FICS Teamleague

History

All handles are FICS handles, unless indicated otherwise. Head TDs are shown in bold.

Origins

The genesis of TeamLeague was an ICC-only tournament of the STC Bunch. The STC leader was thewiz (ICC/FICS) when knightrunner (ICC), with help from Moondog (ICC) and MissB (ICC/FICS), created a 60+60 tourney called the Standard League, which took place on Saturdays at 3pm.

The league was taken over by Russ (ICC/FICS), who became the first TD. He created an email pairings template that allowed games to be played at a time agreed by both players, rather than at a preset time. Under his leadership the Team 60 60 League, as it became known, broke away from the STC Bunch, beginning with Tournament Zero on September 11, 1999. The tournament was still ICC-only at this point.

For Tournament Four (March 11, 2000), the time control was changed and the tourney was renamed to the Team 45 45 League.

Team chess comes to FICS

The first edition to include players from FICS was Tournament Five (May 11, 2000). Two teams represented FICS: Morpheus and The Impervious Strangulators. As nham recalls,

I remember noticing the league on icc, and asking the organizers if we could have the same thing on fics. they told me it would be great, I should try to get some teams on fics, and that's how the strangulators [a name suggested by Nitreb] were born. Maybe lysisergic did the same at the same time, or heard the talk on fics and registered his team [Morpheus] as well. 

Morpheus later expanded into Morpheus Blue, Morpheus Gold, and Morpheus Silver, and was thus one of the first "superteams".

Initially, ICC and FICS teams played head-to-head, but from T9 (April 2001) onward FICS and ICC teams competed in separate sections for the regular season, with the winners facing off to determine the "World Champions". The inter-ICS championship matches were organized so that two games were played on ICC and two on FICS, and a special account was provided to non-ICC members to play the games hosted on that server.

By Tournament Thirteen (January 2002), the FICS component of the league had grown to seven teams: The Pathetic Players, The Impervious Strangulators, A Patchwork Orange, and The Ninth Rank (all U2000); and Patchworks, The Terrible TM's, and Patzer Posse (U1600). The first known leader of the league since it included FICS players was DaveTheRook (ICC/FICS), who remained the head until the schism after T28.

With T18 (March 12, 2003), the use of the private flag on FICS was disallowed by the rules. Around T19 (June 4, 2003), ICC stopped providing the accounts for used for the inter-ICS matches, so the ICC and FICS leagues became separate, although still run under the same organization.

According to "news 1012", T24 began around September 2004 with a website hosted at www.teamchess.org. The tradition of posting pairings on Tuesday at 19:00 server time dates back at least to at least T26 (March 15, 2005), and probably earlier. ICC and FICS players played in the same organization through T28 (December 13, 2005).

The great schism

On February 6, 2006, KlassAct sent an email announcing a split with the ICC league. There were various reasons for the breakup:

  • the perceived lack of effectiveness of checks for computer abuse on FICS, because ComputerAbuse(*) was not active at the time;
  • disagreements about Russ's leadership and his decision to ban some players; and
  • two rules changes set to be introduced in the next edition, despite the strenuous objections of FICSers. First, captains would be given yellow cards when they were found to be to blame for a game not being played. Second, and most egregious to some on FICS, a new "autoforfeit" system would forfeit players as soon as they were 30 minutes and 1 second late to a game. Even if the opponent wished to reschedule the game, he or she would have no choice in the matter.

Another example of the cultural mismatch between FICS and ICC: ICC membership extension prizes were given to league winners, but they were not useful to FICS players.

In short, the FICS league declared its independence in a kind of rebellion against authoritarian management.

The split was mostly amicable, however, and communication between admins of the ICC and FICS leagues continues to the present day.

Decline and rebirth

The early days of the new FICS league were turbulent. When the programmer for both the FICS and ICC leagues disappeared, taking with him the software used to manage both tournaments, the ICC league was suspended to allow new software to be written. In contrast, twinders decided to proceed with the next tourney on FICS, and to manage it entirely through email.

The email-only system proved to be an organizational nightmare; after few stepped up to help, KlassAct and twinders resigned at the end of the tournament. To quote fernbap, "Teamleague was no more."

Yet the flame burned on. As recounted by fernbap,

"Twotowers put a forum up in order to try to gather people willing to help. Seberg joined the project and started writing the bot. Hypermagnus joined as an administrator and TD."

As HyperMagnus later wrote,

...no one imagined how well everything would work when we started. TeamLeague had no infrastructure, no staff, and most things we had to rebuild from scratch.

Fernbap again:

I knew that seberg's bot was a great idea, but I also knew that TL would also need a web system, and so I joined Seberg and we both developed the web+bot system together. That made Seberg have to do some changes to the bot, which was almost complete at that time, in order to integrate its database with the web database, but the result came out nicely. Seberg did a wonderful job with the bot, and our cooperation resulted in a great system...."

Starting in September 2005, WatchBot by Mekk recorded live comments to slow games on FICS, which has been an invaluable feature for players. As longtime TeamLeaguer pchesso says, "teamleague would not be what it is without watchbot storing the comments."

The name Team League, current logo, and interested players list all existed by T30 (April 11, 2006), and possibly earlier.

On July 7, 2006, thewiz passed away. He was the current leader of the STC Bunch and one of the most prominent early promoters of slow chess online.

HyperMagnus emerged as the head TD, beginning with T31 (start date unknown). With his leadership and the new software, TeamLeague enjoyed a renaissance. T35 (January 15, 2008) was the largest edition to that point, with 52 teams comprising 238 players.

Recent times

HyperMagnus was followed by blkmagic for T37 (September 30, 2008), and then beginning with T38 (February 3, 2009) our current beloved head TD, jaberwock. Not to imply that the other leaders weren't beloved. Everyone was beloved, except HyperMagnus, who ruled the league with an iron fist.*

T42 (April 6, 2010) had 65 teams, which seems to be a record.

Beginning with T45 (January 2011), sections no longer have predictable limits, like U1600, U1800, and U2000; instead, sections are named after world champions, with rating cutoffs chosen by the TDs after all teams are submitted.

The current edition of TeamLeague is T48 (October 25, 2011). Congrats to nham and Nitreb for playing in both T5 (the first FICS edition of the league) and T48!

*Citation needed

Statistics (since T32)

Here are some statistics from the database. Unfortunately it only includes editions T32 and later. Forfeits and set games are not included.

Most prolific players (updated to T65)

Player Games played
RoyRogersC 315
OldFlyer 246
BethanyGrace 233
LightKnight 231
NokiaTwenty 227
Misteraw 223
Introspection 219
Knoeier 208
smallblackcat 207
stevelco 206

Thanks to kurumim for updating this list.

Number of players over time

This graph shows, for each edition since T32, the number of players who were paired in at least one game in the league.

 Further research

  • The finger notes of knightrunner on ICC provide a perspective of the formation of the precursor to TeamLeague.
  • Results and crosstables from T0 to T13, courtesy of the Internet Archive
  • T14
  • T15T16T17
  • T18T19
  • The Team 45 45 League steering committee notes until T28 provide insight into the how the original rules were developed.
  • There is an archive of the games of T23-T30 at www.teamleague.org/pgn/
  • There are several historical snapshots of www.teamleague.org. For instance, you can see a list of the teams of T30 here.
  • The discussion board for T39 to T44 is still online.
  • Standings T32 to T47 can be seen using a command like "tl standings -t t32". 
  • Players participating in both T23 in 2004 and T48 in 2011 include blkmagic, ButiOxa, maeck, nham, SamuraiGoroh, TGV, twotowers, Valiantangel, and xivarmy.

 


Last updated 2017-01-24

This page is compiled by wmahan, with contributions from smallblackcat, pchesso, seberg, Chessface, KlassAct, SamuraiGoroh, HyperMagnus, Chesskix (ICC/FICS), kurumim, botchvinik, nham, and fernbap.