Reflections on the Merits of
Not long after I returned from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I opened some e-mail to discover a letter to the Cat-23 chat list, from Mike Ashland. Mike asked:
What does it take to become the World Champion of Diplomacy?
I thought, "how particularly timely!" and I jotted off a reply, the gist of which was:
Go to the World Diplomacy Championship, wherever it may be held, and win. Simple. I just did it!
This, simple, innocent remark, made totally in a fun and facetious manner, was the beginning of a cycle of hatred, envy, and ugliness, which has not ended yet. Or, as my associate and perhaps only remaining diplo-friend says, "Bummer of a Birthmark, Hal." (This is in reference to a "Far Side" cartoon. Those of you not familiar with the genre might find this enlightening. Two deer are standing in the woods, and one has a "target," concentric circles, on its chest. The other one comments on the unpleasantness of such markings. In America, this passes handily as humor.)
Indeed, there has been more shock and disbelief that I was able to come away with this honor than can at first be accounted for by reasonable means. Initially, the reaction was positive -- good show, pip pip, that sort of thing, -- as evidenced by a post made to the Cat23 list by one Brian Ecton, another legend of the hobby:
CONGRATULATIONS TO CHRIS MARTIN, OF CAT23 FAME FOR HIS 2 SOLOS AFTER BEING WITH US ONLY 5 MONTHS!
HE IS THE WORLD CHAMPION! THE MAN, THE LEGEND! AFTER AN AMAZING SHOWING IN WHICH HE HAD A SOLO AND A TWO WAY!
Cat23 players beware! Chris is on the loose and is most assuredly no joke!
My hat is off to you, Mr. Martin
Soon, however, things took on a slightly different note. Phil wrote
Actually, Blue just pointed out to me that I beat Chris in Dip174 (I am Britain, he France).....my fifteen seconds of fame! (smile)
And Mr. G.A. Flowers:
Be thankful I wasn't in that solo win of yours. Mark my word I would have forced a seven-way draw if I had to.
Then it finally came to a head, when one of the regular members of The Old Republic learned of the victory. His reply:
I return home from a long and difficult business trip in full anticipation of finally seeing my family and enjoying a relaxing weekend together only to see my "friends" trying to ruin it with this vile, heathenistic blasphemy. And here I thought it was illegal to send pornography over the Internet! Some day Tim, God will get you for the things that you do!
It should be pointed out at this time that Tim Richardson is the person named here. Aside from running The Old Republic (the e-zine whose motto is now, "Our players are so good, the World Champion of Diplomacy regularly gets handed his head!" -- I think its a little long, but maybe I'm biased), and maintaining the Face-to-Face section of The Diplomatic Pouch, is Tim also the current Prince of Darkness. This has been firmly established. Please direct any inquiries regarding the PoD to firstname.lastname@example.org, who is currently in charge of all investigations of the PoD's activities, nefarious and (rarely) otherwise.
Never fear, I thought, some of my comrades will leap to my defense. Well, first Ben offered his congratulations:
Hey Chris! Also other former "ADAMites" - call the exterminator. Great news, Chris. Congratulations on your victory.
This only incensed RM further.
Ben, you're not actually buying this charade are you? This is just another sick and evil scheme from the twisted minds of Timothy Richardson, Michael McMillie and, well, you know who ... our "World Champion." It's devised to torment their fellow man. C'mon Ben, let's consider the source of this news!
Unless... you're in on it!!! BEN!!! How could you??? After all we've meant to one another, you would perpetuate this foul concoction with these perverted minds! You've burst my bubble here, Ben. You've rained on my parade. You've pissed on my rose garden. My God Ben, why don't you just tell me that my little sister dates Kennedys!
At this point, the Prince of Darkness, father of lies, etc., etc., stepped into the fray:
Clearly, Roland's under a lot of stress. He's cracked, folks, CRACKED! All this paranoia conspiracy Oliver Stone nonsense when we all know it was ROLAND who conspired two games running to get "Smacko" his two ADAM victories.
And we all know that it's Roland's *daughter* who's dating Kennedys!
Needless to say, this did little to help the situation.
I'm cracked???? I would have to be cracked to believe this! I would have to fall through a crack! I would have to have my head up my crack! In fact I would probably have to be _on_ crack to believe that our little RAT killer, out little one-unit wonder, is "World Champion"! So what does that make Smacko? Galactic Champion?Ouch! It was the one-unit wonder crack (as it were) that really hurt. It is well known in the circles in which I move that I am one of the deadliest players in the game with one unit left. Seriously. Empires have been toppled. Berlin to Kiel! Berlin to Kiel!
Take note, gentlemen, just for future reference, as to how easy it is to work the Beltway mentality and logic into Diplomacy. Notice first the general "Non-denial denial" approach here. Then you call into question your opponents' sanity, shift the blame for the stab, and finally you change the subject. We need to write a book on this, Tim! Hahahaha!
I just want to know three things: whose idea was it, how many of you were in on it and how many beers did it take to come up with the idea? Excellent and interesting try, though, boys. I do appreciate the effort!
Ahem. Sorry, had a bit of a flashback there. I'm better now. Where was I? Ah, yes, RM still believes this is a fiction. Never fear! The Prince of Darkness jumps right back in!
I think this pretty much verifies what I was saying. I mean, such raving is hardly characteristic... Okay, maybe is does sound a little like Roland's old self. The beer had nothing to do with it. I mean, it's not a joke. I am _serious_. Really. Guys... tell him!The Silence was Deafening.
Yeah guys, tell me! See Tim, you haven't managed to corrupt everybody yet. Their silence is selling you down the river! So this was all your idea, huh? --RM
Well, I thought, surely Mike McMillie, my teammate and oft-times conqueror, will set the record straight. He was there. He has an unimpeachable record, and should the situation warrant it, he can try to convince Mr. Peabody to use the Way-Back Machine to fix things so that his account is accurate. Sure enough, he comes to my rescue.
Yes Roland, one of those really sad days in history. Mark it on your calendar, 24 May 98, the day the earth stood still and Mr Martin was pronounced King of the Diplomacy world.
So far, I thought, so good. Smacko was really coming through for me!
(Smacko, for "Soldier Minus Ability, Co-ordination, and Knowledge," is Mr. McMillie's affectionate nickname. Seriously. He's got it on his license plates. No joke!)
But then comes the accounting. Note that, not only does he transpose my first and third rounds . . . well, see for yourself!
Chris pulled off one of those easy boards in round one and wound up having six people fight each other and let him run amok on the board. Then, rather than stand up like men and turn to face the filthy swine, they continued to ignore him until the end was inevitable. No real allies, no need to really diplome, but as luck would have it, they handed him the win. Now that is not to say he didn't have some fun and actually make a tactical decision or two (not to mention he did have to stay up until three A.M. before they conceded the inevitable) so there was some Diplomacy playing involved.
Lies! Scurrilous lies! It was in round three!
In his second round (the team event, where he was supposed to help Tim and me), he was Germany and failed miserably, letting down his teammates (no, I shall not say that he has any friends) who both scored quite well that round (overall the TOR team finished fifth, but if Chris could have ordered something other than 'Berlin to Kiel' and kept up even his home centers, we would have placed better.
Note the petty comments. The daggers are really starting to come out now!
Chris did well in the third round and scored a two-way, again with little opposition. This lead to his big decision. The rules of the road were your bottom score was dropped and the remainder (two or three games) were then averaged to determine your final score. The wimp decided that his round two would be dropped and rather than charge forward like a man he slunk to the corner and let his solo and two-way stand, thinking any other game would only hurt his score. A REAL Dip player would have gone all four rounds (I did) and take his lumps as best as possible.
Lies again! It was the first round! And can he let it stand at that! Noooo! The final blow came at the end, as I suppose is typical for final blows:
I just want to reiterate that in the fourth round, I got to play against John Quarto as I was higher up in the rankings and so was he. I managed to stiff-arm him enough that he could only get a three-way and that was the difference between the Sultana finishing first or second. I should have bagged the last round.
(In the first game I played on The Old Republic, the Prince of Darkness mistakenly represented me as female to certain other players in the game. This has led, as one might imagine, to some, well, humor at my expense. Most recently, I have been tagged the "Sultana of Swing.")
Sigh. All of this for a plaque (un-engraved), a moment of applause, some neat Babylon5 cards (if only I had someone to play against!) and a most-expenses-paid trip to Belgium next year to defend the title. I ask you, is the glory of winning the World Diplomacy Championship worth the back-biting, the second-guessing, the infighting that have been the result of it? Is it worth the "target" that is now painted on my back wherever I go? Can it possibly be worth the whispers, the "yeah, I can take him" comments, and all the aggravation caused by the young dip-slingers who are constantly seeking to challenge "The Champ"?
Well, yes, of course it is. What else would you expect after winning a Diplomacy tournament?
If you wish to e-mail feedback on this article to the author, click on the letter above. If that does not work, feel free to use the "Dear DP..." mail interface.