Rob between WDC 2007 champ Doug Moore (left) and WDC 2006 champ Nicolas Sahuguet (right)
Well I went to Canada with a heavy heart. I left my family at the airport at 8:30am and I didn't want to go. I will never forget the look on my little boys face as long as I live. It was killing me. I very nearly said stuff it and went back home. I don't travel well alone. Where the hell were you Kenny? Needless to say they ran out of VB a long way short of the US.
So I get to Canada and it is 8:15am the same day. I have hardly slept on the plane and have been searched twice by US customs even though I only went to the US on may way to Vancouver. They fingerprinted me and then let me get back on to the very same plane and sit in the very same seat.
Nathan, Mike and Laurent were great with answering any queries I had and it was fantastic to walk through customs and straight to the bar to meet Len Tennant (a champion bloke who should be commended for all of the help he gave the out of towners.Hurrah for Len).
I had a few days up my sleeve so I stayed a night at the backpackers and spent a bit time at the beach (where I finally got some sleep). Up at 3:15am thanks to this thing jetlag and straight to the beach for a walk. The next few days I got to see every sunrise and enjoy ed some great weather. Toured around a bit and eventually on the Thursday rolled up to the tournament for round number one.
I am allocated Germany and the only person I know is Don Del Grande. So naturally I tried to ally with him. We battled hard but it is tough to get a German/Turk alliance to work (even for me). Russia is a bloke by the name of Phil Burk (A top quality guy and unfortunately for me a bit of a drinker). England is a young kid by the name of Narek who did not speak much and was very hard to work with but as the tourney went on he came out of his shell and I was so happy to see him smiling and enjoying himself even though we killed him. France was Greg Duenow and also a bloke who doesn't mind a beer and having a bit of a laugh. Jim O'kelley was the Austrian and I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him (he just looked too comfortable with his own skill). Again unfortunately another bloke who doesn't mind a drink.........Damn. It wasn't going to be easy to play with all of these new people but I would just have to see what I could come up with.
So what to do? Obviously I needed to form a plan. So I start to think of one......... time passes....... Nothing......... more time passes............ nope still drawing a blank....... Eventually Phil asks me about Narek (We don't want to kill the young kid do we? He says). B******t! I reply (or something to that effect). Someone is going to do it so we better do it first. I ally with Russia and France to get rid of Narek and we did. So my back is safe and Jim O'Kelley can't be trusted to keep Tyrolia and Bohemia empty. It isn't a bad start and I get the better of a game divided in two halves, North and South. I finish equal top with Jim on 11 centres each. There is no doubt that Greg was lucky I am not the killer I used to be or he would have been in deep trouble but I liked the guy and he didn't deserve to be killed. I refused to play the scoring system and go for an outright lead at the expense of a good ally. We head off to the pub and that's when the fun really starts. I had a top night and recommend to everyone that when these guys come down South for a game make sure you meet up with them and help them out....but....don't play poker with any of them.
The next day I am rolling up feeling a bit ordinary, at some point, I don't know when. I think this was the day Phil decides to reward me with something called "Gin and Tonic" from a plastic cup. I don't normally drink this stuff but it tasted a bit like busted glass and petrol. It will flatten your tyres for a bit but it will also keep you going. Thanks Phil.....you bastard! Probably the second worst idea I had was to wash this down with a somewhat warm "Kokanee" (Canadian beer) from the fountain (courtesy of Mike Hall). I may have been drinking this in the arvo but I was still on Aussie time. Then it hits me......My plan. These guys are stuffed. I am 17 hours ahead of them. I already know what is going to happen because it happened yesterday for me. I just have to remember what I did yesterday.........time passes........ Nothing......time passes....shit. Better find a new plan.
The board. I'm England. Rick Depster is France. Tim Harrison Germany. Guenter Hopf is Austria (Guenter came out with the proposal to have World dip con in Austria in a beautiful looking castle and I support the idea it looks like it will be great fun). Faissal Kassam is Italy. Emmanuel Du Pontavice is Russia and Brad Basden as Turkey. I started this game by chatting with the Turk to find out how much pressure the Russian would be under. I am struggling to remember much more about the game other than the fact I found it very tough and time consuming. I was having to do a lot of negotiation to get even the tiniest amount of agreement on any moves. I didn't trust anyone as I did not know anyone and I thought I was in for it. Some how I held off the Russian/German/Frenchman and was able to fight my way back to some sort of a decent score. The draw couldn't come quick enough and the brain needed a rest. There was obviously potential to play on due to the fact no-one was anywhere near 18 but at the time I was happy to draw and have as many people included as possible. There was still an afternoon round and time for a quick beer or two before it.
The biggest two problems I had encountered were the fact that I was in a strange land where I knew virtually nobody but everyone knew me. I reckon I heard the following at least a hundred times.... "Oh! I know you. You're an ex world champ. To which I started to respond "Rob will do". The second biggest problem is all of the new players. It takes a few seconds to get a feel for someone and their level of diplomacy but it takes a long time to find out their motivations. I was expecting Canadians to be allied together but the fact was there where so many US players there they knew each other as well. Not to mention a French contigent who I later found out were from all over the place.
So with these problems in mind I moved on to round three.
I consult with my team mates. Mike Hall has an 18. I have two good results and Chris Brand is like a lead ball and chain dragging us back.
Mike and I read Chris the riot act. Give him the team spirit lift he needs and at the end of the day he has a 13 and a 9 to his name but now it's Mikes turn. He sits out a round and follows it up with a two. I however manage to accumualte solidly and our team isn't looking too bad. There is only one problem. For some reason people are getting 18's left right and centre. One in heat one. One in heat two and in heat 3 a 17 and 16 which under this scoring system are exactly the same as an 18. Our team is doing well but to win the team effort we will have to pull out some amazing results.
My game begins and I am Russia, England is Doug Moore(the soon to be new world champion), France is Mitchell Wagizuer, Germany is Chris Young, Italy is Adam Lang, Tukey is James Istvanffy and Austria is Yann Clouett.
My plan is to try and find an ally. The enemies will come I won't need to find them. With four countries on your border and the fact that I don't know any of them it makes it very hard to have any real plan. After talking with Yann and Adam though I tried to get an AIR alliance to knock out Turkey and attack Germany to start with. Unfortunately the lads weren't prepared to be that bold. I started to work on the German about Sweden and thought to myself I am in a lot of trouble here as he simply wouldn't commit. The English is talking fairly favourably and I list him as fourth on my enemy list. The Austrian wants a bounce and I have to agree. Turkey was also not to be trusted. He also wants a bounce and I have to agree. So the orders get read out. The Turk goes to Armenia and the English are a concern. In the fall the mad scramble goes ahead and I somehow manage to convince Chris (Germany) to let me have Sweden. He seems fairly inexperienced and wqas difficult to work with but he did let me in so I will try to work with him. The English however just keeps enough pressure on me up North. He never goes for St.P. but he never needed to. When the German and the English kick me out of Sweden I disband the fleet in the North to try and buy some time and sell my soul. Fortunately the Englishmen decides there are easier fish to fry. The whole time the North is sorting itself out I am working fairly well with Yann as Austria and I manage to keep the Turk out. Eventually the shoe is on the other foot and Turkey falls mostly to me. We all agree to a fairly placid draw. Doug tops the board with 9 and I have 8. It was a tough board with a lot of diplomacy and again for me a pretty good result. A good alliance with Yann and Adam saved my bacon and I simply could do nothing about the Englishman due to the fact I had to concentrate so hard in the south.
So it's time to talk to the team. I am starting to understand the scoring system and to me if I want to make the top board I am probably better off stopping at this point. The way it was explained to me you just had to play in at least three rounds and if you were in the top 7 points wise at the end of round 5 you get on the top board. Of course the one problem with this is, I was there to play diplomacy and was not interested in sitting out the next two rounds to then play the final if I had enough points (I was fairly confident I would have enough points but I am not sure. If someone wants to figure out if I did have enough. Feel free and let me know). I really wanted to keep playing with all of these new people as the dip is so different and new.
So I get allocated Italy. This was without a doubt the best game of dip I have played in years. I did finish on zero points but let me explain why I thought it was my best game of dip. Austria is a young bloke by the name of Grant Smith. France is vincent Carry. Turkey is Tom Kobrin. Germany is Mark Zoffel. Russia is Alex Amman and England was Andy Hull. I talked and talked to everyone.
To begin with Vincent and I agreed not to bother each other as Vincent thought he had an EG problem. He was right. They allied from the beginning to the end and were totally unbreakable. They both ended with a 14 but one of them could have had an 18 they just stopped diploming with me at the wrong time (don't get me wrong they both continued to talk but that was all it was. Just talk.). They may have thought they had another way to get the 18 or maybe they just didn't want one but I was amazed I couldn't give one to either of them. I had come to the conclusion that people were giving 18's away as it simply didn't matter. If you get 0 for being knocked out why not get 0 in an 18 and ensure everyone else in the 18 gets 0.
We had a long way to go though before we were ready to talk 18's. In the beginning the German didn't want me in Tyrolia and the Austrian was scared of this too. So Venice held. In the fall I put the fleet into Tunis and the army in Apulia held. I didn't trust the Austrian and he had moved back into Trieste and thus gave up Galicia. In the next turn the Austrian allowed me to go to Tyrolia and follow to Venice. I now had a second fleet and moved to insure I could stop Tom in Turkey. Tom was extremely shifty and I did well to pick him in the beginning (I think). Of course it is guess time for the Austrian and I am trying to give hime the best advice so that we can work together. Unfortunately he doesn't follow my adivce but does the right thing and bounces out the Russian. I am happy about this but the Austrian simply doesn't seem to believe me when I say I am genuine. As soon as the timer starts everyone on the board wants to talk to me and this is where I thought I played my best dip. The English want to know if I am going to affect the war in France. The German wants to know why I am in Tyrolia and Venice. The Russian and Turks also want to know why I am in Tyrolia and Venice. France simply wants any assistance I can offer. So with a fleet in Ion to cover that end. One fleet must go to France's aid. The army in Tyrolia moves to Bohemia and the other follows it up.
The next turn is more of the same all the other 6 players are wanting to know about the units in their part of the world. Austria is getting more and more nervous and this is where my problems begin. I am having to spend far too much time trying to keep the Austrian happy and calm. I move into Bohemia and fall back into Venice. I move to assist the French while at the same time trying to stay in a 3 way with the English and Germans against everyone else. This was a three way that could not fail because none of the other 4 had a clue I was actively working it. Of course there was still lots of time to opt out of it or buy into it completely.
Next turn I move into Galicia and am asked by the Frenchman to cover Marsielles for him. This means now that the army in Venice is needed in Piedmont. I am gaining centres at the request of other people. It doesn't get any better than that. Austria and I have worked well together. We have kicked the Russian out and pinned the Turk in the corner but Grant continues to get more and more nervous and conservative and I am struggling to keep it going. He seems to think that my one army in Galicia can do him harm even though it is actively keeping the Russians and the Turks off his back.
Next I get into Rumania. I also have managed to consolidate with the Frenchman and he is stopping the E/G or at least slowing the E/G down.
I capture Spain again at the request of the Frenchman.
Unfortunately it is about this time I make my mistake. Due to the fact the Grant is so nervous we stopped attacking and tried to simply hold off the Turk and the Russian. We should have pushed on into bulgaria but we didn't. Eventually I lose Rumania. We can hold a line against the E/G but it now requires an Austrian army to stay in Piedmont and support me in Marseilles. France is down to one fleet in Portugal and my fleets are in Spain and the West med. The English have men coming but we could hold him off. Then it happens. Austria decides to simply run for his home and defend only against the German. When he leaves Piedmont that is the end for Port/Spain and Marseilles. It also means that Turkey and Russia may have places to go. Mark does too good a job on the Russian though and Tom is just doing what is best for Turkey. Time ticks away and the diplomacy becomes pointless. I am talking to everyone still but the battle lines are drawn and no-one is interested in any sort of plan apart from the Russian and the Austrian in forming a stalemate line. This line will never hold though as Grant wants to move into Tyrolia and bohemia instead of sitting in his home centres. He leaves his back totally exposed to Tom and Tom just starts taking centres of him and the russian. We are doomed. A few turns go by and France and Austria cease to exist. Russia and I are on 3 and Tom is on about 6. Totally cut off from the only troops I can work with (the Russians) I simply shake his hand say well played put my orders in the box and go downstairs to the pub.
I come back a few hours later to find some people upset that I went to the pub. The german is most upset about it but I am still not sure why. Maybe he was going to talk to me next turn and stab the English for the 18. I don't know. I told them all there was no point in staying and wasting my time so I left. This did mean that the TD had to do my retreats as my country went into civil disorder but big deal. The rules cover this. I could have told the TD I was going to the pub but I didn't think of it and I didn't think it really mattered. O'Well as Mark said we will have to agree to disagree on that one. As I said this was my best game of Dip for the tournament. I was totally involved in all parts of the board with every other country and the Austrian and I were close to pulling off an amazing game of balance of power diplomacy. It was a shame we didn't get there but it is only a game. In the end there was only the E/G both on 14 with 46% of the pot and Turkey on 6 for a negative score losing almost 2 percent of his ante.
I usually don't remember too much about my games but I did remember this one. Maybe because I was so involved everywhere with everyone and really having to work my butt off to stay in the game. A fun game but in the end all for nothing.
Off to round 5 for a new start. The beers are tasting good and I can
smell blood in the water.
Hey look, I just learnt how to cut and paste so I don't have to tell everyone who played what countries. You can see the resulting scores; but how did we get there?
I didn't trust Austria; he wants an A/T. I didn't trust Russia, he wants an R/T. I am also wary of Italy as he wants to work with me in an I/T. This is a new feeling. At every board until now I have been struggling to find an ally and now it looks like I have heaps of them. Nathan tells me he is just wrapped to be playing a game with me and he seems genuine but he is in France and it will be a long time before we can affect each other much. Michael was gone so fast I can't even remember what he looks like and Eric was gone pretty quick too. Dan was a nice bloke and I was glad to see him make the top board. The game went in pretty straight forward way. I shafted the Austrian and when the Russians and the Italians struggled to make headway against the French and Germans I gained little bits and pieces. With Nicholas I tried everything I could think of to break up Nathan and Dan but we just couldn't do it. It looked for a minute like we might have when Russia and I did a fake stab to allow Dan and me to grow but Nathan threw his pad into the window and yelled very dramatically at Dan and they rejoined forces ( I still don't know if this was just I show but I suspect it may have been). It didn't matter to me as I simply got more points at Nicholas's expense and he had so few it didn't really matter to him anyway. Rob as Italy played a very sensible game of balance to insure that me and Nathan couldn't cut him up and so at 11,11,8,4 there was nothing else to do but go and drink yet more beer.
The interesting bit to this game was the pidgeon.........but that's another story. Trust me it isn't that interesting but let me say this "No wildlife was harmed during the course of this game"
It is at this point that they read out the top 7.
It is going to be tough to make the top 7 without an 18 and I didn't have one and everyone was telling me that people were getting them back at the convention while I was in the pub. If you look at the overall scores for the boards it only lists two 18's but there is a 14,two 16's and a 17 that were all awarded 100 percent of the pot. The equivalent of the 18. How a 14 is equal to an 18 I will never know but that is just another scoring system debate.
I did have 4 excellent games and one elimination (in the game I called my "best game"). Equal top of the board in two of them with 11 centres (one worth 37.9 the other worth 37) and second by one centre in the other two games (again different points allocated due to the complexities of the system). As I said earlier I think I may have made the top board if I stopped playing the games after the third round. If this is true I don't like the system at all. I don't like a system that encourages people not to play.
I am sure some of the things I have said will cause much debate. Debate is good. Debate in good faith if you must but keep it in mind that it is just a debate and we will not all agree. The organisers of the tournament did a great job. I had a fantastic time and met some wonderful people. Many of whom I will see again in my country if they get here. I have offered my assistance to a heck of a lot of them if they ever do get to Aus and have even offered a select 20 or so a bed at my place if needed when they do get here.
They read out the top 7 and I am not there so I toddle off to my board to meet them.
Again. How cool is this cutting and pasting?
I am now on a board with two people I have actually met in the tournament and this makes things a bit easier. I have a plan and that is to try and work with Rob and try and teach Chris a trick or two. Since I had played with them I thought this to be only fair. I can't win the tournament now so there is no point in the other 63 of us trying to win so I guess this round is just for fun. ( My thoughts here are that "Second aint worth shit if you really want first"). France-May surprised me. I thought she would be a female Yann Clouet but he hasn't taught her all of the tricks yet (still very easy on the eye and a good laugh). Gihan was a nice bloke and we ended up sharing a meal and a few beers afterwards but he was to clever for me in the game (and possibly himself). Andrew Nick was damn good, too good. He had to be stopped because he and Charles were going to wipe the board with the lot of us if we weren't careful. This obviously meant Charles was very good as well. Rob and I did well to half work together but maybe we should have done better. Our units never really worked closely enough. If we had worked correctly Gihan would never have survived. As a result I would have to say I made a bit of a mistake in this game that probably cost Rob more than me. I think it may have been because I think that this game is a waste of time because I am no longer in a position to win the tournament. We finished up our game in a funny hidden draw system that again has its pros and cons and all headed off to the pub. Chris was very bubbly and seemed quite happy with the game and I hope he got something out of it. Thus the game wouldn't have been a waste for him.
I don't know if these scores counted towards the teams event or not but Chris and I finished strong topping our board but poor old Mike fell away with a 2. It had started oh so well for him with an 18 but following that with a 7 and a 2 obviously wasn't enough to get him to the top board. I don't know why he played only the four rounds. Maybe if he reads this he can drop me a line and let me know. Did he think he had enough points from his three games to make the top board? Only he knows.
Whether they counted or not we didn't do too bad. An Aussie, A Canadian and a half Canadian/Englishman managed to finish in fourth and stop the Americans from finishing 1st,2nd,3rd and 4th.
We came back at 3pm as requested by the organisers to find out the results and see all of the awards.
Again the organisers did a great job. There were so many awards I was nearly sober by the time they had finished giving them out. There was a film maker wandering around the whole time so hopefully we will get to see some of the footage in the future.
To all of those who helped me out with travel and accommodation I thank you.
To Sean Colman and the sponsor of the Australian diplomacy tournament that so generously gave me the flight to Canada, thank you.
To all of the people I met and got to play a game with, thank you.
All the best and I will see you all again sometime when you get
|Your Trusted advisor,|
|(Or "P.E.S.T." for short)|
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