merchant of venus [Updated August 2000]

   17-18     9-11
   9-11     11-14

     Salon EF    Salon B

Debbie Otto, MO

2000 Champion

2nd: Ed Wrobel, VA

3rd: Chuck Foster, TX

4th: James Hopkin, CA

5th: Lauren Hickok, PA

6th: Eric Wrobel, VA
Event History
1991    Duane Wagner      24
1992    Kathy Stroh      21
1993    Michael Anchors      41
1994    David Thompson      43
1995    Greg Mayer      56
1996    Tom Stokes      48
1997    Mark Hunter      78
1998    Greg Mayer      80
1999    Steve Crenshaw     67
2000    Debbie Otto     68
AREA Ratings
 1    Robert Hamel      1650
 2    Greg Mayer      1580
 3    Steve Crenshaw      1561
 4    William Crenshaw      1559
 5    Eric Wrobel      1556
 6    Debbie Otto      1545
 7    Duane Wagner      1536
 8    Steve Koleszar      1535
 9    Richard Martin      1535
10    Ed Wrobel      1533

Lost in Space

The 2000 Merchant of Venus tournament brought 68 star traders to Baltimore from across the universe (ok, from across the world!) to WBC. There were three heats played with a first place finish in any heat guaranteeing a place in the semifinals. Each of the heats and semifinal games were four-player games (or three players in some cases) played to $2000.

Nearly a third of the players played in multiple heats, including several who won multiple heats. We had a solid base of experienced players and a number of players new to the game. Newcomer Joshua Gifford learned the game at the convention and played twice. He finished fourth in two of the closer games played this year. Ewan McNay was a newcomer to the tournament, but apparently not to MOV as he won two heats, one of which was a total blowout over his opponents.

Judy Krauss (center) and Lee Presser (right) mug for the camera while exploring the universe in the preliminaries.

As in years past, most of the 1st place finishers in the heats raced to the finish with Clipper ships, although a small number finished with Scouts. Unlike years past, we had no less than four winners who had upgraded to Transports! Several of these had either the relic Yellow Drive or Jump Start which may have helped make their decision to buy a Transport a little easier.

When Saturday's semifinals rolled around, we had 17 of the 22 first place finishers and the three highest runnerups playing in five four-player games. First place finishers Phil Rennert, Ewan McNay, Roderick Lee, Brian Carr and past champion Duane Wagner all had other commitments but there weren't enough no-shows for James Wicht who just missed advancing with a good second place finish. Defending champ Steve Crenshaw also just missed the cut with another high second place finish.

In the five semifinal games:

James Hopkin earned the right to advance to the final by blowing past Kim Foster, Luke Koleszar and Wendy DeMarco.

Ed Wrobel beat Lee Presser, past champion Kathy Stroh and Jay Schlaffer.

Multiple heat winner Deb Otto used the relic Jump Start, Auto Pilot and Switch Switch to pilot her Scout ship past Eyal Mozes, Mark McCandless and Ed Connery.

Chuck Foster slipped around a hard charging Eric Wrobel, John Zahorsky and Laurel Stokes to win the closest of the semifinal games.

Lauren Hickok raced past Sean Cousins (Yellow Drive and all), past champion Greg Mayer and Daniel Hoffman to claim the fifth and last spot in the finals.

The final was again played to $3000 using the 'Fast Set-up' variant. Two of last year's finalists, Deb Otto and Ed Wrobel were determined to better their third and fourth place finishes.

Deb found the Jump Start early but that caused the other players to avoid discovering new 'Question marks' so she didn't get much of an advantage from it early on. Lauren had the Auto Pilot and Chuck had the Switch Switch. James had only the Gate Lock while Ed found no useful relics. Deb bought spaceports whenever she could afford them and this paid off later in the game. As the game progressed, only Telegates 1 and 6 came into play (on opposite sides of the board). Everyone upgraded to Clipper ships and continued to race to the $3000 point. Deb used the Jump Start effectively and built up an insurmountable lead. Her early Spaceport purchases served her well later and the other players were reduced to fighting for second place. Some good rolling and good planning (pure skill!) by Ed brought him to a second place finish. A post game examination of the many undiscovered 'Question marks' showed no less than two more Telegates that may have sped Deb to an even faster finish had they been uncovered.

Deb said, "I've been coming here for 10 years now, just to win this plaque!"

It's going to be a long year for me at the Mayer & Otto residence. ("Just wait 'til next year!")

Tom DeMarco (left) gets a pointer from Debbie Otto (right).

[Ed. Note: It was indeed Deb's year. Earlier she had been featured in an article in the Baltimore Sun covering the WBC and the reporter took the tack of stressing the female point of view in a male-dominated conference. Her point about gaining the respect of her male adversaries was driven home in the best possible way.... no doubt as the hood ornament on the long drive home, right Greg?]

This will be the tenth year our intrepid space travellers have been duking it out amongst the stars. For all the details visit http://members.toast/traingamer/Merchant.htm

 GM      Greg Mayer  [8th Year]   736 Charleston Oaks Dr, Ballwin, MO 63021   NA

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