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:
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:
We had both been knocked out of the Royale and were enjoying cigars--my cigars--on the deck at Dan Burgess' home in Downers Grove, when Jake Trotta breathed a deep sigh.
"Jim," he lamented, "I haven't topped a board since CODCon."
Only one board at the Red Lion last night, but it included a first-time Weasel. Plus, three potential recruits came out to observe and decide whether they'd like to play in the future. At least two of them seemed interested. Brian Shelden and Bryan Pravel rounded out the evening's cheering section.
Game No. 318 ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
Austria (Jim O'Kelley): 2; 1.653 points.
England (David Spanos): 0; 0.000 points.
France (Jake Trotta): 7; 20.248 points.
Germany (Matt Sundstrom): 10; 41.322 points.
Italy (Currey Dorris): 4; 6.612 points.
Russia (Alan Garbarino): 3; 3.719 points.
Turkey (Pete McNamara): 8; 26.446 points.
Most of us were playing with election hangovers. The supply center chart is here. Players, what happened?
We are eight games into our 12th season of Windy City Weasels Diplomacy and have now played 317 league games total. Nevertheless, in Sunday's game at David Spanos' home in Lakeview, we managed a first for the club. You'll note in the photo above that the players include Captain Kirk and Sherlock Holmes. Not surprisingly, they both factored into the board top.