Interview: Jim Burgess (JB) interviews World DipCon Champion

YANN CLOUET (YC)

From Diplomacy World #91

 

JB: I wanted to jump right in and interview Yann fresh off of his victory this past July in Birmingham at ManorCon that crowned him reigning World DipCon Champion!  Let’s start off with a brief biography.

 

YC: I’m sorry, but brief is not a word in my vocabulary ;-). I'm 33 years old. I'm French and I live in Paris. I am an engineer in Telecommunications and work as a consultant in Networks and Security for various French or international companies / administrations. I've been playing Diplomacy since 1993. I gradually got more and more involved in the Hobby (first national then international), time providing me more opportunities to travel and more money to afford it.  In 1994, I spent 1 year in the UK for studies. I left the convention competition world, but not the game itself since I brought my board with me. When I started there, I struggled to organize a game. I finally managed 1 day to get 7 players, and they loved it. At the end of the year I had played more than 15 games, and there was a regular club of 25 local players. That year helped me train both my recruiting and playing abilities.  So in 1995, I came back to France and slowly got more and more involved in the hobby.

 

JB: OK, and when did you really cement yourself as an international hobby figure?

 

YC: So we move now to 2001, which was a key year for me. A change of job put me in an extremely favorable condition to travel, since I was working in Luxembourg, and therefore my plane tickets were paid by my company twice a month. So first, that year WDC came back to Paris. The state of the Hobby in France was pretty catastrophic at the time, so I offered a hand to the organization by doing the international marketing of the event and being the contact point for inquiries.  This was pretty logical since I was already at the time one of the French players who knew the foreign Diplomacy players the best. And also because I was co-organizing the convention with the other part: the European Championship of Britannia. Thanks to Xavier Blanchot’s fantastic offer to host all players for free in his hotel, we had 80 foreigners who came for (only!) 40 French players. Very disappointing for us. 

 

JB: But not for us, Xavier Blanchot’s hospitality was incredible and we all had SUCH a wonderful time, but go on.

 

YC: Thank you. So after WDC I made one step further in the World of organization and decide to start running tournaments on a regular basis, including the French NDC in order to revive the Hobby. From a player point of view, I also started having improved and very serious results: second (nicknamed Poulidor) in San Marino & Manorcon, I finally won my first tournament at the end of the year, VikingCon in Copenhagen. I also reached the EDC Top Board in Dublin that year and that Top Board game remains, in my opinion, the best and more interesting game I ever played. I didn't win that game, but came extremely close despite going down to 2 SC at one point and starting the final year with only 3 SC. The last important fact about 2001 is that after I founded a mailing list for the French Hobby: ledixhuitiemecentre@yahoogroups.com, some players from that list created the Website www.18centres.com, which has been the key element of the rebirth of the French Hobby.

 

JB: Yes, I want to come back to that in a minute, but why don’t you complete a description of the last three years and your extraordinary tournament success?

 

YC: 2002 saw my explosion in terms of results. I was still nicknamed Poulidor for my second place finishes, but now I could also win tournaments ... and I did: the newly born "Paris Cup" together with 2 of its 6 steps (and 2 more second places - Poulidor). I won tournaments in Germany & Ireland. I came in second at Euro DipCon (EDC) in Sweden, beaten on the Top Board only on a Tie Breaker by Frank Johansen. I came in second also in the newly born "Grand Prix" of the European tournaments, getting 2 tournament wins, 1 second & a 4th place exactly the same top placings as the winner, William Attia, but I had 1 other "peanut" result while he had 4 others, so he has beaten me by peanuts actually. But my worst disappointment of that year was WDC in Australia, where I saw the point in the last round where the game was under control and I could win WDC. All I needed was 11 SC, and I was England on 6 allied with Edi Birsan's Germany on 7 and with William Attia's Russia working for us. But I became too nervous, did some bad tactics, and I finally I ended that game only on 6, and finished 3rd in WDC. All in all, it was not so bad a year since I finished the year leading the DPTR tournament ranking, and I was also voted "Player of the Year" in terms of game performance on the Hobby Awards Ballot.

 

JB: Indeed, that was a momentous year for you, but I’ll bet that Edi Birsan had something to do with those “bad tactics” in that last round game.  He has a way of doing that without you necessarily noticing that he is the proximal cause.

 

YC: You might be right. On the other hand, it was also in Edi’s interest that our alliance gets on the roll. The Australian scoring system, more than any other, really gives a strong emphasis on an alliance rolling the board. The only thing that counts is your number of SCs, regardless of how well or poorly the others do. So both Edi and I should have gotten a better result in that game.

 

Anyway in 2003 I got even higher. I think the most noticeable fact about that year is that I've been 4 times "European Champion" the same year :-). I won EDC on the Top Board in San Marino, the Grand Prix (GP) final ranking by being the only player to win 2 tournaments (EDC + Brussels Cup), and I also won both competitions’ Team Events. Now I had changed status: I was regarded as "deadly when played against" and "completely unacademic and unpredictable". I think one good illustration of that is WDC where I got jumped on in all my games (because DPTR had just been updated 3 days before the competition). I finished something like 80th out of 126, a severe jump backward (especially in the DPTR), but I still ended "Best Diplomat". Ray Setzer told me that they wanted to rename the Trophy as "The most Dangerous Man in the World with 2 SC". I like that, I think it depicts well the effort I put in every game to never let anything go away easily.

 

JB: And what could be better?  You paved the way for your countryman Vincent Carry to walk away with the World DipCon title…. no, actually I guess I helped him do that more than you did, but that’s another story.  Let’s bring ourselves to the present now.

 

YC: I didn't imagine I could have a better year. Well, 2004 is hardly half finished, and I already did!  That World DipCon title that you probably heard of, since you asked me for this interview, was just the 4th of a series of 4 tournaments in a row getting "top scores" (I don't use the term "victory" because I was TDing one of the 4 tournament so I placed myself out of the official ranking in that one). With 1 more win after WDC in the first Austrian tournament in 13 years, the defense of the GP is already pretty much secured. Everything else would be a bonus. I don't imagine I also will be given the chance to defend my EuroDipCon (EDC) title, which doesn't mean I won't try ;-). But despite all those trophies, what pleases me the most and makes me proud is to see the French Hobby slowly but surely coming back to the Golden Age, and the European Hobby building up with more and more new countries and players every year. Since I started organizing it, the French NDC had 49 players in 2001, 93 players in 2002, 119 players in 2003, and hopefully more this year. As for the GP, there was 10 tournaments in 2002, 11 tournaments in 2003 & 15 tournaments in 2004. Now that I have won all those titles I'm not so hungry, and I want to concentrate my involvement in the Hobby into dragging more and more players into this fantastic community, let them discover the underlying social aspect of it, and pass the relay baton so that some of them in their turn invite us to their own conventions.

 

JB: Wow, even more than I had hoped in asking for this interview, that’s great Yann.  Let’s fill in a few details now from some of the earlier years.  How did you get started back in that French Hobby Golden Age year of 1993?

 

YC: I will soon get jet-lagged between all those sudden jumps in time! So back in 1993, I started during a period which is still known among the players who were already playing at the time as the Golden Age of the French Hobby. In those years, there was something like 30 tournaments a year in France, the largest of which had almost 200 players. It was also the time of the birth of C-Diplo (and actually it was one of the key elements of this success, since the system was beginner friendly and the games short enough not to frighten us). My first tournament was a mere "French Cup", but it had more than 100 players. Before that tournament I had only played 2 friendly games and I remember well that the first round was my first survival (with Russia on 1 SC). I have slightly improved since that time :-). But I got hooked immediately, met a few people that would later become some friends, and I registered with the fanzine (la Lettre du Diplomate) giving us all the results and meta-material describing the lore around the tournaments. Ever since the aim of any tournament organizer in France has been to reach that level of success again. We know we have the players and the potential, but it's not so easy to bring them back ... So back to myself I played a couple more tournament in 1993, with nothing better than a third place.

 

JB: Yes, an inauspicious beginning, but it seemed you learned a lot from that year in the UK, organizing a small group of players.  What was it like when you came back to France?

 

YC: So in 1995, I came back to France, but the situation was very different from 2 years earlier: the previous federation, the FFJDS had sort of imploded from inside, and I had myself lost the contacts (especially after the fanzine stopped its activity). But after 6 months that were very quiet, a new Team formed to revive the Hobby in September (and also to save WDC 1995 which was heading for troubles). So they did a huge amount of work of collecting all the data and getting an updated status of the French players regarding their involvement in the Hobby. So among the 4000 phone calls they did, one of them was my number and I learned that there were tournaments again, so the already old light woke up again and I went to their tournament. My status (and the way the others see me) changed at the time from beginner to "regular tournament player who never wins". I became very regular on the podium, second, third ... but never a win. WDC 1995 was another tournament like that, together with my first international convention.

 

JB: Yes, but you must have a secret for tournament play, how you made the jump, that’s what our readers want to know…. ;-)

 

YC: In 1996, suddenly I understood something and changed my style. Before, struck by the classic beginner complex, I was always jumping on the strongest player on the board (based on reputation) as a way to prove something to myself AND shut him down. Of course it never worked: at best, the guy would just make sure someone else won and often he would even manage to cope and still win it while I was lamentably failing again. I changed that and decided that after all, why should I be scared?  I would perfectly play WITH that player and still beat him in the race, taking advantage of and abusing the fact that OTHERS would jump on him in place of me. As a result, I got my first win in a tournament game. And actually I didn't win only one: I won 5 games out of the next 7 and came second in the other 2 games. This was done in 2 tournaments, but I won none of both. The first one was because I organized it, so I placed myself out of Top Board to be sure not to win. The second one I reached the Top Board, and was slaughtered on that board because of my previous results. Net result: 2 2nd place, that's where I won my nickname: Poulidor (based on the bicycle rider who came 7 times in second place at the Tour de France but never won it). Back to the point my status had changed again: I was now regarded as "very dangerous ... kill him before he moves". So in the following games I started to learn the defense, facing strong opposition in every game. Suddenly it was not so easy. Despite this, my involvement in the Hobby was gradually growing, with my regular share of local tournaments and a tournament abroad from time to time (EDC 1997 in Belgium, EDC 1998 in UK). There I discovered that the game was even more fun when you play it with foreigners. Especially the other 2 big hobbies at the time in Europe: those Stabby Swedes & those Lying Brits, who were also regularly paying us a visit in the French tournaments.

 

JB: Yes, I know just what you mean, I really do wish more Americans would make these trips and see how much fun they really are.  I know my job status will be changing in the next few years to make it easier for me to attend more events.  

 

YC: And I’m looking forward to that!  1999 saw 2 events that made me change status again. The first one was WDC 1999: there I played 4 very good games. In the first one I was Russia to Christian Dreyer's England. We fought for some reason, I got him down to 3 but he came back to 6. Finally we shared third place in a very close game (the winner won on 8). It was the only game of the week-end that Christian didn't win. Later, I came second in my 3 other games (Poulidor strikes back). There is a (good) tradition in the French & Belgium tournaments, that is to vote at the end of the game for various categories. So I finished best tactician overall at WDC (out of 115 players). Also second best strategist, and third best negotiator. This helped me in breaking the mental barrier I had built for myself, I just thought: hey ... yes!  Why not me after all?  The second event is that this year, the French Hobby experienced another decline. It had never come back to the "Golden Age", 

but we still had something like 10 tournaments per year and around 100 players in the French NDC every year. But in 1999, I think there were hardly 4 tournaments (maybe less), and the current Team said they were giving up. So I had to look somewhere else for my regular dose of Diplomacy (I was already addicted). 

 

JB: Ah, ha, we had you and here is where I started to see you on the Internet, isn’t it?

 

YC: That’s right, so I started playing nopress on the judges (mostly FROG, plus a couple of games on USIN and DEDO) and 1 game with negotiation in the WorldMasters. And I started travelling more to foreign conventions. 1999 was my first Manorcon (and first cultural shock since it was the first time I played a different scoring system). I learned a lot there: longer game, different virtue of the alliance and the stab. I got eliminated in my first 2 games and was on my way for the third, but I turned that into a 7 SC survival as Turkey. In 2000 I played in Baltimore WDC, where I reached 16th place (out of 144) with 3 3-way draws (all victories if it had been C-Diplo).

 

JB: Yes, I remember you telling me that at the time in the hallway!  What else did you experience on the Internet?

 

YC: On the judges, I learned to play "draws" & the unlimited style of game. Believe it or not, but despite playing for 6 years, I had no idea before what a stalemate was. But I learned, and quickly ... you have no idea the tactical edge FTF play gives you until you play on the Internet. I achieved a more than 50% ratio of SOLOs on the judge with pretty much every country. In the WorldMasters I also did OK: 1 solo, 2 topping the board & 2 second place (one of them arranged). But it was so time consuming that I had to stop playing with negociation on the Internet. Spending 1 hour arguing for months almost every evening was too much for me. But still it was a very good experience, especially for the atmosphere surrounding the games and the forum. In all this time, I gained 2 things: a hugely increased understanding of the game (by playing different scoring system and different kind of players), and knowledge of players everywhere (in Diplomacy, information is power).

 

JB: I just have a few more questions.  First, I always take the opportunity of these interviews to nail people down for specific thoughts on the tournament scoring systems.  As you say above, you spent a long formative period entirely operating with C-Diplo, but now have been exposed to many others.  I assume that you still favor C-Diplo for those dynamics (don’t have time to lock up stalemate lines) and simplicity for beginners and casual players. (3.5 hours per round for C-Diplo games!) But could you say a bit more?

 

YC: Sure. I like this subject!  I wrote an article in French about it (here include link: <http://www.18centres.com/SPIP3/article.php3?id_article=3>). Most people tend to be very dogmatic about scoring system. A given scoring system will be either “good” (if it fits with the way they have always played) or “bad” (if it doesn’t). It comes I think from the fact that there are very big different between the scoring systems en-vogue in the 3 main regions of the World (FTF speaking). North American play “draws”, that it to say scoring systems where the most important factor to get a good score is how few survivors there are at the end of the game, so the interaction with others are typically kill the weak and the strong with the strong. Australasian play “SC system”, where the other’s score doesn’t really affects yours and where the only important thing is how well you will do yourself.  Europeans play systems where your score is very much linked to how well the others performed. The most famous European systems are “rank systems” (such as C-Diplo) where the key element is to get more SC than anyone else (even if it means you get a very small number of SC, it’s still ok if you had 1 more than everybody else: you’ve been the best on your board). But we use also a lot of “square system” (such as the Manorcon system, which will also be used for EDC this year) which could be also defined as “Divide and Conquer” since you can perform well either by getting lots of SCs (so your square is big) either by spreading the SC of the others pretty evenly (so that there is no big “square” to oppose yours and lower your score when you normalize it in the calculation). When thinking scoring systems, 2 things must be understood. The first one is that scoring systems are all variants of the “pure game” placed as a set-up to allow competition and a ranking. The “pure game” says only 1 thing: there are 2 results. SOLO, or … non SOLO. So (here I start holding my banner higher) anyone claiming that HIS scoring system is THE pure game is false. And you know I’m saying that especially for draws! This idea that a smaller number of survivors means you are closer to the solo is absurd … anyone who has performed or seen solos frequently knows that you see them more often against a divided opposition than against a strong front composed of only 2 players.  The second key idea in understanding scoring systems is that a system is a philosophy: it is built around some principles and means to reward a certain style of play. That can be “killing the others” (“draws”), control the board and prove you were the best of the 7 you were directly facing that day (“C-Diplo”), “Divide and Conquer” (“squares”) or just grow (“SC system”). This decision influences the way players will play a lot, and those who want to play the way they always have will not perform so well (like for instance me in WDC 2000 where I was playing C-Diplo style in a draw-oriented game).  

 

JB: Yes, but how do YOU feel??

 

YC: Now as for personal taste, I don’t like draws because they are based on false principles and a lot more important, they are NOT beginner friendly. I think the organiser likes it even less than the player. As for SC and Australasian systems (like Detour which is experiencing a growing success, especially in the New England area), one thing I like very much about it is that every SC is important. Going from 1 to 2 gives you as many points as going from 15 to 16. So it creates a “fighting spirit” for the small powers who don’t let go so easily, and have a good reason to do that. The drawback is that you see ways too often that the diplomacy is frozen in a logic of blocks: “we ally, we push and then … why should we stab since we get as many points by playing together and pushing our advantage as far as possible!”.  So for those reasons, I still tend to prefer the European style scoring systems. But (it might come as a surprise) I think I like squares as much as I like C-Diplo. The good thing about the former is that it rewards more than one style of player!  The alliance players (sometimes incorrectly called carebears) can really do well by allying together. But with a smaller number of SCs, if you create a huge lead over the second ranked player, you can have an excellent performance as well. And that reflects well the quest for SOLO: I think someone on 13 - 4 - 4 - 4 - 3 - 3 - 3 is generally a lot closer from a solo than someone on 17 - 16 - 1.  As for C-Diplo, it just forces you to really talk a lot with everyone and control what happens everywhere. Underground Diplomacy is the way we call it. Lots of people complain about last minute stab or center throwing in C-Diplo.  On the first issue, I would say C-Diplo is a lot about timing. It teaches you to be at the right place at the right time. And this style pays off in pretty much all scoring systems (see how well the C-Diplo players performed in Denver WDC last year which had also a very important “timing” component: Vincent Carry 1st, Frank Johansen 3rd and Niclas Perez 4th!). You know yourself all too well how Vincent did what he had to do at the moment he had to do it … this is C-Diplo kind of thinking.  

 

JB: Yes, I remember his brilliant stab on me very well, it still hurts.  Frank did the same thing in another game and my pal Niclas just spared me his knife because we weren’t in a game together.

 

YC: So there is no such thing as “silly” last minute stabs.  Actually it is an art to prepare yourself for that and actually to be in position to do it when the time comes.  As for the second critic, those puny center throwing incidents, well I would say they have a lot to do with the negotiation, and it is the heart of the game. If you don’t want anyone to throw away centers to prevent you from topping the board, well then stay in good diplomatic stead with everybody!  Stab … but with a smile and demonstrating it was logical, the “painless stab”.  Talk to everybody to understand what is happening at the other end of the board, and if you see a destructive conflict and a personal issue building up: try to use that for your own benefit: shut it down by trying to be a mediator if it’s dangerous, or organise the defense against the “strong player” you can’t reach if that is the only way to stop him. You don’t win the game by talking to your neighbours, you win the game by talking to the neighbours of your neighbours.

 

JB: I’d also like you to say more about www.18centres.com <http://www.18centres.com>, especially for the non-French diplomacy hobby.  I speak just un peu Francais enough to navigate around the site and see what a wonderful resource it is:  478 active games at the moment (these are all E-Mail games, right?) and articles translated into French from luminaries like Manus Hand and David Cohen.  This is an important tool in rebuilding the French hobby, isn’t it?

 

YC: 478? Well it’s probably because it’s summer and things are getting quiet at the moment ?. OK, I’m happy you noticed the fantastic job of the Webmasters of this site because what they do is impressive, and their success boils down to 3 things:

1) close contact with the community and a very responsive team, including suggestions of the players and fixing the bugs very quickly

2) a very simple interface, ergonomic and nice. I’m pretty sure you don’t need to speak French to use it. You can start your first game in less than 5 min, especially since they use “playing game master” who is here just to change the deadline (the rest is automatic). Contrary to the other communities you don’t need all those volunteers who would have to volunteer to master a game for the others.

3) C-Diplo. They are the only entirely automatic Website to offer C-Diplo kind of games.

The really nice idea they had in the start was to make games as close as possible to the standard of FTF play in France (1907 C-Diplo games) and to build a very close bridge with the FTF Community. And actually the current success of the French NDC, which makes it the largest regular tournament in the World, is in major degree due to players from this Website (despite the fact that it is not the only French speaking community on the net). It has also an impact on the Belgium FTF community and even the Quebecois, who had 3 boards (C-Diplo of course) for their first ever tournament in January.

 

JB: Gotcha, how about some more specifics on the games?

 

YC: Then, this active community has done a huge job to help the webmaster.  Some of them are “mediators” who can moderate anonymously a game when there is a problem (this is the downside from having the GM a part of the game: sometime you need a neutral mediation). Also, they have written FAQs and are regularly running “initiation games” on a specially designed map. Also they have worked to introduce variants on the Website. The classic Modern, Colonial, Hundreds, or things like Chaos, Britain, Crowded are included. But also some “home made” variants, including :

a 6 player variant in France of the 100 years war (1337),

a 7 player Ancient Mediterranean type,

the UNO variant which adds UNO to the standard map (despite the anachronism) as a “diplomatic territory” that communicates with all Capitals,

a “Middle Earth” variant

2 variants that change the rules at sea: Polymer where you can have as many fleets in a sea as there are coasts for this sea, and Navale that merges huge areas of sea in order to give more importance to the control of the seas.

the latest addition, which is probably my favorite so far: Mutants Chronicle in the universe of the role playing game, with 5 different battlefields (the solar system + 4 planets, with transfer possible from those planets to space and reciprocally)

 

JB: But I noticed that you also have some special roles yourself.

 

YC: Lastly, my personal contribution to the Website, which takes me a lot of time, the Website includes its own e-zine in French which I edit: La Gazette (http://www.18centres.com/SPIP3). There again, well in the spirit of the Website, I have chosen a different approach from the other Dip fanzines. Rather than publishing “issues” every 1, 2 or 3 months including lots of articles all at once, I have chosen to publish 1 single article, but once per week, all year long, always the same day (Wednesday). This way some people come and check for news very regularly and so come and visit the website, so if there is something I want to announce urgently (like a surprise tournament) I know the readers have the habit to come frequently. I’m trying to balance the kind of article I publish. I would say we have roughly 50% translation and 50% “home” production.

 

JB: Yes, I saw that.  Translating good articles into French is an excellent way to cross-fertilize.  You’re doing a better job of doing that in your direction than we are the reverse, though I hope this interview sparks some English-speaking interest, or at least awareness.

 

YC: Some articles relates to FTF play, some others describe the content of the website (especially the variants), we also have gaming advice and some meta-stuff like everywhere else.  I also republish from time to time articles from other websites or paper fanzines, my ambition being to concentrate all in one place as many articles in French about the game as possible. We currently have around 150 different articles, I’m already pretty happy with my little Library ?.

 

JB: And lastly, can you say a little about your first round World DipCon game, which seemed to be the one that set you on your way (results elsewhere in this issue) to the World Championship crown?  I note that the dangerous Toby Harris (Germany) also was in that game to your Russia.  And you had reigning World Champion Vincent Carry as Austria.  So in many ways, this game was the beginning of passing the crown from one Frenchman to another.

 

YC: Well spotted! Yes, that game not only brought me more than 50% of my points at the end of the day, but it gave me the little “pinch” of (over-?)confidence I needed to do well the rest of the week-end.  The game also included Andre Ilievics as Italy, and Graham Woodring as France. This was an excellent set-up for me for a number of reasons!  First, I knew Vincent’s limited English would probably motivate him to play with me, despite all the mutual cautiousness we might have when playing one another. Second, just 1 month earlier, I had allied with Andre in exactly the same configuration: Russia for me and Italy for him, and we had finished first and third in Utrecht’s “DomDipCup” thanks to that game. Third, I knew that Toby would underestimate me because he had played me long ago, but not really recently. Fourth, I suspected Graham to be a typical “draws” player, so with a good start I would just have to speak to him about “3-way” to get him on my side.  I had all the cards in hand from the start, all I needed was to play them in the correct order.

 

JB: Ah, I see, good analysis.

 

YC: So first, me, Vincent and Andre agreed to quickly deal with Turkey while Toby and Graham jumped on England. With the game going really well in the South, I took my share of the English center, but since I warned him I was the English didn’t get bothered by that and he kept on fighting the other 2 rather than me. At that point, we had a full round of “musical chairs” between Vincent, Toby and me to see which of the other 2 would jump on the third. I think I managed to catch Toby by surprise when I started discussing with him the details of the next 2 or 3 years after I stab Vincent, and asked him if he could move from Munich to Tyrol the Season after to help me. So me and Vincent entered smoothly into Bal, Pru, Sil, Boh & Tyr, pretty completely destroying Toby’s chances.  From that point, Toby played (as usual with him) awesome tactics in defense. Every Spring move was a big moment of disappointment for me and Vincent: he completely got us that time again!  Fortunately for me, every Fall turn was better for us and would fix the situation, so that slowly but surely the pressure would build up on Vincent’s side of the front rather than mine. Especially after we decided to stab Andre who was fighting for us in France! Now Vincent needed all his units to stop Andre and keep Munich.  2 years before the end, I finally managed to have a great tactical turn in a Spring, convoying a unit to English soil… this meant I would no longer have to sit on defense in the North: I had taken the offensive. This is where Vincent made a huge mistake: he assumed that since the top of the board was secured for me, I would help him in second place (C-Diplo kind of thinking). He didn’t realize how much I would gain from stabbing him now!  Under “squares”, it meant both getting 15 centers instead of 12 (some 10 points) and getting a 7 center lead instead of a 2 center lead (some more 10 points). So I stabbed Vincent for 3 dots to his complete amazement, and got 52 points instead of the 30 or so I would have otherwise.  Maybe he also thought I would not dare take such a lead in the tournament on the first day (the second was at 3 points, the third at … more than 15 points!).

 

JB: Toby would have abused him of that idea, given the chance.  That’s the Tobymeister’s strategy, take ALL you can now and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.  Thanks for being such an EASY interview!!!  Are there any last comments you have for the Diplomacy hobby?  I look forward to working with you in the future to continue to build us up worldwide in fraternity and fun.

 

YC:  I look forward to this as well!  My place is open for those who want to make a quick visit on the occasion of a tournament or not. Also Xavier Blanchot’s has extended his offer so that any diplomats that want to come to Paris will have a 50% discount in Xavier’s hotel providing it is not fully booked.  At last I take this opportunity to thank all the members of this fantastic hobby for the hours of fun we have had together, and also a special dedication to all those I stabbed at least once: see, this was not in vain, your center was a part of it and a step on the way ;-).

 

JB: Thanks, Yann!!!  This might be my best interview yet, all thanks to you.  Would anyone like to volunteer to be interviewed next??  I’m always looking for interesting subjects.  E-Mail me at burgess@theworld.com if you’re interested!!! 

 


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