Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mighty Mrs. Mouse Triumphs

For Amber Myszka, the 2016 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion, it didn't take long before she began to feel the momentous, life-changing weight of her resounding victory.

"While watching the championship game," she said, "I told Eric I would need to consider where this accomplishment ranked compared to other things in my life like having a child, graduating, (and) landing my first job." 

Eric, who is Amber's husband, has finished 72nd or worse in five of the last six years. "I think he was offended that I didn't list marrying him as one of my top accomplishments," Amber said. 

Of course, the thrill of a Chippens victory cannot really be compared to any Earthly accomplishment. Still, Amber tried: "Some people win the lottery, Olympic medals, or the Oscars," she said. "If I had to compare it to something, I would say my life will be about as wonderful every day as those people feel immediately following their victory." 

Amber rode to victory with the help of the Villanova Wildcats. She was one of just three players who correctly picked Villanova to win it all. The other two, D'Vigorous Lover and Maggie May, finished second and third, respectively. 

Amber already had the championship won when Villanova beat Oklahoma to reach the final game, but that doesn't mean there was nothing at stake in the finals. Amber's victory there gave her a final tally of 178 points, tied for the 7th best all-time. Her effort was also tied for the third-best championship total ever, and she scored more points than anybody since the high-scoring 2009 season. 

Amber said she picked Villanova because she saw they were "visibly not happy" with their second seed, and she "hoped that this distaste for being number two would light a fire under them and make them prove they were second to none." 

Villanova did indeed prove to be second to none, and so did Amber, who, like any true Chippens Champion, does not plan on letting her victory go to waste. "Money, strength, and fame may fade away," she said, "but these bragging rights are forever." 

Amber reports that she has big plans in store for the Championship T-Shirt. She said she plans on wearing it "nonstop until the 2017 Champion is crowned." 

And after that? 

"I will have it framed and mounted on the wall on Eric's side of the bed." 

Poor Eric. No, not poor Eric. After all, not many people can lay claim to being married to a Chippens Champion. 

Congratulations to Amber, a Champion for the ages.     

Other Notable Finishes

  • Rodney Dawson had his fifth top-21 finish in seven years. His fourth-place finish this year vaulted him into the All-Time Average Place list at #10. Joining him are Blake Roter, who lands at a very impressive #2 in his first year of eligibility, and longtime Challenge savant "Young" Nicholas A. Schultz, who returned to the list at #9. Roter, who finished in sixth place this year after leading through much of the early rounds, now has three top-20 and two top-10 seasons in just five years. Young Nicholas, who is the only player in Challenge history with first and second place finishes to his name, placed a healthy 25th this year. 
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Gianina Baker debuted on the All-Time Average Place list in 78th place out of a possible 78. She finished second-to-last in 2012 and last in 2011. She relieved Felton Howard of the final position. Felton finished 12th this year, moving him up ten spots to 68th. 
  • Gianina's record of futility is being seriously challenged however by Kait O'Hare. Kait finished 121 out of 121 in 2014 and 105 out of 105 this year. Kait now joins Travis Rogers (2006, 2007) as the only players in Challenge history with two last-place finishes. Kait becomes eligible for the All-Time list in 2018. 
  • Congratulations to Chris Schiemann, who in his 10th season finally earned a top-10 finish. He placed 7th this year. 
  • Bucephalus, heartbroken this year by coming so close to victory only to see his chances snuffed out by Villanova, nonetheless finished a strong 8th place, tying his 2011 campaign as his best ever. He and Pita, who finished 19th, are now tied with Stump for the most top-20 finishes at six each. 
  • Congrats to Craig Dykes on finishing as this year's top rookie. He finished a strong 16th and, amazingly, still had a shot to win it all with just three games left even though two of his Final 4 picks, Cal and Purdue, lost in the first round. He showed a Rasputin-like ability to stay alive against all odds, much to the torment of Bucephalus, who could often be heard grumbling about "Craig Dykes" when it became clear the Purdue alum stood in the way of Bucephalus's chance at a title. 
  • There hasn't been much said about Cotter this year, but that must change. The barely-vertebrate, sheet-white assemblage of bodily functions with a face (I mean that affectionately) said before the tournament started that he had learned his lesson and would "not pick teams that start with the letter V." Despite following that horrible advice, he nonetheless had another respectable year, finishing 20th, his fourth top-20 performance. Still, the 2013 Champion dropped a spot in the All-Time Average Place list thanks to the grand entrance of Blake Roter. And, most disturbing for the Albino Gopher, his arch-nemesis Bucephalus is edging closer.
  • Jason Jackson, who married a jungle cat, is also moving up the ranks. He earned his fourth top-20 finish, and now ranks 15th on the All-Time Average Place list, only 1.71 points behind Dawson for the 10th spot. 
  • Adam Lombard also had another great year, finishing 10th. This year marked his fourth time in the top 24 out of the last five years. 
  • The battle of the Thompsons (7 players over two families with the name) this year went to Pam, who used her new dog, Maggie, as a good luck charm. She finished third, but said, "Maybe she can take it all next year!" 
Thanks to all for playing! See you all next year!


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Welcome to the 2016 Chippens Tournament Challenge

The 2016 Chippens Tournament Challenge is underway! Click HERE for player picks, current standings, projected standings, and much, much more. 



This year's field is comprised of 105 magnificent competitors, each vying to lay claim to the Grand Prize T-Shirt and the lifelong glory that accompanies the Chippens title. 

Trash Talk

Perhaps it is the heightened emotion of a campaign-season Challenge, but the pre-tourney rhetoric this year was especially fierce. 

2013 Champion Cotter, who once again made his picks at the last minute after some hardcore study sessions, said that although he'd be vying to get his #1 spots back in the All-Time Records from perennial powerhouse Stumper, beating his arch-rival Bucephalus is "all that matters" to him. Cotter said Bucephalus "talks a lot of trash for never being a title holder." 

Speaking of title holders, defending champ ILLINIT is back to defend his title. No player has won twice, let alone back-to-back, but ILLINIT has all but guaranteed he will be the first. 

The Breeze 2 is one player who held back this year, sort of. He said he was going to call himself "The Stallion," but said he changed it because he didn't want to "intimidate" Señor Wences, who The Breeze 2 has renamed "Ole Man Senior Wences." 

Back in Action

One player to watch out for this year is BrutalBrutis. She missed last year for only the second time in 11 seasons, but her sabbatical has no doubt left her hungry for success this year. Brutis is one of the two tournament savants (along with Blizzard T. Husky). She is the 2010 champ, has three other top 20 finishes, and will be looking to add to her trophy case this year. 

Showing Their Dedication

Every year we get amazing stories of the trials and tribulations players overcome to participate in the Challenge, and this year was no exception. 

BadgerHoopla couldn't access the site from work this morning because of some sort of nefarious firewall, so he ditched the computer and made his picks on his phone. That type of dedication has worked in the past for Cotter and Politicalgrrl (who this year bragged about NOT making her picks on her phone). 

The stakes could not be higher for Badger. He is getting his Five Year Ring this year, which means he becomes eligible for the All-Time Records. He already has two top 20 finishes, and he's never finished in the bottom half of the standings. Other players getting Five Year Rings this year include Gibbons, #Blessed, Auntie Em, The Breeze, and Make-It-Count.

Another highly-motived player is HotRod (f/k/a Voltaire). He earned his Five Year Ring in 2014. That year, he'd already had four top 21 finishes and was poised to shake up the All Time Records ... then he finished in 101st place. Last year he had a better showing, finishing 69th, but still no where near his first four seasons. This year he said, "By God, I will win the coveted Chippens tournament and that t-shirt." HotRod is from Cleveland, where a certain someone else might be this summer at a certain convention. The Grand Prize T-shirt would be a great fashion choice for the event.   

Who Wore It Best

This year features a lot of Donald Trump themed handles, and for the first time ever, two different sets of people who picked the same handle. 

Who will win the Stone Cold Stephen F. Austin smackdown? #1 or #2?  Which Breeze (1, 2) will blow strongest? 

Will any of the Real Donald Trump's pixie dust sprinkle down on, say, Build a bracket and make Austin Peay for it? Or will His Yugeness give everyone a spanking with those small, small hands. 

Check back often to find out! Standings will be updated as close to real time as possible unless otherwise stated. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The 2016 Chippens Tournament Challenge

MAKE YOUR PICKS in the 2016 Chippens Tournament Challenge! 

The legendary Chippens Tournament Challenge is back for its 16th consecutive season! 

Once again, entry is FREE and there are prizes for the winners. The rules are the same: one entry per person, and you must be old enough to make your own picks to play. 

This year's mesmerizing Grand Prize T-Shirt is the result of many, many months of hard work and dedication from the Chippens Design Team. Of course, the majesty of the Chippens Tournament cannot be put into words or pictures; it is beyond art in all its forms. Still, the work must be done, and what we want most of all is a shirt that commands onlookers to say, "My God! Look at that!" 

We are confident that when this year's Champion proudly wears the Grand Prize T-Shirt to work, the mall, weddings, and funerals, s/he is sure to be the center of attention.

Good luck and thanks for playing!    


Friday, April 10, 2015

1LL1N1T Wins Top Prize

Frank O'Hare The Fourth (ILLINIT) can finally be called Number One. O'Hare, the fourth in a line of five Frank O'Hares, just beat out The Bryman by one point, 152 to 151, to claim the 2015 Chippens Tournament Challenge Championship. Stump, aka Stump'n Claus, finished third. 

O'Hare remained in contention for the title when Wisconsin beat Kentucky, and the 25 points he received for being one of only five players to sell their souls expertly choose Duke to win it all were enough to push him passed Bryman for the title. O'Hare was the only one of the five players with Duke as the champion to pick them over Wisconsin. Had any of those other four players (huskerrobSeñor Wences, hot hoop, and jungle cat) gone with the Badgers as far as Frank did, they would have won instead. 

But, as Señor Wences himself is fond of saying, if "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. But they aren't. And every day isn't Christmas. No, the only player with the nuts this year was Frank O'Hare, IV. He had the nuts to pick Wisconsin over Kentucky and then ruthlessly predict the Badgers' heartbreaking defeat by Duke. In so doing, O'Hare proved he has what it takes to be a Champion. 

Not everyone has the strength and skill to be a Champion. This year it took a remorseless assassin. Someone who could pick a couple major upsets late in the tournament without staining his underarms. Someone who could walk out in the street in his bathrobe and slap a couple smart mouth, uppity kids around if that's what it took. 

This year, Frank O'Hare, IV was that man. With his tall, strapping figure and curly hair, O'Hare is somewhat of a brunette Erlich Bachman, a character on HBO's new comedy Silicon Valley. O'Hare proved by winning the Challenge that he also has Bachman's temperament: fun-loving, but all business when he needs to be.

Watching O'Hare's stunning and sudden rise from the middle of the pack to Champion reminded me of how Bachman efficiently (and shockingly) dispatched of his rivals in this scene (I don't recommend viewing in front of your mother, boss, or clergy). In just two days' time, O'Hare turned all the people fat and happy with Kentucky from sure winners into sure losers, and then he drove a stake through the heart of the Badger faithful, who after the defeat of Kentucky were just starting to allow themselves to hope. O'Hare ran over them like a souped-up John Deere mower over a new spring sapling, just emerged from the earth and blinking its leaves open to the sun. And there is no doubt in my mind he did it all in his bathrobe. 

Congrats to Frank O'Hare, IV, your 2015 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion. He will now be forever enshrined in the Hall of Champions.     

Other Notable Finishes:
  • With his third-place finish, Mike Stump regained the top spot on the All-Time Average Place list from Cotter, who fell to third behind Brandon Gamble. Stump now owns every All-Time Career category in the record books
  • While Stump regained his place in the record books, Blizzard T. Husky lost his. His 86th place finish--his worst ever in 10 years by a large margin--dropped him from the top 10 in Average Place, Average Points, and Average Pick Percentage. He'll be back to form next year.
  • Husky's demise made room for Trevor Sierra, who earned spots in the Top 10 in Average Points and Average Pick Percentage. His 9th place finish was his second time in the top 10 and fourth time in the top 20 since his rookie year in 2008. 
  • Gianina Baker, TheAdministrator, had her best finish ever with her 52nd place finish. That might not seem like much, but in three prior tries, Gianina had only defeated a combined three people. That's one last place finish, one second to last place finish, and one third to last place finish. Now she can be proud to say she finished in the top half. 
  • A number of players earned their Five Year Rings this year, meaning they became eligible for the All-Time Records. Only one player, Julie Thompson, managed to crack the lists though. Even though she didn't have her best year (in fact, she had her worst, finishing 98th), she still managed to earn the No. 5 spot on the All-Time Average Points list. 
  • One player who earned his Five Year Ring this year, Felton Howard (James Wylder), has a lot of work to do if he hopes to one day make the record books. He made his debut on the All-Time Average Place list as No. 71 out of a possible 71 with a 72.8 average place over the past five years. Chez has reason to celebrate, though, as she now moves to No. 70. 
  • Felton Howard is the father-in-law of this year's Champ, Frank O'Hare. O'Hare and his in-laws had all areas of the standings covered. O'Hare at the top, Felton at the bottom, and O'Hare's wife, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law in the middle. Pooty Lederhosen, Ingrida Mikelionyte, and KLoco all finished with 115 points in 41st through 43rd places, respectively. 
  • From first to worst: If you're wondering what happened to last year's winner, Matthew Melick, he finished 106th. Last year's third-place winner, Sydney Penney, finished 107th. They join David Erdman (1st in 2012, 98th in 2013) as players who were apparently jinxed by their successful season the year before. Erdman finished 4th this year, so redemption is possible. 

Thanks to all for playing. See you all next year! 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

109 Take The Challenge

Another Challenge has begun! Click HERE to see current standings, player listings, player picks, and much more!

Daily Recaps
Tournament Preview

The Chippens Tournament Challenge always attracts the best and brightest minds in spectator sports, and 2015 is no exception. But to win the Challenge you can't just be a genius -- no, no, no. Brains alone is not nearly enough. The Champion must also possess a rare combination of guts, determination, stamina, and the ability to perform at the highest level under pressure. The Challenge is a cauldron from which only the impervious survive. The weak crumble like dust until one brilliant diamond emerges. 

Into the cauldron this year the top three finishers from last year, playing this year under the handles Bill Walton's Dealer (Matthew Melick, no longer obsessed with Gus Johnson, apparently), Hoop Scoop (Bill Snider), and DaBoss (Sydney Penney). They'll have to compete against a veteran-heavy field that features just a handful of rookies. 

Rookie Rides To Victory?

One of those rookies is Alexander the Great (Mackie Mo). The Boca Raton model and actress has recently appeared in Miami tabloids with none other than long-time Chippens veteran Bucephalus (Tim Corwin), who named himself after Alexander's horse. The paparazzi have caught the pair at several Miami attractions over the past few months. The gossip mags are now speculating what Mackie's choice of handle could mean. Has Bucephalus, the wild stallion, finally been tamed? 

More important in the context of the Challenge, Chippens sources have learned that Mackie can count cards AND she is also an accomplished martial artist, with the ability to deliver roundhouse kicks over a foot above her head. This fact should worry all competitors. Only one rookie has ever won the Challenge (Amwau in 2011), but Mackie certainly has the resume to be the second. 

Luck Of The Irish?

The question for most people this year was whether to pick Kentucky to win it all. Actually, it wasn't really even a question. Of the 109 participants, 58 have Kentucky. Wisconsin is the second most popular pick with 20, which means even if you didn't pick Kentucky to win it all, you probably at least picked them into the Final Four. 

A few brave (or brilliant?) souls are banking on Kentucky getting upset early. The most popular choice to ruin Kentucky's perfect season is Notre Dame, who looked strong by beating North Carolina and Duke in the ACC Tournament. 

None other than our defending champ, Bill Walton's Dealer, has Notre Dame over Kentucky. An Irish win would give him a great shot at being the first-ever repeat Champion. 

Joining Walton with Notre Dame are Champion, Felton Howard, and Mayfield Kay. They'll be saying lots of Hail Marys and rubbing their rosary beads if the Irish and Kentucky meet up. 

Baby Brawl

The Challenge experienced a baby boom this year. Babies Daphne's BFF, BabyJay, and The Girls on Fire!!! may not be able to eat solid foods, but that doesn't mean they can't pick! I heard they made their picks by drooling on the team they wanted to win.

The Girls on Fire!!! is actually a three mammal effort. Mom, baby, and dog all had input in the bracket, which was submitted with the promise they would "eliminate each and every one of you from the tournament one handle at a time." Yikes! Playtime will never be the same.  

Back For More

Finally, we've had a few players return to us who we've missed. Lil Brillhart is back for his 5th year after missing 2014. He'll be eligible for the All Time Records this year. TheAdministrator is back for her 4th year after missing the last two, and Wait . . . What's Happening? is back for his third campaign after also missing 2014. Look for these players to shake off the rust early and be in contention. 

Standings will be updated as close to real time as possible today. Good luck!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

MAKE YOUR PICKS in the 2015 Chippens Tournament Challenge

You can now MAKE YOUR PICKS in the 2015 Chippens Tournament Challenge. 

Once again, entry is FREE, and there are great prizes for the winners. Third place receives a fridge magnet, second place gets a bumper sticker, and first place gets the GRAND PRIZE T-SHIRT show below. As always, the Chippens Design Team worked tirelessly over the course of the past year to create a t-shirt befitting a champion of this most prestigious contest. 

If you have any questions about your picks, just email me. 

Deadline is NOON EASTERN this Thursday. One entry per person. 

If you need to change your picks, you can do so in one of two ways:

  1. Fill out a new bracket using the exact same personal information. Your new bracket will replace your old one. 
  2. Email me your changes. I prefer you just email me the changes.

And now.... here is this year's GRAND PRIZE!  



Friday, April 11, 2014

Oh God! Victory Pumps Out Melick's Message

Matthew Melick, he of the notorious handle, is the 2014 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion. A five-year Challenge veteran in the Modern Era (I believe he also participated in 2003 as "The Watermelon"), Melick becomes only the second Champion to not pick the tournament winner, and the first Champion to win despite picking both eventual finalists, UConn and Kentucky, to lose in the first round. His winning total of 117 points is the second lowest of all-time, just four points ahead of Angela Penney's 113-point winning effort in 2006.  Penney is the other Champion to not pick the tournament winner. 

I do not cite these facts to diminish Melick's victory. No, far from it. Of course, any Challenge Champion deserves only the highest praise and reverence for such a remarkable and truly special achievement. But while most Challenge Champions soak up the glory for themselves (and who can blame them?), Melick's victory this year was truly righteous, for he was spreading the Gospel. The Gospel of Gus Johnson, that is. As Melick explained to me, "Last year we tried a White House Petition to bring back Gus Johnson (to CBS). Like all White House Petitions, that failed. So I went grassroots to spread the message. I am grateful that the message received some attention."  

Of course, The Challenge is beyond humbled to be chosen as the medium for such an important message, but I must admit that, at first, I did not truly understand the noble design of my longtime friend. Indeed, as I watched Melick contend for the title this year, and as the specter of his chosen moniker being plastered atop the standings for all times became ever more likely as each day passed, I thought of Sherman McCoy, a character in Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, who tries to ease his anxiety in the face of a looming tragedy by telling himself that surely God demands the "purity of surprise" when he inflicts a disaster, and that He would "refuse to be anticipated by a mere mortal." 

Yes, that was how I consoled myself in my state of bewilderment as I saw Melick climb in the standings the first weekend and then somehow manage to not just compete, but actually improve his odds as each stunning finish to all these close games miraculously worked in his favor, even if he did not pick the team! But little did I know that as I was selfishly thinking to myself, Surely no benevolent Creator would force me to make so many vulgar puns in one month!, Melick had The Almighty on his side the entire time. 

Yes, unbeknownst to me, just like his namesake, St. Matthew the Apostle, Melick had been chosen to spread the Good News. I can only imagine that as Melick sat down to type in his handle, a beam of pure light came through his window like in the famous painting by Caravaggio, The Calling of Saint Matthew, which depicts the moment when Jesus surprised the man by choosing him as his disciple. It was when that same divine beam of light hit Melick's face and spread a warm glow across his fingertips that he typed the now-famous phrase, "Longing For Gus Johnson's Orgasms."  

To punctuate his immaculate victory, Melick texted me Proverbs 16:3, which states, "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Fellow Competitors, when I received those prophetic words I knew that I had bore witness to something transcendent, even mystical. The feeling was rapturous, euphoric. I don't know how to describe other than to say it was almost like that scene in When Harry Met Sally. Then I became very tired. 

Yes, just as happened to Saul on the road to Damascus, the scales have fallen from my eyes. No longer a persecutor of Longing For Gus Johnson's Orgasms, I am here to tell you he should be exalted! All Hail The Champ! And bring back Gus!  

  • Congrats to Bill Snider and Sydney Penney for finishing second and third, respectively. Snider is in his 10th year of competition and has established himself as a legend in his own time. The 81-year-old added to his long list of accomplishments this year and now ranks 8th in Average Place and 9th in Average Pick Percentage. Sydney, in just her second year of competition and some 70 years younger than Snider, knocked her mother, Penney Lane, into 4th place when Kentucky beat the Badgers. Sydney and Black n Chrome were the only players with Kentucky in the finals. Penney Lane, though, still picked up her third top 10 finish, making her one of just six players with at least three.  
  • In the Tournament Preview, I predicted that Voltaire would be the player to watch as he earned his Five Year Ring and became eligible for the All-Time Records. Voltaire had a bit of an off year, though, to put it mildly, finishing 101st. Instead, it was Hot-T who broke onto the Average Place list in her first year of eligibility. She now ranks 9th. 
  • For the third consecutive year, Julie Thompson has "made it count." She once again bested her husband and her parents in-law, even Make-it-count Thompson, who finished 73rd. Next year she gets her Five Year Ring, and in her four years of competition (she also competed in 2009), her lowest finish is 27. In fact, she's improved her place every year, finishing 14th this year. 
  • Tigger32382, a seven-year veteran, bounced to her highest finish ever last year, a very good 20th place. She seems to have spent this year "coiling the springs," finishing next-to-last in 120th. Look for her to bounce back next year. (Perhaps she was just taking it easy on her husband, CQD, who finished 42nd as a rookie this year). 
  • Last year we had Future Mouse, and this year we had Mrs. Mouse. I hear Mrs. Mouse is expecting. Does that mean that next year we'll have Mommy Mouse? 
  • Congrats to Jessica Stover for winning the Battle of Fort Bragg. She was the only player to pick UConn to the Final Four. 
  • Bucephalus and Blizzard T. Husky each picked up their 5th Top 20 finish, making them two of just five players with that many. No one has more. Both players improved their positions in the All-Time Records, with Bucephalus reclaiming a spot on the Average Place list. Bucephalus says he has a lot of momentum going into next year.  
  • Adam Lombard and Jason Jackson each quietly had yet another quality year. They both improved in the All-Time Records, and Lombard recorded his 4th Top 20 finish. 
  • Speaking of top dogs, Stumper and Cotter continue to battle for the top spots in the Record Books. Both had good years at 22nd and 23rd place, respectively, with Stump finishing ahead of Cotter based only on pick percentage. Cotter now owns the top spot in Average Place, but Stump is ahead of last year's champ in Average Points and Average Pick Percentage. I see a Jordan vs. Bird debate heating up, only in this case it's the Horticulturist vs. the Albino Gopher.
  • Finally, speaking of math, Maths, a rookie, told me he used a random number generator to make his picks. His 118th-place finish, along with the algorithm's 115th-place showing, give us hope that maybe there is some skill involved in this game after all!
Thanks to all for playing, and I hope you all participate again next year!