TRC Champion: There can be only
I'll dispel any sense of suspense by providing the punch
line early: Doug James took home his fourth first-place
wood. This year's trip to the wood, however, took Doug
through the Windy City—our boys from Chicago demonstrated
they'd not been idle in the off-season!
While the format has varied greatly over the last 16 years,
there were very few changes when compared to prior years. Chess
clocks were mandatory, a ten-turn Barbarossa scenario, and bidding
for sides all ensured that tourney participants could leverage
prior experience. The 'wrinkle' in 2006 was the introduction
of "Option Schoose", a modification to Stuka availability
in Sep/Oct and Nov/Dec 41, which provided further balancing for
weather. (This option had been tournament tested at the
2006 PrezCon event.) Doug James and George Karahalios served
as the over-qualified assistant GMs.
Things opened up on Thursday evening with the tutorial session.
Ably run by George Karahalios, a dozen new and familiar
faces were provided with a good overview of the game as well
as how to approach the tournament event. Our eyes are weaker,
and our fingers less nimble, so the 4th edition biggie-sized
continues to draw TRC players of yester-year back to the fold.
Of particular comfort to many returning players is the
fact that the rules changes are minimal between the two editions
and the battle-tested tactics from 25 years ago still apply.
The initial mulligan round had 22 players matched up. The
random pairings ensured that there were some interesting matches
but only a few upsets. Winners got to sleep in and start the
main event on Friday afternoon. Bruno Sinigaglio continues
to hone a strategy aimed at a 1941 German Automatic Victory (capturing
Moscow) but this seems to fall short when confronted by inclement
weather OR a "mass the Red Army in the Kremlin" approach
to defense. Larry Hollern, who has played on the PBeM circuit
for many years, showed in person and, not surprisingly, is much
nicer than his 'kill every unit' approach to TRC would otherwise
indicate. Having the 'privilege' of matching against a
fully rested Doug James, not surprisingly, left Larry fighting
for his tourney life in the first round on Friday morning.
9AM Friday morning had ten players trying to qualify for the
next round. One notable surprise was that Alex Gregorio,
gaming offspring of yours truly, scored his first TRC tourney
win. He was in a euphoric state the rest of the convention
but the downside is that he then was crowing for months over
the fact that it took his father five tries before winning a
TRC tourney game while he accomplished it in four matches. (Needless
to say, over the next few months I will make sure he gets pounded
on the east front!) Another upset was Matt Burkins besting
Joe Collinson, a former laurelist. By the end of this round,
the entire cadre from Chicago, Alan/Bert/George/Mike, had all
been 'blooded' and left their mark on the rest of the tourney
entrants. Dick Jarvinen was playing his own event, however,
and was keen to win the 'iron man' tourney so his foray into
TRC-land was brief as newcomer Mike Mishler made a splash with
his first tourney win.
The end of the 2PM Friday afternoon round saw only six seasoned
TRC grognards still standing. At this point there were
100+ TRC gaming years among the contestants so every match was
brutal and every contestant able to capably play either side.
Doug breezed through the last Friday round. but only because
he had a bye into the final four match! Two Chicago'ans,
George & Bert, clawed into the final four while I barely
outlasted Alan Zasada to take the last slot.
A break was taken on Saturday - the 'gang of four' took a communal
meal in at Fuddruckers before descending into the Maelstorm that
the final rounds of a TRC event inevitably become. The
meal-time camaraderie soon gave way to the dice-fueled fury that
is high level Russian Campaign competition. The yelps
of indignation coming from Doug upon resolving the early summer
combats were quite surprising - a distinct murmur went through
the crowd as it seemed that George was well on his way to thwarting
Doug's Axis steam roller. George was resolving extremely
low odds attacks with his out of supply units which netted six
German units (including a panzer) in the first two turns. George's
favorite part of that game occurred when trying to form an attack
against an 8-7 panzer that had breached the Bug on the first
turn: Doug looked at George and said: "you'd better
run". George immediately pulled back all the units
as far as he could get, saving both his units and his clock time.
It was a strategy that paid off because the Sep/Oct 1941
weather turned to Lt Mud. Alas, it was not meant to be.
Doug's Wehrmacht survived the winter and the Red Army melted
under the glare of the 1942 summer sun. It still was close
though, as Doug said, it "came down to the final turn and
a 50/50 chance with my last stuka on a Sevastopol that had changed
hands a couple of times already!" Tom's match with
Bert went down to the wire with Bert pulling off several low-odds
moves that, in combination, gave him enough points to secure
his slot in the Final.
Bert Schoose and Doug James emerged from their tough matches
and immediately plowed on into the championship match. The
Fnal match featured Doug as the Germans while Bert was more than
content to play the Russians. Doug's Germans wore down
the Red Army that had so spiritedly defended Mother Russia in
1941. The game tone was set on the first turn when Doug
made two second impulse 3:1 attacks on the flanks of the KMD
defenders. Doug lost both attacks; rolling 1's and getting
AR results, but the forward retreat allowed him to place seven
Soviet units out of supply. Bert attacked a 7-7 panzer (2:1 surrounded)
in the first impulse to try to restore supply. This attack and
the subsequent 1:1 attack on the 7-7 panzer both failed costing
Bert all seven Soviet units. Bert continued to hang in there
despite some amazingly bad luck and, with his Chicago comrade
George, displayed great sportsmanship in the face of improbable
outcomes. When the dust settled at the conclusion of the
Sept/Oct 42 turn, Doug's Germans had achieved their victory conditions.
In taking the wood, he's now won the event four of the
last seven years.
For those who question the balance of the game, I have no
trouble pointing to this years stats: 28 games played with
the Russians and Germans each getting 14 wins. (As always,
no ties can occur in tournament play.) Recorded bids ranged
from +20 to +3 with several bids for the Russians occurring.
Congruent with his playing style, Bruno led the pack with bids
of +15 and +20 for the Germans. No games were adjudicated
but many felt the pressure of the time clock at the end. Those
who micromanaged their initial turns often paid for it on the
last turns with units often being left in place in order to save
a few seconds! Eight of 28 matches went down to the last
Looking Forward to 2007
I anticipate some more changes next year. As the 'balance'
issue has seemingly been addressed, we're now going to focus
on trying to modify the event format to increase attendance as
the participation dip to 23 entrants was not welcomed. Options
could include some 'open scheduling' for the initial round as
well as exploration of a shorter scenario aimed at 3-hour rounds
instead of 5-hour rounds.
Campaign PBeM Tournament:
The Sixth BPA tournament has concluded with Doug James matching
his WBC championship in that game with the email crown as well,
this time over Gary Dickson who was unable to attend WBC this
year. There were 33 matches played in the Single Elimination
tournament of 34 players with 3rd to 6th place laurels awarded
to: Scott Abrams, Michael Mitchell, Bert Schoose and Roy Walker
I am planning the 7th BPA Sponsored The Russian Campaign (4th
Edition) PBeM Tournament.
1. Single elimination, 10-turn Barbarossa scenario (with Schoose
2. Initial Seeding by AREA rating (last time I did this randomly);
3. 3-month rounds starting October 9, 2006
4. Exclusive use of TRC 4th edition rules and map
5. Rolling start until November 27, 2006
I am trying to gauge if there is any interest in a Novice
tournament run separately from the Standard tournament. The
Novice tournament would be for players new to TRC and for those
returning from a long hiatus. Any player would be able to participate
in the Standard tournament, but only players who have NOT been
to the quarterfinals in the WBC, BPA PBeM or Ladder would be
eligible in the Novice tournament.
More details to be found at: http://www.russiancampaign.net
under Site News.