James Pei of Austin, TX won Enlightenment II, the second annual Age of Renaissance weekend tournament held at the Hampton Inn in Hunt Valley, MD March 12-14th over a field of 30 sturdy competitors who braved a snowstorm to play 14 five- and six-player games in three rounds. The globe-trotting Texan, back for his second try at Enlightenment glory, won with a pair of wins in the first two rounds but found the "leader" tag too much of a burden to surmount in the third as the wolves concentrated on the overall leader.
A new scoring system was used which emphasized attacking the leader to prevent runaway wins. Position behind the leader was eliminated as a factor in the scoring as each player earned points equal to his/her percentage of the winner's score. Thus, it was possible to earn more points for finishing third in a close game than for finishing second in a runaway contest. The winners received 100 points per win plus a bonus point for each board whose margin of victory over the second place player was less than their own. Eight players had a chance to pass James in the final round and two came close, but James' thrashing of the winner's table in Round 2 for 104 points proved decisive. His domination of the first round winners seemed unlikely given the caliber of the opposition so it was all the more fitting that this win stood up for the margin of victory.
The scoring system was based loosely on that used in Junior Olympic volleyball which relies on "pool" play for large tournaments. After the initial round, game assignments were based on position in the preceding round with all the first round winners playing in the same game, all the runners-up in another and so on. This tends not only to group players into pools of similar experience, but allows far more players to be in contention for a prize going into the final round. This effect is further increased by dropping the lowest score which has the side benefit of allowing someone who misses a round altogether or is eliminated by chaos to remain in contention.
The caliber of play seemed to be improved over the inaugural event as no one was eliminated by chaos despite the presence of several players learning on the job. There was a wide discrepancy in winning scores with the high of 2736 almost doubling the low of 1374. The scores, in general, were down somewhat from prior years due to the use of a new House Rule which allowed buyers of Master Art to immediately discard a card when they purchased the Advance. This resulted in many Spice and Silk never being played with correspondingly low scores as a result. Most agreed that this change was an improvement which made the games closer and less dependent on the Exploration category.
The largest margin of victory went to Charlie Hickok who bested his table by 39% to grab the most bonus points in the final round and rally to take 5th place. The smallest margin of victory was James Pei's $5 win over Don Greenwood who won the "shoot yourself in the foot" prize for paying James $20 on a patronage claim on the final turn that he didn't need. That $20 proved to be four times the margin of victory. Earning kudos for having come the furthest was Nick Smith who hopped across the Atlantic from England for the weekend. The youngest competitors were Nick Henning and Ted Simmons who more than held their own and are obviously learning the game well from their dads and will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
The weather did take its toll on the festivities though as several players bailed on the third round in view of the dire forecasts. Round 2 winner Crawford Lopez never made it back for round 3 due to car trouble. So little fortitude ... at least Don Greenwood waited till the end of the tournament to be stranded at Baltimore's busiest intersection with a bad alternator in the middle of a blizzard. On second thought ... maybe Crawford did have the right priorities.STANDINGS:
For Enlightenment III in 2000 players will be polled whether they would prefer a four-round tournament by replacing the Friday night open gaming with another round of AOR - making the scoring best three-out-of-four instead of best two-out-of-three. Your opinion is solicited.