by Sergeant François Chevalier
as scribed by David Norman

Are you an avid fan of the Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Diplomat puzzles? If so, these probably aren't for you… You should be able to solve all of them in a couple of minutes. However, if you're a beginner, and find all these tactics a little difficult, then just for you, here are five simple tactical Diplomacy puzzles.

Bonjour, mes amis! I am sure you have all heard of Inspector Clouseau — pride of the Sūreté — for his escapades have become famous through the world, as they have been chronicled in a certain series of films. However, you may not realize that he too is a player of our favorite game: La Diplomatie.

It was to evaluate his prowess in this regard that I was first assigned as liaison between the Inspector and Chief Inspector Dreyfus, who (for reasons I do not entirely understand) prefers not to deal with Clouseau directly. I was told to present certain scenarios to the Inspector, as a test of his cleverness. Perhaps he could advise Monsieur le Président on foreign affairs, joining the august company of such luminaries as Yann Clouet, Vincent Carry, and Nicolas Sahuguet!

So, at the Chief Inspector's urgings, I went to his bureau, and posed these little tactical problems as though seeking his advice on my own behalf. His answers were delayed somewhat; he unfortunately tripped while taking out his set, and we had to spend considerable time picking up all the pieces. And of course there were the ones he swallowed by accident — but we managed to replace those with centime pieces of various denominations.

And so I began with the first little problem the Chief Inspector had suggested…

1. Defending France

France: F(Lon), A(Bre), A(Par), A(Mar)
Germany: F(ENG), A(Pic), A(Bur)
Season to play: Fall
You are: France

You have been caught out of position by Germany. Germany can attack Brest or Paris with support, and your units in Lon and Mar are too far away to support them.

How can you guarantee to keep Brest and Paris this year, against any possible German attack?

When I described this situation, Clouseau did not hesitate:

Clouseau: But, it eez obvious! Order Army Brest to support Army Paree in place. A static defense is always best!

He then managed to knock over the board before I had a chance to point out a few problems with this solution. But perhaps you, cher lecteur, have already seen them for yourself — and come up with a better answer?

In any case, I did not contradict the Inspector. As soon as we had set up the board again, I moved on to the next little scenario…

2. Italian Infiltration

France: A(Par), A(Pic), A(Bel), A(Ruh), A(Mun), A(Mar)
Italy: A(Bur), A(Pie)
Season to play: Fall
You are: France

Italy has managed to sneak a unit into Burgundy, and unfortunately, you haven't got a unit next to Marseilles to support it. You can cut Burgundy, but Italy might use that as the moving unit (or of course, he might use Burgundy to support Piedmont in).

How can you guarantee to keep Italy out of Marseilles this year, against any possible Italian attack?

This time too the Inspector answered quickly, though I could not escape the feeling that he was at least momentarily unsure of himself.

Clouseau: Euhm... you must trick the Italian! He must attack with Piedmont and support with Burgundy so you can cut it, or all is lost. There eez no other way!

So strongly did he feel that he punctuated this last statement with a sweep of his arm for emphasis. Unfortunately, part of his coat sleeve was caught on the corner of his desk; so as a result he tore it into two parts. But retaining his composure, he suavely concealed the torn clothing by putting his hand into his jacket à la Napoléon, perhaps in hopes of maintaining a similar level of dignity to that of the great Emperor.

Of course, this minor distraction did not prevent me from realizing that there might actually be a better answer, one that does not depend on the Italy's goodwill. But I did not bring this to the Inspector's attention, as he was already occupied.

Having dealt with his wardrobe malfunction, Clouseau turned his attention to the third question in the test:

3. Mediterranean Stalemates

France: F(Mar), F(GOL), F(WMS), F(NAf)
Italy: F(ION), F(TYS), F(Nap), A(Tus),
A(Pie), A(Ven), A(Tyr)
Italy owns Tunis.
Season to play: Fall
You are: Italy

France is pushing for the solo. He's got you slightly outnumbered in fleets, although you've clearly got the army advantage!

How can you stop him making any progress? That is, how can you stop him getting a unit into Pie, Tus, TYS or Tun, against any possible French attack?

Once again, Clouseau did not hesitate:

Clouseau: Voyons — use Fleet Tyrrhenian to support Fleet Ionian into Tunis, and move Fleet Naples to Ionian!

I was about to bring his attention to the flaw in this approach, but he seemed so sure of himself that I had not the heart. But I am sure you have noticed how this defense could go wrong if France issues certain orders, dear reader! And I am sure you can think of a foolproof plan that eliminates the risk.

Having focussed enough on the French theatre, I turned to a scenario set in the East, as the Chief Inspector had instructed me to do:

4. Turkish Defence

Turkey: F(Con), F(Smy), A(Ank)
Italy: F(Bul/sc), F(AEG), F(EMS), A(Syr)
Season to play: Fall
You are: Turkey

Italy has you outnumbered, and is slowly pushing you back. However, from your negotiations, you've found out that Italy is ordering:
F(Bul/sc) - Con,
F(AEG) s F(Bul/sc) - Con,
A(Syr) - Smy,
F(EMS) s A(Syr) - Smy

Given this information, how can you hold all your home centres this turn?

Sadly, Clouseau was convinced that there must be more background to this question:

Clouseau: Where is ze Russian? Ze Austrian? You cannot defend against such an attack without allies!

I tried to explain that knowledge of Turkey's moves was enough to counter them, but he confidently assured me that the Sultan could not survive without help from some other quarter. However, I am sure that you can see how I was correct, non?

He began gesticulating wildly again, to the point that I feared some other mishap would occur. Before it did, however, he realized that I could now see his torn sleeve again, and quickly thrust it back into his former position concealed inside his jacket. I took advantage of this time to set up the fifth problem:

5. Holding Rumania

Turkey: F(BLA), A(Bul), A(Gre), A(Tri)
Russia: A(Rum), A(Gal), A(Vie), A(Sil), A(Lvn)
Russia owns Rum and Sev, Turkey owns Ser.
Season to play: Spring
You are: Russia

You are under attack from Turkey. From your negotiations, you've found out that in the Spring, he will be ordering A(Bul) - Rum, F(BLA) s A(Bul) - Rum, A(Gre) - Ser, A(Tri) s A(Gre) - Ser.

You can easily stop him taking Rum in the Spring — just support it with Gal, But if he gets into Serbia then he will have three units to attack it in the Fall. So how can you ensure that both Rum and Sev are still yours at the end of the year?

Once more, the Inspector was convinced that there must be more going on

Clouseau: Again, allies are ze key! I will win over the Italians with my natural charms. Where are zey?

In vain I tried to persuade him that Italy's situation need not play any part in securing Rumania; but he would not be moved. I am sure that you can see it yourself; but the Inspector became so excited when I suggested otherwise that once again, he forgot about his sleeve and started gesticulating wildly once more. This time he knocked over an inkwell onto the board; and our strategic discussions perforce came to an end.

When I reported Clouseau's answers to these questions, Chief Inspector Dreyfus positively rubbed his hands together in glee. He thanked me, and then called to arrange Clouseau's participation in a game before le Président the next day. I believe his intention is to have Clouseau make a fool of himself and be thoroughly discredited.

That seems possible, and yet… somehow I have a feeling that the Inspector may bumble his way through. He always does, one way or another.

That will doubtless be a great disappointment to Dreyfus; but as we say in France… c'est la vie.

David Norman

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