Season 1 - Genesis
October 2015 - It started small...
The first season of the Lichess 4545 league was small in nearly every way. The league only had 11 teams. Teams only contained 4 players. The league was created by a committed group of lowly chess players with a common goal: become Masters. The 3 founders and original moderators were @parrotz, @chessicstudent and @mkoga. As @mkoga recalls,
"We met [in 2015] on thechessroom which is a slack group for chess enthusiasts like ourselves. We liked the team tournament format from similar leagues so it felt pretty natural that lichess have some sort of league."
They recounted some early ideas as well as early struggles.
@mkoga, "One of the things we wanted to improve from other leagues was higher team and cross team interactions. A lot of other leagues felt very opaque. You didn't really know much about the other players in your league. there wasn't much of a community so we saw that slack would help us build that."
@parrotz "[Originally] we were worried about getting enough players to field enough teams. turns out we drastically underestimated the interest. I invited enough people to slack on the first day that i regretted making the process manual. It was a lot of manual work for season 1."
@mkoga "Early on we found that players would either not show up for their game or some players would be on vacation and can't make a game. The challenge was always wrangling players. Flakes were a huge problem at first"
@parrotz "It was a nightmare finding alts at the very beginning."
The group still exists and is active within the lichess community, but has mostly left the league... for now. In founding the league, there were many logistics to figure out and obstacles to overcome.
Another nightmare that veterans of the league remember all too well was that the league was initially run entirely by data entry into shared Google Docs (this continued until season 4). This meant work for the moderators was very repetitive. Season 1 would not have been the success that it was without the "insomnia fueled productivity of our founder", @parrotz who recalls,
"For a while there i was spending hours every day on it. finding new players, encouraging people to schedule, encouraging people to play, settling disputes, doing that effin spreadsheet"
However, the community was already coming together and starting to grow.
Lonewolf is born
Even since the beginning, this league has been focused on grassroots efforts to acheive new heights. The league realized there was a need for something more flexible to help keep the alternates involved. The Lone Wolf competition was originally created as a side tournament, secondary to the team league. Lonewolf #1 was created by @Theino who became its original moderator. 30+30 was the chosen time control. @Theino states,
"Since it was considered a side tournament, it was decided to try a different time control. A faster one made sense for people who would soon be playing in the team tournament as well"
Season 1 of the team league ended with Pawn Chop (@crabbypat, @CheapEndgameTricks, @coolalzi*, @gehenna) winning. The winners of Lonewolf #1 were 1. @Atrophied 2. @coolalzi 3. @WilkBardzoZly and Best U1600: @jshholland
January 2016 - The league begins to grow...
Season 1 was such a success that word quickly spread and interest grew. Season 2 started with a large expansion. Season 2 had 22 teams each with 5 boards. With much higher participation in the league, responsibilities mounted and new moderators were needed just to keep up.
New Moderators: @mrlegillimens, @petruchio, @endrawes0, @theino
On top of new moderators to help with the load, tasks started to become automated and many of improvements were slowly being added.
Spreadsheets got formulas and conditional formatting!
@chesster was created with big dreams in mind but had very humble beginnings. When @endrawes0 created @chesster, he had hoped that it would eventually alleviate all the manual entry in the spreadsheets, but by the end of Season 1, only few read-only commands had been implemented.
Season 2 lasted 8 weeks with the Sicilian Dragons (@matuiss, @somethingpretentious, @jaivl, @scarff and @immortality) as winners. Along with the tremendous growth in the team league, Lonewolf #2 was also very successful with the winners 1. @matuiss2 2. @chess111 3. @Atrophied and Best U1600: @Seb32.
At the end of the season, the community nominated and voted on a set of games to be reviewed by the YouTuber IM John Bartholomew (Link).
April 2016 to May 2016 The Continued Expansion
The success of the league continued and even more interested members joined the Lichess4545 community. Season 3 continued to expland with 26 teams and increased to 6 boards per team!
New improvements were continually being made to the spreadsheets. Formatting of the spreadsheet underwent significant changes to accommodate such a large number of players.
New moderators: @seb32
@tnan123 recalls, "As a participant since the start of season 2 I'd already seen tons of improvements with the organization of the league, especially with the continued improvements to the spreadsheets. I was starting to get back to chess and had played slow time control leagues on multiple other servers. Season 3 was when I decided I would stick with the folks over at Lichess4545. The organization of the league was improving and the community was much more active"
Smack My Bishops won the team league with 15/16 points! (@eamonmont @quirked @infested @diamanthori @SirDore @mbazylisk)
Chesster evolves... enter @lakinwecker! With the large amount of manual work required to run the league, chesster our friendly ant worker started to be able to post game results and gamelinks into the spreadsheets. Unfortunately at this point players still needed to manually post those things into slack.
Tony Rotella's review video of season 3 best games (Link)
July 2016 to August 2016 Membership levels off
In this season membership seemed to level off. Every season there are many folks joining but also many folks stepping away (both temporarily and permanently). Season 4 had 24 teams each with 6 boards.
New moderators added @angborxley, @prune2000 and @tnan123 as the original moderators had stepped away. @JPTriton and @cyanfish join @lakinwecker to continue moderating Lonewolf.
White and black win percentage statistics were added.
Due to the work of @tnan123 end of season awards and statistics including individual player performance scores were implemented to celebrate and show some interesting and fun statistics from the season.
The Hateful Mate won (@EsolcNeveton @cactus @R-Mena @isaypotato @Heidman @lakinwecker), clinching victory by half a point in the tie breaker after the 4 top teams tied with 12 match points!
Games were reviewed by IM Astaneh on Twitch and posted to youtube in the following playlist
October - November 2016 Birth of a website.
With the hard work of a few invaluable programmers the league was finally able to get rid of the spreadsheets it had been using.
The Lichess4545 website was created by @cyanfish with help from @lakinwecker. @freefal contributes to the creation of a TV page
We also had a platform to write, share, and store written content and thus the Lichess Ledger was born. @Atrophied, @darksquaregames, @TonyRo and GM Wesley So provided an interview during this season.
Lastly, ChessLeagueTV got its start with a few players hosting to cover live league games.
To celebrate our anniversary, an arena tournament was featured on lichess.
Winners were Blunder-Mifflin (@Aliquantus, @madatadam, @OuterHeaven92, @jivey, @samjjames and @parkerz)
The game reviews were done by ChessExplained, and can be found on his youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Chessexplained/videos
January - February 2017 Evolution of the website and @chesster
@somethingpretentious was added to the 4545 moderator team.
During the offseason a new league was created at #ladder based on a completely different tournament style seen in many chess clubs. This was run by @chessicstudent, @cactus, and @seb32.
#blitz-battle was also added during the middle of the season as a 3+2 side tournament restricted to lichess4545 members.
Additional features were added to the website and chesster. These include, but were not limited to:
- an improved alternate search system
- the automation of gamelink and result reports
- direct messages from @chesster for various notifications to both your slack account and lichess.org inbox
Winners were: Petrojan Horse
Highlights from the ledger include interviews with Thibault the founder of lichess and 10 year old national master Christopher Yoo, some chess book reviews, a visit to the Tata Steel Chess Festival.
March - May 2017 A big expansion!
A huge number of new faces joined lichess4545. A total of 30 teams of 6 boards each were formed increasing the number of players playing 45+45 games each week to 180!
@yago66 was added to the mod team.
Interesting ledger editions included:
- Interviews with NM Matthew O'Brien and
- and FM @lovlas (who was awarded the IM title during this season!)
- @chessicstudent writing about his experiences as a chess coach
Lichess started helping with hosting the lichess4545.com site and @chesster.
Isolated Puns won the tournament (@hetraie, @autotelic, @morallygray, @Daveyjones01, @IHugoStiglitz, @Delpire)
Unfortunately, there were some high profile cheating cases during this season. As a reaction, the league started asking lichess moderators for background checks before approving new players for joining.
June - July 2017 Crime and punishment
Featured 26 teams of 6 boards each.
Season 8 video reviews were not ordered due to lack of interest and funds.
@quirked took over ChessLeagueTV
The ledger featured:
- An Interview with @quirked
- @aliquantus wrote about his experience at the 2017 Nordic Championship
- Many studies.
Unfortunately the ladder ceased to exist during Season 8, since @chessicstudent did not have time to run it anymore and nobody offered to take over.
Season 8 saw yet another scandal, as during the last round all results of 2 players on the leading team had to be reversed due to cheating and another high profile player was marked between seasons.
Winners were Summer Pawn Storm (FelixNL, MrLegilimens, matt_p_14, Blekinge, Boviced, nadgob). In a sick twist of fate, this winning team later turned out to have included two engine abusers as well.
The winners of the real competition (best team name) were Covfefe (Mallamutt, checkmonk, VVvenomVV, kjfoster17, fradtheimpaler, Mooserohde)
September - October 2017 Series replaces Ladder
28 teams of 6 boards each.
A login system for lichess4545.com was implemented. This mainly allowed players to change their availability without having to remember @chesster's syntax.
The ledger featured an interview with IM Andrew Tang
The chess-series was created by @MoistVonLipwig (known to most league members as MVL) to replace the defunct ladder.
Winners were Bad News Bishops (rb52, OuterHeaven92, roso97, GetAGripWhitby, udaysatya, Napoleon_Solo)
Winners of the real competition were Wait This Isn't Fantasy Football? (Mebeka, TMaus, david-innes, rpimpulse, Mooserohde, Kraaft)
November 2017 - January 2018 Dark Ledger Years
26 teams of 6 boards each
@Archone and @Aliquantus joined the mod team, while @Mrlegillimens retired.
The start of this season was celebrated with our 2nd anniversary arena tournament.
Lonewolf Season 9, which happened at the same time, introduced two sections: open and U1800.
This season also saw a short hiatus in the ledger after the senior editor, @tnan123, retired -- but to much rejoicing it was revived by @kraaft and @spiteknight only a couple of weeks later.
The season was won by We're OK with any name (MoistvonLipwig, Heinie, pmyourpepes, rgpchesspe, dose7781, NarwhalePete)
Winners of the real competition were I think, therefore I'm in time trouble (TMaus, revoof, TheRatRiverTrapper, rpimpulse, Mooserohde, Kraaft)
By popular demand, season 10 reviews were done by @quirked once again:
February - April 2018
30 teams of 6 boards each
Season 11 saw the birth of the rapid-battle, and of the board championship. @endrawes0 retired from the mod team.
This season was also a repeat of season 8 in that during the last round, the team in the lead lost a player due to being marked for cheating. Instead, the winners were Sexy Spidergoats (lovlas, GnarlyGoat, Poseh, glbert, PsiMaster, Tranzoo). Notably, this season was still tied after accounting for match points, game points, head-to-head score and number of games won; and was only decided using Sonneborn-Berger score. Additionally worth noting is that IM @lovlas managed a perfect score of 8.0 / 8 this season, a feat that no other player achieved on board 1 as of yet.
The winners of the real competition though were Don't cha wish your Gelfand was hot like me? (TMaus, TheRatRiverTrapper, GeneralSpecific, Michael_hackett, iqb, Kraaft)
April - June 2018 We are huge
40 teams of 6 boards each, the most players to date. To be able to handle all the new members, two new and hard working mods (glbert and sgis) were added to the mod team.
For season 12, the first contact period was reduced from 48 to 24 hours, in hopes to make scheduling go smoother.
To add to the options of side leagues for team members, the chess960 league was created by NM mn8.
The ledger featured an interview with @colwem
Winners this season were We're not OK with any name, actually. (Roso97, myle, tnan123, sgis, Napoleon_Solo, litzr)
On board 1, IM @Chaozu managed to equal lovlas's Season 11 score of 8.0 / 8.
Winners of the real competition: We find more mates on Tinder (Pawndercover, nickoboy1992, DragonicKhaos, notmyjob88, benlonnqvist, deaarthur)
July - August 2018 More Automation
26 teams of 6 boards each.
In season 13, the site started offering a direct link to a pgn of your opponents games, as provided by lichess. Administratively, this was the first season that the 24 hour contact period was enforced automatically, leading to a massively increased amount of warnings issued.
Season 13 also saw the introduction of career scores, and web-based claims for no-shows and scheduling-draws without the direct involvement of moderators.
@somethingprentious, @prune2000 and @archone retired as mods, and the Crazyhouse league was created.
The ledger featured an interview with @hicetnunc about cheat detection.
Winners: Sac It and See ( FischyVishy, Somethingpretentious, SpiteKnight, DracoxVitae, lakinwecker, Khidal)
The real competition was won by Mommy Drinks because you play the Dutch (swagquark, tuncaboylu, phild159, shetoo, Gokuba, Acer30)
September - November 2018
30 teams of 6 boards each.
The people were crying for @Somethingpretentious to re-join the mod team, so reluctantly he staged a coup d'état and restored peace in the league.
What followed was a flawless season by the mods.
This season, the first (of hopefully many) monthly simuls was played. IM @lovlas vs the league ended in a devastating +23=2-6 defeat of the league.
Winners were Hey Guys, it's John (ErinYu, PP_92, toni4127, TCGRIF, colwem, joeymellberg), while the real competition was won by Means to Anand (FlokiTheCat, GnarlyGoat, ventricule, Andysctu, Luckyara, PsiMaster)
November 2018 - January 2019 The Lost Stream
30 teams of 6 boards each.
@spiteknight and @kraaft joined the mod team.
We celebrated the start of this season with our third annual arena tournament on lichess, while in the second monthly simul, @MoistVonLipwig (MVL) defeated the league +8=0-1, later on @ErinYu won +9=2-1.
The season was won by The Dark Knights (SentinelCrush, BigEvo8, astralfenix, Lethgo, kostasvl, Numberman768).
Convincing winners of the real competition were the Zeitgeist-capturing Caruana leaked our prep (ErinYu, okei, RealRobbert, mysonnevercallme, adande1, Zher0), who additionally came second in the league standings.
Season reviews were done by IM Astaneh, in a stream that the ones who saw it called the best thing ever. Unfortunately, the stream was not saved and is not available anymore to our knowledge.
February 2019 - April 2019 Blindfold
28 teams of 8 boards each.
This was the first season to feature 8 boards, to huge success. The mods are obviously biased, but we think the bigger teams lead to more active teams. It also means fewer onesided battles on the top and bottom boards.
Concerning our beloved site lichess4545.com, personal trophy cases were implemented during this time, see e.g. on the player page of somethingpretentious.
Season 16 additionally saw the start of the #blindfold league, because we do not blunder enough when we can see the pieces.
In the now regular monthly simuls, first @Assassin_In_White crushed us +10=2-4, then @somethingpretentious defeated a field weakened by the fact that he was too afraid to let board 1 players join +8=2-4, and finally NM @mln8 delivered a well-deserved +9=2-1 beating.
Winners of the season were Lichess Lovers (jessehf, paolone, rampichino, calcium237, Toffeeman, pedropablo72, leo2dipikke, LucaGaglia73), while the real competition was won by Stop googling! Zher0 chance Erin is a girl, okei?! (ErinYu, okei, RealRobbert, Mahmut69, mysonnevercallme, adande1, slamjam, Zher0).
General agreement that last seasons game analyses were exceptional, led to the decision to have IM Astaneh do the season reviews once more:
May 2019 - July 2019 Future
28 teams of 8 boards each.
Season 17 started with a bang when a certain mod, who shall remain unnamed, deliberately archived the #captains channel, resulting in wild speculation that the season was cancelled. Senior mods had to rush in, relaunch the season and dispell the rumours. Furious, they repremanded the culpable mod and cut his pay in half. Additionally, @Somethingpretentious was banned from the mod yacht. @ErinYu was asked to join the mod team with the express purpose of helping avoid similar disasters in the future.
The ledger featured several interesting articles:
* an interview with @MoistVonLipwig
* @ErinYu analyzed the first move advantage
* and the much celebrated 100th edition of the ledger featuring several videos.
Once again, the final standings of the tournament were influenced by a cheating scandal during the last round. Winners of the season when the dust settled were Smother of Dragons (roso97, f1nn33, kajoM, matrix47, sgis, lapetitemort, Tsatsa64, RelativeImpact). Shortly after, the real competition (the one for the best name) was won by Imagine Hyperaccelerated Dragons (lumenian, Kvltvr_Wvltvr, xobeci, solidplayerr, Brundd, Toffeeman, H0tblackDesiat0, erv123).
For single player efforts, a special mention should go to @Assassin_in_White, who was the first player in the league's history to manage a performance rating above 3000.
August 2019 - September 2019 More Future
24 teams of 8 boards each.
After a very close season, Embrace the Pain (CamelClutcher, thundercougarfalcon, david-innes, MoiRon, gokuba, Tranzoo, darubaru, pepepibote) were finally on top of the podium. The more important competition though was won by Harry Pawner and the Groblet of Finegold: Blunderdore's Return (FlokiTheCat, Artian12, patk74, Wo_Cheng_Si_Le, jmcginty15, colwem, Boomer34, momor).
Shortly after the end of the season, lichess implemented team battles - and our team was invited to play in one of the very first of those.
Game reviews will likely be done by league players again.
November 2019 - January 2020 All Out Of Reasonable Titles
28 Teams of 8 boards each
February 2020 - March 2020 Quiet Before The Storm
28 Teams of 8 boards each
April 2020 - June 2020 Covid-19 Season
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