The Diplomatic Pouch

Stalemate Positions: More Practical Implications

Eric Verheiden

In my original article in Impassable #33, the practical implications of some of the more common and easily reachable stalemate positions were discussed. However, there are others, less common and more difficult to obtain, which may nevertheless assume a more critical importance under certain conditions.

To begin with, consider the West, in particular, England, Scandinavia and the Western coastal provinces most often included in stalemate lines. In the previous articles, it was noted how two spaces, the Mid-Atlantic and St. Petersburg, are usually critical to the Western defenses. Usually, that is, but not always. A foreign fleet in the Mid-Atlantic need not prove fatal if the North Atlantic, Irish Sea and English Channel are all occupied (or under repeated attack) by friendly forces. In addition, Scandinavia must be secured, as must be a minimal continental position running from Brest to Kiel along the coast with Paris and Ruhr thrown in. With Burgundy secure as well, St. Petersburg becomes dispensable, with armies in Norway and Finland (or even Sweden) sufficing to hold Scandinavia from the North. This makes the conventional assumption, of course, that enemy fleets have been permanently eradicated from Northern waters.

Also worthy of note is an unique position in which France becomes completely dispensable, along with the Mid-Atlantic, for the Northern powers. In its place, the continental position must be extended to include all of Germany and all of Russia except for Sevastapol; nothing less will suffice. The Western defensive line of fleets proceeds much as the above.

In the East, of interest are the positions which can be formed without one or more of the Italian centers. If all the Italian centers are lost, then stalemate is impossible without a strong hold over most of Scandinavia, which as a practical matter is possible only for Russia and even then often with some difficulty. If not all the Italian centers are lost, however, then the possibilities are more promising. With only Venice and five Southern fleets (one of which may be replaced by an army in Apulia), a compact line may be formed running through the Ionian, the Adriatic or Apulia, Venice, Tyrolia, Munich, Berlin, Prussia, Livonia and Moscow. The two German centers in particular assume a vital importance here, one which an Eastern alliance should be aware of if Italian losses seem likely.

The improvement in prospects apparent with the addition of a second Italian center varies considerable. Holding Rome in addition to Venice but without Naples is a desirable end in itself, but it does nothing to reduce the Northern requirements of a complete line, owing to the large chunk of Italian territory (Piedmont and Tuscany, to be precise) which must be held along with Rome if it is not to be retaken eventually.

Holding Naples along with Venice is somewhat better; the loss of Munich may then be withstood without adverse consequences under the proper conditions.

Curiously enough, best of all is if Rome and Naples are held without Venice, so long as Venice is held by an army rather than a fleet. The fact that a unit in Naples can support a unit in Rome allows the saving of an additional unit, which in turn reduces the minimum requirements for a Northern line to Silesia in Germany and Moscow, and Warsaw (without Livonia) in Russia.

Reprinted from Impassable #42, 3rd November 1974.
Retyped for email distribution by Mark Nelson (, June 1994.
Converted to HTML by Matthew Self (, December 1995.