Living on the Razor's Edge ...
As CD of WBC and its predecessor for the last 25 years
I have had the privilige of watching many dedicated GMs strive
to keep their event robust and relevant in the ebb and flow of
the convention's evolution as the following of old classics erode
and fall victim to the cult of the new. All bring different levels
of competence and devotion to the task before eventually surrendering
to the inevitable. Many are motivated by self interest and maintaining
the relevancy of their favorite game while maintaining a platform
for their own achievements. Others are more altruistic and seek
only to preserve the tournament for others. Those who love Diplomacy
tend to be in the latter camp as Diplomacy tournament directors
rarely play in their own events to ensure their objectivity—aside from an occasional role as an eliminator replacement to
fill boards out of necessity. Thus, it is refreshing to have watched
the degree of dedication Thomas Haver brings to this event as
a non-playing GM. Not only does he sacrifice his time without
the gratification of playing the game, but he funds significant
prizes and refreshments for his players out of his own pocket.
Once upon a time, WBC regularly hosted one of the largest Diplomacy
tournaments anywhere and in 2000 hosted a World Dip Con which
is still one of the largest such events of all time. Those days
are long gone, but Thomas is to be congratulated for his efforts.
No one has ever made more of an effort to support such a classic
The Diplomacy tournament celebrated its fourth year at WBC after a three-year hiatus, and we managed our best year in the last hurrah of the Lancaster Host. Given the aggressive tournament schedule of many WBC players, the Diplomacy tournament is run as best two rounds out of three on Friday and Saturday of the final weekend. Once again we used the "Carnage" scoring system, which relies on board ranking rather than draw size. This allows our tournament to move along briskly while being time limited. Along with the plaques provided by WBC, the GM provided seven Best Country awards as well as several game prizes.
Before Round 1 began, an offer was made to the assembled players: how do we award the extra game prizes? We provided six copies of "Road to Enlightenment", a game designed and published by WBC attendee Dirk Knemeyer. In previous years the games had been given away for exceptional performances on the board: topping the board or getting smashed. This year the players decided how to give them away, and they chose first player eliminated, with the caveat that the players must go down "fighting" as determined by other members of the table. With that matter settled, Round 1 began.
The tournament started with three boards. As per tradition, snacks were provided. Many folks played in the tournament after participating in the teaching session just a few hours prior—a neat trick for a classic as old as Diplomacy. The boards contained a mix of experienced and new players, with experience (mostly) winning out in this round. On Board 1, Steve LeWinter did a masterful job of piloting England to an 11-center board top. He was joined by long-time player Paul Konka, who managed a 7-center second with France. On Board 2, several new players faced off against the triumvirate of Jay Boring (Austria), John Stevens (Russia) and Ron Fisher (Turkey). Trevor Schoenen, who made his first tournament appearance last year, put up a valiant fight as Italy, but ultimately succumbed to the alliance. Christina Harley opened strong as England by going to the Channel, but the move proved fatal as Russia opened north and blocked her from gaining any builds. Like Steve LeWinter, John Stevens pushed Russia to a board top. On Board 3, great back-and-forth play saw Diplomacy-master Rex Martin and two-time defending champion David Rynkowski square off with many new faces. Emily Wu's England also opened to the Channel, which put David (France) on the defensive for the entire game. However, the board top came out of the east, as Keith Boone (Turkey) cooperated with Isaac Clizbe (Russia) to eliminate Austria. In a hotly contested game, Keith claimed top board with a nine-center Turkey.
Round 2 began with our annual tradition of coffee and doughnuts to make up for the early morning start time. The second round also had three boards, with many players from Friday night returning for another chance at glory. On Board 1, the game started with a Western Triple (England-France-Germany alliance). The eastern block reacted almost as quickly, but poor Italy was wiped out within the first four years. As the game drew to a close, Germany (always Germany in a Western) was knocked down by allies. Likewise, Jim Mason (Turkey) took advantage of open centers behind-the-line and jumped to a board top. Over on Board 2, it was an alliance between Helen Powell (England), Tom Good (France), and Amber Martin (Italy) that lasted nearly the entire game. In a strong Eastern push, the two corner powers colluded with the West to attack Austria. On one Fall turn Austria was attacked by Turkey, Russia, Italy, Germany, and France. Max DuBoff (Austria) took the attack in stride and immediately earned himself a game even though he was not eliminated, just for the impressive feat of being attacked by five powers at once. On the third board, it was the western alliance of Keith Boone (England) and Trevor Schoenen (France) that won the day. Keith once again played elegantly, and Trevor showed more of the growing talent he displayed at last year's tournament, his first as a player.
The third round again employed three boards, an excellent turnout considering many WBC Finals are underway at the same time. Pizza and drinks were served to celebrate another successful year of Diplomacy. In Round 3, we had prior champ Nick Benedict (Russia) make an appearance on the first board. Like all true Diplomacy champions, he was working the board hard from the beginning. However, it was Steve LeWinter (Austria) who made the most progress early, working with his Italian ally Scott Fenn to gain (and hold) an early lead. Rex Martin (Turkey), who won Best Turkey last year, was targetted and eliminated first. Steve ended up board topping with an 8-center Austria. On Board 2, Amber Martin (England) teamed up with John Stevens (France) to roll the board. Stevens, an experienced and talented player, assisted Martin in her first tournament. However, by the end of the game, Amber had proven to be a force-of-nature (perhaps those Martin family genes). Only time stoppage prevented a better score from England and France. On Board 3, Jay Boring (France) was running the show from beginning-to-end with ally Schoenen (Germany). Once again, defending champion David Rynkowski (France) found himself the victim of the champ's curse, beset on all sides. When the game was called by time, it was France and Russia sharing a board top.
With two first place finishes, both Keith Boone and Steve LeWinter deserved a title. However, there can be only one champion. By a single center—one center!—Boone bested LeWinter for the shield. Both players only participated in two rounds, so they had no drop scores; that is living on the razor's edge in tournament play. Congratulations to both players on an excellent and well-played tournament. Next year we will be back at Seven Springs, with increased round times and an implementation of the European C-Diplo scoring system. See you then!
Defending champ Dave Rynkowski
has his orders read by GM Tom Haver.
Emily Wu and Amber Martin attempt
to prove Diplomacy is not a man's world.
The WBC 2015 Best Country Awards went to:
Steve LeWinter & Keith Boone
As always, a picture is worth a thousand words, so 97
pictures would be worth ....
By Email 2015
Christopher Lee of Peoria, AZ won the Second BPA PBeM Diplomacy
Tournament over a field of 35 players contested in 18 games.
A Solo (17 centers) win counted as 15 points, a two-way (12+
centers) win as ten points, and a three way (9+ centers) win
as six points. Country survival without being part of a winning
split counted as three, two, or one point depending on centers
controlled at game's end. Lee had two 2-way wins (France and
Germany) and a Solo (England) for first place with 35 total points.
Steven Le Winter placed second overall with a Solo, a 2-way,
and a 3-way win for 31 points. Jesus Zamora took third place
laurels with two Solo wins as France and Russia for 30 points.
Kevin Youells of Advanced Civilization fame garnered fourth
place laurels with a Solo and 2-way win for 28 points. David
Sherwood took fifth with two 2-way wins and a 3-way win with
26 points. Rich Prast, the top ranked AREA player, claimed sixth
place with a Solo and a 2-way win for 26 points. Rich, David,
and Kevin also won laurels in the 2014 Diplomacy Tournament.
Half of the games were Solo victories, A third were 2-way wins,
and the remainder were 3-way wins. The best countries in order
of victory points were: France, England, Turkey, Russia, Germany,
Italy, and Austria.