Houdini Blues

Issue 8, Late December 2001

Welcome to this, the sixth issue of Houdini Blues, a subzine of TAP edited by Michael Lowrey, 6903 Kentucky Derby Drive, Charlotte, NC 28215. My email address is mlowrey@infi.net or call me at (704) 569-4269. Bonus points if you catch the music reference in the subzine name.

© 2001 by Michael Lowrey. All right reserved.

First of all, some administrative notes. Houdini Blues has a game opening in Diplomacy. This is a continuation of the game opening I had in CCC, for which Matthew Matz, Saul Spiel, Brendan Mooney, Fred Wiedemeyer, Dan Gorham, and Frank Easton had signed up. If you're one of these folks, please confirm that you're still interested. The game fee is $5 plus you must, of course, get TAP by one of the usual sources. In addition, I would like to start another Outpost game. Please let me know if you're interested.

In the weeks since September 11, a great deal of attention has been placed on aviation in the U.S. The air transportation industry certainly faces significant new challenges since September 11. Aviation security, something taken a bit too casually in this country for many years, is now a headline issue. Many airlines are losing money at record rates and laying off thousands of employees. That said, the nation faces another serious problem a lack of capacity in the air transportation system that is receiving scant attention. Yet only by to acting now, despite the short-term reductions in people flying, can we hope to catch up and build a robust aviation infrastructure for the future.

Americans boarded airliners in record numbers during the late 1990s. With the increase in air traffic came an even faster increase in flight delays. The FAA reported that delays were up 58 percent between 1995 and 1999, with an additional 14 percent increase in the first half of 2000. While some delays were the result of labor disputes and other passing issues, most reflected a worsening capacity shortage within the U.S. air transportation system.

While demand for air travel, fuelled by a booming economy and low unemployment, increased rapidly, our ability to accommodate flights grew at a much slower rate. Fundamentally, the air transportation system labors under significant capacity limitations. There is a limited amount of airspace through which planes can fly. Likewise, planes must take off and land from a limited number of runways. While there may be enough capacity on a good day, things fall apart quickly during bad weather - which is responsible for over 70 percent of flight delays. Inclement weather greatly reduces, much as pylons on a road can reduce a four-lane road to just two lanes and create backups. Weather-related constraints in

Air Capacity Remains Critical

the sky can effect a large area - a band of strong storms that aircraft need to avoid - or a specific airport as low clouds, rain, or strong winds increase the required separation between planes and limits the number of runways in use.

The aftermath of September 11 and recession have forced most airlines to dramatically reduce their flights, which has eased pressure on the system. These reductions are likely to be only a short-term phenomenon; in time Americans will return to flying. The demand for air travel grows as both population and per capita income increase. Likewise, the Gulf War and associated recession and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 did not prevent airline travel from growing rapidly in the 1990s.

Unfortunately, as the 1990s also proved, there are no easy ways to dramatically increasing air capacity. Rearranging flight schedules to avoid periods where the number of planned takeoffs and landing exceed an airport's theoretical capacity can help, though this is not the primary cause of delays. Even a heavily debated idea such as "land and hold short", a technique whereby a landing aircraft lands and stops short of an intersecting runway, is projected to only increase capacity by 15 percent at affected airports. Improved radar, meanwhile, can add four takeoffs or landings an hour at airports with parallel runways separated by less than 4,500 feet.

While certainly every little bit helps, the improvements needed to significantly increase capacity are long-term projects, including adding runways and a new flight control approach called "Free Flight" that are the most threatened in the current environment. At the airport level, adding runways is best way to increase capacity. It also is expensive, generates local opposition from those that would be subject to increased noise, and can take a decade or more to accomplish. In the 1990s, U.S. airports added only 17 new runways. Free Flight, meanwhile, is a FAA concept for better using the nation's air space. Instead of having airliners fly along a limited number of predefined corridors under active air traffic control, planes would be allowed to fly more directly between cities with less direction from control centers.

Both long-term solutions are very much in danger in the post-September 11. Airports across the country have already delayed $16 billion in improvements, including runway projects in a number of cities including Charlotte and Dallas. As for Free Flight, any system with greater active ground control negates much of the system's potential

While it is understandable to focus on security and economic issues in the wake of September 11, the U.S. air transportation system has other fundamental problems that also need to be addressed. Unless they are, we risk facing very substantial delays in a few short years at airports that have little to do with added security precautions.

The deadline for all games is January 23.

Harald Haarfager

Viking Dip, Endgame Statements

Pete Conrad (99I)

Diplomacy, Fall 1909

Kevin Wilson (England): This was my first try at Viking Dip. I liked it! I like the tight, aggressive variants as a diversion from standard Dip now and then. This one and Balkan Wars fill that need nicely. Congrats to Pat on a nice win. You called it correctly. If I had a chance to win, I needed to turn on my ally quicker. But I was concerned that I couldn't beat you to the magic number unless I had him with me to hold you back and let me get into position. The moves turn before last knocked even that hope out. I'm still not sure what Denmark was trying to do. (What were you trying to do?) I hope any comments from him will shed some light. I thought the suggestions I had made would have kept Sweden at bay and you alive so you can see why I was surprised at what did come about. Anyway, it was fun and I'll have to give this variant a try again soon.

Michael Lowrey (GM): In over a decade as a publisher and GM in the PBM hobby, there are a few things I have never understood. At the top of the list is the willingness of many a publisher to offer large scale variants while running a small circulation zine. It's the typically (male) more is better attitude applied to Dip if a seven player game with 34 centers is cool, imagine how cool a nine-player game with 70 centers (say) must be.

It is also a receipt for disaster. More often than not, publishers simply can't fill these opens, even after many months of trying. If they do somehow find enough players for their favorite (say) nine-player variant, the dearth of standbys often undermines the quality of the game. The problem is compounded by the length of the game more players typically equals a longer game and the greater amount of time and effort required from both the GM and players to complete each turn. By the time the everybody has everything just about figured out in the game, it's over.

There is a better solution. There are any number of good five and six-player variants in existence such as Viking Dip II. They require less effort to play in or GM than bigger variants while still presenting the challenge of a new map. From a publishing standpoint, such variant openings can be filled. There's also hope of finding enough standbys to keep the game going if there are a few drop outs. I encourage all players and GMs to give them a try.

Austria (7) bud, gre, rum, ser, tri, ven, vie

England (6) edi, lon, lpl, nwy, stp, swe

France (13) bel, ber, bre, den, hol, kie, mar, mun, par, por, spa, tun, war Build two

Italy (0) rom Out!

Turkey (8) ank, bul, con, mos, nap, rom, sev, smy, war

Notes: The Winter 1909/Spring 1910 deadline is January 23.

Turkey builds one if A War retreats otb, else is even.

GM: Michael Lowrey (mlowrey@infi.net)

Austria Mark Kinney (alberich@iglou.com)

A Tri-Tyl, A Apu S Turkish F Rom, F Alb S Turkish F Eas-Ion, A Bud S A Vie, A Gal-Boh, A Vie S A Gal-Boh, A Ven S A Tri-Tyl

England Paul Milewski (yellowpajamas@hotmail.com)

A Stp-Mos, F Eng-Mid, A Lvn S French A Pru-War, F Bar H, F Bot S A Lvn, A Yor H

France Steve Mauris (sjmauris@hotmail.com)

A Pru-War, A Ber-Pru, F Bal-Den (nsu), F Den U (H), F Hol H, A Bel-Pic, A Sil S A Pru-War, A Boh-Gal (d, ann), A Mun-Tyl, A Tyl-Ven (nsu), A Pie U (H), F Tyn-Ion, F Tun S F Tyn-Ion, F Wes-Tyn

Italy Steve Cooley (scooley1@mediaone.net)

NMR! A Tus r otb. No units.

Turkey Pat Conlon (aparrotlaughsat40@msn.com)

F Rom H, F Adr S Aus A Ven, F Ion-Nap, F Eas-Ion, A War H (d, gal, otb), A Mos S A War, A Ukr S A War, A Sev S A Mos

Press: Constantinople-Rome: Sayonara to one of the original gang of seven. Now we are down to two. Of course I am counting this chicken before it has hatched. Knowing Steve Cooley's ability to talk anyone into anything, this is a risky assumption.

Constantinople-Paris: I never write you because I am so busy writing England!

Harald Haarfager Viking Dip II

GM: Michael Lowrey Zine: The Carolina Command & Commentary/Houdini Blues

51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59

Denmark 5 6 6 8 7 7 6 4 0 Steve Mauris (Eliminated, Fall 959)

England 4 5 5 6 6 8 7 9 11 Kevin Wilson (Survived, Fall 959)

France 5 4 4 2 1 0 0 0 0 Phil Reynolds (Eliminated, Fall 956)

Norway 4 5 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 David Hood (Eliminated, Fall 956)

Sweden 4 5 7 8 10 10 12 12 14 Pat Conlon (Wins, Fall 959)


Outpost, Turn 17 and End

Bartertown Mark II (York) now passes.

Major Miner (Conlon) buys five robots (NC20, NC18, NC14).

HBDC IV (Wilson) buys three New Chemicals Factories (NC24, NC22, NC20, NC20, NC20, NC16, Re14, Re12, Re10, Re10, Re10, Wa6).

GM: Michael Lowrey (mlowrey@infi.net)

Deadline: Endgame statements are due January 23.

Notes: Exploitation Unlimited, HICK, and SARA each take a MegaWater card. HICK and Little Green Men take a MegaTitanium card. Exploitation Unlimited takes a Mega new Chemicals card.

Congratulations to Harry on his win!

Remember to sign up for the next Outpost game if you are interested.

SARA (Andruschak) opens the bidding at 200 (yeah, right) on the Moon Base. More realistically, he wins it with a bid of 237 (MO45, NC24, NC22, NC20, NC18, NC16, NC16, Re15, Re14, Re10, Ti10, Wa7, Wa7, Wa7). SARA then opens the bidding on Heavy Equipemnt and wins if for 30 (MWa). SARA also buys population (Wa5).

HICK (Hood) opens the bidding on a Plantary Cruiser and wins it for 200 (RO35, Mi17, Mi14, Re16, Re15, MTi, MWa, Wa8, Wa8, Wa8, Or5). HICK also buys population (Wa5).

Exploration Unlimited (Hassler) opens the bidding on the second Planetary Cruiser and wins if for 211 (MO45,MNC, NC24, Mi16, Re10, MWa). Exploration Unlimited then buys two robots (Mi18, Or3)

Little Green Men (Partridge) opens the bidding on theOrbital Lab and wins it for 62 (MTi, Re13, Wa5). Little Green Men then opens the bidding on the Laboratory, which Bartertown wins for 81 (Re16, Re13, Re12, Ti13, Ti9, Ti9, Ti9, Ti9). Little Green Men then buys three Research Factories (Mi17, Mi16, Re14, Re13, Re12, Ti11, Wa7)

Outpost Factories Upgrades VP

S.A.R.A. OrF, OrF, 9 x WaF, 5 x NCF Wa, HE, No, No, Sc, Sc, EP, OP, MB, MB 85

HICK OrF, OrF, 7 x WaF, 3 x TiF, ReF HE, No, No, OL, OL, La, 2x EP, OP, PC, PC 78

Exploitation U OrF, OrF, WaF, 3 x WaF, 4 x NCF DL, Wa, No, Sc, OL, OL, Ro, PC, MB 68

Little Green Men OrF, OrF, 3 x WaF, 4 x TiF, 7 x ReF DL, HE, No, OL, OL, La, EP, OP 47

Bartertown II OrF, OrF, 3x WaF, TiF, 4 x TiF Wa, HE, Ro, La, La, EP 33

Major Miner OrF, OrF, WaF, WaF, TiF, TiF, 4 x NCF DL, Wa, HE, Ro, La 30

HBDC IV OrF, OrF, 2 x WaF, 2 x ReF, NCF, 4x NCF DL, DL, DL, Wa, La 21

Houdini Blues Diplomacy Player Addresses

Pat Conlon P.O. Box 1413, Mammouth Lakes CA 93546

Steve Cooley 23927 Ranney House Ct,Valencia CA 91355

Steve Mauris HQ TFF, G2, Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, APO AE 09340

Paul Milewski 7 Mallard Dr, Amelia OH 45102

Mark Kinney 4820 Westmar Terrace #6, Louisville KY 40222

Kevin Wilson 373 Gateford Dr, Ballwin MO 63021