[Home]Schuster's Punctuation Loop

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This weird phenomenon is only legal in two known variants, only one of which (Reykjavik '92) is currently licensed by the IMCS - and that despite the objections of several senior members.

The first known incidence of its occurrence came in the 1980 World Championships in Moscow, in the first-round match between Vic Stannard and the rebel American, Harrison Schuster. In the days before Chalk Farm '84, when there was no accepted standard game, the winner of the toss could take either the choice of variant or the first move: and in the crucial third game of the match Stannard chose the little-known Quetta '78 variant. (As the championships were not held under the auspices of the IMCS, official recognition was not needed for the variant.) Stannard had intended to use the conditions of the ruleset to create a very complex web of bifurcations, and had reached an octifurcation - eight separate strands of play (then a record, though since beaten) when Schuster simultaneously managed to close down all eight strands of play at once (!!!) The result looks, to outsiders, similar to a Farkle Paradox in that neither player could move to a station: however, the reason was different - it was not that every move was blocked, it was that no active threads of the game were available to move in.

Stannard was clearly shaken by this unexpected turn of events - all other variants require at least one thread to remain open - and, when a single thread was finally reopened he lost the game, and shortly afterwards the match, and it was Schuster who went forward to meet Baryshnikov in the next round. The official scorers of the game, in making their record of the moves, faithfully recorded all the requisite punctuation as if only the names of the stations had been deleted (the first move of the situation looked like this: " , , , , , , , and !"), giving the zero-furcation phenomenon its alternate (albeit, technically, inaccurate) title: Schuster's Punctuation Loop.


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Edited April 2, 2007 3:58 pm by Simons Mith (diff)