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Frisco Del Rosario writes about chess960, women's basketball, minor league baseball, unsupported collectible card games, lettering in comic books, and Golden Age movies

Sandbagging: The capitalist way to compete 04/10/2018

In the late ’70s, while the US Chess Federation was sufferinscreenshot-from-2018-04-10-20-17-34g a sort of Fischer Boom hangover, the ratings system fell far behind, as much as six months. That meant if your performance was very good or very bad at the time, your rating wasn’t going to reflect that for a while.

The Fischer Boom also meant greater interest in chess, and a greater demand for larger-than-ever cash prizes.

It was an ideal situation for sandbaggers, who dropped games and rating points in cheap, small neighborhood events before taking that false rating to big cash tournaments (whose organizers hadn’t yet implemented anti-sandbagging measures that are still in place).

Here in the Bay Area, there was a string of strong Filipino players who got off the boat and won money in the unrated sections of chess tournaments. One of my favorite stories is about the pair of Filipino masters who allegedly showed up as unrated players at a big tournament, and noticed that the unrated section already had its share of sandbaggers. So they flipped a coin, and one entered the Under 1400 section as an unrated, while the other joined the Under 1600 section. They won.

One of my best friends in the Filipino-American Bay Area chess community told me that some of us didn’t have another way off the islands than playing chess, then treating open Swiss tournaments as seed money to start a life.

Sandbagging is a serious problem among South Park Phone Destroyer players.

I understand where they’re coming from: No matter where you are ranked, to climb more run on the ladder will be easier if your cards get stronger. Rather than grinding away with opponents who are equal or better, these SPPD players drop matches and ranks, then more easily win cards against a series of weaker opponents.

This happens at every level, because there are players at every level who witness this simpler way to better their cards, and adopt it themselves.

The sandbaggers don’t see the problem. Enjoy your free wins, they say.

Competitors don’t want free wins, they want to compete, against opponents who are virtually sitting therend for the minute it takes to lose a match — there’s a method that enables one to throw lots of matches in a jiffy.

This isn’t fun for the other players, who want to compete, but instead go through the motions until the other new kid goes down for the third time. This is tedium.

Then you have to play against them while they’re moving back up. Their losing on purpose in order to win more easily later results in two mismatches for the other players, and it is not fun.

The adventure-themed event last weekend encouraged sandbagging.

If you’re earning special event awards by earning some number of points per match won, you begin performing arithmetic in the last 12 hours. I had 55 event points left to earn the next award, and I had to ask myself if I wanted to try to win 11 matches at five points each, or 14 at four points each.

It didn’t matter. I reached that event threshold with hours to spare because every fourth opponent was losing on purpose. They performed the same calculation, and figured it was easier to win X number of matches against much weaker opponents than Y against equals or better.

There’s a slight variation for some. Considering that the player who wins the first bar wins 7 of 8 matches (in my experience), they went all out for the first bar by spamming everything they could in the first 10 or 15 seconds. If that succeeded in taking the first bar, they were well positioned to play to win event points. If that immediate rush didn’t succeed, they stopped playing and moved on.

South Park Phone Destroyer is in trouble. Some social media users are already talking about it in past tense.

They’ve made at least world-altering decision the worst possible time: ruining the green theme *days after* promoting the new green Cupid Cartman card, which prompted many players to make a bigger investment in the theme.

The upgrade system is horrible. It costs so much— with no method to recoup your bad investments if you’re wrong— to improve and acquire uncommon cards that we’re stuck playing with and against the same common cards in every match.

Imagine beginning this game at rank 0 with the starter set of blue cards, and your first matches are against assholes who sandbagged down from 10 or 15, who’ve acquired Mecha Timmys and Moon Stans along the way.

I’d say that if South Park Phone Destroyer fails, I’ll never play another Ubisoft/RedLynx game again, but the fact is I’ll never player another mobile game of the type again. I’m here for the South Park theme.

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