Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Turkey of a Deal

  Three weeks ago, I predicted that Viswanathan Anand would retain his world chess championship over the youthful world #1 Magnus Carlsen in a close match decided by tiebreakers and said I’d love to make a bet on Anand getting two games. It’s a good thing no one took me up on the bet since Carlsen easily defeated Anand 3-0 with 7 draws. Anand had a chance to draw first blood in game 3 but couldn’t get the win and was outplayed in game 5 and a blunder in game 6 sealed his fate. Carlsen will be a great World Champion and having a youthful champion from Europe making millions of dollars just from endorsements will give chess a more popular footing in the mainstream media at least temporarily. I’ll know the boost has staying power and chess is really mainstream when a search for ‘Magnus Carlsen’ on TMZ turns up more than news about Will Ferrell’s son Magnus and some titillating details of Boy George and his male escort from 2008 (Don't believe me? Click this and check for yourself). My prediction of the match had solid reasoning behind it but was as wrong as wrong can be. Unfortunately for me, another plan of mine went so wrong this week it made my world championship prediction look like psychic wizardry!

  Last month I got a phone call from a company wanting me to take part in a brief survey about the air quality in my home. I took the survey in the hopes of being able to pull some sort of phone pranks like I did last year but the questions were pretty vanilla and there wasn’t even a sales pitch to go along with it. Two weeks ago I got a phone call from the FiltroPur air purifiication company thanking me for taking part in the survey and offering me a home demonstration of their fine air purification products and in return for my time I’d get a $100 gas card! I liked the idea of getting $100 for an hour’s non-work so I scheduled the demonstration for Monday since I was taking Thanksgiving week off from work.

Meet Sandra, the FiltroPur demo lady and her laser particle counter which told me I had a quarter million particles per cubic foot of air in my house!

  I forgot all about the demonstration until yesterday when I get a reminder call from the company. The reminder person asked if ‘my wonderful wife’ was going to be part of the demo. Kathy wanted no part of the demonstration and quickly made plans to take Ben (home from college for Thanksgiving week) out shopping. I told the reminder person that while my wonderful wife wouldn’t be at the demo, my two beagles would attend and likely be active participants.

  The demo was scheduled for 1:00 and at 1:30 I got a call from Sandra the demo lady to let me know that she was at the front door (for inquiring minds, yes I do have a doorbell). I turned off the rerun of Walker, Texas Ranger I was watching and let Sandra and her two large cases in the house. Daisy and Baxter barked and howled for a few minutes at this intrusion but quickly calmed down and settled down to watch the demo with me.

  Sandra exchanged some pleasantries with Daisy and Baxter and myself and then got right down to business. She sent up a couple of test balloons by asking if anyone in the house smoked or had allergies which I parried by answering no. Sandra was ready for that and launched into a talk about how the air inside houses is more polluted than the air outside the home. The she plugged in a laser particle counter which told me there were a quarter of a million particles of different kinds in every cubic foot of air in my house. I assumed it was a high number because of the dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits but Sandra said that the number was low and that some of the houses have half a million particles per cubic foot. Sandra started talking about all the different kinds of particles in the house. I must have flinched when she mentioned dust mites because she stopped listing the different particles and mentioned how nasty dust mites were and that morning breath and tired eye were caused by inhaling dust mites overnight and having them land around my eyes and start crawling inside. Dust mites must be a pretty common ‘flinch’ line because Sandra had a picture of dust mites enlarged over 1,000 times and showed off her knowledge of dust mite trivia by telling us that dust mites defecate 20 times a day, a fact which impressed Daisy and Baxter greatly.

Daisy and Baxter inspect the FiltroPur SFS air purifier and Commercial vacuum cleaner

  I was thoroughly disgusted by the thought of breathing in all these dust mites and having them defecating on my eyeballs while I was sleeping and considering building myself a bubble to live out the rest of my days when Sanda told me that FiltroPur had a solution – The FiltroPur SFS (Sanitizing Filtration System). What looked like a cheap plastic air cleaner that was sold at Wal-Mart for $59 was really a hospital grade FDA approved particle remover that could clean 1000 cubic feet in just a few minutes with a very fancy looking metallic filter and a lifetime warranty that was valid as long as you purchased a $129 filter every year. Sandra proceeded to plug in the laser particle counter again and put it right next to the SFS which registered less than 1000 particles per cubic foot!

  I asked how much the SFS cost not so I could buy one but so I could say I couldn’t afford it and get my gas card but Sandra said she couldn’t tell me the price until she showed me two other products. One was the Enviro-Breeze furnace filter that would make the air coming out of my furnace super clean and only cost $149 and never need replacing and the other was the FiltroPur Commercial vacuum cleaner which Sandra demonstrated by vacuuming dirt through a filter using every one of the eight attachments that came with the machine and then pulling out the filter.

  Once Sandra had finally finished with all the air purification and vacuuming, it was finally time for the prices. The SFS and the Commercial cost $1899 each BUT I could buy three of the units for the price of two ($3798) and four for the low, low price of $5048 that was good only during Sandra’s visit.

Only $3,780 for three units with easy payment options...(Click any picture to enlarge)

  Despite the sales pitch, I still wasn’t buying any air filtration products so Sandra played her final card and showed me the three easy payment options for the $3798 two unit package. There was the ‘Budget’ plan where you pay $4,789 over 3 years, the ‘Economy’ plan where you pay $4,624 over 2 years, and the ‘Executive’ plan which costs $4,348 over 1 year. I noticed that there was no plan that allowed for a cash payment so I offered up the ‘Buffett’ plan where you can pay the full price right away. Sandra said she would bring that idea to her bosses and offered to let me pay the full price right away. I declined and Sandra packed up the SFS, the Enviro-Breeze, and the Commercial and put them all back into her car and returned with my $100 gas card.

  Except it wasn’t a $100 gas card. It was a card that had a registration form that I had to fill out and mail in and THEN after 8 to 10 weeks I’ll get a voucher for $10 dollars that I have to mail in with a gas receipt to get a check AND THEN I can mail away for another voucher and EVEN THEN I can only redeem one voucher every 30 days. So it will take over a year to get my $100 in free gas if nothing gets lost in the mail.

When is a $100 gas card not a $100 gas card? When it is a card offering 10 $10 gas vouchers with 19 rules and regulations. It was enough to make these turkeys happy that Thanksgiving was just around the corner.

  I’ll spend some time filling out all the forms in an attempt to get my free gas, but it was wrong of FiltroPur to tell me I’d be getting a $100 gas card when I was really getting a registration card for a voucher system. And I was wrong not to ask for the card up front before wasting my time listening to Sandra talk about clean air and filtration and breathing dust mites in my sleep. I made it clear on the phone and during the demo that I wasn’t going to be buying any air filtration products and now I know that the only reason FiltroPur sent a sales representative was that they weren’t going to be giving me a gas card either. But know that I know this scam, the next time Filtropur calls, things will be different.

In this scene from classic movie 'The Punisher', our hero Frank Castle liberates the ill-gotten gains from the company that preys on the innocents that host air-filtration demonstrations in the expectation of getting a $100 gas card only to be given phony instructions for time-wasting vouchers....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Arvin Jackson, Loan Officer in
The Bigger They Are The More You Can Loan Them

  Arvin Jackson headed into the office on a Wednesday morning thinking this had to be the best day of the week so far since anything short of a car accident would put this day at the top of a train wreck of a week. Missing out on the promotion to Senior Loan Officer Monday wasn’t totally unexpected. Arvin was the frontrunner until he found Billy the intern sleeping in the supply closet last week and asked him to come out of the closet and get to work. Someone from Human Resources overheard and sent an email to the entire company detailing the incident to make sure that everyone knew World Bank Unlimited was a ‘diversity friendly’ workplace full of tolerance except for diversity intolerance which would not be tolerated and that Arvin had been scheduled for a 48 hour sensitivity training boot camp to be held on Super Bowl weekend.

  “The promotion wasn’t that important. You didn’t really want the window office.”, Arvin told himself as he wound his way to the roof top of the parking garage. Billy got a promotion to Junior Loan Officer to pre-empt any legal action for his ‘humiliation’ and Arvin imagined the extra money would come in handy since Billy had recently been arrested for selling drugs to half of the companies in the building to supplement his intern's income.

  As Arvin got out of his car, the morning long drizzle turned into a downpour with a crack of thunder as he ran to the elevator which started its journey to the 40th floor just before he got to the door. As Arvin pushed the button to summon another elevator he thought about how he would have to hang his coat up to dry in his interior office which reminded him of Tuesday’s performance review when he was told that he was in danger of being moved to a cubicle if he didn’t start approving more loans. “Approving loans is how this company stays in business!” the Vice President of Loan Officers said. Arvin’s argument that while approving loans was important it was equally important not to be the loan holder when the client went bankrupt fell on deaf ears.

  Arvin smiled as he got onto the elevator, thinking about his almost supernatural ability to be the next to last lender - gaining high interest rates and fees and a nice commision before another bank would issue a bigger loan to pay off World Bank Unlimited only to see the client declare backrupcy. But all this new V.P. cared about was getting loans on the balance sheet which was how she got the job in the first place and it didn’t matter that the officers that approved the shakiest of loans were just using World Bank Unlimited to pad their statistics to get a bigger offer from their next job. Most of these kids never saw a year at World Bank before moving on and leaving the unpaid loans they approved for the V.P. to explain to the board (which was how the V.P. job opened up in the first place). Arvin thought he was immune to this ‘approval’ pressure after seven years at World Bank Unlimited but knew he could play the game as well as anyone and would start approving loans and bring his resume to the Third National Bank on the 28th floor since they were looking for Senior Loan Officers.

  Before Arvin could get to his office he was stopped by a large man with sunglasses and a black suit. “You’ll have to wait here, sir”, said the man. Arvin could see his co-workers peeking around the corners and heard whispering about an SEC investigation. There were three people in black suits waving electronic devices in his office and another two dozen black suited people sweeping the rest of the office with electronic devices. Arvin tried to ask the large man in the sunglasses and black suit what was going on but was not getting any response except for the monotonic “You’ll have to wait here, sir”. After a few minutes the man pressed a button on his headgear and said “All clear”.

  At that point a hushed silence came into the room as the elevator doors opened and the President of the United States strode through the hallway surrounded by an entourage of black suited people that Arvin now realized were Secret Service personnel. The President walked directly to Arvin and grabbed his hand saying “Arvin Jackson, it’s nice to meet you. Can we talk for a few minutes?”

  Arvin stammered out “Of course, Mr. President. Let’s go into my office.” The President and three secret service types came into the office while Arvin hung his wet coat up while noticing that the President and all the black suited types were completely dry. Arvin asked the President what brought him to World Bank Unlimited and the President said “Arvin, I need a loan. I had my friends at the NSA look up loan officers whose phone conversations and emails showed they believed in our vision for America and your name was at the top of the list.”

  “I’m glad to hear that, Mr. President. Are you looking for a personal loan or are you planning on starting up a foundation for your post-presidential years…?”

  “Arvin, I’m looking for a business loan of sorts.”

  Arvin was confused. Surely the President of the United States could snap his fingers and have enough donations to fund a small country. Thinking this was some sort of photo opportunity for the President, Arvin brought up the loan application form on his computer and asked how much the President was looking to borrow.

  “I would like to borrow 600 billion dollars, Arvin.”

  Arvin broke into a coughing fit when he heard that, but he quickly grabbed a sip of water. He was sure this was some sort of a practical joke but decided to play along and said “So what is this loan for specifically, Mr. President?”

  “I need to balance our country’s budget. The opposition won’t let me raise taxes and my supporters won’t allow me to cut spending so the country needs a loan until the economy turns around.”

  “I don’t see why this can’t happen. Float loans typically need some sort of collateral. Perhaps the oil and mineral rights in the National Parks System?”

  “I’d love to Arvin, but the only collateral I can only offer is the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”

  “Not a problem, Mr. President. Let’s pull up the credit history. Oh my, it seems the country is 17 TRILLION DOLLARS in debt! Apparently the credit of the United States is really just credit with no debit. And it says here that the government is discouraging faith on an unprecedented scale. No prayer in school…the Ten Commandments barred from public buildings…holiday trees replacing Christmas trees. I’m sorry, Mr. President, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough faith or credit to justify a 600 billion dollar loan.”

  “Our country has plenty of faith. We have faith in the government to solve their problems and just need some credit to make that happen, Arvin. It’s a shame World Bank Unlimited can’t work with me for the good of the country.”

  If the President was disappointed, he didn’t show it. He straightened his tie and adjusted his cufflinks while almost imperceptibly shaking his head from side to side. Arvin racked his brain to think of a way to get this loan done. Just as the President put his hands on the armrests of his chair so as to lift himself up, Arvin blurted out “Wait, Mr. President. What if we made a series of smaller loans targeted for specific needs?”.

  “If that’s what we need to do. There is the two billion dollars for the dam in Kentucky that I owe for Senator McConnell delivering enough Republican votes in the Senate to get the shutdown lifted and debt ceiling raised. With the military threatening not to be able to respond to future disasters like the Typhoon Haiyan, 150 billion dollars should be an easy sell. The war on terror is still going on so we could use 50 billion dollars for foreign aid to keep terrorists and their supporters busy burning American flags while we use our drone planes to solve the problem and help their governments buy American weapons. 40 billion dollars can cover the reduction in the food stamp program. And the other 358 billion dollars can go to paying for the shortfall in the new health care system. The only people that are signing up are sick and almost sure to get more out of the system than they put in to it. I had a hard enough time getting the bill passed in the first place without having to go back to Congress for more money and we would also be able to cover some unforeseen IT expenses.”

  Arvin put the four loans in the computer and got the answer he feared. “I’m sorry, Mr. President. While the goals of more money for the military, foreign aid, and universal health care are worthy in and of themselves they don’t bring in any direct money to the government to allow it to repay the loans. Without a clear path to repayment, I won’t be able to approve the loan.”

  “Arvin, why didn’t you say you were worried about repayment?” the President said and tossed a business card onto his desk. “Call my friend Jan at the Federal Reserve. She’ll provide documentation that not only will the Fed assume the loan at any time, they’ll loan World Bank Unlimited the 600 billion at .1% interest to loan to us at 3%. We’d borrow the money from the Fed ourselves but there are some regulations we haven’t been able to find workarounds to yet.”

  Arvin called the number on the card, verified the caller, and within minutes had email confirmation of the guarantee of the loan and a 618 billion dollar transfer to the World Bank Unlimited’s loan fund (The 600 billion dollar loan amount with a three percent commission). Having the available funds and a guarantor with unlimited funds was enough to allow Arvin to manually override the ‘red flags’ on the loan and print the loan application. The President signed the form, Arvin pressed a few more buttons on his computer and said “Thank you for your business, Mr. President. The 600 billion dollars has been transferred to the U.S. Treasury.” The President got up and shook Arvin’s hand, saying, “Thank you, Arvin. If I find myself needing a Treasury Secretary, you will be on my short list.” And just like that, the President was swept out of the 40th floor by his entourage.

  When the President left Arvin quickly filed the paperwork so no one else could take credit for the loan and decided to take the afternoon off to shop for a new townhouse and that silver Jag he had his eye on. His normal commission was one half of one percent of the loan amount on most loans and a quarter percent on loans larger than ten million dollars. A quarter percent of 600 billion dollars still left him with a billion and a half dollars before taxes. The elevator opened before Arvin even had time to push the button and took him directly to the parking garage roof for the walk to his car. The rainy morning had given way to a bright sunshiny day and a rainbow was directly overhead. Arvin considered starting his own bank as he headed to his car and thought with a smile, “Who says big government isn’t good for business?”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On The Street Where We Live

Hank and Kathy will never have an empty nest as long as we're around!!

  Hi Everybody! It's Daisy and Baxter with another blog for our readers. AND we had our Birthday on Friday! Happy Birthday Daisy!! Happy Birthday Baxter and thanks to all our fans for the birthday wishes and especially Hank and Kathy for getting us dog toys and premium dog food out of a can for our birthday! YUM!! I love premium dog food out of a can. But I love broaster chicken more!! YUM!! I was so sad when we found out there would be no Haley’s chicken for our birthday this year. Hank’s been on a bit of a health kick lately so we haven’t had a lot of chicken from Haley’s. That’s right Daisy. Hank’s been doing pushups every night and isn’t opening the refrigerator nearly as much as before. I saw him looking at the scale one morning and he said ‘WOW – I’m almost as fat as Baxter!!!’ DID NOT!! DID SO!! DID NOT!! Well anyway… It’s been a weird last few months, Baxter. Yes it has. Matt and Ben were around a lot when it was warm but then Matt left and we hardly ever see him. A few months ago, Kathy and Ben left for a whole week and then Ben didn’t come back with her. We were worried but then we heard him on Kathy’s computer and felt better. I think he was doing a SKYPE whatever that means. Last Sunday morning when we got up for our morning walk to the Jiffy for beef sticks, Hank and Kathy woke up an hour late! They played around with all the clocks and when we went for our last walk of the day, it was dark! They called it Daylight Savings Time, but we have less daylight than before… With all this weird stuff happening, it’s good that we have so many friends that we see on our walks, Daisy. Our friends are very important to us. We look forward to seeing them and letting them pet us and they like seeing us too. Sometimes our friends rub my tummy. I LOVE HAVING MY TUMMY RUBBED!!

Here are our friends from down the block: Becky and Abby, Marilyn and Bill, and Mary.

  When it’s warm outside we almost always see Bill and Marilyn, their daughter Becky, neighbor Mary, and their dog Abby on our last walk of the day. They’ll be on the porch enjoying the weather and talking. Hank and Kathy stop by to talk and Daisy and I get petted. I like to play with Abby the Cairn terrier. Her birthday is just a week after ours. She doesn’t like Baxter very much and runs inside when she sees him because he tries to sniff her lady parts. How rude! That’s not why she goes inside, Daisy. She goes inside because you start barking like crazy at everybody that walks by on the sidewalk and that scares her. I’m just protecting us and being a good guard dog. I wouldn’t have to if the ‘man’ of the house would bark at the strangers. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I go over to Marilyn and she rubs my head and Bill says ‘Hi Baxter, old boy’ and he rubs my head too. If I’m lucky, Becky will rub my tummy! I LOVE HAVING MY TUMMY RUBBED!! Bill and Marilyn pet me too. They enjoy seeing us and always thank us for stopping by. They aren’t on the porch very much now that it’s cold but we’ll see them again when it warms up.

Sometimes Shirley pets us and other times she RUBS OUR TUMMIES!!!

  Another friend we see on our walks is Shirley. After we go to the Jiffy on Sundays to get our beef stick treats and Hank’s coffee we might see Shirley on our way back. Shirley lives around the corner from us and goes to the Jiffy to get her newspaper and get money for the old cans and bottles she picks up. At first, we were scared of Shirley because she always had this bag of noisy cans and bottles with her. And she's always hugging Hank and Kathy. I don’t like people getting too close to them. We got used to the cans and bottles and hugging and started wagging our tails when we saw her. Then she started petting us. Now not only does she rub my tummy, sometimes she get down on the ground and KISSES MY TUMMY. OH BOY!!!

We like it when Monica and Katie come over to visit!

  Since we can’t open the door we don’t invite many people to visit us. Luckily Kathy and Hank invite our friends Monica and Katie over to visit every few weeks. I really like Monica and Katie, Baxter. I let them both pet me and then I hang out by Monica while everyone talks. I like them too Daisy. I hang out with Katie because all I have to do is look at her with my big eye look and she’ll rub my tummy. I LOVE HAVING MY TUMMY RUBBED!!

  There’s a lot of other people we see on walks like Vince at the Jiffy and Rich and Roger and Joanne and Kirk and we like to see them too. We didn’t forget about them – we just don’t spend as much time with them. There are also a lot of other dogs we see on our walks, Daisy. Yes, right down the street is Ella the German Shepard. Kirk owns Ella and he plays with her in the front yard of the apartments they live in. Kirk throws this big ball and Ella chases it. Sometimes Ella brings the ball to Hank to throw and when she does I growl at her! Hank’s mine!! Ella is always nice to me and I’m not jealous when Kathy throws the ball – it’s a girl thing I guess…

When we take our noon time walk we see Spike the big dog. Spike is a giant bulldog. Sometimes he runs along the fence and sometimes he is chained to a post in the ground. There are some kids that live with Spike but I never see them play with him and Spike looks kind of lonely. But over the summer Spike’s owner got him a friend to play with. Kathy calls him Peanut and Hank calls him Spikelet. I’m glad Spike has a friend to play with. He seems pretty friendly even if he is so big that he can be scary. It would be nice if Spike would get out for some beef stick treats once in a while.

Ella, Spike, Peanut (or Spikelet), Sponky, Husky, Romeo, and Sam are some of the dogs we meet on our walks.

There are plenty of other dogs we see on our walks. On our morning walks we see Sam the big dog and three basset hounds. One of the basset hounds is named Romeo and they all bark at us when we pass by. On our afternoon walks we see Mocha and Napoleon and Sponky. Mocha and Napoleon stay in a pen in their backyard and Sponky is tied to his back porch. We see them get a walk every so often and we like to bark at each other. There are lots of other dogs we see on our walks like Binky and Baby and the Husky down the block. I wish more of the dogs we knew could take more walks, Baxter. That’s right, Daisy. Most of the dogs we see barely get any walks and even the ones that do don’t get beef stick treats. We’re very lucky to get four or five walks a day and get so many beef stick treats on the weekends.

Here are the other house pets: Oreo, Harry and Mr. Feathers, Tippy, and Sneezy.
I'm keeping my eye on Sneezy.

Aside from the friends we see on our walks, we also have a few friends in the house. Yes. There are these two birds that stay in a cage all day except for a few hours in the morning when Hank and Kathy let them fly around. Their names are Harry and Mr. Feathers and they can be really noisy sometimes. The birds try to stay away from us but sometimes they fly to the ground. I used to try to say hi to them but I got yelled at so much that I don’t do it any more. I like the birds because Kathy gives them popcorn and she give me some too. YUM!! I love popcorn!! There are also the two cats, Sneezy and Tippy. Sneezy goes all over the house and tries to scrounge food from Hank along with us. I always chase Sneezy away when I see her because I don’t want anyone scrounging my food! I like Tippy a lot better because he is sick and stays upstairs. Tippy has an ear problem and he doesn’t like to move around too much anymore. So he just stays upstairs. I like Tippy because since he can’t climb all his food stays on the ground and I get to scrounge some when I get a chance. I love cat food! YUM!! Our other pet friend is Oreo the rabbit. When we first came to live with Hank and Kathy, Oreo was much bigger than us but he was always nice to us so now that we are twice as big as him we are nice to him. Oreo has half of the kitchen to run around in and comes running when Hank opens the refrigerator. When Hank eats his morning carrots he gives some to Oreo and us. Hank also shares the sandwich he makes for lunch with all of us. Oreo gets some bread and we get some lunch meat. I love lunch meat! YUM!!

We had a really nice birthday and Hank put some of our pictures on Facebook (You can see them here). A lot of our Facebook fans liked our pictures and wished us a happy birthday, but now we won’t have a birthday for a whole year Daisy. Baxter, that makes me so sad because I love our birthday so much. But we do have Thanksgiving coming up in a few weeks. I love Thanksgiving, Daisy!! Kathy makes a whole turkey and except for us Hank is the only one who eats turkey – that leaves more for us! YUM!! I found out some even better news Baxter! Grandma is coming for Thanksgiving and she’s bringing half a smoked turkey!! OH BOY!! A TURKEY AND A HALF!! YUM!! I LOVE TURKEY!! YUM!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

World Chess Championship Prediction

  The match for the World Chess Championship will start Saturday in Chennai, India between World Champion Viswanathan Anand and top ranked Magnus Carlsen from Norway. Carlsen’s ascent to the challenger and top-ranked status and the prospect of a youthful champion (22 years old) from the Western Hemisphere has electrified the chess world and increased worldwide interest in the sport.

  The increased interest in chess has provided the basis for worldwide chess investment. FIDE (the international chess federation) has sold the rights to the World Championship cycle to entrepreneur Andrew Paulson, whose company (AGON) is rebranding the World Chess Championships with increased prize funds and corporate sponsorships. Paulson has also been elected president of the English Chess Federation which he openly admits is a means to an end to securing 'legitimacy as a spokesman for chess in Africa and India'. Carlsen has a lucrative endorsement deal with European clothing giant G Star Raw and competed in the United States for the first time when he took part in September’s $170,000 Sinquefield Cup tournament held in St. Louis and sponsored by American chess sugar daddy Rex Sinquefield, the multi-millionaire investment banker who is also bankrolling Garry Kasparov’s run for FIDE president along with a Belgium businessman and a Sheik from the United Arab Emirates.

  While Carlsen has finished first or second in every tournament he has played in over the past 2 years and convincingly defeated Anand in their encounter in June’s Tal Memorial, Anand’s tournament record has been very spotty with his best result being a third place finish in January’s TATA Steel tournament (won convincingly by Carlsen).

  Carlsen is twenty years younger than Anand, has the highest rating of any chess player ever, and beat Anand convincingly in their last encounter so it is no surprise that Anand is a 5-2 underdog in the match. If I was going to make a wager, I’d pick Anand, not because I think he is a sure bet to win the match but because I think he would win 4 out 10 matches and that the makes the odds of winning $250 on a $100 Anand bet more attractive than winning $28 on a $100 Carlsen bet. I’ve been looking all over for a football type line to see if a bet could be made on Anand getting a game or two but I haven’t found one which is a shame because I think this is going to be a very close match and that is the bet I’d like to make.

  Not discounting Carlsen's youth, highest ever rating, and stellar tournament results, Anand has a number of things in his favor heading into the match. Firstly, the match is in his home city of Chennai. The tournament site was decried by many as smacking of favoritism by FIDE but there were no competing bids until Carlsen was confirmed as the challenger. Anand is a national hero in India and since he was the only known participant when the bids were taken, it was only natural that his home country (and city) would bid for the championship. When chess obtains Super Bowl or Olympic status, then perhaps World Championship venues will be scheduled years in advance. I don’t think it will be especially harmful for Carlsen to play in India, but Anand should get a boost playing in his home country and home town.

  When asked about the upcoming match, Carlsen said "The difference is, I'm winning tournaments and Anand is holding on to this title. It will be an interesting clash between these two ideas as to what constitutes the best player in the world." I don't see it as a clash of ideas – it’s a match for the world championship. While Anand has played in three championship matches over the last 6 years and won all three (the last by tiebreak), a world championship match will be a new experience for Carlsen. Anand’s recent tournament results only have bearing if they are regarded as proof of form before the match. The World Champion’s tournament results weren’t stellar before his matches against Topalov in 2010 and Gelfand in 2012 yet he managed to win both matches and must be given credit for knowing the difference between how to prepare for a match as opposed to how to prepare for a tournament.

  In general, the winners of the round robin (all play all) super grandmaster tournaments succeed by beating the lower rated players or the players in poor form and drawing the other leaders and Carlsen’s tournament successes have been no different. His rating has skyrocketed because he is a better player that wins more and loses less than anyone since Bobby Fisher. He has a stellar record against tail enders and an excellent winning percentage when he pushes on in even positions against players of all strengths. There will be no ‘tail-enders’ for Carlsen to win against in the match. As long as Anand is close to his top form there may be very little to choose from between the players.

  Carlsen’s youth will serve him well in the match but the match is only 12 games long and every third day will be a rest day with additional rest days before the last round. This is a far cry from the common 10 to 14 player super tournaments that have only one or two rest days. This will mitigate Anand's age disadvantage in much the same way that veteran basketball teams seem to improve when moving from the regular season with back to back games and stretches of four games in five days to the playoffs with the opportunity to have a day or two of rest after each game. I expect to see Anand given credit for having more stamina than recent tournaments because of the relatively leisurely schedule.

  So who do I think will win the match? I think Carlsen’s supreme self-confidence combined with his habit of taking risks in objectively even positions will cause him overreach and lose a game early in the contest and Anand will find a hole in Carlsen’s opening preparation to take another game somewhere along the line. Carlsen will outplay Anand in two games, leaving the match tied at two wins apiece with eight draws. So I predict the match will be decided in the tie breaks and as long as I've been priming the pump for Anand's chances I'll pick Anand to win the four game/25 match with 1 or 2 wins to none for Carlsen.

  Of course Carlsen could go on a roll and destroy Anand or win a close match and it wouldn’t surprise me but the runup to the match reminds me a lot of the first Kasparov-Karpov match in 1984 where the younger and more brilliant Kasparov was heavily favored to beat the battle tested Karpov only to lose four of the first nine games (the match was a race to six games). Kasparov then hunkered down to draw 35 of the next 37 games before winning games 47 and 48, whch caused FIDE President Campomanes to cancel the match in one of the most controversial chess decisions ever. Kasparov reacted well to being hit in the face by Karpov with the string of draws but in a 12 game match Carlsen would have no such luxury at his disposal should he face a similar situation.