MasterCon 3 (1996)

by Mark Stretch

Another entertaining Mastercon has been and gone, organised my Shaun Derrick and Co in Cirencester. Naturally, I was there, in order to report on it for the zine – oh, and to play a few games, too, I suppose.

Upon arriving, we quickly got roped into a game – trying to find the room. I’d heard last year about the labyrinth that was the Kings Head Hotel, but it was not till now that I realised quite how bad it was. After much searching we found the room, which was notable, for having the strangest bathroom you’ve ever seen in hotel. The reason it was odd was that it was long and narrow, with the loo up some steps at the far end- so far down the far end that it even needed a separate light switch!

After discovering such delights, back to the ballroom, all the time wondering whether we’d be able to find our room again – especially after a few pints. I was silly enough to say that I’d play dip on the Friday. Things got worse when I ended up on the same board as good ol Turbo Nick. Not again! Despite the best efforts of Ivan Woodward (the only ally I ever had),I was out by 1904,with a gaand total of zero points. Not a good start.

Now, as some of you may have noticed, I am nowadays gming Colonial diplomacy within these pages. As those of you in the game have I’m sure realised, I hadn’t actually played it yet. So, I thought that I’d rectify that with a leisurely game of it on Friday night After drawing the Dutch, I remembered what Mark Golby tried in Lauda, and didn’t make the same mess of things. I did alright, taking The lead at one point, before slipping back to third on the board by the end. Steve Cox lead the way with a very impressive Chinese performance.

Saturday saw us getting woken up by a phone call from Shaun Derrick asking me to play in round two of the dip. No thanks Shaun, not today. Still, it actually got me out of bed (better than the wake up call did), and I stumbled bleary eyed into the games room for the game of Britannia that had been arranged for us to play in, starting an hour earlier, only for us all to oversleep As I’m sure most of you are aware, I can’t play Britannia to save my life So, facing experienced opponents in the form of Parish, Golby and the master of the puns himself Tony Wheatly, my chances weren’t good. I’m still not too sure how, but somehow, I managed to end up winning it in the end. If any of you are interested, ask Nick, and rm sure he’ll give you the full post mortem.

Then came round two of the colonial dip. I hadn’t actually intended to play, but Shaun talked me into it, mainly by pointing out that the top three overall got prizes and I was currently third. That was not to last, as I managed to draw France. There are those of you out there that think Austria is bad in normal dip. France in Colonial is worse. It is absolutely revolting to play. Still I did survive (in fact nobody was eliminated in the tournament over the weekend), but slipped down the rankings to sixth. Steve still lead convincingly, from Ivan Woodward However, one result which was posted during the game was the regular dip standings. Despite still having no points, I was two places ahead of the Snotty one. Yes, James Hardy was last. He even blamed that on me, as had I played I’d have been adjacent to him, and he actually trusted my replacement For some reason, he wouldn’t have trusted me, if I’d been the one on the board

Saturday evening saw the highlight of the weekend. Yes – the skittles. Like all major sporting events, this didn’t run to schedule, either, being delayed not by rain or suchlike, but by food, with Shaun having a late dinner. Everybody in the monks retreat enjoyed themselves immensely, with a very entertaining game being held. Mssrs Duxon and Tullett ended up in the final, with Pete winning. However, there were suggeetions that there should be a stewards enquiry on the basis that Pete was (a) sober (b) a professional bowler and (c) using his regular 16lb bowling ball.

Sunday’s diplomacy round was somewhat depleted, with quite a few of the top names either leaving early, or wanting to play in the Colonial game, which clashed with it. The most notable missing players were Michelle Duncan (1st overnight) and Pete Duxon (5th overnight). Neither could win a prize as a reult The most interesting draw though was Suzie and David Horton ending up on the same board, as Austria and Turkey. What is more, John Colledge didn’t notice this till after they’d eliminated him.

Meanwhile, I was playing in the Colonial final. From the look of things, Steve Cox had it in the bag, leading from Ivan Woodard, then a big gap back to the rest of the field, consisting of Hardy, Wreathall and myself At least I had a sensible draw, getting the green of Japan out of the hat. I ended up doing well, too – very well in fact Mind you, the fact that I was knocking on the gates of Moscow gave it away a bit, and the rest of them stopped me going any further. I’d certainly done enough to come second overall, but had I done enough to overhaul Steve? Well, he’d played the best British game of the weekend, but they’d had a poor time of it in the main. After the game, we had the interesting scene of me congratulatmg Steve, as I thought he’d done enough, and him conceding to me, as he thought he hadn’t.

So, an agonising wait for the results, where it trnspired that I had just scraped home to pick up the trophy, 2 best country award (Japan & Holland), and a copy of the game. Not a bad collection for a weekend’s work. The problem is, now I’Il have no excuse when I make a hash of adjudicatmg the game.

Another Oxford man, Dan Lester picked up the intimate award, so we’d have two trophies in the car on the way home. The dip was won by Mike Collins – just. That result was even closer than the Colonial. Second was Malcolm Cornelius, ahead of the Hortons.

And so another convention was over, and all that was I’d was to drive home. If only it had been as easy to do that. Would the car start? No, it damn well would not even with the kind help of Nick Parish and Steve Thomas giving us hand So, back to the hotel to phone the RAC.

Well, it gave us time for a game of Modern Art with Dave and Suzie. Well time for most of a game, as the RAC arrived part way through. At least he managed to start it. He was just leaving, when it died again. Fortunately, Dave managed to run after him to try again, and second time it actually stayed runmg, and got us home in one piece – though somewhat later than anticipated.