The calendar tells us that Halloween is in two short weeks. That explains the tacky decorations sprouting all over my neighborhood. It may also explain the result of last night's Diplomacy game at Guthrie's Tavern.
For his next feat, perhaps Beefy Nate Cockerill will capture a leprechaun. Or tame a unicorn. After posting the elusive Bar-Game Solo last night at the Red Lion, the sky is pretty much the limit for a man whose magic is bigger than any myth.
When I left the Lion after the Spring 1903 turn, Cockerill was off to a good start in this first game of the 2014 Bar Room Brawl Series, but so was the Turk, a rusty Pete McNamara of the regular variety of McNamaras (as opposed to the Australian variety). I'm not sure anyone foresaw a solo at that point. But in the Fall, Beefy grew to 10 from six. A brief setback in 1904 was merely a speed bump as he rolled to the solo from there.
Strange things happen on Friday the 13th. Sadly for the host, Mike Morrison's board-top was not one of them. This game marked the third time in the past two years that I've watched Mike roll to a giant board-top in my family room. And this time, he did it with my centers...and also with wanton disregard for the other players.
Morrison actually showed up to a Diplomacy game with a box of creampuffs. Such hubris.
Perhaps it's fitting that our ninth season of Windy City Weasels Diplomacy didn't end until it had to. Game No. 250, the second of three boards at yesterday's season-ending Weasel Pyle at Castle Brown in bucolic Wayne, went right up to the 9 p.m. hard ending. And it wasn't until that final turn that the Men of the West sealed the 17-center stalemate line to stop David St. John's solo bid.
Nineteen people showed up for our ninth Weasel Pyle, including a British national, Jez Fordham, playing in his first game ever. Three others were playing in their first league games: Kyle Brintnall and Nelson Flynn, who drove down from Madison, played with us for the first time at last month's Weasel Moot, and AJ Roskam played with us there as well as at CODCon. With Tony Prokes and me agreeing to play on two boards, we started all three games within 30 minutes of the appointed start time, probably a first for the Pyle. And let the record note that Christian Kline arrived at Castle Brown two minutes before 11, the first time in his nine years with the club that he's been early for a game.
For just the ninth time in 28 games this season, we gathered around a Diplomacy board without Prime Weasel Nate Cockerill. And it was only a last-minute schedule change at work that knocked Nate out of the game. His short-notice replacement was trusty standby Ben DiPaola.
Ted McClelland was the last to arrive at Josh Heffernan's sprawling apartment on the boulevard in Logan Square, having bicycled all the way there from Rogers Park. So we plucked blocks and started playing at about 12:30, just half an hour after the scheduled start.
A funny thing happened at our "Dude?!? It's Tuesday!" game last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square. Two of the players, including a mysterious Meetup recruit, turned out to be women.
Kiya Krivickas marched in right about 6:30, confidently sat down in the middle of our group of five guys, and announced that she was there to play Diplomacy.
"Have you played before?" I asked, a natural ice-breaker given the occasion.
Prime Weasel Nate Cockerill wanted to work in one last tune-up for this weekend's World Diplomacy Championship at DixieCon, so he scheduled a bar game at the Red Lion for the eve of the long road trip to Chapel Hill. Predictably, his choice of dates knocked out the rest of us who will be attending WDC (me, Dan Burgess, John Gramila and Matt Sundstrom), but you don't get to be the Prime Weasel by being a Carebear.
Being a Carebear can, however, get you a shared board top with your Western ally, and that's how Game No. 246 went down last night.
The contest ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
Last Saturday, six of the club's most interesting men and one interesting kid gathered at the Sundstrom home in Glenview to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a game of Diplomacy. As it turned out, the game was far less interesting than they were, so during the Fall 1905 turn, the players unanimously agreed to end it in favor of starting a new one.
The final center counts in the abbreviated Game No. 244 were:
David St. John has style, and style is everything.
After topping his first board with the Weasels last night at the Red Lion, St. John bought a round of drinks, then mounted his motorcycle and peeled off in a cloud of dust. If I could do it all over again, that's the exclamation point I would put on my first Weasels board top. ... I'd be riding a Harley instead of a Honda, but still, the man knows how to make an exit.
Our seventh annual March Madness campaign closed last Saturday with a fifth and final game at Matt Sundstrom's home in Glenview. Game No. 242 was a taut affair with four lead changes and four players finishing within two centers of one another. When the buzzer sounded in Spring 1907, Tony Prokes had topped his club-leading third board of the season. The final center counts were:
Yesterday's season-ending Weasel Pyle in Wayne had just about everything you could ask for: A thrilling race for the Weasel of the Year award, redemption on the second-chance board, patio trivia, significant jockeying among the top seven, at least a thousand rounds of bbs and pellets, a zip line, a powerful rendition of the club's Battle Hymn, and a surprise visit from one of the club's most colorful characters from the early years. Did I miss anything?
Two-time Weasel of the Year Matt Sundstrom turned in his best performance of the year in Season Eight's penultimate game, racking up 50 points with a 12-center German board top. With the haul, he regained possession of the season's Best Germany award and vaulted past Nate Cockerill into first place in the standings. Heading into the Pyle, he leads Cockerill by about 7 points.
Its very name inspires fear across Europe. The hint of its formation can solidfy two other pairs, for when the Russian-Turkish alliance starts to roll, it flattens everyone in its path.
In Game No. 216, played last Saturday at Peter Lokken's home in Old Town, Russia and Turkey looked more like Jughead and Archie than the feared alliance. When the game ended by draw vote in Spring 1908, there was nothing left of them but stains on the board.