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War At Sea (WAS) WBC 2017 Report
Updated March 23, 2018 Icon Key
40 Players Ben Gardner 2017 Status 2018 Status History/Laurels
2017 Champion Click box for details. Click box for details.

Greenwood, Lockwood, And Packwood Make The Playoffs… …But The Championship Goes To Ben Gardner!

Ben Gardner claimed the 2017 WBC War At Sea crown with an unblemished 7-0-0 record, defeating Bob Hamel, who had a 6-2-0 record, in the final. War At Sea crowns are a Gardner family tradition, as Ben’s father, War At Sea Hall of Famer Andy, won the championship in 2002 and 2007. Ben, still in college, is not the youngest winner ever, but he was the youngest player in the room this year by about 15 years. He is also only the fourth player to go undefeated in the entire tournament, following Tim Hitchings, Pat Richardson, and Jonathan Lockwood who achieved this mark twice. Bob Hamel’s runner-up finish completed a 3-year run of first, third and now second place, the best 3-year run since Bruce Monnin finished first, second and first at the first 3 Avaloncons in 1991-1993. Bob also scored a second place finish in the recently completed BPA War At Sea PBEM Championship. Don Greenwood, yes our former convention director, competed in his first War At Sea event since 1900, or maybe it was 2000, and proved he hasn’t lost a step by finishing third with a 5-1-0 mark. Fourth place went to Scott Beall with a 4-3-0 record. Bruce Monnin took fifth place with a 4-2-0 mark and received the coffee table book Battle for the North Atlantic for being the highest ranked competitor not winning a plaque. Sixth through Eighth place finishers were Dennis Nicholson at 4-2-0, Steve Packwood at 3-3-0, and Jonathan Lockwood at 3-3-0. They received copies of War At Sea PBEM GM Darren Kilfara’s wargaming novel, Do You Want Total War? Rounding out our top 10 were Charlie Drozd and Karl Bodenheimer, both at 3-2-0.

At the conclusion of the Swiss round games, the top 6 finishers automatically qualified for the elimination rounds. Top qualifier Ben Gardner, 50 Victory Points and 4-0-0, was followed in order by Don Greenwood, 40 Victory Points and 4-0-0, Bob Hamel, 40 VPs and 4-1-0, Bruce Monnin, 40 VPs and 4-1-0, Dennis Nicholson, 38 VPs and 4-1-0, and defending champ Steve Packwood, 32 VPs and 3-2-0. A strength of schedule tiebreaker was needed for the remaining 2 playoff spots, with Scott Beall and Jonathan Lockwood topping Charlie Drozd and Karl Bodenheimer. All 4 of those players finished with 3-2-0 ledgers and 30 VPs. Bob Hamel, Bruce Monnin, and Steve Packwood were the only 3 repeat players from last year’s playoffs. In fact, Bruce’s playoff appearance was his seventh in a row, timing him with Jonathan Lockwood for the longest such streak.

Two of the quarterfinal games were not close while 2 were nail biters. In the former category, #2 Don Greenwood’s Allies, bidding 2.0, knocked off #6 Steve Packwood’s Axis by 4 POC and #4 Bob Hamel’s Axis maxed out against #5 Dennis Nicholson’s Allies, bidding 2.0. In the latter group, #7 Scott Beall’s Axis trailed by 1.0 in the raw POC, but #3 Bruce Monnin’s Allied bid of 2.0 put Scott in the win column. Our champion, #1 Ben Gardner’s Axis needed boxcars on the very last die roll of the game to sink #8 Jonathan Lockwood’s Allied convoy and squeak out a 0.5 POC win. The Allied bid was 2.5.

The semifinals likewise featured 50% blowouts and 50% airtight contests. Ben Gardner’s Allies, bidding 2.0, breezed to victory over Don Greenwood’s Axis. But Scott Beall, who won his quarterfinal match when the bid flipped a loss to a win, suffered the same fate in the semifinals. Bob Hamel’s Axis trailed in the raw POC, but Scott’s bid slid the margin in Bob’s favor.

In the final, Ben Gardner claimed the Allies without a bid when Bob Hamel desired to play the Axis, as he had all day. Thanks very much to Andy Gardner for the following summary of the final.

Turn 1 saw limited action as the Allied Barents on 1 deployment led to the Axis declining a challenge. Each side lost a battleship to airstrikes and the turn ended with the Allies ahead by one. However, on turn 2, an Allied speed roll failure brought the Germans out to the Barents. When the smoke cleared, the Axis had lost 2x225 and a 127, while the Allies lost 2x336 and 4x117. Nevertheless, the Allies prevailed and moved to +2 POC.

On Turn 3, four of the 5 Allied speed rolls failed and the Axis were all in the Barents again. Allied airpower sank a 127, but their surface ships couldn’t send anyone else to the bottom. Axis forces sank the Ark Royal, a 456, and 4x117, this time winning the area. At this point, the Axis led in POC by 1.

Turn 4 saw a third consecutive turn with a missed Allied speed roll and an Axis sortie in to the Barents. The Axis prevailed by sinking the last Allied 117 and a 456, at the cost of the Graf Zeppelin. Axis were now at +4 POC.

There was no surface combat on Turn 5 but Axis subs sank Convoy 1A, leaving no change in POC. Turn 6 likewise featured no surface combat, with convoys and U-boats again providing all the action. Convoy 2B dodged Axis LBA to put into Russia, and Axis U-boats missed Convoy 3C in the North Atlantic. Axis were now at +1 POC.

Turn 7 was the decisive turn as 14 ASW cleared all 5 U-boats from the North Sea while Convoy 3C again ran the LBA gauntlet successfully and landed in Russia. Allies were now at +3 POC. The Axis had too few forces to win or even decontrol an area on turn 8, leading to a final margin of Allies +4 POC.

Congratulations again to 2017 War At Sea champ Ben Gardner!

This year’s field totaled 40 players, who played 74 games, both up ten percent from last year and the second highest totals of the past 5 years. The favorite opening Allied strategy was again Barents on 1 by a wide margin. Best Axis Player was runner-up Bob Hamel with a 6-2-0 mark, topping Scott Beall’s 3-1-0 tally. Champion Ben Gardner claimed Best Allied Player honors at 5-0-0, edging Don Greenwood at 4-0-0. Karl Bodenheimer made the 11-hour drive from Kansas City worth his while by earning Rookie of the Year honors with his tenth place finish and 3-2-0 log. His tenth place standing was the best by a first-year player since 2003. It should be noted that Karl is a veteran e-mail player making his WBC debut.

Competition gets better and better and tighter and tighter every year. The preferred Allied strategy continues to be Barents on 1 with about half the Axis players preferring to counter but not sail on turn one. If anybody used the Med strategy, I was not aware of it.

Play balance could hardly have been better, with the Axis taking 37 games, the Allies 36, and one tie. Seven contests had no bid, with 67 showing Allied bids ranging from 0.5 to 2.5. The average bid this year was 1.63 for all games and 1.80 for games that had a bid, both up from last year.

As always, putting on the War At Sea tournament is a team effort, starting with veteran Assistant GMs Rob Drozd and John Sharp. John and Bob Hamel transported all of the chess clocks for us. Charlie Drozd was virtually a third Assistant GM. Special thanks to and Ed Menzel, Bruno Passacantando, Glenn Petroski, and John Welage for agreeing to take byes when we had an odd number of players, which unfortunately occurred on all 5 rounds, the first time that has ever happened Gentlemen, thank you very much.

2017 Laurelists Repeating Laurelists: 1
Bob Hamel Don Greenwood Scott Beall Bruce Monnin Dennis Nicholson
2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th

Battling warships in the Maple Room

Bob Hamel and Scott Beall in semifinal

Retirement suiting Don Greenwood well
as he plays Ben Gardner in semifinal

War at Sea Finalists with GM Vince Meconi

2017 PBeM Tournament

Darren Kilfara won his third BPA tournament and second War At Sea PBeM title by going unbeaten in the 11th BPA PBeM tournament over a field of 27. Darren kept his unblemished record spotless with an overwhelming British victory in the Final, scoring 10 POC by Turn 5. Also scoring laurels were Bob Hamel, Ed Menzel, Andy Choptiany, Mike Pacheco, and Jonathan Lockwood in that order.

2017 PBEM Laurelists
Darren Kilfara Bob Hamel Ed Menzel
1st 2nd 3rd
Andy Choptiany Mike Pacheco Jonathan Lockwood
4th 5th 6th


GM  Vincent Meconi [19th Year]  105 Churchill Lane, Wilmington, DE 19808-4355 
 vmeconi@verizon.net  302-234-1415