John Gramila’s beard

On the fast and furious first board last night at Diversey River Bowl–a new location for the Weasels and the future home of Weasel Moot XI (June 23-25!)–the center counts were as capricious as John Gramila’s beard. All three Westerners experienced wild and unruly growth only to have their leads vanish a year later.

Chris Kelly (France) climbed into the lead at six centers by 1902 but was back at three in 1903. Brian Shelden (England) nabbed three centers in 1903 to take the lead at seven but lost three the following year. And Matt Sundstrom (Germany) took two in 1904 and had the lead at eight, but was down to seven and tied for second by 1905.

Special guest Chris Martin (Russia)–the 1998 world champ and three-time Alpha Weasel, not Coldplay’s frontman–managed to avoid the wild swings despite misordering F St. Pete to the Barents Sea in Spring 1901. He weathered the swirling west winds and eventually climbed from five centers in 1903 to a board-topping 11 by the time limit after the Fall 1907 turn. The final center counts for Game No. 331 were:

Austria (Bryan Pravel): 0; 0.000 points.
England (Brian Shelden): 3; 3.571 points.
France (Chris Kelly): 1; 0.397 points.
Germany (Matt Sundstrom): 6; 14.286 points.
Italy (Jake Langenfeld): 7; 19.444 points.
Russia (Chris Martin): 11; 48.016 points.
Turkey (Chad Carson): 6; 14.286 points.

The entertaining supply center chart is here. Martin, who lives in the DC area, was in town on a sales visit and may be back. By the end of the night, he was awfully interested in the Bar Room Brawl standings. Carson, meanwhile, was playing his first game with the Weasels but is no stranger to Diplomacy. He found us on Meetup.

Speaking of John Gramila, he and his beard showed up about 30 minutes late, which is not bad for Gramila time. His tardiness coupled with the presence of two of the club’s most deliberate players in Ali Adib and Christian Kline meant that Game No. 332 was anything but fast and furious. We managed just five game-years by the time limit. The final center counts were:

Austria (Gus Spelman): 3; 5.000 points.
England (Jim O’Kelley): 4; 8.889 points.
France (Brian Sheridan): 5; 13.889 points.
Germany (Brandon Fogel): 3; 5.000 points.
Italy (Ali Adib): 6; 20.000 points.
Russia (Christian Kline): 7; 27.222 points.
Turkey (John Gramila): 6; 20.000 points.

Again, the supply center chart is here. Although the pace of both play and growth was slow, it was still an exciting game. In the final year, Kline, Adib and Gramila all had equal chances to top. 

Sheridan was playing his first game ever. He saw us playing at the Red Lion a couple of weeks ago and spent much of the evening shadowing one of the players. We’re glad he joined us.

So it was a good night for the Weasels. A couple of new guys, an old traveling friend, two more boards–our sixth two-board bar night of the season!–and a great new venue that’s going to be a fantastic home for Weasel Moot XI. Can’t wait.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jim O'Kelley

    Chris Kelly deserves the credit for the title of this article. On our drive home last night–which, in hindsight, may have been the worst route I’ve ever selected–he compared the wild lead changes with John’s beard: There one day, gone the next.

    1. Chris Martin



  2. Chris Kelly

    There’s a famous saying that history is written by the winners, and when it comes to Diplomacy game recaps, I generally think that’s how things should be. But since no one else has weighed in with the details on this one, here’s how it looked to someone who wound up on the short end of the center count.

    My plan as France was to negotiate a strong DMZ with Italy, then open hard against either England or Germany. I eventually decided on a Sea Lion, but Germany had no interest in joining in when the Russian misorder mentioned above left him a free stroll into Sweden.

    In fact, Matt never had any intention of allying with me, having arranged for Italy to take Munich on the condition that he build 2 fleets and attack France. So Italy would be an enemy instead of neutral, Germany neutral (at best) rather than an ally, & there I was in the Channel, annoying England into building F Liverpool. Not ideal.

    Trying to salvage things, I pitched England on joining me in a Mediterranean counterattack. But Turkey failed to pressure the Ionian (as I’d hoped) despite an alliance w/Russia, leaving Italy an extra unit to defend Tunis and still ensure taking Marseille.

    Not unreasonably, England reacted to my declining usefulness as an ally by taking a center or two for himself (getting 3 builds as a result of some simultaneous good fortune in Scandinavia). But as his victims (myself included) counterattacked, he lost all 3 the next year.

    As Jim notes above, Germany (Matt) was the also-temporary beneficiary of this swing. I’m still not sure how Matt choreographed a plan for Italy to attack France but apparently had no arrangement to work w/England (or w/Russia against England). Perhaps the Russian screwup that left Sweden open scrambled everything.

    The other strategic “mystery” to me is how Italy was able to devote its full strength to attacking France even as an RT alliance was eviscerating Austria. My impression is that Russia/Turkey intentionally stayed out of Italy so that it could go west; if so, well played.

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