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:
Jake Trotta has been spicy hot lately. In last Wednesday's bonus game at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square, the resurgent Trotta bagged his third board-top (counting the Brawl Championship) in four tries, and this one was another whopper.
Game No. 323 ended by time limit after the Fall 1907 turn in the following center counts:
Tolkien warned us of Gudrun in a lay edited by his son, Christopher. And still, no one saw her coming.
Playing in her first face-to-face game ever, John Gramila's beloved turned their Humboldt Park home into a funeral pyre for their guests. Game No. 322, played today, ended during the Spring 1908 turn in the following center counts:
We fielded two boards Wednesday night at the Red Lion, our third two-board session in four tries so far this season. There were no pear trees, but we did pick up a new Weasel in Jake Trotta's Second City classmate Nicole Campbell and welcome back old friend Roland Cooke, who was in town on business. On a scale of one to five, I'd definitely give the evening five golden rings.
Game No. 320
Played in the Lion's back room, Game No. 320 ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
In a season dominated by the club's New Guard--in terms of games played and boards topped--it was the vaunted Old Guard that crested the ridge on the final day of play yesterday at our 11th Weasel Pyle in Wayne. Carrying the colors were Eric Brown, Christian Kline and Matt Sundstrom, veterans of our first, third and ninth games, respectively.
Last night's final Red Wednesday of the season was, paradoxically, as typical as it was atypical. On the one hand, Brandon Fogel ran his board-topping total to a gaudy 6.5. He now has a real shot at tying, if not breaking, Peter Lokken's longstanding record of 7.5 board tops in a season. That one has held since the 2010-11 season.
On the other hand, we had two new recruits, which is something of a rarity in this down year for new blood. But even more significant, both were female, which is as unusual as it is welcome. Not for lack of effort, our progress at diversifying the player base has been inconsistent at best.
In addition to the backstabbing, players in Game No. 306, played Saturday at Pete McNamara's home in Evanston, were treated to ribs and brisket courtesy of grillmaster Pete.
"The barbecue turned this one up to 11," remarked Bryan Pravel, who, having now played in 13 club games, all since January, is something of an authority on the Weasels scene.
Could the club now have a third host extraordinaire to rival Messrs. Brown and Burgess?
As for the game, depsite being a house game with a generous 11 hours allotted for play, it ended by draw vote during the Spring 1906 turn in the following center counts:
I threw a solo. Before I get into the how, I’ll let Batfleck tell you why.
I thought my game was over after power selection. Jay Heumann was Turkey. We had shared a board at worlds that I had gone from 9-6-1, mostly out of frustration at Jay and his ally. In Russia was Brandon Fogel, fresh off the “I wasn’t even trying to board top” start to the season. Then in Italy was Buffalo, who I had mercilessly stabbed with the builds the night before. I drew Austria. Shit.