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Enlightenment IV

When news of the likely cancellation of the 4th Annual Age of Renaissance conference broke, it was Bill Crenshaw who complained the longest and loudest, pledging his troth as it were if only we could find a way to salvage the weekend. One would think the perennial contender had a vested interest in finally winning the thing ... perhaps he did.

Whatever the reason, Bill took advantage of the absence of the 2000 champion, Tom Taaffe, to win in convincing style with four wins in as many games. The feat was made all the more impressive by the fact that the last three came at the "winner's" table composed of the six game winners in the previous round and that his status as tournament leader was clear for all to see. All hail the grand master ...

Enlightenment uses a unique scoring system that keeps most players in contention for a prize throughout the weekend rather than being eliminated by a poor showing or relegated to the "losers' table". Every player scores points as a percentage of the winner's score. This provides a real incentive to play against the leader to prevent run-away victories. In subsequent rounds, players are grouped according to their finish in the previous game ... with all round 1 winners paired in round 2, all second-place players together, and so on. The winner for the weekend was that player with the highest total for any three of the four rounds.

Slow play is discouraged by awarding bonus points to all players at a table based on the number of other tables they beat to the finish. Thus, all players at the slowest table get no bonus points while all players at the fastest table would get five points in a six-table field. The second-fastest group to completion would get four points, etc.

The winners of each game also earn bonus points for the size of their victory. Each winner earned a bonus point for every other winner whose % of victory was smaller. Thus, the player with the closest win would earn no bonus points but the winner with the biggest runaway would earn five points in a six-game field. The potential high score in any game was thus 110 points.

The merits of this system are twofold. First, it pays to play against the leader. It is better to finish last than second if, in so doing , you reduce the leader's margin of victory. Players who embraced this principle fared far better in the standings than those who stepped on the also-rans to finish second. Co-operation among the have-nots is the key to winning.

Secondly, playing fast is amply rewarded. In contrast to the eight-hour final at WBC last year, no game at Enlightenment took over six hours. Most finished in under five and one in under four hours. The average game length was 4.5 hours. Most felt the quicker pace made the game more enjoyable than the non-stop negotiation marathons of past experience, although some expressed concern that the scoring system did not reward winning sufficiently. Even Crenshaw's overwhelming performance was in jeopordy when the final points were tallied.

The proof of that was quickly discerned when Crenshaw tied for first despite beating all comers! Although he won on position tie breakers anyway, it was evident that the scoring system needed some tinkering to restore some measure of integrity to winning. Regretfully, I have adjusted the formula for next year to include a bonus point for each player beaten so that the maximum score in any round is now 115 points. This will have the added benefit of addressing the greater difficulty of winning six-player games as opposed to five-player matches. Hopefully, the position bonus will not prove too much of a temptation for those who would abandon their chase of the leader for the sake of better position.

Despite the inconvenience of ongoing hotel renovations, the players proved a hardy bunch. One late arrival was balanced by one early departure for a constant field of 33 players ­ leaving us just three players short of an ideal field ­ with every round consisting of three six-player and three-five player games for a total of 24.

 Name  Position  2001 Points  Rank  Speed Points  Name  2002 Points
 Bill Crenshaw 1-1-1-1 315

 11  Bill Crenshaw 329
James Jordan 2-6-1-2 315

 19  James Jordan 327
Carl Damcke 4-2-1-3 303

 15  Harald Henning  314
Harald Henning 1-4-2-1 302

  6  Carl Damcke 314
Rodd Polsky 2-1-3-3 298

  8  Rodd Polsky 309
Christopher Byrd 1-2-2-4 292

  9 Christopher Byrd 305
Kevin Sudy 1-3-6-2 292

 11  Phil Mason 304
Phil Mason 2-2-3-2 292

 12  Kevin Sudy 302
Rich Curtin 3-3-4-2 289

 11  Nick Henning 298
Nick Henning 2-3-2-3 288

 13  Rich Curtin 297
Ken Gutermuth 2-4-1-4 284

 15  Ken Gutermuth 293
Peter Staab 3-4-1-6 281

 10  Peter Staab 291
James Pei 3-2-4-3 278

 12  Kathy Stroh 287
Kathy Stroh 1-6-4-1 277

 12  John Coussis 286
Ed Wrobel 3-5-1-5 277

  5  James Pei 286
John Coussis 4-1-2-5 276

  8  Eric Eshleman 285
Eric Eshleman 3-1-6-3 276

  6  Ed Wrobel 283
Nick Smith 6-4-4-1 265

  3  Nick Smith 271
Jeremy Lagasse 5-1-5-4 259

  5  Don Greenwood 267
Sean McCullogh 4-5-5-1 257

 14  Jeremy Lagasse 265
Don Greenwood 3-6-2-2 257

  9  Sean McCullogh 263
Ted Simmons 5-4-3-1 243

  9  Ted Simmons  250
Peter Stein 4-3-3-4 242

 11  Peter Stein 248
Pierre LeBoeuf 5-1-4-5 236

  8  Pierre LeBoeuf 242
Robert Flowers 0-3-3-6 235

  6  Robert Flowers 240
Tom Cannon 6-2-6-5 230

  5  Dennis Nicholson 236
Dennis Nicholson 1-5-3-5 228

 10  Tom Cannon  233
Tim Kniker 2-5-5-2 225

 16  Tom Kniker 232
Ted Mullally 5-2-5-3 223

 15  Ted Mullally 229
Dennis Mason 4-4-5-5 202

 14  Dennis Mason 204
Steve Simmons 6-5-4-4 201

  8  Steve Simmons 203
Mark Neale  5-5-2-6 186

  4  Mark Neale 190
Lee Fisher 5-3-5-4 160

 11  Lee Fisher 164
 Charles Hickok 4-0-0-0 86

  1  Charles Hickok 88

The results certainly demonstrate how this scoring system keeps more players in prize contention for a longer period. You would certainly be hardpressed to find a system where an undefeated player comes so close to losing. But, in reality, the contest was even closer than this looks. The closest game was decided by a single dollar - and that, only after a recount revealed an extra $11 to allow Dennis Nicholson to edge James Jordan for first in their Round 1 game. That lone dollar was all that stood between Jordan and winning Enlightenment IV despite Crenshaw's undefeated performance. Thank Goodness for recounts!

But incredibly, even that game was not necessarily the closest contest. A mere $12 separated three players in the game won by Eric Eshleman over James Pei and Rich Curtin. In contrast, the biggest win went to Sean McCullogh who enjoyed a 37% edge over runnerup Tim Kniker in a quick game that netted him the maximum 110 points. The highest dollar score went to Sean McCulloch in a five-player game with $2540. One of Bill Crenshaw's four wins took honors for low score in a six-player, defensive game with less than half that total at $1159.

Country stats revealed a surprising leader with Paris having the best average place at 2.87 despite ten wins by Venice which also led in last place finishes. It would appear that Venice is a feast or famine proposition with little middle ground. Enlightenment IV yielded no Chaos casualties although a few tail enders - including yours truly - probably would have preferred the quicker exit to the long term beating they took.

 Country 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place 4th Place 5th Place 6th Place Average
 Paris 4 7 6 3 3 1 2.87
Venice 10 3 0 2 6 3 3.00
Genoa 3 6 5 5 3 2 3.20
London 2 5 5 7 3 2 3.41
Barcelona 3 3 6 6 4 2 3.45
Hamburg 2 0 2 1 5 2 4.08

And finally our annual individual fictional awards for unique achievements:

The Speedy Gonzalez Award goes to James Jordan for proving he could drive any group of six players to finish in under five hours. In so doing, he brought his group in first three times and second once, earning 19 out of 20 speed bonus points, and single-handedly caused me to revise my scoring system.

The Nationality Award goes to 1999 champion James Pei who showed remarkable loyalty to the Union Jack by playing London all four times. He was the only player to play just one country although Dennis Nicholson was a strong runnerup by playing Hamburg in all three of his six-player games. Five players merit honorable mention for playing the same side three times: Kevin Sudy and Eric Eshelman (Barcelona), Phil Mason and Kathy Stroh (Paris .... leave it to a woman to prefer Paris), and Jeremy Lagasse (Genoa). Five players chose four different countries ... everyone else doubled up at least once.

Boardgame Players Association