The Great Game, you will recall, was the term given to the intelligence war fought on the North West frontier between the British lion and the Russian bear that led to our first two disastrous military forays into Afghanistan. More recent military incompetence reinforcing political failure has seen us as militarily incapable of maintaining control of Basra and abandoning it, and of being so ineffective in Helmand that we've abandoned that too, leaving the Taliban better trained, financed, equipped and organised than ever, with bumper opium crops harvested under our noses. The only winners on our side as usual are the makers of prosthetic limbs and the intelligence organisations.
Now of course the CIA, NSA and our own boys and girls from Vauxhall and Hereford are getting used to the power plugs in Kiev, facing their counterparts from the FSB across the piles of tyres. The FSB is equipped with bits of US special ops field kit to leave conspicuously at the scene of fire-fights for journalists to be guided to 'discover', and the CIA is similarly equipped with bits of obvious Spetsnaz kit to leave at their own sites 'leaked' to US and Euro news crews to be filmed. No doubt they see it as a version of the Great Game for the digital news age. Meanwhile the muppets from the EU, whose own intelligence operations are both only risibly incompetent and totally compromised by China, are holding their noses in their reliance on the NSA and GCHQ to keep them informed about what's actually going on in Ukraine, preferably before Beijing knows. The German whining about their phones being tapped has stopped, you will note.
The fact that Syria looks like being a 1 - 0 victory for Russia will no doubt fuel patriotic fervour in Langley to win the next leg in Ukraine. Except of course that this is a game played with real legs. And arms. And other body parts. In fact not a game at all, and with nothing great about it.