“Players of all skill levels are welcome,” says club founder and tournament director Jim O’Kelley, who lives in Chicago. “A few of the top players in the country will be playing, but we’ll also have several beginners.”
Diplomacy is a multi-player strategy game that was designed in the 1950s by LaGrange Park resident Allan Calhamer, then a student at Harvard. Calhamer was profiled in the May 2009 issue of Chicago Magazine (http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/May-2009/All-in-the-Game/).
In Diplomacy, players assume the role of head of state for one of the seven great powers of pre-World War I Europe. There’s no element of chance in the game, which features simultaneous movement. Instead, players must use their wits and guile as they make and break alliances in an effort to dominate Europe. A typical game can last between six and nine hours.
“It never feels quite that long while you’re playing,” says O’Kelley, “because you only have 15 minutes per turn to figure out what you want to do and then try to influence the other players to move in a way that will allow your plans to succeed. Afterward, you’re drained, but while you’re playing, the time flies.”
Founded in 2005, the Windy City Weasels has become one of the country’s two largest Diplomacy clubs. The Weasels have more than 50 active members, and in the past year, the club played 35 games, more than any other club in the world. Weasel Moot is expected to be the third largest North American tournament this year, behind the North American Championship, which was played in San Francisco in April, and Husky Con, an event held in Long Island in July.
This year’s Diplomacy World Championship was held in August at The Hague. At that event, the Weasels bid on and won the right to host the 2012 World Championship. It will be the first time Chicago has hosted the event, which has rotated among North America, Europe and Australia since 1988.
“Chicago used to be a hub for the Diplomacy hobby,” O’Kelley says. “The city hosted four straight North American championships in the 1970s. We’re trying to get that event back, too.”
The registration fee for Weasel Moot is $40, $20 for students. For more information, visit the club’s website at windycityweasels.org/wm4.