The Diplomatic Pouch

The Holcombe Position: A Commentary

Eric Verheiden

Ted Holcombe recently published an article entitled "The Holcombe Position" in Graustark #315. To those who have been following the stalemate articles by John J. Beshera, Robert Bryan Lipton, and myself, Holcombe's article may seem a little confused. But then, it was also confused when it was published in Hoosier Archives #73 in May 1972, and I presume it was no better in Diplophobia #93, where it was published before that.

To begin with, the passage of time has made some of the statements as to what has been published up to this point, if you will excuse the expression, "inoperative". John Beshera published a detailed analysis of French positions in his "Fundamental Stalemate Positions, II" in Wazir #4 (July 1972). Robert Lipton ran his "A Series of Progressive Northern Stalemate Positions" in Graustark #268. My own "Western Stalemate Positions" appeared recently in Graustark #313, and finally my "Northern Stalemate Positions" is due out shortly. So it can hardly now be said that nothing has been published on his French "Locked up position" or indeed that published material has been restricted to the single English position he mentions.

As for his major line itself, there is a significant error. Two fleets are not sufficient in general to hold the North against an active Germany with fleet building capacity, since German fleets in Berlin, Prussia, and Livonia, would be sufficient to dislodge one of them in the position he mentions. For lines that do work, the reader is referred to my "Western" article above. That, combined with the other articles mentioned above, provide the reader with an infinitely more comprehensive and accurate analysis of Western stalemate positions in general than the historical tidbit offered here.

Reprinted from Graustark #318 (5th October 1974).
Retyped for email distribution by Mark Nelson (, June 1994.
Converted to HTML by Matthew Self (, December 1995.