Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2008 (e4)

In the beginning, everything was equal and everyone was happy. There were big cities and hick states, Super GMs and Ilya Krasik, statisticians and jumble-makers, little children and Larry Kaufman, both coasts, the North, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, even, remarkably, the Pacific Northwest. Back then, the only form of war known was the Comment War, and this was more like a ritualized, ceremonial trading of insults, rather than any actual substantive accusations or even, come to think of it, attempts at factual statements.

Back in those days, the teams were all relatively evenly matched. Sure, some people would argue that this team was better than that team, but that opinion was usually identical to the opinion-holder's hometown, and therefore not terribly meaningful. No one ever really knew who would make the Playoffs or who would win the Finals. In fact, most people, even The Great Ruler, seemed to have no idea!

But then the Big Cities got together and hatched a plan. They said, "hey, let's make this one, tiny, tiny change in the rules" (we'll call it Change A). The big cities said they were making the suggestion because it was objectively a good idea, but the its sole effect would be to give an advantage to densely populated areas. Most teams were from large cities so they liked the idea. The medium-sized cities didn't think it was their business to object. People demanded the right to vote.


because voting is sexy, right?


The Great Ruler reluctantly polled the Team Managers and, in the end, Change A was effected.

The next season, Carolina, Tennessee, and Arizona were huddled together at the bottom of the rankings. Within two years, all three teams had voluntarily* withdrawn from the USCL.

Next year, the same three teams, New York, Boston, and San Fransisco, suggested one more rule change (change B). The sole effect of this change would be to benefit teams with more high rated players. Of course, the teams making the suggestion said they were doing it for the sake of the fans, and the fans, overjoyed to have been even mentioned, screamed their approval. Democracy prevailed.

By the next season, any team that couldn't consistantly field a 2 GM lineup suffered a severe handicap. Philadelphia, Chicago, and even Queens dropped like weighted kittens to the bottom of the pool.


The two exceptions to this phenomenon were Dallas and Miami, whose combination of improving young players and team chemistry allowed them to remain a thorn in the side of the Big Three.

The following year, someone stood up patriotically and said, "Hey, this is the UNITED STATES Chess League! What are all these GODDAMN FOREIGNERS doing on our top boards, taking pieces out of American mouths? This tournament should be for Americans! There ought to be a rule**" New York, Boston, and San Fransisco rubbed their hands and laughed as the INS came for Miami and Dallas.



After several more years, the USCL map had been redrawn to include just three MEGA-teams: what used to be known as New York, Boston, and San Fransisco. By 2015, they had renamed themselves Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania. Two of them are perpetually at war with the third.


The Great Ruler walked away from the league in disgust and now lives alone, somewhere in the forest.

*with one exception
** name the song

26 comments:

anjiaoshi said...

OK, for those of us who are out of the loop and can't tell how much of this is real and how much is a flight of fancy, has Change A already happened or not?

Elizabeth Vicary said...

You might want to read the comments here:
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2681850489432318981&postID=342201376009174753&page=1

If you have some spare time that is...

John said...

I laughed. USCL gerrymandering will be the theme for the coming seasons.

John Fernandez said...

All I can see is the little faces of drowning kittens...

Anonymous said...

Maybe the critics ARE right: chess players are nuts! Two chess players can play a game and be OK. Three chess players can play a game and third person plays the winner and kibbitzes and all are happy. But get a group together and it is an asylum and not the pleasant Beautiful Mind asylum but the very unpleasant Bedlam asylum.

Anonymous said...

I skimmed that blog discussion and I wonder what the percentage of chess players with Aspergers syndrome is as compared with the general population. I have to think it would be pretty high.

Globular said...

Sorry I brought up something I care about. Now I get shouted down and ridiculed.

Nice.

I'll never give a crap about the league, or chess in the US, again. OK?

Happy?

-Matt

Anonymous said...

The main thing I got out of the referenced thread is how cool it would be for people to abbreviate their names the way A-Rod does, e.g.

Elizabeth Vicary -> E-Vic
Matt Phelps -> M-Phel
John Fernandez -> J-Fern

Globular said...

I think Dallas takes the cake there:

M-Ziv
D-Kul
D-Bos
I-Schnei
B-Zor

(These all sound much better than they look :) )

NY is a close second:

A-Shab
J-Fed
J-Bone
I-Zen

-M-Phel

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I cannot believe Greg said he would NOT EVEN CONSIDER FOR A SECOND linking to this article on the USCL front page. He's, like, some kind of FASCIST DICTATOR.


;)

Globular said...

Glad to see you coming around E-Vic!

(G-Shade?)


:)

Elizabeth Vicary said...

listen, did you guys not like the story? What's up with the lack of comments? I'm not writing this blog for my own artistic benefit: in fact, I'm writing it to attract anonymous sycophantic admirers who will prop up my fragile, hysterical ego.

so I'd like to encourage you all to leave comments, especially nice ones! notice that i'm not threatening you, as Greg does to his viewers.

Globular said...

Greg won't let me discuss your writing skills because some less talented writers might get discouraged.

:)

anjiaoshi said...

So I read the comments on that other blog post. I don't understand the USCL controversy any better than I did before. But I do think I have a clearer understanding of the Polgar-Truong-Sloan controversy.

The USCF should offer a 15 percent discount on cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy as a member benefit.

Rihel said...

Elizabeth,

I like your pretty subtle comment. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but did you happen to see certain comments on the Boylston Chess blog before they got edited/deleted?

The Lord of the Rings-esque article was nice, too. The photos add a lot, I think.

While I'm sychphanting (is this a legal verb?), let me add that your newest Chess Life article is really great, especially the touching humanity you find in all the kids' stories.

Jason

Rihel said...

"sycOphanting", of course. I'd hate to rouse the anonymous spelling-goblins who lurk on the Interweb.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

why thank you, Jason. I did not see these comments,which is a shame because deleted comments are my favorites. Perhaps you could email them to me?

does everyone get the reference in the title? (it's 1984, not Lord of the Rings -- you people are obsessed with that series) i hate to ruin a good joke, but an unnamed friend of mine who is on vacation didn't get it at all and then im the one who just looks like a weirdo.

and thanks for the clo praise -- i set out to write an inclusive article and that's what came out. :)

Rihel said...

I missed the 1984 title reference-DoH!. I'm not even a Lord of the Rings fan, yet the image of the forest path made me think of it.

Globular said...

I'd best stop my crimethink doubleplus quick, before I have to go to Room 101 or get vaporized into an unperson.

-Matt

gurdonark said...

this has that whole "and then they came for me" German theologian vibe, without quite going for the note-for-note imitation.

CRR said...

1984? Come on, Animal Farm was much better.
(/using snobbery to mask the fact that I didn't get the joke)

gurdonark said...

I think if you're going to use a metaphor to make a point, then Orwell is a fun way to do it.

Globular said...

CRR, oh please, "Coming Up for Air" is even better than "Animal Farm."

:)

-Matt

Rihel said...

CRR,

I agree -- Animal Farm is more apropo to Elizabeth's point than 1984. In Animal Farm, the collective "knows best" and then ruins everything. In 1984,, Big Brother, squashes all dissent. It seems like a dueling narrative-- Globular should write a 1984 metaphor about his opinion of the USCL, and Elizabeth should write an Animal Farm metaphor about her opinion.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I can't believe no one has named the song.... are you guys not fans of King Bishop and the Squares?

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I don't think I agree with the assertion that the collective runs everything in Animal Farm-- isn't Napolean the de facto totalitarian dictator? In 1984, the faceless 3 governments run everything, suggesting, I hoped, the need to rein in the immense power of tyrannical team managers to make suggestions.