Lots of Dice at Sea ...
It is hard to believe that we have been doing this for ten
years. Every passing year has brought new faces. For the most
part, the old faces have stayed. Actual head count for each year
has remained steady with a mix of new faces, those who are available
between other events, and the die-hards.
With each year the competition has become tougher. The new
players learn the game this year. Last year's newcomers come
back with sharpened skills. Those with more experience come as
contenders. There is no longer a clear definition of "better
players". All the lines are blurred beyond recognition.
"Top Ten" is a very fluid group defined for only a
brief moment in time.
For what has become the normal, all the placings from first
on down were in contention to the last die roll of round 7. We
went to a photo finish, requiring two recounts of the scoring.
VIP broke a few records at the 2000 WBC, and made quite
a showing in other areas. 50 players registered. 103 games
actually played. 13 new players. 26 games went seven turns. 46
games went a full eight turns! 16 players stuck it out for all
seven rounds. Bidding reached six POC.
The chess clocks may be the "great equalizer", although
do not rule out better bidding by all involved. The bidding probably
takes into account the opposition as well as strength of sides
on the game board. Factoring both bidding and clocks, 20 games
came within three POC, although only three games actually switched
victors on the bid.
Overall, the chess clocks were an outstanding success, and
immensely popular. Only one player expressed opposition, but
dozen more raved about them. Their presence alone kept the games
moving. Only one game actually ran out of time, and no adjudication
of any type was required anywhere. This is in spite of the fact
that 72% of the games went to a seven- or eight-turn conclusion.
Even players who felt pressed for time appreciated the fact that
the chess clocks provide impartial criteria for moving the game
along and determining victory conditions.
Our scoring system is also in need of adjustment. I do believe
that the system does indicate strength of play and opponents.
However, the dropout problem has become epidemic. This, in turn,
affects the scoring. I question the effect of a player losing
verses not playing at all, but there is no way to measure or
justify the effect. The fact that it creates general doubt and
uneasiness is enough to mandate a change. Unfortunately, I do
not have a good idea what that change may be at this time.
Andy Gardner went 6-1 to squeak out the claim as this year's
Champion. Andy is one of those who have been on the learning
curve since he joined us a few years back. Two years ago a number
of the veterans commented on his progress. Last March he showed
up at the Midwest Open. Andy has earned his stripes, and his
plaque. Andy is also this year's nominee for the sportsmanship
award.While this award is mostly subjective, I take it seriously.
Recommendations of other players weigh heavily in this decision.
To my mind, consistent attitude and behavior are of greater significance
than any one incident or even one tournament. Ever since he appeared
on the scene, tournament play, pbm, and pbem, no one has ever
had an ill word
for Andy. He has also demonstrated extreme courtesy and consistent
consideration toward his opponents, those around him, and the
GM. All of this unsung, at least until now.
Dan Henry also went 6-1. A past champion, Dan was the one
turning blue from holding his breath through two recounts. It
looked like he had barely passed Andy. It was not to be. Andy
bid 3.5 for the IJN in their game. This was their second game
ever (Dan won the initial meeting at the 2000 Midwest Open).
On turn 1: seven ships were sunk at Pearl, but the I-boat missed.
Turn 2 saw a three-area attack by the Japanese while defending
all their control flags including four CVs and two CAs in CPO.
Five CVs went to H.I. with many escorts. On Turn 3, Pearl Harbor
fell. The POC reached 29 by the end of Turn 5 but Dan retained
Guadalcanal and a hole through the outer crust. By turn 8, the
Allies needed to control the Japanese Islands, but Pat was able
to keep his entire force on raid. Dan patrolled the Japanese
Islands with ten ships, forcing the Japanese to send everything
there. It took four rounds of mixed day and night combat before
the final allied patroller was dispatched, and Andy's victory
Mike Kaye was again just short of the championship! Always
the spoiler, Mike is the one responsible for Andy's only loss
and the required recounts, but all it got him was third.
Eric El Osta from Belgium flew in just to show us that Europeans
can play too. He certainly did to the tune of 4th place.
Bob Hamel's 5th place showing proves that he is one to watch.
His progress has been slow but steady over the years. He has
pursued every opportunity to sharpen his skills and every competition
he does better than the one before. It is not so far to the top,
Casey Adams made his first appearance at the WBC, but he has
a solid reputation at the Midwest Open. To anyone who has
faced Casey in Wisconsin the only surprise is that he settled
Ed Menzel of Fullerton, California just missed the medals
in 7th Four years ago, he was a name at the bottom of the list.
Since then he has been sharpening his game in other tournaments,
pbm, and email. Last year he was third in our very fluid line-up.
Defending champ Alan Applebaum chose to forfeit the first
round of the event whiloe playing in the finals of BKN and after
being steamrolled in the second round by perennial contender
Mike Kaye he was quickly out of contention. Alan, a fanatical
devotee of the game, nonetheless struggled back toward the top
of the pack by winning the next four rounds only to be crushed
in Round 7 by Henry, who applied the dreaded "KO in Three"
capture of Pearl Harbor and Samoa to put the lid on any hopes
Alan had to garner a plaque. He had to settle for 8th.
John Pack, our man from Utah, had to settle for 9th. John
also had other commitments and did not play every round. John
has always played with the best, and held his own, often contending
for the brass ring. Ninth is not a sign that he is weakening,
only a display that eight others have learned to play in his
Bobby Clinton of Altadena, California rounds out our top ten.
Bobby has been with us quite a while, in quite a number of tournaments,
here and elsewhere. Like so many others, he has worked from near
the bottom to contend with the best. We had best make room for
Compliments to Don Greenwood and all GMs for an extremely
well run event. The BPA and WBC are now a reality because Don
set himself to the task, and others supported him with time,
finances, and service.
Compliments also to the staff of Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn.
While remaining nearly invisible, all of our needs were taken
care of promptly and efficiently, beyond our satisfaction.
My reservations will be in soon. I expect to see you all next