napoleon [Updated October 2002]

NAP  2 prizes Beginners Single Elim Continuous 
  19   20    Round 2 Round 3 14 Semi Round 4 19 Final


Jeff Cornett, FL

2002 Champion

2nd: Matt Calkins, VA

3rd: Tom Ruta, MA

4th: Scott Cornett, FL

5th: Chris Byrd, CT

6th: John Lynch, NY

Event History
1993    Tom Scarborough      12
1994    Dave Durlacher       8
2000    Jeff Cornett     16
2001    George Seary     14
2002    Jeff Cornett     20

AREA Ratings

GM: Jeff Cornett

Past Winners

Tom Scarborough - MO

Dave Durlacher - IN

Jeff Cornett - FL

George Seary - NY

The classic wooden block wargame:

20 players participated in the 2002 Napoleon tournament -- almost a 50% increase from the 14 who played in 2001. The tutorial drew about nine people -- about half of whom were newcomers learning the game for the first time, and the other half were old-timers who last played years ago using the previous Avalon Hill edition. Some of the new players chose to play each other in the first round. Otherwise, players were matched randomly, yet so that players with copies of the Napoleon game were scheduled against those without. Good sportsmanship was demonstrated throughout the tournament. Many of the newcomers appreciated the lessons their more experienced opponents taught them and plan to apply these lessons in next year's event.

In the semi-finals, last year's runnerup, Tom Ruta, faced 2000 champ Jeff Cornett. Jeff was expecting to see the "Ruta Center Probe" first introduced in last year's finals. However, when confronted with the "Cornett Center Defense", Tom decreed that "it was time to learn something new." Tom chose an attack formation that flooded the British flank, but with a handful of units deployed on his right to distract the Prussians. The game ended early when Jeff surrounded and defeated a small force raiding Ghent -- which was personally led by Napoleon himself! In the other semi-final, Matt Calkins was matched against Scott Cornett. Scott conceded his match for scheduling reasons -- allowing Scott, Matt and Jeff to each play in other tournament finals on Sunday morning.

The finals thus matched tournament newcomer Matt Calkins' French army against Jeff Cornett's Allied forces. The game was memorable more for strategic maneuver than for the fast, but decisive, battles themselves. As Matt described it, the game proceeded through two distinct phases: 1) the "Forced March" phase where the French advanced rapidly while the Allies scrambled for cover, and 2) the "Attack" game where both sides initiated major battles. At first, it seemed like the Allies would use the hide in Brussels and retreat to Liege long game strategy. Later, when the French started to shift their forces threatening an end run on Liege, the Allies came out of hiding to attack the flanking French army in Nivelles. With vastly superior artillery, the outcome of this battle was never in doubt. However, the victory left Brussels open for the French to take -- which they promptly did on the next turn. The French also immediately pounced on the regrouped British army in Waterloo, while the Prussians were momentarily distracted with a soak-off attack back in Nivelles. After quickly dispatching the French skirmishers, Blucher once again marched to the sound of the guns to save the day at Waterloo.

Aside from the battles themselves, the most interesting aspect of the game was the initial set-up. Players bid on sides with Jeff winning the right to play the Allies for a cost of three step-reductions. It was then discovered that there was a misunderstanding over the size of the British artillery in their II Corps. For WBC and PrezCon tournament play, this unit is strength 4 as printed on the counter -- not strength 2 as shown in the historical order of battle sheet. Players agreed to rebid for sides with Jeff again winning the Allies -- this time for a cost of five step reductions (three off the Prussians and two from the British). The former champ then promptly set up his book opening as the Allies, after which Matt pondered for a long while how to attack the Cornett Center Defense. The challenger's answer (now referred to as the "Calkins Left Sweep") was to push the entire French army up the gap toward the sparsely defended British side. This involved 20 forced marches on the first turn alone! Unfortunately, it also resulted in a worse than average ten step reductions due to attrition. This made the bid of five step reductions for the Allies look cheap, and ultimately left the French weakened for the major battles to come. With a comfortable 8 PM start, the game was played at a leisurely pace. The entire first turn took about two hours, and the game did not end until 1:30 am, lasting over five hours.

The defending champion, George Seary, did not attend this year. Consequently, we did not have the chance to see a repeat of the "Seary British Forward Defense" attacked by the Ruta Center Probe as used in the 2001 WBC finals. As you can see, one of the most intriguing aspects to the Napoleon game is the variety of strategies that are employed by different players. Who can say what the perfect offense or defense is, but if someone ever figures it out, the method of bidding for sides using step reductions would soon obsolete any such strategy. Start planning now for next year's WBC tournament, and if you make it to the final, you too can have an original opening strategy named after you.

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 GM      Jeff Cornett  [2nd Year]  728 Ashgrove Terrace, Sanford FL 32771   407-330-1968

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