The London Trophy 1999

by Vick Hall (Tournament Director)

It was very much a last minute decision to host this year’s Trophy as I was up to my neck in it at Think, but when I decided to jump ship into the sea of unemployment and enjoy myself on a little trip to EDC in Finland, I thought well lack of time is not a problem anymore. Funnily enough, with sorting out the ManorCon finances, the rigmaroles of life on the dole (signing on etc) and thankfully more job interviews than i can handle, time is still of the essence. A week later and I’ve only got round to writing this report! 

As it was a last minute job, I was not initially expecting a huge turnout for this year’s event. Last year the Trophy had struggled to reach 3 boards and so I felt realistically that 4 boards or at the most 5 boards was the best that could be achieved and that was with a lot of work. With this in mind, the venue seemed more than adequate as the upstairs at the Plough was just big enough to take 4 boards and maybe squeeze in 5 at a push and then there was always the downstairs in an emergency. The main reasons for the choice of the Plough though were it’s ideal central London location and in particular the fact it was just 50 yards away from Playin Games, who were donating some games as prizes. So, I was hoping they would pick up some business from the event as well. I know we cleaned out their entire stock of ‘Lost Cities’ at the very least! 

Anyhow, with the Trophies were booked, venue sorted and the initial publicity done, I went away to EDC content. Returning to find that  Toby had gone into manic mode an a huge publicity drive that was striving to make the Trophy this years biggest UK event! I didn’t take long for me and others (Emeric and Stephen Agar) to get caught up in this enthusiasm and start pushing to see just how effective this proactive publicity approach could be. As the predictions of 10 boards plus became even wilder, I was beginning to worry abut how seriously overcrowded the pub would be. 

Fortune came to my rescue as not everybody who said they were committed turned up for one reason or another and although Toby (and to a lesser extent myself) was disappointed we did not at least make 7 boards, I was relieved as in the end 6 boards was probably the maximum the pub could have handled. I was also more than pleased that everyone who did turn up  actually got a game of dip and i didn’t (thanks to the timely late arrival of Guillarme Gossellin) have to play myself to fill up the final board, which is always a nightmare for (Sweden just scored – YES!!) the tournament director. Firstly as it then becomes difficult to keep control of and monitor the other boards and secondly you can’t effectively concentrate on the game you are playing in, which is not fair for any of the players on that board or in the tournament. Also you are conscious that you don’t want to play so well that you actually win, which is certainly an unsatisfactory position! 

Given the fact we had started a bit late, especially the six board, I reduced the planned number of game years form 1909 to 1908 as I was bearing in mind that my scoring system included penalty points for games that finished after 6 o’clock. This made was going to be difficult for the 6th board, but left the other boards with an excessive amount of leeway to finish by six. I did not want to have to be going around enforcing deadlines and I hoped the penalty deterrent would ensure the players themselves would keep themselves on track. How wrong I was! 

Board 1 was undoubtedly the Board of Death, with the likes of Cyrille Sevin, Mark Wightman, Toby Harris, Chetan Radia and Steve Cox. I missed the start of this game as they pushed ahead with their opening moves, whilst I was sorting out the remaining boards upstairs. I was indeed a board of death though as Chetan and Cyrille found out sooner than they liked. Mark Wightman (Italy) had the Easter powers in check, whilst Geoff Bache (France) seemed to mop up the West with ease and establish an almost untouchable winning position. Could he hold it together till the end and would it be enough were the only questions remaining. 

Board 2, I initially termed the ‘easy’ board and Dave Horton drew it! He even got his favoured country France. But easy it was not to be as there were some more than competent players on this board in Mick Dunnett, Yann Clouet and Steve Agar and Dave got far from an easy ride, being attacked with a fervour by Des Langford (England) and Steve Agar (Italy) who was quickly into Marseilles and the MAO! Mick Dunnett (G) was also profiting from the demise of France, whilst in the East Yann Clouet (Austria) was controlling the game. Stephen and Mick however joined forces to push Yann back in the final year to increase their crucial supply centre counts. I’m not sure why this game suddenly veered off the rails time-wise toward the end, but it was significantly over for me to have to apply the -2 point penalty to the whole table. Which in my final calculations, turned out to be quite crucial. 

Board 3 from my observations was quite a balanced game with Emeric (F) in control, but boxed in the Western half of the board and Sid Sedjai a omnipotent threat as Turkey in the East, who with his Russian puppet, Tom went on to win the game. 

Board 4 was an interesting affair with an initial juggernaut operating the Con/Sev switch, but Greedy Greco (R), just could not resist the temptation of stabbing his trusting Turkish ally Mark Stretch. Whilst matters were resolving in the East, the West started to play merry go rounds as well, with first Chris Stocking (E) taking advantage and then Simon Hornby (F), to be finally outwitted by Tangi Le Dantec (G). The game remained very close with none of the remaining 3 eastern powers getting any clear advantage. Guy Thomas’ Austria had potential but was sandwiched in a Bandy Bap between Andrew Greco’s Russia and Vincent Boutan’s Italy, both of whom took chunks out of Guy in the end. The game was also well behind schedule and was definitely on course for penalty points, when the draw was proposed and somewhat surprisingly to me was actually accepted. I guess it was just all too close to call and people were happy with their final positions and did not want to risk the penalty. 

Board 5 was the game I’d have liked to have watched more fully as the play here seemed particularly good. Shaun Derrick (R) and Emmanuel Lorge  (F) seemed initially to be in control with Doug Massie (I) also prospering well, but the game gradually turned as the wicked witches Ian Andrews (E) and Emily Bache (T) put the screws on Russia, whilst France slowly increased his dominance by picking off a weakening Italy. It was all a question of whether Emmanuel had timed his push for glory in time. Had he left it too late to catch Geoff Bache and the expanding threat of the ‘Dark Destroyer’ on Board 6. 

Board 6 was hampered by a late start and at one point it looked like I was going to have to play Germany, until Guillarme turned up in the nick of time to rescue me. Tony Wheatleys slightly maverick and slightly inebriated play as Austria, handed the confident Simon Bouton who was already on a high from his EDC victory an easy start, despite the initial RAI triple alliance against him. Both Russia and Italy were a bit rusty, along with Geoff (E) whose one bad build misorder definitely cost him. So as Turkey manipulated and dominated the East. Richard Turner (F) and Guillarme (G) carved up England. The game really turned by Guillarme’s decision to stab France and go for a high scoring second place, letting Turkey out of the bag. The risk in this strategy was the potential for a Turkish outright victory, but surely not…….? 
The Results

Pos. Pts. 
1Simon Bouton54Best Turkey: 18 centres outright.
2Geoff Bache51Best France: 15 centres
3Emmanuel Lorge (F)50France 14 centres
4Sid Sedjai (F)49Turkey 13 centres
5Stephen Agar48Best Italy 14 centres (-2 pen)
6Tangi Le Dantec (F)45Best Germany 9 centres
7=Mick Dunnett41Germany 13 centres (-2 pen)
7=Mark Wightman41Italy 11 centres
9Emeric Miszti39France 9 centres
10Andrew Greco38Best Russia 8 centres
11=Emily Bache32Turkey 8 centres
11=Ian Andrews32Best England 8 centres
13=Jeremy Tullett31Germany 7 centres
13=Vincent Boutan (F)31Italy 7 centres
15Toby Harris30Russia 6 centres
16Yann Clouet (F)26Best Austria 4 centres (-2 pen)
17Gary Duke21England 3 centres
18Steve Cox20Turkey 2 centres
19Paul Dowden18Turkey 2 centres (-2 pen)
20=Simon Hornby16France 4 centres
20=Guy Thomas16Austria 4 centres
22=Doug Massie14Italy 2 centres
22=Shaun Derrick14Russia 2 centres
22=Tom Sebeyran (F)14Russia 2 centres
25=Des Langford11England 1 centre (-2 pen)
25=Guillarme Gosselin11Germany 11 centres
27Chris Stocking8England 2 centres
28Richard Turner4France 4 centres
29Robert Welsh1Russia 1 centre
30=Mark Stretch0Turkey: eliminated
30=Tony Wheatley0Austria: eliminated
30=Geoff Tolley0England : eliminated
30=Richard Ramsden0Italy: eliminated
30=Dave Norman0Austria: eliminated
30=Stan Kellett0Germany: eliminated
30=Peter Hawkins0Austria: eliminated
30=Adam Harris0Italy: eliminated
30=John Wilman0England: eliminated
30=Chetan Radia0Austria: eliminated
30=Cyrille Sevin0Germany: eliminated
41=Paul Brett-2Russia: eliminated (-2 pen)
41=Dave Horton-2France: eliminated (-2 pen)

Congratulations to Simon Bouton on yet another superb victory and also to Geoff Bache and Emmanuel Lorge on their second and third places. If it wasn’t for the penalties applied at the end, Stephen Agar would have just pipped Emmanuel for third place as they would have had equal points and would also have tied as a dead heat on supply centre count back. Had that been the case it would have gone down to country allocation, which according to my undisclosed list would have placed Stephen above Emmanuel who had the more favourable country draw. Still, Stephen picked up the best trophy for Italy and Emmanuel a box of Lost Cities for 3rd place, so I guess in the end it worked out nicely in that they both took something home. Mark Stretch meanwhile had rushed off home to prevent himself being awarded with the Golden Bone award for most outstanding poodle who obtained one more vote for this prestigious award than Tom Sebeyran! 

Best Diplomat was won by Simon Bouton with 17 votes to Emmanuel Lorge who was voted second with 15. Emmanuel did however obtain a maximum of 18 votes for Best Strategist ahead of Simon Bouton on 16 and Sid Sedjai on 15. Quite an impressive vote their for Emmanuel from his peers. 

My only small mistake on the day with the results was awarding Best Austria to Guy Thomas when it was in fact won by Yann Clouet! Well fortunately Guy was not there to collect the trophy so Yann the next time I see you remind me to give you your just rewards. 

Overall, the Trophy this year was a big success, especially with the big attendance from France and I promise for next year to make the registration fee free for foreign attendees, so I hope very much you’ll all come back again for another tilt at the Trophy. As for myself, I luckily had not too much to do apart from trying to placate the pub, who seemed to get a bit stressed out, especially at lunchtime, which was mildly chaotic! So I had time for a chat with Alex Bardy and Siraj from Playing Games, where we learnt some inside truths about a few things of which I had better stay quiet. Although I was too stressed out to even play any other games as well I still had a great time overseeing the action. Maybe though I was a bit too lenient on the game deadlines. 

The plan next year is to go for a two day weekend convention and we are looking for both a new venue and accommodation for this purpose. I will inevitably do my best to keep you all informed of events and look forward to seeing you all again next year.