Hello, my name is Henry. I’m a diplomat. Oh, I don’t mean that I work for the government or anything, I mean that I play Diplomacy. And, if I may say so for myself, I’m rather good at it.
You may wonder what I’m doing in a place like this. Well, I’m visiting an acquaintance. The world championship is coming up you see and I’d heard a rumor that he’d be out in time to attend. Perhaps I ought to give you a little background. There have been a lot of rumors floating around lately, and it’s probably time that someone set the record straight.
It all started a couple of weeks ago when we got together for a friendly game one weekend. As always, he drew Turkey. Somehow this always happens. Doesn’t matter if he draws first or last, he ends up Turkey. More annoyingly, he always wins as Turkey. He’s a decent player mind you, but he’s just not that good. Give him Germany or France and he’ll bobble his share, but give him Turkey and his neighbors turn into simpering idiots, every guess goes his way, and alliances against him fall apart over the smallest detail, one even collapsed over an argument about who’s pencil it was between them!
Well, not this time. I knew he’d draw Turkey at the worlds, and I’d been preparing ever since last year. Now it was time to put those preparations to the test.
Things started out as normal. The poor Austrian was from Slovakia. He was still trying to locate just where his homeland was on the map when his last unit was removed from the board. Italy only had to make a small break in his stride to avoid the backswing of the door from Milos’s exit and he was gone as well. That old familiar self-satisfied gloat started to spread across his face and you could see that he was already anticipating the win and his chance to gloat. Oh yes, he ALWAYS gloated. I had prepared France well however, and as the fleets began to move south, that gloat began to fade, then it turned to a look of aggrieved fury, sort of the look you figure the Lord had when Adam took a bite out of the apple.
He took France aside and if you’d seen a picture out of context, you’d have thought it was someone chastising a puppy who had just made a mess. He knew it wasn’t the puppy’s fault, he just didn’t know better, and if he could only explain it to him, he’d understand and do the right thing. Then, as the awareness came across him that this puppy was doing it on purpose, the air began to blister with his comments. To give him his due, he had a certain artistry with his words, a mastery of invective worthy of respect.
It was a battle of epic proportions, and it all came down to the wire. One last set of moves and it was stalemate or a Turkish win. We worked through the orders and the grin returned. First he began to chuckle, then it was a chortle, then he positively began to cackle with glee. He capered and cavorted growing louder by the moment, so that it was a fair bit before the French player’s quiet protestations could be heard. Finally, it sunk in to him that someone was debating his conquest.
“What?!?” he demanded.
“I just don’t see it” replied the Frenchman.
“You don’t see what?,” he intoned?
“Well, I don’t see how you’ve won…”
He leaped toward the table and stabbed out a finger, “Right there, I took Brest…WHERE’S MY ARMY? Gascony took Brest, WHERE’S MY ARMY?! Okay, look at the orders, WHERE ARE THE ORDERS?” he yelled, his voice rising to a shriek at the end.
The Frenchman tried to explain to him how he’d gotten bean dip on the orders, and maybe some of the pieces, and well, you can’t really blame a dog for loving bean dip can you? He never made it through the explanation though as he finally snapped. Only gibberish was coming out by the time they came to bring him here for a rest.
Anyway, that’s why he’s here. I’d heard a rumor that he was much better and would be discharged soon, so I dropped in to see. What, oh how’s he doing? Well, I don’t think he’s going to be out any time soon. That’s him you heard screaming a little while ago. Actually he seemed to be doing pretty well when we first got here, we had a pretty reasonable conversation for a while. I guess it’s partly my fault, I should have remember that association might have brought back bad memories. You see, I was feeding my friend here his favorite snack, these little pressed tidbits, just about the size of a Diplomacy piece. He really loves them with a bit of bean dip on them. Well, he noticed me doing that and gave a kind of a shake, then he bent down to the floor and said “You, you cost me that game, you know! What’s your name anyway?” Then he read his tag and sort of gagged. He straightened up, looked at me with his eyes practically spinning, gasped out “you… you” and collapsed.
They gave him some tranquilizers and led him away. The doctor said it might be a couple of months before they’ll even allow him vistors again. Gave little Pavlov here and me quite a start I’ll tell you.
Reprinted from Diplomacy World 82