Back in the 1980s I decided in the enthusiasm over World DipCon to create and run a true international team championship postal event. It seemed like a good idea and a way to promote the WDC event and promote comraderie among the international hobbyists. It was a good idea, but the execution was far from good.
The idea was that there would be seven postal games with seven player teams, each player playing a different great power in each of the seven games. There were teams from the United States (with players like Edi Birsan, Doug Beyerlein, and David Hood), the United Kingdom (including Matt McVeigh), France (including Xavier Blanchot, Christophe Barot, and Jacques-Henri Strauss), Sweden (including Per Westling), Austria (including Erik Adensted, and two different players named Wolfgang!), and Australia/New Zealand. Edi recalls the seventh team as being from Canada, but I remember it as being from South Africa.
Each team had a captain whose job was to make sure players got their orders in in readable fashion (e.g. in English. He also served as team cheerleader and go-between between me (the gamesmaster) and the players.
It all started out on a high note and seemed to be going well until things started to go bad. Dealing with forty-nine players all over the world using the mail and occasional phone call was tedious and sometimes frustrating. Before long at least one team captain was writing the orders for all of his players. Many of them couldn't communicate with other players in their games because of language problems. There were disagreements on the interpretation of the rules. Before long cross-gaming was rampant and NMRs were increasingly frequent. Some teams played every man for himself. Others worked as a single cohesive unit, as the French and Swedes did. Things were not getting better and the frustrations grew. Despite the best of intentions the event was dying a slow and painful death. After consulting the team captains and key players we decided to call the event over. And so it ended.
I accept responsibility for what happened, but it was just too big a challenge given the limitations under which we were playing. Perhaps a new event with the latest advances in technology and better leadership can do better. I don't know. I do know that anyone trying to organize such an event had better be well prepared and have plenty of time to devote to it. The software doesn't exist to replace a skilled and diplomatic gamesmaster. And a scoring system that satisfies everyone is going to be almost impossible to find.
Still, some twenty-five years later I still count many of those who participated in that event among my hobby friends. The ties are still there. If a new event can do as well in that regard it will be worth the effort, no matter who wins or loses.
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