CanCon ’96

by Rich Goranson

On the 1st of August, just as I was trying (and failing) to wrap this baby up, I went in to work prepared for my usual eight hours of misery. Instead, my supervisor came up to me and said that that leave time for the weekend that I put in two months before finally got approved because someone cancelled their leave for the same weekend. So on the morning of the 3rd my little ’87 Plymouth Horizon and I headed up the treacherous stretch of roadway called the QEW to Toronto to join in the little festivities known as CanCon held in the townhouse section on the beautiful grounds of the University of Toronto – Scarborough Campus.

For those of you who have never been to CanCon (and before this weekend, this included me) its not like your typical convention. It’s more like a house party where people drink beer and backstab each other. After hacking and slashing my way through the dense foliage to find the right townhouse, I entered the sumptuous palace to be greeted by the smiling faces of Mike Gonsalves, Bob Acheson and CanCon host, Jerry Falkiner, all of whom I am currently in postal games with. Once I made my introductions all around, it didn’t take long to get in my first FTF game in over two years. It was game four of the Con and was judged as the most intense of the all those played so far.

The players were:

Austria: Doug Acheson; Northern Flame contributor and resident whipping boy. Trustworthy ally, even when you stab him. I would soon put this to the test.

England: Jerry Falkiner; our humble host, serene and quiet. You never knew when he would wake up and kill you and he would still be serene and quiet while he was doing it.

France: Vance Copeland; dazed, confused and unpredictable. Very dangerous when unpredictable. A perfect player for this game.

Germany: Tim Snyder; another serene and quiet player. Out of the whole group, only I had ever been in a game with him before. I knew he was dangerous.

Italy: Bob Acheson; some time publisher of The Canadian Diplomat and self proclaimed Canadian Dip God. Sneaky, slimy and deceitful. He would consider this a compliment.

Russia: Dan Gavrilovic; his morale shattered by previous poor performance, he was bound and determined to put himself in the winners column at any cost.

Turkey: Rich Goranson; publisher of Forlorn Hope and resident long hair hippie freak. An unknown quantity (in FTF) to the group, I was determined to make a good showing, or at least not embarrass myself.

The game started out with some pretty good fireworks. The principal players were myself, Doug and Dan. Doug and I came up with a sneaky, underhanded and brilliant plan which kept us strong and under little pressure for the first three years. First it involved getting Dan to make an anti-English opening, or at least an anti-German opening. This we did. I went full anti-Russian (F ANK-BLA, A CON-BUL, A SMY-ARM) while Doug moved into Rumania. Dan went anti-German with F SEV-BLA and suddenly finding SEV not only threatened but lost if Doug and I chose to cooperate. England went anti-Russian as well and Dan found himself facing possible elimination in 1902. What followed next was one of the most enjoyable deceptions I have ever been able to manage to pull. Doug and I decided to choreograph a war. Every move we made was pure disinformation for the opposition while we both managed to grow. I moved A BUL-SER while accepting his support into SEV and made it look like a stab. Doug acted this well and we had the board completely fooled. We snarled at each other for well over two hours in front of everyone. Well, I doubt we had Doug’s brother fooled, he knows his brother too well.

We fenced and sniped for four turns until it was obvious that the jig was up and France was getting too powerful. Italy was holding on despite FOUR French fleets in the Med. There was an obvious F/E/G but France looked the strongest. Doug and I agreed to stop him. I moved armies into Greece (which was his SC) and Bulgaria and he would convoy me in to help defend the Italian peninsula. It was then that Doug made his fatal error. He had given Venice back to Italy for the build and would be -1 if he didn’t get a centre back. I now held another of his centres and had two armies against his one in Serbia. Jerry reminded me that the time to stab was now while I reminded him that he had had four turns of opportunity to stab France. If it worked I would be +2 while Doug would be -3. When Bob changed his mind and refused to allow foreign forces on Italian soil, I knew that it was time.

The stab was classic and devastating. I almost lost control of myself when Austria’s orders were read first and he continued to push westward. I knew then that the stab had worked and completely lost my poker face to a slight case of the giggles. Doug’s expression was classic shock and horror. Afterwards he said that he realized the situation after he sent in his moves and that he would have done the same in my place. My stab of Austria set in motion two other stabs: Germany and England on France. Vance had left himself completely open and seeing no other place to get centres to keep even with me (now with 8), Tim and Jerry promptly dismantled the French war making machine in a lightning strike, reducing him from a very strong 7 to F SPA (sc) three turns later. Bob and Doug, knowing which side their bread was buttered on and realizing that English fleets in the Med would be a bad thing became perfect toadies to the might of the Sultan. My major problem became Jerry. We agreed that I would allow him Warsaw while I took Moscow. I agreed to this because I thought that it wouldn’t threaten him too much while it would allow him to put pressure on Germany. He didn’t do it and he took both Moscow AND Warsaw and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Tim and I tried to come to some sort of arrangement but we were unable to do so.

Eventually a three way E/G/T draw was proposed but it kept failing. We knocked out Vance and it still failed. We suspected that it was either Doug or Bob that was blocking the draw. Eventually we realized that this game was running about eight hours and we really wanted to get in another one so we eventually agreed on the E/G/T. This I probably should not have done. The three principals were all at nine each but a little sniping by Jerry and Tim had left Moscow and Warsaw vulnerable while I could grab Trieste as well and shoot up to 12 with a very good defensive line. This would have given me “Best Turkey” honours for the tournament. I wanted the solo win but the most that I could have reasonably hoped for was 16 before the wolves hunted me down. I reluctantly agreed to the three way and tried again.

Game 5 of the tournament was one that should not have been played. We were all hot and tired and I was starting to fall asleep while writing my orders. Not a good sign. I drew France, which is my favourite country to play but I played miserably. I got paranoid and sniped with England when I should have been helping him. Rob Lesco, who is traditionally the first player eliminated at this tournament, just rolled us all up. His Russian forces played a masterful northern strategy to perfection while I was playing games in the Med with Italy. I tried to prop up Germany against Martyn Phillips’ Austria but was unsuccessful. It ended in 1905 with a concession to Russia as we all realized that we could do nothing against him. I had a pretty solid seven centres and proposed a R/A/F but it was voted down. I eventually went with the flow and agreed to the Russian win at 3AM. I have never seen more unintentionally botched orders in any game then I did in this one but we were all tired and little tipsy. Ghastly.

I left CanCon on Sunday morning with the final board still being played. Tim Snyder (with three three-way draws) and Rob Lesco (with his solo win) were in the lead for the trophy but it was really anyone’s tourney. One solo win by any of the contending players could have done it for anyone. As you may have heard from other zines, Bob Acheson took the final game and the trophy. The things that happen when you go home early. Well, Bob, congratulations and we’ll make sure that it never happens again. 

Reprinted from Forlorn Hope