Jim O'Kelley

Jim O'Kelley

Thursday, 18 October 2018 15:40

Royale and Undercard Set

The 2018 Weasel Royale Club Championship Game has been set for the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month at Jim O'Kelley's home in Little Italy. Competing in this year's game to end all games, in seed order, are:

Thursday, 11 October 2018 14:53

A close call

Game No. 378, played last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square, nearly didn't happen. One player, en route from afar, dropped after seeing that we had a seventh without him. But that seventh had never played before and was intent on merely spectating. Meanwhile, reliable standby Christian Kline was stuck at work and uncertain of his status.

"Maybe 50 percent," he told me at 4:35.

Fortunately, he got out in time to salvage the game, which was another tight match.

Playing Austria, Kline jumped out to eight centers in 1902 but was knocked back to six the following year. Bryan Pravel in Turkey grabbed the lead at eight in 1904, the penultimate year, but Ali Adib in England and Mick Johnson in France were on his tail with seven, and Kline still had six. That set up a classic final year, with all four players scrambling for the top.

The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1905 turn in the following center counts:

Thursday, 13 September 2018 16:18

Where he left off

Fresh off his win last month in the Bar Room Brawl Championship Game (not to mention a top-board finish at Weasel Moot), Christian "The Scorpion" Kline kept rolling last night at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square, topping on Opening Night for the second straight year. This top was much more modest than the whopper he pulled off in the Season 13 opener, but it was harder fought. In fact, rather than relying on his deadly sting, Kline showed off other elements of his game. He eked out the board-top with stolid defensive play and a charm offensive. 

The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1905 turn in the following center counts:

Sunday, 09 September 2018 11:02

A 12-Pack of Moot

"All decisions made involving 12-packs work out."--Chris Glassburn

The 12th installment of our Weasel Moot, played September 1-2 in the meeting room at 400 East Randolph, Prime Weasel Brian Shelden's condo building, was like a party pack from your favorite brewer. There was enough variety to please every taste, including one game that only ended after the players were serenaded into submission at a Karaoke bar.

When the fog machine cleared, Eric Grinnell, on the strength of monster board-tops in the first two rounds, including a near solo as Austria in Round 2, was holding the brass ring. Grinnell was playing in his seventh Chicago tournament, and the win was the first of his long and colorful career. All hail the Alpha Weasel mu!

Friday, 24 August 2018 23:26

Let it rain

Christian Kline walked into his first Weasels game--No. 3 way back in January 2006--like a gunslinger. Later that year, in August, the player known as The Scorpion soloed at the first Weasel Pyle to claim the very first Weasel of the Year title. (In its first installment, the Pyle was known as Weasel Moot; we wouldn't attach that name to our premier tournament until the following summer.)

In 12 seasons since then, Kline hasn't stopped shooting. But while he has finished on the podium in our tournaments, topped more than 23 percent of his league games, and won Best Country awards, a second major title eluded him. In fact, the drought dragged on for so long that some wondered whether The Scorpion was trying to fashion his Dip career into a more natural habitat.

And then Tuesday's Bar Room Brawl Championship Game at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square happened.

The drought is now over. Let it rain.

Friday, 24 August 2018 09:32

Mooty Call

The following players have answered the summons for our 12th annual Weasel Moot, the club's premier tournament. This year's event will be September 1-2 at 400 East Randolph. For more information, click here. If your name should be on the list, let us know by commenting below or sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please do so quickly, as we need to submit an attendee list to building security.

An * denotes that the player has preregistered.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018 09:11

Three-peat!

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.

Thursday, 02 August 2018 10:22

Down to the wire

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:

Sunday, 22 July 2018 20:13

All quiet at the boardless game

Using webDiplomacy.net as our platform and armed with laptops, tablets and cell phones, seven of us gathered at Ali Adib's tastefully decorated apartment in Avondale today for his third boardless game experiment. Despite making the effort to play an online game in the same room, Game No. 371 was a quiet affair as we spent much of our negotiating time staring at our screens.

Paradoxically, the high-tech game was something of a throwback. It ended during the Spring 1907 turn in an old-school four-way draw. The final center counts were:

Sunday, 15 July 2018 15:47

The Two Jakes

There was a Jake problem at the Red Lion last Wednesday: Two on the board but only one could top.

Game No. 370 was a nail-biter right down to the final turn. Jakes Langenfeld and Trotta were neck and neck at eight centers through 1906. On the penultimate turn, Langenfeld grabbed the inside track.

"Everyone on the board assumed I had the board-top," he says.

Well, everyone but Trotta ... and, if he can still remember last fall's Bar Room Brawl Championship Game, maybe Brian Shelden.

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