The North American Tiddlywinks Association|
T i d d l y w i n k s !
This issue is Newswink 8 and was edited by Joe Sachs and Sunshine.
Not The Missing Wink, Not The Return Thereof,
An Official Publication of the North American Tiddlywinks Association - May 12, 1978
We hereby attempt to disprove the compelling thesis that no interesting article can be written about the 1977 Eastern Regionals, held at MIT December 3. The match was not a close one, with newly merged Chicken Hearts, veritably bursting under the constriction of the six-player team format, out-distancing the Zoo, forebodingly under-personed, and hapless MIT, feeling the absence of Nigeria-bound team captain Charles and as yet still boondocked Fred. In the last tournament of the great "twenty minute time limit" experiment, confusion and disorganization were widespread; trying to save some time, it was agreed that each team would play both opponents simultaneously instead of having team versus team rounds, and TD Joe was unable to keep the cogs, let alone the games, running smoothly. A commendable performance by Don increased his winning streak to n games, making him the second winker in NATwA history to play 200 tournament games before 100 wins or 100 losses. In the Long Time No See Department, Bill "Cannonball" Renke played his first tournament game without a partner since winning the triple crown in 1973, due to his team having only five warm bodies capable of holding a squidger. Surprisingly absent from the day's events was Dave "Dragonweed" Lockwood, duplicating his feat of 1975 by missing both Regionals (in '75 he was in England). Also of note, Matt became the second Cornell captain to hitchhike to Boston (presumably to scout his Continentals adversaries).
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The first double-quad Continentals was held at MIT on February 18-19. Six teams took part in both divisions. Defending champion and pre-match favorite Renaissance stumbled out of the starting blocks, being dealt the team's first ever head to head defeat by oft overlooked and underrated MIT. After four rounds, Renaissance was still in fourth place, but grabbed the lead from the Chicken Hearts by the close of the first day's winking and then steadily pulled away from the field, only MIT remaining within shouting distance. Crown & Centipede smashed the Chicken Hearts in the last round to take the B division title. Horsemeat joined the exclusive 60-Point Continentals club, winning nine and losing none of his last ten games.
By now every winker has seen the NATwA Song Book and heard its rousing songs sung at tournaments and other places where winkers gather. Many, perhaps, have found themselves spontaneously singing tiddlywinks songs while taking showers or just walking down the street, oblivious to the distress and confusion of roommates and passers-by. This is the story of those songs.The story begins on Route 17 in New York, immediately after the Western Regionals in 1974. This was the Western Regionals which saw the breakup of Hythnlbtwoc, and the emergence of the TKO's. After this tournament, Spike began to sing:
"The TKO's play sensible
They're never reprehensible
But always stout of principle
It was an idea whose time had come.
On that trip, we finished "The TKO's Fight Song", "Squop, Squop, Squop", "Break Up Their Piles", and "ARW Forever". Later, we wrote other songs while driving to and from tournaments. Why not? It was a whole lot more fun than playing Botticelli. One person, generally Spike, would sing the first line of a proposed song. THen we both sang back and forth, occasionally adding or changing a line until the song was done. Then we would try something different and come back to it later. Or else we never would get back to it. The following song, for instance, never seemed to go anywhere:
(to the tune of "Onward, Christian Soldiers")
"Onward, NATwA Winkers
Squopping out the foe.
If you squop your partner,
Always let him go."
The last thing I'd like to tell about is "!", the highlight of our songwriting career. I've always liked Sousa marches. One evening, while we were passing through Hartford, I mentioned to Spike that I had long wanted to write a winking song to the tune of "The Stars and Stripes Forever". Spike came back with "I'm all for winking, and winking's all for me." "Oh no!" I said. "We're actually going to do it!" And so we did. The song started out reasonably enough, but soon got out of hand. When we had finished, it was clear to us that this time we had gone too far. When people first asked us to sing it we refused, and when we did try to sing it we couldn't because we were laughing too hard. But then it turned out that people liked the song. It just goes to show.
Despite the first organized strike in NATwA journalistic history, the BIT took place on March 18. Six teams assembled during the day. The National Velvets took the early lead but were overtaken on the final round by the Arboretum Feebles. The Philadelphia Athletics, as they did so many times in the past, came in last. Also present were the Mudville Sluggers, Wisdom & Mercy, and the Minneapolis Millers. Of special interest in an historical sense was that three partial "persimmon" games were played - 2 players vs. 3 players. This was the easiest way to have 13 people playing in three games. Some discussion is expected in the future as to the legality of "persimmons" in other NATwA matches. A "persimmon" consists of three winkers playing in a rotation, no color being controlled by any single winker. It is standard for Chicken Heart practices.
When it started to look likely that the Continentals were going to be in Boston this year, it was suggested that perhaps another sort of tournament would be held in Ithaca. The idea of a tournament for just the student teams had been around for a while, so it was decided that this would be a good year to try it. However, by the middle of March there was still no definate [sic] date set. The weekend of April 15th finally came through as a firm date, and MIT tried to gather up a carfull of winkers to meet the challenge. The car didn't quite get filled, but since Cornell could only come up with 4 itself, it was decided the tournament would be squad format, and Ithaca High split itself into an "A" and a "B" team.
The morning of the 15th found snow falling lightly in Ithaca, and the high school stalling the start of the match wondering why their "best" players hadn't shown up yet. With veterans Rick, Charles, and Dave Pinkney [sic: should be Pinckney] present, MIT was favored to win the tournament in spite of playing a novice, Ron Mabbitt. Cornell had its stable crew of Matt, Andy, Belinda and Alan. Ithaca High had a strong 4 man "A" team with John Reppy, Ken Moroff [sic: should be Moraff], Arye, and Mike Moore. The "B" team had former members of the gang of 4, Dave and Chris Young, Mike Mecenas, and Randy McKelvey playing his first NATwA game.
Things started out normal enough. MIT taking 22 1/2 points from Ithaca-B. Few people would have clearly rated the Cornell team over the powerful Ithaca-A squad, but Cornell pulled out 19 points, winning 3 of 4 games. The first signs of an upset in progress didn't come until the 4th round of play, when Andy and Belinda defeated Rick and Charles 5 1/2 - 1 1/2. Since the 2nd MIT pair lost both of its games, this gave Cornell the [sic] a 17 point victory against MIT. Ithaca-A took 22 points off their "B" team. Thus, with Cornell beating both MIT and Ithaca-A and Ithaca-B left to play, things looked good for a Cornell victory, unless the MIT Ithaca-A match was particularly lopsided. It was not. In the 2nd upset of the day, Ithaca-A won 3 games, taking 16 points against MIT, giving Ithaca-A 2nd place. Cornell beat Ithaca-B 20 to 8, the smallest margin of the day against an Ithaca-B that won no games. The final standings Cornell 56, Ithaca-A 47, MIT 45 1/2, and Ithaca-B 19 1/2.
According to the old-timers, this was the first time in over 10 years that Cornell had beaten MIT, and of course the High School had never done so. All involved seemed to enjoy the match (although none took up MIT's offer of an immediate rematch), and it seems that with the Beanpot occuring [sic] also this year, some sort of scholastic tournament is likely to be seen again next year.
The most important statistic about the first annual Beanpot Tournament was the involvement of the highest number and percentage of newcomers in a tournament in many years (11 out of the 15 players). In the team competition, an MIT student team (quite different from the regular MIT team) won an expected victory over Harvard, an impressive second place in its return to winks after an eleven year hiatus, and Boston University, which performed creditably considering that Todd Brachman was its only player who had ever before seen a full-sized mat.
Notable rookie performers included: Harvard's Andrea Eisenberg, who had
third most points in the tournament, and 13-year-old Sam Lipson, who squopped
his way to 3 wins in 4 games; BU's Mal Najarian, probably the best
conventional athlete ever to play NATwA winks (187 yards rushing against
undefeated Colgate), and Julian Minear [sic?], an Englishman fresh from
running in the Boston Marathon; and MIT's Alex Kagan and BJ Kim (Joe's ex-
roommates), 2-1-1 in their first tournament. Other highlights of the Beanpot were a first-ever-tournament-game-for-all-four-players which ended in a tie, the introduction of violence into tiddlywinks by the BU football players, and hours of coverage by the Boston Herald American, which resulted in a front page article on April 25.
The Winkly Reader staff made a number of demands at the BIT in their "Who Cares" strike issue. A few winkers responded, most visibly Fred, Dragon, Moishe, Charles, and Rick. This issue is a reflection of their comments, suggestions, and assistance. If this form of Newswink is satisfactory to NATwA, then this style will be maintained in future issues. We hope to receive more comments, suggestions and offers of assistance; and there are many staff positions available to people who would like to be part of this great effort. So, keep those cards and letters coming to Joe and Sunshine.
From The New York Times, March 4, 1960, page 30, column 4:
Oxford, England, March 3 (UPI) - Mary Otto, 21, yesterday became the first woman member of an official Oxford University sports team. She was allowed to join the tiddlywink first team.
At the abbreviated Congress, SecGen Joe Sachs expressed willingness to continue in the office only if regional coordinators would play an active part next season. The job entails some managerial duties surrounding any NATwA match in the region, such as reserving rooms, arranging accom[m]odations, notifying team captains, collecting dues and appointing tournament directors; or relegating such tasks to appropriate people and seeing that things get done. The coordinator would also be a communications link between the SecGen and the team captains. The post was filled in the East by L, who is continuing his unexplained avidity. However, no one has yet volunteered for the Western job. With the West centered in Ithaca, it seems best that one of the many winkers there take on the duties. We do not want to force the job on anyone, but it should be clear that without an active coordinator the tournaments and other winks affairs of the West will fall prey to inefficiency and confusion. The well being of the whole of NATwA is at stake. What about it, Ithacans (and Mecklenburgers)? Let's get our collective act together and make "the jewel of Cayuga's shore" the proud center of winkdom it truly deserves to be.
Consider the following development: Tiddlywinks teams have been organized at Harvard and Boston University. An as yet unconfirmed report has come to MIT that there is a team at Haverford College, which may even be going to England. Clearly the time has come for NATwA to confront the issues of expansion.
My own interest in such issues is recent. Like all but a few other winkers, I never took any steps to bring new people into the game. In March, however, I put an ad in the Harvard Crimson "announcing the formation of the Harvard- Radcliffe Tiddlywinks Team." The response was disappointing but tangible; there are now a half-dozen Harvard students and non-students who say they are enthusiastic about tiddlywinks and will try to enlist friends. I have also arranged a tournament with B.U. and am attempting to contact Haverford (our Secretary-General showed no interest in doing so).
I had always taken it as axiomatic that NATwA was interested in spreading the game. I seem to remember that Congresses in the early 1970's talked about little else. I thought that the only obstacle was the unwillingness of most winkers to personally work at expansion. Thus I was surprised when Joe suggested to me that most winkers were uninterested, or even opposed to major efforts at finding new players. My surprise led me eventually to write this article.
The question of expansion is related to the status of NATwA as a social club and to the split between "old-time" winkers and newer, principally MIT-based winkers. Although I must be classed with the latter group, I am sympathetic to the feelings of old-timers that winks should remain a close-knit circle where everyone knows everyone else. In this view, expansion brings in undesireable outsiders who will not "fit" in. Yet I also think that tiddlywinks is a fabulous game that should be enjoyed by as many people as possible. The rewards of popularity and publicity also appeal to me. These considerations outweigh the previous ones in my mind.
I do not suggest that we repeat the nationwide blitz of the 1962 Oxford-Harvard proselytizers. Probably no one has the energy to do so (although some people are willing to devote many hours to winks activities: witness the efforts of the computer statisticians). But I do think that we should all recognize that tiddlywinks is too good a thing to keep to ourselves. It is almost a duty to try to teach others this uplifting and humanizing (I mean this seriously) game. Our cliquishness and yes, even snobbishness should not obscure these truths.
What do I propose be done about expansion? Firstly, the fledgling teams at Harvard, B.U., and maybe Haverford should be encouraged in every way possible. Experienced winkers nearby can drop in to meetings at these places; tournaments can be arranged including the new players. Secondly, everyone can look deep into him or herself and ask whether some time could not be spared for proselytizing. There are individual winkers at places like Yale and Maryland who could be the nuclei of new teams. Everyone has friends who might be introduced to winks. The game is intrinsically fascinating and does sell itself.
I do not pretend that expansion is without problems. We must decide whether it is worth founding teams that only last a year or so. The quality of play must not be overly diluted. We will prefer friends to strangers. But these problems can be overcome; the important thing is to accept the principle of being open to new faces. The winking experience will, I believe, be enriched thereby.When I began winking there were teams at MIT, Somerville, Hyth, Cornell, Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa, McGill, Case, Regis, Hartford, Manhattan Elementary School, and maybe others I've forgotten. As of the beginning of this year, there were seven teams. Have we progressed? I think not.
Secretary-General Joe Sachs replies: Thank you for providing a jumping off point for the discussion of expansion and of the related topic of NATwA goals. These are topics which have not been ignored in recent skull sessions, although passed over at Congresses in favor of more pressing matters. Similarly, Newswink has neglected to cover them; but with the era of NATwA capitalism upon us, it is imperative that we direct our attention to these key issues.
I like your proposal that all winkers look deep within themselves; but they should look for what kind of NATwA they want to have. Few, I feel, would be adverse to having more newcomers in NATwA, cliquishness notwithstanding. There is no reason why NATwA can't be both a social club and an organization dedicated to the game of winks. It would be terribly unfortunate, though, if the method of expansion caused some veterans to no longer enjoy NATwA tournaments; that's why matches like the Beanpot are good - they allow novices to play opponents of roughly equal ability without subjecting them to humiliation or subjecting veterans to boredom. That is not to say that veteran winkers should not attend such tournaments; to the contrary, they are necessary in order to instill the proper winking spirit and to encourage the development of skill. But I'm afraid that too many of those hawking expansion do so not so much for the admirable sake of spreading the good word as for "the rewards of popularity and publicity" and for having more people they can beat and thereby improve their all-important statistics. We should all take a cue from those 1962 Oxford proselytizers. They didn't overwhelm people with meaningless statistics and irrelevant trivia, but rather dazzled the eye with their shooting and the mind with their praise and glorification of the game.
We must keep in mind that, while our exalted pastime is an interesting diversion from normal everyday life, it does not sell itself. The important factor for expansion is motivation (more on motivation as it affects school teams in another publication). To increase the population of winkdom, the game must be shown to be an attractive thing for people to want to do. In that respect, we have been remiss. Winks has not had sufficient exposure; rarely do tournaments receive promotional support. Publicity resulting from the England trip and from the merchandising of equipment may help, but I think that personal appearances by winkers (such as barnstorming) is necessary if winks is to grow. This, of course, requires some deal of effort; if winkers can be found who are willing to put in that effort, fine, but people cannot and will not be forced into doing something they're not interested in doing. Thus, while people may be willing to devote many hours to winks activities, they do so because those activities interest them. Expansion cannot be mandated; it can only come about through commitment and hard work.
Meanwhile, I think that since the early seventies NATwA has greatly improved, making the game much more conducive to new recruits. We may not have as many teams, but they are stronger, both in stability and enthusiasm as well as in play. We have more and more interesting publications (e.g., perversions magazine and songbook) and there is work being done on many aspects of the game, from improving the rules to comput[e]rizing addresses and statistics. With our new commitment to winks, I'm confident that it will be even stronger in the future. I look forward to playing against you when I'm seventy.)
|1973||Zoo/MIT||Bill-Ross/Bob-Betsy||Bill/Ross||Triple Crown for Bill Renke!|
3 titles: Ross, TDI, Tim, Craig, & Moishe
Next issue: Winners of major statistical categories.