If we've learned anything from 343 games of Windy City Weasels Diplomacy, it's that there is no honor among Weasels and that no good deed goes unpunished. Yet time and time again, those lessons must be relearned the hard way. Wednesday night at the Red Lion, it was the player who hosted the very first Weasels tilt nearly 12 years ago who flunked out of the club's School of Hard Knocks.
We managed seven years in Game No. 343, played at the Red Lion on Flag Day. The game ended by time limit in the following center counts.
Q: How many Trottas does it take to coordinate schedules?
A: Apparently more than three.
Game No. 342, played last night at Seven on the swanky New East Side, started more than 70 minutes late, due largely to miscommunication among the Brothers Trotta. As it turned out, the game got Jake, who had planned to drop by a game in progress after an evening meeting with clients, instead of Ian and their dad, Ray, although Ray did stop by even later to kibitz and watch basketball. (And he seems interested in returning to the table soon. Perhaps at Weasel Moot, June 23-25 at Diversey River Bowl...)
If we were to compare Russian board-tops to Russian state-sponsored hacking groups, then Bryan Pravel's game Wednesday night at the Red Lion was more Cozy Bear than Fancy Bear. Yes, he led wire to wire, and yes, he was nattily dressed in a sharp blue blazer, but he never seemed like he was in control of the game.
When Fancy Bear hacks you, he wants you to know it. For Cozy Bear, hacking you is good enough. Despite losing Rumania and Sevastopol and being under siege in the south for most of the game, Pravel quietly topped Game No. 341, which ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
It's official: Jake Trotta is dominating our 12th season of Windy City Weasels Diplomacy. Trotta posted another hard-fought board-top in Game No. 340, played yesterday at Bryan Pravel's soon-to-be-former home in River North. Trotta now has 4.5 tops on the year, which means, with three months of play remaining, he's in line to challenge Peter Lokken's all-time record of 7.5 tops, set in Season 6.
Trotta ran his personal league streak to three straight tops, including the last two league games played. No one has ever topped three straight league games. It looks like that drought will continue, as Trotta is not scheduled to play on Red Wednesday this week.
Game No. 340 went nine years. The final center counts were:
Jake Trotta in Turkey rolled a solid final frame to snatch the board-top in Game No. 339, played April 22 at Diversey River Bowl. The game ended in Spring 1909 in a seven-way draw. The final center counts were:
It takes stamina to be a Weasel. The dust hadn't even settled over the bloody fields of Glen Ellyn, and there the Weasels were, gathering at the Red Lion to do battle once more.
April 12 was the second Wednesday of the month, so three days after CODCon or not, Red Wednesday went on. Game No. 338 ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
An early-morning cancellation sent the club's organizers into a frenzy today. We were on the verge, for the second time in two months, of fielding boards in two different locations, but now we were faced with having to pull the plug on one of them. In one location, we can play two boards with 12 or 13 players, but two locations requires 14 players to pull it off.
So a few of us beat the bushes in a desperate search for a 14th while Prime Weasel Brian Shelden simultaneously scrambled to line up an alternative--hosting both boards in the hospitality room of his condo building. In the end, both efforts proved successful. We got a total of 14 players to show up at Brian's building for Games No. 336 and 337. And for once, the guys who drew the red blocks were glad they did.
The club celebrated the hobby's most sacred day yesterday with a game of Diplomacy at Diversey River Bowl (2211 W Diversey Parkway), future home of Weasel Moot XI (June 23-25!). Fittingly for the Ides of March, there was lots of stabbing, plenty of blood, and a democratic solution for the final result. Game No. 335 (335!?!) ended by time limit after the Fall 1907 (No Adib. No Kline.) turn in the following center counts:
Austria (Jim O'Kelley): 7; 16.781 points.
England (Matt Sundstrom): 0; 0.000 points.
France (Chris Kelly): 9; 27.740 points.
Germany (Brandon Fogel): 9; 27.740 points.
Italy (Brian Shelden): 9; 27.740 points.
Russia (Chad Carson): 0; 0.000 points.
Turkey (Gus Spelman): 0; 0.000 points.
Check out the supply center chart here. Players, how about some endgame statements.
The Weasels dressed Wednesday up in red last night in honor of International Women's Day. A total of 15 players showed up for another Red Wednesday at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square , including Prime Weasel Brian Shelden, who was there strictly to play only if needed. (That's the dedication we've been looking for in a Prime Weasel. By comparison, recent occupants of the office have been, well, weasels.)
Both games started relatively close to on time, with the players divided roughly in the order they arrived at the bar.
Game No. 333
Game No. 333 featured three of the club's elder statesmen in the east and relative newcomers rounding out the rest of the board. One of those newcomers, Zane Blanton, was playing for just the second time ever. He guided France to a commanding, seemingly insurmountable two-center lead heading into the final year of the game. (Bar games are usually timed to end no later than 11 p.m.) His nice score turned into a monster result and near certain bid to the Weasel Royale club championship game (if he pays his dues) when, in yet another blow to the club's shrinking classicist wing, he was gifted four centers to finish with a massive six-center bulge. The final center counts were:
On the fast and furious first board last night at Diversey River Bowl--a new location for the Weasels and the future home of Weasel Moot XI (June 23-25!)--the center counts were as capricious as John Gramila's beard. All three Westerners experienced wild and unruly growth only to have their leads vanish a year later.
Chris Kelly (France) climbed into the lead at six centers by 1902 but was back at three in 1903. Brian Shelden (England) nabbed three centers in 1903 to take the lead at seven but lost three the following year. And Matt Sundstrom (Germany) took two in 1904 and had the lead at eight, but was down to seven and tied for second by 1905.
February was the new Oktober last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square...for the German players, anyway. On both boards, they played like the evening was a festival and the other players' supply centers, beer.
We had fifteen show up for our monthly Red Wednesday event at the Red Lion (second Wednesday of every month. Plan to join us on March 8 and April 12!), including two who were specifically there to play only if needed. Chris Kelly won the coin toss to sit out, and games 329 and 330 started about 20 minutes apart. (Footnote: We had enough players to start Game No. 329 by 6:20, but since a couple of them were new, we delayed the start to give them a thorough introduction to Diplomacy.)
Game No. 329
This one started first and included a brand-new player, another playing for the first time since September 2015 and only the second time ever, as well as some grizzled vets from the earliest days of the club. It ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
For the second time in club history and first since July 2015, the Weasels fielded boards in two locations on the same day. The games took place yesterday on the New East Side and in Avondale.
Originally scheduled for Brian Shelden's condo on the swanky New East Side, Game No. 327 relocated to the bar Seven in his building due to construction in his unit. Readers will recall that Seven is the karaoke bar where we went after the welcome party for last summer's World Diplomacy Championship. Turns out it works pretty well for Dip, too.
The game ended by draw vote in Spring 1908. The final center counts were:
Nick Rohn, the Alpha Weasel beta and veteran of the club's second game back in November 2005, finally strolled into the Red Lion at about 7:15 last night, the heavy rain having doubled the duration of his commute from Parts Unknown. And still, the evening's second board didn't start.
Nick brushed the water off his jacket and sat down to join our wait for Kelsey Trotta. Jake and Ian's older sister had gone to the wrong Red Lion and was still en route.
Jake, meanwhile, anxiously vacillated between our table, where he feverishly worked his phone for status updates from his sister, and the Lion's back room to watch Game No. 325, which had started on time at 6:30. He was in the back room when a woman walked in at around 7:45, did the about face at the bar, and approached our table cautiously.
"Are you Kelsey?" I asked.
"No," she retorted. "I'm the Easter Bunny."
Six new Weasels helped funk up Game No. 324, played yesterday at Mick Johnson's Uptown apartment. Two of the newcomers hit their hallelujah (whoo), sharing the board-top, while two others tied for second.
Don't believe me? Just watch. The game ended by draw vote during the Spring 1907 turn in the following center counts: