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The increasingly liberal policies of the IMCS have, in recent decades, given rise to a number of alternative, 'modern' versions of Mornington Crescent, with little basis in tradition or, for that matter, the actual rules of the game. While some players see this as a good thing, attracting more people into the game, the majority of serious players do not. As the popularity of these versions grows, so does the campaign against them.

CAMREC (the Campaign for Real Crescent) was officially formed in 1921, as a coalition of various other protest groups, originally to stand against the very idea (revolutionary and new at the time) of a 'standard ruleset' that others were campaigning for, officially preferring the ideal that the individual players of a match should agree the rules between themselves. Within a decade, though, they had made a full about-face - as older members retired, and newer members who had only known CAMREC (rather than the previous, smaller lobby groups) took over, and now opposed any changes to Crescent '31, the first such 'standard ruleset' to gain wide acceptance (including CAMREC acceptance).

It is in this later mode that they have mostly remained: fiercely reactionary, opposed to all but the smallest of changes, and against the very idea that a mere player might be permitted to make a manoeuvre that causes a change in the game rules. One of their most consistent policies is that a referee should be permitted to call, and penalise, an illegal move by either player, without needing to be requested to do so by the other player: as opposed to the IMCS policy whereby if a move is accepted as legal by the opponent, and is repeated in other matches and accepted as legal by other opponents to a sufficient extent, then it becomes legal by convention and will eventually be formally accepted as a special-case move (as indeed was the case with the Engelbert Manoeuvre.)

CAMREC gained a strong political boost in 1958 - the first occasion in which one player buzzed another for an 'illegal move' in the World Championship itself for a match where prize-money was at stake (it was, in fact, a semi-final): when Mrs Trellis hit the buzzer, after Ruttsborough played a shunt from Ealing Broadway while the Piccadilly Ruling was in force. The actual rule which is alleged to have been contravened, was debatable at best - and in these modern days Ruttsborough's move would in fact be considered comparatively innocuous even by modern CAMREC standards: but in those days the move in question was a major breach, at the very least, of social protocol. The referee, a fully-paid-up member of CAMREC (his affiliation was known and accepted by both players before the match), upheld Trellis's protest: the result was the infamous Moon Over Morden incident.

Seven years later, however, came something of a fall, as CAMREC overreached themselves. Trellis had taken a retirement from competitive play - the first of several - in 1961, to go into the administration of the game, and had reached an important position in the IMCS. But negotiations were stalling over the principle of how future planned Underground lines should be treated (on the grounds of 'planning for the future', for a ruleset that would stand up not only to the opening of the planned Victoria Line, but to the possible introduction of later lines after that - although the Jubilee was well over a decade away and not even mooted yet): and when they broke down completely in 1965, with CAMREC's intransigence largely perceived as being to blame, even Trellis's patience snapped. She resigned, and disappeared from public view for several weeks: and when she reappeared, it was announced that not only was she returning to competitive play, to compete in all four of the events of the World Championships - but (and this was what caused the most amazement) in the Pairs event, her playing partner was to be none other than Eamon Ruttsborough, who had not played in either pairs or team anywhere for over twelve years, nor even in the singles of the World Championship since the scandal of 1958 (although he was unbeaten in All-In for the entire period.)

Further astonishment followed when she also included him in the four-player Team event. But both the pair and the team swept through the tournament, crushing all competition, while neither the official CAMREC Team or Pair made it past the first round: and their top player, Jimmy Carver, only made it to the final thanks to a fixed draw which saw Trellis and Ruttsborough meet in the semi-final (won, for once, by Ruttsborough, who utterly smashed Carver in an anti-climactic final). The All-In title fell to Trellis, but at the cost of falling out once again with Ruttsborough (angry at being beaten on 'his' territory, after having beaten Trellis on 'hers'): the unlikely alliance had lasted barely two weeks. Nevertheless, it was a major disaster for CAMREC, for it to be said that their greatest coup was to unite two of the game's worst enemies - against them.

Following this, CAMREC was left pretty much in the political wilderness. In fact, failing to make any headway at all, they were to disband in 1969, at least officially - although their leadership were rumoured to be meeting in secret, and were heavily implicated in the disastrous brawl in 'England vs. Rest of the World' at Croydon (1975) which so nearly terminated Ruttsborough's life as well as his career (and drove Trellis back into the administrative ranks of the IMCS for two years, in an effort to hold things together).

A 'new generation' of CAMREC was officially formed in 1976, despite this odium. Composed of younger people of conservative bent but affecting to despise the actions of their predecessor organisation, they officially favoured peaceful, non-interfering protest against the more contentious rule changes (but not all changes of all kinds), taking the form of demonstrations and leaflet campaigns at offending venues and tournaments. Even their famed intransigence was moderated, enough that CAMREC in the end were to officially give their approval to the Chalk Farm '84 ruleset.

Towards the end of the eighties, however, things became more serious, amidst rumours that some members of the 'old guard' were back in charge of the organisation. In Peckham, London, in December 1987, a MC official who had spoken frequently in favour of radical reform of rules was severely beaten by a group of masked men: and the Finsbury Option '88 amendments failed to win their favour. Occasional attacks have continued to this day, and while CAMREC publicly and repeatedly denies their involvement, police have linked many of the attacks to a few groups of CAMREC members, often supporters of small league clubs.

A few years ago, the IMCS announced a meeting to consider banning its members from associating with CAMREC. Their decision was expected to take some time, but has now been overtaken by events - because since the Holland Park 2000 ruleset came out, CAMREC itself has split again: largely as the 1976 generation seek to regain control from the remainder of the 'old guard' of the late 1960s, but are themselves facing a challenge from a somewhat dangerous group of even younger men - who, in the increasingly chaotic time, are tending to side with the old guard and adopt their tactics (and are rumoured to have been the main force of the officially-disbanded Fifth Quadranters in the early 1990s.)

However, of late, the reformists of 1976 seem to be back again, following the retirement of old Jimmy Carver, last of the '60s radicals. The credibility of the IMCS took quite a hit with Holland Park 2000 after two years of problems and five sets of amendments: and two prominent IMCS officials - including one of the top network strategists, Harrison Edgcumbe - have actually defected to CAMREC in the last couple of years. These defections have, naturally, bolstered the moderate wing of the organisation, both in their disputes with the IMCS and in the ever-ongoing struggle for control against the hardliners. It is known that both the IMCS and CAMREC are at the moment attempting to patch together rival rulesets, and - as far as public knowledge goes - CAMREC are actually ahead of the IMCS on schedule.

This is because, it has to be said, actual CAMREC rulesets - on the rare occasions that they are in fact presented by the moderate faction rather than the extremists - tend to be, in general, considerably clearer, easier to understand, and freer of loopholes than IMCS rulesets, partly because the IMCS's planning for a 'foreseeable future' often tends to leave problems for the present, which it is assumed will be fixed by the actual future plans - and frequently are not, due to the change or delay in the implementations of the actual plans. Whereas the CAMREC insistence on getting something right for the present circumstance, even at the expense of planning for the future, means that on the rare occasions when CAMREC actually do get around to recognising 'the situation on the ground' rather than 'how it used to be', they actually are none too bad at dealing with it. At their best, CAMREC rulesets work perfectly out of the box and then get left behind: at their worst, they would have worked perfectly out of the box ten years ago …

(Indeed, in the respect of 'working perfectly out of the box and then getting left behind', we can see the CAMREC influence on Chalk Farm '84. If only the Jubilee Extension could have remained foetal (or been built in the actual planned place, as the IMCS hoped - either would have done), and the Docklands Line being an honorary rather than actual part of the network, forever …)

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Last edited March 29, 2007 1:20 pm by Simons Mith (diff)
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