Ken Whitesell and Ralph Gleaton meet
in the Quarter-Finals. Ken lost despite a 4-1 record in the Preliminary
Chris Yaure battled perennial finalist
but never crowned Ray Stakenas in the Preliminaries.
Dave Wong and Rich Irving trade
shots. Dave made the playoffs in his first appearance in recent
years - having been sidetracked to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Future champ Kevin Emery meets
2008 Champ Ed Kendricks. Its only a matter of time before the
son of six-time champ John Emery earns his own title.
The Up Front tournament continued its modest resurgence
back to prominence in 2010. A total of 25 players chose to spend
their Thursday at WBC locked in close combat. The group consisted
of the usual suspects plus a scattering of newbies to increase
the field. As usual, the former champs were out in force with
seven present representing 14 past triumphs.
The morning and afternoon Swiss rounds were designed to reduce
the field to eight contenders. When the casualties had been evacuated,
2001 champ Bruce Wigdor was the only one with a perfect 5-0 slate.
Ken Whitesell and the Stakenas father and son duo of Ray and
Ray Junior comprised the seeded players with 4-1 records. Gleaton,
Wong, Young, and Emery completed the octet - former laurelists
all - with a distinct South Carolina twinge to the second tier.
Four former champs with 11 total titles had run the gauntlet
thus far and those without titles were far from being babes in
The first round of playoffs took a heavy toll on the top seeds
with Ray Stakenas Sr alone left standing and the Greenville trio
still intact. Both semis were hard fought with interesting matchups.
In fact, the whole day was filled with more Japanese and Italians
than one ever expects to see in the high rent district of a WBC
tournament. At the end of the semis, five-time champ Emery faced
off against many time finalist Stakenas. After a bit of deliberation,
Ray chose to attack with the Americans in Scenario L against
John's Japanese defense. With the armored car, Ray just hoped
for fire cards and he was soon rewarded. After a bit of effective
fire by Ray, both players positioned themselves for the second
deck. Ray finally got the AC to a hill and started to chip away.
Midway through the third deck, a good hit on John's main group
put him one away from breaking. Despite the draw of two high
value fire cards at the end of the deck, Ray just cannot find
black on the draw and John's squad barely survived for the extremely
After the action, however, an observer pointed out to John
that he had set his squad with too many men. John informed Ray
of the error. The GM offered the players a choice of how to resolve
it. Ray could have claimed the win but, as he said, both players
checked the other's setup. John could have claimed the win based
on that fact. Since both of them are not only finest caliber
players, but also true gentlemen, they opted to replay the Final.
It was decided to repeat the same scenario with the same sides.
This time, luck changed sides. It was John drawing the fire cards
and Ray taking the hits. The AC took first one, and then a second,
commander hit. With its effectiveness nullified, the only question
was whether or not enough Americans would survive the game. One
more good fire card from John sealed Ray's fate. Emery had captured
his sixth title. But perhaps more important was the fact that
two extremely good players had gone toe-to-toe, not blinked,
and, in the end, become greater than the game.
Two-time champ Ray Stakenas Jr won
his way back into the play-offs with a top seed but fell to Ralph
GM Jim Burnett watches the final battle
between perennial runner-up Ray Stakenas and perennial champ
John Emery. Someday ...