Solo win prevails ...
GM Thomas Haver instructs Daniel Fahrenthold,
Dan Shmueli and Andrew Sherwood
Matt Calkins and John Stevens discuss
their relative positions while others adjourn to the hall.
The Diplomacy tournament at the WBC was back for the
second straight year after an extended absence. Much like last
year, the tournament was a three-round event held over Friday
and Saturday of the final weekend. Tournament scoring was best
two of three rounds using the convention-friendly Carnage scoring
system, which relies on board rank rather than draws. The revamped
Diplomacy tournament also uses quicker timed-rounds and
order writing periods to move the game along so players can keep
their WBC schedules intact. In addition to the plaques provided
by the WBC, we had seven best country awards to give away as
well as boardgame prizes. We were pleased to have 28 players
this year, with many familiar faces.
Round 1 featured three boards in Kinderhook with a new hanging-light
setup to improve visibility in the room. Board 1 was a back-and-forth
affair that saw DC-area player Sachin Singhal square off with
tournament veteran Richard Bliss and WBC regular Evan Walter.
After some (planned) miscommunication between Austria and Italy
that resulted in Austria with no builds in 1901, the duo of Evan
Walter (Austria) and Andrew Sherwood (Italy) dominated the eastern
side of the board. Despite Bliss' (Turkey) best efforts to rally
the board, the Austrian-Italian duo held on to finish the round
tied at board top with eight centers a piece.
Over on Board 2, game designer Matt Calkins (England) and
ally Kevin Lewis (Russia) carved up the board with surgical precision.
Both powers started strong, teaming up to eliminate Germany after
Russia worked with Austria to eliminate Turkey. England easily
topped the board with 13 centers, while Russia came in second
with 10 centers. On Board 3, defending champion Christian Pedone
(England) was engaged with Jason O'Donnell (Italy) and Steve
Boone (Russia) in a bizarre affair. There were multiple misorders
on the board, resulting in a likewise number of TD rulings. Eventually
the players settled down into a three-way draw for first place
among England, Italy and Russia at seven centers.
Round 2 began promptly at 9am on Saturday morning. The same
as last year, I brought the players coffee and doughnuts for
the morning round. Two former Best Country award winners, Wall
Hnitaw and Robbie Mitchell, returned for the morning round. Both
gentlemen ended up on the same board with Christian Pedone. The
morning coffee and aggravating result from the prior night gave
Pedone all the motivation he needed, as his Austria allied with
Turkey & England from the start to sweep Russia from the
board by 1904. Italy was seemingly along for the ride from the
beginning, but the Austria-English-Turk alliance was too strong.
Germany fell to the trio in 1906, followed by France in 1907.
Finally, the hammer came down on Italy in 1909, leaving only
the three allies in the game. That's where the game ended, with
Robbie Mitchell's England at 14 centers, followed by Christian
Pedone's Austria at 12 centers and Sachin Singhal's Turkey at
In contrast, the other morning board was more slowly developing.
By 1906 no player had more than 6 and no fewer than 4 centers.
A Western Triple emerged from the start with little benefit,
but a fierce defense led by Jason O'Donnell's Turkey stymied
the triple, leaving the board seemingly in stalemate. Frustrated,
the Italians and Austrians turned on each other, opening the
way for the Western Triple to pounce. Italy was eliminated in
1907, with the benefactors being Matt Calkins' Germany, Richard
Bliss' France and Jason O'Donnell's Turkey. The game seemed destined
for another three-way tie for first place, but Matt Calkins made
a late-game stab of France to jump to ten centers, sealing his
first place rank and another board top.
Going into the final round, Matt Calkins had a clear lead
with two board tops in a best two-out-of-three tournament. A
few players with solid Round 1 and Round 2 scores were hoping
to claim another board top with more centers to overcome Matt's
lead. With an uneven number of players, Matt demonstrated the
same grace that had defined his play in the tournament by electing
to sit out. On the first board, Robbie Mitchell (Austria) was
challenging Christian Pedone (Germany) and Jason O'Donnell (Russia)
for a board top and an opportunity at knocking Matt from the
top spot. Christian's Germany ran into Russia from the outset,
which proved a costly mistake as he was gobbled up by an England-France
duo from behind. Eventually, O'Donnell's Russia flipped the allies,
and working with rising star Kevin Lewis (Italy) swung the board
in their favor. Russia topped with ten centers and Italy finished
second with seven centers.
The final board of the tournament was witness to the shifting
alliances and posturing that is common in a last round. Players
are vying for honors and the WBC championship. Two early alliances
formed in the game: Austria-Italy and England-France. Both pairs
managed to effectively eliminate (Russia, Turkey) or hinder (Germany)
their targets with ease. However, the true game began when the
four powers were competing for Best Country awards. Given the
prior scores in the tournament, it was impossible for Austria,
Italy and England to all receive Best Country honors. They could
not afford a three-way tie and walk away as all winners. France
was eventually knocked out in 1908, but there was tremendous
argument over who would top the board. The game became locked
in a stalemate, with neither side willing to budge. As the midnight
deadline approached, the discussion grew more agitated. Eventually,
the Italian relented and offered England assistance, as it became
clear that England just needed to wait out the clock to board
top. This gift was further turned into an outright offer to help
David Rynkowski's England achieve a solo. So it was in 1909,
with the Fall turn beginning before midnight, David wrote the
orders to grab two additional centers, bringing his England from
16 to 18. A solo victory for England.
As with any Diplomacy tournament, a solo victory means more
in scoring than any other result because it is a win -- a rare
occurrence in Diplomacy. Typical board tops will net you 7000
points plus your supply center count in Carnage, whereas a solo
earns you 28034 -- all the points on the board. On the last turn
of the last board of the tournament, David Rynkowski snatched
victory. Congratulations to David, our 2013 WBC Diplomacy
The WBC 2013 Best Country Awards went to:
As always, a picture is worth a thousand words, so 142
pictures would be worth ....
Richard Bliss, Evan Walter and Otis
Time for the negotiations to begin
away from the table.