Thoughts from the GM - April 2000

Of all the games run in OMR, the one that caused the most controversy by far was Trintignant. This game saw blatant deception of the GM. Orders were sent to me purporting to come from Steve Bibby. Steve phoned me up after the adjudication stating that he had not sent those orders. Looking at them closely, they bear up to casual inspection, but on closer examination look slightly suspect. Which means that either (a) one of the other players was impersonating Steve (probably Neil Duncan), or (b) Steve had sent in 2 sets of orders , the second slightly suspect so that he could over rule them in that manner if the first would give a better result.

Unfortunately, it couldn't be proved either way. As I result, I abandoned the game, declaring it a win for the GM (having discovered the deception after all) and a loss for all the players. There was a lot of commentary on the game from various quarters at the end of it all as detailed below. I won't reflect upon it further with the benefit of hind sight but leave you with what everyone said at the time.

Trintignant Game end statements (First published in issue 28, July 1998)

  Player '00 '01 '02 '03 '04 '05 Result
A: Neil Duncan 3 5 7 8 8 9 Lost
B: Bob Holliday 3 4 6 8 9 9 Lost
F: Stephen Othen 3 5 6 7 8 8 Lost
G: Simon Hornby 3 5 3 1 0   Elim1904
I: Tom Reusch 3 4 3 4 4 4 Lost
R: Steve Bibby 4 5 5 4 5 4 Lost
T: Dan Lester 3 4 3 2 0   Elim 1904

James Pinnion (Spectator): Interesting decision in Trintignant I saw. Just quit the game, it should certainly discourage cheating, although as soon as I'm about to be destroyed in Lightning Seeds...

Bob Holliday (England): Hmm...What can I say? Of course the game shouldn't be abandoned... I really feel you are setting probably the most dangerous precedent possible by abandoning it. This in effect means that anyone currently losing in a game can get the game abandoned by cheating! Hell, this is only a variant and therefore I really don't care particularly but the question must be, what if this "was" a standard Dip game? Would you have abandoned that so readily?

I think a decision should be made by the GM whether he considers the orders valid or not. Do you believe them to have been sent in by Steve? If so then the game should continue, if not then it should be re-adjudicated. I really think that in this case the answer is clear... If Steve had sent in the orders he would surely be quite happy with the outcome... They succeeded. Therefore be would be extremely unlikely to then turn round and call foul. In other words it would be a totally pointless exercise on his part and therefore surely obvious that he did not send them in. Following on from that, the orders are plainly illegal and therefore the turn should be re-adjudicated.

John Wilman (Spectator): Regarding your GM dilemma in Trintignant. In my old House Rules, I required that all orders be signed & dated. A forged signature should be fairly easy to detect, and a paranoid player can increase security by writing a codeword. The dating requirement is for when players send in more than one set of orders. It is not reasonable to expect the GM to remember which set arrived last, and even then the vagracies of the post could result in some confusion.

Actually, I thank that once you have accepted orders in good faith, you should let them stand! This is why most GMs only seek to "punish" attempted deception of the GM. And why on earth did Mr Bibby not send in valid orders? Was he also deceived, perhaps by a "fake adjudication" - an old but still serviceable ploy? There was scope for some really interesting detective work here; abandoning the game is a bit of a copout.

It also won't help your street-cred as an impartial GM since you have in effect accused Neil without any firm evidence, then punished him without even the semblance of a fair trial. I don't see any problem about one season - if Steve didn't send in any orders, he NMRed, you don't have to interpret anything or build theories out of nothing.

Anyway, you presumably (and rightly) take the view that the GM's decision is final, so by all means stick to your guns, but don't be surprised if you get some flak.

David Oya (Spectator): I found the Trintignant situation amusing. Any opportunity to feel smugly superior to Dipnerds is always worth grasping, and there are just so many of them.

Jokn Colledge (Spectator): As an outsider I think you have done the correct thing in Trintignant. While it is a shame for those who lose out on playing a game, hopefully it will shame the pillock who did try to mess up the game into regretting his action and not do it again.

Stephen Othen (France): This was not one of my better games, and I can remember very little about it. Basically, I allied with Bob (E) and we did pretty well, but not as well as Neil (A), who did invent the game after all. Once Germany was defeated, I ineptly attacked Tom (l) and was then stabbed by Bob. Occasionally Bob and l wrote to each other. Sometimes other people wrote to me and on rare occasions I replied to them.

I'm afraid that my keenness for the game was reduced by the lack of a printed map with the game report. Mark, I realise that you are running a huge zine and that maps take ages to do, but I feel that maps help a lot, especially for a variant. This may just be me being lazy, but I can't always be bothered to set up the map to write letters when the position may be quite simple.

Personally, I am quite relieved that the game has ended as I was clearly about to die, unless Tom and I managed to ally for the rest of the game. But the manner of the ending is disappointing - faking other people's orders seems pretty reprehensible to me and clearly there was no choice but to end the game. I look forward to reading the other endgame statements, especially as I don't get TCP so haven't read Neil's comments. Incidentally, I should mention (in the interests of openness) that I now live in Cheshire...

Nell Duncan (Austria): There is no way I'm going to get this game end statement right. Either I will say far too much, or nowhere near enough. I don't think that it would be an understatement to say that it was a memorable game, even it I expect that most of us would prefer to forget it!

It all started well, although pleased as I was to see my own AirForce Dip being played in another zine, I did wonder if Mark (GM) might be biting off more than he could chew. The opening couple of years were fairly unremarkable, except that Simon (G) and Dan CI) NMRed, mis-ordered and generally cocked up their positions which obviously affected the way the game was going to go. I felt a bit cheesed off with Dan (T), as I had decided that he was the most unreliable of my neighbours and so was pretty well shafted (albeit unintentionally) by his play. But having committed to attack Steve (R), there was no real going back.

Tom (I), bless his cotton socks was a decent neighbour. We never really worked together, but at least we stayed out of each other's way. I think that he really struggled a bit with the game mechanics, and as a result, didn't really get off the Italian starting block.

The most worrying bit was the fact that Steve (F) and Bob (E) seemed to hop straight into bed together and you couldn't even get a postage stamp between the two of them. Bob (E) at least continued to diplome, not entirely convincingly as a friend, but it was better than nowt. Steve (F) was a little more sporadic and I got the feeling that we were never going to be pals so I really had to put all my eggs in the English basket.

The game was somewhat dogged by NMRs, holdovers and numerous adjudication errors, which I do believe took a toll on the players, which is a great pity. Staring at elimination in the face Steve (F) was offering proxy to anyone who would listen and there were probably a number of takers (unless he was just pretending and continuing to order his bits himself?)

With Bob (E) looking very big, having stabbed his mate Steve (F) (with my help), the time had come to see to Bob (E). It was at this very moment that my dreaded NMR struck and whilst I suffered no attacks, or setbacks, I had missed a major window of opportunity to duff Bob () up. Most wlll be aware of my being pissed off by this twist of fate and really from that moment I lost interest in the game. For sure I would order to the end, answer any mail I got, but I could no longer give a stuff what happened.

It therefore came as both a relief and a surprise when I read the report for last season to find out about the "GM deception" and abandonment of the game. I feel highly honoured that I should have been implicated in the skulduggery but feel that there is some other explanation. Had I wanted control of the Russian bits, I could have simply taken the proxy when offered to me. I would also say that were I ordering the Russian bits either by right, or by deception, I would not have ordered; F(BAL) etc., when it was a F(BLA)!!!

So slap wrists to the real culprit, probably Steve (R) himself, who realising that he could not beat me in a straight fight (him having only 3 units to my 9) decided to try and trick me. When that didn't work, he "blew the whistle" and cried "Foul!" himself (Now that WOULD be deception of the GM?)

So a game with something for everyone, even if none of it was particularly wholesome. Whilst I welcomed the termination of the game, I agree with Stephen Agar, that to do so was another bad GM call by Mark. Don't get me wrong, I am sympathetic with his predicament - but I would not have made the decision that he had made. He starts by saying that the 'offending' orders looked like Russia's, but ends by saying they look like MINE. Now I have never GMed a game in which Steve (G) has been a player, but I would be say surprised if our orders were that similar. I won't take offence at the fact that Mark (GM) believed another player who claimed that the orders received were not his, whilst refusing to believe that I had given him some in person. Sniff

I think Mark will be relieved to hear that I won't sign up for another OMR game - I don't think our friendship could withstand that.

Mark Stretch (GM): Thank you all for your comments - shame that Steve didn't put pen to paper, though I did speak to him of the phone. Perhaps we will get a game end statement from him next time.

No, I didn't like setting the precedent that I did, but I viewed any of my other options as worse. I was in a no win situation, and somebody would be unhappy with any decision of mine on that score. My reasons are in the last issue, which I'm sure you've all read. The points made there still all stand.

Oh, and I am reliably informed that James Hardy's sister lives round the comer from Steve Bibby and may be implicated in the scandal.

Of the above statements, can I put myself in the David Oya camp. Do you wonder why I rarely play dip these days when it leads to all these sorts of hassles. I shall have to let Tom GM future dip games in OMR.


Trintignant Further Game End Statements

(First published in issue 30, July 1998)

Bob Holliday: A real nice piece of creative work by Neil last time. You can see why he's an editor, can't you! Unfortunately, his veiled suggestion that Steve himself had sent in the false orders is sheer invention as everyone could see... especially Neil that the Russian forces were doing far better than could be expected under the circumstances. Indeed, had it not been for Neil's the culprit's intervention, Steve would have actually gained a build that last season.

Still, I regard it all as a bit of fun and perhaps we should have a variant devised where Russia's units are under proxy to the last person to send in orders for it prior to deadline.

Steve Bibby: Thanks to Neil for his comments Which asked a few questions and so deserves a reply. Firstly the reason for requesting my letter be passed on to Neil was one of courtesy as I wanted him to have his say in the full knowledge of my position. It was offered to Neil alone for comment due to the that that I didn't wish to waste the time of innocent parties!

I do accept that putting in an endgame statement after others is not how things should be done but I felt that it would be better than not responding at all. It was also because there had been a few comments regarding the game from non-players who were obviously doing so without the complete picture. My first thought had been not to bother with a statement at all.

To continue the game with the last published adjudication would still have been accepting deception of the GM so I don't agree with Neil's suggestion regarding this. Finally, Neil points out two "important" questions which I failed to ask. I answer:

1)1 couldn't give a toss how you would react as this didn't happen!

2) Ditto.

Mark Stretch: Sometimes I wonder if all the comments regarding this game will ever end. If there is ever a game that would make you regret being a GM, then this would seem to be the one. Can we call it a day now, folks?


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