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The Weekly Weasel — Week of Oct. 21

It’s Royale week, and here’s the latest news from the Weasels.

The Witching Season
The Witches cleaned up in Game No. 223, played last week at Guthrie’s Tavern, scoring more than 78 percent of the points. Check out the game summary and reaction from the junior witch.

Red November
We’re going to open November with a game at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square. Join us Nov. 6 for an evening of Dip and Drinks. The game will start at 6:30 p.m. and end no later than 11.

Need One More for the Undercard
We’re once again holding an Undercard game at the Weasel Royale club championship. At least we hope to. The Undercard has become a fun and important part of the Royale festivities. Indeed, in three of the past four years, the Undercard board-topper went on to qualify for the next year’s Royale.

 

As of press time, we have six players, plus Dan, who prefers to host but would serve as a reluctant seventh if necessary. How about doing the club a solid and signing up so that Dan can do what he does best–fetch us drinks?

Handicapping the Weasel Royale
We had so much fun handicapping last month’s Bar Room Brawl that we’re back to do the Royale. Before we get into the players, here are a few interesting facts. Ted McClelland undoubtedly will scoff at these as numerological nonsense, but lesser gamblers like myself will want to take note.

First, the fourth seed has won three of the five previous Royales, including three of the past four. Josh Heffernan is this year’s fourth seed. Will he make it four for the four?

Second, the first seed has only won once. Nate Cockerill fought hard to retake the top spot on Season Eight’s final day. Will he regret it?

And third, each of the past three champions has won in his third attempt. We have four first-time participants this year, and none of the other three fits the bill perfectly. But this will be Jim O’Kelley’s third attempt since he won in 2010. Will he continue the trend?

Okay, and now the players.

The first seed is a man of many monikers, but for this game, we’ll simply refer to Nate Cockerill as The Favorite. Nate is on a roll. He’s the defending Bull Weasel as last year’s Royale champion, and he’s also the Season Eight Weasel of the Year. In his first outing of Season Nine, he soloed. In a bar game. A bar game. And he followed that up by winning the North American Diplomacy Championship on the strength of another solo. The Big Oozy is playing some great Diplomacy.

Of course, he’s been playing good Diplomacy for a long time now. Nate joined the Weasels in March 2010 and since then has played in 72 games, the second highest total in the club. He’s topped 16.83 of those games, also the club’s second highest total. In the past year, his success has translated to the big stage.

The big question now isn’t whether Cockerill can defend his title. It’s with what country will he choose to defend it?

The second seed is no stranger to big games. This will be Matt Sundstrom‘s fifth Royale. And the Royale remains this missing piece of his grand slam. Sundstrom has won CODCon and the Weasel of the Year award twice each and Weasel Moot once.

He’s the club leader in board tops with 17, a whopping 29.31 percent of his 58 eligible games. The Season One vet is third all-time in games played with 69. (We didn’t start scoring games and tracking board tops until season Four.) He plays all the countries well, but like most of us, he has his favorites. With the second seed, he should have a good choice. Will he finally complete the grand slam?

In stark contrast to the first two players, the third seed started playing Diplomacy in March 2012. Not Diplomacy with the Weasels, Diplomacy period. Brad Harrington learned to play in a recruiting game at pal Tony Prokes’ home. He topped that board. A couple of eliminations followed, but he shared second in his fourth game. And then he turned a tough board at Sundstrom’s home last December into his coming-out party. He posted a monster board top with Austria.

Harrington completed his rise on the second-chance board at the Weasel Pyle in August. He finished that game with a strong second to vault into third place from back in the pack. Harrington now has played eight games with the Weasels. He topped two of them, but he has no tournament experience. How will he handle the biggest game of his career?

The fourth seed is another newcomer to the Royale. Josh Heffernan joined the Weasels in January, but unlike Harrington, he had played the game before. He learned it in China of all places, playing with a group of Canadian ex-pats. They taught him well. In his first game with the Weasels, he topped going away.

Heffernan has topped 1.83 of his 10 games with the Weasels, having also shared board tops in a bar game in May and at the Pyle in August. And he’s been tested in a top-board format. He played in last month’s Bar Room Brawl, where he finished a strong second and even threatened to steal the win in the last turn of the game. He’s ready for the Royale. Is the Royale ready for him?

The fifth seed is Kevin O’Kelley, the Young Wolf, who just turned 13 last week. Kevin played for the first time on a lark last March. We were having trouble filling a board at Tony Prokes’ home, so I recruited Kevin and another kid to round it out. And it turned out the game – if not all its finer points – was in his nature. He finished in second with a score that held up as Best France until the final day of the season.

In his next game the following week, he topped the board as Italy. Another board top followed in June, this time as Germany.

Since then, the Young Wolf has come down to earth. He’s totaled one center in his last two games with the Weasels. Still, he topped two of his five league games. He also has more tournament experience than Harrington and Heffernan. He played a round each at DixieCon in May, Weasel Moot in June, and the North American Diplomacy Championship earlier this week.

Kevin is still learning the game, and his best days clearly are ahead of him. Can he recapture beginners’ luck, or is he in for another tough lesson?

The sixth seed is Don Glass, a hobby veteran who first learned about the Weasels while playing at Origins in 2008. Glass joined us at CODCon the following year, where he took Best Austria and finished seventh. But it wasn’t until August 2009 that he played his first league game with the Weasels. Since then, however, he has climbed into the top 10 in games played, holding down the ninth spot with 39.

He has taken his lumps. He lost seven of his first 12 games with the Weasels and has been eliminated 14 times overall. That’s the sixth highest number of eliminations in league play. (Cockerill is third at 17.) Glass didn’t top a board until his 17th game. But he topped two more games in Season Eight and now has three.

As the sixth seed, there’s a pretty good chance that Glass will end up with a central power, but playing in the middle doesn’t bother him. His tops have come as Austria twice and Germany once. Can he top another board in his first Royale?

I’m the seventh seed and am the only player to have competed in all six Royales. I kept that streak alive by the slimmest of margins this year.

I’m the all-time leader in games played at 83, and I’m third in board tops with 13. My topping percentage is 22.81.

I won the Royale in 2010 and was Weasel of the Year in Season Seven. Last month, I won the inaugural Bar Room Brawl Championship. I also have the most top-board experience. In addition to the five previous Royales and the Brawl, I’ve played on the top board at WAC three times and at GenCon once. Will that experience help me here?

So there you have it. It’s a good field with four new faces. Two of us have won before. By this time next week, we’ll have either our first two-time winner; our first completed Grand Slam; or a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Bull Weasel.

Upcoming Games

  • Oct. 26, the Undercard game at the Weasel Royale, starting at 11 a.m. Have six (or seven if we force Dan to play).
  • Nov. 6 at the Red Lion, starting at 6:30 p.m. until no later than 11. Have one.

Sign up for games here, on Meetup, or by emailing your faithful War Weasel (which is North American Champion Nate Cockerill, nathancockerill@yahoo.com for the time being).

Important Dates

  • Oct. 26: The 2013 Weasel Royale club championship and the Fifth Annual Undercard Game.

That’s all for this week. See you next week when we’ll introduce our new Bull Weasel.

Jim

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