EuroDipCon 4 / Arcon 96 or "Inge Kjol strikes again!"
by Per Westling
The summer has come and gone with several cons. Myself I choose this year to go to EDC4/Arcon in Oslo, a good choice to learn things for the upcoming WorldDipCon in Sweden 28-30 March 1997. The 12 hours trip from home to Oslo by foot (!), buss and car was uneventful (well, my travelling chaps did not like my driving...) for the Swedish part but one of the things one does notice directly when crossing the borders is that the roads of Norway is lousy: not especially wide and very winding. The 100 km from the border to Oslo took quite a long time. Oslo also have road toll, something that has not (yet) reached Stockholm. That Norway is expensive we all knew but I think Joel Gronberg got a shock when he bought a can of Cola and paid 17 NOK (that is almost 3 US$) for it! This was extreme, but we were more careful after that.
So after 10 hours I had reached the convention site. As usual when you do arrive the night before a con there was the usual chaos, but not more than at any other con. After locating Johannes Berg (BNF [= Big Name Fan, in every sense of the word] in the Norwegian SF hobby and convention general) we were directed to our sleeping room in a nearby (10 minutes walking distance) school. The foreigners was placed in VIP rooms and we Swedes ended up in the same room as the 6 Finns. We all more or less hit the sack directly to save ourselves to the next morning.
The convention took place on the Oslo University site where two of the buildings was used, a main building hosting most of the tournaments, shops, movie viewing etc, and 200 meters from this in a separate building. We located this building and met up with some of the other con-goers. A couple of the French players had already arrived but the rest would arrive to the second round, which also the only Britt (Bob Kendrick) did. The Swedes was (not surprisingly) the largest foreign continent with 11 attenders so we divided us into three teams with Bob put into the 3rd team. (Each "national" team consisted of 4 players, with max 3 teams per country.)
The actual playing locale for the EDC tournament was in the cellar of the latter building mentioned above. It was some kind of student organization pub serving soft drinks and beer. One thing I did not like was that smoking was allowed in this locale. Fortunately the air condition was good enough and/or the smokers few so that this was bearable, but it reminded me of those days when smoking was allowed at the bridge clubs in Sweden. In Sweden smoking is never allowed indoors at conventions and at WDC in Sweden 1997 it will definitely not be allowed.
I will not go into details about my own play (which was horrible, at least the result) but the tournament was played in 2 rounds Friday, 2 rounds Saturday and a final round during Sunday. For the individual tournament you were allowed to play up to three rounds of the first four. The seven best would be picked to play at the top table during Sunday, but everyone was allowed to play in the last round with a small chance of going into the top seven (although 1st place was going to be decided by the top table). The team tournament was each players single best result during the Friday and Saturday. The scoring used was inspired by the standard system used in France where placement is more important than size (although size is not unimportant), a system I like and which will be used at WDC in Sweden 1977.
After the first two rounds Inge Kjol had already taken a sure grip of the tournament with an 18 center win (the only one during the convention) and another win. As Inge also played in the team Norway 1 it looked hard for any other team to beat Norway.
During Friday we had had breakfast at one of the Universities canteens that was open but during Saturday we visited an open nearby shop and bought the necessities. The first two round had had around 6 tables and the other round had about this number giving a total 27 tables. In total 68 players from 8 countries played during these three days.
One player that had popped up before the 4th round was Francois Rivasseau, more or less just to hold the EDA (European Diplomacy Association) meeting. The meeting took place after the 4th round. Things that were discussed at the meeting was Ethics, Eurodipcon 5 and 6, standardized rules and procedures.
Ethics: A statement of what EDA regard as unethical play was taken. The question about money prices at tournament was discussed and the point of the WDC 7 organizers to not want to risk bribes or accusations of this received no support at all. Still, as in most question EDA won't interfere in the decisions of individual EDC conventions. EDC5 & 6: Belgium will as expected host EDC 5 in the french speaking part during early March 1997; more details will be published here as I receive them. EDC 6 will most likely be held in Helsinki Finland sometime August 1998. Both these event will be during established conventions. I hope to visit both as I have never been to either country!
The only real controversy was the question about languages. The majority of the meeting felt that the rule used at Arcon should be changed. The rule states: "Only English should be spoken at the Diplomacy tables. For actual diplomacy any language can be used." The meeting felt that this should be changed to something like "When speaking at the Diplomacy tables you should only use a language everyone can understand." For some reason some of the players from France opposed this. Francois even stated that French is one of the two official languages of EDA, and that he took the suggestion as a personal insult! Hopefully the have
cooled down on this point and will see the rational behind it. The main point for any public discussion (typically during the writing phase when any secret negotiation is prohibited) should be that every player should understand what is said. If there is no such common language the players should not be allowed to speak during e.g. the writing phase. A common language can be French, Scandinavian, Swahili whatever, and does not have to be English so the change proposed should actually be an improvement in the French eyes.
The results after round 4 meant that Norway 1 won the team tournament followed by Sweden 3 and France 1. The top 7 players was asked if they wanted to play at the top table tomorrow but only Daniel Megitt (as he realized he could not win) and Sigurd Eskeland (as he wanted to play Magic instead) declined. Inge Kjol decided to skip the Magic to instead insure that he would keep his lead (he had taken a third win).
Sunday in Oslo is not a good idea if you want to have breakfast. No stores open, not even 7- 11. So my breakfast consisted of a Mars bar...
The final table was won by Inge Kjol, making him the outstanding winner.
The top 10:
1. Inge Kjol, Norway
1. Sigurd Eskeland
1. Xavier Blanchot
Best Austria: Inge Kjol Best England: Thibault Constans, France Best France: Inge Kjol Best Germany: Henrik Andersson Best Italy: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Sweden Best Russia: Christian Dreyer, Sweden Best Turkey: Sigurd Eskeland
After the ceremonies some of the players sat down to play a variant invented by Jens Persson (one of the Swedes) during EDC 4, inspired by the census rule of Civilization. It is a form of Gunboat where no negotiations is allowed. The basic rule is that the one with most number of supply centers move first! If several players have equal number they write down their moves, otherwise you may do your orders directly at the table. This was quite a success but as it will be hardly impossible to get 18 centers it is best to play this to a set year or time limit. Russia is slightly disadvantaged by starting with one more. The simplest modification to this is to let everyone move simultaneously during 1901 and let the census rule come in effect first during 1902.
The trip back was about as long and winding as the trip there although we even managed to see some football (soccer) from the EuroCup final during a food stop in Sweden. Luckily my vacation had started with this con so I had time to rest the next day...
My opinion of EDC 4/Arcon is that is was a good convention with quite a good field of players. Borger Borgersen and the others did a good work. I especially liked the idea with badges with flags for each table so you could easily identify who played what, something that sometimes can be hard. The same flags appeared on the excellent order sheets. The negotiation time (10 minutes every round) was a bit short but the players got used to it. The locale was good (besides the smoking detail) but would have been a problem with a few tables more.
Reprinted from Diplomacy World 79