Season 14 concluded with a Pyle held just before Thanksgiving, as we shift our season to coincide with the calendar year. This was also the first Pyle to be held at our favorite watering hole, the Red Lion. This year's edition saw Clockwork Chris Kelly complete his late charge up the standings to claim his first Weasel of the Year. Chris topped his last three boards to claim the title. Cori Neslund won the Amanda Baumgartner Rookie of the Year award.
Here's how the games went down:
Old Clockwork Chris Kelly tolled 11 times at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square on Wednesday night, both turning in another board-topping performance as England and also getting the club back on schedule after a slow September. Game No. 393 ended by time limit after the Fall 1905 turn in the following center counts:
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:
WACCon, the Diplomacy hobby's most sophisticated and, in my opinion, best tournament folded its tents after hosting the North American Diplomacy Championship in 2014. Dubbed Ultimate WAC, the send-off featured a roast complete with an Elvis impersonator. It was an epic weekend, even by the impossibly high standards of the WAC team: Mark Zoffel, whose membership in Seattle's posh downtown Washington Athletic Club grants us access to the venue and whose generosity keeps the cost reasonable for attendees; Nathan Barnes, the hobby's greatest showman; and Matt Shields, a Portland resident whose Tournament Director credentials are so impeccable that the Seattle team drafted him long ago to run their events.
Sadly, Ultimate WAC, as the moniker suggests, was the end of an era. ... Until now.
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: