was also eligible to be an All Star on Board Two (having played four games on each board). We strongly hoped that we would be able to put him there, as the resumes of Board Three's this season were much more impressive than the Board Two's, making it natural to put someone who could be in either place in the less competitive spot. However, Kuljasevic performed so well in the postseason that we would have felt it necessary, even with a bit of a lower win percentage, to place him ahead of Lenderman if we'd put Alex on Board Two. Since it's against League policy to place a player on a board which they would finish in a lower place (second in this case) when they're also eligible for a board where they would finish higher (first), we had no choice but to leave Lenderman as the first team All Star for Board Three.

In all, it was a very memorable first season from Lenderman; there obviously can be no debate as to how instrumental he was to the Pioneers' overall success, and it should be interesting to see how well he can perform in his second season.

Record: 7.5 / 8 (94%)

Performance Rating: 2726

2nd Team: SM Marc Esserman (BOS)

We had a ridiculously difficult decision to make for the second team between Marc and Sam Shankland with both players having incredible +6 results. Usually this kind of score would automatically give someone first team honors, but as mentioned, due to the dominance of several Board Three's, they ended up having to battle it out for the second team, while FM Ron Simpson, who finished at +5, was unfortunately left out altogether.

When it all came down to it there was very little to distinguish between Esserman and Shankland. A couple factors that finally pushed us over the edge were:

1. Esserman drew Shankland in their individual matchup with Black, but was clearly dominating the game and possibly played it safe due to the match situation.

2. Esserman was part of a Boston team that had a very deep playoff run, and he won a crucial game in the Finals.

It really could have gone either way as both players had tremendous seasons.

In all, Esserman had an amazing season, and though the last match ended in disappointment for his team, he certainly did a huge part in making it so close with his impressive victory in the Finals.

Record: 8 / 10 (80%)

Performance Rating: 2603

3rd Team: IM Sam Shankland (SF)

Sam was very unlucky to finish on the third team with a +6 record. He was the main star for the Mechanics, helping them to finish second in the West, and doing all he could to push them further in the playoffs as he was the only team member to win his quarterfinal game.

Despite the somewhat disappointing placement the third team might be for him after his great season, there should be no doubt as to how valuable he was to his team, and how remarkable his improvement since the 2006 season has been, having gone all the way from being an expert to now being an IM, along with scoring an incredible 15 / 18 in his three seasons.

Record: 7.5 / 9 (83%)

Performance Rating: 2605

Other Candidates: As mentioned above,
FM Ron Simpson (CAR) (7.5 / 10) with a 2506 performance was ridiculously unlucky not to be an All Star as his +5 performance would be worthy of an All Star spot (and perhaps in some cases the top All Star) in nearly every other circumstance. Although he unluckily missed out on being an All Star, he clearly was a tremendous part of Carolina's Cinderella run, winning many crucial games for them when it mattered most and helping them secure the division title. Another strong performer was FM Osmany Perea (MIA) (6.5 / 10) sporting a 2546 performance while playing on Board Two several times. Also, both NM Mackenzie Molner (NJ) (5 / 8), 2491 performance and FM Robby Adamson (ARZ) (4.5 / 7), 2450 performance had solid +2 seasons, likewise winning some very critical games for their team. In addition, despite not playing an excessive amount, NM Parker Zhao (QNS) (2.5 / 3), 2638 performance was also noteworthy given his relatively low rating amongst Board Three players. All of these players might, under different circumstances, have made the All Star team, but the competition was just too strong this season.

Stay tuned until tomorrow as we will announce the Board Four All Stars!


Ilya said...

WOW, I cannot believe this choice.. I lost 5 $ to Esserman and I was the one shaming him into being a chicken and NOT betting more... I said he would win it, he said Lenderman will... just incredible...

Sam Shankland said...

Is this really so hard to believe? Not to take away anything from Marc Esserman, who obviously had a huge season, but Lenderman did have the better score/percentage by quite a bit and a performance rating over 100 points higher. Lenderman, however did not even play when his team was in the playoffs, that is what may tip it toward Esserman. But for that matter, what about me? Esserman and I had basically identical scores and performance ratings, and while its thought that he took a draw for team situations, I dont buy it, considering the winning line in our game was very similar to the one he played, sacrificing the pawn for OCB in an attacking position, just a couple different moves, again with no danger whatsoever. Also, Esserman did come through in the finals, but for that he should thank Larry Christainsen and Ilya Krasik(x2)as without them, he never would have had the chance. I won my only postseason game, I was just unlucky that my teammates could not send me further. Ironically, both Arun Sharma and Greg Shahade put me above Esserman originally and then talked themselves out of it.I'm not saying this order is right or wrong, just that the three candidates are close and I could understand the judges putting them in just about any order.

Arun Sharma said...

Yes, I must say I'm also surprised that that would be the decision that would be questioned first in regards to the Board Three All Stars; I personally thought Esserman vs Shankland was the truly close decision, there was really no debate between Greg and I about whether Lenderman should be first (and we put him on Board Three for that very reason as if we thought he could be second, Board Two would have been the proper place for him for sure).

In regards to Esserman vs Shankland, originally both Greg and I were willing to go either way on that decision (quite rare honestly since both of us tend to be rather stubborn in our opinions about things) so neither of us having any real clue about which way it should go should signify how hard a decision it was. Both players' resumes were nearly identical in the majority of the important factors, and each player had some very minute advantages in the lesser categories. I remember going as far as suggesting to Greg that we either have co-All Stars in this case, or at least in the future develop some purely mathematical system for determining these (like Bioniclime's) just so we wouldn't have to make such ridiculously tough decisions.

I have a feeling most wouldn't favor either of the two suggestions I made just above so we'll likely stick with the current process. I suppose, like GOTW, it will just have to be something that comes down to us making the choice we think is best, and obviously sometimes some people will not agree with us.

Hopefully these situations are more the exception rather than the rule (i.e. putting Lenderman on Board Two vs Board Three, with each choice having a serious pro and con to it along with the Esserman vs Shankland choice being so close). I tend to believe they are given that I don't recall any real disagreement about any of our picks from previous years (while I certainly wouldn't blame anyone for disagreeing with either of the above decisions mentioned here).

Perhaps if people can suggest a better system for us to use in the future, we could find a way to avoid such issues, so let's hear some suggestions! (though no suggestions along the lines of, "Let me pick them instead of you since I'm obviously smarter than either of you", since after all if we let people use that logic, both of us would have been out of jobs long ago!).

Ilya said...

Obviously having a very short season and combining regular season with post season makes it difficult to pick winners. In major league sports in the US regular season and post season each have its own MVP's, all Star selection is based solely on regular season which is quite long.
Since we are combining the two, I automatically assumed that the postseason will carry a big weight in determining board honors. I assumed since Esserman's team went into the Finals, with Marc scoring 2/3, and Lenderman not playing in postseason at all would enough to outweigh Lenderman's better score. I guess Greg and Arun saw it differently...As far as Shanky, i guess my reasoning was the same, their scores are close, but Marc made it much further in the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

Marc's making it much further in the playoffs was not his doing, it was his teammate's. Also, take into account that Sf was 6.5/9 with Shankland and 0.0/2 without him, he was basically the only thing that kept SF going, while Esserman was valuable it wasn't this extreme. Of San Francisco's total 16 game victories, Shankland was responsible for 7.

Ilya said...

Shankland had another terrific season no doubt. I have to disagree about your statement regarding Marc, he singlehandidly carried the team through most of regular season, when most of us stuggled. Rated at only 2260, he was playing guys 2400 and 2500 almost every match, and doing very well, As Greg and Arun noted the low rating is one of the judging criterii since it allows higher rated players to be inserted into the lineup.

Anonymous said...

Marc and Sam had pretty similar years, so I am glad that Greg and Arun re-examined the Marc vs. Sam game. Marc was clearly better in that game, and a draw was all his team needed.

mark_larocca said...

The idea that IM Lenderman should be dropped to third board because he would lose out as a 2nd board allstar is the ridiculous argument here. There should be a hard and fast rule as to which board you are eligible for... if you play most of your games on one board... that is the one.. if you play equal games, then the higher board is the one (or vice versa). But, you should never be voted to a lower board all-star because you would lose out at a higher board.
Maybe Marc should have been considered for 4th board.
Also, playoffs should not be considered as not all players get there. (one of IM Shankland's points)

Ilya said...

Since we have such a small sample to judge from, I think playoffs have to absolutely be considered. If a team doesnt make it, it should negatively effect a great individual score, it make a lot of sense in team competetition. The point is not only to win your individual game, but also to help prepare, inspire your teammates not to mention give them a lot of rating points so that they may be favorites in their own matchups, all of this is part of USCL equation. Think about a proffesional sports analogy, does anyone care about a NBA player who scores 30 points per game on a team thats a bottom dweller, no one cares and no one notices....

John Fernandez said...

Lenderman, the A-Rod of the USCL.

Ilya said...

Forgive my ignorance, whats an ARoD?

Anonymous said...

If the award is meant to distinguish who is most valuable to a team rather than individual performance, then the disparity between a player's performance rating and his rating for league purposes should be used rather than mere performance rating. This statistic would take into account how the team expected the player to perform vs. how he actually performed.

Sam Shankland said...

If only it could be that way mr. anon.... :) I would be one happy guy. It may even be possible that Lenderman would not have even made 3rd team-- shankland 1st esserman second is certain, and simpson could be third.

Alex Lenderman said...

John, what do you mean by "Alex Rodriguez of USCL?" Is that in a positive or negative way?

Ilya said...

Who the hell is rodruquez and whats so special about him?

Alex Lenderman said...

He's the best baseball player perhaps of all time, and currently plays for arguably the best New York team in all of sports, but he is considered by many fans and media to be selfish and not think the team that much.

John Fernandez said...

My point was more that Lenderman was a regular season MVP who had great individual stats, but didn't show up for the playoffs (literally), and in fact cost his team with the Esserman draw.

A better definition of what it is to be "ARodish" or "ARodian" would be great individual performance not manifesting itself in overall team success.

To be fair to A-Rod, Lenderman isn't the greatest player in the game, nor has A-Rod thrown every single member of his own team under the bus, but the analogy seemed to fit reasonably well for on-the-board performance.

To be fair to Lenderman, he never dated Madonna.

Anonymous said...

Oh snap! Jfern really putting the screws onto poor Lenderman... Lenderman are you gonna take this s..t from some 2100 patzer or are you gonna make a man out of him?

Alex Lenderman said...

Oh come on, here you are on against with the Esserman draw! I was NOT The one who cost my team to win. Everyone knows who cares knows exactly why we didn't win the division, I'm not going to keep whining abuot it. Besides, in this case, it's not under my control if I play the playoffs or any matches. I sure did WANT to play. I can't believe that, you, such an intellegent man would actually think that of me!

Daniel Ludwig said...

I think the fact that Shankland is on here selfishly drawing attention to himself, disparaging the performance of Esserman (saying that the Blitz's success was due to Christiansen and Krasik "x2"), and Esserman has not yet made a single comment, justifies Esserman 2nd and Shankland 3rd. After all, what is an MVP? It is the Most Valuable Player. Valuable to what, yourself or the team? Clearly the latter, and Esserman did what he was asked week in and week out, coming up huge everytime. On a team that was rocked by inconsistency and early defeats, Esserman was always about the team. The fact that he is not on here illustrates what he is committed to, not himself or individual awards, but his team. This kind of attitude is what put the Blitz in the finals.

Which leads to another issue I have. The criteria to MVP needs to be broader than what it is currently. While chess is not a sport, team chemistry is a big issue, and I for one would put both Esserman and Shankland ahead of Lenderman here. I don't care how many games you win, and what your performance rating, if you are so disliked by your team, that even with your amazing performance, you aren't started in the biggest match of the year, then you really are not that valuable. Enough said.

The rest of you in the league should take note, that if you want to win, it doesn't just take good players with a team average of 2500 that somehow fits under 2400, but it takes a bunch of people who are committed to the team. Dallas and Boston have been the two teams in the finals the last 2 years, and I don't think it is a coincedence. If people don't change their attitudes and stop thinking about themselves, then these same 2 teams will do it all over again.

Anonymous said...

Shankland is so insecure, it is amazing. Why does he continue to have to talk about himself. It appears he had a great summer and now thinks that its all him (and his teammates fault that he did not advance). Give me a break. Sam needs to learn a little humility - something he has not learned yet. You wonder how this kid will handle college - he probably wont go because he cant handle social situations

Anonymous said...

The only reason that Lenderman was considered for 3rd board is because they felt they had to give the award to Kuljasevic on 2nd board. Really, Lenderman was good enough to win the 2nd board All-Star on merit. Therefore, the judges had to give Lenderman an award cause it was deserved, and thus squeezed Esserman out of the board prize.

Anonymous said...

Sam needs to understand that its not all about him. Both he and Esserman did great. He lost, Esserman won. Now deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the numbers, Alex played 4 games on 2nd board and 4 games on 3rd board. Should Alex, the MVP, be ineligible to win the 2nd board prize because he played 4 games, but yet then be eligible to win the board 3 prize because he played the same number of 4 games?
In team tournaments, you usually are not permitted to win a board prize if you play multiple boards, and certainly not if you only play 4 games on a board.
Maybe the rules should be tightened and it be judged on what board you play the most, and you have to play at least 5 or 6 games on a board to be eligible.

Ultimately you are giving "extra" credit for a person winning on a higher board. That does not make sense when you are awarding a board prize for a lower board.

I would argue that if you play 4 games on Board 3, you should not be eligible for the board 3 prize. This is a board prize, not a MVP prize (and that has been awarded). This does not diminish Alex's excellent season in any way.

Sam Shankland said...

I'm not sure how having a constructive debate about why its a close call has anything to do with me. I never once said where I should be, just that I think its close and could go any way possible. Now that people seem to be prodding me about it, if you want my opinion I think the judges got the order right and Esserman DOES deserve to be above me. In regard to the other comment, I was joking about an idea that I think is slightly ludicrous that an anonymous commenter posted that would give me first. I recognize my tone may have not made it as clear as I would have liked, and I apologize for that. When constructive debates become personal attacks from anonymous commenters is when I know that the USCL is going downhill, which is part of the reason why I will probably not be playing next year. Congratulations to Esserman and Lenderman on fine seasons. P.S. Greg and Arun you may feel free to give my spot to Ron Simpson.

Robby said...

I do not understand how a player win a board prize when they only played 4 games on that board. By simple logic, you should not consider games played on a higher board or a lower board for that matter.

Alex did great during the year and got the ultimate award by winning MVP, but board prizes are based on what board you played. The other third boards got shafted.

Just by 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

"B" and "M" have an "N" in between..robby
my 2 cents

Arun Sharma said...

I can understand people objecting to a player being eligible to be an All Star on two different boards; situations like this show the inequity that that policy can create, and perhaps we should develop a new policy that would allow a player who's played equally on two boards to only be eligible for one of them (I however do not know of a good one, but we are open to suggestions).

I am however, very surprised by the numerous people who are saying that a player should not be eligible to be an All Star unless they've played at least five games on THAT BOARD. The simple fact is: different teams have different makeups. Some teams, like Arizona, using a similar lineup structure every week, while other teams like Queens and Chicago have some top heavy lineups and also some more balanced ones. For teams of the latter type, it's necessary for players like Lenderman and Young to gravitate between different boards to facilitate using the appropriate lineups in different weeks. In essence, such players in any given week are really playing in the spot which happens to be in the team's best interest for that match, and I can't understand why people would think that those acting in the team's best interest should somehow become ineligible to be All Stars because of it.

All Stars are after all meant to honor players who have shown excellence, won important games for their team, and things of that general nature. Why should a player who has played eight games (four on two different boards) be considered to have contributed less in that regard than some other player who might've played only five games on one particular board?

Bionic Lime said...

Greg and Arun know I disagree with their choice to have someone who played an equal number of games on two (or three or four) different boards to be eligible for prizes on all of the boards. In my Top Board Honor system, I only have a person eligible for the board that they played the most games on, and if there are two or more boards they played an equal number of games on, then the most recent number of games on.

In my Board 3 Honors, my model (which is 100% mathematically derived), it had 1. Esserman, 2. Lenderman, 3. Shankland. Esserman simply had the advantage of playing more games than Lenderman (and I include all USCL games, including the tiebreakers). To me, the competition does not stop in the slow games -- all the games matter.

John Fernandez said...

Arun, how about the following rule:

You're eligible for the board you play the most games on, and if you play the same amount on various boards, you count for the highest board.

Obviously, you should eliminate all rewards to eliminate the drama.

Ilya said...

I want to make a comment to Shankland, first of all why do you care what people say about you? Secondly, if someone is making comments that you feel are unfair why is it an indication that the league is going down the hill, to me quite the opposite seems true. If complete strangers are willing to fight over something seeminly minor like the board awards, the indicators look good that means people passionate, it means they care. It's the same thing when I read on Vicary's blog time and time again that Boston is the most hated team on earth. First of all it makes me laugh of course but secondly it is definitely a good indicator because it means people have strong emotions, it means there is interest and it also means that we have a good team, no one would hate a "Tennesse". It is like an ex girlfriend who HATES you because you dumped her, she hates you because she still has feelings for you, there is certainly nothing bad about it. Anything beats indifference anyways, I think thats how you have look at it.

Daniel Ludwig said...

I have never had a problem with Lenderman winning board 3 prize while playing half his games on board 2. The reason is because isn't that the sign of a really really valuable player, when he can slide up a board for the team, and still perform at a high level?? Looking at the strongest lineups Queens could put together, Lenderman would always be on board 3 (Stripunsky/Schneider/Vovsha on 1&2), thus making Lenderman's natural position board 3. The fact that Lenderman played 4 games on board 2 does not diminish his performance, to me it distinguishes it!! In the same way, Magic Johnson wasn't seen as any less of a point guard in the 1980 or 1981 finals when he filled injured Abdul Jabar's center position, and scored a lot of points. Also, it would be kind of ridiculous to have an MVP who didn't even win his own board prize.

Bionic Lime said...

Daniel Ludwig said, "it would be kind of ridiculous to have an MVP who didn't even win his own board prize."

Well, not in the USCL, where the playoffs don't count for MVP.

Ilya said...

Agreed Bioncilime. It seems to me there is a lot of confusing in general what to do about playoffs, it doesnt count for MVP but it does count for board prize although no one knows how much. Then howcome there is no playoff MVP? The answer will prob be playoffs are too short. Then why not combine the two for MVP prize instead of doling out after the regular season.

Anonymous said...

I whole heartedly agree with JFern's rule proposal. I think it's ridiculous that Lenderman gets the board 3 prize when only half his games were played there (and where, incidentally, his only draw occurred, vs. Esserman!).

Lenderman already got the MVP prize for the whole season, partly because he did so well at bd. 2 and bd. 3. The board 3 prize should have gone to Marc.


Greg Shahade said...

If we only counted games played on a single board, Shankland would have won first place easily, as Esserman won a few games on Bd 4.

I think that given the fact that many teams used varied lineups all the time, it's kind of silly to only count games played on a particular board and there is zero chance that this rule will change in the future.

The only possible change would be that someone who has played an equal number of games on two boards may only be eligible for one of those boards, but probably this rule will remain as well...

Anonymous said...

Sam Shankland said "But for that matter, what about me?"

And in a later post...
"I won my only postseason game, I was just unlucky that my teammates could not send me further.

It's not about you. It's about San Francisco. Is that what the Mechanics are to you? A tool (no pun intended) for you to succeed and win an award?

If so, you're despicable.

Anonymous said...

Greg said:

"If we only counted games played on a single board, Shankland would have won first place easily, as Esserman won a few games on Bd 4.

I think that given the fact that many teams used varied lineups all the time, it's kind of silly to only count games played on a particular board and there is zero chance that this rule will change in the future."

Why? This is a BOARD prize... It should count for games played ON THAT BOARD. The MVP prize covers total performance on all boards.

Other sports don't take into account games played at another position when they are giving out position based awards (Gold Gloves, Pro Bowl, etc.)

On a general note, I'm getting sick and tired of your constant proclamations that there is "zero chance" of something changing in the future (e.g number of roster spots, average rating, etc., etc.); and also of your random, arbitrary, draconian rulings around the league. It's extremely disheartening to be involved in something when there is a despotic, heavy hand running things and there's no hope for any reasonable debate about how things happen. It took a lot of pleading by the members of the Blitz to keep me involved at all with the team anymore, I'm so disgusted.

There, I've vented, and I feel better, kind of.


Greg Shahade said...

Ok ok my wording was too harsh I admit there is more than zero chance of the rule changing.

I do think that it's important that we keep the rule as is for the time being, for various reasons. The most important reason is that
there just aren't enough games in the season, restricting prizes to one board really hurts teams that use flexible lineups.

I think the main thing that needs to be figured out is what to do in those spots where one has played an equal number of games on both boards. I'm personally totally fine with our current system, although as there are a few complaints it's worth looking into.

Ilya said...

Greg, I have to tell you from experience it is very hard to piss off Matt, he is as calm as a Hindu cow( Nothing against Hindu cows btw, so dont you all flip out on me ) yet, you've managed to do so on consistent basis this year... just a thought.

Robby said...

Perhaps you could have a rule that says that you need to play a minimum of lets say 4 games on a particular board to be eligible for the board prize, and that in the event you play the same number of games on diff boards, then you are only eligible for the higher of the 2 boards. Whats wrong with that solution?

Ilya said...

I like Robby's idea. I have to say I still cant get over the fact that Esserman got robbed, even the judges probably realized by now that they have erred. How can his 2265 league rating not outweigh Lenderman's slighly better record, when Alex is 2500+.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

The disrespect to Greg is crazy rude. This is his league. It's not a country where you have a right to vote. Such irresponsible and frankly childish comments make the league look bad to potenntial sponsors. Grow up.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Just to clarify I am responding to Matt and Ilya's comments, no one else's

Alex Lenderman said...

The rating that was used for me was 2463, Ilya.

Ilya said...

WOW,Instead of kissing my ass as she does everyone else's... DALLAS, ZORIGT, ZORIGT DALLAS, DALLAS, DALLAS, DALLAS, DALLAS, ZORIGT, DALLAS, KULJA... this is a copy of what mrs Vicary's finger notes look like on ICC...This is what I get?! I must say it is very upseting to me to miss out on being in the ASS KISSING CLUB ..ok I will live. I dont know what can be considered rude about what I said, it wasnt meant to disrespect Greg at all it-- it was just an observation I made based on knowing Matt for many years, the guy is just very calm all around, nothing seems to bother him AT ALL . I dont know how making this observation could have been interpreted as a disrespect to Greg, and "HIS" League. Greg has done a lot and I admire all the hard for he's put into the league and of course for coming up with the idea itself. That does not mean however, that I always agree with him and when I do not, I try to express as clearly as I can the nature of my disagreement. Last time, I checked we do not live in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, where Kissing ASS was a national past time as well as often a neccesity to survive (I think Vicary would have done well there)... If I was mistaken in that belief and if any descent is a crime against Greg the League,humanity and all the rest of it... then I sincerely apology and I will not speak again, please let me know.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I'm confused why you think I would or ought to kiss your ass, Ilya?! If you are wondering why I seem like such a pleasant person to everyone except you, it's because you never stop insulting me. Nothing more personal than that.

I think Greg is a very reasonable guy. He frequently seeks input from managers, makes a point of explaining the reasons behind his rules / rulings, and has what seem to me to be excellent people skills. I guess most people reading this will agree with me.

He's also works *very hard* at getting sponsorship and he does a great job. This money goes directly into *your* pocket and the pockets of other teams. Because this is the official blog of the league, it seems reasonable to assume that potential sponsors will read it. Consequently calling Greg "despotic" and implying that many people see him as unreasonable seems like counter-productive behavior. If you have such a serious problem, I think it would benefit the league if you handled it privately. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


I have the utmost respect for what Greg has done to form this league, I'm just angry at many of his decisions, and more the manner in which he makes them. It seems every suggestion, disagreement, etc. I've had with him has been summarily shot down with statements like "that will never change." Other sports leagues have owners meetings where they vote on rule changes, etc. Why not the USCL?

Last I checked there were 140 players, 14 managers, 14 TDs, and a host of other volunteers that run this league. I've been in this from the start, I happen to have (have had?) a LOT of passion for this league and my team. I've put huge amounts of time and effort into it for nothing in return. Proclamations like "it's his league" and "(you don't) have a right to vote" make my point. Well, I DO have a right to say what I feel. I'm sorry you think it's childish and rude, but I'm going to say it anyway. I know you are close to Greg, and you are defending him, but he needs to be able to take some criticism. I know I am used to being criticized; one of my own team members (who you were also close to once) has gone around trashing me to whoever will listen. Fine. I can take it. But, I think as a "founding member" of this league, I deserve some respect for my views, and for the work I've done, all of it very "grown up."


Elizabeth Vicary said...

If we make the USCL a democracy it will quickly become as polarized and dysfunctional as the USCF. Besides, nobody "owns" any teams.

Of course it's fine to disagree with rulings, and no one doubts the immense quality or quantity of work you put into the Blitz, Matt, but calling Greg names like despotic in public is irresponsible. I'm sure it was just a word chosen in haste. It's just that I know how hard Greg is working right now to get teams more money next year, and it makes me sad to see him handicapped by the very people he's putting himself out on a limb for.

Anonymous said...


I only called his hand "despotic." :) Seriously, I tried to be careful to only refer to his methods, and not to him personally.

I'll quote Greg: "Ok ok my wording was too harsh." (I actually edited myself before posting, removing the word "dictator" as too inflammatory!)

I know how hard Greg works, and if any potential sponsors are reading this, don't think badly of the league because of what I say.

I also realize that my feelings are just my own impressions (though I've heard hearsay that there are others around the league who feel similarly). My hope is Greg will realize that his near-instantaneous rejections of well intentioned suggestions have a bad effect on the morale of those of us who are on the front lines. Likewise, being called childish and rude isn't pleasant either.


Ilya said...

I guess She thinks it is ok to insult me, but not ok to point out the fact that she is an ass-kisser, which insnt an insult but a sad truth. Being an ass-kisser and being "nice" are two very distinct things mrs V. . I promote the league in my own way, not everyone likes it but tough luck, . People who know me well know what kind of a person I am, those who know me superficially and attack me based on supeficial things like my blog comments, I couldnt care less about those people think. Those who start on a collision course with me, those people will not be spared, that is my policy:) Happy Holidays to everyone.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

"I only called his hand "despotic." :) Seriously, I tried to be careful to only refer to his methods, and not to him personally."

Are you seriously defending yourself like this? You think there's a meaningful difference between Greg and his synecdochal hand?

Previously, you had written:

On a general note, I'm getting sick and tired of your constant proclamations that there is "zero chance" of something changing in the future (e.g number of roster spots, average rating, etc., etc.); and also of your random, arbitrary, draconian rulings around the league. It's extremely disheartening to be involved in something when there is a despotic, heavy hand running things and there's no hope for any reasonable debate about how things happen. It took a lot of pleading by the members of the Blitz to keep me involved at all with the team anymore, I'm so disgusted.

There, I've vented, and I feel better, kind of."

My point is that this is not a great place for you to trash Greg in order to make yourself feel better. And I agree it's not nice of me to call this behavior childish, but I think it's correct.

You continue:

I'll quote Greg: "Ok ok my wording was too harsh."

This is a fine example of his people skills-- he's being concillatory when he doesn't need to be.

It's very easy to argue for people to argue for changes without thinking about how they will affect the league as a whole. Expanding the rosters is a great example-- lots of managers would like this, but it would absolutely kill teams from smaller cities, like Carolina and Tennessee. They can barely find 8/2 players as it is, and expanding the rosters would make it nearly impossible for them to compete. If decisions are made by popular vote, rather than by a thoughtful commissioner who anticipates problems like this, then the USCL will become heavily biased against small teams. And then some other rule change will be proposed, and it will make a different minority-status team less competitive.

I also think it's disingenuous to say "other unnamed people agree with me." If that's *really* the case, they should speak for themselves.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

And Ilya--

"those who know me superficially and attack me based on supeficial things like my blog comments, I couldnt care less about those people think."

You think it's superficial to judge someone based on their (written) thoughts? It seems to me that this is the absolute *least* superficial thing to judge someone on.

Also, what specific ass-kissing behaviors are you refering to? Please tell me you aren't saying this simply because I agree with Greg or because I was rooting for Dallas.

Anonymous said...

Note the smiley face in my last comment.

Re: roster sizes.

I made the argument at the time that the 2400 rating limit is what protects the "small market" teams from being overrun by the teams with more higher rated players to choose from, NOT the roster size. But, that was ignored. Greg squashed any further debate on the topic. I think he's wrong, and I *have* thought about it's effect on the League; it will have NO effect on competition because of the rating limit, but it will allow more good players to play, and bring in more fans.

The point of venting here is because it's ignored elsewhere. The point of mentioning others who feel this way is the hope that they'll speak up, either here or privately to Greg.

Greg is a nice guy, he does have good people skills. I just don't like his management methods.

I'm done.

Ilya said...

If you always take my written blog comments seriously Mrs Vicary you are a DAMN FOOL, everyone who knows me well and again this goes back to my previous point, know that I am a big joker, I like to tease people and push their buttons a bit.

Ilya said...

I should probably add that I am by far not the only one in this League who speaks his mind, Nakamura and Ginsburg come to mind as well. It's just that I am not a grandmaster so some people in Dallas decided I would be an easy target but they were gravely mistaken as they have found out.

John said...

I agree 100% with Matt about increasing the 2400 rating cap.

Earlier in the season the idea was tossed around via e-mail and I made the point that a cap increase would be the natural progression for a competitive league like the USCL. Teams already field lineups with current ratings above 2425 or even pushing 2450, so why not just increase the cap? The current route to success in this league isn't "let's find the best players." Its "let's find the most underrated player within the last 12-month USCF supplement."

Greg is in a tough spot on this issue, though. Increasing the cap will definitely hurt the smaller market/expansion teams and we won't see nearly as competitive of matches as we have in the past. Still, if the USCL wants to legitimize itself and rival some very strong European leagues I don't see how the 2400 rating cap can stand for much longer.

Anonymous said...

I cant wait for " There is absolutely no chance this rule will change" --Greg and "It is his league, how dare you people" -E.V.

Greg Shahade said...

I began this league with something that some might call a "Constitution" in that there were certain guidelines that weren't going to change regardless of what anyone wanted. The main reason for this is because when creating the league, I felt as though it wouldn't be viable, and even more importantly, I wouldn't be interested in donating endless hours of my free time (it's basically a parttime job) to a product I didn't believe in.

These non-changing and not up for serious debate rules are:

1. 4 players per match
2. 2400 rating cap (Which we have created some medium sized workarounds so that teams can actually field lineups closer to 2450+ by using older rating lists and players above 2590)
3. 8 player rosters (To which I slightly amended by allowing 2 alternates)
4. The draw-odds playoff format
5. All matches will happen live on the Internet.

Certain changes to these above rules would suddenly make the USCL a product I don't believe in. I can state unequivocally that I no longer would believe in the USCL if the rating cap keeps increasing each year (and because I don't want to get started on a slippery slope, I intend for it to never increase).

The roster expansion is less serious, but I am very strongly opposed to it. The main reasons very quickly are that if rosters become too big, it results in all players playing fewer games on average, which IMO is quite bad for the league. I believe that it's not so interesting to fans to see a few extra random players play 1-2 games, but instead to see players who have played lots of games and built up records during the season, face off in key battles later on. Of course also roster expansion hurts small market teams, but honestly the previous reason is the most important to me.

My personal belief is that the current system, at least in regards to these above 5 rules, is close to perfect for what my vision was when the league began.

While there are of course lots of reasons why the European Leagues could be considered superior to the USCL, there are also reasons why the USCL could be considered superior, although these reasons are not likely to be felt so strongly at this moment by the players or managers, but much moreso by the fans.

Simply put this league is almost certainly the most popular organized chess league in the World when it comes to the fans observation on the Internet and probably has been since either it's first or second year of existence.

Of course it'd be nice if the above resulted in our players being paid a comparable rate to those in Europe, but that's going to be tough for a multitude of reasons.

It's my opinion that the only way to rival European leagues is to get a lot more money, not change some rules. Also I think we are beating them in some areas already, as stated above. This league is simply far more entertaining and fan friendly than any other league around the World. This is almost always going to be not too great of a concern to players and manager.s They are focused mostly on running their own team and not with the fans entertainment value, this is pretty clear by the fact that those with large player pools always want rule changes that help their cause while those that don't have such pools always want the opposite, yet in all cases they provide rationalizations for these opinions.

So it's no surprise that many of the managers have asked for certain changes throughout the years such as serious rating cap increases or roster size expansion, that in my strong opinion would make the league less fan friendly. Small Market teams constantly ask me to stop giving bonus points to high rated players, big market teams constantly ask me to increase the rating cap. As objective as managers think they are, logic would dictate that because teams almost always seem to actively argue for those rule changes that would probably be favorable to their particular teams, it would be best that I trust myself more in these matters.

I am not saying that everyone is biased in all circumstances but when Tennessee, Carolina, Philadelphia or any other team that has trouble finding high rated players in the area, comes to me with a request to start adding roster spots and raising the rating caps, instead of Boston, Dallas, San Francisco and New York then maybe I'll start to reconsider.

Anonymous said...

So there you all have it.

Greg's opinions are all that matters, and he won't budge. He may be correct, but I for one, would love to see more grandmasters playing, and not more 2100s playing. It seems teams like Tennessee aren't having a problem hiring a GM (like Ehlvest), so why not increase the level of play in the league? Won't that be better for the fans, and the long term reputation of the league? Won't that encourage the "small market" teams to raise sponsorship money, and hire more GMs (incidentally improving the prospects for chess as a career in the US)? Not according to Greg. These things aren't up for debate.

Once I had a vision that being involved in this league from the beginning was the start of a huge growth potential for *professional* chess in the US, but I guess that's not what Greg thinks the fans want. He wants to keep things the same and have experts battle it out on the lower boards so everyone can criticize their moves on ICC.

All I said was that I'm sick and tired of trying to improve things, and Greg just confirmed my vision is never going to happen.

My role in the league from now on is going to be setting up tables, chairs and computers for the guys, drinking a few beers afterward, and calling it a night. Why bother with anything else?


John Fernandez said...

I find it funny to see what this thread has degenerated into, since it is more or less the reason I'm not involved in chess anymore.

It is hard to appreciate what a brutal job and position Greg (and Arun, and others) are in. "Thankless" is always the word, as all you are doing is working really hard for something you love while everyone and their grandmother is critical of what goes on.

Where it crosses the line is where you go after the big picture of what Greg wants this league to be.

In just a very short time we went from having no team chess in the US to having a very successful 14 team league. Greg worked really hard to make that happen. Sure, there are a lot of people who have done their fair share, and those people ought to be thanked too. But even if the people who criticize Greg are ultimately right about their point, it is his call, and it should be. He puts it together, he raises the money.

Want to have a say? Take on huge work, donate a bunch of money, and I'm sure Greg will listen to you.

PS... Ilya, you're a douche.

Anonymous said...

OK, maybe what I'm trying to formulate in my annual tirade/freak-out is this:

Of course I appreciate what Greg, and all the others in the league, have done. I like to think I was one of those who poured a lot of work and heart into it too.

My frustration is that I want it to grow into so much more. I think it can. I think Greg's vision is too limiting. The growth strategy is to have more of the same product, and not to also improve the product's quality. Sure, we don't want to be like the French league where the richest team hires four top GMs and there's no competition, but at the same time shouldn't we even consider raising the level of play in the league?

I object to the subject being off the table, that's all. I'm not criticizing what Greg has done, I'm criticizing what he won't allow to happen in the future, which could be, in my opinion, a much better product.

I'm the only club player directly involved in the league (I think), and my fellow patzers want to see more of the Christiansens and less of the Krasiks (no offense Ilya!).


Ilya said...

Whaaaaaaat?? First Fernandez calls me a deuche for no reason and then I am told that people want more Christiansens and less Krasiks, what a tragedy in the making... :)

Rihel said...

Sorry to extend the sometimes painful conversation, but as a pure USCL fan, with little direct involvement in the league other than to make up (sometimes) funny commentary on the Boylston Chess Blog, I would like to throw in my 2 cents.

Both Greg and Matt make points that are pertinent to improving the league in ways that fans like me want to see. Greg is absolutely right about rosters, in that it is way more fun for fans when the same group is always playing. In big markets like NY, they could easily have a swinging door of strong players each week, but gone would be the heros and villians, the rematches, and much of the stats (which drives BionicLime and other fans, for exmaple) that depend on players playing many games (also important for the awards, which are fun for fans, too.)

Matt's point about wanting to see more GMs and IMs playing is partly right from where I sit. On the one hand, I do like to see the younger players on Board 4 getting a shot at playing in the league. That can only bring in younger fans who may aspire to the same, or just want to watch their friends/enemies. But, we do want to keep the GMs playing in the league, and the GM games are very popular.

Greg's idea of a 2400 floor buffered by bonuses for the very strong players seems a reasonable balance. I had thought that the bonuses was going to increase 10 rating points each year, though, which I thought was a good idea to keep the league slowly getting stronger. I suppose the right balance could be determined mathematically-- what is the point where the most teams would still have room for the 2200-2300 Board 4 but also have room to field a 2300-2400 Board 3 an IM/GM on board 2,and a GM at the top.

Of course, the other way for big markets to allow for more players is to have some expansion teams in the biggest markets. That has certainly worked in the NY/NJ area. Boston/New England could be another area that would work. Of course, Greg needs to keep the size of the league within reason, and there are still some big chess markets that aren't being well-represented in the League. But maybe part of Matt's specific problem in Boston would be a New England expansion team.

Daniel Ludwig said...

That's not a bad idea Mr. Rihel, but the problem with that, is I think Greg wants to make into a true east and west league, hoping to add teams on the west coast. But your idea still stands, and perhaps at some point there could be a team like Golden State (a second san fran team).

Now, I wanted to chime in, because I feel like I am one of the least biased people here. Being from Orlando, there is no team I am particularly affiliated with. First off, I definitely agree with John F. He is right on about how what Greg does is thankless. I remember being shocked the first time I found out he wasn't pocketing a cent for all his effort. Thus, if someone is doing all this for free, you better believe he is passionate, and doing things in what he feels is the best interest for everyone. Now, as for this rating cap being pushed up, Matt is simply too biased, and his arguments are absolutely terrible. He points out how Tennesse now has Ehlvest, but even so, things still aren't that clear. First of all, you never know how long someone like that is going to stick around. Secondly, he only played 6 games I believe, so for 4 of those matches Tennessee is still really struggling. Now Matt, what argument are you going to make for Carolina? How they keep up with the rating cap increase? Carolina is a team that seems to be dependent upon talented players going to school in the area, and hopefully they will find replacements for them in 4 years. A team like Carolina will never be able to bring a GM in, and the fact that Tennessee did was very fortunate.

I think the appropiate way to look at this whole situation is to decide whether you want this league to be like the NFL or something like the Premier League and Spanish League. One easy way to describe the NFL is parity. Clearly, certain teams in the NFL find ways to always be good, such as the Steelers or Patriots, in the same way teams like San Fran and Boston are always good. The nice thing though about this style of a league, is that there is always a new surprise team like this year Carolina really stepped up. This to me is SO MUCH better than the premier league (and i'm not saying i like football better than soccer, this simply an argument for way the league is structured). In the premier league we always know what 4 teams will be good: Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal. Anyone remember a year when these teams weren't good? On the flipside, when's the last time sunderland, tottenham, and blackburn were any good? Okay Matt, we get the point, your team is good, and if we changed the structure of the league it would be you, san fran, some ny team at the top every year. But that's not what I or most others want, a league where before the first week we already know who will be good and who will be bad.

P.S.--Ilya you are a douche, and I guess that does make me a damn fool too, because I also think that one of the most important indicators of what kind of person someone is, is how they represent themselves through speech/writing.

Anonymous said...

Good points, of course. But my point is the league as a whole gets more fans when there are better players playing (just look at the numbers on ICC watching a GM tournament vs. watching a USCL match). The more fans we draw, the more attractive we are to sponsors, the more sponsorship money, the more a team like Carolina can attract stronger players, etc. etc. I don't know what arrangements Tennessee had with Ehlvest, but I don't believe he lives there? If I'm wrong, let me know. I know Shabalov was paid to travel to NY and play; he lives in Pittsburgh. The parity in the NFL is because of the salary cap, things are similar in the USCL because we all get the same share of the sponsorship money.

More GMs = more money; more money = more GMs.

It's a chicken and egg problem, I know. But I think the league is stable enough now to at least consider these issues, instead of declaring that things will "never change."
If things never change, how can they get better?

Sure I'm biased, but only because I'm most familiar with our situation; one shared by a majority of teams (nine, ten?). Should we cater to a small minority of teams and let the whole league stagnate? I don't know.

The big question is where should the league be headed? I believe it should be onward and upward. Greg just wants to go onward.

Anyway, I'm glad we're talking about it at least. I'd like to hear more from Greg, but it's the holidays, and I understand he's on vacation now. A well deserved one!


Rihel said...


Yes, L.A. probably needs a team. Florida could probably host two teams. The Midwest could use some more teams I'd guess, too-- St. Louis now they have such a premier club. Maybe a Toronto, Canada would be an awesome addition, too.

So having another New England team probably isn't a priority, but we do have a strong USCL fanbase, and people would enjoy seeing a matchup of Larry C. vs. Eugene P., Chris Williams vs. Krasik, etc.... Certainly New England could host a balanced team of 4 IMs/near IMs without changing the Blitz main lineup at all.

Rihel said...

One point related to Matt's--

One weird thing that happens because of the current league structure is that rapidly improving players improve themselves off the team. For example, Denys Shmelov had a blockbuster year in 2007 for the Blitz, but this year his rating was such that he could hardly ever be used. Marc Esserman certainly will have rated himself off the team next year. Chris Williams did the same. As a fan, something doesn't quite seem right about that. By virtue of having great USCL seasons, they brought some fans to attention. Ironically, because of their good play, they then get dropped from the team.

Ilya said...

Jason, I would maybe agree that rapidly improving players improve themselves off the team but...not with your examples... Shmelov played I believe 6-7 games this year, Williams is now rated 2240, after a peak of 2360 and I would not be suprised to see him on the team next year, Esserman can play board 2 next year. So while its true that the team becomes too stacked and someone will have to be let go, your examples are just poor. I also dont think we need another team in NE, as I do not believe it could compete with the Blitz if you do not take out a couple of strong players already on the team. Yes, LA needs a team and I've asked Greg repeatedly about that, he just said no one showed interest over there, no one applied.

P.S: To be in step with the currect trend I should call Ludwig, a douchebag, scum bag and all other known bags.. without any explanation ,preceeded by a P.S.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

does that make me a baguette?

Chris said...

Hello! For context, I'm the Chris M. Dickson who blogs about the USCL once a year. I wouldn't normally comment but someone has hit on my specialist subject.

On the flipside, when's the last time sunderland, tottenham, and blackburn were any good?

As a fourth-generation fan, the last time Sunderland AFC were any good was Saturday, when they had a triumphant 4-0 victory over the might of West Bromwich Albion. Slightly more seriously, we finished 7th of 20 in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, which most fans considered to be pretty spectacular. You might, quite reasonably, consider this to be an illustration of the problem, when finishing 7th of 20 is considered a major success, and I do agree with what you say far more than I disagree with it. (I will say, though, "what about that Hull City?" and "what about that Aston Villa?" before I return to the topic at hand.)

I reckon Greg and Arun do a 9½/10 job at running the USCL, and the missing half-point is largely a matter of taste. Greg has taken some definite decisions about what sort of league he wants to run. There definitely is scope for other chess ventures as well; an unrestricted no-holds-barred Boston vs. New York (or Dallas, or San Francisco, or London, or Paris) match would be interesting, but it would be interesting in different ways to the USCL. There is plenty of room for such ventures to coexist. Matt, under your stewardship, the Boston Blitz have become the most fascinating, well-developed, respectworthy organisation in the league; if you don't have the capacity to start a hypothetical World Internet Chess League - not at all a small undertaking - perhaps just one exhibition match might show another step ahead.

If I had the time, capacity and talent to run a chess league - which I don't - then I wouldn't run it like the USCL. This definitely doesn't make the USCL bad, though. You've just got to prioritise between getting attention through having the strongest possible players involved and getting attention through having a fascinating, unpredictable, representative league. I have a strong suspicion that the arguments in favour of "strongest possible players involved" prove not to be as convincing in practice as they are in theory; I have written in the past comparing the 4 Nations Chess League with the USCL as an illustration of the possible pitfalls. The German Bundesliga takes it all several steps further, of course.

Unrelatedly, on the "the best players play themselves out of the team" issue, I would hate to think that anyone in any team might sandbag their rating just for the benefit of USCL eligibility. (I don't think there's any evidence that it has happened, and I think players are far too protective of their rating for it ever to happen.) Greg did say, in the interview I conducted with him last year, that the league might rerate players if they thought it had occurred. That's the only way the whole operation can run, of course.

Rihel said...

Chris didn't get any play this year; the fact that he has to lose a bunch of rating points to be a regular next year only underscores my point. Marc is going to be rated off the team-- he'll be well over 2400, right in the sweet spot of not getting much play for the Blitz. Of my examples, Denys was the poorest, since he did get to play this year -- just not as much as he should have warranted from his play last year. For example, he didn't get to play in the playoffs or in some key matchups.

To expand to two New England teams might require a few Blitz players, but with a 2.5 GM lineup already something like 3.5 IM quality players, and a host of good players playing 1-3 games for the Blitz at most, there are players to spare.

Ilya said...

Some people have unreal tendency to twist everything...Chris didnt play this year because he was an alternate. The decision to make him an alternate was made last minute, less than one week prior to the season, and it wasnt because if his rating, nor his chess ability. I think you know damn well, that he was going through some personal problems and to pretend that "he didnt play because of his rating" is just pathetic. Your example with Denis, I already shot down, and as far as Esserman there is no reason why cant play b2 and bd 3 like Lenderman did this season, after all he will only be rated 2315 or at most 2350.

Elizabeth Vicary said...


John Fernandez said...


Do you really want this to become like the Bundesliga, where random people fly in once a week to play on the Internet and change teams every season?

The great thing about the USCL is that the players are there, living there, playing there. It's not like someone is going to become a free agent and play for Tennessee to get more playing time.

New York vs. Boston is players FROM New York playing players FROM Boston.

That's what makes it great.

No one watches Bundesliga, French League, 4NCL live. Sure, you get some fun games between strong players, but you have to love the true rivalries that this format brings.

Rihel said...


With the Blitz team, it comes down to the logic of math. There is a reason that you are playing on Board 4-- your rating is low enough. If you play Board 1-- GM, Board 2-- GM or Jorge, Board 4, Ilya, you have to have a rating of Board 3 that must be lower than 2276. That leaves out Chris, Denys, and Marc. Chris just wouldn't fit most of the lineups that the Blitz are likely to employ. This is one reason why David Vigorito played only 3 games this year; there isn't room in most weeks for a 2400+ player. Of course, Denys, Marc, and Chris are able to play filler roles when the Blitz can't field their top teams. Marc was able to play and win so many games only because he was underrated. Not underrated anymore? Not as much playing time. It is math, not a twisting of everything.

John said...

I think some of you are missing Matt's main point.

Of course the changes he proposes involving rosters, rating caps, etc. are controversial. Perhaps a rating cap > 2400 isn't the best fit for the league at the moment. However, for Greg to say that these things will NEVER CHANGE and are NOT UP FOR DEBATE is definitely heavy-handed and dogmatic.

To me, the USCL is like a great experiment. These first four seasons have been a tremendous success and Greg/Arun obviously deserve the lion's share of the credit. Still, it is impossible to design a charter that accounts for all future scenarios and ignores the fact that this is a young, dynamic league. How many amendments does the US Constitution have? Obviously that is a much more complicated document, but the same principle applies. Even the best-laid plans should be subject to change based on circumstance. We must be flexible with this developing league.

The debates we have via e-mails, threads, and forums are all designed to improve the USCL. We should listen to the views of all fans, players, and managers and not dismiss their ideas out of devotion to a dogmatic charter. I think, ultimately, Greg is doing a fine job with this, but it is a bit concerning when he starts listing off "absolutes."

Ilya said...

Wrong again, Williams is 2240, which means he can easily play bd 3 next year in the aformention lineup you mention, you are just very lazy about your facts.
Also, I already told Esserman to sandbag to the 2276 level, so not to worry..j/k.

Rihel said...


I am talking about this year, when his league rating is listed at 2298.

That is about 20 points too high to play regularly for the Blitz, regardless of whether other circumstances let him play or not.

Of course, this improving yourself off the team is a function of Boston's particular "top heavy" lineup, so maybe it doesn't happen too much across the league. But as a fan, you kind of notice when these all-star players are disappearing from regular Blitz play because the lineup can't accomodate them.

Ilya said...

I already explained that Chris would have played had he been on the main roster... Another point is that we could have used another lineup for the playoffs. In particular I suggested playing vs Carolina without me --going with Eugene/Jorge Shmelov Riordan Esserman (Larry was away) a team that beat Carolina easily in week 2 but as both Riordan and Shmelov felt this wasnt the best lineup, we ultimately decided to go with the proven formula-- two monsters, esserman and I.

Anonymous said...


Good point. Alas, It's already happening with Ehlvest, and Shabalov. Maybe they're rare exceptions though.

John B.

Thank you! Someone has finally seen through the clutter of my crazed ranting.

Will we see you guys at USATE this year?

Jason and Ilya, see my spreadsheet with possible lineups using all the available (at the time) rating lists:

(See, I do put some effort into choosing lineups. :) )


Ilya said...

Of course Matt, I was looking at this before the season began, as we do every year. Stop giving away state secrets dude!! :)

Greg Shahade said...

I had to delete my previous comment because I realize I need to be a lot more careful with my words.

John, nothing is absolute. However I don't think we are at the stage where I'd strongly consider any changes like those mentioned.

In any case I'd hope that people trust me to be smart enough to perhaps consider a few changes more should there ever be a situation in which such changes would be favorable.

I'm not completely bound to some statements I made on a blog to never change anything for the rest of time. It's nice to see people care about the league so much to have such strong opinions, but on the other hand there needs to be some consistency, and I can say with quite a degree of confidence that expanded rosters and rating cap raises won't happen within the next few years.

Who knows how I will feel in a few years. Right now I believe that I'll feel the same way I do now, which is that these rules are currently non-negotiable, but things can always change.

My gut instinct is that with the current state of U.S. Chess, making these changes would negatively affect the league and I simply refuse to do anything that I believe will hurt the USCL and make it a less interesting product not only to fans and players but also to me.

Robby said...

I know I have said this before, but the USCL and the efforts of Greg are tremendous. Being a first year player in the USCL this year, I am thankful of the opportunity to participate and my teammates on the Scorpions enjoyed it too.

I know everyone has the right to their opinion, but the tone of some comments on here bother me a lot. I do not agree with Greg on some of the rules and have told him so, but none of you can honestly believe he doesnt have the best interests of hte league at heart. Greg created this league. He runs the show, thats it.

It is acceptable for others to offer their opinion, but there also needs to be respect shown, and particularly toward Greg. If you want to have a discussion, be civil about it.

I would agree Greg should not be as strong in his word choice about something never changing, but remember, leaving a commnent on a blog is not meant to be taken as serious as a more well drafted response.

Thank your lucky stars that all of you have something cool to participate in.

Anonymous said...

OK, I apologize for my tone. It's frustration and passion mixed together. Not a good combination.

I certainly didn't mean to belittle Greg's accomplishments, nor his level of dedication. Obviously, the USCL wouldn't exist at all without him.

However, I stand by my opinions, and I encourage others to chime in for or against.

And please don't just say "it's Greg's league, he can do what he wants, so shut up." That is true, but shouldn't we at least discuss his "gut instincts" instead of trusting them blindly?


Greg Shahade said...

Matt another point is as follows. There are lots of varied teams that have put a ton of work into this league and have a lot invested. I believe that they need to know that we aren't going to just change a rule, a rule that keeps them competitive, and thus end up making the league less interesting to them.

I want teams to know what they are going to be facing for the next few years, and not constantly worried that we are going to institute some rule changes that may crush them. Even debating this topic leaves all of these teams in a very unpleasant and uncomfortable situation.

It's as if in the NBA everyone started discussing the idea of eliminating the salary cap. Suddenly the poor teams in smaller markets know that at any moment a change could come that would render them unable to compete. The fans might preemptively lose hope, knowing that automatic losing seasons are just around the corner if the commissioner decides it so. Just the spectre of this hanging over their head could be extremely unpleasant to everyone involved with the organization.

This is one reason why I like to emphasize that the league is committed to these rules that help to level the playing field, for quite a long time.

What I'm saying is that I think that stating that these concepts are not up for debate anytime soon helps to encourage teams that have a tougher time fielding 2400+ teams, and doing the opposite would discourage them and perhaps also discourage them from putting many resources towards the team, or towards prospective expansion teams even bothering to try to put a team together, because they know the axe may fall at any point. As long as we sit and discuss an idea that severely handicaps many teams in the league, it will have a negative overall affect IMO. I feel that it's very important to have a level of consistency in place.

Chris said...

That is true, but shouldn't we at least discuss his "gut instincts" instead of trusting them blindly?

In general terms regarding chess league design, sure, it's a very interesting topic and a discussion well worth having, possibly somewhere else, but Greg is well within his rights to say that he cannot ever conceive of wanting to change some things in the USCL while he's commissioner. (So, I suppose, the answer to your questions is "Greg's absolutely fine to say it's not - or, at least, not in the context of the USCL".)

This paper may be of interest. From the abstract: "Teams and broadcasters maximize expected profits, while the
league’s objective may be either to maximize the demand for the sport or to maximize the
teams’ joint profits. Demand depends positively on symmetry among teams (competitive
balance) and how aggressively teams try to win (incentives to win). Revenue sharing increases
competitive balance but decreases incentives to win. Under demand maximization, a
performance-based reward scheme (used by European sport leagues) may be optimal. Under
joint profit maximization, full revenue sharing (used by many US leagues) is always optimal." The financial side is something of an exaggeration regarding market forces in chess, but the principle is there. The USCL is run rather like a US league in many other sports; I'm not sure whether that was a deliberate decision, or Greg going with what he's familiar with because it's the only thing he's familiar with. Many European leagues in chess and other sports illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of the "maximise the demand for the sport" approach. If your preference among chess leagues would be to strive for a different goal to Greg's, then so be it.

I'm not sure that one approach is inherently superior, even the USCL one, but the USCL shows that one implementation can work damn well.a

EJ said...

Just because I can't help myself... here's a list of baseball MVP winner who were NOT selected to be All-Stars that same year.

Justin Morneau 2006
Chipper Jones 1999
Juan Gonzalez 1996
Terry Pendleton 1991
Robin Yount 1989
Kirk Gibson 1988
Willie Stargell 1979
Dave Parker 1978
Don Newcombe 1956
Hank Greenberg 1935

In case anyone was interested.

- EJ