A tournament bracket of sad songs from 1980-2001. Vote for matchups and let's argue about sad music instead of politics. [more inside]
Drone video footage of the largest ice fishing tournament in the world from Gull Lake, Minnesota. (SLYT) There are over 20,000 holes in the ice and just as many anglers.
The Fruit Cutting Championships, a 2008 episode of the TV Tokyo variety show TV Champion 2, complete with commercials. Remarkably entertaining despite the language barrier (due to the visual nature of the competition). Event breakdown/explanation after the fold. [more inside]
Prior to our arrival in Nepal the following day, only one member of our squad had played elephant polo, in a brief exhibition. The rest of us had neither sat atop an elephant nor played horse polo nor spent much time atop a horse. We had "practiced" twice at a windswept parking lot along the beach in Queens, New York, in bitter cold, using mallets fashioned from PVC pipe and riding on top of SUVs in place of elephants. It was funny but not entirely helpful.
The Tournament of Literary Friends. "Serious readers know we shouldn’t go looking for friends in fiction. Better to look for moral questions, social truths, emotional possibilities—the stuff of life. And yet, isn’t it sort of fun to imagine playing Eschaton with Michael Pemulis or cruising Mexico with the Savage Detectives? Isn’t imagining ourselves among fictional people actually pretty central to the experience of reading?" Novelist Katherine Hill and her husband draw up a tournament bracket of their likely/ideal friends from literary fiction. From the Paris Review.
10 years ago marked the debut of Chappelle's Show. Grantland's Rembert Browne pits the 64 most watched sketches on Comedy Central in a tournament to decide the funniest sketch of the 2.something seasons the show produced. (SPOILER warning - the final 8 are linked inside!) [more inside]
Judit Polgár is the greatest female chess player in history. The product of an educational experiment by her father, she was the first to break Bobby Fischer's record as the youngest-ever grandmaster - by which time she had already stopped competing in women-only tournaments. In 2002, she avenged an earlier controversial loss to Garry Kasparov - the first time in any sport that the No. 1 ranked female player has beaten the No. 1 ranked male player. At her peak, ranked 8th in the world, she became the first woman to compete for the World Championship. After several years of reduced activity spent raising her two children, Polgár returned to full-time competition - making it to the quarter-finals of the 2011 FIDE World Cup. [more inside]
"If it were just the NCAA tournament bracket, March Madness would be far less mad than it is. Something about the reminder of how much joy we get in filling out a bracket has led writers and talkers deep into the great time-wasting ether, creating brackets on everything you could possible dream of bracketing."One writer thought about this, took a step back, and created a bracket tournament to discuss the best possible subjects/entries for a pop-culture, food, and sports bracket tournament. [more inside]
It being bracket season, The Weather Channel has devised an epic Weather Song tournament for those not interested in college athletics. It consists of four weather-related phenomena, with underdogs and favorites abounding. "Have you Ever Seen the Rain" trounced "the crowd-favorite Weather Girls' It's Raining Men" in the first round of the Rain Region. Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" upset Bananarama's summer-related hit in the Seasons Region. Voting is still open until tomorrow for round two of the Sun and Elements regions.
Scrabble word list changes: "WESPA hopes this North American isolationism will end one day, for the good of global Scrabble."
On January first the official club and tournament word list used by competitive Scrabble players outside of North America (SOWPODS or CSW or Collins) will change. The updated international word list contains 1532 additions and 145 deletions (pdf) of words of eight or fewer letters. There are no new two-letter words. New words of note: CLIT, CUMS, INBOX, MUNGE, QIN, SPLOG, VOIP, WIKI, XRAY No longer allowed: ACIDFREAK, FOOTROT, MOLEHUNT, PORNOMAG, VICTROLLA, WYSIWIG, YOS [more inside]
In 1839, soon after Queen Victoria's accession, the Earl of Eglinton staged a re-enactment of a medieval tournament to mark the beginning of what he hoped would be a new age of chivalry. Despite torrential rain, the Eglinton Tournament was attended by 100,000 people and sparked off a popular craze for all things medieval. A new website tells the story of the tournament and reproduces, for the first time, twenty original watercolours recording the event in all its romantic splendour and absurdity.
Wunderkind James Leong of Vancouver, BC defeated veteran Jerry Lerman of Foster City, California, with a score of 423-377 to win the 2007 Scrabble Player's Championship in Dayton, OH. He takes the top prize of $12,500. Held during years when the bi-annual Nationals don't occur, this is the biggest tournament of the year. The tournament attracted about 450 players from around the world. Think you've got what it takes? You'll probably want to study up.
A Chip and a Chair: The World Series of Poker's Main Event started today at the Rio in Las Vegas. That's a change from every other year, when Binion's Horseshoe hosted the event. With the rise of online poker and televised tournaments, it's no surprise this is the biggest year ever: 5,661 people registered for the $10,000 no-limit event. That's about $50 million in prize money, once the tournament and casino costs are taken care of. CardPlayer has up-to-the-minute updates on the tournament. Things at the WSOP can get pretty crazy, as you've got thousands of gamblers ready for any sort of action. For instance, poker celeb Phil Gordon put together a Roshambo tournament (paper rock scissors) together with a $10,000 first prize, just to kill time. The main event, by the way, is only one of 45 events, started back in 1970 by a group of hard-core gamblers. Despite the record turnout, however, there's still plenty of people who didn't make it to the main event, including former Harper's reporter James McManus, who placed 5th in the Main Event in 2000 and wrote a fascinating novel on the subject.
Tyler Hinman: Legend, Zoalesquianist, Champion. The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament has a new kid in the grid.
It looks like that the British network einstein.tv and the FIDE may open negotiations this month for a reunified world chess championship. The championship was split in 1993 when Garry Kasparov left the FIDE to start his own failed league. Kasparov claims the world championship left with him, while the FIDE claims he abdicated by refusing to play nice with others. Kasparov lost the championship last year to Kramnik. Einstein.TV is milking the publicity while the FIDE says we are meeting but no comment. Wood pushers like me are probably better off leaving the politics to the people who can't stand each other and sticking to the internet chessclub, the free chess servers or simply email chess.