for the people   

Updated Nov. 12, 2014

2014 WBC Report    

 2015 Status: pending 2015 GM commitment

James Pei, VA

2009-14 Champion


Event History
1999    James Pei    22
2000    Trevor Bender    21
2001    James Pei    22
2002    James Pei    29
2003    James Pei    32
2004     James Pei    35
2005    James Pei    24
2006     James Pei    27
2007     James Pei    30
2008     Riku Reikkinen    32
2009     James Pei    18
2010    James Pei    24
2011    James Pei    33
2012    James Pei    28
2013    James Pei    26
2014    James Pei    28

PBeM Event History
1999    James Pei    24
2002    Stefan Mecay    46
2013    Sean Dolbee    53

WAM Event History
2003    James Pei     8
2004     James Pei    12
2005    James Pei    17
2006    James Pei     11


Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  James Pei          VA    14    762
  2.  David Dockter      MN    14    244
  3.  Mark Giddings      NY    12    151
  4.  Mike Mitchell      GA    13     93
  5.  Nicholas Pei       CA    14     84
  6.  Bill Pettus        MD    14     76
  7.  Riku Reikkinen     fi    09     68
  8.  Tim Miller         GA    13     68
  9.  Trevor Bender      CA    03     62
 10.  Sean Dolbee        CA    13     60
 11.  Stefan Mecay       TX    02     60
 12.  Jeff Donald        VA    14     44
 13.  Chris Byrd         CT    08     39
 14.  Baron August       PA    02     36
 15.  Henry Russell      PA    12     31
 16.  Peter Reese        VA    04     28
 17.  Tom Thornsen       NY    10     25
 18.  Rob Winslow        NY    05     21
 19.  Dan Hoffman        NC    02     19
 20.  Gary Kirk          au    13     18
 21.  Bob Sohn           PA    09     18
 22.  Hank Burkhalter    GA    02     18
 23.  Doug Whatley       MD    00     18
 24.  Tom Drueding       TX    99     18
 25.  Michael Ussery     MD    09     14
 26.  Taylor Golding     on    04     12
 27.  George Young       VT    03     12
 28.  Paul Risner        TN    02     12
 29.  Tim Hughes         uk    02     12
 30.  Bill Thoet         VA    03     10
 31.  Steve Bucey        OH    99      9
 32.  Lucas Rhodes       PA    14      8
 33.  Don Chappell       TX    10      7
 34.  Doug Mercer        MD    05      7
 35.  Jean Louis Dirion  fr    13      6
 36.  Kevin McCarthy     OH    99      6
 37.  Mike Casselberry   PA    11      5
 38.  Keith Butler       CA    03      5
 39.  Zach Lawrence      NJ    13      4
 40.  John Firer         WI    01      4
 41.  Mike Welker        OH    99      3
 42.  Jon Gautier        NY    06      2

2014 Laurelists
Repeating Laurelists:

Bill Pettus, MD

Dave Dockter, MN

Nick Pei, CA

Lucas Rhodes, PA

Jeff Donald, VA

Past Winners

James Pei, VA
1999, 2001-07, 2009-14

Trevor Bender, CA

Riku Reikkinen, fi

Chris Byrd and Mark Giddings cross swords as the
Master schools Mark Popofsky in the background.

GM Mark Herman checks whether
Pettus or Dockter will be Pei's next victim.

Having "won" his way into the Final,
Bill gets a four-turn lesson from the Master.

Wishful thinking or whistling in the graveyard?
The psych lesson failed to unseat the Master.

The Master .... again

As the saying goes, if it was a fight, they'd have stopped it. For the 14th time in 16 years, James Pei has won again. They don't call him "the Master" for nothing. Our reigning champion James Pei and the opposition share their thoughts from the 16th running of the FTP tournament.

We had another solid turnout with 28 ACW aficionados crossing swords, including several new faces. After being MIA for several years, the ever popular WBC cheerleader, sandman and four-time FTP finalist, David Dockter, returned to battle. Many strong players were also in attendance, including Byrd, Pettus, Ussery, Young, Giddings, Donald and Pei the younger. Geoff Allbutt, who got married last year just before the tourney and rushed back to play also came back for more "lessons". He is shown putting them to work against Michael Ussery at right.

Some highlights from this year's "reinactments":

- A new player, Tom Stewart, who I met playing in his gaming group in Ashburn, played a very aggressive CSA. He formed four CSA armies by 1862! It looked impressive and menacing, but without any real punch as each army only had 4 or 5 SP. I told him later that it's better to have one strong army than four weak ones.

- Another new player, Fred Finkenbinder, played a Rd 2 marathon game against the much improved Lucas Rhodes. Lucas' Rebels used FTR card to force AOP forward, isolated it, then destroyed it. The rebels also got off five raids. The Union resigned on T10 with a SW of 17 vs the CSA's 119!

- Another new player, Jeff Cornett, a top player in many block games, made his first appearance on my turf. He told me he is tired of watching me winning, that somebody needs to end the dynasty. I said welcome and good luck, the "beating" line forms to the right! Well, Jeff's Rebels put up a good fight against the now veteran, Jeff Donald. But by T8, the Union had taken AR, TX, LA, and the entire Mississippi River region.

- Mark Popofsky, the now 3-time EOS champ, met James Pei in Round 2. Unlike EOS where defensive units can react to any offensive force within range, Mark's Union learned a painful lesson in not building an early fort defense. CSA used the FTR card to destroy AOP, blew through Frederick and captured DC.

- A very tight Round 3 game occurred between Nick Pei's Union and the returning Sandman marshall. From Nick's own words... Payback is a bitch. Several years ago, I held out as CSA on the last card of the last turn defending Richmond against Dockter. This year, my 9+ hours quarterfinal against him ended with another CSA holdout, when on the last card of the last turn, I played a Minor Campaign for one last assault on Richmond. The dice failed me as I was unable to bring CSA SW down from 17 to 0, or burn Richmond. By this time, all Rebel non-blockade runner resource spaces were destroyed except for Richmond. Blockade was 0, with only 1 CSA raid late in 1864. Richmond was closed off in Fall '64 three times, but reopened three times by fierce CSA counterattacks on 50% rolls to resupply Richmond. Game end saw depleted armies on both sides, with AoNV [7] defending in a OOS Richmond with +7 modifier (win medium battle ties on resource space), even though Jackon & Lee's armies were destroyed by Sherman & Grant.

- Another quarterfinal game pit Jeff Donald's USA against the Master. Jeff played a Major Campaign to isolate and surround all Rebel forces in N VA. Unfortunately, he left a small gap in WV. James promptly pulled out his own Major Campaign to turn the tables. James flanked around WV to re-establish supply, then blew through the defense at Pittsburgh, and raided all the way to Philly. This caused massive isolation and attrition from which the Union was unable to recover.

In the semifinals game to determine Pei's final victim, Bill Pettus' Union atried to save the Dockter from another Jedi mindtrick. The CSA army under Jackson and Forrest failed to dislodge Union corps in Bloomington defended by Curtis and a fort, three times! On Turn 8, Bill then used a brilliant Campaign card to launch Grant's army from Paducah to AA into Dover. This totally unhinged Rebel positions in KY and TN. By this time, blockade level was at 4, CSA SW was at 17 and USA SW was very high at 115. The Union resigned and Pei-Dockter IV was relegated to wishful thinking and returned to Dave's hope chest.

The Final pit Pettus' Union against ... well, you know. Suffice to say that Pei had strong hands that he played to perfection. With the Northern states under the grip of CSA armies the Union resigned on Turn 4 and James carved another notch in his belt.

See you all next year for the finale at the Host. Can the Amish raise a corps to stop Pei's rebels in Lancaster? Not likely ...

Grant LaDue, having recently bested the Master in WNW is emboldened to try again on his own turf if he can get by Bill Peeck.

 Play By Email 2014

By all accounts, the 2012 World Boardgaming Championships were a great success, if a bit uncomfortable due to a 6:1 die split that resulted in a HVAC failure. Once again, James Pei successfully defended his FTP title. Of course, and not to take ANYTHING away from James, it was undoubtedly easier due Don Chappell's unfortunate absence (and maybe David Dockter's). Seriously, congratulations to James and our thanks to him for giving us all something to shoot at... I mean shoot for! Shortly after WBC, the results of James' PBeM match against previously undefeated newcomer Alberto Molina were reported. Alberto's CSA conceded to James' Union after the Summer of '63 with the SW at 75:42. The Union had closed three Blockade Zones and had a 35:16 edge in SPs.

In a second battle of the undefeated, Herr Dockter's Union downed third ranked Michael Mitchell's CSA in the Fall of '63 with the SW at 90:38. As of this writing, Nick Pei and Gary Kirk, both previously undefeated, are enjoying a battle for the ages in a game found on ACTS under the handle BPA 4-1. It is the Spring of '64 and the SW is 31:24 (USA:CSA). This is a donnybrook well worth the effort of looking through the journal. Doug Pratto, the other previously undefeated player is locked with newcomer Jeff Donald in yet another masterful game.

James Pei and David Dockter are guaranteed their positions in the Single Elimination bracket games to begin at the end of September, and as befits their AREA ratings (first and second respectively) they will anchor the brackets. The winner of the Pei/Kirk game will also be seeded as will Pratto should he prevail against Donald. Known to have qualified for the drawing to complete the bracket are: Michael Mitchell, Alberto Molina, Grant LaDue, Tom Thornsen, Sean Dolbee, Tim Tow and Jean Louis Dirion. Possibly qualifying, depending upon the outcome of their current games are: Jeff Donald, Mike Pacheco, George Young, Steve Likevich and Mustafa Corapci. Round 4 officially began on May 25th and ended on September 28th 2012.

The fourth round ended on schedule with one adjudication. Things only got tougher thereby, however, as there were 13 players with 3-1 records and only five slots available in the Single Elimination bracket. Five of the 13 were randomly selected to participate in the championship bracket. With exactly eight remaining, a special "Trans Mississippi" bracket was created for fun, honor and "I coulda been a contender!" bragging rights. While disappointment was clearly evident, all accepted this invitation in the spirit of good sportsmanship that is the hallmark of BPA members.

The Championship Quarterfinals feature Jean Louis Dirion (USA) vs James Pei; Tom Thornsen (USA) vs Jeff Donald; Gary Kirk (USA) vs Doug Pratto and Sean Dolbee (USA) vs David Dockter). Shortly after the brackets were announced a flurry of unauthorized handicapping for a betting pool broke out on ComSimWorld. It seems to me that the handicappers were basing their odds on their own experiences against these players rather than any valid mathematical analysis, so my advice would be to take the long odds in each case as I suspect that pay-offs are larger than risk across the board. This bracket strikes me as a highly competitive one. While Dockter and Pei are seeded to allow yet another Final confrontation, the path to both getting there is not going to be easy. This may yet be the tournament that sees the beginning of an end to a certain dynasty... and if not, then the greater the glory as the story will continue for another chapter. Round 5 of the tournament officially began on September 29th and will end on February 2nd 2013.

As I suspected would happen, Round 4 ended with more balanced results with respect to the sides. There were six Union victories vs five losses (and the one adjudication). Additionally the games lasted longer with one, the contest between reliable grognard Bill Peeck and Mike Kunin going into the last turn before a decision was reached. For more details please visit our tournament website at the link above.

"The King is Dead! Long Live the King!"

Tournament newcomer Sean Dolbee has unseated James Pei as the reigning FTP Champion. James, holder of 722 BPA Laurels in FTP alone, has defined the word dominance in Card Driven Games since FTP's original publication over a decade ago. While he has been defeated in tournament play twice before, this marks his first loss during a championship PBeM Final and caps an extraordinary run for any wargamer.

Nor can it be said that Sean managed to "get lucky". Certainly, luck was involved, it is a wargame afterall; but Sean bested a number of top quality players for the right to meet James in the Final including Gary Kirk (other than Pei and Dockter the only undefeated player in the Swiss rounds), Jon Gautier (2 laurels), Tom Drueding (18 laurels) and perennial FTP second seed David Dockter (186 laurels). Sean did lose his opening round to CDG grognard George Young (12 laurels), but obviously did not lose heart and resign from the tournament; instead he went on to qualify for the drawing into the finals bracket.

Additionally, the Pei/Dolbee contest was one of the most watched and commented on in CDG history. Fortunately before the on-line commentary got too far out of hand, our next GM, Tim Tow, moved it to its own, closed, website on ComsimWorld. The viewing audience was treated to a game much like any super NFL-like football bowl game whose name cannot be uttered without risking lawsuits. By that I mean that the play of the apparent David vs. Goliath contest did not seem to match the excitement level the fans desired. Both players played aggressively, but were always aware of and managed their downside risk. In the opening turns, early distractions by Pei in the West seemed to match Dolbee's desire to establish more depth to his defense there as well as to threaten invasion of the Union midwest. Soon enough however, the CSA moved into the Eastern theater in force. There Dolbee both waited for opportunity and took a bold chance when it presented itself and ended the game with a three-state raid. At the fundamental level, Dolbee played a very Pei-like game and it paid off. Hardly flawless by either player, but still very well played and a worthy contest.

In the meantime we have three matches left to complete in the current tournament. Jeff Donald and Gary Kirk are still battling it out for the 3rd and 4th place laurels. In the Trans-Mississippi (consolation) bracket, Alberto Molina and Michael Mitchell have suddenly found themselves in a close contest. This is a game that players who believe that it is over by the end of 1862 should really take a close look at. An "early resigner" would have already folded, but this one is now too close to call. The winner of that game will play Nick "Padawan" Pei for bragging rights in the consolation bracket.

As a GM, PBeM or otherwise, Don Chappell is unrivalled - the dean of his craft. Perhaps in this case he was too good! As a learning moment for other potential GMs to consider, please note the following.

The winner of this event was known and announced long before WBC 2013, but the event itself dragged on long past our annual convention while the secondary matches continued months afterwards. Because of the arcane rules pertaining to BPA laurels and its Caesar competition, an event can't be finshed until it is over lest a real can of worms be unleashed on the scoring thereof. So, even though the deciding title game had been concluded months before, the participants had to wait for their laurels to be awarded until the other ranking games had finished. This, theoretically, could very well determine the winner of our annual Gamer of the Year Caesar award when the event drags on past WBC - our official end of the gaming year.

The drawback of PBeM tournaments has always been the excessive time they can take when not all participants are fully engaged with timely reponses. In his enthusiasm to provide the most gaming opportunities and entertainment for his players, Don made two errors. First, he had playoff games for positions third through sixth scheduled concurrently with the championship match - meaning the tournament cannot end until the slowest match concluded. More importantly, he compounded this error by allowing a player to exceed the deadlines for finishing the round.

He is not alone in this regard. I've participated in numerous tournaments where a deadline was required at the start and the stated penalty for exceeding said deadline was forfeiture. The point is to provide an incentive to play accordingly and make time to respond in a prompt and courteous manner - and to discourage those not committed to such an undertaking from participating. Having done so, often at considerable sacrifice of other activities, one is then left grinding one's teeth when the GM arbitrarily changes the rules and allows the game to continue past the stated deadline. If the rule was never intended to be enforced, why have the rule in the first place?

I know. No one wants to win on a technicality and there but for the grace of God go I. Life happens and this is only a game. Yes and No. When you enter a tournament it is not just a game - you are agreeing to a code of conduct that includes timely response. Object to such a GM ruling - and you're a poor sport so you grin and bear it. But in doing this kindness for one player, the GM is inconveniencing all the others who must abide by a slower schedule than was agreed to previously. Set aside for the moment whether it is fair or not - and make no mistake about it, I believe there is nothing fair about changing the rules in midstream. If you want the trains to run on time, you have to keep to a schedule. Failing to do so makes tournaments drag on for years and in the long run discourages players from getting involved. Sure, the game is the thing, but nobody is saying the players can't continue the game on their own schedule for the sake of the game. But for tournament purposes, when that chess clocks runs down to 0, the tournament round is over. Or, at least it should be in Don's world.

The official order of finish for the 2011-2013 BPA FTP PBEM Tournament is:
1st: Sean Dolbee (60 Laurels earned)
2nd: James Pei (36 Laurels earned)
3rd: Jeff Donald (24 Laurels earned)
4th: Gary Kirk (18 Laurels earned)
5th: David Dockter (12 Laurels earned)
6th: Jean Louis Dirion (6 Laurels earned)
7th: Tom Thornsen
8th: Doug Pratto

Additionally we had a Consultation Bracket made up of players who qualified but were not drawn for a spot in the Championship Bracket. The order of finish for this bracket is:
1st: Michael Mitchell
2nd: Nick Pei
3rd: Alberto Molina
4th: Tim Tow
5th: Mike Pacheco
6th: Grant LaDue
7th: Mike Kunin
8th: Steve Likevich

BPA Sponsor and For The People publisher, GMT GAMES, provided additional prizes. Sean Dolbee will receive two in print games. James Pei, Michael Mitchell and Nick Pei will all receive one in print game of their choice. The Gamemaster provided additional prizes to those finishing third and fourth in each bracket. Jeff Donald and Tim Tow will receive books on Civil War topics and our international winners, Alberto Molina and Gary Kirk, will have their BPA Associate membership dues covered. (Shipping costs to Spain and Australia respectively are prohibitive, and this makes it easier for these players to retain their membership as transferring funds to the USA for dues is not easy either.)

53 BPA members played 96 games in this tournament. Hopefully all had fun. I'd like to once again recognize our Assistant Gamemasters, Tom Thornsen and Michael Mitchell, for their support. Without their help this tournament would not have run as smoothly and successfully as it did. They are good friends and real pros!

The next FTP PBEM Tournament, game mastered by Tim Tow, is already underway. Best of luck to all in that, and all your future games. It was a pleasure to be the Gamemaster in this one!

 GM     Mark Herman  [12th Year]   NA
   NA  NA

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