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The Highland Handicap  

By Stuart “The Happy Handicapper” Tucker

 
   

The Highland Handicap, Part 4
By Stuart “The Happy Handicapper” Tucker

Germantown, MD, July 17, 2016—We close our field with 68 teams, a bit down from previous years. The shortener list of competitors, shortens the odds for our top two favored teams to 16-1 (Nest of Spies, and The Harry B’s). It also shortens the odds for long-shot team, Los Lobos Locos, to 2000-1 (still too long for my blood). Still longer, comes our newest long-shot entrant, A Snowball’s Chance (9000-1).

It is good to see the Eastern Pa. gamers making the trek west, but I’m still skeptical of their chances: Mountin’ Laurels (120-1) and Four to Beam Up (220-1). A new team from North Carolina has both humor and long odds, Epic Fail! (400-1). Canadians are back in force, L’envie d’chier (former Les Patriotes, 64-1). Maybe it is true that The Meeples Awaken (110-1), but I’ll take the Iron Meeples (43-1) instead—they may be down one Finn, but they are still potent.

The Chicks with Dice might consider actually entering events requiring dice to improve their odds (170-1). Or is “Dice” just a metaphor? Malcolm Smith didn’t detect too far—from KBG A to KGB B—but the recruitment of a husband who’s wife lets him play with dice helps their odds (120-1). It is a far cry from the days of the Beltway Banditos, but if you hear bad Mexican accents at the convention, it is not connected to getting the band back together to wear those gorgeous sombreros.

It is time to finalize my Pick Ten entry. Keeping to principles from past columns, I’ll take a mix of favorites, strong challengers, mid-ranked teams and one long-shot for good measure. Remember that only one person bettered my picks last year, so go against these choices at your own risk. Of course, I fully intend to challenge many of their baton carriers across the tournament tables. And if you start seeing bunches of bananas appearing around the convention center, it has nothing to do with my handicap (ask me at the convention).

THE HIGHLAND LOCK:
Nest of Spies
The Harry B’s
Band of Fools
The Siegelmen
Sweet Banana Stranger
Wabbit’s Wevenge
Iron Meeples
KGB A
L’envie d’chier
Cheaty Faces 2

Team Power Ratings 68 Teams Reporting
Entry 2016
Rank No. Team Power Rating Odds  
1 33 Nest of Spies 556 16 -1
2 50 The Harry B's 543 16 -1
3 20 Band of Fools 338 27 -1
4 14 The Siegelmen 324 28 -1
5 4 Sweet Banana Stranger 319 29 -1
6 29 Roll One Die 298 31 -1
7 44 GM: I Am Standing Up 288 32 -1
8 10 Old Squirrels with Nuts 278 33 -1
9 28 Wabbit's Wevenge 267 34 -1
10 21 Me & Three Stiffs 265 35 -1
11 32 Uncivil Servants 264 35 -1
12 36 MIT SGS 258 36 -1
13 5 We Ain't Dead Yet 252 36 -1
14 52 Iron Meeples 213 43 -1
15 34 Train Conductors 208 44 -1
16 41 Mantis Shrimp 202 46 -1
17 27 Rage Quit 201 46 -1
18 53 KGB A 187 49 -1
19 19 AREA 182 51 -1
20 23 Team Delaware 178 52 -1
21 22 High Boat 160 58 -1
22 2 Space Rabbits 154 60 -1
23 17 Flush Stein 152 61 -1
24 46 GM: This Game is Broken 146 64 -1
25 67 L'envie d'chier 144 64 -1
26 55 Too Many Hugs 140 66 -1
27 51 Cold Fusion 139 67 -1
28 31 Think 1st 129 72 -1
29 7 Comfy Dice Loving Canucks 128 73 -1
30 45 GM: Want Some Tea? 121 77 -1
31 68 Barry's Minions 119 78 -1
32 12 Gaming Speed Bumps 118 79 -1
33 30 One Trick Ponies 117 79 -1
34 60 Gang Greene 115 81 -1
35 25 St. Paul's Rejects 109 85 -1
36 57 The Pro-Crastinators 100 93 -1
37 43 Unforgiving & Deadly 92 100 -1
38 62 The Meeple Awakens 87 110 -1
39 42 Ghost Division 86 110 -1
40 3 Mighty Dice 81 120 -1
41 38 3 Brits & A Yank 80 120 -1
42 54 KGB B 80 120 -1
43 64 EPGS Mountin' Laurels 79 120 -1
44 6 Sara's Dice Loving Canucks 75 120 -1
45 39 Kromp-on-Krewe 73 130 -1
46 26 Knights of the Day 72 130 -1
47 18 Rural Juror 69 140 -1
48 13 The Kaiser's Pirates 65 140 -1
49 16 Turn 10 Monoliths 65 140 -1
50 49 Mean Sheep 65 140 -1
51 61 King George Spartans 62 150 -1
52 8 Dice Loving Canuck Boys 59 160 -1
53 40 Local Yokels 57 160 -1
54 58 Chicks with Dice 56 170 -1
55 48 Pawns of the Red Queen 53 180 -1
56 24 Princess & the Frogs 52 180 -1
57 47 GM: 2 Minutes for Whining 48 200 -1
58 65 EPGS Four to Beam Up 43 220 -1
59 56 The Carlisle Conspiracy 41 230 -1
60 59 Cheaty Faces 2 38 250 -1
61 15 Two Off the Top 35 270 -1
62 9 Tu-ng-stan 26 400 -1
63 66 Epic Fail! 25 400 -1
64 37 The Cabooses 14 700 -1
65 35 Excavating Eternity 12 800 -1
66 1 Wrecking Crew 10 900 -1
67 11 Los Lobos Locos 4 2000 -1
68 63 A Snowball's Chance 1 9000 -1

 

 

 
   

The Highland Handicap, Part 3 (updated odds as of 7/15)
By Stuart “The Happy Handicapper” Tucker

Germantown, MD, July 8, 2016—We now have 38 teams entered. The entry deadline is in one week, so stop procrastinating! I know there are many teams from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina that like to enter in the final days. Get to it!

While this year may be a bit of a challenge for some travelers, there appears to be no Brexit from the Worlds, as Mark has been able to recruit well to create 3 Brits & A Yank (140-1). And rumors of lost New Englanders may be inaccurate, as MIT SGS (43-1) is fully attending. However, The Cabooses (800-1) have lost their engines that could, keeping them a long shot.

Perennial threat Nest of Spies holds the favorite’s spot at 20-1 with the return of Mecay to the lineup. At the other end of the spectrum, Excavating Eternity (1000-1) enters the team tournament for the first time, hoping to get a better taste of finals action this year. Meanwhile, substitute baton-carriers have downgraded the odds for St. Paul’s Rejects (100-1).

It looks like my Seven Springs schedule will put me in something like 18 events. If it looks like I’m gunning for you in your team event, don’t take it personally. As all bettors in Win, Place & Show know so well, the races are rigged. I like being the one doing the rigging. It makes for more accurate predictions! But, yeah, it might be personal, too. Wink!

Team Power Ratings 49 Teams Reporting
Entry 2016
Rank No. Team Power Rating Odds  
1 33 Nest of Spies 556 20 -1
2 20 Band of Fools 338 34 -1
3 14 The Siegelman 324 35 -1
4 4 Sweet Banana Stranger 319 36 -1
5 29 Roll One Die 298 38 -1
6 44 GM: I Am Standing Up 288 40 -1
7 10 Old Squirrels with Nuts 278 41 -1
8 28 Wabbit's Wevenge 267 43 -1
9 21 Me & Three Stiffs 265 43 -1
10 32 Uncivil Servants 264 43 -1
11 36 MIT SGS 258 44 -1
12 5 We Ain't Dead Yet 252 45 -1
13 34 Train Conductors 208 55 -1
14 41 Mantis Shrimp 202 57 -1
15 27 Rage Quit 201 57 -1
16 19 AREA 182 63 -1
17 23 Team Delaware 178 65 -1
18 22 High Boat 160 72 -1
19 2 Chicks with Dice 154 75 -1
20 17 Flush Stein 152 76 -1
21 46 GM: This Game is Broken 146 79 -1
22 31 Think 1st 129 89 -1
23 7 Comfy Dice Loving Canucks 128 90 -1
24 45 GM: Want Some Tea? 121 95 -1
25 12 Gaming Speed Bumps 118 98 -1
26 30 One Trick Ponies 117 99 -1
27 25 St. Paul's Rejects 109 110 -1
28 43 Unforgiving & Deadly 92 130 -1
29 42 Ghost Division 86 130 -1
30 3 Mighty Dice 81 140 -1
31 38 3 Brits & A Yank 80 140 -1
32 6 Sara's Dice Loving Canucks 75 150 -1
33 39 Kromp-on-Krewe 73 160 -1
34 26 Knights of the Day 72 160 -1
35 18 Rural Juror 69 170 -1
36 13 The Kaiser's Pirates 65 180 -1
37 16 Turn 10 Monoliths 65 180 -1
38 49 Mean Sheep 65 180 -1
39 8 Dice Loving Canuck Boys 59 200 -1
40 40 Local Yokels 57 200 -1
41 48 Pawns of the Red Queen 53 220 -1
42 24 Princess & the Frogs 52 220 -1
43 47 GM: 2 Minutes for Whining 48 240 -1
44 15 Two Off the Top 35 300 -1
45 9 Tu-ng-stan 26 400 -1
46 37 The Cabooses 14 800 -1
47 35 Excavating Eternity 12 1000 -1
48 1 Wrecking Crew 10 1000 -1
49 11 Los Lobos Locos 4 3000 -1
     
* A team's Power Rating is the sum of its players' Baton Ratings.
 
   
Germantown, MD, June 25, 2016 — We now have 31 teams entered. Hurry and get yours together before they defect to other teams! Me & Three Stiffs (43-1) reloads with the return of two of missing stiffs. Rage Quit, the last to make the top 25 last year, has rehired Brad Johnson, halving the odds against them (58-1).

Among those teams thinking “win,” is Think 1st (90-1), a recombination of two failing teams from last year. I’m happy to see that the longest shot to make the top 25 last year is back: Princess & the Frogs showed success last year without winning first places, shortening their odds considerably this year (still long at 230-1, until they actually win something).

Among the top favorites, Band of Fools (34-1) and The Siegelmen (35-1) are both back. Each of these teams fields top contenders in their events. Each team scored well last year, placing in the top 10. How can you bet against these performers? Wabbit’s Wevenge is another strong contender, but Eric Freeman needs to stick the landing in a final this year to justify their 43-1.

Blobs of Protoplasm, by any other name (this year as Knights of the Day) remain a slipperly bet (160-1). It’ll take more than One Trick Ponies (100-1) for the team of than name to win (they were only 19th last year with three zeros when named Magic Men XXL).

I’m filing a protest against Roll One Die (39-1) as they are entering one event that has no dice (SJN) , and another where the die roll is infrequent. Actually, I withdraw that—Formula Motor Racing epitomizes their name. When you need help desperately, pull out a card that can backfire, and roll one die! Don’t do it too often or early, though.

That should be your motto when picking your Bracket Buster top ten. Reach for the longer shots on occasion, but not often.
 

Team Power Ratings 31 Teams Reporting
Entry 2016
Rank No. Team Power Rating Odds  
1 20 Band of Fools 338 34 -1
2 14 The Siegelmen 324 35 -1
3 4 Sweet Banana Stranger 319 36 -1
4 29 Roll One Die 298 39 -1
5 10 Old Squirrels with Nuts 278 41 -1
6 28 Wabbit's Wevenge 267 43 -1
7 21 Me & Three Stiffs 265 43 -1
8 5 We Ain't Dead Yet 252 46 -1
9 27 Rage Quit 201 58 -1
10 19 AREA 182 64 -1
11 23 Team Delaware 178 65 -1
12 22 High Boat 160 73 -1
13 2 Chicks with Dice 154 75 -1
14 17 Flush Stein 152 76 -1
15 25 St. Paul's Rejects 152 76 -1
16 31 Think 1st 129 90 -1
17 7 Comfy Dice Loving Canucks 128 91 -1
18 12 Gaming Speed Bumps 118 99 -1
19 30 One Trick Ponies 117 100 -1
20 3 Mighty Dice 81 140 -1
21 6 Sara's Dice Loving Canucks 75 160 -1
22 26 Knights of the Day 72 160 -1
23 18 Rural Juror 69 170 -1
24 13 The Kaiser's Pirates 65 180 -1
25 16 Turn 10 Monoliths 65 180 -1
26 8 Dice Loving Canuck Boys 59 200 -1
27 24 Princess & the Frogs 52 230 -1
28 15 Two Off the Top 35 300 -1
29 9 Tu-ng-stan 26 500 -1
30 1 Wrecking Crew 10 1000 -1
31 11 Los Lobos Locos 4 3000 -1
     
* A team's Power Rating is the sum of its players' Baton Ratings.
 
   
Germantown, MD, June 8, 2016 The 26th run for the Slivers represents a new beginning. The grand pursuit of gaming Laurels receives a breath of fresh air in the Laurel Highlands this year. So, it should not be a surprise that the 26th Team Tournament presents opportunity and hope for some shakeup to the establishment. How will entrants handle the new venue? Will the floor plan defy decryption? In a sense, we are all rookies once again.

Balderdash. No, not a new event—simply my reaction to those insinuations. Is a thoroughbred not well-bred to win in all circumstances? Can we not expect the veteran entrants to come prepared to tackle the challenges of the new race course? Isn’t it more likely that novices will find the experience more bewildering?

No, this handicapper will not be altering his time-tested formula for setting the odds in the Team Tournament. Certainly, it will be fun to hear of how the quirks of the new venue affect the competition. However, I’m certain that those committed to winning when they have their team’s baton will surely show up on time at the right place and with veteran calm. Indeed, if I had to make this call, it would be that we have more repeat winners this year than ever. So, when you prepare your submission to the Bracket Busting Contest, pay attention to returning Champs and perennial favorites.

In our Lancaster Good-Bye, my Pick Ten entry managed to hit five correct: The Harry B’s (1st), Dice Loving Canucks (2nd), 30.314 (7th), KGB A (9th), and The Siegelman (10th). Roll One Die came in 12th for good measure, but left me just short. I tip my hat to Jeff Cornett, who managed six solid to win the contest. Personally, I blame the Train Conductors for not delivering me the Bracket Buster win. I guess I’ll have to take revenge in fantasy baseball!

Early Entries: Well, I guess my comment about betting on teams with dice in their name has caught attention. Four of the first nine teams to submit their entries have so chosen such monikers. While I’d like to make Mighty Dice the early favorites, I think they are all taking on very tough competition for their events. It could all come together for them this year, but it’d be a long shot. Apparently, the Canucks love the Highlands, as they are coming in swarms, like the Huron Indians in 1756. I also expect a few more Cabbies this year from across the Ohio. However, the early favorite has to be Sweet Banana Stranger, none other than the 2014 champions with yet another new name. Space Rabbits has assembled a fine team that could take it all, even if they dropped Dice, among other things, from their name (okay, maybe I’m a bit biased—nothing new there).

Hurry up and submit your team entries. The July 16th deadline is just around the corner. I’ll post the early odds with the next update.
 
Rank No. Team Power Rating Odds  
1 20 Band of Fools 338 34 -1
2 14 The Siegelman 324 35 -1
3 4 Sweet Banana Stranger 319 36 -1
4 10 Old Squirrels with Nuts 278 41 -1
5 21 Me & Three Stiffs 265 43 -1
6 5 We Ain't Dead Yet 252 46 -1
7 19 AREA 182 63 -1
8 23 Team Delaware 178 65 -1
9 22 High Boat 160 72 -1
10 2 Chicks with Dice 154 75 -1
11 17 Flush Stein 152 76 -1
12 7 Comfy Dice Loving Canucks 128 91 -1
13 12 Gaming Speed Bumps 118 98 -1
14 3 Mighty Dice 81 140 -1
15 6 Sara's Dice Loving Canucks 75 160 -1
16 18 Rural Juror 69 170 -1
17 13 The Kaiser's Pirates 65 180 -1
18 16 Turn 10 Monoliths 65 180 -1
19 8 Dice Loving Canuck Boys 59 200 -1
20 15 Two Off the Top 35 300 -1
21 9 Tu-ng-stan 26 400 -1
22 1 Wrecking Crew 10 1000 -1
23 11 Los Lobos Locos 4 3000 -1
     
* A team's Power Rating is the sum of its players' Baton Ratings.