I originally thought I'd have Friday night before OxCon free to prepare. Unfortunately those plans were scuppered at the last minute as Nick Parish and Simon Hornby both decided at the last minute to come up to stay overnight. So, if I looked unprepared on Saturday, you now know the reason why.
Anyway, as I was saying, Simon and Nick turned up on Friday for the first of two dip soc curries, and a game of Talisman into the small hours. Talisman is a game that somehow Simon never loses, and true enough he didn't lose this one, though I did help him with some truly incompetent play. It even made my dip playing look good, it was that bad. He also managed to win a game on Saturday. Is anybody out there any good who fancies taking him on at some future con?
After rather too little sleep, Saturday dawned, and I was off to Keble for the tournament. Not Nick and Simon, though. Instead they decided they would rather have a lie in. Lazy buggers, aren't they?
The first problem of the day confronted us as we arrived, since there were no tables in the Arco building. Hence Chris, Phil and I were seen carrying a load of tables all the way across Keble. Fortunately they had a trolley, but even so, I wish I was a bit fitter.
Shaun Derrick was the first to arrive, a mere ½ hour before doors opened, and 1 ½ hours before the dip started. Somebody buy him a watch. Pretty soon more and more kept arriving. In all a total of ninety-six people turned up from as far away as Essex, Kent, Dorset, Swansea and Liverpool, as well as numerous somewhat nearer venues. Special mention must be made to Calum MacGuiness, though for travelling down all the way from Scotland. Thank you all for coming and making the day a success. Let's see if Gihan can match that figure this year at Bandycon. I'm looking forward to see him try.
I managed to avoid coming last in any tournaments for a change, through the simple expedient of not playing anything during the day. As it happened, the dip tournament pretty much ran itself. I had to hurry a few people along around each deadline, but by the end, all but one board was actually ahead of schedule! Apologies to Gihan, Ivan and Susie for hassling them more than most to get orders in. Still, you should have written your orders quicker. With an unknown finishing year I needed to keep all the boards in synch. At least, that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. Oh, and blame Chris for the early finish, since he drew 1908 from out of the deck.
One thing that, I did learn for the future was that we could have done with longer for lunch, if nothing else because Nick didn't return with mine till nigh on the following deadline. Other than that, I don't think there were any complaints with the dip tournament - at least none voiced to me. Any suggestions for next year, folks?
By now, I'm sure you're all wondering what actually happened in the dip, so here are the results, along with a few (completely unbiased, naturally) comments on each board by yours truly.
Phil has obviously been watching my play too much, getting a disband in Autumn 1901, and being eliminated by 1902. Other than that, this was the tightest board of the day, with nobody on more than seven centres till 1907 (with the exception of a Sheiham fluke). Why couldn't you have eliminated TurboNick, though? Surely there is something wrong when he manages to survive a game of dip.
Everybody froze to death on board two, being positioned as it was near the fire exit that everybody was using to go outside. It was most amusing seeing Michelle trying to diplome in scarf, gloves and thick coat!
This board also featured the battle of the students, with Martin and Dan being the only two left in, from a depressingly early stage, and both eyeing up that trophy. Martin just edged it in the end, with what was a criminally low score.
No, I didn't fix this board, despite appearances to the contrary. The SSA were on form again, with Spurgeon going out, despite lasting longer than the off form Toby. A lot of fantasy dip managers were unhappy with that one.
Vick proceeded to steamroller the board in the manner to which we have by now become accustomed. He couldn't quite get to eighteen, though despite Neil being seemingly oblivious to the threat posed.
This was probably the easiest board to GM, since they all kept each other in check and gave me no problems with enforcing the deadline. It also caused some tempers to rise, by the manner in which Keith was eliminated. (Ask Kenders if you are interested).
Luke looked like he was in with a chance of regaining his title for a while, only for David to overtake him at the death and claim his best ever result.
The one board to finish early. The highlight of this game for me was James Hardy's valiant attempt to hold on and give Gihan as much trouble as possible before eventually being eliminated. It probably made the difference between first and second place.
Meanwhile, Chris had been running a "Die Siedler von Catan" tournament won by Len George. That attracted 24 players and despite a few rules problems seemed to work fairly well. There will be a repeat event next year. See this issue of GIT for further details of the tournament. At the end of the day, in true Steve Redgrave fashion, Chris was heard to say "I never want to see another Siedler set again!" Still, like Redgrave, I'm sure he'll reconsider and will be back to run things again in 1998.
Some of you were probably wondering what was going on in the corridor outside. That was Mo Holkar and pals running a free form RPG game to do with a Mafia wedding. From the commotion that was going on I gather that they all enjoyed themselves, though they could have done with a better location. We'll try to arrange that for next year.
There were also other games going on which were not part of the tournaments, and of course the traditional dip soc curry - our second of the weekend. Unfortunately, it wasn't one of the more memorable ones, possibly because Tom, Steve, Sandra, Fiona, Dormouse and Lemming all had other commitments and couldn't join us.
Nick and Simon had a good attempt at trashing Wilsdon Way thereafter - Nick in the bathroom and Simon the heating, since neither are quite in the same state now that they were before. Nothing but trouble, these two. I wonder why I put up with them sometimes.
Without further ado, onto the full results of the dip tournament.
As well as the dip results, the Siedler (won by Len George) and RPG results were announced along with a world exclusive - the Rebel zine poll results, with TCP doing the double. Congratulations go to Vick, Len, Neil and all the other award winners.
Thank to Chris and the others for running it and to you all for turning up.
Hopefully, we will see you all back in Oxford again next year. If you've got any
suggestions for improvements for the 1998 event, please let me know. Dan Lester
will be the main man in charge next year, with Chris graduating from Oxford. So,
expect OxCon 1998 in St John's College, probably on Jan 31st next year. See you
all then. My birthday is on the night before that, so expect me to be somewhat
hung over next year.