MidCon 1982

by Brian Creese

Friday

As I said to Brian William's on Friday afternoon, “I'm not sure whether to play in the Diplomacy or try along game, like 1829 or Civilization. It's a shame the con doesn't last a week.” “That's why we hold it in Birmingham,” Brian replied, “So it seems like a week!”

A brief stroll round the centre immediately afterwards confirmed Brian's remark. Birmingham today stands as a monument to Victorian industrialist's taciturn functionalism mixed with the, worst of sixties planning euphoria. The result is a series of old, robust, rather dull civic buildings, modern concrete creations and tower blocks separated by multi-lane, inner-city highways. The car and commerce rule, and in this respect the Royal Angus suits its environment by being virtually indistinguishable from a multi-story car park. Still, I always try to have a walk round Brim on the Friday afternoon - I know I'll not set foot outside the hotel once the con swings into action!

And that action starts with Friday evening. in the-bar. As mentioned elsewhere in this issue, this is the friendliest time of the con as you greet people you rarely, if ever, see. Less new faces this time, though Rob 'Reggae' Chapman was an old-timer I'd not met before. However, this year the Friday evening jollifications were interrupted by the much vaunted discussion of the Novice Package. The most notable feature of this debate was the way in which John Marsden dominated it - by letter. JM had sent Nick Kinzett a letter detailing his views which Nick read out as each point was reached. It finished by giving the phone number where he could be contacted at exactly the time we wanted to speak to him. Basically it was agreed (thanks to RJW's figures in the latest Mad Policy) that Diplomacy was still the dominant game, though other games should be mentioned, that RYODA should print it and that JM should edit it. It was also agreed that nothing would be put on sale until Paul had sold the last of the hundred outstanding present packages. Then came that fateful phone call - and John refused to do it! It was finally agreed that John Wilsman would re-edit the package with the reluctant Marsden, and everyone ignored the non-appearing Malc Smith.

The second interruption of Friday night was caused by the preliminary round of the MidCon quiz. This was an en-mass round in which the NMR!, team of Ken, Richard Bairstow and myself (ably assisted by Richard Morris) scored 25 out of 30 points and finished 6th - only the top 4 qualified.

After that it was the hotel curry., yet more beer and chat and table football, before retiring to our slightly crowded room - we had Keith Black sleeping on the floor.

Saturday

Breakfast was, of course, excellent. Unfortunately the efficient waitress asked for our room numbers - Keith unblinkingly gave Chris Tringham's room and was just swigging back his grapefruit juice when the waitress rushed up to him – “Dont drink another drop!”

We froze. Would they throw him out? Humiliate him? Prosecute? What about Ken and I, were we a party ma the crime?

“There's a crack in the glass!”

Keith decided against the breakfast on Sunday, not reckoning that he could stand another shock like that.

My most important decision was made at 9.30 when I accepted an invitation to play 1829 and thus ensured that this year's Diplomacy championship, was not graced by my questionable presence The line up for this game was myself, Richard's Walkerdine, Bairstow, Morris, Cline, Ray Miller and Dave Thorby. The latter three were all reasonably experienced players, while the former quartet were novices. We played this game at a leisurely pace (wandering about the hall, drinking copiously, eating 'cheap' plaice and chips; etc.) until 5.30 when the Guildford Mob darts team (Me, Ken and RB) made its brief and unspectacular appearance in the darts tournament. After that it was table football until a small mob (mobette?) departed for the Gaylord Indian Restaurant. This was ,a select Indian, and a select group of Ken, myself, Paul Simpkins, John Dodds, Will Haughan, Simon Billenness, Chris Tringham, David Long and a Huby. Excellent food, excellent company.

Back at. the hotel the semi-finals of the quiz took place. This was the real thing, with the teams up on the platform having questions fired at them by John Dodds. In the first semi the Newcastle team was narrowly defeated by Dolton's Demonsblood team featuring an anarchic Mike Allaway, who was the most animated I have ever seen. Simon Billinness will probably remember his reception for a while as well.... In the, second semi the Blackmail team (featuring the most solid, chins-thrust-out team imaginable) were far too worldly for the Last Stand group, but it did take Colin Gamble to correctly guess a Diplomacy question for them to do it., The final was close and low scoring, but the favourites of Blackmail eventually won, but only after Richard Walkerdine had entirely. blown his credibility as hobby historian with a succession of astonishing errors. I should like to point out that Dodds’ handling of the, event was a revelation; could this man be another Nicholas Parsons?

After such excitement there was nothing for it but to go back to the 1829! When we called ;a halt for the night (about 2.00am) there were still 2 games of 1829, a Civilization, Nuclear War., Poker and a couple of other games I didn't know still running. And the bar was still open.

Sunday

9.30 saw us back at the 1829 table. To those who have never played this remarkable game it may well seem incredibly boring ma spend the best part of 2 days on one game. However, I found quite the opposite to be true. Unlike many games I found. that the actual playing of the game was pleasurable, regardless of the result. However, I shall save further comment for a game review. The most notable new arrival on Sunday was Glover Rogerson and Philly. As ever, Glover failed to live up to his expectations by being far too normal; I didn't realise who he was until after I'd offered him a sample copy of NMR!

Eventually we called a halt to our game and assembled for the presentations! The Diplomacy Championship was won by Nick Carter, fittingly as he achieved a 21 centre Austria in the 2nd round (a result eclipsed by a 25 centre France!). The results were displayed (in reverse order) by Richard Morris' BBC computer - very impressive The last award was the Pimley Award which, to cheers from the entire hall, went to successful tournament organiser Paul Simpkins for his work on the Novice Package. This was ,a winner who appreciated his award, particularly after the flack he has taken recently. It was a good moment. It was a good con. And it was time to leave.

NDC 1982

1. Nick Carter
2. Dave Dilling
3. Jem Clarke
4. Will Haughan
5. Niall Litton
6. Peter Northcott
7. David McRaith

Les Pimley Award 1982

Paul Simpkins

1982 MidCon Quiz

The “Blackmail” Team (Mike Woodhouse, Colin Gamble, Richard Walkerdine)

1982 MidCon Darts Tournament

The “Chimaera” Team (Bill Dove, Richard Bass, Peter McDonald, Ray Miller)

1982 MidCon Beermat Flipping Champion

David Long (44!)

Reprinted from NMR! No. 34 (December 1982)

 


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