Our run of eight games in eight weeks came to end yesterday with our first ever game in Hyde Park. Fortunately, the run ended after the game. Earlier in the day, it looked like there wouldn't be one.
The trouble started at around 9:30 a.m. when Kevin O'Kelly texted to say he was delayed at work and wouldn't be able to make it till noon. By 11:40, he had pushed his arrival back to 12:30.
To compound matters, at that point, 40 minutes after the scheduled game start, we still hadn't heard from one of the other players. And since that player had bailed on a bar game earlier in the season, we scrambled to find a replacement.
Everything went Matt Sundstrom's way in Spring 1901, as evidenced by the look on his face.
When the Germans opened to Holland instead of Denmark, the right side of Matt's mouth curled slightly upward. As the Turk moved Ankara to Constantinople and Smyrna to Ankara, the other side joined in, forming a full-fledged smile. And when the Austrians ordered his Home Guard in Vienna to Trieste instead of Galicia, I swear you could see Matt's teeth. Throw in Italy's moves to Tyrolia and Venice, and Matt had to fight back the evil laughter.
Your average Russian player would feel pretty good about an opening like that. Matt is no average player.
Tony Prokes topped his second board of the season Saturday at Matt Sundstrom's home in Glenview, making it two for two. He's now in fifth place.
Three players made their Season Nine debuts in Game No. 231: Royale contestant Brad Harrington, and Season One vets Paul Pignotti and Andy Lischett. For Lischett, the longtime publisher of the postal Diplomacy zine Cheesecake, the game was his first league outing since March 2010. He also played at Weasel Moot VII in June.
Game No. 231 ended in Spring 1909 in the following center counts:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Last week at the Lion, Nate Cockerill suggested that we organize a holiday party for the Weasels. Josh Heffernan, always the voice of reason and still basking in his triumphant return to the table, pointed out that it was a little late in the season to throw a party together. So instead, we settled on another bar game.
Josh Heffernan, the self-proclaimed People's Champion, showed us why the moniker fits last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square.
Playing Italy, Heffernan spent the first two years in a boxer's stance, ready to strike at any opportunity. When he finally threw a punch at France in Spring 1903, the stab was so perfectly timed that he was able to walk into Marseilles and Spain unopposed in the Fall. By game's end in 1906, players were lining up to help him take centers.
On our drive up to WolfCon last weekend, Matt Kade talked about the robustness of our club, both in terms of the quantity of the games and quality of the play.
"I tell my friends about the club, and they don't get what a big deal it is to pull off two or three games a month," he said. "It's not easy to find seven players."
Then he paused to reflect on his performance with the Weasels since joining the club at CODCon last April. "I'd like to top a board," he said. "I don't think I've finished with more than six centers."
St. Patrick would have appreciated the irony. We played our 227th game on the second floor of the Irish-American Heritage Center on the city's north side, right between a pair of statues honoring the patron saint of Ireland. Both statues depicted a tangle of snakes at his feet, celebrating the legend that he had banished them from Ireland. And there we were.
Myth Chaser Nate Cockerill nearly found the fabled Board of the Valkyries last Thursday at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square. While he fell short of the all-female board, Nate set a Weasel record by persuading three members of the fairer sex to join us for a game of Diplomacy.
Game No. 226 got off to a late start due to a no-show. Fortunately, Nate was able to coax a third woman to the table to salvage the evening. Due to the late start, the players managed only four game-years. The game ended after the Fall 1904 turn in the following center counts:
The Witches dominated a second straight bar game. Last month, it Was Chris Kelly's Turkey topping with David St. John in second as England. This time around, Matt Sundstrom (England) and John Gramila (Turkey) split 28 centers between them for a shared top.
Game No. 225, played last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square, ended by time limit after the Fall 1907 turn in the following center counts:
Tony Prokes was disappointed with his performance in last year's Undercard game at the Weasel Royale.
"I need to get better," he said, while we were kibitzing afterward.
"I don't think we're getting worse," I responded. I had performed poorly in the Royale. "There's just a lot of good players in the club now, and we're all going to have good games and bad games."
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.