Attendance took a hit this year, the field dropping by nearly a third, with only 16 players managing to play 21 games. Six contested all four rounds, three played three games, two managed two contests, and five played but once. Neither our two-time defending champion, Max DuBoff, nor last year’s runner-up, Riku Riekkinen, were in attendance, assuring that “fresh blood” would win wood! Instead of the Formidable Finn, we were graced with the presence of the Dangerous Dane, a young man by the name of Uffe Gram Christensen. Also in the field was Stefan Mecay, back after a one-year hiatus, a name to be reckoned with in Twilight Struggle (with which it shares about 80% of its game mechanics). Three of last year’s laurelists were on the roster as well, so no cakewalk was forecast.
Entering the fourth round, we had two players with an unblemished 3-0 record and four with 2-1 slates. None had played their fourth-round opponents earlier in the tournament. Ernie Chambers, appearing in his second WBC 1989 tournament, defeated Paul Sampson, playing in his third tournament. Jeromey Martin, assistant GM, three-tournament veteran and second-ranked laurelist, overcame Nathan Wagner in his second tournament.
Uffe and Stefan met in the Final, both brandishing two wins as the Democrats and one as the Communists. Both agreed they had employed the “roll high dice often” strategy which worked very well, especially as their opponents tended to roll poorly. Sides were determined randomly, with Uffe getting the Democrats for the third time and Stefan playing the Communists.
Turn 1 started with a bang as Stefan cleared one influence from two Blue-controlled areas in Poland on his first play leaving him with one controlled spot to zero for Uffe. However, in Hungary the situation was reversed, so Uffe gambled and played Hungary scoring as his first card. With eight cards to 0, the only suspense was if Uffe had a “Rally in the Square” card which he did, so with +3 to both rolls Hungary quickly went Democratic. Stefan only had about a 20% chance of having Poland scoring, but unfortunately for Uffe, he did. Also drawing a “Rally” card in an 8 to 0 battle, Stefan rolled a 1+3=4 for scoring and a 6+3=max for maximum support loss. With most of Poland cleared and the big Democratic Polish cards buried, Stefan was eventually able to get total control of Poland.
The next few turns saw the Communists gain a slight advantage in Czechoslovakia. East Germany was even, and Bulgaria tilted towards the Democrats. Both players rolled poorly the first couple of turns, paying penance for their pre-Final hot streaks as the law of averages ran its course. Stefan's dice recovered first and started heating up around Turn 3, while Uffe's dice remained consistently bad throughout. Mid year saw the Democrats winning a minor victory in East Germany. With the “Monday Demonstrations” looming, the Reds voluntarily gave up power. Bulgaria eventually went Democratic as well. However the Communists won two closely contested battles in Czechoslovakia to bring the score close to a Red auto victory. What saved the Democrats in mid-year was a great end-of-turn combo of “Brought in For Questioning” followed by a safe discard of Poland scoring on Turn 6 by Uffe. Uffe managed to get the “Brought in For Questioning” card again in the late year, but his hopes for a repeat performance were dashed on Turn 9 when Stefan opened with Polish scoring which ended the game in a Communist auto victory. All in all, a great struggle worthy of a Final.