The mosquitoes were pretty bad last Friday night in the gardens of Lake Point Tower. The Weasels, though, were even worse.
Ray Trotta, the patriarch of the Diplomacy-playing Trotta clan, hosted two boards in the condo building's beautiful wooded space on August 18. Thirteen Weasels spent the evening strolling through the gardens while telling lies and stabbing backs. If you could tune out the bustle of Lake Shore Drive, it was easy to imagine that you were vying for the Iron Throne in the gardens of King's Landing or Pentos.
Speaking of, the two games were as different as ice and fire.
Gus Spelman, one of the many promising new recruits from Seasons 11 and 12, bagged his first board-top last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square. We suspect it won't be his last.
Game No. 347 ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
Over the years, two boards' worth of dedicated, active players have stabbed the club by leaving town. Some are now playing with other clubs, others show up on the tournament circuit now and again. None of them are former Weasels. No, we call them ex-pats, because our club will always be their home.
Last night, we welcomed back Christian MacDonald, who now lives in Vancouver. MacDonald joined the Weasels late in our third season and quickly took the club by storm. In our fourth season, the first one that featured a league with running standings, he finished third. He also ran for and was elected to the charter Sneak that year, tied for second in games played, and won the first tournament he ever attended (the Buckeye Game Fest).
MacDonald is a good guy, a great player, and a visionary. While serving on the Sneak, he drafted a statement that still serves as an excellent guide for what the North American hobby could and should be. So when he moved away in 2011, it stung.
Reigning Weasel of the Year Brandon Fogel knocked a batting-practice fastball out of the park earlier this month on Red Wednesday at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square to snatch the league lead from rival Jake Trotta. Fogel drew a Germany bordered by inexperienced players, and he teed off on them, posting the largest non-solo score in the club's Sum of Squares era, a whopping 82.571. With only two scheduled dates remaining--August 9 at the Red Lion and the Weasel Pyle on September 2--this ballgame appears to be over.
Played July 12, Game No. 345 ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
We played a hastily arranged game of Diplomacy yesterday at the Red Lion in honor of visiting Weasel ex-pat Peter Lokken. Sporting a Rambo-style headband, Lokken drew Austria and proceeded to organize his fellow Eastern hipsters into a formidable and efficient RAT triple alliance. Ultimately, though, the RAT tilted in favor of Josh Heffernan, who now owns the season's Best Russia.
Game No. 344 ended by time limit after the Fall 1908 turn in the following center counts:
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: