As always, the tournament was quick and easy—wood in two rounds. Game table assignments were made randomly for Round 1 by drawing cards. There were five 5-player and one 6-player tables A thru F. The six preliminary round winners would then advance to a Final.
TABLE A: Former GM Jonathan Lockwood was among the participants, but he was denied again. The three-round contest was won by Stephen Squibb, who came from last to first in Round 3. Stephen scored 60 points in sunken ships and added the bonus ten points for being the only surviving player in Round 3. This result brought into play the survivor (+10) rule that was emphasized for 2016. All in all, seven eliminations occurred in the three rounds. Scores: Squibb 77, Robert Drozd 68, Bill Dickerson 47, Lockwood and Mark Love 42.
TABLE B: There were nine eliminations in three rounds. Jeff Martin collected the +10 survivor bonus in Round 2. Unfortunately, as the leader (67 points) thereafter, Jeff found the going tougher. The table was won by Scott Beall reaching the winning threshold of 75 points. Scores: Beall 75, Wade Fowble 58, Martin 57, Antero Kuusi 53 and Randall MacInnis 46.
TABLE C: This game went four rounds with only four eliminations noted. Two players broke the 75-point threshold. The winner, Peter Staab, came from second place after Round 3. Scores: Staab 104, Thomas Johnston 76, Brian Goodwin 73, Larry Lingle 67 and Bruno Passacantando 45.
TABLE D: This table included three-time champion Jim Fleckenstein. He passed the 75 point threshold as did David Wolfe in Round 4, but the winner was veteran competitor Alan Arvold. Scores: Arvold 104, Fleckenstein 80, Wolfe 79, Dacey Collinson 62 and John Vogel 55.
TABLE E: 2013 champion Ben Collinson was the favorite in this group, but it only needed three rounds for David Brooks scoring 55 points in Round 3 to win easily. Scores: Brooks 93, Larry York 60, Chris Geggus 45, Collinson 39 and Tim Miller 23.
TABLE F: The only 6-player table included your humble GM and 2005 champ Bill Place. The game went five rounds with eight fleet eliminations. Of note in Round 3, one of my former junior contestants, Aidan McNay, used his carrier to sink both Yamato and Musashi (nine points each). After Round 4 all the players were still in contention with three at the 60-point level; Michael Rogozinski (69), Joe Harris (66) and Bill Place (61). The 2005 champion persevered in the closest of the semifinals. Scores: Place 92, Harris 90, Rogozinski 74, James Kramer Jr. 72, McNay 61 and Jeff Lange 56.
The six finalists now drew cards again to determine seating order. Table positions were: Scott, Peter, Stephen, Alan, (5) David and (6) Bill. Scott would deal to begin Round 1. The deal for subsequent rounds would be the current leader.
ROUND 1: Preliminary red card plays gave Scott and Bill 1-point minefields. Alan has Vittorio Veneto added to his fleet but also receives a 2-point minefield. Stephen and Bill each have a carrier to start. Regular play begins with Scott adding North Carolina. As play goes on, Stephan sinks Revenge, Alan Andrea Doria and Scott Texas for four points each. Alan adds Repulse which is immediately sunk by David (four points). Bill adds Littorio to his force. Scott sinks Pennsylvania (5 points), Alan sinks Giulio Cesare (four points). David now adds Haruna to his fleet. Bill uses his carrier to sink Bismarck (eight points). Scott takes out Maryland (5 points). David has a 2-point minefield placed on his fleet. Alan sinks West Virginia (five points), Scott draws a sub and sinks Iowa (seven points). David uses a minesweeper to remove the 2-pointer on his fleet. The first destroyer squadron is played by Peter. Player salvos of 1, 2 and 1 quickly sink it. Bill immediately plays the second destroyer card which is likewise dispatched by salvos of 3 and 2. Stephen draws a sub and misses Missouri. Scott sinks Vittorio Veneto (six points). Stephen now uses his carrier to strike Missouri but misses. Bill also has a carrier airstrike miss Missouri. Peter gets the carrier Ark Royal as a new ship. Stephen’s carrier again misses Missouri. Bill sinks North Carolina (six points). Scott deploys smoke to protect his dwindling fleet. Peter sinks Mississippi (five points). Alan draws a torpedo boat and misses Mutsu. Bill’s carrier misses New Jersey, Stephen’s carrier finally sinks Missouri (seven points). David’s fleet now has King George V added. Bill’s carrier attack on Scott’s last ship California (five points) fails but Stephen sinks it with a salvo eliminating Scott from the round. Alan gets a new ship, Duke of York. The round ends with David drawing smoke. Scores: Scott 17, Stephen 16, Bill 14, Alan 13, Peter 5 and David 4.
ROUND 2: In preliminary red card play, Peter’s torpedo boat misses. Alan places a 2-point minefield on Scott, has the other torpedo boat (miss) and both subs which sink Bismarck (8) and Iowa (7). David has an unusable additional damage card. Leader Scott again leads off the round. The first sinking belongs to Peter as Kirishima (5) goes under. Next Stephen sinks Texas (4), Alan sinks North Carolina (6) and David sinks Revenge (4). Peter deploys the first destroyer card. Alan draws a new ship, Gneusenau. The destroyer is then sunk by a 1, 2, 1 salvo combination. Alan now sinks Mutsu (6) and Peter sinks Roma (6). An additional ship, Hyuga, joins Alan’s fleet. David also draws an additional ship but gets Lutzow. A carrier strike by Peter misses Missouri. David receives a 1-point minefield from Alan. Bill sinks Conte Di Cavour (4). Another carrier strike on Missouri by Peter misses. Alan sinks Lutzow (3). Again Peter’s carrier misses Missouri. Scott adds Yamato to his fleet and Peter switches his carrier to that new target and misses again. Stephen adds Hood to his force. David now places a 1-point minefield on Alan. Bill sinks Renown (4). Washington now joins Scott’s fleet. Peter plays the second destroyer card. David plays smoke. Bill and Scott team up to sink the destroyer with salvos of 2 and 3. Peter’s carrier misses Yamato again. Bill gains West Virginia. Scott sinks Vittorio Veneto (6). Another carrier strike by Peter misses Yamato again. Steve sinks Ramillies (4). Alan receives a 2-point minefield from David. Bill sinks Gneisenau (5). Scott sinks Hyuga (5). Peter and Stephen play smoke. Bill sinks Kongo (5), Scott sinks Pennsylvania (5). Peter gains Graf Spee. Stephen plays more smoke and Alan draws the last card. Scores: Alan 43, Scott 33, Bill 32, Stephen 24, Peter 16 and David 8.
ROUND 3: The preliminary red card play sees Alan receive a 1-point minefield and Bill gain Texas. Peter adds the Enterprise giving him two carriers at the start. Leader Alan starts play by sinking Scheer (3). David adds a 2-point minefield to Alan’s fleet. Bill sinks Andrea Doria (4). Peter uses both carriers to attack the Yamato and Musashi but misses both. David sinks Littorio (6). Scott draws Maryland. Peter sinks Nevada (5). Scott places a 1-point minefield on Bill. Peter’s two carriers again futilely attack the 9-point targets. Stephen sinks Conte Di Cavour (4). Alan is reinforced with Ciao Duilio. David gives Scott a 2-point minefield. Bill adds Kirishima, Scott adds Rodney. Peter sinks Ciao Duilio (4), Stephen sinks Renown (4), Alan sinks Mississippi (5) and David sinks Revenge (4). Scott draws a sub and sinks Musashi (9). Peter uses his two carriers to strike Yamato (9), finally sinking her. Alan draws a sub and sinks Bismarck (8). David sinks Haruna (5). Scott has Ramillies added to his fleet which Peter promptly sinks. Scott now plays the first destroyer squadron. Salvos of 1, 2 and 2 quickly sink it. Scott sinks Tirpitz (8). Peter attacks New Jersey with his two carriers to no effect. Alan gets a minesweeper and removes the 1- and 2-point minefields on his fleet. Scott plays smoke. Peter’s two carriers again miss New Jersey and a torpedo boat by Stephen also misses. More smoke from Scott. Stephen sinks New Jersey (7) to eliminate Alan. Scott sinks Texas (4), Peter sinks Rodney (6). Bill plays smoke. Scott plays the second destroyer squadron and sees it sunk by salvos of 1, 2 and 1. More smoke from Scott. Peter uses his two carriers, missing Washington but sinking Roma (6). A torpedo boat for David misses South Dakota. Peter uses his two carriers to sink Maryland (5), Scott’s last ship. Stephen has Missouri added. The last play goes to David who sinks Hiei (5). Scores: Peter 55, Alan 49, Scott 44, Stephen 39, Bill 36and David 28.
ROUND 4: Opening red card play gives additional ships to Alan, South Dakota, David, Prince of Wales, Bill, Kongo and Nelson and Scott, Haruna. Peter has a 1-point minefield placed on him. Scott will have two carriers to start. Peter starts the round, but the first sinking belongs to Alan with Lutzow (3) his victim. Bill sinks Graf Spee (3), Alan sinks Kirishima (5). David uses a sub to sink Yamato (9). Alan now sinks Hood (5). Peter plays the first destroyer card which Stephen hits for two points. Alan plays smoke. Bill draws a torpedo boat and misses Musashi. It comes down to Scott to sink the first destroyer squadron. He does so with a 3-point salvo. Peter and Stephen now both play smoke. Alan gives Peter a 2-point minefield and Bill adds another 2-point mine card bringing the total to five. This play takes Valiant (5), West Virginia (5) and Missouri (7) from Peter. Peter has a minesweeper but draws a torpedo boat which misses the shot. Stephen now sinks Washington (6) eliminating Peter. David sinks Andrea Doria (4). Scott places a 1-point minefield on Alan. Stephen sinks Renown (4). Alan is reinforced by Hiei. David has Littorio join his force. Scott now puts his two carriers to use but misses Musashi and New Jersey. David sinks Rodney (6), Bill sinks Scharnhorst (5). Scott’s carriers attack again and miss Musashi and South Dakota. Alan has Revenge added to his fleet, which Bill now sinks (4 points). Scott uses his carriers again, missing Mushashi and New Jersey. Stephen now plays the second destroyer card which is sunk by salvos of 2 and 2. Bill plays smoke. Scott’s carriers attack one more time again missing Mushashi and South Dakota. Stephen draws the last card, a sub, and sinks Musashi (9). Scores: Bill 65, Alan 62, Stephen 58, David 47, Peter 45 and Scott 44.
ROUND 5: Initial red card play sees Bill get Hyuga and a 2-point minefield from Scott. Scott then receives his own 2-point minefield from Alan. Dave gives Alan a 1-point minefield and uses a torpedo boat shot that misses Tirpitz. Bill now leads off regular play with smoke. Peter sinks Kirishima (5). Alan sweeps his minefield. Bill sinks Hiei (5). Scott draws a new ship Mutsu. Peter sinks Valiant (5). Stephen has Enterprise join his fleet giving him two carriers. Alan sinks Giulio Cesare (4). Bill plays more smoke. Peter gets another ship, Lutzow. Stephen sinks Roma (6). Alan adds Hood to his force. David sinks Graf Spee (3). More smoke for Bill. Stephen draws a torpedo boat but misses Tirpitz. Alan sinks Caio Diulio (4), Scott sinks Revenge (4). Alan has Maryland added to his fleet. Scott now plays the first destroyer squadron. Alan draws a 1-point minefield which goes on Peter. David draws a sub which sinks Tirpitz (8). Scott gets to use the destroyer attacking Alan sinking New Jersey (7), Hood (5) and Scharnhorst (5). Stephen sinks Hyuga (5), Alan sinks Lutzow (3), Scott sinks South Dakota (6). Alan pulls a sub and sinks Iowa (7) knocking out Bill. Scott now plays the second destroyer card. Peter sinks Maryland (5). Stephen sinks Rodney (6). Alan plays smoke. David draws North Carolina as a new ship. Scott gets to use the second destroyer and sinks Missouri (7), Washington (6) and King George V (6). David sinks Mutsu (6) eliminating Scott. Peter sweeps his 1-point minefield away. Stephen sinks Pennsylvania (5). Alan with only a carrier left strikes, missing North Carolina. Peter adds Kongo to his force. Stephen uses his two carriers but misses North Carolina. Alan also uses his carrier strike at North Carolina, missing again. Stephen now sinks Alan’s carrier Ark Royal (3), eliminating him. No further combat action occurs with Stephen drawing the last card. With both destroyers used, starting last for the round, Scott sank 46 points worth of ships. Unfortunately he suffered elimination and the 10 point penalty dropped him to second place. Final Scores: Stephen 83, Scott 80, Alan 70, David 64, Peter and Bill 60. Resolving fifth and sixth places was done by random dice roll.
In closing, I wonder if Scott would have had a better position after Round 4 if he had used his two carriers more aggressively. In 2015 carriers were used to great effect. Scott stated the odds of carrier successes are too low to have great appeal to him. His poor luck at the end of Round 4 with eight missed attacks seems to bear out that opinion. Better luck next year.
Lastly, the players were again polled on changing to a heat driven format. The results were not quite 2:1 in favor of the change, but for two years running, heats are viewed positively. I will have to look into my scheduling options if heats are to be used.