Our 14th season is winding down, which means we've been doing this a long time. And like any old show, we occasionally recycle story lines.
On Wednesday, it was the one about the last-minute cancellation that would have ruined the game if not for a timely text from a friend. Fortunately, rising star Cori Neslund was able to talk Bennett Kalsevic into driving out to the Red Lion in Lincoln Square to learn a game called Diplomacy.
By 7:30 p.m., Game 392 was finally under way. The players quickly made up for lost time. There was a brawl in the Western Mediterranean; an Austrian fleet build in 1901; R/T conflict; a Western Triple; the demise of the league leader; and, eventually, some impressive dot-jockeying in the final year of the game. Time was called after the Fall 1905 turn. The final center counts were:
On July 24, the club gathered once again at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square over the familiar map of Europe, this time to bid farewell to our Bull Weasel. And after the shellacking he administered in Game No. 391, you wouldn't blame anyone for a fleeting thought of "Good riddance."
However, while the Weasel waters may be a bit safer now, we all need to be thinking, "How in the world will we replace Ali Adib?"
It looked like the club's first game at Relo's Board Game and Dessert Cafe in Little Italy was destined to be a six-player variant. But then a bystander who happens to be a student of European military history bailed us out and topped the board for her trouble.
Game No. 390, played at Relo's on Taylor Street in Little Italy on June 24, ended by draw vote during the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
Jake Trotta bounced back from a sub-par (by his lofty standards) performance in Game No. 388 to top Game No. 389, played on Memorial Day at David Spanos' home. He's now in first place for the season.
Billed as David's sendoff--he's leaving town to attend graduate school--the game didn't go so well for the host. Spanos started strong as Russia, gaining two builds in 1901, but stalled there and eventually lost four dots in 1905. Trotta, meanwhile, cruised to his second outright board-top of the season. He shared another one, so that's 2.5 tops in four games.
Game No. 389 ended after 1905 in the following center counts:
You'll find our first reference to the classic war movie Platoon in the write-up for Game No. 124, played way back in January 2011. We've used it quite a bit since then because many of our bar games play out the same way: New player shows up, ends up in France or Turkey adjacent to a couple of regulars who--for personal or club-cultural reasons--try really hard to work with him or her. The dynamic casts the new player in the role of Charlie Sheen's Chris Taylor as Sergeants Barnes and Elias battle for his soul.
Wednesday night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square, the understudy for Charles Sheen was Gu Qiu, who found us on Meetup. He drew France. His closest neighbors? Two-thirds of the soloists at last month's Weasel Moot, Cori Neslund in England and Jake Trotta in Germany. Readers will decide for themselves who was Elias and who, Barnes. Much like the movie, though, in the end, neither won the game.
Instead, it was Carlos Trevino in Turkey, playing his first league game in more than 2 1/2 years, riding an on-again-off-again alliance with Brandon Fogel's Austria to the board-top. The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1905 turn in the following center counts:
Man can have his dog; all Turkey needs is the Western Triple. A game-long Triple last Wednesday at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square helped three-time defending Weasel of the Year Brandon Fogel secure a shared board-top and reclaim his familiar spot atop the league. Fogel has only played in three games this season but has at least shared the board-top in all of them.
Game No. 387 ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
War broke out at the Chicago Cultural Center yesterday as we introduced three new players to Windy City Weasels Diplomacy. Game No. 386 ended by time limit after the Fall 1907 turn in the following center counts:
As the saying goes, a tie is like kissing all three of your sisters. Last night's game at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square was as tight as can be, with Clockwork Chris Kelly's two-dot lead evaporating in the final year.
Game No. 385 ended by time limit after the Fall 1907 turn, naturally, in a blurry photo finish. The final center counts were:
Meanwhile, in the equally hard fought, if shorter and colder, Undercard game, Johnny Mercado, playing in just his third game with the club and first since last April, earned the board-top. This game was played on Bryan Pravel's back porch, an intimate space heated meagerly by space heaters. Game No. 384, the Undercard at the 2018 Weasel Royale championship game, was played on March 3, 2019. It ended by draw vote during the Fall 1908 turn in the following center counts:
Jake Trotta has stepped back his play considerably since barnstorming through the league over a 2 1/2 year stretch. The Young Wolverine burst onto the scene in July 2015. Through February 2018, he played 44 league games and captured three major titles, including the Bar Room Brawl championship twice.
A five-month hiatus followed, and since then, only an occasional game.
Still, every now and then, he'll pounce on a board and cripple it for life. Such was the case on Sunday in Game No. 383, another boardless affair at Ali Adib's home in Avondale. The game ended after the Fall 1907 turn in the following center counts:
We're six months into our 14th season, and for those of us who have been here since the beginning, it can be difficult to recall which wave of players the current surge represents. We've had many over the years.
Last Wednesday at the Red Lion in the Lincoln Square, the club played its 382nd game, a contest pitting players from three distinct waves: Don Glass and Ted McClelland, vets who joined the club in our fourth season; Brandon Fogel and David Spanos, the vanguard of the New Guard, who joined in Season 10, along with Bryan Pravel, who started playing with us the next year; and two members of the current wave, Brian MacWilliams, playing in his second club game--and second game ever--and Braden Lenz, who joined us in Season 13.
For most of the evening, it was the newcomers' night. MacWilliams was holding his own in the East, and Lenz led everyone as Germany--no easy feat considering that one of his Western neighbors was three-time defending Weasel of the Year Brandon Fogel.
The holidays can be dark days for the Poultry of Europe, what with all the feasting and leftovers and general overeating. But the New Year promised a fresh start for Turkey, and guided by the stern hand and steely resolve of #Season14 newcomer Eber Condrell, the yellow pieces splattered the clean slate with the blood of their enemies.
After a two-month holiday hiatus, the Weasels were back in action last week for Red Wednesday at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square. It was just the fifth the game of the season and first since November 14, and a few of the players played as if they were still sleeping off a family gorging. But not Condrell. When Italy employed the Byrne Opening--Venice to Tyrolia, Rome to Venice, named for the postal hobby's fiercest practitioner, the late Kathy Byrne Caruso--and a Western Triple swamped Russia and the Mediterranean, Condrell seized these opportunities to ruthlessly gobble every lightly defended dot he could reach. He finished eating all three of his neighbors in 1904, and belched his way into a 14th dot by game's end. It was an impressive blitzing of three of the club's veteran players.
Game No. 381 ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in the following center counts:
You keep lyin' when you oughta be truthin'
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin' when you oughta be a'changin'
Now what's right is right but you ain't been right yet
In addition to being a catchy jingle, Nancy Sinatra's classic song is filled with great advice for Diplomacy players of all stripes. The song also comes to mind while reviewing the Spring 1901 moves from last Wednesday's game at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square. Specifically, these orders: