It was tough year for Bitter Woods at the Foggy Goggle. While just a few years ago 50 games were played at doncon, this year garnered only ten entrants and only 13 games played. It was unfortunate that many of the clientele who participated in Bitter Woods in Lancaster were missing in action again at Seven Springs.
This year's finalists included four perennial antagonists: Bill Morse, Michael Mitchell, Johnny Hasay and Bruno Sinigaglio. Johnny and Michael were partnered in one semifinal while Bruno and Bill faced off in the other.
The first semifinal was, unfortunately, a wash out. Johnny had to make an emergency middle of the night return back to his farm in western Pennsylvania to tend to the hogs and the retired family mule when massive rain storms and flooding washed out much of the back-woods country around Pittsburgh. Johnny departed in a hurry and was sorry to miss another gaming opportunity. On the other hand, Michael was in the semifinal for his team game and decided to drop his Bitter Woods quest for higher stakes.
That left frequent antagonists Bill and Bruno morphing their semifinal game into the Championship by nature of the fact that they were the only participants left standing. This game would be the fourth time Bill and Bruno met in Bitter Woods championship match.
The game started well for Bill playing the Americans in the 8-turn Scenario. The first turn attacks for Bruno's Germans were great against the 14 Cav and the 28/110 before Clervaux, but all else was almost fruitless. The 16AM attacks results were as follows:
- 1-1 @ 99/395 in Hofen: Firefight (i.e., each side takes a hit)
- 4-1 @ 99/393 before Rocherath-Krinkelt: Counterattack - this results in much mobility for 2/9 and 2/38
- 4-1 @ 14cav: D3 - this traps 99/394 and 106/422
- 3-1 @ 99/394: Engaged - this smokes the Germans on 16PM
- 4-1 @ 28/110 before Clervaux: D1, bridge built
- 3-1 @ 28/112: Firefight.
- 3-1 @ 106/424: D1. The Germans really smoked, because 424 can now hold east of the Our on 16PM
- 1-1 @ 28/109: Firefight
- 1-1 @ 9CCC: D2
- 1-2 @ 4/12: A back
As Bruno has instructed new players for many years: "Do not expect good results on 16AM and 16PM. The terrain and the traffic make good results on 16AM and 16PM rare. Try to optimize your moves, so that when 17AM hits, you have a chance to blow through the thin Allied line." This game was a good example of that prophecy. In fact, Bruno's position on 16PM was so bogged down, that Bill was able to completely stuff Bruno's 17AM breakout. Bitter Woods vets who wandered by after Bruno's 17AM turn thought it was only the 16PM turn.
As a result, Bruno took a bold chance on 17PM and attacked Malmedy, which would automatically release the 1/16 regiment. A bad roll here and the game would be over for the Germans. Bruno threw the 1SS, a Panzer Scare and a Stuka vs Malmedy. Bill countered the Stuka, but lady luck would not help Bill. Bruno rolled a one on a 1-1(-1), allowing Peiper to advance from Baugnez into Malmedy, across the bridge on the Warche and into the previously hidden fuel dump at hex 1710. Onlookers commented that Bruno should go to hell for doing this to the gentleman Bill Morse.
The nature of the game now changed dramatically as Bill went from a superior to inferior position. Somehow, Bill held onto Trois Ponts by a hair on the 18PM and 19AM turns. Things then swung again in Bill's favor when the 101st reinforcements placed the 7th Army out of supply on the 18PM turn. It looked like Bruno would be toast. While the Trois Ponts battles sucked the energy out of the 6th Panzer Army, and the 5th Panzer was stymied at Bastogne, Bruno had to send the 7th Army east to reopen its supply lines. It looked like there would be no need for an actual 19PM turn, but somehow Bruno got the 7th back in supply and Bill left Neufchateau unguarded. If the Germans could push the airborne far enough north of Martelange, a reserve move would allow Brandenberger and the 5/15 mech to capture Neufchateau and win the game. Alas, that is what happened to “Snake-Bit” Bill and Bruno prevailed to win the championship.
|Bill Morse winning through the rounds
|Marty Musella & Johnny Hasay having fun