Monday, April 23, 2018

Christol Baller

On December 31, 1999, Time Magazine named Albert Einstein the Person of the Century. The magazine called him "the embodiment of pure intellect." 

And maybe the shaggy-haired professor was indeed "the genius among geniuses" -- at least by 20th century standards. But 18 years later it's a description that seems quaint, now that we all use our clicker fingers across the world wide web from Brandon Christol, the 2018 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion. 

Christol's Championship, and the colossal amounts of brains, guts, and index finger strength it took to attain, makes Einstein's achievements look like the piddling work of a Meth Lab Scholar, high on alley cat fumes and rodent droppings. 

If Christol's 2018 bracket is a Jackson Pollock masterpiece (and it is), Einstein's best work is floor splatter from a dirty diaper.   

Christol claimed victory with 154 points, a relatively low number historically speaking, but it was a number that could not be matched by 122 worthy competitors, the most crowded field in Chippens history.   

Although the win is a great source of personal pride for Christol (he ranks it as "25 times as great" as anything else he's ever experienced), Brandon was humble in victory. He modestly claimed his place in history is now "no better" . . . but also "no worse" than Washington, Lincoln, and Jesus Christ. "None of them ever won a Chippens Challenge," he said. 

How did he do it? As a self-professed fan of the Michigan Wolverines, Christol admitted his "homer" pick of Michigan to advance to the finals certainly helped. He also said he deployed a bit of strategy in choosing several 9/8 seed and 10/7 seed upsets. 

It worked: Brandon was 6-of-8 in those first round games and picked up five underdog points. He earned nine underdog points over the whole tournament, equal to or more than all but two other players. 

The "Christol Baller," who played this year under the handle Creighton Barrel, also had another bit of advice for would-be Champions. "Focus on coming up with a great pun-based team name," he said. "Success will follow." 

One caveat, however: You must come up with the name on your own. Witness how karma punished Lord and Xavier (Brian Brennan), who plagiarized that name from Christol. Christol had used the clever (but second-tier) name in a different, second-tier pool, and Brennan, who did not know it was Christol's at the time, thought he'd use it himself in the Chippens Challenge. 

Brennan finished 105th this year. "It's not the first time Brian has stolen from me," Christol said. "Nor is it the first time I've pummeled him in a sports-based competition." 

He pummeled Brian, and he pummeled the rest of us, too. 

Congratulations to Brandon Christol, a Champion For The Ages. 

Other Notable Results:
  • Kate Dickens finished in second place, beating her husband (a 14-year Chippens veteran) by 120 places. Dickens earned her Five Year Ring this year, and she already has three top-20 finishes. 
  • Angela Penney won a tie-breaker over rookie Mike Cowin to finish in third place. Penney is now the only player in Chippens history with three top-3 finishes. She placed 1st in 2006 and 3rd in 2010. She also finished 4th in 2014. Only two other players, Brandon Gamble and Adam Emery, have four top 10 finishes.  
  • Cowin might have fell just short of the prizes, but he finished as top rookie and also proved the sweetest of the self-described "Sweet Action" crew, comprised of Lipscomb, CB, and the indomitable Barry Gibb
  • Benjamin J. DeHaan made a glorious return after missing the last two years to finish...73rd. Still, he managed to score enough points to climb back within four points of his father in the All-Time Total Points list. 
  • DeHaan is also the only player to record three consecutive top-10 finishes, until now. Chris Schiemann now joins DeHaan with that distinction. Schiemann finished 9th this year, 10th last year, and 7th in 2016. DeHaan made his historic run 2011-2013. 
  • Congrats also to Mike Stump, who reclaimed his #1 ranking in the All-Time Average Place list from Brandon Gamble. Gamble retained his top spot, barely, in Average Points. 
  • It will be a long year of what-ifs and coulda-beens for 2014 Champion Meh, who finished a very-respectable 6th place, but who claims he would have won it all again if not for Michigan's Jordan Poole hitting a game-winner over Houston in the second round. "Those 3.6 seconds and Jordan Poole's tight shorts will haunt me for years to come," he said. "Houston broke me with the worst 3.6 seconds of defense in NCAA history."
  • Finally, thank you to everyone who contributed to the Chippens fundraising efforts. You raised over $2,000 for kids with cancer and their families. Thank you for your generosity and kindness.  
All of us here at Chippens wish you our best over the coming year, and we hope to see you again for next year's Challenge!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Welcome To The 2018 Chippens Tournament Challenge

Greetings 2018 competitor! The Challenge is now underway. 

Check out the latest standings, player picks, player lists, and much more HERE


Tournament Preview

2018 is another banner year for the Challenge. A record 123 ferocious competitors ranging in age from their 80s to single digits have entered the arena, ready to choose a weapon and annihilate each other Hunger Games style. All in the name of raising funds for pediatric cancer. 

Pun and Done?

Every year players compete in a competition within a competition--who can choose with the best handle. Some try to shock, some try to be subversive, some try to be humorous, some (most?) have no clue what they're doing. Some instantly regret their choice, like KelseyRuder (Kelsey Ruder) in 2012, who I was told at the time was mercilessly ridiculed for her creativity of deleting the space between her first and last name. Some, like 2009 Chippens NCAA Challenge Champion, just pick the wrong handle at the wrong time (2009 Champ finished second to last in 2009).  

And some we try to forget but, through the force of destiny, etch themselves in the history books (yes, I'm talking about you, Longing for Gus Johnson's Orgasms).   

This year's handle portfolio is strong . . . to quite strong. We here at Chippens like Creighton Barrel (Don Christol) and Lord and Xavier (Brian Brennan), with Syd Winselot (Sydney Penney) running a strong third. 

But it wouldn't be a Chippens tourney without some controversy. I'm told Lord and Xavier is actually the intellectual property of Christol, and Brennan "inadvertently" (so he says) stole the handle. So it seems as if Christol actually owns two of this year's top three handles.

Perhaps Brennan is hoping for a boost by cribbing from his more-albeit-modestly-more-successful-at-picking friend. Brennan is a 2x member of the Century Club (finishes in 100th place or worse) and currently ranks 81st all time after eight seasons. Christol ranks 54th after 11 seasons, and has two top 20 finishes. Whatever a good handle is worth, both players could use it. 

Lost Badgers

This year marks the first time in the last 20 that the Wisconsin Badgers have not made the big dance. That fact has a few players with ties to the cheesehead state reeling. Sad Badger, Where's Bucky?, and Where are my Badgers? are all putting up the sad face emoji. After seeing a trend emerge, I thought BadgerHoopla might go with BadgerDroopla this year, but he seems to be keeping the light on for now. Bucky will be back, and maybe a strong performance by one of these forlorn Badgers will provide a spark. 

Thanks For Giving

Thanks to all the many, many players who donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. We here at Chippens are overwhelmed with the results of the fundraising effort. The generosity is truly remarkable. Know that your blood, sweat, and tears as you sit on the couch and watch the games this year will be benefiting thousands of kids with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.       

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The 2018 Chippens Tournament Challenge

The time has come again to MAKE YOUR PICKS in the Chippens Tournament Challenge (link will be active when bracket is posted Sunday evening). Deadline is 11:00 a.m. central on Thursday, March 15, 2018. One entry per person. 

The basic rules are the same, but the clever devils in the Chippens Development Team have added a couple wrinkles this year. 

Once again, ENTRY IS FREE and there are some wonderful prizes for the winners. As in past years, this year's Champion will receive a Grand Prize T-Shirt. Second place will receive a bumper sticker, and third place will get a fridge magnet. Scroll down to check out this year's Grand Prize, featuring some classic Power of Women iconography (Chippens keeps up with the zeitgeist).  

Now here's where things get interesting for 2018. The Chippens Development Team is pleased to announce this year's tournament is also serving as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. 

Participants in this year's Challenge are encouraged, but not required, to donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by clicking the link below. Suggested donation is $5, and you DO NOT need to donate in order to play or to be eligible for prizes. It is entirely up to you. 

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has become an important part of the Chippens Family ever since September 21, 2017, when one of our own, two-year-old Charlotte "ChaCha" Corwin, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. We here at the Chippens Family have been deeply affected by all the brave kids at St. Jude battling cancer, and we like to give our support to them and their families whenever we can. 

ChaCha receiving treatment at St. Jude Peoria affiliate clinic
In honor of ChaCha and all the brave kids of St. Jude, we are also adding a NEW PRIZE to this year's Challenge. Whoever gets 94th place, in honor of the 94% cure rate of ALL achieved at St. Jude (cure rate nationally is 90%), will get the Extra Special Hope T-Shirt below. If there are n0t 94 entrants this year, then the prize will go to a person TBD by an Extra Special Secret Method that cannot be disclosed at this time.  

Without further ado, here are the Grand Prize and the Extra Special Hope prize. 


2018 Grand Prize T-Shirt


2018 Extra Special Hope Prize

Thank you for playing!

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Kait O'Hare (KLoco) is the 2017 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion. The fourth-year player from Chicago now has two last-place finishes and one first-place finish to her name. She is the only player in Challenge history to go from worst to first in back-to-back seasons. 

O'Hare said it feels "absolutely fantastic" to be a Chippens Champion. "I've told everyone I know and some people I don't know about my rise to the top," she said. 

As tough as winning the Championship is, O'Hare thinks it was easier than finishing last. "To finish first, my only goal was to not finish last," she said. "I overshot it, but hey, it worked out." 

It did indeed. O'Hare now has a Grand Prize T-Shirt to match the one earned by her husband, Frank O'Hare, who won the title in 2015. Although Kait said she will put her t-shirt in the couple's trophy case next to Frank's, that doesn't mean Kait thinks Frank's win is as impressive as hers. "Everything I do is more impressive than what Frank does," she said.  

Here at Chippens, we are always concerned first and foremost about the Greater Good. Kait is a worthy champion in that regard. As a parent and public school teacher, instilling sacred values into our country's youth is routine for Kait. 

She said she will definitely pass on what she's learned from this year's tournament: "I have taught my students t0 apply my strategy of forgetting that NCAA basketball is a thing for a year, and then cramming for fifteen minutes an hour before my picks are due to their own life endeavors." 

Congratulations to Kait O'Hare, a champion for the ages. 

Other Notable Results:
  • Daniel Frognowski won a tie-breaker over Harley-Dog to finish in second place as this year's top rookie. No other rookie finished in the top 20, though Connelly Bowling showed a lot of Hart to finish 23rd. Harley's third-place finish is her best ever in eight years of competition. She has now finished in the top 25 three years in a row. 
  • Valerie Corwin, always the tournament's most beautiful competitor, picked up her fourth career top-20 finish. This year marked Valerie's first year in the top 20 since her 17th-place finish in 2011. Only 12 players have more than four top-20 finishes.   
  • Van Miller and Chris Schumacher also each finished in the top 20 for the fourth time. Schumacher rebounded nicely from his 98th-place showing in 2016 to finish 4th, and Miller finished 12th. Miller now has four finishes in the top 24 in the last five years. Both Miller and Schumacher earned spots on the All-Time Average Place list, with Schumacher debuting in a tie for third with Miller cracking the list at #10. 
  • Congrats to Brandon "Big Baller" Gamble, who is now #1 in All-Time Average Place, dethroning Stump. Gamble finished 16th, his fifth top 20 finish in 11 seasons. 
  • Stump falls to #2 after finishing in 88th place, 26 spots below his now second-worst showing of 62nd place in 2016. Before 2016, Stump had never finished below 38th place, and finished in the top 26 eight out of nine years between 2007 and 2015. His incredible run included finishing 1st (2008), 3rd (2015), and 4th (2011), plus three other top-20 finishes. He still owns the top mark in Lifetime Points (though SeƱor Wences is now clacking at his heels) and Pick Percentage. Will he regain the magic next year?
  • Amber Myszka did not retain her title, but she gave it a good run, finishing 15th. She is one of just three players who earned back-to-back top-20 finishes this season. The other two are Leta Corwin, who finished 9th this year and 11th last year, and Chris Schiemann, who finished 10th this year and 7th last year. Leta moved from 7th to 3rd in the All-Time Average Place list, and Schiemann . . . moved up to 33rd. 
  • Steve Wood is the highest-ranking player debuting on the All-Time list. A number of players earned their Five Year Rings this year to become eligible. Wood now ranks 28th. He could have been much higher, but was not helped by finishing 103rd this year. 
  • The bottom four players are also in their first year of eligibility. Congrats to John Koster (86th), Sydney Penney (87th), Lauren McCall (88th), and Maya Corwin-Shah (89th) on earning their Five Year Rings this year. The four players have finished 81st or worse a combined 15 times, 90th or worse a combined 13 times, and they are a combined 6-time members of the Century Club (Lauren finished 99th this year, oh-so-close to making it 7 times for the group). 
Thanks to all for playing. Hope to see you again next year! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Welcome to the 2017 Chippens Tournament Challenge!

The 2017 Challenge is underway! Click HERE for player listing, player picks, current standings, and more!

Click HERE for Player Scenarios. 

Tournament Preview

Once again a most impressive field has converged on to try and win unsurpassed glory and earn a spot in history. This year's field boasts another strong mix of savvy veterans and doe-eyed rookies looking to claim the top prize.

Yes, You Have To Actually Win For Real

The Chippens Tournament is not immune to the events in the "real world." It is not immune because it need not be immune. It operates on a higher plane of existence than the silly trifles of normal human affairs. 

Of course, nowadays it seems to Chippens--from its privileged perch high above such things--that there is the "real" world and the "alternative" world.

A couple players this year want to exploit this new fantasy world: "If I lose, its fake news" (Chris Schiemann) and "Alternative_Bracket" (Adam Lombard). 

Lombard (11 seasons) and Schiemann (9 seasons) are both longtime players. Both had good years in 2016, with Lombard placing 10th and Schiemann 7th. Neither has claimed a championship, however.

But Schiemann boldly predicted this year is the year he wins it all. "Don't listen to the media," he said when he submitted his picks. "I will win." Schiemann will be rooting hard against the Kentucky Wildcats, who he has losing to Wichita State in the second round, and hard in favor of Duke and North Carolina, who he has meeting in the finals. 

Lombard pinned his hopes on UCLA, who he has beating Villanova for the championship. Lombard is one of only 11 players with the Bruins winning it all. 

Like Father Like Daughter...And Granddaughter? 

Every Chippens veteran knows Bill Snider, Sr., this year playing under the handle Pure Misery, is a supreme competitor and annual threat for the title. 

Now entering his 13th consecutive season, he ranks 11th in All-Time Average Place, 10th in All-Time Pick Percentage, and 4th in Career Points. 

Although a championship has eluded him like a 30-point buck in the mist, he has 5 top 21 finishes, including 2nd place in 2014. 

The question is whether his picking prowess is a matter of nature or nurture. His daughter, Betsy Snider (Skinny Margarita) and granddaughter (Bridget Snider) are making their Chippens debuts this year, so we will soon find out. 

Will Redbirds Get Revenge?

The Illinois State Redbirds did not receive a tournament berth this year despite a very good regular season. First-year player Sarah Oliver (Redbird Revenger), who has a family connection to the team, is not taking it lightly. 

What do you do if you're denied a chance to compete for an NCAA title? Obviously, you go for something far better--a Chippens title. 

I'm sure the sight of Sarah wearing the Grand Prize T-Shirt to Redbird practices and games will inspire the team to achieve all their goals next year. Sarah is another one of those 11 players who picked UCLA to win it all. 

Up From The Long Nap

Hello again to Truc Bui and Susu Willis. Truc last competed in 2012 and Susu in 2011. 

The two might not have competed in a while, but they've surely been orbiting around Planet Chippens by virtue of their respective relationships with LaIan Ball and Cadillac's Finest, two consistent competitors. 

The Chippens gravitational pull has now reeled them back in. We will see if they were rejuvenated or if they built up rust during their long absence.   

Good luck to all! 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The 2017 Chippens Tournament Challenge

You can now MAKE YOUR PICKS in the 2017 Chippens Tournament Challenge! 

As always, entry is free and there are prizes for the winners! 

The rules are the same: One bracket per person, and you must be old enough to make your own picks to play. Deadline to make your picks in noon eastern, 11 a.m. central on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Picks made after the deadline will not be accepted. 

If you want to change your picks, the easiest way is to contact me if it's just a game or two. Otherwise, you'll have to submit a whole new bracket. 

Here are this year's prizes....

Third Place: Fridge Magnet

Second Place: Bumper Sticker


The Chippens Grand Prize Design and Development Team worked extra hard on the t-shirt this year, going all the way to the Cleveland Zoo this summer to get a photo of the majestic beast that adorns this year's t-shirt. Of course, the majestic beast on the t-shirt will be second in its majesty only to the person who earns the right to wear the shirt. 

Good luck to all participants as you battle for the t-shirt and a spot in history.



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!