The field for the first D-Day (Breakout Normandy) tournament weekend made up in quality what it lacked in size. When two-time champ Jim Doughan has to struggle to go 2-2 and finishes out of the money, you know there were some top competitors on hand. The first round started on Friday the 13th at 6 PM at the Hampden Inn, less than a mile from the Hunt Valley Inn where most of these players had battled three monthes previously in the AVALONCON tournament. With free breakfasts and a 24-hour coffee bar, the contestants were well fortified for five rounds of assaults on the Normandy beaches.
With only 17 players on hand, the feel was more personal than the 50+ player AVALONCON event where losers often go off to play in another event. Being grouped together in one conference room gave us a chance to get to know each other pretty well over the weekend. Since AVALONCON rules were being used, the fifth and final round would be the current 1st and 2nd place players. Alan Applebaum coasted through the first four rounds with flawless German play. Three players were tied for second at 3-1 and had to resort to tie-breakers to determine the challenger for the final round. Bill Edwards lost the first tie-breaker as Don Greenwood, the 1998 AVALONCON champ, and Ron Fedin tied for second based on bid victory points. Yet another tie breaker, strength of schedule, was needed to break that tie and Don advanced to the final round based on his four previous opponents having banked more wins than Ron's and having been the only second place player not to have met Alan up to that point.
Alan played the Germans for the fifth time in the tournament by passing after Don's bid of 9.5 for the Allies. Don used that bid throughout the tournament and it got him the Allies four out of five times. His allies advanced off the beaches well, albeit at the cost of the Advantage to save a floundering first wave at Omaha, and contested Caen on the 7th with the 3rd Division. At this point, both players settled down for what appeared to be a long, drawn out battle to the finish. However, fate intervened to deal Alan some bad luck. He returned the Advantage to Don on the 7th to erase a particularly damaging preparatory bombardment on Caen only to have the reroll yield the same result. Disaster then struck on the initial impulse of the 8th when Lehr was decimated by the RAF while attempting to reinforce Caen. Of the four units who braved two interdiction die rolls to reinforce the garrison, three were disrupted and the other spent short of its goal. Sensing a rare opportunity, the Allies used a Double Impulse to hit Caen with three divisions at 23-11 needing only a -2 or better to take the city. With Caen taken, Alan conceded before the 10th with the Allies in control of ten VPs and threatening several more.
The crucial play was Alan's decision to reinforce Caen with Lehr. Although beset by terrible luck in the interdiction rolls, it could have been avoided by using two units adjacent to Caen which would not have been subject to interdiction and thus guaranteed to reinforce the city. Had they done so, the Allies probably would have settled for an assault on Tilly or Villars Bocage instead. It was sweet justice for Don who twice had lost in the BKN finals after reaching the 6th round undefeated. The last time was in 1995 when Bill Edwards was the once-beaten player who dominated the final. Bill proved it was no fluke by handing Don his only loss again in the D-Day weekend with a first turn concession. The two have played twice and Don has yet to survive the initial landings intact. Bill has now handed Don two of his five tournament losses.
The tournament awarded prototype prizes for next year's BPA convention to the five highest places. Ron Fedin took third with a final round victory over Bill Edwards to finish at 4-1. Bill settled for fifth at 3-2. The match for fourth place was a long, gruelling affair between Tom Pavy and Henry Jones with Pavy's German's hanging on for the win. Everyone else had departed by the time the game came down to a final allied assault on Carentan. Henry's Utah GIs overcame the ten D2 Germans clinging to Carentan, but the Germans possessed the Advantage and traded it for a reroll. The second assault didn't go as well for the Allies and Tom had held on to take home the fourth place marble prize.
As usual, there were memorable games, and as usual Marvin Birmbaum could be counted on to be involved in the most bizarre of them. While playing the Allies against Ron Fedin, he grabbed Villars-Bocage and Audanay on the first day! On June 7th, he ran units behind the German lines and grabbed four areas BEHIND St. Lo, two of which were point areas. The rest of the game was a struggle by both players to encircle and break out of encirclement which was ultimately won by Ron on the final dice roll when Marvin was unable to win a +3 assault. Barely less intense was two-time BKN champ Jim Doughan's allied win over Mathew Fagan's game Germans which also came down to the final roll and saved Jim from an unheard of losing record for the weekend.
Adding to the atmosphere were t-shirts suppled by Matt Fagan. The Americans got olive green November Beach Party t-shirts while the Germans got remakes of his classic gray "Killing Private Ryan" team shirt from AVALONCON. All in all, a good time was professed to be had by all and most vowed to do it again next year. Here's hoping you'll join us.
|Total of German Victories||52||46|
|Total of Allied Victories||35||36|
|Average Bid with a German Victory||9.5||9.6|
|Average Bid with a Allied Victory||9.5||9.6|
|Bid||'97 Germans||'97 Allies||'98 Germans||'98 Allies|
Trend: Experienced players playing experienced players generally bid lower.