Now I’m sure Mr Elo was a very nice man, but me and he are going to fall out. Well, not so much me and him as me and the rating system he left behind. More accurately still, me and how that system is working. Because it ain’t.
Not where I play.
Here’s a word we didn’t used to have when I was a boy: ‘passionate’. Well, we had it, but not in the way we do now. People didn’t used to bang on about it all the time. How they are passionate about this, that or the other.
Passion is everywhere now. Having it is virtually an obligation of citizenship. Or employment, at least.
A year ago this week several papers ran a story on the handful of jobs available at a new branch of a chain coffee shop in Nottingham attracting 1701 applicants. “... my passion for coffee just shone through”, one of the successful eight felt obliged to say. “I have so much passion for coffee it’s unbelievable” claimed another. To be fair, they'd hardly have got the gig had they said otherwise, would they? Twelve months on, I wonder if they, their employer or anybody else has given any thought to the question of what the fuck somebody who actually was genuinely passionate about coffee would be doing working at Costa.
Passionate? I’m passionate about not starving to death and not being permanently excluded from a consumer economy merely by accident of coming of working age just as a recession hit. Infinitely reasonable and entirely honest, but the interview technique of somebody destined to find themselves in the group of 1,693, I feel.
Fit for purpose. Or, more frequently, unfit for purpose. That’s another one. Nobody used to say that either. In my day we made do with ‘doesn’t work properly’ and - call me reluctant to move with the times if you will - I still find that particular form of words to be perfectly serviceable.
So let’s just come out and say it: I don’t think the Elo system works properly. Not where I play, amongst the opponents that I face, at least. And not on a temporary basis that will be sorted out by some kind of self-correcting mechanism, but permanently and irretrievably frigged.
I shall expound on this at some length in due course. For now, I’m kind of curious: does anybody agree with this thesis at all?