The principle of handicapping
is accepted in many modern games, including golf, croquet and polo, the object being to even up the contest between teams and/or individuals, so that a reasonably competitive game may ensue. The game of Mornington Crescent has also seen the attempted application of handicapping systems, although due to the somewhat factional nature of the governance of the international game there is to this day no single system that has gained universal acceptance.
The handicapping systems with some degree of recognition may be briefly described as follows:
- The Lyttelton Index – a system recognised by the IMCS, with the exception of the Australasian and South American regions. Under this system, superficially comparable to that of polo, each player gains a 'Lyttelton Rating' of between 0.1 and 25 based on results over the previous 3 years and 9 months of play (a curiously arbitrary time frame, the reasons for which are unknown.) In one-on-one play, the lower-rated player is entitled to a number of free shunts equal to the square root (unrounded) of the difference between the two players' ratings. However, this system has a tendency to break down in multi-player and team games, despite the publication of the comprehensive 'Aldwych' tables, designed to calculate the differentials and the applicable advantages in up to 5 dimensions. (These were allegedly compiled by Favisham during a long wait for a train at Aldwych – since they were published in 1944 and Aldwych had closed in 1940, not to reopen until after war had ended in 1946, this may well be true).
- The Token Weighting Adjustment method – largely accepted (although not officially) by CAMREC. This takes account of age, sex, and medal tournament results (only). Simple in application, players may at any point in the game call for a redistribution of tokens based on their own (or their team's combined) score. This frequently causes complete reversal of the direction of a game, and since there is no restriction on the number of times during a game that this can happen, some games played under this system have lasted several years of swinging fortunes.
- The Zonal Block system – commonly recognised by the UK Universities' MC Federation, and hence the favourite among the academic community. Under this system, players fall into three categories – Freshmen (red badge), Finalists (puce badge) and Graduates (vermillion badge). 'Graduates' are prevented from hop-striling for the first 30 moves of a game, while 'Finalists' must restrict their movements to adjacent zones for 40 moves and avoid shunts, although huffing remains legal. 'Freshmen' are allowed free play for the first 60 moves, but thereafter are not permitted to farkle except in the fFrobisher style.
Repeated attempts to develop a universal system have come to nothing, with each scheduled conference of all the world bodies being postponed on one pretext or another. A further meeting has been pencilled in for May 2005. Whether this will actually happen is open to a great deal of doubt.
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