The London Trophy 1999
Vick Hall (Tournament Director)
It was very much a
last minute decision to host this year's Trophy as I was up to my neck in it
at Think, but when I decided to jump ship into the sea of unemployment and
enjoy myself on a little trip to EDC in Finland, I thought well lack of
time is not a problem anymore. Funnily enough, with sorting out the
ManorCon finances, the rigmaroles of life on the dole (signing on etc) and
thankfully more job interviews than i can handle, time is still of the
essence. A week later and I've only got round to writing this report!
As it was a last
minute job, I was not initially expecting a huge turnout for this year’s
event. Last year the Trophy had struggled to reach 3 boards and so I felt
realistically that 4 boards or at the most 5 boards was the best that could be
achieved and that was with a lot of work. With this in mind, the venue seemed
more than adequate as the upstairs at the Plough was just big enough to take 4
boards and maybe squeeze in 5 at a push and then there was always the
downstairs in an emergency. The main reasons for the choice of the Plough
though were it's ideal central London location and in particular the fact it
was just 50 yards away from Playin Games, who were donating some games as
prizes. So, I was hoping they would pick up some business from the event as
well. I know we cleaned out their entire stock of 'Lost Cities' at the very
Anyhow, with the
Trophies were booked, venue sorted and the initial publicity done, I went away
to EDC content. Returning to find that Toby
had gone into manic mode an a huge publicity drive that was striving to make
the Trophy this years biggest UK event! I didn't take long for me and others (Emeric
and Stephen Agar) to get caught up in this enthusiasm and start pushing to see
just how effective this proactive publicity approach could be. As the
predictions of 10 boards plus became even wilder, I was beginning to worry
abut how seriously overcrowded the pub would be.
Fortune came to my
rescue as not everybody who said they were committed turned up for one reason
or another and although Toby (and to a lesser extent myself) was disappointed
we did not at least make 7 boards, I was relieved as in the end 6 boards was
probably the maximum the pub could have handled. I was also more than pleased
that everyone who did turn up actually
got a game of dip and i didn't (thanks to the timely late arrival of Guillarme
Gossellin) have to play myself to fill up the final board, which is always a
nightmare for (Sweden just scored - YES!!) the tournament director. Firstly as
it then becomes difficult to keep control of and monitor the other boards and
secondly you can't effectively concentrate on the game you are playing in,
which is not fair for any of the players on that board or in the tournament.
Also you are conscious that you don't want to play so well that you actually
win, which is certainly an unsatisfactory position!
Given the fact we had
started a bit late, especially the six board, I reduced the planned number of
game years form 1909 to 1908 as I was bearing in mind that my scoring system
included penalty points for games that finished after 6 o'clock. This made was
going to be difficult for the 6th board, but left the other boards with an
excessive amount of leeway to finish by six. I did not want to have to be
going around enforcing deadlines and I hoped the penalty deterrent would
ensure the players themselves would keep themselves on track. How wrong I was!
Board 1 was
undoubtedly the Board of Death, with the likes of Cyrille Sevin, Mark Wightman,
Toby Harris, Chetan Radia and Steve Cox. I missed the start of this game as
they pushed ahead with their opening moves, whilst I was sorting out the
remaining boards upstairs. I was indeed a board of death though as Chetan and
Cyrille found out sooner than they liked. Mark Wightman (Italy) had the Easter
powers in check, whilst Geoff Bache (France) seemed to mop up the West with
ease and establish an almost untouchable winning position. Could he hold it
together till the end and would it be enough were the only questions
Board 2, I initially
termed the 'easy' board and Dave Horton drew it! He even got his favoured
country France. But easy it was not to be as there were some more than
competent players on this board in Mick Dunnett, Yann Clouet and Steve Agar
and Dave got far from an easy ride, being attacked with a fervour by Des
Langford (England) and Steve Agar (Italy) who was quickly into Marseilles and
the MAO! Mick Dunnett (G) was also profiting from the demise of France, whilst
in the East Yann Clouet (Austria) was controlling the game. Stephen and Mick
however joined forces to push Yann back in the final year to increase their
crucial supply centre counts. I'm not sure why this game suddenly veered off
the rails time-wise toward the end, but it was significantly over for me to
have to apply the -2 point penalty to the whole table. Which in my final
calculations, turned out to be quite crucial.
Board 3 from my
observations was quite a balanced game with Emeric (F) in control, but boxed
in the Western half of the board and Sid Sedjai a omnipotent threat as Turkey
in the East, who with his Russian puppet, Tom went on to win the game.
Board 4 was an
interesting affair with an initial juggernaut operating the Con/Sev switch,
but Greedy Greco (R), just could not resist the temptation of stabbing his
trusting Turkish ally Mark Stretch. Whilst matters were resolving in the East,
the West started to play merry go rounds as well, with first Chris Stocking
(E) taking advantage and then Simon Hornby (F), to be finally outwitted by
Tangi Le Dantec (G). The game remained very close with none of the remaining 3
eastern powers getting any clear advantage. Guy Thomas' Austria had potential
but was sandwiched in a Bandy Bap between Andrew Greco's Russia and Vincent
Boutan's Italy, both of whom took chunks out of Guy in the end. The game was
also well behind schedule and was definitely on course for penalty points,
when the draw was proposed and somewhat surprisingly to me was actually
accepted. I guess it was just all too close to call and people were happy with
their final positions and did not want to risk the penalty.
Board 5 was the game
I’d have liked to have watched more fully as the play here seemed
particularly good. Shaun Derrick (R) and Emmanuel Lorge
(F) seemed initially to be in control with Doug Massie (I) also
prospering well, but the game gradually turned as the wicked witches Ian
Andrews (E) and Emily Bache (T) put the screws on Russia, whilst France slowly
increased his dominance by picking off a weakening Italy. It was all a
question of whether Emmanuel had timed his push for glory in time. Had he left
it too late to catch Geoff Bache and the expanding threat of the 'Dark
Destroyer' on Board 6.
Board 6 was hampered
by a late start and at one point it looked like I was going to have to play
Germany, until Guillarme turned up in the nick of time to rescue me. Tony
Wheatleys slightly maverick and slightly inebriated play as Austria, handed
the confident Simon Bouton who was already on a high from his EDC victory an
easy start, despite the initial RAI triple alliance against him. Both Russia
and Italy were a bit rusty, along with Geoff (E) whose one bad build misorder
definitely cost him. So as Turkey manipulated and dominated the East. Richard
Turner (F) and Guillarme (G) carved up England. The game really turned by
Guillarme's decision to stab France and go for a high scoring second place,
letting Turkey out of the bag. The risk in this strategy was the potential for
a Turkish outright victory, but surely not.......?
Simon Bouton on yet another superb victory and also to Geoff Bache and Emmanuel
Lorge on their second and third places. If it wasn't for the penalties applied
at the end, Stephen Agar would have just pipped Emmanuel for third place as they
would have had equal points and would also have tied as a dead heat on supply
centre count back. Had that been the case it would have gone down to country
allocation, which according to my undisclosed list would have placed Stephen
above Emmanuel who had the more favourable country draw. Still, Stephen picked
up the best trophy for Italy and Emmanuel a box of Lost Cities for 3rd place, so
I guess in the end it worked out nicely in that they both took something home.
Mark Stretch meanwhile had rushed off home to prevent himself being awarded with
the Golden Bone award for most outstanding poodle who obtained one more vote for
this prestigious award than Tom Sebeyran!
Best Diplomat was won
by Simon Bouton with 17 votes to Emmanuel Lorge who was voted second with 15.
Emmanuel did however obtain a maximum of 18 votes for Best Strategist ahead of
Simon Bouton on 16 and Sid Sedjai on 15. Quite an impressive vote their for
Emmanuel from his peers.
My only small mistake
on the day with the results was awarding Best Austria to Guy Thomas when it was
in fact won by Yann Clouet! Well fortunately Guy was not there to collect the
trophy so Yann the next time I see you remind me to give you your just rewards.
Overall, the Trophy
this year was a big success, especially with the big attendance from France and
I promise for next year to make the registration fee free for foreign attendees,
so I hope very much you'll all come back again for another tilt at the Trophy.
As for myself, I luckily had not too much to do apart from trying to placate the
pub, who seemed to get a bit stressed out, especially at lunchtime, which was
mildly chaotic! So I had time for a chat with Alex Bardy and Siraj from Playing
Games, where we learnt some inside truths about a few things of which I had
better stay quiet. Although I was too stressed out to even play any other games
as well I still had a great time overseeing the action. Maybe though I was a bit
too lenient on the game deadlines.
The plan next year is to go for a two day weekend convention and we are looking for both a new venue and accommodation for this purpose. I will inevitably do my best to keep you all informed of events and look forward to seeing you all again next year.