Inside Pitch, April 1988

All other events this month are overshadowed by the tragic news of the death of Glyn Roberts, co-editor of Cut & Thrust. All the appropriate comments have been made by Derek Wilson in the latest C&T and I will only add that Glyn was a valued correspondent and produced some of the best writing in the hobby. I will miss him, my condolences go to Jill. Ellis and I had discussed arranging some form of memorial but this angle has been covered by Derek's request for contributions to Glyn's favourite charity, Action Aid, Hamlyn House, Archway, London N19 5PG.

At long last Inside Pitch has started to generate feedback. This is a good, if long awaited, development. The worrying thing is that the letters have appeared after an issue that mentioned not a jot about baseball. Interesting. Anyway, while I ponder over the future direction of this subzine, thanks are due to the people who wrote in with comments and views. Replies will be forthcoming in the near future. At the time of writing, Railway Rivals has four of the five players required for a gamestart. I am therefore very keen to get the last place filled - any takers? Andy Hain?

Gaming highlight of the year so far was Baycon, from which I have just returned. It was three excellent days of pleasant company and games playing in Torquay, even the weather was kind and we managed to take in some of the spectacular West Country scenery. Anyway, I set out to play some games that have so far eluded me and anything new that was around. Brian Walker, a fine chap, provided many of the new games and very classy they were too. Six Day Race, Shark and Formule Eins were the standouts of the ones I played though Crude, Schoko and Co, Shogun and Die Macher were also in evidence but time just ran out. One reason why time was short was that I also finally got to play 1830 and feel it probably does live up to its good reputation. I enjoyed it thoroughly, it is a game with immense scope and depth, the only drawback is the playing time required. It was, all in all, a great weekend. Many thanks to Messrs. Harrington, Walker, Challinger, Tringham, Woodhouse, Oakes and the rest for the company.

I mentioned last time the imminent arrival of Counterattack 1, the new game in a magazine from Pacific Rim (not GDW as I said last time, thanks Ulrich). The outcome is a magazine that is printed to very high standards with game components to match. The game itself looks to be OK, the subject matter being modern land combat entitled 'Drive on Frankfurt'. The overall problem is that the whole magazine is devoted to the game subject and supporting articles. This is fine if you are interested in this area but I was hoping for a slightly wider spread of topics. The first issue reads more like FYEO or one of those NATO magazines rather than the balance of the older S&Ts or Wargamers. It isn't expensive (around £6-7) and represents another source of new games and presumably another outlet for fledgling designers and writers. In this respect it can't be bad but I will be selectively buying future issues.

The Five Nations tournament took on a new dimension this year, both in quality of the games and the fact that I was lucky enough to get tickets for the England v Ireland game at Twickenham. This was a first for me and the atmosphere was amazing. It did help that the England wingers seemed unstoppable and the tries just kept coming. The post game drinks with some, umm, rather enthusiastic rugby club members was an unforgettable experience and one that I wouldn't have missed for anything. The games that lead up to the season finale in Cardiff were some of the best I can remember with the Scotland v Wales game and the Scotland v France games outstanding. On the smae subject, all this and more can be recreated with the new Lambourne games release, Line Out, which thumped onto my doormat this morning. If I get a chance I will review it this time but on first impressions it looks to be another winner.

The Spring is always my favourite time of the year. I like the weather when it produces those crisp, clear sunny days, the baseball season is underway and Gonzo baseball beckons. Something I always look forward to is the Masters golf from Augusta and this year proved up to my highest expectations. The fact that Lyle won was largely insignificant, what I love is the course, which is surely the most beautiful in the world, the atmosphere and the tension of the final nine holes. Rarely does it fail to produce a cliffhanger finish and through it all the wonder at the skill of the players grows and grows. For me this is matchless entertainment and it remains one of my ambitions to go and see this very special tournament. We shall see.

Channel 4 comes up trumps again with the excellent coverage of the NCAA college basketball which seems to be handled by the same bunch who did the BBC's NBA coverage last May. The thing about the NCAA is the quality of play from such young players. They put our 'professional' game to shame and the atmosphere in the college stadiums is phenomenal. Does anyone know if we are going to get further NBA and baseball coverage this year? I can only hope that this is the case, is there any other way of seeing the brilliance of Michael Jordan or whether last year's baseball rookie sensations will avoid the sophomore jinx?

Books. Two very enjoyable works this time. The first is The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins in Penguin. I have always been a sucker for the 'popular science' area and have thoroughly enjoyed books like The Dancing Wu Li Masters for their ability to convey complex scientific theories to the layman. Dawkins' book is probably the best I've ever read in this field and it tackles issues such as evolution and Darwinism with clarity and skill. It will also be of interest to anyone interested in computer cell generation systems. In Forbidden Planet recently, I had a pleasant surprise in the form of a new William Gibson paperback, Burning Chrome. Even better was that it is a compilation of short stories which hold together much better than the novels and are on a similar theme centring around Gibson's uniquely troubling future. Excellent stuff.

TV runs quickly along into the repeats and endless sitcoms of Summer schedules but, as a last gasp of a very fine Winter, we did get to see Granada's superb Return of Sherlock Holmes series and the incomparable Brazil. This film, like Blade Runner, lost so much on the small screen that much of the impact was lost but the story remained and ducts will never be the same again. Highlight of the month though was the superb series on the Grand Prix Racing Car 1945-65, on Channel 4. This was in many ways a logical extension of the marvellous Horizon programme 'Supercharged' which covered the pre-war era. I have no idea from where they obtain the colour footage of these beautiful cars but they were put together in a masterful way even if it was rather frantically paced. Perhaps three hour long programmes would have been better. Nevetheless, excellent viewing.

I can't believe I haven't mentioned this before but if anyone needs to get daily updates on the American sportscene you can do no better than to ring Sportscall on 0898 121747. This is an American sourced news service and the commentators aren't at all bad. Worth a listen if you need to know how your team did the day before but a trifle expensive if used frequently. A quick mention for the ever more interesting Major League which is published by the previously anonymous Mike Clifford of 48 Maberley Road, Upper Norwood, London SE19 2JA. This is now up to issue seven and is growing in size and stature. A nice tight read and well worth a look. No sign of Strikeout 4 yet but the Spring batch of Sportspages stock is imminent. The essential Sporting News guides should be in when you read this and there should be a flood of Twins books to follow. Check them out.

Be seeing you. Mike Siggins, 129, Ardmore Lane, Buckhurst Hill, Essex IG9 5SB.

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