Nemeses and punching bags

by admin on December 22, 2010

The U.S. Chess Federation keeps upgerading the quality of its member statistics. The latest goodie is a “Game Statistics” page, which lets you see things like this:

  • Your overall won-loss record since 1991.
  • Your won-loss against each 100-point rating tier.
  • Your won-loss record year by year.
  • Your top 30 opponents — not by rating, but by the number of times you have played them.

I think the last feature is my favorite one, because it’s a trip down memory lane. Here are the four people I have played the most times (since 1991):

  1. Michael Aigner — 11 times
  2. Juan Diego Perea — 6 times
  3. Ilan Benjamin — 5 times
  4. William D. Pace, Jr. — 5 times

The first three names were no big surprise; I’ve mentioned previously in this blog how many times I have played Michael (and how sorry my results have been). But the fourth name was a real surprise. William Pace was a class-A player back in Ohio, and I have to admit that I barely remember him. I moved away from Ohio in 1996, and he moved away in 1997, to Arizona.

Not only can you look up this stuff for yourself, you can look it up for other people! This makes it possible to play an interesting game, which I’ll call “Going Up the Ladder.”

As noted before, Michael Aigner is my toughest opponent; my lifetime record against him is +2 -8 =1. But who is Michael’s nemesis? Answer: Ricardo de Guzman. They have played thirty-five times, and Michael has won one of them (+1 -25 =9). That’s just sick. If I played one guy 35 times and had only one win, I think I would take up another game.

All right, then, who is de Guzman’s nemesis? Well, de Guzman doesn’t lose much, and in fact there is only one player (among his 30 most frequently played opponents) against whom he has a losing record: Alex Yermolinsky (+2 -4 = 2). I’m not sure you can call that a nemesis. Given that Yermo has outrated him by 2oo points or so every time they’ve played, I’d say that de Guzman has done pretty darned well against him. Probably a better nemesis would be Yian Liou, who has an even record against de Guzman (+4 -4 =5) in spited of being rated much lower.

Nevertheless, let’s keep going with Yermolinsky. Who is hardest person for Yermo to beat? Answer: Jaan Ehlvest (+1 -4 = 5). The toughest out for Ehlvest? Assuming we are only considering Americans, the answer is Gata Kamsky (+0 -2 = 5). And finally, who is Kamsky’s biggest nemesis in the U.S.?

Ha! Trick question! Kamsky does not lose to American players. Yeah, there’s a guy named Nakamura, but they have drawn all four of their games.

We can also reverse the direction. In “Down the Ladder,” you look for the people who are your personal punching bags. There tends to be a problem with people who have quit the game, so I have excluded people who have not played in the last 12 months.

My most co-operative opponent: Jim Parker (peak rating 1690), +3 -0 =0. However, this does not include Santa Cruz Cups 1-3, which were not rated. (Cups 4 and 5 were.) If you include those tournaments, my record against Jim goes to +6 -0 =0.

Jim’s best punching bag: Ted Belanoff (peak rating 2032), +4 -0 =0. This is pretty amazing, since Belanoff is now rated so much higher than Jim! Presumably Jim’s four wins came when Ted was rated a lot lower.

Ted Belanoff’s favorite opponent: Kyle Shin (peak rating 2095), + 6 -1 = 0. We’re still going up the rating scale rather than down! These are both scholastic players, and again it’s reasonable to think that Belanoff’s wins came when Shin was just starting out.

Kyle Shin’s favorite opponent: Kesav Viswanadha (peak rating 2006), +4 -0 = 0.

Kesav Viswanadha’s favorite opponent: Thadeus Frei (peak rating 1903), +3 -0 =0.

After Thadeus, the exercise starts to lose its point, because he hasn’t scored three tournament wins against anybody yet. Probably he would want me to mention that he has two wins in two games against Cailen Melville, but I’ll stop here.

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