Every hero needs a wing man. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Batman had Robin. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. The Cisco Kid had Pancho. And now Nate Cockerill has young Kevin O’Kelley.
Early on in Game No. 239, played Saturday at the Concentric game convention at the Holiday Inn Itasca (which wouldn’t be a terrible location for a future Moot, by the way), it looked like Kevin was on his way to a monster score. His Turkey was at seven by 1903, and Russia–due to newcomer Chris Cantine’s Norwegian obsession–was a vacuum. (After the game, Cantine acknolwedged that he might have been "too persistent" in his campaign for Norway, a failed cause to which he devoted four of his six units in 1902 and 1903.)
Kevin reached eight, but he stalled there and wound up with seven. He spent the last four years of the game helping Cockerill snatch away his board top. On one turn, he even ceded a center to the Big Oozy, hoping to send a message to the player who was secretly voting down the draws. (When the game ended, Tony Prokes admitted to being the culprit.)
As a proud father who wants the best for his kids, I was disapointed with Kevin’s result, but he was happy. After beginning his Diplomacy career just 12 months ago by posting two board tops and a strong second in four games, he had fallen on tough times. Since then, his best result had been one center in the Season Nine opener. He was eliminated at Weasel Moot, the Weasel Pyle, the North American Diplomacy Championship at Tempest in a Teapot, and in the Weasel Royale.
That many eliminations can sap a new player’s confidence, especially when the player is a kid playing with adults.
"I wasn’t trying to win," he told me after this game. "I’m just glad I didn’t get crushed."
One day, I hope he’ll aim higher. For now I guess if he’s happy, I’ll try to be as well.
The game ended by draw vote in Spring 1908 in the following center counts:
France (Tony Prokes): 9; 25.633 points.
Germany (Nate Cockerill): 13; 53.481 points.
Italy (Jim O’Kelley): 4; 5.063 points.
Russia (Chris Cantine): 1; 0.316 points.
Turkey (Kevin O’Kelley): 7; 15.506 points.
The supply center chart is here. Let’s hear from the players.
Next up: It’s back out to Des Plaines for our fourth annual St. Patrick’s Day game and third straight at Tony Prokes’ home. Will the Italians top for a third straight year? We need two more players to make this game happen. Who’s in?