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Brandon Fogel entered Season 13's final day of play with a tenuous hold on an unprecedented third straight Weasel of the Year title. His three closest pursuers also were playing at the Weasel Pyle, and any one of them could unseat him with a strong result. A poor showing by Fogel, thus hurting his sparkling leftover average, would make their jobs even easier. So the stakes were high.
But one does not win a Weasel of the Year title, let alone two in a row and a Royale championship to boot, by blanching in the face of high stakes.
Season 12 was so massive that it couldn't be contained by a mere 12 months. The annual season-ending Weasel Pyle, our club's oldest and happiest tradition, spilled into Labor Day weekend this year, making the 2016-17 year the first to be book-ended by two Septembers.
That wasn't the only first for Season 12. For the first time, the event was held in the city at Founder Jim O'Kelley's home in Little Italy after a memorable 11-year run at Founding Weasel Eric Brown's Castle Brown in bucolic Wayne.
We also set a new record for players at 84 while tying our previous high for games played at 44. Meanwhile, we fell just short of our all-time high for new recruits of 49, set in Season 7. We introduced 47 players to Windy City Weasels Diplomacy this year. Some of them are quick studies who have already elbowed their way into the club's rising Young Guard.
But back to the Pyle, we had four boards on the day, with one being a late-starting second-chance game. A total of 24 players participated in the games. Three of them crashed the Royale party by capturing board-tops: Matt Sundstrom, Christian Kline, and Prime Weasel Brian Shelden. Members of the club's vaunted Old Guard, Sundstrom and Kline advanced to the Royale from the same board at last year's Pyle. This year, they did it from separate boards on different floors.