The year of the pandemic. We're only halfway through, but it's already clear what the most significant event is this year. No need to wait until the end. A big advantage for those writing end of year conférences. And for technophiles, the global lockdown has enabled the rapid adoption of online tele-conferencing technology by the masses, including for the game of Diplomacy.
I was personally involved in two such endeavors. One was the DixieCon tournament held online, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue. The other was Lei Saarlainen's groundbreaking attempt to bring life to the Bangkok Diplomacy Club, ahead of the 2021 WDC in the same city, the first ever to be held in Asia. The amazing thing is that he actually got something going, all while living in Vietnam, where he was also creating a club from scrap. How did he do that? He contacted the Bangkok Chess Club, the Battlefield Bangkok Boardgame Café and the Ninive Games Boardgame Café, where he found a few people interested. He then flew over to Thailand to instruct and play a first few games. He got them so enthused that the café owners started organizing their own tournament events. Together they also discussed organizing a national championship in advance of the World Diplomacy Championship next year.
But then the pandemic struck and the Vietnamese government closed their airports. Lei flew to Hong Kong in regard with his tourist visa, which is only valid for a month in Thailand versus three months in Hong Kong. True to his mission (a modern missionary, you could say) within a short timespan a Diplomacy community sprang up in the city. At the same time he began to organize online games to keep the momentum going. More traditional games with one day deadlines as well as realtime games were organized, and people from around the continent (some outside) were invited. I played in both forms with varying success. As a result I find myself in the standings of the Bangkok Diplomacy Club. It's all good fun. If you live in Asia and would like to participate, or you're not, but you're considering to attend the WDC next year and want to get involved, contact Lei or me. Come join the club.
You did hear me say Bangkok and chess, right? Which immediately recalls that hit song from the musical Chess. I'm going to cite two extracts, one dissing the merit of organizing events in exotic places, the other reveling in it. Delightfully cynical or positively thrilled, your choice.
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