by Mark Stretch
Having originally set things going at Oxford to
start Oxcon (the
first dip tournament was
1993), it was
again that time of year to return for some dip and settlers. We were back in the
Arco building in Keble this year (after a break of many years). The Arco
building is an excellent venue for the event, though we could have done with the
moveable partitions being removed to give us a bit more space.
One new feature this year was that
Games Web came down with a stall. They had a very good selection of
reasonably priced games and did a good trade all weekend. I thought they were
being optimistic when they turned up with a huge load of games, but the piles of
games went down considerably over the course of the convention.
And so to the diplomacy tournament. I had the questionable honour of drawing
England on a board featuring World and European champion Simon Bouton. Worse,
the player playing France could best be described as a lunatic who attacked me
from the off. So, I spent most of the game holding the line against France
whilst Germany slowly picked up centres from Russia, Austria and everywhere else
to top the board. The German stab was expected and my position crumbled
thereafter just scraping survival when the game ended.
A large part of the reason for my downfall was a lack of interest in the game
by me. Playing tournament diplomacy doesn't excite me the way it used to and I
didn't put the effort in once things started going badly. Remind me to play
something else next year.
Turnout for the diplomacy was four boards, about the same as it had been the
previous few years. Declan did a good job running the event though should have
been tougher on the slow players in my opinion.
Sunday saw the Settlers tournament. There were a few problems with the start
time as there was engineering work on the trains which made several players
slightly late with the resulting delays. Most notable was Tanya Fox though it
didn't stop her winning both morning games.
My morning was rather mixed. The first game saw me up against sharks like
Gihan and Demis and with them picking on me I was a poor last as Gihan strolled
the game. The second round saw me visit a weak table where I had a very quick
and easy win (quick enough to be finished before the results sheets were handed
out). It was very good from a tournament point of view as big wins scored more
than tight wins.
After a long lunch to reminis about student days with the late arriving
TurboNick, the third round again saw a relatively easy draw and I romped home
for my second win of the day. The fourth and final round saw me up against the
defending champion, James Pinnion. As proved at ManorCon last year, he can be
beaten and as defending champion he was the one they all picked upon, letting me
through for my third win of the day.
Three wins was definitely enough to put me on the podium, and all were big
wins, so I thought I'd done enough. As it happens nobody else had managed more
than 2 wins so I took the title comfortably. As runner up in the 2000 settlers
series I picked up that trophy too, to post on to the absent Dave Horton.
Overall turnout for the settlers was good, at 28, only ManorCon & the Mind
Sports Olympiad are likely to exceed that level. It also featured most of the
top players from last year with the sole exception of Dave Horton who is taking
a well publicised break after last year. The only suggested improvement I'd make
for next year is to have 5 shorter rounds, as the games (or at least my games)
were finishing early. An extra round would also make the event fairer as it
would approach a round robin event. As it stands it is easy to benefit from an
easy draw. Thus my preference is either for a Swiss style event or for a full
round robin rather than partial round robin format.
The last event of the con was the Lost Cities tournament which I was running.
Turnout was a respectable ten players when most sensible people were on the way
home. The winner by some way was Gihan. This was the first Lost Cities event I
have run, and I learnt a lot as a result. Timings need adjusting, (either fewer
hands or more time per round). Also the tie breaking system needs altering.
Thoughts and suggestions are welcome from everyone.
Full results for the Lost Cities are:
||Nick Parish (Sub David Norman rd 4)
Thank you to James Pinnion, Declan Waters, Chirs Dickson and the others for
organising the event. Everyone did an excellent job. I'll see you all again
there next year. Wonder if I can persuade them that defending champions get
appearance money in 2002.