Like so many other games in our thrilling 13th season, No. 372 went down to the wire last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square.
We drew nine folks for the final tilt in the 2018 Bar Room Brawl Series, including observer Ben DiPaola--the reluctant Diplomat, former Sneak member, and father of the Red Wednesday tradition--and safeties Chris Kelly and Brian Shelden. The presence of the safeties was fortunate, as we had to tap Kelly (France) to make seven. Shelden promptly skulked home for some much-needed sleep, but DiPaola stuck around to watch the game, advise newcomer Joyce Merkel (Germany) as needed, and sneak in some professional development reading. DiPaola slipped out at around 9:30 to buy some cigars for the post-game discussion...so he wasn't present when we needed him to conduct a dramatic draw vote on the penultimate turn.
With all seven players in the game and our impartial observer in search of tobacco, we turned to Founding Weasel Dan Burgess' custom draw cards to resolve the vote. Mike Morrison (Austria) shuffled the votes and then revealed them one at a time, planning to stop on the first green "Continue Playing" card to shroud the vote count in at least a bit of mystery. Alas, the first green card was the last one revealed, so as we played the final year, with Jim O'Kelley (England) and Kelly tied at eight and Christian Kline (Turkey) at seven, we knew someone thought he or she could improve his or her score but could only guess as to whom. (After the game, Christian Kline copped to the green card.)
As 1905 wended to conclusion, it looked like all three contenders would improve their scores. In fact, the odds kept shifting among all three, various combinations of two, and different sprinters alone finishing with nine centers. But Merkel--who had declined the novice privilege of selecting from France and Turkey, and channeled namesake Angela throughout the evening--and the three minor powers had other ideas. The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1905 turn in the following center counts:
Normally, you can set your clock by Chris Kelly's board-tops. Since joining the Weasels in Season 6, he's topped 14 league games, shared or outright. In nine of those games, he landed on eight or nine centers.
A crafty vet who started playing years ago with a group in Los Angeles, every now and then, he'll drop double-digits on you. Twice, he topped with 10. Two more times, he struck midnight. Normally, though, when he tops, it's with a modest eight or nine. You can plan on it.
But yesterday at Brian Shelden's home on the swanky New East Side, Old Clockwork stunned everyone by pealing 13 times.