As Christian has already pointed out, Dip Con 43 was a rousing success. Like him, I will overview the weekend from my perspective. He and I did not play on a single board together.
Like Christian said, we landed at about 10am. I did not know about the ride from Condy until about a day or two before the trip, and a friend of mine gave me some BART transportation passes, so I was glad to take public transit. I was staying until Monday evening, and had to take transit back to the airport, so I figured I’d learn the system early. I took the train to AT&T park, and almost snuck onto the field until the security guard asked where I was going. He was gracious enough to let me take a picture. I walked to McCovey cove to see where some of the HRs had landed. Such a beautiful park… wish I could have seen a game.
After making it back from the park, I walked about a mile to pick up a bus. Sadly the bus made some turns and I had no idea which way I was going. So, instead of being 2 miles from the hotel I found myself 3 miles from the hotel and getting hungrier by the minute. I ended up climbing the Mt. Everest of hills to the Fairmont Hotel where I caught a cab to meet up with Christian, Peter and the rest of the gang.
Harry’s had good food, a nice waitress and the Cubs on the TV. Nothing beats Friday afternoon baseball. A political discussion was brewing on the other side of our group, but the more entertaining part of the group was watching two of our well-known travelers going shot for shot at 3pm. NICE!
I was given Italy to start my tournament. Excellent I thought. I love playing Italy, especially when I want to work my way slowly into a game. The only bad part is when I have an aggressive Austria or in this case, an Austria who had only played the game once or twice. Combine that with having two of Seattle’s best as Russia and Turkey (Matt Shields and Dip Con Champ, Eric Mead), I was dead meat. Peter was France and he and Germany began to work on England. England made some good guesses and fell around 1905 or 1906, but was effectively dead in ’02 or ’03. It was about that time that I began my descent. France and Germany were getting ready to push up to meet the Juggernaut, but Germany dove south into me in Spring 1904 rather than defend against the east. I asked him in the Fall negotiations why he’d attacked, and he smirked back that I was trying to mislead him that Turkey wanted France and Russia to squash him. I dropped from 4 to 3 to 0 in two years, giving France 1 or 2 centers and not being able to hold any of them. (Note: Germany was at 11 and feeling quite confident when he made his move. He finished at 5, while R/T shared a board top at 13.)
I was given France to start Round 2, playing against last year’s Grad Prix champ Adam Siegal in Russia and mostly locals over the rest of the board. I figured with my disappointment from round 1 I could make up some points on this board. Don del Grande in Germany played on my board in round 1 and I knew him to know his tactics, so I quickly asked him to work with me. He seemed to be a loyal player and I needed to have a line pushing into Siegal quickly. England seemed to know the game as well, but I’d pick him to be a newer player, or at least a player who hadn’t traveled before. I proposed to both of them separately that we open with a Western Triple, but I had my sights on eliminating England quickly. I did the standard Sundstrom opening, convoying my army to POR, giving me the option to move to IRI in the Spring, which I did. England was SO mad that I was bordering his one center that he lost ALL concentration of the game, and turned his 5 units backwards instead of following up his attack on Germany. Siegal did a great job trying to show him that he’d gain more by continuing the attack, which showed me how good of a player he truly is. England was gone shortly thereafter, and Don was pushing Russia hard. Turkey got sandwiched by A/I/R, but did a great job defending, leaving me with no enemies for a long/long time.
There were 3 decisions that led to the end of this game. First was Germany not executing an attack on Russia correctly in Fall 1905. If Don would have grabbed NWY or SWE correctly, Siegal can’t rebuild in the north which would have crumbled his northern position. Germany misfired and Siegal maintained strength. Then, in the south during Fall 1906, Turkey, who had clawed back, and Austria had Russia surrounded in RUM and BUL. Each one could have taken one of those centers, but Siegal must have done a great job convincing Austria that it wasn’t in his best interest to attack him. A/T did not attack, Russia stabbed Turkey the same turn. Russia went from a 9 centers to 12 instead of falling to 8. On the same turn, I stabbed Germany to move from 8 to 10 and would have had 5 more in my sights. The last major failing was mine. R/A/F made a deal to finish it off early with a 3-way, but we had to eliminate Italy first. Italy, seeing he was going to be out of a draw, supported Russia past Austria and into his chance for a solo in the south. While doing so, Russia pushed up his units in the north, while I just maintained position. If I would have put pressure on Russia up north, he most likely wouldn’t have been able to hold all of his dots in Scandanavia for long enough. But he did and he solo’ed.
I learned a lot in that game, my first solo again me where I had a chance to stop it. (Maletsky solo’ed on my board last year at WAC, but I was on the back of the line and couldn’t do much about it. This one was different.) I swore I would sleep on that one for a while, going from a possible 250 points, down to 9. OUCH.
On a side note, as we were finishing the order writing on his way to the solo, we teased Adam that he’d have to buy if he solo’ed. We went for pizza and beer afterwards, and to his credit, he did offer to buy. We turned him down, as he had earned his pizza and beer. I grew to like Adam a lot more at Dip Con. I’d never really chatted with him, and I think I had only played on one board previously.
OK, so I had been eliminated and been solo’ed on. Not the way to start the tournament. So I was placed in Germany to start Round 3. Matt Shields was in England. Thomas Haver was in Italy. Buzz Eddy, who knew me as Kevin O’Kelly (no relation), was Russia. I thought that was pretty cool. Everyone else was unknown. Haver offered VIE on the first turn, as Austria was one of the soloists from Round 2. I opened to BOH, but didn’t take the offer as I thought the offer was too good to be true. Haver did write the support, so I guessed wrong there. From that point, Turkey and Italy gobbled Austria while England and I took the northern Russian centers. France was stuck in the middle, and the opposing alliances split up his centers too. It ended with a 4-way because England couldn’t stab me, or Turkey would have soloed. Italy had offered Turkey the centers, but it ended early.
This was my board of death. I was placed in England. Tournament leader at the time, Chris Brand was in Russia. Buffalo was in France. Maletzsky was Austria. Mark (Washington) Zoffel was Italy and Edi Birsan was Turkey. And of all of those players, Germany set the tone. He was a local player who got bored with standard openings. So he ordered to PUR, SIL and DEN… only to not bounce Russia in SWE. Brand was swallowed up pretty hard, as was Germany who did a great job of defending himself. Austria and Turkey pushed hard into Germany and Italy. France got most of Italy’s dots. I had Scandanavia, StP and BER. Because this was a timed round, the play was a little bit different. I had an opportunity to really nail Buffalo, picking up 3. But there was no way to solo and the points for all 7 players didn’t matter that much. Chris had 3 solid rounds. Buffalo, Maletzsky, Zoffel and I didn’t have enough rounds to qualify for anything. Edi might have been the only one who could have improved, but he finished in the top 7, so I guess it worked out.
TRAVEL TOURNEYS and DIP CON
I had a great time at the tournament. Just like when we host Moot, it’s great to find so many people who love the game and love the different styles of play. Undoubtedly, a scoring system debate broke out and other games were played. But like Christian said, if you ever want to improve your game or just play a whole bunch of Dip against other players, a travel tournament is the way to go. Over the next couple of months, here are a few tournaments and locations.
Memorial Day – DixieCon – Chapel Hill, NC
Early June – Massacre – Boston, MA
Late June – Origins – Columbus, OH
Mid July – Husky Con – Long Island, NY
Early August – Gen Con – Indianapolis, IN
Always feel free to ask about traveling to Tournaments or helping with our own Weasel Moot.