Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 121 – Interview with Jamal Blakkarly, 2023 World Diplomacy Champion

Venue: Sugar Cane 1 Guest House, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Drinks of choice:

Ken:  Leo lager from Thailand
Gavin: Leo lager from Thailand


Ken interviews Jamal Blakkarly, 2023 World Diplomacy Champion and co-host Gavin who also played the top board in Bangkok about the game and their similar styles and perspectices on Diplomacy. Plus, the podcast takes a new direction.


  • The guys introduce themselves in an entirely different way to the previous 120 episodes, with the cat out of the bag (0 mins 10 secs)
  • They set up the interview today with Jamal, World Diplomacy Champ and Gavin who was also on the top board (2 mins 20 secs)
  • They discuss the region and where they’re recording and flag because they’re recording on the River Kwai there may be occassional boat noise (which they try to prevent by pausing). They also discuss their drinks (4 mins)
  • Gavin talks about the WDC tournament and the top board. Ken won best Russia and Gavin also picked up the Most Fun to Play With award (8 mins)
  • They discuss the players on the top board and the Paris Method being used to decide who played which country (12 mins 5 secs)
  • Ken gives his thanks to the organiser Lei Saarlainen and tournament director Andrew Goff, before throwing to the interview (16 mins 45 secs)

Interview with Jamal and Gavin on the 2023 World Diplomacy Championships

  • Jamal talks with Ken about WDC 2023The interview begins with WDC winner Jamal Blakkarly and Diplomacy Games co-host Gavin (17 mins 30 secs)
  • Ken asks about country choice with Jamal selecting Austria and Gavin choosing Turkey (20 mins 15 secs)
  • He asks how Jamal was feeling when Peter (France) was being attacked from the beginning by Brandon (England), Edi (Germany) and Chris (Italy) (30 mins 20 secs)
  • Ken asks about what negotiations were going on following Gavin’s Turkish army move into Sevestapol (33 mins 15 secs)
  • The game enters 1904 with discussions on the alliance structure – apologies again for the stop-start nature of the recording due to the boats going past  (39 mins 45 secs)
  • Gavin discusses one of his misorders (47 mins 20 secs)
  • They go onto discuss Jamal’s thoughts on where to take things with Peter’s demise (51 mins)
  • They discuss the reason for the AT alliance moving out of Rome (54 mins)
  • The discussion moves onto Spring 1907 and Jamal’s congo line (1 hr)
  • Ken discusses the people in the room watching the build phase getting excited (1 hr 4 mins)
  • The interview talks about Gavin’s strategy in the game as he was waiting for Jamal’s position to open up, which at last happened in spring 1908 (1 hr 7 mins)
  • Jamal discusses what happened in spring 1908 and how the game radically changed. He discusses Edi (Germany) throwing SCs openly to Brandon (England) and how a different game began at that point. Gavin then discusses how he felt at that moment (1 hr 10 mins)
  • Jamal discusses the last game year. Gavin touches on the intensity of the game at this stage (1 hr 21 mins 30 secs)
  • He goes onto discuss his philosophy and how it relates to the game. They both discuss their spirituality and how it reflects how they view the game – listen to Jamal’s podcast he co-hosts at A Christian and Buddhist walk into a bar. (1 hr 24 mins)
  • Jamal reflects on each player in the game (1 hr 30 secs 30 mins)
  • He discusses Chris Brand’s final moves, which Jamal describes as beautiful poetry on the board (1 hr 34 mins 15 secs)
  • Jamal still finds it hard to process hearing Andrew declare him the winner and what happened next in the room (1 hr 38 mins 30 secs)
  • He touches on how he discovered Diplomacy and how the game continues to change him (1 hr 41 mins 45 secs)
  • Ken begins wrapping up the interview. Gavin discusses how Diplomacy, Strategy and Tactics relate to each other. Jamal gives his final take (1 hr 43 mins 15 secs)
  • Jamal mentioned in his interview how he learned about the game from his history teacher Andrew, he then goes onto calling him in Melbourne and discovers the Diplomacy Club established at the school by Jamal is still running (1 hr 47 mins)
  • Following a query from Andrew, he flags visiting DBN for their coverage of the event (1 hr 51 mins)
  • Andrew discusses why he taught Diplomacy in class (apologies for the heavy editing following another boat loudly going by) (1 hr 53 mins)
  • Gavin asks Jamal on his thoughts after the call finishes with Andrew (1 hr 57 mins 45 secs)
  • The guys reflect back on the human element and the potential changing nature of the game (2 hrs 1 min)
  • Ken discusses Jamal’s upcoming article in Diplomacy Briefing (2 hrs 5 mins)
  • Ken mentions how he and Gavin at the half way mark were recording while getting a foot massage, with Jamal walking passed and popping in and giving his perspectices at the time. This can be listened to in about a week over at the Diplomacy Games Patreon feed, with heaps of extra bonus content (2 hrs 9 mins)
  • Gavin talks about as someone who came more from an online background, how he found the tournament unveiled a totally different perspective in gameplay that can be easily transferred to online games (2 hrs 11 mins)
  • They discuss how this tournament compared to their previous tournaments just in Australia (2 hrs 17 mins)
  • The guys also flag they’re about to update their ‘Start Here’ episode (2 hrs 22 mins 30 secs)



Just a reminder you can support the show by giving it 5 stars on iTunes or Stitcher. And don’t forget if you want to help pay off the audio equipment… or buy the guys a drink, you can also donate at Patreon, plus you get extra podcast episodes!

Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe so you get the latest Diplomacy Games episodes straight to your phone.

Thanks as always to Dr Dan aka “The General” for his rockin’ intro tune.

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