As it was in the beginning…

Many moons ago I acquired a copy of the GHQ rule booklet: “Tank Charts”, first published in 1984.

I have never got around to actually playing a game with this horribly complex (but normal for their time) set of rules.

So I thought that it might be an interesting exercise to evaluate the rules using the described encounters from the book “Battle”, by Kenneth Macksey.  The book documents a fictitious combined arms operation in Normandy in the summer of 1944

The first engagement is by a sniper against a machine gun position (described starting on page 37 of the book).

Snipers are not covered by the rule set, so I used the factors for an infantry rifle half-section.


PFC Cherry (the sniper) reported:

“I consulted my manual to see if I could spot the enemy.  Rule 2.1 states that I have to spot the target before shooting at it.  The MG team was for no apparent reason rated as easy to see as an anti-tank unit.

I consulted my observation table. 

   I had conducted a specific search: +5

   The enemy was concealed: -2

   The enemy was an anti-tank sized unit: -3

   The range was 0-250 yards: +9

5-2-3+9 =9, so I had actually just about seen them (needing 9 or more)

Then I worked out the chances of a successful shot.

I checked my Base Fire Table (Rule 6.2). I rated myself as the equivalent of a five-man rifle unit.  I guess the range was around 200 yards, so my Base Fire Value was 3.  From this I had to subtract 1 because the enemy was “positioned” and 1 because they were in a hedgerow (Rule 6.3).  I checked that my target had been both located and spotted.  Normally I would have only a 1/6 chance of hitting, but because I am American and it was 1944-45, I had a 1/3 chance (Rule 6.4.1).

Having evaluated the chances I pulled the trigger.  A lucky 5 meant that I reduced the enemy strength by 1.     I knew that I would need a second shot to stop them returning fire (Rule 6.4.2).

Because I had just fired they would have a +3 chance of spotting me (Rule 2.2)

This was not looking good.  I needed to skedaddle pronto.”


That was the resolution of one wargame figure firing at two wargame figures.  it took just over an hour to read the rules, evaluate the factors, check the results and document it.  The documented action is supposed to have taken 20 seconds!!!

How the devil did we ever finish a game in the 1980s?

Aha! I remember… We never did finish a game in the 1980s.

I will be evaluating further actions in a similar vein..    The next one from the book will be retaliatory mortar fire.  

Microsoft “improvements”

Well folks, I appear to have been well and truly screwed by Microsoft.
During the latest “security update” to my PC the classic “Paint” program has vanished and is no longer available for re-installation.

I use this program to create gaming tokens, designing them on a pixel level. But alas! this is no longer possible. I have tried “Paint 3D”, but I cannot manipulate existing .bmp files, nor copy and paste between them, nor comprehend how to design new icons.

MS online Help and Chat were worse than useless.

So it’s back to the drawing board – literally!

Microsoft !!!

One of the tools that I use – or used to use – to develop my gaming tokens was Microsoft Paint.  A simple, pixel based, method of creating drawings.

But alas!  This has been removed from my computer without a “by your leave” by the domineering Microsoft Corporation.  Apparently now I have to use Microsoft Paint 3D, which I do not need, gives me fewer options and a more complex menu for what I actually wish to achieve, and is an imposition on my gaming.

By all means stop supporting “obsolete” software Microsoft, but don’t just take it away without warning from folks who were perfectly happy using it.

From a thoroughly disgruntled* customer.

*”Disgruntled” does not even start to explain my feelings.  I feel annoyed, disenfranchised, rejected, unwanted, disrespected, and several other unprintable feelings.

The Pedant Revolts – again

Two more silly errors from our supposed bastion of English language, the British Broadcasting Corporation.

1. “Lewis Hamilton has won his fourth successive Grand Prix in a row”. Logically he has therefore won five consecutive races, which is untrue. The second win would have been the first successive win, and so on. Or maybe the reporter meant “successful”, in which case the word “won” is redundant. In my view, a piece of avoidable tautology.

2. A report about the recent civil disturbance in Hong Kong. The police “flooded onto the road one by one”. I think the word we are looking for is “trickled”, rather than “flooded”. I believe “were deployed”, or even “arrived” would be a better description if that were the case, but I doubt if the “one by one” is a true depiction. I suspect they were deployed by the van-load.

We have enough issues nowadays with “fake news” without the BBC confusing the issue with “fake English”.

Royal Ascot: The reality, part 2

After my altercation with the Ascot administration team about the idiosyncrasies of their website and their weird car parking policy, we decided to get to Ascot early and see how well we could fare with the parking arrangements.

We left home around 09:15 and sailed through the normally congested areas of Bracknell and Ascot. About 7 miles out we started to see colour coded direction signs. Not having any idea what our colour should be I headed for where I thought I wanted to be. Getting close to the racecourse I simply headed for “Owners and Trainers”.

Driving straight into the car park I told the attendant that we had to collect an owner’s pass, and was waved through. This “waving through” continued until a friendly chap directed us to a “4×4” area at the top of a potentially really slippery slope.

After collecting Chrissy’s owner’s badge we found our club manager and his family preparing a picnic for twenty at the other end of the car park. He was distraught because he had brought the frame of a gazebo with no actual protective covering. Another gazebo was on its way.

Gradually the company began to assemble. Several, by hook or by crook, had acquired “Royal Enclosure” passes and were in full regalia. The Gazebo arrived and on cue it began to rain as soon as the structure was in place. With insufficient space within, some of us headed for the racecourse.

I had to pass through a turnstile with my newly acquired discount ticket (£55 instead of the gate price of £77). Chrissy, with her “Owner’s” ticket had to squeeze through a small gap and leap a pot of flowers to avoid the turnstile.

Once in the grounds we found that since our last visit to Royal Ascot the Royal Enclosure has been expanded in random directions to restrict access for the Premium Price mid-level customers.

It began to rain hard. Dangerously wielded brollies appeared from all sides. My minuscule folding parapluie apparatus failed in all respects (erection, protection, repacking). I tried to throw it into a bin, but Chrissy tucked it into her handbag for the duration of the day and for future attempts.

Meanwhile I started to notice and count those who had successfully flouted the dress code. I spotted four “not suits” and eight bow ties, so my previous three days shenanigans (see previous post) had been in vain. It appears that Royal Ascot has very strict rules that nobody actually checks.

Trying to bet on the first race we joined two queues, both of which were headed by chaps apparently reading the menu and asking for information on how to actually place a bet. With just one minute left to the “off” Chrissy managed to place both of our ultimately useless bets.

For the rest of the day I used my ‘phone for on-line betting. I managed to select the second-placed horse to win in each of the first five races. For the last race I selected, of course, our club horse at odds of 66:1 in a field of 23 horses.

It rained heavily every time we stepped outside, except just before “our” race. I joined our group in the saddling enclosure but had to absent myself from the Parade Ring.

We decided to watch the race from the terrace, with Chrissy in the Owners’ section and me just over the fence in the lower orders enclosure. It felt a bit like the film “Titanic”, even more so when Chrissy was asked to move because she had accidentally invaded a private party!

Before the race started a loose horse ran the course on its own. It received an enormous cheer, but the jockey was not at all pleased. Anyway, our horse came 17th of 21 runners. Just about as expected considering the opposition, but we were pleased to have even qualified for Royal Ascot.

Our best win of the day was free car parking when other club members had paid £45 to park miles away from the club base.

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In conclusion, our best win of the day was blagging free car parking (to which we were actually entitled, but encouraged by the racecourse to ignore) and the fact that we were actually there.

And today Frankie Dettori made up all my losses from yesterday thrice with his “four in a row” wins!

Royal Ascot. The reality

Life chez Whiskers

Last week:

Our horse racing syndicate has declared a horse to run at Royal Ascot.  There is about a 40-50% chance that it will be selected from the 54 entries.


Our horse is running!  There is now a chance that we may receive owners’ tickets.  Immediately check the dress code.

Ladies: just outdo everyone else, dress for an important occasion and wear a hat.

Gents: matching trousers and jacket. Socks over the ankle, collared shirt and tie.  What?! No bow ties!(apparently this year’s theme is style, colour and material).

Bow ties used to be acceptable.  I have about 40 of them but no “normal” ties.

Order sent to Amazon for silk tie, pocket square and cufflinks combo.  Secondary order for silk waistcoat, tie and pocket square combo.  Confirmed delivery Tuesday, with racing on Wednesday.

Memsahib chooses her dress, tries on two matching hats bought for racing and rejects them.

To Windsor races in the evening, where we discover that our chance of winning tickets in the ballot is around 1/4 to 1/5.


09:40.  I have been drawn for a ticket.  I ask for this to be transferred to the Memsahib and I will buy a discounted ticket for  £55 (instead of £77) with fewer privileges.  We spend an hour seeking dog care, and one of Her friends comes to the rescue.  Then off to town to buy a new hat, and maybe an emergency tie.

Four hours later.  We come home with a new trouser belt for me; two hats, a pair of shoes, a handbag and a jacket for Herself.  My Amazon package is on the doorstep.

Everything is tried on.  Handbag is rejected, maybe…

Waistcoat is perfect, if only it was two sizes smaller (i.e. the actual size stated on the label).  Memsahib offers to take it in.  I tell her “not today!”  Repacked for return.  Activate plan B for me. Existing clothes with new “club” tie.

Memsahib searches for the belt for her dress.  We start working on plan B, C, D, ….

I search for parking arrangements, knowing in which car park we will meet to collect our tickets and socialise before racing.  Ascot website is a nightmare of circular cross-references and “404” failures.  Eventually I find that “advance parking tickets” may only be bought on the day with cash.  I send an e-mail to Ascot Racecourse Customer Service asking how they administer this bizarre arrangement.

I check the best route to try to ensure that we are directed to the correct, or at least to a reasonably close, car park when we get there.  I don’t need to walk two or three miles in high heels, but I still don’t want to walk that distance in any case.   Wherever we go it will cost at least £45 to dump the car in a muddy field.  (Strangely you can park a car for £45, a bus for £90 but a limo is £253.  Someone knows how to rip off people with more money than common sense!)

And so to bed, wondering if it will actually be worth the money and the stress…

Bloody modern technology!

My not very old Brother printer has finally stopped both wireless and wired communication with my PC.  very timely after just receiving a new set of ink cartridges incompatible with any other printing appliance in our house. (Can anyone use Brother LC125XL-? print cartridges?  If so, free + postage to the first applicant)

So I searched for a replacement and the best general purpose home machine at a reasonable price is the Canon T55050.  Received. Installed with PC (after a long hunt for the input cable port!).  Installed with I-Phone, easy.  Then about 2 hours to install with I-Pad, during which neither machine recognised the other.

Oh, how I yearn for the good old days of Telex!  Even when it failed, it could still be translated and understood.


D-Day and beyond. Part 7

…being the story of a wargame, now in arrears…  Unfortunately my detailed report has vanished into the depths of the internet, but the synopsis is that we chased off the crew of a 105mm howitzer, captured or  scared of a German supply company, deployed two sections of the RA 25 prs which helped drive the enemy at least into cover, and consolidated our position.

Game note.  The Germans having been driven mainly away from board 2 and totally from board 1, board 1 was removed and a new board added to the German side, with all their reinforcements deployed.  The new situation is shown above.  And thus we will start the next day with a German counter-attack.



Fathers’ Day

Apparently, according to TV advertising, it will be either “Fathers’ Day” or “Father’s Day” (depending on the advertiser) next Sunday.  I would prefer it to be the former rather than the latter, as I am statistically less likely to be chosen as the singular father to receive cards and gifts than I was to win £125m on the Euromillions Lottery yesterday evening,

I have spent many years as a distant father and   grandfather.  Circumstances separate us, but the love and care never fades.

Maybe, with the world’s population exceeding its resources, we could think about holding a “Not Fathers Day” and distributing free condoms.  Just a thought…

For statistical purposes, my first wife and I produced two children, thus replacing our generation.  They, to date, have produced one each, so my personal contribution to the world population is currently in equilibrium.  May I have permission to feel smug? 🤔





Following on from the previous post…

It’s odd to think that I have to thank two of the most evil men in history for my wife.  Her father was a Pole escaping Hitler.  Her mother was a Latvian escaping Stalin.  They were both welcomed, or at least accepted, into Britain.

The result is that my wife is a somewhat religiously confused Lutheran Catholic, with a scattered family around Latvia, Germany, Denmark and Britain and with an excellent ability to speak ‘Forrin”

Add to that the fact that her brother married a Japanese lady and you will understand that family get-togethers sound like the Tower of Babel, and as the only Englishman in the room I just have to do my best.

Luckily I have a half-decent command of French, German and Italian, a smattering of Swedish, and can say “yes”, “no”, “please” and “thank you” * in most European languages, thanks to my previous work experience.

* And once in Hungarian, “Where are the toilets?” Followed by a rapid revisit with the question “Which is men and which is ladies?” 🙂