the prodigal son returns
The group check their positions before
breaking into pairs ...
... to discuss strategy for the coming
turn in the hallway ...
To Solo or Not to Solo?
After a three year hiatus, Diplomacy returned to WBC.
The WBC Diplomacy tournament has been won by such hobby
luminaries as David Hood, Tom Kobrin, Tom Pasko, Andy Bartalone,
Andy Marshall, Steve Cooley and Rick Desper. After running from
1991-2008, the tournament went away with no GM and declining
attendance. It was reborn in 2012 with fresh faces and a renewed
interest in stabbing your best friend in the back.
event was a three-round tournament held over Friday and Saturday
of the final weekend. Scoring was best two of three rounds using
the convention-friendly Carnage scoring system. The tournament
was scheduled to start at 7pm in a separate room from other events
to give us space to negotiate and make plenty of noise. Ultimately,
the WBC regulars delivered, with 23 committing for the first
round. David Hood sat in during the sign-up as an available alternate
to fill out a board (thanks!). Two players (Hood and Steve Chapin)
opted to sit out the round to provide three full boards of seven.
The most memorable event of the first round was a declined
solo on Board 1. Harald Henning (playing Germany) had worked
solidly with Canadian Wally Hnatiw (England) through the entire
game, with Harald maintaining a multi-center advantage over his
ally. They systematically dismantled Russia and crippled the
French. In Fall 1908, Harald had Germany at 15, while Wally was
at 11 as England. The 18 centers were there for the taking. Harald
knew this and so did the remaining powers (England, France, Italy).
Instead of taking the solo, Harald proposed to end the game in
a draw. A solo would have given him all the points on the board
(28034), a huge advantage in the Carnage scoring system. In a
three-round tournament, a solo can only be matched with another
solo. Harald's reasoning for declining the solo was that it was
the first round, and he wanted to play the other two rounds unencumbered.
"It was a meta-game decision," Harald said, "I
don't want other players coming after me because I won the first
The second round began Saturday morning at 9 am. We had another
special guest arrive for a round: Philly's own Christian Pedone.
Christian had let me know ahead of time he would be stopping
by for a round on Saturday to practice before WDC in Chicago
the following week. The second round saw the initial influx of
French-Canadians to the event. Sylvain LaRose, the 1995 champion,
arrived with his friends. Recently taught how to play, our friendly
neighbors to the North jumped into the game and acquitted themselves
I brought some donuts for snacking as players waited around
and hashed out Friday night's round. Again we were left with
additional players, stuck at 17 with no one else arriving and
no one offering to sit out. Therefore, I had to go with the first
14 people to sign in. I hate to turn people away from an event,
but we can't make the numbers work and have legitimate full games.
The first board eventually turned into a RAT between Robbie Mitchell
as Russia, Steve Chapin as Turkey and Francois de Bellefeuille
as Austria. Francois had a wonderful first game as Austria. After
initially getting pounded by Turkey and Italy, he made good use
of an opportunity when Turkey wanted help to stab Italy. Francois
used his three armies in 1904 to take Serbia from Turkey, Venice
from Italy with Turkish assistance, and Munich from Germany with
French assistance. He built three armies and finished the game
with seven centers. The game ended with a two-way tie for first
between Russia and Turkey.
Christian Pedone drew England on the second board. He picked
up two builds from Norway and Belgium in the first year, but
was just as quickly knocked down in 1902. Harald Henning, who
gave up the solo the prior night, worked the board as Austria.
Together with David Anderson as Russia, the two quickly dispatched
Turkey. Jean-Francois Gagne, playing as Italy, took great advantage
of the discord in the north to slowly pick up centers from France.
Eventually, the combined forces from three powers eliminated
France from the board. As the game was nearing its time limit,
Italy made a stab at his erstwhile ally Austria. Harald was knocked
down from top board position to fourth, giving Italy a decisive
center advantage and first place on the board at 11 centers.
Harald was not pleased with the result, as Italy only needed
one more center to top the board, and ended up taking three in
the final year. Jean-Francois wanted to assure his place at the
top, which ultimately proved a good decision as he tied for Best
Italy with another 11-center board top in the third round.
Pedone never got his England past five centers. Planning to
originally stay for just one round to prepare for World's, he
reconsidered staying for the evening round. After all, how can
anyone leave with such an unsatisfying result with so much opportunity
on the board?
The final round began at 7 pm on Saturday night. We were slightly
delayed by a Britannia semifinal and History of the World Final.
Another longtime GM, Dan Mathias, offered his services if we
needed to make seven for a board. Fortunately this time, we had
just enough for two boards. We quickly set up the games and began
the final round. Our eventual champ, Pedone drew Austria on his
board. We also had an additional influx of new players this round,
but I can't say that was the only reason for one of the most
bizarre Spring 1901 season's I have ever seen. Misorders from
experienced players. Baffling moves from the newbies. A picture
is worth a thousand words (http://www.flickr.com/photos/26210189@N06/7720906892/in/set-72157630921205630).
I have never seen any opening like that.
Pedone's Austria paired with Wally Hnitaw's Russia and Sylvain
LaRose's Italy to wipe out Turkey. When the time came for the
final blow on Turkey, Pedone and Hnitaw denied Italy his promised
center and began to stab. Italy only devoted one unit to Turkey,
sending the rest west towards France. Austria and Russia lashed
out, growing one or two centers every year. Pedone's Austria
eliminated Italy in 1905, and was working on Germany at the same
time. He was spreading his units out in a semicircle for what
would eventually be a game-winning stab. He advanced from 7*
to 9* (* means unavailable build) in 1904, then up to 11 in 1905.
In 1906, Pedone saw his opportunity as Russia and England patched
their differences to work against Germany. Wally Hnitaw's Russia
was fine finishing second on the board to Pedone's Austria, but
it was too late for such minor concessions. Russia was exposed
and Austria stabbed to jump from 11 to 14.
While reading orders for the board during the stabbing turn,
Christian misspoke about one of England's orders. "I'm sorry
guys, I'm just nervous," Chrisitian said, "I just stabbed
my ally to win the game."
"That better have been for the win," said Wally
laughing, "otherwise you just wasted our time. I was fine
with second." Wally was smiling with the orders, taking
the stab better than most would.
After the orders were read, Christian pointed out the remaining
centers needed for victory. With Russia badly out of position,
Wally proposed a concession to Austria for a solo. I conducted
a secret vote, and all surviving players agreed to concede the
game to Austria. Well done, Christian. Congratulations to Christian
Pedone, who with a stab and a solo earned the title of 2012 WBC
Complete scoring for the entire tournament, including Best
Country honors, can be found in the World Diplomacy Database:
The WBC 2012 Best Country Awards went to:
... and then reconvenes to execute
their orders and see who has been stabbed out in the hallway.
A well-staffed prize table courtesy
of GM Tom Haver featured classy Best Country medals replacing
the traditional colored blocks.