black moon

Five years ago today Strategic Optimism Football club was formed. Since then we’ve been working assiduously for our own self-abolition. Just a few short months to go until we will abolish ourselves completely with the 33 month return of the Black Moon, on 31/7/19 [vulg.]!

In the annual rotunda, the three-sided game of earth, moon and sun, each of the four seasons – of the four elements air, earth, fire and water – gives birth to three new moons. Every 33 months or so, they sire a Black Moon, a transcendent seer, who walks in the shadows between seasons, itself a ghostly image of the great 33 year solar-lunar marriage dance.

With the dawning of the 2019 [vulg.] Black Moon, in the 12th year of the Age of the Proletariat, Strategic Optimism’s Nine Year Plan reaches the end of its 3rd and final phase. The unending cycle of the Three Rotations is complete, the cosmic great game begins again!

[Note: Due to discrepancies in Time Zones, the above announced self-abolition of SOF is for the purposes of our social media and blog followers only, owing to servers operating on EST. Our true self-abolition will in fact happen a month later in the UK, following a month inhabiting the limbo between worlds, on a pilgrimage to bring to an end the Age of Divinity (from Botosani, Romania, Letterist prophet Isidor Isou’s birthplace, to Letterism’s own wellspring, Fazlallah Hurufi’s death place and mausoleum, in Azerbaijan). The final self-abolition will therefore take place on the evening of 30 Aug, BST!]


SOF Statement in Response to Circulated Proposals Calling for a 3SF ’25th Anniversary’ Match, Summer 2018 [vulg.]

Even by the standards of conventional historification, calendars and the like, the so-called anniversary of the ‘1st’ game of 3SF is a sham, for three reasons:
1) We do not recognise the concept of ‘1st’. Any such game would already have been the 1th. That’s not our assertion, take it up any theorist of quantum gravity worth their proverbial salt.
2) The farcical concept of this 25 year anniversary relies on a discredited solar calendar that is founded in the ideological separation of sky, earth and moon wrought by the division of labour which arose from the introduction of surpluses through settled agriculture and the attendant emergence of a hierarchical class society. Matrilinear and non-European societies by no means universally share such a blind devotion to sun gods. Ultimately this anniversary is a Eurocentric, hetero-patriarchal – and since the standardisation of the working day – capitalist imposition. Have the Islamic or Chinese calendars even been considered, for example? Furthermore, ’25’ has no real significance, save marking a quarter of a century, itself a arbitrary byproduct of our ten-fingered, base-10 normativity. Whilst the earth may indeed circle the sun, heliocentrism is no basis for revolution.
3) Aside the fact that 3SF has been played in some form for centuries (look into Jorn’s research on early nordic games with PV Glob, of which his Naturens Orden and its theory of triolectics formed part), propositions to mark this anniversary appear to have been led astray by a certain wikipedia article. Other sources strongly suggest that there was in fact no game of 3SF at the ‘Glasgow Anarchists’ Summer School’, 1993. You’re confusing it with the ‘Glasgow Architects’ Winter School’, which was held 6 months later (Jan ’94), and in which 3SF featured prominently. Thus even putting aside all of the above, the proposed date would mark a 24.5 year anniversary at best.
If we are to mark any solar anniversary, our alternative proposal would be to wait for the 33rd, given that is the length of time it takes for the lunar and solar calendars to return to alignment.
If three-sided footballers are mobilising internationally this summer, wonderful. However, we suggest that a decentring of the so-called ‘world cup’ might be a better reason to co-ordinate our activities, making it a truly ‘world’ event, rather than marking some fictitious anniversary in order to bolster foundational (and thus potentially nationalist) mythologies, which only serve to fix a collective game to a single unitary origin in time and space.

The Invisible League – 10AP Season Kicks Off!

News is belatedly reaching our webmasters that the Invisible League 10AP season has already kicked off, largely unannounced, naturally.

The first game was held to mark the conjunction of Jupiter and Mars, in triple-faced January. It entailed a band of six situlogists embarking on an attempt to catalyse new experiments in time travelling football, augmenting the mythspace of a recently documented temporal anomaly in the Woolwich Foot Tunnel.

A second game was not far behind. Experiments in the application of triolectics to borromean manifolds via anti-Euclidean playing surfaces took place one mid-February dusk at an undisclosed South London location.


Three-Sided Football, From the Palaeolithic to the Present

Our long-term friend and collaborator Eric Scorehill has written this great article on everyone’s favourite three-sided sport for online journal The People’s Game ( We reproduce it here with Eric’s kind permission.

Three-Sided Football, from the Palaeolithic to the Present

by Eric Scorehill

“Lunatic researches are akin to unforeseen discoveries. The role of the nonexistent exists; the function of the imaginary is real […] It seems then that the history of the mind can be resumed in these terms: it is absurd by what it seeks, great by what it finds” – Paul Valéry.1


Just imagine for a moment, a game of football played out between three teams, rather than two. How would scoring work? Would this game be collaborative, competitive, or both? What shape would the pitch be? Would this game also take on a novel dynamic, a strange and peculiar rhythm of its own? Could it ever catch on?

In fact, such a game exists, with new leagues springing up around the world, from Belarus to Bogot., Melbourne to Malawi, Borneo to Bilbao. Played by three teams, between three goals, usually on a hexagonal pitch, three-sided football (3SF) presents a unique, transformative reworking of traditional football’s binary logic. According to its provisional codification, stemming from the game’s 1990s re-discovery, there are only three rules: Firstly, naturally, there are three teams. Secondly, victory falls to the team who concedes the fewest, rather than scores the most. Thirdly, finally, the ball must be round.

With 3SF however, things are rarely so straightforward. Games frequently take a turn for the unexpected and even this minimal basis enjoys (ir)regular diversions. Each game is not only a contest, but also a negotiation, of strategy and subterfuge. Traditional ball skills become entangled with an intuition for the game’s grammar and logic, plus the requisite rhetorical dexterity to convince one’s opponents to abandon an attack and turn on each other instead. For this 3SF has sometimes been spun as a collision of conventional football, chess and poker. Weaving collaboration and betrayal into the competitive fabric of two-sided sports, teams make and break alliances through dizzying tactical twists.

The following sketch will unpick 3SF’s disputed beginnings, themselves no less labyrinthine, as well as examining some deeper questions the game throws up. This is no easy task. Key source on 3SF, The Book of Deptford (nd.), records no less than twenty-three varying interpretations of the game.2 These range widely, from those suggesting 3SF represents the folkloric survival of early forms of ritualised social bonding, to others regarding it as a purely modern invention: an experimental analogy, devised for modelling aspects of contemporary physics. Explanations for 3SF’s emergence range from the philosophical to the conspiratorial, yet perhaps the least plausible are those that dismiss it as simply an “art” intervention. Though widespread, these theories are a rather late interpolation; no evidence exists for the game having featured in artistic contexts prior to 2006.3 The recent coincidental occurrence of the 3SF World Cup in Kassel, Germany, simultaneous to the town’s famous arts festival, was therefore just that, a coincidence. Most three-sided footballers in attendance were far more interested in the town’s historic role in propagating the Rosicrucian movement, arguably something much more integral to the game’s development.4 Similarly, owing to misconceptions that place 3SF’s origins in the 1960s, with the work of Asger Jorn, a well-known Danish artist and member of the avant-garde Situationist International, the game has further come to be associated with that limited sphere of activity.5

Continue reading “Three-Sided Football, From the Palaeolithic to the Present”

North Woolwich, July 23rd – Triolectics at the Royal British Legion?

Three-Sided Football in Silvertown, 23rd July, between the Royal British Legion, local kids and the resurrected Tate FC

In an experiment to establish whether there is any merit in the significance that Discordians attach to July 23rd, and given the potential connections discovered previously between 3-sided football and Sirius, players from SOF were in attendance at a community event on a certain housing estate in Silvertown this Sunday.

Ostensibly, the event was organised by a group of local squatters and was intended to celebrate the area’s working class inhabitants, through a survey of area’s pubs – past and present – and by collecting local memories of the Ferry Festivals of yesteryear.

Three-Sided Football in Silvertown, 23rd July, between the Royal British Legion, local kids and the resurrected Tate FC

These squatters – amongst them a sometime affiliate of SOF – had occupied the Tate Institute in March 2016, in a simultaneous, superpositional pincer move with SOF’s own – slightly briefer – occupation of the Tate Modern at that exact same moment. Whilst the latter was a studied example of quantum superposition – with the Tate’s director of programming apparently still making up her mind about whether to give us permission to play there, one and a half years after we already did – this alternative occupation has been doing rather better in combating the imperialist and profiteering ambitions of Mr. Tate. We look forward to them going further in this respect; the sugar business is pretty far from the sweetness it has long sought to project.

In the meantime we took up the invite to resurrect Tate FC for the occasion, perhaps in the hope of exorcising some of the Tate’s historical power, so effectively concealed by its latter-day art franchise. Given the Tate’s ongoing cultural imperialism and the portraits of spitfires hanging in the doorway of the Royal British Legion, the the swastika graffiti adorning the exterior was an unpromising, if ironic, start. Yet the “Legionnaires” seemed amiable enough, and biscuits were shared, whilst someone deconstructed Louis Armstrong Jazz records on a gramophone, via a complex method of arrhythmically varying the speed of rotation.

Preparing for Three-Sided Football in Silvertown, 23rd July, between the Royal British Legion, local kids and the resurrected Tate FC

In the end, after much chasing of giant soap bubbles through the estate, the afternoon spontaneously gave rise to a game of 3-Sided Football between Triangles, Hexagons and Circles, essentially comprising of those possessed by the ghost of Tate FC, a group of Romanian kids from the estate (plus their grandmother), a family of Lithuanian tourists and various members of the Royal British Legion. This motley band commenced playing with a magically charged rubber fetish of the contemporary US President’s head. They did so on the cusp of a sudden thunderstorm, which immediately drew everyone together in sheltering under the legionnaires’ canopy; by pure accident going further in the cause of community relations than any number of carefully choreographed participatory art projects. They did so, however, without the art’s spurious illusions of “democratic” consensus, given the conspicuous NO BALL GAMES signs that haunted the particular courtyard outside Costcutter, and which served as the impromptu concrete pitch for the match.

Neither ourselves, nor the players yet fully understand the significance of these events, but given the turbulence of the storm which immediately followed the game, surely something was shifted within the unique morphology of relations – the situation – which this accidental collision, this game, brought momentarily into play.

Three-Sided Football in Silvertown, 23rd July, between the Royal British Legion, local kids and the resurrected Tate FC


The Construction of a Cyclotron Accelerator in an abandoned school, Dreverna, Lithuania (2017 vulg.). Built to harness the planetary conjunction of Earth, Ceres and Mercury.

Operatives of Strategic Optimism Football recently joined forces with agents of FIASCo and DAMTP to construct a Cyclotron Accelerator in an abandoned school in Dreverna, Lithuania (2017 vulg.), just across the lagoon from the Baltic Sea. Built to harness the planetary conjunction of Earth, Ceres and Mercury, the machine was an resounding success, despite some issues with quantum gravity persistently buckling one of the back wheels. Nevertheless, it successfully drew together a powerful vortex of players for the conjunction game, which passed off delightfully.

Prior to this, successful experimental games of Wandsworth Rules 3SF and a Large Hadron Supernova game had likewise been carried out successfully. In addition, there was also a midnight parade, conducted to honour the achievements of the great engineers and scientists who had given their energy so splendidly in this endeavour.


In a bizarre twist, some players were rather spooked by suggestions that the cyclotron succeeded in opening up a momentary wormhole, at the exact moment of the conjunction. At that precise moment, around midnight local time, a car pulled up and three men got out. They walked, in silence, over to the site of the cyclotron, abandoned as it was on a local basketball court. Still in silence, they took out a basketball, shot one hoop, turned around and walked away. Without a word, they got back into their car and drove off. Aside from this being evidence of a brief spatiotemporal slippage, no other theories have as yet been forthcoming as an explanation for these bizarre events.

Triolectical League Tables: Luther Blissett Deptford 3-Sided Football League 9AP [2016-17 vulg.]

Triolectical League Table 9AP 2

Triolectical League Table 9AP

The Introduction of the Triolectical Scoring System:

The triolectical league table scoring system was invented at a three-way meeting between delegates of Strategic Optimism Football, T.A.R. Deptford and a certain well-renowned anarchist, art-saboteur and sometime antiques dealing cowboy [who shall remain nameless] over a breakfast of eggs and coffee, one August morning in a Lithuanian hotel bar.

Earlier that week SOF had presented a report to the bi-annual conference of Data Miners and Psychic Workers. Here they had presented experimental results from the establishment of a competitive league system in the Luther Blissett Deptford 3-Sided Football League during the preceding season. These results, they argued, suggested that through the very fact of a league system having only two directions of movement – up or down – the binarism of traditional Association Football was reinstituted by the back door. The corollary of this development had thus also been a return of competitive aggression, and a steady decline in participation by players from outside the dominant social groups over-represented within traditional football: women, children, or the differently able. In an effort to introduce an experimental détournement to this growing and unwelcome tendency, a rethink the league scoring structure was agreed upon.
Taking inspiration from the theory of triolectical complementarity, upon which 3-Sided Football was originally codified, it was suggested that three complementary scoring systems be introduced. Victory upon one of these measures would necessarily be incompatible with victory on the others; any one victory would thus be complementary to two others, with the incentives for each pulling games in several incompatible directions at once.
And so, complementary to the traditional measure of victory, that is to say, conceding the fewest goals, two further measures of success were introduced. In Asger Jorn’s theory of triolectics, one of the most recurrent triads is that of Unity, Equivalence and Difference. This was thus deemed a suitable model for a new scoring system. Since team unity was an important part of achieving success on the traditional measure, Unity was thus already taken care of in the form of the first, original measure of victory. This left, secondly, Equivalence – to be awarded to the team whose score in each game fell closest to the mean score of the three teams involved, that is to say, that team who most successfully achieved triolectical equilibrium with their opponents. Thirdly, the final, new measure of success was to be awarded for Difference, or variety, that is to say, the largest range achieved by a team over the course of the season between their lowest and highest scores: the team most distinct from both their opposition and themselves.
The complementary scoring system was thus implemented for the 8AP [2015-16 vulg.] season of the Luther Blissett Deptford League, although without making much traction in terms of diverting the league’s tendency to reproduce binary relations. Hypotheses as to why this was the case are varied. Perhaps the most promising theory however, is the suggestion that, given this particular Variety-Equivalence-Unity triolectic is based upon the rallying cry of liberal bourgeois revolution – Liberty, Equality, Fraternity – it is only natural that it should reproduce the bourgeois binarisms of class society. Nevertheless, determined to rigourously test this contention, the system was repeated during the 9AP [2016-17 vulg.] season, again to little effect, although this time with an interesting result. This time the system produced a seemingly impossible paradox, apparently dialectically opposed to its own implicit complementarity: the same team, Athletico Aesthetico, won victory on both the Equivalence and Difference scales. Yet, if Difference was equivalent to Equivalence, it would cease to be different, but in ceasing to be Difference, it would therefore also therefore cease to be equivalent to Equivalence, becoming different from it, and therefore equivalent to it!
In order to resolve the paradox, it was necessary to reintroduce complementarity, through an either/or choice. Therefore, it was decided, in this case, to do something different: awarding victory to another team altogether. So it was that Husaria became champions of the third measure. Vive la difference!

Guest Referee for May Day!


To mark the special triple holly-day of International Workers’ Day, Beltane and the anniversary of Asger Jorn’s death, the Luther Blissett Deptford 3-Sided Football League welcomed special guest referee, Holly from Holland, all the way from New Amsterdam, to officiate over this season’s penultimate fixtures.

Referees are a controversial subject in 3-Sided Football, as this extract from Dr. F. Iasco’s introductory chapter to The Book of Deptford (2017 edition) illustrates:

 Referees in the Three-Sided Game:

Several modern codes of Three-Sided Football have experimented with referees, but to date, no consensus has been definitively been established on their use.
Major international tournaments, such as the World Cup (Slikeborg, 2014), the European Triarchy Championship (2016), or the Istanbul Biennial (2013) have used referees. As have other major cup competitions, such as the Beaconsfield tournament (2007); The Mike Shields Shield (2009); Lyon (2009); Metz (2010) and Brétigny-sur-orge (2011); Guggenheim Bilbao’s Think Football tournament (2011-12); Belarus’s 3G Football (2011); Madrid (2011); Rome (2011); Malaysia (2012); Borneo (2016); and Malawi (2016). However, other such tournaments (First Flux Footballum Equinox Fest, London, Amsterdam, Carrara, 2016) have not.
Similarly, leagues such as the Luther Blissett Deptford League and the CLASS league (UK) do not use a referee (although a time-keeper is used). Meanwhile others, such as the Bogotá Futbol3 League (Columbia), the Melbourne and Sydney leagues (Australia), and Tribal (UK) have done so.
AAA games across Europe, Asia, North America and New Zealand were mixed: Vienna (1997), and The Intergalactic Triolectical Football Cup (1999), for example, featured officiation, whilst Bologna (1998) and One Tree Hill (1998) did not. Others such as the Luther Blissett Three-Sided Football League, the Alytus Art Strke Biennial and DAMTP have similarly oscillated between the use of umpires and their rejection.
Currently, the Luther Blissett Deptford 3-Sided Football League operates by a system of Simple Majority Vote. Consensus Decision-Making (CDM) was tried, with mixed results, proving vulnerable to the same, significant flaws identified in consensus models by those such as Jo Freeman (The Tyranny of Structurelessness, 1972, The Second Wave. 2 (1): 20) and Luther Blissett (Consensus and Its Discontents, Libcom, 2008). It was found that consensus simply tended to reproduce the authoritarian dominance of a minority, leaving little to distinguish it from the intercession of a referee. Needless to say, consensus proves popular amongst anarchists, but has no real basis in the Workers’ Movement.
Simple Majority Voting, however proved more successful. Although when applied to the triolectical dynamic, this tended to result in majoritarian decisions, it did nevertheless act as a constitutional break upon the dominance of stronger teams over time, likewise preventing inordinately vocal or aggressive players from further cementing their position.
It should be noted, however, that the introduction of referees has not always proved successful either. When New Cross Irregulars responded to their defeat in the 2015-16 Luther Blissett Deptford League by setting up the parallel Triball League (2017), they did so, primarily, in order to be able to introduce referees. The move was heavily criticised in the tract The Essence of Refereeing by a group calling itself Footballers for Feuerbach, in which it was argued that referees simply serve as an abdication of responsibility by those pacified by spectacular society, acting merely as an abstract projection of the players’ own powers of decision-making and debate. This position was in turn critiqued by others, from both Marxist and Stirnerist perspectives. The debates were rendered moot, however, when irreconcilable disagreements over the referee’s decisions led to the collapse of the new league within months.
Some older codes of the three-sided game, recorded as having survived into the 19th century in Central and Eastern Asia, are said to have made use of a referee known as the “Raqshaq”. This term, semiologists have speculated, perhaps derives from a Hindi expression meaning “protector”. Hindu philosophers theorised that the universe was comprised of three competing, but necessary, deities known as the Trimurti: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Protector, and Shiva the Destroyer. It has been argued that Vishnu and his earthly avatars such as Krishna were perhaps identified with this figure. Indeed, the “Krishna dance” is known as a Lila – “sport” – and participants “play” at being cowherds who “sport” with Krishna in a kind of ritual game. Indeed, according to Alain Danielou (Hindu Polytheism, New York: Bollingen Foundation, 1964, p.144), the “gods play. The rise and duration and destruction of the world is their game”.
Such theories have proved controversial, however, drawing accusations of occulted authoritarianism. Critics argue that such readings are in fact modern interpolations, made by Europeans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, informed by Theosophical, Occultist and, ultimately Nationalistic currents, along with Aryanism and Romantic exoticism. They suggest that talk of referees having possessed some mystical or religious authority is an artefact of the authoritarian motivations that lay behind such tendencies.
Whilst much evidence does indeed suggest that Three-Sided Football may once have had a ritual purpose – not only in many of its Asian iterations, but in its Meso-American and European versions likewise – there appears to be no compelling evidence that referees or other officiating authority figures, be they priests or rulers, were a regular feature of these activities. Or if they were, that they held any spiritual significance. Rather, if anything, it is the unruly character of the game-play that seems to predominate in most accounts, with the priest class temporarily reduced to figures of humour or mockery in the burlesque merrymaking of the game.
Needless to say, Holly’s interventions were scrupulously justified, with only a few players carded and only one new ball having to be introduced. In fact, she enjoyed herself so much, she has pledged to return with a team from across the Atlantic for the World Cup in August.