Normally the pitchers are ahead of the hitters at this time of year. Try telling that to Chicago's mighty offenses.
The Cubs officially opened baseball's marathon in Miami, spoiling the home team's opener by putting eight runs on the board. The Sox, who opened in Kansas City, started poorly, giving up four runs in the first. But they exploded the second time through the lineup. The good guys belted six home runs and scored the game's next 14 runs.
Both offenses looked really good...until Kevin O'Kelly told them to hold his beer.
Late in Game No. 363, played last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square, newcomer Dan Kolen stood at the board, his hand on his forehead. Since 2011, he had played about a dozen games online with old friends now scattered around the country, but this was his first foray into face-to-face Diplomacy.
"I'm looking for an ally," he implored, as he assessed his crumbling Austrian empire, now completely encircled by barbarians. "I'm looking for a friend!"
"Well," replied one of the guys he had met earlier that evening, "you've come to the wrong place."
Bryan Pravel posted one of his prototypical board-tops yesterday in Game No. 362, played at Mick Johnson's place in Uptown: not big, but big enough.
The game, which featured three new players, ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
Paul Pignotti was one of the great characters of the club's early days. The Hammer of the Old Guard burst onto the Windy City Weasels Diplomacy scene at Season 1's Weasel Pyle.
He was brash, intense, and seething with testosterone and menace. In fact, he once grew a full beard over the course of a house game.
To know him was to love him, but getting to know him was like an organic chemistry class--the process weeded out a lot of hopefuls.
And then he had kids.
Fatherhood mellowed Paul and also cut into his hobby time. The frequency of his trips down from Wisconsin diminished. When he did show up, his play style and general demeanor were more relaxed, even happy-go-lucky. Occasionally, his eyes would flicker with rage, but for the most part, Paul the father treated the hobby as a getaway, not a battleground.
But every now and then, the Hammer will pounce on a board and cripple it for life. Such was the case in Game No. 361, played February 11 at Pete McNamara's home in Evanston. The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1908 turn in the following center counts:
Winter blasted the shithole countries of pre-World War I Europe Wednesday night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square as the Ice Queen rolled to an impressive board-top. Two-time defending Weasel of the Year and reigning Bull Weasel Brandon Fogel posted his best result of the young Season 13 campaign in reclaiming his familiar spot atop the league standings.
Game No. 360 ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
The Weasels introduced the South Loop to our brand of bar room Diplomacy last Thursday at the Scout, a popular watering hole at 1301 S. Wabash. The event--dubbed Thunder Thursday in honor of the Norse God of Thunder--was the first offering of our new standing game in the Bar Room Brawl Series. Thunder Thursdays will be held on the fourth Thursday of every month, complementing Red Wednesdays, which will continue to be held on the second Wednesday of every month at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square.
The inaugural Thunder Thursday, our club's 359th game, ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
Jake "The Goat Lover" Langenfeld made it two for two on the young Season 13, topping his second board in as many chances last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square. While his score wasn't quite as dramatic as the one he posted at November's Red Wednesday, the top was every bit as impressive.
Langenfeld drew England in a triangle with his mentor, Ali Adib, in Germany and veteran traveler Brian Shelden in France. The Russian? Only Bull Weasel Brandon Fogel, the two-time defending Weasel of the Year.
The Goat Lover beat them all and now has twice as many tops in his past two games as he had in his first 11 with the club.
"He's enjoying his ascendance," remarked Fogel, who knows a little something about the topic. "He's become rather savvy."
Game No. 358, our second in four days, ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
Since our founding in September 2005, and counting League, Exhibition, Premiere and Tournament games, we've played 659 games of Diplomacy on the standard map. Yet, on Saturday in Game No. 357 at Matt Sundstrom's home in Glenview, we saw something that we'd never seen before--France eliminated in 1902.
Jake Trotta, one of the most dominant players of the past two seasons, was the unfortunate frog. A look at the supply center chart, Spring 1901 tab, will confirm that he failed to heed sage advice regarding the play of France--mind Burgundy. And that with his arch-rival, Brandon Fogel, of all people in Germany.
Game No. 357 ended by draw vote in Spring 1908 in the following center counts:
Normally, you can set your clock by Chris Kelly's board-tops. Since joining the Weasels in Season 6, he's topped 14 league games, shared or outright. In nine of those games, he landed on eight or nine centers.
A crafty vet who started playing years ago with a group in Los Angeles, every now and then, he'll drop double-digits on you. Twice, he topped with 10. Two more times, he struck midnight. Normally, though, when he tops, it's with a modest eight or nine. You can plan on it.
But yesterday at Brian Shelden's home on the swanky New East Side, Old Clockwork stunned everyone by pealing 13 times.
Some days you're the goat, and some days you're the goat lover. Unless you're Jake Langenfeld. In which case, you're always the Goat Lover.
Jake earned that nickname last season (it only takes one...), but last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square, the moniker took on a whole new meaning. Jake drowned the bar in the plaintive bleats of his enemies while rolling to his second board-top with the club and first since Game No. 290 in January 2016.
Game No. 355 ended by time limit after the Fall 1907 turn in the following center counts:
More than 12 years into Windy City Weasels Diplomacy and we're still setting firsts. Yesterday at the Red Lion, for the first time in club history, one of our title games was settled by tie-breaker.
Defending champion Jake Trotta rallied for five centers in the final two game-years to catch Ali Adib at 11 centers. Trotta, the game's second seed, claimed the spot on Cockerill's Orb via the tie-breaker, which is reverse selection order. Trotta had the third choice of powers. Adib, the No. 4 seed, picked first.
The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1907 turn. The final center counts were:
Season 13 got off to a late start Wednesday at the Red Lion, and a couple of players went to great lengths to make it happen. Literally.
Isaac Cumberledge traveled by train and el from distant Huntley just to play Dip with the Weasels. Recently relocated from Ohio, he learned about the club on webdiplomacy.net and braved the three-hour round-trip commute to join us for Red Wednesday. That's commitment.
Don't blame Brian Murdock for thinking Ike's a piker, though. He came all the way from Seattle! Known to WAC alumni simply as Murdock, he was tagging along with his wife for a conference in town and bumped into Jim O'Kelley while wandering around Lincoln Park Wednesday morning. The chance encounter led to an invitation to round out our first board of Season 13.
So, after three false starts, Season 13 finally opened with Game No. 354. It ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
For its 10th installment, the Weasel Royale club championship moved to John Gramila's home in the city from Dan Burgess' home in Downers Grove, its longtime venue. The change shortened the commute for the seven participants, perhaps, but the game was still the long, dramatic, angst-filled but fun slog that we've all come to expect from the club's most competitive tradition.
After 12 hard-fought years, top seed Brandon Fogel, the two-time Weasel of the Year, claimed the coveted Bull Weasel title, becoming only the second top seed to win the Royale. The final center counts were:
Season 12 was so massive that it couldn't be contained by a mere 12 months. The annual season-ending Weasel Pyle, our club's oldest and happiest tradition, spilled into Labor Day weekend this year, making the 2016-17 year the first to be book-ended by two Septembers.
That wasn't the only first for Season 12. For the first time, the event was held in the city at Founder Jim O'Kelley's home in Little Italy after a memorable 11-year run at Founding Weasel Eric Brown's Castle Brown in bucolic Wayne.
We also set a new record for players at 84 while tying our previous high for games played at 44. Meanwhile, we fell just short of our all-time high for new recruits of 49, set in Season 7. We introduced 47 players to Windy City Weasels Diplomacy this year. Some of them are quick studies who have already elbowed their way into the club's rising Young Guard.
But back to the Pyle, we had four boards on the day, with one being a late-starting second-chance game. A total of 24 players participated in the games. Three of them crashed the Royale party by capturing board-tops: Matt Sundstrom, Christian Kline, and Prime Weasel Brian Shelden. Members of the club's vaunted Old Guard, Sundstrom and Kline advanced to the Royale from the same board at last year's Pyle. This year, they did it from separate boards on different floors.