A Review of the Don Challenge Cup

From the Winner's Perspective

By Will Black

Woke up Wednesday morning, finished packing, checked e-mail, sent text message to Kazel to say that I would be picking her up at 11, left home. We had a great plane ride, great service and much wine was drunk, they started running out, Kazel beat me five games to two at chess -- and she is a girl!

Arrived in Melbourne, had the worst service ever from one of the cafes in Southbank, the waitress took Kazel's order of an OJ and then left the table. I was a bit stunned at first and then thought, "I bet she comes back with two OJ's". About 5-10 mins later the waitress comes back to the table with you guessed it two OJ's, I ordered a flat white and she walked off with one of the OJ's.  Went back to Spencer St Station to pickup our bags and wait to be picked up by Tristan. Then had the worst
fries and pie you could ever imagine. Jason picked us and we were off to Tristan's place.

Thursday went to the "Milk bar" to purchase Tram tickets and we were off to the Botanic Gardens. A perfect day lots of sun and of course plants, and even bats that were hanging in the trees in Fern valley. Later Tristan, Dugal, Rohan, Susan, Kazel and I went out to Frost Bite, and then the Metro later on, which looked like a hang-out for local 13-14 year old girls.

Friday Tristan had a day off and we went to St.Kilda Beach for a brunch at the Stoke House and then some window shopping.  Then to Southbank for a coffee and some more window shopping.  Meet up with Brandon, Pox, Rob, and Criag at Lygon Street, Cafe Trevi to be exact, 296 Lygon Street actually, for some free wine. Then Cramers for the pre-tournament dinner, great food and a fantastic turnout.

Saturday and first day of the tournament. First round Jason was England, Rob Stephenson France, Pox Italy, Craig Sedgwick Austria, and I was Germany.  Rough board
you better believe it! Many discussions were made in the first round between Jason, Rob and I about forming a three way. I was kind of happy with this, but not that happy. I argued that me getting Belgium in the first year would be good for us and they agreed with me. As the game continued Rob was flooding into the Med and Jason was
smashing the top of Russia. I was trying to break through the middle but Craig had a good wall up there.  About mid-way through the game Rob was trying to keep me on side as he was about to get through the Med and warned that I should watch out for Jason. Jason was on side and wanting to know where I wanted to go next. Craig was wanting me to attack Rob and have a three way with him and Jason. Pox was not eliminated. At one point in this game it felt like I was in the middle and Rob, Jason, and Craig were surrounding me, all wanting me to do something different. I finally decided that Jason and I should try and eliminate Rob. I got Paris and Brest and he got Portugal before the draw was called and I had a great start to the tournament with a nine centre Germany.

Round two Jimmy "The Knife" was Germany, Bill France, Ken Russia, Geoff Austria, and I was England. England is probably my favourite country so I was not unhappy about the draw. First thing that Jimmy said to me was a three way and that was not suprising as we had two new players in Italy and Turkey so an AR might be on the cards. So we agreed again that Germany should get the three builds in the first year to make a bid at Austria, but in doing so he let Russia have Sweden, which I was not a
fan of. In the spring of 02 Ken moved A Stp-Fin A Mos -Stp thus having three on Norway, which didn't out number my units but it was an anti-English move to say the least. I was in the Skag and had A Norway, F NWG, F NTH and put it to Ken that I was not that interested in attacking him and his moves in the north were just stopping him moving on Turkey and making gains there and that he should support me into Denmark and move the two armies back. He agreed and I got into Denmark and Convoyed my army in Norway to Holland to take two centres off Jimmy, ouch!!! Germany folded pretty quickly, so much so that Ken had enough units to stop me at Stp in the north and hold Berlin. I started my fleets south and tried to take Belgium off Bill but he covered it and was going to build a fleet in Breast so I agree to a draw and finished on a nine centre England.

That was a great day to start the tournament, two top of the table finishes and only one unexpected move form the opposition.  Brandon even suggested that I might win the tournament on the way back to his Motel.  I said, "I was a bit nervous and didn't think that I could get the big score that was required"  I knew that Frank was 100+ points and Rob Stephenson was looking good in his alliance with Goffy in the second round. When Pat and Goffy arrived back at the motel and said "we have a tournament" I knew that Rob had also soloed. So after day one :  1st Rob Stephenson, 2nd Frank, 3rd Rob Hadley, 4th Pat B, 5th Me. I was dreading drawing Turkey tommorow.

Tristan, Rob H, Jimmy, Dugal, Kazel, and I went to the Twister for some dancing after we left a game of no-press dip were I was a 10 centre Germany, and Rob H was on a 10 centre Turkey. I drove there and back. Driving in Melboure was an experience in itself without having a drunk Jimmy The Knife in the front seat beside you.

Sunday and Round Three arrived dead on nine o'clock to find only the TD there. Took a seat and waited for a bit.

Round Three draw:  David Blom was England, Pat Brennan Germany, Richard Orme Italy, William Higgins Austria, Tristan Russia, Ken Turkey, and I was France. Pat and I had a quick early talk and decided to stitch up England. David wanted a three way and was going hell for leather to smash Russia. I opened what Brandon calls the worst French opening


Pat moved


David moved


Great openings and the east looked like it was a AI against an RT. Pat was worried about losing his best Turkey so he wanted Tristan to attack Ken.  I was worried that the alliance between Ken and Tristan would not break up. The AI alliance was good and I hoped that they could break the RT.

I build two fleets in the first year and managed to convince the Italian to stay where he was and not stop helping Austria against the RT. My Spring 02 moves were

F SPA (sc) - MAO
A POR Hold
F MAR - SPA (sc)
A PIC Hold.

England A Norway Holds, F Nth - Skag, F Bar S A Norway, F Edi - Nth. Germany F Den - Nth, the others moved around in a circle to get F Ber -
Kie.  Thus I had London on a plate and no fleet in the North Sea.  In the Fall I moved

F SPA (sc) - MAO

Build A Paris as I was still a bit worried about the one to four advantage in armies that Germany had against me on the mainland, even more so because I was also going to
convoy my other army to Liverpool the next year.  03 saw me get both Liverpool and Edinburgh off the Englishman who had was on a vacation in Scandinavia. I still had to convince the Italian that I was not attacking him anytime soon and that he should stick with helping Austria. In 04 when I left the MAO to go to the NAO he agreed and
started a real assault on Turkey.  I didn't stop there I went to the NWG, NTH, Pic, Bur and started a think about taking some of my alliance partner's centres in Germany itself. I took Belgium and Holland, he didn't even cover Holland. I also had Norway, Sweden, and Stp to get easily in the future. Germany was willing to walk out of his centres and so I took Kiel in the spring and moved with no support into Munich in the fall, but he tricked me and took Kiel and Munich in the fall.  06 Italy started attacking me and there was only one move that he could have gotten through but he missed it and I put up a solid wall and took Norway, Sweden and Stp in time. This put me on 13 centres and Germany on 4 centres. Counting back now I think I played the last few years with a unit down. This was because my fleet in NAF was destroyed and I forgot to rebuild it. An extra fleet in the North may have got me 15,16,17 but eventually Pat put a good argument towards me to draw, so I did.

I did some calculations and worked out my score to be 114.5 and with Rob Stephenson and Goffy in a solid AT alliance I thought that the tournament was
Rob's.  But wait there is more!!! Goffy solos as Turkey and leaving me unsure about his score I at one point thought I was going to finish second or even third behind Rob also. The prize giving was a nervous time. I managed to bet Rob Hadley out of Best France that was a surprise in itself. Kazel won best Novice with a Loss(7), 7, 9 - a great first tournament, I lot better than my first. John started reading the placings from last to first, and yes Goffy I did jump a bit when William Higgins was read out!!! Then it came to the top 3, 3rd Rob Stephenson,  2nd Andrew Goff and now I knew the tournament was mine and Goffy was the first to congratulate me as he walked back with his trophy. 1st Will Black, I was so overwhelmed that I lifted the trophy and left the spotlight and didn't really have anything to say, you could say that I was lost for words.

I few people that I wish to Thank:

Tristan for letting Kazel and I stay at your place and for showing us around and being a great host.
Jason and John for oganising and GMing a fantastic tounment.
Kazel for convincing me that loaning her half of her plane fare was a good idea.
Brandon for all the things he has taught me about the game and the motivation he has given me during the year from hell.
Rob Stephenson, Jason, Tristan, Pox, Bill Brown, Jimmy, Ken, Pat Brennan, Richard Orme andWilliam Higgins for making my games both fun and mind bending.
David Blom for having the weakest English defence I have seen in a long time.
Everyone that played in the tournament for playing in my first tournament win.

I can not promise that I will be at the Australian Nationals in January, but if I can I will.

Will Black

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