[Home]Moon Over Morden Incident

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Ruttsborough vs. Trellis, semi-finals of the World Championship, 1958. A game during which not one but two events occurred which shocked the MC world.

The trouble began when, in the third round of the seven-game tie, Ruttsbrough played a shunt from Ealing Broadway with the Piccadilly Ruling in effect, sending Mrs. Trellis flying all the way to Morden. The legality of this move has been much questioned - the rules as written at the time were highly ambiguous in this area (an ambiguity which was not fully cleared up until the largely Trellis-written Chalk Farm '84 - which, ironically, unequivocally legalised it). What was clear to everyone, however, was that Ruttsborough's move was at the very least a case of extreme bad manners.

This, in and of itself, was not that shocking - the MC-watching public had by now had almost twenty years to get used to Ruttsborough's somewhat aggressive style of play, and compared to some of his previous moves this one was actually somewhat tame. In fact, it could almost be said that the spectators at the match would have been more surprised had Ruttsborough not attempted somthing of this type against such a skilled opponent. The first shock came with Mrs. Trellis's reaction.

She pressed the buzzer.

The 'Buzzer' mechanism by which one of the players could summon the assistance of an umpire to provide a ruling on the legality of a particular move had been a part of the game since the founding of the World Championships but had never before been employed during a game in which actual prize money was at stake. The usual response to to such a move at the time would have been the classic strile to Aldgate East, which would have negated most of the effects of the shunt and also gone a long way towards blocking any attempt by her opponent to approach MC from the south. For such a high-class player as Mrs. Trellis to buzz her opponent during a professional game over a move that was at worst only borderline-illegal was utterly unthought of.

In any other year, Mrs. Trellis's appeal would probably have been dismissed and the incident never allowed to escalate. However in that year the IMCS was suffering from a dearth of qualified umpires to oversee the tournament, and had been forced to look outside its own ranks in order to fill the vacancies. The umpire drawn to oversee the Ruttsborough-Trellis match was a known member of CAMREC with the usual conservative tendencies found in that organisation. His affiliation had been accepted by both opponents prior to the match, with neither player believing he would actually be required. CAMREC was at that time embroiled in a campaign to allow umpires to intervene after an illegal move without the need for the buzzer to be sounded, and so when he was called upon, found in Trellis's favour with great glee.

Ruttsborough's response to this shocked the audience even more than did Trellis's use of the buzzer. Very slowly and deliberately, he climbed up on his chair, bent over, lowered his trousers, and displayed his ample rear to the astonished Mrs. Trellis and the hapless referee. Once the gasps had died town, he stood up agan and marched from the theatre, a look of extreme hatred upon his face. Ruttsborough was deemed to have forfeited the game - and indeed the rest of the match, for which he did not reappear. Mrs Trellis went on to the final, but was surprisingly beaten by Crumblethorpe.

As a result of this incident, Ruttsborough became ostracised from the MC community. He did not compete professionally in the World Championships, or indeed any other top-ranking events outside All-In for seven years, and only returned to top-level singles play when the events of 1965 forced him into an unlikely (and short-lived) alliance with Mrs. Trellis against the increasing power of CAMREC.

Ironically, the move which triggered this fracas is now considered so tame that it would not even be blinked at by the most conservative players.

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Last edited March 31, 2007 3:50 pm by Simons Mith (diff)