ManorCon VII (1989)

Con-vivial, Con-cordant and Con-tended (and a header that’s Con-trived!)

by Richard Walkerdine

Yes, it all seemed to go very well and I was very pleased to see so many of you there. Sorry if I didn’t get round to saying hello though, but I was a bit busy and didn’t have too much time for socialising. However, a report…

Having written out all the name-badges and sorted out all the pens, papers, games, Amstrads and so on Thursday evening, Friday morning found me with nothing much to do except load it all into the car in the pouring rain. This done, and for the first time ever, I managed to leave for the con by 10 am fairly sure that everything (so far) was under control. Even better was to come when I reached Birmingham University at about midday to find that only Kevin Lea and Paul Bennett had beaten me to it, which allowed me and Kev (Paul was trying to watch the Test Match and had, not surprisingly, fallen asleep!) to start arranging registration desks and suchlike before the rush began.

In fact there wasn’t much of a rush as the bad weather had disrupted all the trains and the usual pattern of nobody arriving for half an hour followed by two dozen in five minutes was replaced by a steady flow of arrivals throughout the afternoon and evening. This made life a lot easier for the organisers and we now plan to arrange bad weather for next year’s con as well!

We also plan to bring more computers as Friday produced the first major panic. Paul Bennett had brought his Soccerleague software, with which he and Kevin Lea were planning to run a Soccerleague tournament, only to discover that it wouldn’t run on my Amstrad! After a fruitless search for a suitable machine and some concern that the tournament might have to be scrapped Mike Ferguson. saved the day by offering to go back to Coventry and pick up his PC on which he had the same software. Full marks to Mike for helping us out, but next year we’ll make sure beforehand that all the programs will run!

During the course of Friday about 250 people arrived and, as I knew there were several dozen more planning to turn up on Saturday, it soon became clear that this year’s attendance wasn’t going to be much less than the 330 who turned up for World Dip Con last year. By late evening Nick Kinzett was disappearing under a sea of entrants for Saturday’s Diplomacy Team Tournament, several dozen games of all kinds were underway in the main hall and David Watts had taken over the library as his ‘Rostherne Games Room’ – all in all a fairly standard start which boded well for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday of course was the day of the Diplomacy Team Tournament and by the scheduled start time of 9.20 Nick had received sufficient entrants to be able to arrange it as a 19-board tournament. It didn’t manage to start on time due mainly to a lot of last-minute changes in some of the teams caused by people not turning up, or arriving late, and having to be replaced. But, thanks partly to the software that Paul Richards had developed to make the draw, we got underway by about 10 o’clock with 133 people taking part.

As usual there were no outright wins though a couple of the games got very close. Paul Oakes managed 16 centres in his game and Toby Harris actually had a 50/50 chance of getting to 18, but such was not to be. The Mad Policy team put up a very impressive performance as all seven of us managed a draw (though in my case, squashed between Steve Jones and Clive Palmer, it was only a 2-centre draw) and we had some hopes of grabbing the trophy. But in the event it was Liverpool that took the honours, with Paul Oakes’ result more than making up for the team getting only six draws in their seven games. Full results are quoted later in this report.

Also taking place on Saturday were the Britannia tournament and the Amfoot game as well as early rounds of most of the other tournaments. A busy day, and as by the end of it I had a streaming cold I headed for bed around 1 a.m….

Sunday saw the Diplomacy Individual Tournament, the final rounds of Croquet and Speed Circuit, the 5-a-side Soccer tournament and further games of most of the other on-going competitions. Speed Circuit was particularly satisfying as, in a thrilling struggle with Martin Lewis, Richard John and Andy Bate, yours truly emerged victorious and so retained the championship he had won in 1988 – another piece of silver for the trophy cabinet!

The 5-a-side Soccer is well worth a mention as well. I have to admit that since playing in this five years ago (and gaining a cracked bone in my foot as a result) I haven’t really paid it as much attention as I should. But this year, partly because my cold had now resulted in me nearly losing my voice and really not feeling up to actually playing anything, I wandered down to the Sports Hall to watch the action – and I was very glad I did. Apart from one or two donkeys (sorry, Rich!) the standard of play was superb and I have grave doubts as to whether my planned MP team for 1990 (volunteers needed – *hint*) really has much of a chance! But of course It is not the winning, it’ s the taking part… (stop laughing!)…

Back at High Hall the Individual round of the Diplomacy drew to a close and by about six o’clock it was time for Nick Kinzett to announce this year’s winners of the coveted Rusty Bolt Awards. Judging by the cheers and catcalls they received the final results seem to be the ones most people were expecting and the following winners can be justly proud of their achievements:

For Being Who They Are: William Whyte.

Least Regretted/Most Eagerly Anticipated Fold: Yorkshire Gallant.

Feud of the Year: RJW vs The Midcon Committee.

Delay or Least Possible Reasons for it: Sharp Practice.

Most Boring Topic of Correspondence: Miller Numbers.

Continued Assault on the Mother Tongue: Jan Niechwiadowicz.

Most Spectacular Anything Attending a Con: Bidz ‘n’ Emz.

Superfluous Argument: lain Bowen’s “Real zines are mimeo”.

Most Depressing Hobby Concept: “Running down to a fold”,

Anything Not Yet Mentioned: Rich Egan’s “Who’s the guy with the beard?”

(And yes, I’ve picked up another one! My trophy cabinet is now positively groaning under the strain, but thank’s very much indeed for the votes…

By the middle of the evening the hall began to look almost empty as nearly half of the attendees made their way home. I disappeared too for a while as I had to have a session with the University people on Monday to agree exactly how many rooms we had used, which would form the basis of their bill, so I shut myself away with my trusty Amstrad for a couple of hours and tried to make sense of the accounts (and failed of course, but not by enough to cause any worries).

I emerged around 10.30 to find the con almost quiet as those still there spent the last evening beginning to wind down by playing all those non-tournament games they had put to one side during the previous two days. It’s also quite remarkable what the absence of a bar extension can do to the background noise level!

Monday morning was also fairly quiet for the same reasons as Sunday evening and I spent most of my time sorting out details witn the University people and making plans for the future with my fellow committee members and other organisers. The early afternoon was mostly taken up with clearing up and packing things away and by three o’clock we were ready for the final results ceremony. Some of these had already been announced on Sunday so that winners who were leaving early could take their trophies with them, but here is a full list:


Followed by Mad Policy, Veni Vidi Vici, Realpolitik, Seven Stones, Flying Pink Elephants ‘A’, Ode, WILtT?, Astradyne, Vienna Wolf pack, Flying Pink Elephants ‘C’, Old Lancastrians, Vienna Ratpack, Yer Tiz, Springboard,Quartz, Flying Pink Elephants ‘B’, Ten Lying Anarchists, Labyrinth.


Followed by Phil Ralph, Toby Harris, Martin Sanders, Bob Kendrick, AlanSharpies, Matt McVelgh, Jim Mills.


Followed by Corinne Sharpe, James Nelson, Dave Penhallurick.


Who beat The Duck Dies At Midnight 8—0.


Followed by Paul Finch, Dane Maslen, Jeff Edmunds, Steve Bond, Nick Kinzett.


Followed by Brian Flatt, Lee Paddon, Mark Green, Marcus Barber, Ian Wilson.


Followed by Danny Victor, Ken Simpson


Followed by Martin Lewis, Richard John, Andy Bate.


Who beat Rapid Vienna 1—0 in the final.


Who beat Jeff Edmunds in the final.


Followed by Anthony Dickinson, Ian Davis, Steve Guest, Kathy Collman.


Followed by Sarah Avery, John Gates, Brian Flatt, Mark Nelson.


Who beat Tony Ross (Russia) 3—2 in the final.


Followed by Mog Firth, John Harrington, Neil Roberts, Thee Clarke, Tony Ross.


Closely followed by Dave Berry, Alex Zbyslaw, Dave Thorby, The Elephant Men.

And that was it! By about 4 o’clock it was all over, last goodbyes were said and it was homeward bound ready to begin arranging Manorcon 90…

A good con I think and certainly plenty of people said how much they had enjoyed it, which is always reassuring. As ever I am very grateful to all the people who offered to lend a hand as I remain convinced that it is the large number of people who now help to run the thing that keeps it on an even keel. I can’t mention all the names in this short report but some of the more notable contributions included Nick Kinzett (as always, for the Dip and as main announcer), Kevin Lea (for late nights with the Soccerleague) and the Nelson brothers (for an excellent first run at the General Games Tournament); my thanks to you and all the others who helped make it all possible.

Personal memories are all very pleasant and, apart from picking up yet more silver for the trophy cabinet (an activity, as you may have guessed by now, which I find highly pleasurable…), include a first meeting with Madelaine Smith, a long boozy session with Bowen and Doubleday, great fun (as always) with the Vienna mob, innumerable once-a-year encounters with many of you lot and the satisfaction of being able to watch hundreds of people enjoying themselves and knowing that I have helped them manage it. Final attendance was 300, only slightly down on last year, which was even more than I expected.

 Reprinted from Mad Policy 154