Always a Crowd
Saint Petersburg draws well consistently
in every heat and year to year with very little variance in attendance.
Finalists (l to r) Joe Harrison, Gordon
Rodgers, Chris Robbins and "Coach" Hazel.
year the tournament had three preliminary heats, a 16-player,
four-board Semi-final round, and a 4 player Final. Attendance
was consistent throughout with 16 4-player boards in Heat 1,
17 in heat 2, and 15 in Heat 3. In all, a total of 114 different
In the Final, Chris played a Judge in the first round, and
everyone was tied for Aristocrats and Workers. In Round 2 everyone
built Workers and Aristocrats to remain tied, except Gordon who
still had only one Aristocrat. Round 3 saw Gordon get Aristocrat
#2 and everyone gain a fourth Worker except Chris, who somehow
gained extra Workers and a Worker Upgrade, pulling ahead in Green
money. Mike also played an Observatory. Round 4 saw Mike play
a Mistress of Ceremonies and Joe play a Judge. Gordon pulled
ahead in Aristocrats by one, but lagged in Worker money. Round
5: Gordon played an Observatory and maintained his lead in Aristocrats.
Chris had a lead in Victory Points, with Joe eight points behind
and Mike and Gordon 11 points behind Joe. Chris still maintained
a lead in Worker money. Round 6 ended the game. Gordon built
three Aristocrats, pulling ahead by two, but it wasn't enough.
Chris Robbins' game-long lead in money from Workers proved too
much to overcome. Chris won with 93 Victory Points; Joe took
2nd with 74, Gordon 3rd with 71 and Mike 4th with 66.
This was the first year I ran this tournament, with considerable
help from assistant Steve Quade and also from several of the
players. Running an event of this size is a challenge. The last
time I ran a comparably sized tournament was a 99-player Diplomacy
tournament in 1996 in Ohio. Rather than use the sign-up sheets
for registration, I used a 3x5 card system. This allowed multiple
players to sign-up for a round simultaneously, putting their
names and badge numbers on a card and placing it in an entry
box. For following heats, a player who had played in a previous
round merely had to find the card in the alphabetically-sorted
piles and place it in the entry box. I found this method much
quicker and easier than the 'one player at a time sign-up sheet'
method. I then used the cards to count the number of players
and assign them to boards randomly. Team players were asked to
note their team names on their cards. By marking which board
number each player was on in a round, I could also ensure players
did not play with the same opponents in following rounds, and
keep teammates from being on the same board as well. There were
a few minor glitches, but overall I received favorable feedback
from the players on using this method.
There has been some discussion over certain cards providing
extreme advantage if obtained early in a game, so I designed
game score sheets that allowed players to record when the Observatory,
Mistress of Ceremony, or Judge were played. I did this to track
the impact of playing these cards early in the game. Based on
the data recorded, playing these cards in the first round seems
to help -- 60% of the time, in the second round only ~ 35%, and
later provides no special advantage. There were enough games
where players who played some of these cards were beaten by players
who did not play any of these cards, that it is still not certain
that these cards actually do give a player an unfair advantage.
Usually the Aristocrat Bonus determines the winner.
There are numerous cards that yield money and victory points
in addition to the Mistress and Judge. I am convinced that luck
of the draw plays far more of a role than just getting these
specific cards. I am considering incorporating player suggestions
to ban the Observatory and Mistress from first round play, requiring
that they be shuffled back into their decks if revealed during
the first round. I welcome comments on this idea.
Euro Quest Laurelists
Thomas Browne, PA
Michael Kaltman, PA
Mike Richey, VA
Greg Rogers, MD
Tom Dunning, NY