Archive for March, 2014


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Crystal Palace 1 (John Terry own goal! 52 minutes)

Chelsea 0

Attendance – Sell out 25,166

There’s very little else to add here without turning it into a essay of Tolkien proportions, suffice to say another “big teams” fans put firmly in their place OFF the pitch as usual and for the first time since 1990, on it as well.

WARNING this 42 second clip contains a tune so catchy you’ll still be humming it hours after hearing it, not a problem if like me you love it, but if you’re like the wife be warned …………

 

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cpfc-primary-badge-642-px61-813693_478x359[1]Its been a while, but as the season in the Premier League continues I find myself looking back more and more nostalgically about the rivalry with arch villains Brighton and Turd Albion.  It might be that our next chance to meet is coming sooner rather than later for most Palace fans as we hover precariously above the relegation zone but if the dreaded R word does happen at least we’ll be able to once more cross swords with this execrable rabble from the South Coast.  It still gets me every time as I start writing about this topic how much pent up hatred I have for the Weed. Yet at the same time life without them would be quite dull. So here’s a 5 minute clip told by someone I think is supposed to be Palace’s Mascot, Pete the Eagle, recounting to his son the almost biblical fairy tale about that special feeling Palace have in their hearts for Brighton.

 

 


Sep 1914 - Kitchener's recruitment drive poster concentrating on the British sense of duty proved a huge success

Sep 1914 – Kitchener’s recruitment drive poster concentrating on the British sense of duty proved a huge success

So The Great War begins. Before we get into the detail, regular game players will no doubt be thinking. Hang on? isn’t this game designed to be played by 2 or 3 players? The answer is YES and it is so much better that way( I assume) as well. But the game does have a Solitaire suitability rating of 7 out of 10 and lacking any other players nearby and not wanting to lose hours of my life gaming on the Vassal site I’m afraid I am having to play this game solo, making decisions impartially for both sides.  The inherent weakness is as the game is card driven I of course know the contents of each sides card deck so we’ll just have to put that down to fantastic intelligence from the likes of Mata Hari and other spies of the time.

Now the results, the first 2 turns of the game are monthly ones before we adopt a quarterly seasonal turn system from turn 3 onwards. Both sides have commenced the game in Mobilisation stage meaning they have a small deck of cards to select from with which to make decisions.

Western Front – The Central Powers (CP) began as they did historically with the “Guns of August” event allowing them to destroy the Liege Fort, occupy the space and launch a devastating attack on the 3rd French army in Sedan. After this opening assault things became a bit more cautious as both sides jockeyed Armies into position.  The vacant Sedan space becoming the main area of conflict and a killing ground for whoever tried to occupy it.  In September the French were required to conduct a mandated offensive (more on Mandated Offensives next time).

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Disaster at Metz – 5 French armies are dashed to pieces attacking 2 entrenched German ones defending the fortress area around Metz. An Anglo-Belgian spoiling attack also fails with heavy loss

1st battles of Metz and Lille.  Mustering a massive 5 Armies of nearly 900,000 men they attacked from their own trench lines against the dug in German 4th & 5th armies at Metz.  Further north, a second attack by the weakened British BEF and newly arrived predominantly volunteer 1st Army, supported by the Belgian 1st Army is launched against the newly held German positions at Lille. As the photo left illustrates, both attacks failed miserably. The French 9th Army was reduced to Corps size, while the 5th Army was damaged.  The BEF leading the British sector attack are reduced to Corps status of about 50,000 men from the original force of 200,000. German losses while by no means trivial (2 armies damaged) are much lower, and their territory has been held. These brutal combats force both sides to use cards as replacement ones to bolster and reinforce their numbers at the end of the month.

Eastern Front – This is the area where the traditional thoughts of Trench warfare tend not to happen. Russia being so vast that this usually is a theatre of movement.  However that didn’t happen in the opening months as being a bit rusty on the rules I concentrated more on the Western Front.  Austrian units made some probing attacks into Russia and small areas of territory were exchanged, the Austrians coming off slightly worse.

Balkan Front -The Balkans looked like they would become a quiet sideshow when all of a sudden, the Austrians launched an offensive against Belgrade. Relief of Belgrade – Initially successful, they began investing the city before a concerted Serb counter attack drove them back with heavy losses.

Summary – After the immediate battles over Liege, events were far more cautious than expected with both sides only creeping up on their War Status footing and moving units into place. Then the major defeats of the allies in battles in September on the Western Front put the German forces at an advantage. The Balkan Front looked vulnerable however and the Eastern Front was a tinder box.

 

NEXT – Autumn and Winter 1914 – The Central Powers move up to Limited War status, Turkey joins them and the Eastern Front explodes into action


 It seems fitting to dig out this classic given the hundredth anniversary, that and watching the excellent bbc drama “37 days” was enough to sufficiently whet my appetite. Bear with me folks while I set the scene, this blog is nowhere near as long as it looks, the bulk just made up of mouth watering stats!

This game is without doubt one of the best war-games ever created. I’m not just saying that, until very recently it ranked as the no.1 war-game of all time on Board Game Geek. This game actually makes the First World War a playable one and an enjoyable one at that (in gaming terms).  The only flaw, a cosmetic one in that the map although beautiful to behold is printed on PAPER. Yes you heard that right a paper map”board”. Scandalous, although a “deluxe” edition with a cardboard map was subsequently published.

So onto the game, its card driven which being my first introduction to this style of game led me to being very suspicious. The cards however are the mechanics setting up each players options whether they are movement, combat, reinforcements or specific combat events or wider diplomatic ones.  This is not a review of the game per se, its going to be a narrative of the War as it unfolds, so prior to commencing hostilities while I reacquaint myself with the rules, here are the strengths of the opposing sides.  

Aug 1914 - The entire theatre of War

Aug 1914 – The entire theatre of War

Central Powers:-

Germany – Western & Eastern Fronts – 7 Armies (1 reduced), 3 Corps (2 reduced) plus 8 Corps in reserve – 1,400,000 + 400,000 in reserve

Austria-Hungary – Eastern, Balkan & Italian Fronts – 6 Armies (1 reduced), 4 Corps plus 5 Corps in reserve – 1,300,000 + 250,000 in reserve

TOTAL – 2,700,000 + 650,000 reserve = 3,350,000

Allied Powers:-

Aug 1914 Western Front

Aug 1914 – The Western Front

Russia – Eastern & Near East Fronts – 6 Armies, 7 Corps plus 6 Corps in reserve – 1,550,000 + 300,000 in reserve

France – Western Front – 7 Armies (2 reduced), 3 Corps plus 7 Corps in reserve – 1,350,000 + 350,000 in reserve

Serbia – Balkan Front – 2 Armies plus 2 Corps in reserve – 400,000 + 100,000 in reserve

Great Britain – Western & Near East Fronts –  1 Army, 3 Corps (all reduced) plus 2  Corps in reserve – 275,000 + 100,000 in reserve

Aug 1914 – The Eastern Front

Montenegro – Balkan Front – 1 Corps – 50,000 men

TOTAL – 3,625,000 +  850,000 in reserve = 4,475,000

Neutral Powers:-

Italy – Italian Front – 4 Armies (all reduced), 3 Corps plus 4 Corps in reserve – 550,000 + 200,000 in reserve

Turkey – Near East and Balkan Front – 13 Corps – 650,000

Bulgaria – Balkan Front – 6 Corps – 300,000

Romania – Balkan Front – 6 Corps – 300,000

Aug 1914 – The Balkan Front

Greece – Balkan Front – 3 Corps – 150,000

United States – None

A note on Army units – Each nationalities Army and Corps units have with a few exceptions a generic Combat, Loss & Movement factor.  So although it would appear the CP are massively outnumbered, the quality of at least half of their force is much higher than most of the AP forces.  The first number = combat strength, 2nd = loss factor, 3rd = movement. The higher the combat factor the better the chance of inflicting damage, the higher the Loss factor the better the chance of receiving lower casualties.  In essence any unit with a combat factor of 5 is VERY good, any unit with a loss factor of 2 or worse is poor

full/reduced str

GB Allied – 5-3-3/4-3-3 BEF (single unit)

GER Central – 5-3-3/3-3-3

USA Neutral Allied – 5-3-3/3-3-3

GB Allied – 4-3-3/3-3-3

FRA Allied – 3-3-3/2-3-3

BEL Allied – 2-3-3/1-3-3 (single unit)

RUS Allied – 3-2-3/2-2-3

AUT Central – 3-2-3/1-2-3

SER – Allied – 2-2-3/1-2-3

IT Neutral Allied – 2-2-3/1-2-3

GB Allied – 1-2-3/1-2-3 MEF (single unit)

TUR Neutral Central 1-2-3/1-2-2

 


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DON’T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME – Lap 1 and the first ever 4 car width grid lines up at Pedralbes

The season finale, Pedralbes (ed Docks fans circuit used to represent owing to length of original course) and just the 2 big guns were left.  Alfa-Romeo’s Juan Manuel Fangio verses Ferrari’s Alberto Ascari. The permutations were simple. With a 2 point advantage for Fangio, Ascari would have to win the race and claim the 1st lap leader bonus point to overturn the score and claim the Championship, irrespective of Fangio’s result.  Winning without the bonus point would only gain him the championship if Fangio did not finish in the top three.  Joining the final race and taking the place of the injured Johnny Claes (Talbot privateer), Luigi Fagioli (Alfa-Romeo) and Gus Mairesse (Talbot privateer) were Harry Schell (Maserati privateer), and debutants Duncan Hamilton and Andre Pilette both Talbot privateer entrants. There was thus no room on the grid all season for British F1 new boys BRM, HWM and the veteran ERA team.

Qualifying was uneventful, the grid lined up using a unique 4-3-4 set up allowing the drivers to be a lot more closely packed.  The weather was glorious sunshine.

LAP 1 – There were 3 stallers including the hapless Schell (2nd consecutive race) at the start but thankfully all the drivers eventually got away.  Going into the very tight first chicane (of no less than 16 corners per lap) debutant Hamilton collided with Philippe Etancelin’s privateer Talbot who was then propelled into the air coming down on top of Maurice Trintignant’s Gordini.  Bad luck continued to haunt the improving Gordini team as Andre Simon’s mount retired shortly after with a suspension issue. Further first lap retirements included Andre Pilette (Talbot privateer) engine, Felice Bonetto (Alfa-Romeo) puncture.

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FOLLOW THE LEADERS – Lap 1 and confusion all around trying to identify who is actually in the lead

As numerous drivers spun early on, the pace became more conservative than usual as drivers attempted to preserve their tyres. Pierro Taruffi (Ferrari) set the early pace and it wasn’t until the end of the 2nd loop section when he was eventually caught by Ascari, Giuseppe Farina (Alfa-Romeo) and further back Fangio. Farina then began to  pull ahead with a masterful entry and exit at Tetris Bend. He then extended his lead and was the first to begin the 2nd lap after pitting for tyres.  Ascari’s hopes of the bonus point had gone making his task that much more difficult.

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Farina (Alfa-Romeo), 2nd – Luigi Villoresi (Ferrari), 3rd – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo), 4th – Ascari (Ferrari), 5th – Taruffi (Ferrari)

LAP 2 – Farina commenced the 2nd lap very conservatively allowing Villoresi (who had stormed up the field at the end of the previous lap), Fangio and Ascari to close the gap and negate his advantage.  The brutal nature of the circuit began to tell on the 2nd lap with over 9 incidences of cars spinning out of corners, their tyres shot.  The highest profile was Farina who lost control and was injured in the crash thankfully not fatally. Also to retire were  Yves Giraud-Cabantous (Talbot privateer) tyres, Rudi Fischer (Ferrari privateer) suspension and Schell (Maserati privateer) colliding with Pierre Levegh’s privately entered Talbot. Farina’s retirement and Villoresi’s double spin allowed a hitherto lacklustre Fangio to move up the field into 3rd place, just enough to ensure the championship would be his regardless of Ascari’s final position. Meanwhile, further ahead it was left to Taruffi to take the lead once more following his text book entry/exit at Tetris bend despite damage caused by earlier contact with Farina. Ascari however managed to keep in touch keeping his championship aspirations very much alive into the final lap. 

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AND THEN THERE WERE TWO – Lap 2/3 – Taruffi’s and Ascari’s Ferrari’s begin the third lap with Fangio (Alfa) just visible a distant 3rd and about to pit for tyres

Top 5 at end of lap. 1st – Taruffi (Ferrari), 2nd – Ascari (Ferrari), 3rd – Villoresi (Ferrari), 4th – Fangio (Alfa-Romeo), 5th – Emmanuel de Graffenreid (Alfa-Romeo)

LAP 3 – Taruffi with Ascari in close contact had opened up a sizable gap to the next group featuring Fangio, his task of finishing at the head of that group in 3rd if he was to take the championship looking more perilous as Villoresi pulled clear relegating Fangio to 4th while Ascari shadowed Taruffi with a car in a decidedly better condition. Then Taruffi spun and Ascari was past in a shot.  An imperious move in 5th gear into Pipeline Drive allowed him to move up to 6th into the next corner and beyond.  Fangio was forced to take a more aggressive approach and he hit his next corner perfectly in 5th gear then, De Graffenreid slipstreamed past him but as he entered Pipeline Drive his suspension gave out,  just ahead Villoresi spun letting Fangio back into 3rd place, enough for the Championship title!  But just as he pulled away, Louis Rosier (Talbot privateer) who had been way off the pace blasted past an incredulous Fangio in 6th gear out. Rosier then made the next corner in 6th gear while Fangio was only moving up to 4th gear.

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WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH – LAP 3 – Contrasting fortunes, Ascari (left) takes the chequered flag and the Championship by virtue of more podiums. Fangio (right) meanwhile spins and limps home in 4th

As his championship hopes began to fade Fangio was forced to take even greater risks. Eventually it proved his undoing going into the 3rd last corner, trying to stay in contact with Rosier he lost control and spun. Restarting in first gear his quarry disappeared into the distance. At the same moment, Ascari took the chequered flag. Despite a herculean effort to try to haul himself back into contention he crossed the line in 4th place and as such lost the World Championship. For the second successive season Fangio had ended up as bridesmaid.  The spoils this time went to a jubilant Ascari and Ferrari.        

RESULT

1st – Alberto Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 2 points (8 minus 6 dropped points)

2nd – Pierro Taruffi (IT) Ferrari – 6 points 

3rd – Louis Rosier (FRA) Talbot-privateer – 4 points 

4th – Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Alfa-Romeo – 0 points (3 minus 3 dropped points)

5th – Luigi Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 2 points 

Bonus Point – Giuseppe Farina (IT) Alfa-Romeo

Both the top 2 drivers ended up on 32 points. By virtue of the most podiums (6 to 5) Ascari took the Championship by the narrowest of margins in what will in future always be regarded as a true classic.   

Final Championship placings after 7 races

1st Ascari (IT) Ferrari – 32 points (3 wins, 6 podiums)

2nd Fangio (ARG) Alfa-Romeo – 32 points (3 wins, 5 podiums)

3rd Sanesi (IT) Alfa-Romeo – 16 points (1 win, 3 podiums)

4th Farina (IT) Alfa-Romeo – 14 points (0 wins, 1 podium)

5th= Claes (BEL) Talbot-Lago privateer – 12 points (0 wins, 2 podiums)

5th= Villoresi (IT) Ferrari – 12 points (0 wins, 1 podium)

Link to full results table HERE! F1 Results 1951

NEXT – 1952 – THE BRITISH ARE COMING!


UPDATE – An advance guard of interlopers discovered a Maginot Line style weakness in our defences as well as what sounded like an entire colony of 100+ assaulting it this morning. Additional defences have now been installed making the eaves a veritable Fort Knox Siegfried/Hindenberg line of metal wire netting complete with dragons teeth, pillboxes, murder holes and “Achtung Minenfelds”! So “Come on Corvus show us what you’ve got”

keepituryens

Yep its that time of year again where we brace ourselves for a 2 month campaign of cacophony, mess and general annoyance at the hands or claws of the Jackdaw horde.  This colony numbering in excess of 200 are now reinforcing with their Eurasian allies and planning their next conquest.  After 3 years of being hounded out of our bedroom from the incessant noise of the next breed/clutch of filthy younglings I began to fight back last year.  Honours ended even, bowed but not beaten I determined to turn the tide this year.

So in came our Atlantic Wall coastal style defences blocking off chimney pots and critically all the eaves where these despicable carrion skanks from Dunland attempt to gain access.  Sleeping lightly from bitter experience, in the last 4 nights our early warning radar has picked up a continual barrage of tapping almost sounding like drilling as the advance guards have been trying to break in through 2 layers of…

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Current line up with Mina Spiler

MUSIC FOR PLEASURE? THIS IS MUSIC TO MARCH TO (ack Killing Joke).

First up the Official teaser trailer  (1min 45secs), to Laibachs latest tour.  Definitely a step change towards a more accessible “Bud Lite” version of Laibach but still managing to retain their humour and predictions of fire.  How these guys manage to predict world wide events before anyone else does is beyond me and some of their lyrics almost seem profound, this time the Ukraine.

I first heard of this band in the late 80’s/early 90’s on the youth tv programme “Rough Guide to Europe” hosted by Magenta divine that featured the underground scene in Tito’s State controlled Communist Yugoslavia.  I had never seen or heard anything like it then and the same applies today. Uncompromising, impossible to label, controversial are all statements used for and against in describing them.  I’ve been dusting off my jackboots and marching to this group ever since and yet they keep turning up with innovative stuff.

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EAT LIVER!

So onto the gig. Fittingly my 200th one. After being advised that the new album “Spectre” was a pile of doo-dah I was expecting very little.  The last few gigs for content haven’t been the best and that includes playing in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern 2 years ago (The most perfect venue for a Laibach gig if ever there was). Arriving at another most Laibachian style venue (Warehouse with exposed bricks etc) I was immediately asked if I would answer some questions on camera for a Slovene tv show.  After this, I took up position and stifling a yawn desperately tried to remember what the new stuff was like having just received the album in the morning.

The Golden era

The Golden era – Eva Breznikar (and not in shot Natasa Regovec) guest fez wearing drummer girls

With the opening peals of the Eurovision Song Contest the gig got underway and within seconds all my fears were allayed.  LAIBACH ARE BACK! Ok so not a patch on WAT, Volk or the earlier stuff, but Spectre does deliver.  Its definitely a more Euro electro accessible version that for some purists (myself not included) might be hard to palate at first but it will grow on you. The continued presence of Melodroms Mina Spiler provides the softer edge but then again with her screaming literally and then shouting orders into a loud speaker its not really that soft.  I would go so far as to say that the first half of the show being a run through of the new album was dare I say it better than the second half of Iron Sky and other old favourites (B Maschina excepted). Warm Leatherette/Warme Lederhaut was the pick natch.

But don’t take my word for it, check out the opening track below and make up your own mind, conform or dare to be different, the choice is yours…………FOR THE TIME BEING.