afrika korps [Updated October 2006]   

 2006 WBC Report  

 2007 Status: pending 2006 GM commitment

Vince Meconi, DE

2006 Champion

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Event History
1991      John Poniske      12
1992      Mike Crowe      15
1993      Joe Beard      20
1994      Joe Beard      17
1995      Phil Evans      16
1996      Bruno Sinigaglio      10
1997      Bruno Sinigaglio      25
1998      Gregory Smith      23
1999      Gregory Smith     24
2000      Randy Heller     20
2001      Lane Newbury     29
2002      Vince Meconi     29
2003      Jonathan Lockwood     22
2004      Randy Heller      30
2005      John Popiden      20
2006       Vince Meconi      34

PBeM Event History
2003      Ed Menzel     26


 Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
   1.  Vince Meconi       DE    06    118
   2.  Jonathan Lockwood  VA    06    101
   3.  Bruno Sinigaglio   AK    06     99
   4.  Randy Heller       MD    05     78
   5.  Ed Menzel          CA    04     58
   6.  John Popiden       CA    06     48
   7.  Lane Newbury       TX    03     48
   8.  Greg Smith         PA    99     38
   9.  Bert Schoose       IL    06     27
  10.  Doug Burke         MD    03     24
  11.  Barry Smith        NY    00     18
  12.  James Tracy II     OH    04     16
  13.  Phil Evans         VA    01     15
  14.  Gary Dickson       CA    05     12
  15.  Johnny Hasay       PA    04     12
  16.  Mark Gutfreund     KY    99     12
  17.  Andrew Miller      GA    03      9
  18.  Robert Hahn        NY    02      8
  19.  Steve Likevich     OH    01      6
  20.  Chris Godfrey      MA    06      3
  21.  Pat Mirk           FL    03      3

2006 Laurelists

John Popiden, CA

Jonathan Lockwood, VA

Bert Schoose, IL

Bruno Sinigaglio, AK

Chris Godfrey, MA

Past Winners

John Poniske, PA

Mike Crowe, VA

Joe Beard, AZ

Phil Evans, VA

Bruno Sinigaglio, AK

Greg Smith, PA

Randy Heller, MD
2000, 2004

Lane Newbury, TX

Vince Meconi, DE
2002, 2006

Jonathan Lockwood, VA

John Popiden, CA

 Greg Smith (left) maneuvers his German troops in one of a record 43 games played of the 1961 classic.

 John Sharp (left) faces Bob Jamelli in the preliminaries. John would win his first WBC wood, but At Sea, not on the sands of Afrika.

once more behind the sand dunes with the grognards...

Thanks to a shift to the Swiss Free Form system and its incorporation into the Grognard PreCon, the venerable Afrika Korps tournament reached an all time record number of entrants. The Swiss Free Form allowed players to play as many matches as could be arranged during the Pre Con and WBC until the Friday 11pm cutoff, after which the four players with the best "three game" scores (including bonuses for strength of opponents defeated) made it into the single elimination semi-finals on Saturday morning. Play balance was not a significant issue with 20 British wins in 43 contests. The four veteran semi-finalists advancing to the Saturday morning elimination rounds were defending champion Greg Popiden , Bert Schoose (last year's runner-up), GM and 2003 champion Jonathan Lockwood, and 2004 champion Vince Meconi.

The first semi-final match was a rematch between 2005 finalists Greg Popiden and Bert Schoose, and was a surprisingly short affair. Playing as the British this time, and perhaps also not desiring a repeat of their long 2005 slogging match, Bert unleashed a surprise 1-1 counterattack on April II 1941 against 21/5 Pz (7-7-10), which resulted in an exchange. At any other time, this would effectively kneecap the German attack early; in this case, however, it simply left Tobruch wide open for occupation by the Germans on May I,1941, resulting in an early British surrender.

The other semi-final match between Vince Meconi as the German and GM Lockwood took on a more chesslike demeanor. Meconi, being well aware of Lockwood's use of the infamous Paleveda Gambit, which sends a supplied blocking force of two 2-2-6's into Cyrenaica to hamstring the Germans positionally, preempted Lockwood's use of the Gambit by sending 21/3 Recce along the coast road at maximum speed on the first move, leaving Lockwood little room to deploy the 2-2-6s. Lockwood shifted into a modified standard defense and began a successful delaying defense towards Alexandria. However, Meconi's Germans were better supplied than average this time, and soon were approaching the gates of Alexandria. Lockwood feinted first in late July 1941 with an apparent reployment of his heavy armor out of Tobruch (replacing them with 1-1-6s), hoping to draw Meconi back to Tobruch. When Meconi didn't go for the feint, Lockwood went to a 2-1, 1-2 combination attack out of Tobruch in August I 1941 with arriving August reinforcements and the Tobruch garrison against the two Italian 2-3-4s. Had the 2-1 succeeded (67% chance), Lockwood would have had an excellent shot at splitting the Afrika Korps in two in a breakout from Tobruch, as the Germans had only one supply to the east with the Afrika Korps, and almost no forces to the west except for the Tripoli garrison. But it was not to be, as the 2-1 resulted in an A back 2, resulting in the German capture of Tobruch on Aug II 1941 and a British surrender thereafter..

The championship match between Meconi and Popiden was one of the all-time classics, lasting for ten hours! Popiden, as the Germans, had supply trouble early against Meconi's British, with 11 (!) supplies sunk between Apr-Dec 1941. Once Popiden realized that Alexandria would not fall before the arrival of the British November reinforcements, he doubled back from Alexandria and hit Tobruch with a 1-2, 3-1 combination. Popiden was rewarded with a D back 2 on the 1-2, ensuring the fall of Tobruch, but then suffered an exchange on the 3-1, losing 8 factors that were promptly made up by the German November reinforcements. Popiden then resumed his eastward drive, smashing Meconi's Brits back one hex row at a time towards Alexandria. Seeing the handwriting on the wall in March 1942, Meconi unleashed a 1-1 counterattack against a German 7-7-10 stacked with an Italian 2-3-4 and was rewarded for his daring with a Defender Eliminated. This enabled Vince to go on the counteroffensive until the 7-7-10 was replaced. Popiden then struck back in July II 1942 with a 3-1 against a British 4-4-7 on an escarpment that eliminated it and trapped a second 4-4-7. However, Popiden had made a fatal mistake, in that his combination attacks required virtually his entire force to carry them out, leaving his flanks exposed and undefended. Meconi then counterisolated the entire German force on his move, compelling a German surrender on the July II 1942 move, ending a marathon match that Vince rated as his favorite AFK game of all time, and Popiden agreeing that it was one of his best as well. Vince now joins Bruno Sinigaglio and Greg Smith as the only two-time champions of this event.

2003 PBeM Tournament

The First Afrika Korps BPA Play by email Tournament has ended. Veteran wargamer, Ed Menzel, defeated a very tough opponent, Doug Burke, for the championship. The Single Elimination Tournament started with 26 entrants and lasted 20 months. Ed finished 5-0, while Doug went 4-1. There were no easy games for either of these gentlemen. Ed defeated Richard Van Vugt, Dan Tierney, Greg Smith, Jonathan Lockwood and finally, Doug. Smith and Lockwood have a total of three WBC Afrika Korps plaques. Doug defeated Bruno Sinigaglio, Mark Gutfreund, Vince Meconi and Randy Heller - dudes who collectively own four WBC Afrika Korps plaques.

The Championship - Ed Menzel (Axis) versus Doug Burke (Allies)

The Axis made the standard opening drive toward Tobruch. The arrival of the 15th Panzer Division forced the Allies off the escarpment blocking access to the Tobruch heights. On II May 41 the Axis attacked the Tobruch perimeter driving the Allies back. The two recce units were diverted to the south to block two Allied brigades attempting to reach the Axis rear supply lines. On I June, the Axis AV'ed the brigade occupying the last hex outside Tobruch plus another blocking brigade in the pass east of Salum.

The Axis drove toward Alexandria leaving Italians to guard the Tobruch garrison. Over the next two months, several Allied brigades that were harassing the German rear areas and blocking the coast road were eliminated through isolation. A 1-1-6 astride the coast road was isolated rather than attacked, because the Axis did not want to use a Supply unit to eliminate one factor. On the other hand, the Allies didn't want the Axis nailing two units with one supply. The 1-1-6 was positioned so that, while it blocked the road, it didn't prevent units from going around it.

While the Axis were busy isolating this unit, the Allies decided to get in a first strike before the Axis could hit their main line. Thus an Axis 3-3-10 was attacked at 3-1. The result of the attack was a DB2. Though at the time, it didn't appear to be that critical, in hindsight this attack pretty much dictated the crucial events of the next couple of turns. It turned out that it was essential for the Allies that the 3-3-10 be eliminated. Had it died in the attack, even via an exchange, subsequent moves would have been altered quite a bit. Four 1-1-6's that were eliminated on the next turn, might not have been attacked and coupled with the exchange of Ariete, it would have been impossible for the Axis to get a 3-1 versus Tobruch.

On I Aug, the Axis attacked the Allied defense line around Fuka. The Allies were aggressive and counterattacked Ariete getting an exchange. But in doing so, they weakened the Tobruch garrison so that the Axis could scoot west and get a 3-1 on the fortress.

The Axis had a choice of continuing the assault toward Alexandria or taking Tobruch. It is a difficult choice, as the Allies are weak enough that there were good prospects of taking Alexandria before the horde of Nov reinforcements arrived.

Rommel finally decides to go for Tobruch. But the Allies fight hard taking out 10 Axis factors in exchange before Tobruch falls. In addition, the Allies exchange out an Italian blocking the coast road. The Axis is now down to six units. They are able to muster one more attack on II Oct and then fall back to a north-south defensive line around Matruh to await their own November reinforcements.

On I Dec, the Axis again attack the Allied defensive position around El Alamein eliminating four brigades with AVs. Because the Axis can concentrate their forces better, they have excellent prospects of being able to grind down the Allies in a war of attrition even though the two armies are essentially even in strength. Realizing this, the Allies launch a desperate counter-attack including two 1-1s on the 7-7-10s. Both result in AE, and the Allies graciously surrender their now hopeless position.

It was a tough exciting game, well played by both sides. Lady luck was fairly even-handed. Supplies were not a problem for the Axis, although they attacked sparingly and used isolation to starve out a number of Allied units. The Allies had some poor luck, as they could not get any DEs with their attacks on Ariete and a couple other units. But the Axis got hurt rolling two exchanges on two 3-1 attacks on Tobruch. All in all, an exciting game befitting the end of an enjoyable tournament.

 GM      Jonathan Lockwood  [7th Year]   P.O. Box 3436, Reston, VA 20195-1436   703-471-7906

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