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! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

121 Take The Challenge

The 2014 Challenge has started! CLICK HERE to view Player Picks, Player Listing, Current Standings, Projected Standings, and much more! 

Daily Recaps:

2014 Preview

Once again, top competitors from the world over have converged at to take part in this greatest of traditions. We've set a new record for participation at 121 challengers as the intoxicating lure of the pageantry and prestige of the Chippens Tournament Challenge brings ever more souls into her supple bosom.

Here's a look at some of the notable competitors this year:


As in years past, competitors this year submitted picks from west coast to east, but Uncle Leo submitted his all the way from the Far East. The veteran would simply not let a YMCA trip to Vietnam stop him from entering the contest. Rookies, take note: It's that type of grit and determination that sets champions apart. Uncle Leo is getting his 5 Year Ring this year, meaning he's eligible for the All Time Records. In his previous four seasons, he has three finishes in the top 22, and his lowest finish is 49th from 2011. A happy ending to this season could put him on the all-time leader board. 

But there can be no doubt that the one player over all others to watch out for this year is Voltaire (Rodney Dawson). Dawson said he only had time to complete one bracket this year, and he made it this one. Clearly a wise man. Dawson is also in line for his 5 Year Ring, which should make current holders of all-time records very nervous. Dawson's last four seasons have been brilliant: 4th (2010), 11th (2011), 21st (2012) and 16th (2013). Can his incredible run continue? Or will the limelight of a 120 computer screens cast a shadow over his success? Only time will tell.


We have a number of players competing this year from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the U.S. Airborne Forces and the U.S. Special Forces. Most are rookies, including Airborne Chef, Ft. Bragg, jprose24, Monster, and Mr. Stew. There can be no doubt that their military training and background will have prepared them well for the rigors of the Chippens Tournament Challenge. They'll be in competition against each other now, however, and only one can prove to be sine pari, "without equal," which I understand is the motto at Fort Bragg. 


What can I say other than look out for this guy. He deserves a section all to himself. A "rookie" in name only, Boss Hogg ran the CHS tournament back in the paper and pencil days of the 1990s, before Chippens even existed. In fact, he was there for the birth of Chippens on that fateful New Year's Eve, December 31, 2000 (ask GG20 for more info on that). A creative entrepreneur and a man of wide-ranging talents, Boss Hogg has always had a gift for spotting and seizing opportunity. In this year of the wolf, it might be time to start asking which among us are the sheep.   


MKizzle and hv porter are two top competitors back this year that haven't competed recently. MKizzle was runner-up in 2010 and finished 21st in 2011. She's staked her chances at a glorious return to competition on Duke -- she's the only player in the tournament to take them all the way. 

Hv porter (Liz Reinhart) did not compete last year after putting together a remarkable five-year run. The research manager is currently ranked #1 in lifetime pick percentage, #4 in average place, and #5 in average points. She's back to defend her spots in the record books with an Arizona-Kansas final. If you also have that pairing, you are in good company. 


This year marks the 14th annual Chippens Tournament Challenge and the 10th since the dawn of the "modern era" in 2005, when we instituted our stringent records retention policy. The following players are not only back this year, they have competed every year since at least 2005. Players with an asterisk are those I believe have been with the tourney since our first year in 2001. 

Honorable Mention: Nicholas A. "Blizzard T. Husky" Schultz has only missed one year (2007) from 2001-2014. 

TODAY'S UPDATES: Standings will be updated as close to real time as possible today. The Current Standings page always reflects the time of the last update in the top right corner. 

Thanks for playing and good luck!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 2014 Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge

MAKE YOUR PICKS NOW in the 2014 Chippens NCAA Tournament Challenge!

Once again, entry is TOTALLY FREE and we have PRIZES for the top three finishers. The spectacular Grand Prize T-Shirt is shown below. This vintage piece of Americana features a noble beast on the front that is only worthy of a Challenge Champion. The back features a true American patriot and last year's champion, Cotter, in a state of majestic repose. 

Entry deadline is Thursday, March 20 at 12:00 p.m. eastern / 11:00 a.m. central

*One bracket per person, please. If you submit a second bracket, it will replace your first bracket. If you want to just change a couple picks, contact me and I will do it for you. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.* 

Good Luck!



Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Coronation Of Cotter

There is a scene in the 1988 action movie Die Hard where the villain, Hans Gruber, says, "When Alexander the Great saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer."

I have thought about that quote often over the past couple days, for there is no doubt that somewhere out there -- albeit under a thick cream of SPF baby's bottom to protect his albino complexion -- Cotter is at once basking in the brilliant glory of being crowned the 2013 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion and experiencing a certain feeling of loss and nostalgia, as he has now, like Alexander, accomplished more before the age of 30 than most men in history could ever dream.

Yet Cotter's was not an easy victory.

You see, Cotter -- who I'm told has been asking people to address him as "Your Lordship" -- almost didn't even get his picks in this year. With fewer than 24 hours before the deadline, Cotter decided to fly to Las Vegas.

After a layover in Cleveland, he boarded his flight to Sin City. Everything went great -- except for the fact that somewhere over the prairie states Cotter realized he'd left his laptop sitting out in the terminal at the Cleveland airport. Well, in this day and age, leaving a box-shaped electronic device unattended in an airport tends to cause some alarm.

TSA and local law enforcement responded immediately. They assumed Cotter's Facebook account and began a thorough investigation. But, after contacting a few of Cotter's friends and learning intimate details of his life, they apparently realized just who they were dealing with (i.e., they were overcome with pity) and decided to put the laptop on the next flight to Vegas.

Still, Cotter would not get his laptop back before the deadline. This meant he had to painstakingly make his picks on his iPhone. 

In this way, Cotter's triumph reminds me of the 1988 Jean Claude Van Damme masterpiece "Bloodsport," in which Frank Dux, played by Van Damme, wins the Kumite, the secret fighting tournament in Hong Kong. In the final match, Van Damme's wicked opponent throws powder in his eyes. Blinded, Van Damme must rely on training and instinct to prevail.

Likewise, one can just imagine Cotter, jet-lagged and (no doubt) hungover, valiantly entering his picks on his iPhone, barely able to see the teams through the mental haze created by his own whiskey-tinged stench mixing with the dappled desert sunlight creeping through his window shades. 

It's a scenario that would have bested lesser men, men who would have cursed the Heavens for their awful plight. Men who would have rolled over and said, "Next year." 

But not Cotter. No, not Cotter. For where those lesser men would have succumbed to self-pity, Cotter instead heeded the words of Cassius, who in Julius Caesar tells Brutus, "Men at some times are masters of their fates. / The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves." Thus, like William Wallace inspiring his peasant army at the Battle of Stirling, Cotter summoned his vast reserve of cunning and pure willpower to overcome all obstacles to realize his destiny.

In so doing, Cotter often seemed more Master Splinter than albino gopher, proving Louis Pasteur's maxim (and Steven Seagal's in "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory") that "chance favors the prepared mind." Yes, with the deft skill of an ancient and wizardly master, Cotter out-classed perhaps the most competitive field in Challenge history, winning by an impressive 16 points over the next opponent.

Indeed, only one player had more teams in the Sweet 16, no one had more in the Elite 8, no one had more in the Final Four, and Cotter was the only player to have a Michigan-Louisville final. He secured the Championship when Michigan defeated Syracuse; the win by Louisville in the final only extended his lead and put him 18th All-Time for a single season score.

Ladies and gentlemen, the albino gopher -- or should I say, His Lordship The Albino Gopher -- is now a champion for the ages.

Other Notable Finishes:

  • With his fifth place finish, Brandon Gamble took over the tournament's #1 ranking. Stumper fell to #3, and Cotter took over the #2 spot. 
  • Julie Thompson (nee Kozlowski) beat her husband and her in-laws for the second year in a row.
  • Jason Jackson, Rodney Dawson, and Chris Schumacher each picked up their third top-20 finish. Dawson and Schumacher will get their Five Year Rings next year. You can bet they will make a move for spots in the All-Time Average Place list. 
  • Congrats to Eric Myszka (that means "mouse" in Polish) and Amber Karecki (Future Mouse), who will be competing as a husband and wife pair next year. 
  • Steve Wood, the tournament's runner-up, finished as the top rookie. He also had the top pick percentage at 70%.  
  • Congrats to 9-year veteran Van Miller on his 4th place showing, his first top 10 finish.   

Thanks for playing! See you next March!