Nine Rounds of Glory ...
Young Kevin Emery, a chip off
the old block for sure,
gives Andy Maly all he can handle.
Ray Stakenas (left) and Paul
Wright battle it out for the title,
as past GM Jerome
Five former champions with a total of 11 of the 15 previous
titles joined 25 other hopefuls in the pursuit of Up Front
"wood". A five-round Swiss preliminary cut the
field to 14 for the single elimination portion. Of those five
previous champs, three were able to make the cut with a record
of at least three wins. For 2003 and 2005 champs Ray Stakenas
II and Bruce Young, the elimination rounds came early. They faced
each other in the penultimate round of the Swiss session with
the eliminating third loss at stake. Bruce hung on in a close
game and then won his next match to squeak into the elimination
round. Twelve-year-old Kevin Emery took on the big boys and barely
missed advancing in a close loss in the fifth Swiss session to
finish at 2-3. He has obviously picked up a lot of skills from
his dad, five-time winner John, and is a looming future threat.
We hope this is a portent of younger players entering the pool.
Previous champs Emery, Young, and Bruce Wigdor promoted to
the elimination. Emery at 5-0 and Paul Wright, who took his only
loss to John in the fifth round, drew the byes as the competition
ratcheted up a notch. Noted were sweaty palms and shaky hands
among several contestants belying their outward calm. Emery,
Wright, Ray Stakenas Sr, and Young (George, not Bruce) survived
the opening rounds of elimination to make it to the semi-finals.
After 13 hours of play, the moment of truth finally arrived.
The contest featured perennial contender Ray Stakenas's German
defenders taking on Paul Wright's American attackers in Scenario
F. The US AFV was stunned early but recovered only to run into
a stream. Even with this loss of effectiveness for the early
part of the game, Paul managed to destroy the German firebase
to put Ray into massive difficulty. The game was almost finished
in Deck 2 as both sides were badly injured but Ray held on stubbornly
with half a squad until Paul was finally able to eliminate one
more man to seal the deal in the third deck and claim his first
title. John Emery played with his usual efficiency as the Japanese
in Scenario L to best George's Americans in the consolation match
There were 80 total matches played over five rounds of Swiss
and four rounds of elimination. Scenarios A, B, E, F, and L were
fairly equally selected for almost 75% of the 80. A scattering
of others filled out the list. In the scenarios with Attacker/Defender
choices, victory was about evenly divided between the two, at
least in those instances where the players reported their choices.
The Germans were chosen 62 times by the Axis player and the
Americans and Russians picked 37 times each for the Allies. Seventeen
Japanese and an Italian filled out the Axis with six British
plays for the Allies. The French/Vichy found no takers. A German
success rate of 55% meant that the US and Soviet troops were
less than stellar in their efforts. This was exacerbated by the
fact that the British were able to triumph in five of their six
meetings. This is obviously a point to be considered when it
is time to pick sides next year. If the one game that was erroneously
reported as both sides playing Japanese was actually an Allied
victory, then there was a true 50/50 split between the sides.
This is a good commentary on the overall balance of the game.
Again, the British were responsible for covering the shortcomings
of their allies.
With the agreement of all players, we packed an extra Single
elimination round above that advertised in the program onto the
evening portion of the tournament to give all players with winning
records a shot at the Final. This was apparently well received
as there were no arbitrary selections of the players to promote
and all those with positive won-loss records were able to play
in the elimination rounds. We still finished by 2315. This was
mainly a tribute to the players who, for the most part, kept
up with the schedule of 90-minute rounds. Due to this promptness,
we had time for a short lunch break between Swiss rounds 2 and
3 and an hour for dinner before beginning the elimination rounds
at 1800. This was a tough all-day tournament with up to nine
games over the 14+ hours for the successful. I still believe
this is the way to go and hold the players to a one-day event.
Those who do not survive the Swiss are done by 1700 and are able
to search other venues.
There were three drops after the first round of Swiss by players
who had not read their program book and did not realize that
the tournament was to be an all-day affair. I don't know how
this can be made any clearer but, for the sake of all, we need
to ensure that all players understand the format of all tournaments.
Another drop happened after the third Swiss by a player who,
out of hope, transferred to another tournament. The fourth round
saw one more drop by an eliminated player who offered to take
the bye remaining to allow all the 2-2's to play for a shot at
gaining the last victory to promote to the elimination rounds.
Greg Schmittgens was kind enough to provide special WBC 2006
Up Front buttons for all our players. A vote of thanks is due
to Greg from all players.
I look forward to using the same format for next year with
a few changes possible. I have also solicited input from several
of the players with years of Up Front tournament experience
for their ideas for improvements in the format. Hopefully this
will allow us to continue with the tradition of a strong tournament
for many WBC's to come.