The Lepanto Opening
by Edi Birsan
most means of statistical analysis, Italy is the weakest power on the Diplomacy
board. this could be attributed to several factors, a weak position between
Austria and France, or the inability of effective trust development between the
Austrians and the Italians due to the unusual situation of adjacent home centres.
More often than not, the Italians are unable to overcome the Turkish position
quickly and fall prey to a combination of Turkish resistance and back-stabbing
by a western power.
possible reversal of the Turkish domination of the Southeast is an alliance
between Austria and Italy which uses an unusual opening by the Italians to
quickly secure the fall of the Turks. The principal problem in attacking Turkey
is that players find its corner position very difficult to crack. Italian
initiative combined with Austrian pressure can remove the Turks for the corner
advantage by the emplacement of an Army deep behind the Turkish position in
Syria! While it may be an unusual position for an Italian army, it is the most
effective manner to turn the Turkish flank and to threaten the Turkish mainland.
The trick then becomes to get there before the Turks block you.
Spring 1901 moves for Italy should not reveal an open bias toward Austria and
should indicate instead a kind of calm wait-and-see attitude. Thus, the Spring
should see the Italians moving Fleet Naples to the Ionian sea, Army Rome to
Apulia and Army Venice holding. This position gives the Italians a secure
position in case of Austrian or French threats. Note that the Italians can
support themselves in Venice from Apulia if a threat does materialise.
Hopefully, the French will be involved in the West and the Austrians will be
moving to Albania with their fleet and occupying Serbia.
in Fall of 1901, the Italians make the initial set-up for the drive to the East.
This is done by convoying the army in Apulia to Tunis. This leaves the
Austrian-Italian alliance with two fleets that can threaten the Aegean as well
as the flexibility provided by the army in Tunis which can be convoyed back to
Italy or to Albania if plans go wrong. The Italian army in Venice holds and is
thus able to provide some security in the North. Note that should the Russians
and the Turks combine, the Austrians will be in desperate need of an extra army
to fend off Russians attacks.
a winter build of a fleet in Naples, the traditional build of Italy in the first
winter, the Italians order the following for the Spring; Fleet Ionian to the
Eastern med., Fleet Naples to the Ionian, Army Tunis and Army Venice hold. this
secures the convoy route, for in the fall the Italians are clear to convoy Army
Tunis straight to Syria. The fall of the Turks is now a certainty. the
positional advantage of moving to the Eastern med. is enhanced by the existence
of the Austrian fleet in Greece. When the Italians make their move to the
eastern med., the Austrians should also attempt to force the Aegean, more to
keep the Turks out than to gain it for themselves. In the Spring of 1903, the
Austrian-Italian alliance will have three fleets that can come to bear on the
Aegean as well as an army that can threaten Smyrna. For those who wish to
fantasise, visions of the Italians moving on Sevastopol can be conjured up by
the movement of the eastern army to Armenia. or, in the event that the Austrians
are to be stabbed, the army could be used to very effectively turn my Austrian
position in Constantinople.
this opening is very effective , crushing the Turks caught unaware, it is futile
to attempt it if the Turks move their fleet to Constantinople in the Spring of
1901, for they will surely move it to the Aegean in the fall and build a fleet
in Smyrna in the Winter with Spring orders bringing it to the eastern med. here
we see the flexibility of the opening moves, as the army in Apulia could be used
for other things, as such a Turkish opening usually means that the Austrians are
in for a lot of trouble from the Russians, but then that is another battle and
from Hoosier Archives No.43 (6 November 1971)