OxCon 2001

by Mark Stretch

Having originally set things going at Oxford to start Oxcon (the first dip tournament was 1993), it was again that time of year to return for some dip and settlers. We were back in the Arco building in Keble this year (after a break of many years). The Arco building is an excellent venue for the event, though we could have done with the moveable partitions being removed to give us a bit more space.

One new feature this year was that Games Web came down with a stall. They had a very good selection of reasonably priced games and did a good trade all weekend. I thought they were being optimistic when they turned up with a huge load of games, but the piles of games went down considerably over the course of the convention.

Kieron Quirke tops his table

A large part of the reason for my downfall was a lack of interest in the game by me. Playing tournament diplomacy doesn’t excite me the way it used to and I didn’t put the effort in once things started going badly. Remind me to play something else next year.

Turnout for the diplomacy was four boards, about the same as it had been the previous few years. Declan did a good job running the event though should have been tougher on the slow players in my opinion.

Negotiations Underway

Sunday saw the Settlers tournament. There were a few problems with the start time as there was engineering work on the trains which made several players slightly late with the resulting delays. Most notable was Tanya Fox though it didn’t stop her winning both morning games.

Settlers at OxCon

My morning was rather mixed. The first game saw me up against sharks like Gihan and Demis and with them picking on me I was a poor last as Gihan strolled the game. The second round saw me visit a weak table where I had a very quick and easy win (quick enough to be finished before the results sheets were handed out). It was very good from a tournament point of view as big wins scored more than tight wins.

Tanya had a good morning but it went pearchaped in the afternoon
Simon Bouton and defending champion James Pinnion

After a long lunch to reminis about student days with the late arriving TurboNick, the third round again saw a relatively easy draw and I romped home for my second win of the day. The fourth and final round saw me up against the defending champion, James Pinnion. As proved at ManorCon last year, he can be beaten and as defending champion he was the one they all picked upon, letting me through for my third win of the day.

Students didn’t fare as well as in 1999

Three wins was definitely enough to put me on the podium, and all were big wins, so I thought I’d done enough. As it happens nobody else had managed more than 2 wins so I took the title comfortably. As runner up in the 2000 settlers series I picked up that trophy too, to post on to the absent Dave Horton.

Overall turnout for the settlers was good, at 28, only ManorCon & the Mind Sports Olympiad are likely to exceed that level. It also featured most of the top players from last year with the sole exception of Dave Horton who is taking a well publicised break after last year. The only suggested improvement I’d make for next year is to have 5 shorter rounds, as the games (or at least my games) were finishing early. An extra round would also make the event fairer as it would approach a round robin event. As it stands it is easy to benefit from an easy draw. Thus my preference is either for a Swiss style event or for a full round robin rather than partial round robin format.

Settlers in progress

The last event of the con was the Lost Cities tournament which I was running. Turnout was a respectable ten players when most sensible people were on the way home. The winner by some way was Gihan. This was the first Lost Cities event I have run, and I learnt a lot as a result. Timings need adjusting, (either fewer hands or more time per round). Also the tie breaking system needs altering. Thoughts and suggestions are welcome from everyone.

Full results for the Lost Cities are:

PsnPlayerWinsGame Score
1Gihan Bandaranaike4519
2Phil Williams3434
3Gordon Aickin3431
4James Pinnion2399
5Philip Gardner2228
6Nick Parish (Sub David Norman rd 4)1.5417
7Chetan Radia1.5380
8Declan Waters1519
9Konrad Scheffleur1431
10James Clokey1301

Thank you to James Pinnion, Declan Waters, Chirs Dickson and the others for organising the event. Everyone did an excellent job. I’ll see you all again there next year. Wonder if I can persuade them that defending champions get appearance money in 2002.