Witch Stopped Short in Game 102

John Gramila was good enough to grab Best England from Sam Bassett in Game No. 102, played yesterday at Sam’s home in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood, but he was stopped two short of the magic 18. The game ended after the Fall 1913 turn with the following center counts:

Austria (Jim O’Kelley): 9; 105 points.
England (John Gramila): 16; 207 points.
France (Kurt Kugelberg): 0; 7 points.
Germany (Ted McClelland): 0; 9 points.
Italy (Pete McNamara): 6; 75 points.
Russia (Nate Cockerill): 0; 8 points.
Turkey (Sam Bassett): 3; 45 points.

I’d like to publicly thank John and Kurt for answering our call for replacement players and also Matt Sundstrom for graciously stepping aside when we thought we’d found a third. That player couldn’t make it, however, so I was called in as an emergency replacement. Sorry, Matt. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I won’t ever ask you to sit out again.

We selected powers in reverse order of our standing in the club. Kurt took France; John, England; Ted, Germany; Nate, Russia; Sam, Turkey; Pete, Italy; and me, Austria. The game was really interesting, at least for the first eight years. I had to leave after that. But during those years, we saw Italy twice build three times and once remove three. England also built three times.

We knocked Russia out of the game in 1908, and at that point, with the consent of all the players, we turned over my Austria to Nate so that I could rejoin my plans in progress. Our House Rules actually forbid that, but no one had a problem with it, and we all felt that it was better than the alternatives of playing with Austria in Civil Disorder or turning it over to a reluctant Ashley Bassett, who was a trooper, by the way, as we occupied her home for some 12 hours.

Hopefully the players will post endgame statements. The game was fun, and there was a lot of play remaining when I left.

Here’s the supply center chart.

Join the discussion!

Find out more about an upcoming event or article, talk smack before a game, brag about your board top, or most likely, ask what on earth your fellow Weasels were thinking!

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Pete McNamara

    THINK BIG PICTURE – that’s what Jim kept saying.

    This was interesting game on a number of dimensions. First, it was fun to pick in reverse order standings. I had just played Austria Thursday night so given the choice of Austria and Italy I chose Italy.

    Opening negotiations put me on friendly/neutral terms with A/R/T. There was talk of a Western Triple. After some discussion it seems that Russia might open North. I had agreed with France to keep Piedmont DMZ. Unfortunately, someone (Sam?) told France that I was not to be trusted (well, duh!) I was able to convince Germany to open to Munich,which he did and I opened to Piedmont.

    First year still worked out okay for France as he took Belgium, Spain and Portugal. I ended up with Tunis (with a fleet) and Marseilles with germany support.

    Things between A and I were going well as Austria was keeping busy in the East and there was no Western Triple.

    In 1905 I was convinced by R+T to go against Austria. This resulted in me gaining 1 Austrian Center while also picking up Brest(?) in the west to get to 11 while our efforts on Jim knocked him down two centers. Unfortunately, two bad things happened out of this – I was now board top, with weak outlying positions in Brest and Greece as well as a new enemy in previously friendly Austria. Jim immediately got R+T to work on me while E+G combined to kick me out of Brest. So, 2 turns after going +3, I was down 3.

    One turn later saw England go up 3 and at that point England was in command. His neighbors were all weak and we were still fighting amongst ourselves in the East. Jim and I re-established a good working relationship and this lasted until Jim had to go when 2 things happened for me that wouldn’t necessarily have happened if Jim stayed: (1) I took a dot from Jim and (2) a few of us combined to put Russia out of the game. I am convinced that if Jim was not leaving we would have stayed to work on Turkey instead.

    Anyway, two other interesting things in the game. I TWICE had to units destroyed and then forgot to rebuild them during the build phase. I only have myself to blame as I did most of the center counting.

    Second, this game never would end. We must have had a draw vote every season from 1909 on. It was ridiculous as every player said they were ready to draw, but then it never happened.

    Motivations: England – stated he wanted best England. I offered to give it to him so I could go home but then Sam as Turkey (who by the way held Best England) said he would veto all draw votes.

    Sam – Sam as Turkey could veto in an attempt to deny the Best England but he was in no position to help as he was cornered in Turkey the whole game. Either that or he was hoping that my once mighty 11 center Italy would get knocked down so that I would not improve my standings (I am one spot ahead of Sam).

    Nate – he was playing for Jim’s score. He had the most to gain in terms of centers but stealing from Italy would only increase the chance of an English solo.

    At the end I am guessing it was John who vetoed so he could get best England. John played a nice game as England and seem to have no problems at all building up during the game.

    Thanks to Sam for hosting and to his wife for putting up with us!

  2. Thom Comstock

    I reluctantly call point of order and suggest this game not count for scoring, and that Jim O’Kelley be penalized his top score of the season for allowing the House Rules of the Club to be trampled on.

    Best alternative is not in the House Rules. Talk about spin.

    Prime Weasel Indeed. 😉


  3. Jim O'Kelley

    We’ve been a little too loose with the House Rules this season, particularly the one about power selection (Rule III). Some of the rules may need to be revisited.

  4. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]THINK BIG PICTURE[/quote]
    Ha. And it was significantly harder than it should have been to keep the coalition on point. It was Spring 1906. Pete had just stabbed me for two dots (Greece and Trieste), not one as he indicated. I also lost Rumania to Russia, but I gained Moscow, so I only lost two and still had six centers.

    Pete had the board lead at 11. As Italy. In 1906. The next closest player was John Gramila with a seven-center England. But Pete’s position was weak, and he had two fronts, and the eastern one was really broad. We had the opportunity to take three dots from him, but it would require coordinated attacks against Greece, Smyrna and Brest.

    Russia (Nate Cockerill) was more interested in gaining his fair share of my dots than checking Italy, and he wasn’t wild about allowing Turkey (Sam Bassett) to build. In the East, England (John Gramila) and Germany (Ted McClelland) couldn’t agree on who would get Brest.

    I finally persuaded Nate to work with Sam against Smyrna and with me against Greece. In the West, I brokered a deal that gave my Moscow to England in exchange for his support of the last French (Kurt Kugelberg) unit into Italian Brest. That satisfied Ted, who also supported the move.

    A year after going from nine to 11, Pete’s Italy went from 11 to eight.
    Pete and I eventually resolved our differences, but just as I was walking into Paris in Fall 1908, Pete stabbed me again, taking, I think, Trieste.

    I had to leave at that point, which was a shame, because a) this was an interesting game, b) I was having a lot of fun, and c) I really wanted to repay Pete for a [i]second [/i]stab.

    As I told Pete in our negotiations following his first stab, I felt like stabbing then was a poor strategic decision. The A/I was rolling, with me at eight centers, in Warsaw, and marching toward Moscow and Sevastopol, and him at nine and in control of Iberia, the Mid Atlantic and Brest. We were on our way to big results and a likely three-way draw with England.

    The stab changed the game. It gave him two quick builds, but it didn’t cripple me and it left him with two active fronts and a lot of territory to defend. In the subsequent year, momentum shifted to England, and in the year after that, he took control of the game.

  5. Jim O'Kelley

    Also, one more point on the Best Country awards: They’re for paid-up members only. Best England is still Sam’s unless John pays his dues prior to the start of play on Aug. 14 or another paid-up members surpasses his score.

  6. Thom Comstock


    Something to consider for the Sneak. A scale for season dues, and a decrease/increase for dues as the season goes on.

    Dues presumably play a role in providing awards for the league, supplementing tournaments . . . (and anything else? Possibly the 100th game beer/pizza?). [speaking of which, when I was the unofficial treasurer there was an annual financial report, where can an interested member find this for 2009 and 2010?]

    If a member was a member in the previous season there should be a cut off date much earlier than the last game of the season to pay dues.

    Certainly if a player joins up for the first time (a new club member) right before the season end or mid-season they should get an opportunity to feel the club out and pay dues (perhaps even a reduced fee if the season is half over.)

    Though, paying the dues right before the last game because you believe you are in the lead for an award (when you have been a Weasel the previous season) sounds well lower than Weasel. . .

  7. Jim O'Kelley

    Thanks for the suggestion for a dues scale. Regarding the financial report, I forwarded your request to Treasurer Christian MacDonald. In the meantime, I’ll share the following:

    1) Between the PayPal and Bank of America accounts, we currently have nearly $1,100 in our coffers.

    2) We’re philisophically opposed to using dues to supplement our tournaments. We budget for the two tournaments separately and price them accordingly. Now presumably, if our revenue estimates for a tournament fell short, we’d turn to the club’s coffers before my own, but that presumption has yet to be tested. For WM4, our proposed budget is based on 33 attendees.

    3) We made money at WM3. We haven’t yet decided what to do with the surplus. We’re leaning toward building our war chest for WM6, which hopefully will be hosting the World Championships. For that event, we’re willing to commit club funds if necessary to enhance the experience.

    4) Against the $1,100 in the bank (and any other deposits), we’ll have the following expenses this calendar year:

    * 2010 CODCon Awards. Expected bill of $150.

    * 100th Game Celebration — $126. Six pizzas and 11 drinks.

    * Club Awards. Expected bill of about $185.

    * Weasel Royale Awards. Expected bill of about $63.

    * Weasel Royale Hosting Expense — $60. We’re contributing this toward Dan’s budget for the event.

    * Meetup Site — $144. ($72 already paid for the year.)

    * Website. I believe the domain costs $150 every two years. We’re not expecting a bill this year.

  8. Jim O'Kelley

    …Based on the expenses above, it takes slightly more than 21 paid members to fund our expenses in a typical year. We have more than 30 this year.

  9. Thom Comstock

    Excellent news.

    The Sneak has a wide diversity of talents.

    For what it is worth, I suggest that a wider paid membership at a lower cost is more desirable than a higher paid cost with lower membership.

    I’m sure elements of the Sneak understand the idea and its long term value added dividends.


  10. Christian MacDonald

    I was preparing a long response, but Jim beat me to it as usual (do you do ANY work at your job?). I’ll have a finacial report completed by the end of the month.

  11. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]do you do ANY work at your job?[/quote]
    Ate lunch at my desk. Trying to work now. Leave me alone.

  12. Jim O'Kelley

    [u][b]Sam Bassett, Communist[/b][/u]
    At 11:20 a.m. on Saturday, still only five players were assembled at Sam Bassett’s home in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood. So, I showered, grabbed my stuff, jumped in the car, and, after dropping off Meghan and her visiting college chum at the Printers Row Book Fair, headed to Sam’s for duty as an emergency replacement.

    I beat John Gramila there by about 15 minutes. He thought the game started at noon. The other missing player was AWOL.

    While we chatted and waited for John, Pete McNamara asked me which membership organization I work for, referencing a comment I made in another thread here at [url]windycityweasels.org[/url]. (At least someone is reading.) I told him, and that prompted comments from the gallery about various relatives who are or had been members, along with questions about the membership requirements. I answered these, and everyone got a kick out of the ban on Communists. We had good fun pointing the finger at one another and naming names.

    John arrived, and we selected countries as noted in the summary above. Now, flash forward three or four hours. Pete and I are negotiating in Sam and Ashley’s bedroom, when Pete notices the red and white sleeve of a hockey jersey poking out of their closet.

    Pete is from Lansing, Mich., so he said, “Hey, that looks like a Red Wings jersey.”

    And then, because people from Lansing, Mich., apparently have no boundaries, he opened the closet and pulled the jersey out. But emblazoned on the front was not the Red Wings logo but the letters CCCP.

    “He really [i]is[/i] a Communist!” I declared.

    Damning jersey in hand, we marched back into the living room and named Sam Bassett a Communist.

  13. Ted McClelland

    Ahem. Pete is not from Lansing, Michigan. He is from St. Johns, Michigan, a mint-growing village 20 miles north of Lansing. I’m from Lansing, and I never peeked in Sam’s closet. Because Lansingites have boundaries.

  14. Pete McNamara

    1. Ted thanks for clearing up that I am in fact from St. Johns, the mint capital of the world.
    2. I did feel bad at first for pulling out that [b]CCCP [/b]jersey, but then I figure that Sam since Sam is communist he is probably used to people going through his stuff.

  15. Pete McNamara

    Meanwhile, back to the game…

    I have thought for a long time about Jim’s comment to me that my ‘stab’ of him was not a good strategic move. During the course of the game I wasn’t sure if this was helpful coaching or diplomatic propaganda. Probably a bit of both.

    I was very fearful of Jim stabbing me and was cautious in my dealings with him the entire game. I also felt that I was going to be able to work with Russia as an I/R alliance which I felt better about because R could then challenge England in the North while we kept Turkey (who was quite weak then) and Austria at bay. I knew I was in immediate trouble when Jim was able to get Nate and Sam together. To me that was the key to the game because I lost a potential ally in Russia and was beaten back hard after what was probably a premature grab. Combined with Germany helping France on Brest this was a major setback for Italy.

    The second stab on Jim was only because he was leaving and I wasn’t 100% sure how much longer we would play. If Jim was staying I would not have made that move at all.

  16. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]I also felt that I was going to be able to work with Russia as an I/R alliance[/quote]
    I wouldn’t fault anyone for wanting to play an I/R, but that ship had sailed by the start of 1905, the year of your treacherous and ill-fated stab. 😆 At that point, we had 17 centers between us — nine for you, eight for me. Russia and Turkey had only four — three for Russia, one for Turkey. And I had Moscow and Sevastopol queued up. Russia was no longer a viable ally against England.

    Furthermore, I was going out of my way to make you comfortable with me as an ally. After vacating Trieste in Spring 1901, I didn’t move or build there until I retook it from you in, I think, 1907.

    I’ve written before that my price for a stab is three centers. I’ve certainly stabbed for less, but when I think about a stab, I look not just at the center haul, but also at whether it will cripple my opponent — or at least give me tactical superiority — whether it will consolidate and/or improve my position, and whether it will open a front on which I don’t want to be fighting. Before I pull the trigger, I need to convince myself that the answers are yes, yes and no. Note that I said [i]convince myself[/i]. Like anyone else, during the fast pace of ftf Diplomacy, I’ve made poor choices based on bad assessments.

  17. Christian MacDonald

    [quote]I was very fearful of Jim stabbing me[/quote]

    My sense is that this is a common root cause for many a premature stab. Some comments on this:

    1) if you fear a stab, don’t put yourself in a position to get stabbed. Avoiding a crippling betrayal does not have to involve a “me or him” first strike. Against a veteran player, simply securing all but, say, one centre in a given year should be enough of a deterrent, because…..

    2) most experienced players won’t walk into an ally’s undefended single dot just because they can. Therefore….

    3) make sure you’ve correctly analyzed the board and occupy a position that makes your continued existence valuable to your ally. I believe when Jim is talking about his price for stabbing is 3 SC, what he’s more precisely referring to is his price to stab an ally that otherwise occupies a useful position.

    Which also brings up the difference between a “lie” and a “stab”


  18. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]I believe when Jim is talking about his price for stabbing is 3 SC, what he’s more precisely referring to is his price to stab an ally that otherwise occupies a useful position.
    That’s correct, or close enough. A stab to me is when you’re working with a player for an extended period and then you turn on him at a time when he either doesn’t expect it or can’t do anything about it.

    When two players agree at the outset not to, for example, move to the Channel, and then one does and the other doesn’t, I don’t consider that a stab. It’s a violation of an agreement, sure, but not a stab. To me, a stab implies that trust has been violated and a working relationship cast aside.

    You also hint at something else I wanted to mention. Most veteran players will frown upon a “one-dot stab,” which I’ll define as anytime you take a center not because it improves your position but because you can.

    I can’t take issue, however, with a “one-dot stab” that meets the criteria I defined in comment 16. Oftentimes, defeating an opponent starts with a one-dot stab that gives you tactical superiority.

    Just to bring this back to Pete’s first stab in Game 102, it improved his center count but not his position, which is why I think it was flawed.

  19. Thom Comstock

    All very valuable insights –albeit propaganda for future games.

    Lie/Stab/broken promises/agreements . . . spin . . . all semantics. But, hey language is what it is . . .

    Sure, Jim’s a good (great/master) player. Sure, it’s nice to be his ally as oppose to his obvious enemy. But, it’s a rare occurence when an ally of Jim’s comes out on top.

    The only way to stop this . . . is to learn the game, learn the stalemate lines, and develop strategies ahead of game play that allow you to know what your objectives should be/are in given situations (e.g., what are my first 6 centers ideally, or alternatively).

    You don’t have to be dependent on the ‘experienced’ players.

    An article either in Diplomacy World or elsewhere suggested that you can:

    A. Hitch your cart to a Master Player
    B. Or be the Master Player that hitches carts.

    It is time to stop pandering to the Prime Weasel and show him that even though Weasels you have a backbone.


    P.S. I’d work with Jim, and did until the majority of the club started whining that I was his ‘pet’.

  20. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]albeit propaganda for future games.[/quote]
    It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between propaganda and coaching. Writing everything off as propaganda does a disservice both to the players who have taken the time to share their insights and the developing players who can benefit from them.

  21. Thom Comstock

    Gessh Jim. You take everything so personally. 😮

    Your coaching, and I can attest to it first hand is excellent [b]offline[/b]. And I know [i]your motivations [/i] for coaching –at least the ones you shared privately, as well as publicly.

    And, while you did alot for me –I paid my political dues and fulfilled your stated motivations. You’re the one who decided to let outside opinion influence your in game play ‘jumping me on the board’ so that the rest of the club wouldn’t think “we always work together” . . . not because the board dictated it or it was best play. 😉

    I didn’t write [i]everything[/i] off as propaganda and you clearly have issues with your own word choice. But like I said language is limiting even if you are very deliberate with your choices . . . that’s not my opinion but you can trace it at least from Aristotle. 😛

    Your coaching is not the only way to coach, nor is it the only successful way to play the game. And, if it were the only way to –your way– then you’re universal results though good aren’t as good as others in the hobby (certainly better than mine, but you’ve been playing at least 17 years longer than I have and you’re obsessed 8) ).

    Nobody listens to me anyhow, you’ve assured that [u]and I have too[/u]. :zzz

    Just sit back and relax and enjoy the ride. No need to get your panties in a bunch.

    Your (still) Loyal Dues Paying Weasel Acolyte; (disavowed Former Mentee) and (disavowed Former Off-Board Friend) and (Former Indentured Lackey).


  22. Jim O'Kelley


    How about repaying the favor and letting me know who’s pandering to me so I can try to work with them the next time we play together. It’s been no picnic out there for me recently.

  23. Thom Comstock

    Take me back Jim.

    I’m very good at pandering. :-* 🙂

    I’m pretty good at begging too. :sigh:

    Everybody knows I think you’re the Master (unless Doug’s around).


Leave a Reply

White article icon

More Articles.