Round Three: This board featured the eventual tournament winner (Tom Haver) as Italy. I was Turkey. I thought this would be good for me. Tom led the tournament and "everyone" was out to stop him. Perfect!
Um, no. Russia (someone who seems to dislike me in R/L) said he was going to Bla. So, I agreed to bounce. He went to Rum instead. I thought that odd, but he said he changed his mind last-minute. Italy had opened to Tri and there was no bounce in Gal. It seemed pretty standard--until the fall. Italy moved Ion-Aeg, so clearly I was facing an AIR. In fact, Austria had given me a bit of a tip just before the deadline, so I tried a convoy from Con-Sev. During the adjudication, Russia admitted he had changed from Sev-Arm to Sev S Rum just before the deadline. That convoy could have changed the game.
Skipping over the gory details, let's just go to Fall 1903. At this point, EF have been pounding Germany, but he's still at 4 sc's and EF have been pretty ineffectual. In fact, England lost Nwy to Russia and didn't bat an eye. France would have F Spa (sc) and F Bre H for most of the game. I tried everything--getting them to form a Triple, begging France to send Spa into the Med, asking England to go north. They were indifferent.
So, Fall '03: I have F Bla, A Arm and A Con. They have a unit in Smy and a Fleet in Aeg. They want Russia to use F Rum to cut Bla so that Bul-Con is guaranteed. Italy is talking to Russia at the board with me sitting there (no fear). Russia says, "I can't do that. He'll take F Bla and push it into Sev with Arm support. I said, "I've already written. I did not do that." Russia says, "Okay," and writes Rum-Bla. Well, I told the truth: I didn't write that. I wrote F Bla C A Con-Sev with Arm supporting. So, I got Sev.
Oh, but it gets better. In Spring 1904, I order Sev-Rum with Bla supporting (I still owned Sev and Ank). I not only take Rum, but I annihilate the Russian fleet. In the fall, I keep them out of Sev, but Russia dislodges me from Rum. However, Austria was scattered and I had my choice of retreating to Bud or Ser. Budapest here I come!
So, I lasted five years, playing against an AIR that had NO Western opposition at all.
At one point, the player of England saw me smirk (I think it was around 1904 after the convoy). She said, "It's not my fault," referring to the way I was being eliminated and the lack of progress EF were making. I said, "All I know is: it's not my fault." I was playing my butt off tactically. I have no idea how EF had such a rough time given that Germany built 2 armies in 1901--so he could not cover Hel, etc.
Did I get eliminated? Yes, but try taking on an AIR that won't even negotiate while EF are fighting G and won't lift a finger to take pressure off of you.
Round Four: Here everything came together, but I had a really tough draw. First of all, Russia is not a favorite country to play. Second, England was Dan Lester, who is not only a brilliant player, but also was in a position to win the tournament if he could get a solo. Germany was Doc Binder, a World champion (Lester, while British, has won the NA Diplomacy championship). Turkey was David Norman, another Brit, who, while quite clever, can also be a handful to ally with because he is so clever. Austria was Adam Silverman, a pretty fair player. Italy was Nate Cockerill, another Dipcon champion. So, this board was loaded. A player of less stature, Eric Grinnell, was France.
Right off the bat, Norman comes to me and suggests he'll give me Bla IF I agree to convoy him into Rum in the fall. I readily agree as it gives me all the room I need tactically to move an army north. Normally, I don't prefer that as Russia, but Lester is truly great and I know I"m going to have to keep him from getting huge.
I stabbed Norman, taking Con in the fall, got bounced from Swe, foolishly built A Mos and F Sev, and spent the next few years playing defense in the north while working to eliminate Turkey. We had Norman out at the end of '03 and managed to hold EG off when I came up with a set of moves that caused the Spring 1904 disbandment of German armies in Lvn and Pru. That sealed the game.
Austria and I stabbed Italy and we ended on a 3-way: F-A-R (9 supply centers each). Tactically, it's one of the best games I've ever played. I think I won every guess in the north and saw things they didn't. When we (Austria had an army in Sil) piffed those armies, I felt as though I'd won Dipcon--that's how exhilarating it was. These were not run-of-the-mill players and I had kicked their tails (tactically speaking). That was worth the trip alone