If there's a pattern to these things--and let's be honest, there probably is--then one of the Kevins O'Kell(e)y ought to be feeling pretty good about his chances in next year's Bar Room Brawl Championship game. (Of course, as the old joke goes, you can't win without buying a ticket.)
Last year's inaugural Brawl Championship went to Jim O'Kelley. Last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square, Chris Kelly kept the title in the sort-of family by storming to a five-center lead as England. In fact, Kelly's dominance was so convincing that the players voted to concede the Brawl Star title with more than an hour of play left on the clock.
If we established anything at yesterday's Weasel Royale club championship game, it's that there are only three acceptable reasons for missing the event: Cancer, Rugby and Acts of God. All three played a part in shaping the lineup for this year's Royale, as did some pretty lame excuses.
The field featured only four of the top seven, along with three alternates, including one who was an alternate for an alternate. We tapped Brad Harrington (the seventh alternate!) to play at around 10:45 a.m. when second alternate Mike Morrison discovered that a tree had fallen on his car during Friday's storm. Host and War Weasel Dan Burgess calmly diverted fourth alternate Don Glass to the west side of the city to retrieve Harrington. They arrived at Dan's at 12:06, and the selection ceremony started as soon as they took off their jackets.
When Matt Sundstrom swept our two tournaments back in 2009, we were certain it would never be done again. We were wrong.
John Gramila hadn't even heard of Diplomacy back then. He didn't pick up a pad of paper in anger until the year turned. In January 2010, he joined us for a novice game at Guthrie's Tavern. He played all right, finishing second on the board with six centers. His next two results were less promising: He finished third with four centers and then got crushed as Russia. But he liked the game and kept at it, and in his fourth game in June of that year, he showed us a glimpse of what was coming, cruising to 16 centers and capturing Season 5's Best England.
Hipster John Gramila is on a roll. In three league games this season, he's topped one board outright and shared another. At the North American Diplomacy Championship at WACCon in January, he finished seventh. And last weekend at our eighth annual CODCon Open at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, he posted two convincing board tops en route to his first tournament championship.
It was a great bounce-back year for CODCon. Last year, we managed just 15 players, five of whom traveled to the event. This year, 22 players participated on a total of seven boards. That number includes 20 local players, our best local turnout since the WDC in 2012.
Chris Martin (right) captures David Maletsky (left) negotiating with Chris Brand during the world championship game.
What a difference a couple of years make. Back in 2014, between rounds at the World Diplomacy Championship at DixieCon in Chapel Hill, Chris Brand and I were lamenting our lackluster performances over a beer at a Franklin Street pub.
“It’s gotten to the point,” he said, “where I just scan the tournament standings to see whether I finished better than you.”
“We ought to start our own Grand Prix,” I retorted. “We could call it the Murphy Bed,” a reference to our annual duel for sleeping space in the Presidential Suite at the late WACCon in Seattle. (Our duels were chronicled in the Spring 2009 issue of Diplomacy World.)
Five rounds of Diplomacy, 93 players, 52 boards, and rave reviews. The World Diplomacy Championship at Weasel Moot X was a smashing success.
For the complete standings, including Best Country winners, go here. It will take a bit longer to add the charts and team tournament results.
Congrats to Canadian Chris Brand, our new world champion, and to our club for delivering a fantastic experience for all our attendees. Now, who's up for a bar game on Wednesday with guest of honor Tim Jones, one of the three travelers from Australia who attended WDC?
Dan Burgess (left) and Kevin O'Kelley discuss their Christian Kline problem in Spring 1902 of the first round at CODCon.
Jake Trotta is a quick study. After learnng the game last July, he's been fighting for the club lead all season. Last weekend, in his first tournament ever, he set the bar pretty high, winning the CODCon Open championship with a strong board-top as France in the first round and a close third in the second.
As Weasels, we take a certain pride in knocking the hell out of our defending champions. The club has five titles -- Weasel of the Year, CODCon champion, Alpha Weasel (Weasel Moot champion), Bull Weasel (Weasel Royale champion), and Brawl Star (Bar Room Brawl champion). The last and only person to successfully defend one of them was CODCon champion Mike French in 2008.
In the first seven Weasel Royale club championship games, we had seven different winners. Perhaps it's fitting, then, that we opened the next set of seven by recycling them.
Jim O'Kelley was the first to inscribe his name a second time in the permanent plaque at Dan Burgess' home in Downers Grove. Playing Russia, the country he won with in 2010 as well, O'Kelley seized control of yesterday's game with three decisive stabs of his Eastern neighbors -- Austria in Fall 1902, Turkey in Spring 1903, and Italy in Fall 1905.
After that, it was just a matter of hanging on--with help from a true janissary in the Turk, Black Jack Sundstrom, and from his inner Chris Martin (the three-time Alpha Weasel and former world champ, not the frontman for Coldplay)--against a furious counter-attack from the Grand Alliance.
The other six players in Sunday's Weasel Royale club championship game were so close to plahing without Matt Sundstom. He was on the outside looking in at the Weasel Pyle, the traditional final day of league play, after a subpar season by his standards. But he posted a large board top that day, aided somewhat by Christian Kline, and qualified for the Royale with the sixth seed.
This is the one game from the weekend that I’d really like to have back. I don’t think I’d play the other two much differently, but with this one, I can identify specific errors I made that prevented me from posting a big score. The opportunities were there, and my inability to take advantage of them exposed weaknesses in my game — for which I'm very grateful. This one was a good (if painful) learning experience.