Eutaw Springs proved once again to be a superbly balanced contest. A total of fifteen matches were played in the Mulligan and First Rounds. Of these the Americans won six, the British won six and three ended in a draw.
Noteworthy this year were decisive victories by each side: Dave Stiffler’s British over Tom Holliday’s Americans and Rob Doane’s Americans over Charles Speer’s British. In addition, Bruno Sinigaglio and Jeff Lange Sr. scored substantial American victories and Todd Carter scored one for the British.
As for the three games ending in a draw, tournament rules allowed for the player with superior Army Morale to advance to the next round. These were Derek Pulhamus, Rod Coffey, and Rob Doane. Rob had advanced in the Mulligan round and could have skipped to round 2. He decided to play again in round 1 hoping to improve his seeding. It proved to be the right decision because, as reported above, he went on to score a decisive victory.
Round 2 actions took the combatants to the frosty leafless fields of Guilford Courthouse where six matches were played. Here the British won three matches outright. Todd again won substantially while Rob Doane and Bruno Sinigaglio won marginally. On the other side of the ledger, Jeff Lange Sr.’s American also won marginally. The other two matches ended in a draw where once again superior Army Morale would determine the advancing player. In this case they were both Americans as Tim Miller advanced over Marty Musella by just 1 point of morale and Mark Miklos advanced over John Vasilakos where Army Morale was tied but Mark’s ½ point VP differential earned him the right to advance. Advancing players represented three British and three American forces.
Six players fought the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse in the quarter final. The three winners would advance to the semi-final along with the defeated player who performed the best in the match. Tim Miller’s Americans defeated Todd Carter’s British with an outright marginal victory. The other two matches were not as clear-cut. Both ended in a draw and so Army Morale became the indicator. Bruno’s 21 points of Army Morale was sufficient for him to advance over Jeff’s 19 points. At the last table it was becoming clear that Rob Doane and Mark Miklos would also end in a draw with Rob holding an Army Morale advantage of 21 to 18. Left unchanged this meant that Tim, Bruno and Rob would advance as “winners” with Jeff advancing as the defeated player with the best record by 1 point of Army Morale over Mark. Mark saw what he was up against and launched a last-turn series of low-odds attacks hoping to move his Army Morale ahead of Jeff’s. There was nothing else to do but in the end it was a forlorn hope. Mark’s morale actually plummeted from a respectable 18 to a dismal 11 assuring Jeff Lange Sr. of the fourth berth in the semifinal.
The Grand Old Lady, Saratoga, made her final appearance as a 2nd edition game in competition during the semifinal. Henceforth all competition will use the soon to be released third edition of the game.
The British carried the day winning both matches; substantially and marginally. Tim Miller eliminated the Daniel Morgan unit early in his match with Bruno Sinigaglio and then cruised to a marginal victory. Rob Doane’s British crushed Jeff Lange Sr.’s American morale for a substantial victory at the other table setting the stage for a Doane vs. Miller final.
The Final was the game Germantown, volume VII in the BoAR series. In this game Army Morale would again determine the difference in the event as neither player could achieve at least a marginal victory. Doane’s Americans captured the Chew House early and drove into the British center which bent but did not break. Drunken General Adam Stephens and his Division wandered across the American left-rear and several times “bumped into” friendly units causing a “friendly fire” check to take place. There were a few turns of near miss and then it happened; the dreaded friendly fire. No fewer than four stacks of American units melted out of the left of Doane’s line. At the same time, Miller’s Hessian allies who had been holding on the British left began to press into the American right. Doane’s American center seemed over exposed in a salient.
In spite of this drama, the VP differential was such that the game was tracking toward a draw. All eyes began to concentrate on Army Morale where Tim had a commanding advantage; at one time as much as 12 to 5. As the players entered their seventh hour of play and the turn track passed into the bottom half of turn 8 (with only two turns to go), Rob decided he had to act aggressively in the hope of bringing some correction to the Army Morale table or lese acquiesce to a losing effort.
What happened next will go down in lore and legend among BoAR enthusiasts for a long time to come. To fully appreciate what I’m about to describe please refer to a Germantown map if at all possible. There were British units in hex 3614 that Rob wanted to surround. He got forces into 3813, 3713, 3714 and, by virtue of the light woods in 3714, was able to scoot a unit into 3815. Note also that there was a British force in hex 3715. Now these forces were the critical microcosm of a much longer battle line but it was here that the coup de grace occurred.
Rob’s unit in hex 3815 had to retreat. It could not go into 3714 because of stacking violation; it could not go into 3914 because of British zoc. Hex 3816 is a light woods hex and a retreat there could be permitted if that was the only path available but as long as there is a path in which the retreating unit does not end adjacent to an enemy, that path of least resistance must be taken. In this event, the only hex that qualified was hex 3015; “Market Square.” As this was the end of a game turn, Rob had just qualified for a decisive victory; possession of the Chew House and Market Square at the end of any game turn with no enemy units adjacent if the American Army had panicked during the game which it had.,/p>
A masterful game played by Tim’s British and one that was leading to a certain victory based on superior morale turned in the blink of an eye into a decisive American victory for Rob. Final stats were 6 ½ VPs and 12 points of Army Morale for Tim and 5 ½ VPs and 6 points of Army Morale for Rob but with Rob satisfying the conditions for decisive victory.
In a bit of irony Rob was lamenting to this correspondent earlier in the week that he did not yet have a gambit named in his honor after all the many years of playing BoAR; i.e. the Rhunke Gambit, Easter Gambit or Clayton gambit? He had authored a “corollary” to the dictum, “It’s never the dice” which states, “It’s never the dice until it is” but he wanted a gambit to call his own. Perhaps he now qualifies by snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at the Battle of Germantown through the act of retreating into the victory hex to win the game.
Congratulations to both finalists for an excellent contest and good play throughout the tournament. Thanks to all of you who helped make the BoAR at WBC another success. Thanks to my AGMs, Dave Stiffler and Rob Doane. Thanks also to Rob McKinney and Chris Easter who could not play this year but who donated extra prizes for raffle and for the non-rated player advancing the farthest in the tournament.
Looking ahead, 2018 will be the 20th anniversary of the BoAR tournament at WBC; it’s hard for me to believe. Heck, I didn’t even have gray hair then We are already planning some very special things to mark that milestone and I hope you all will consider joining us at Seven Springs. Until then, thanks for your continued support.
|Americans making their move
|Tim Miller defeating Marty Musella by 1 point
|Rob Doane advancing to the final round
|Battles of American Revolution Finalists