Changes? What Changes? ...
"SRO" takes on new meaning
during a Lost Cities heat ..
... and if you're lucky you might
even get a table and chairs.
At the conclusion of our last thrilling chapter of Lost
Cities: The AAR, your GM threatened ... er, promised that
2013 would bring changes. In the spirit of 'go whole hog,' 'all
or nothing,' 'never steal anything small,' 'swing for the fences,'
'All in,' 'going all the way,' ... or any other adage connoting
maximum effort that you'd care to employ, your writer decided
that 2013 changes would be sweeping and all-encompassing rather
than downloaded in a piecemeal death of a thousand bytes. Everything
on the table. Even the baby (game itself) was in danger of following
the bath water. Just kidding, but, now that I have the larger
percentage of your multi-tasking attention, I will devote the
remainder of this paragraph to answer those who asked: A) Why
changes? - Because larger numbers of participants dictated clearer
and more inclusive means of advancement, and a more efficient
method of event administration (GMspeak). And B) Why these changes?
1) Score sheets -- old score sheet was generally tolerated
by most players; new score sheet has some color for separation,
and appears to have been accepted by most as easier to follow.
Score sheets on different colored paper and in numbered folders
allow a quick visual for number of sheets distributed for each
2) Sign-in -- old method was medieval and quaint until
LST numbers began to break 200 per year, so we enhanced a master
list of past players and incorporated the WBC numbers, already
assigned and unique to each individual registrant. Major casualty
-- the little LST numbers which some players kept from
year to year as souvenirs. Result -- Lines moved significantly
faster in all heats. The future addition of a computer program
for sign-in and, possibly, pairing opponents should further streamline
this part of the event.
3) Pairing -- minor tweak was adding symbols to the
back of playing cards to refine search for assigned opponent.
Jury is out on this tweak. I will try to explain the procedure
better next year. To those who have questioned my method of pairing,
let me briefly explain that my primary purposes are to ensure
random assignment overall, and to prevent family and frequent
opponents from playing each other in the heats as much as humanly
possible. In nine years, I can recall changing opponents no more
than three times -- once due to mutual animosity and the others
because they regularly played each other at home.
4) Advancement -- Left the big boy for last. In my
opinion, open competitive events should offer the possibility
of advancement out of the heats to at least one quarter but no
more than one third of the registered field. I believe that this
serves the integrity of the competition as well as offers a reasonable
number of players who are neither ranked or professional, a chance
to advance. LST has only advanced 32 players to the SE
rounds since 2005 which is way below the range I quoted in reference
to our numbers, and a very narrow window when considering that
more than 200 players have participated during each of the last
two years. I have wanted to add to the advancement track, but
the biggest obstacle has been the fact that LST is a 2-player
game. For an obvious example, 25 players can advance to five
5-player tables for the semi and send five winners to a Final
-- a total of two rounds. LST requires a total of five
rounds to filter out 32 players. So, by employing past statistics,
I figured that I could predict the advancement of no more than
64 players (creating a sixth round), if I reduced the heats from
four to three and allowed any player with two or more wins to
advance. A corollary concern was maintaining LST as one
of few events that allowed weekend attendees a chance to advance
as well as giving week long attendees another shot, so the third
heat was split into two games with only the winners of the first
game able to play in the second game, in order to get that second
win. All of this was still a gamble, because I did not know how
many would advance -- all I knew was that if it exceeded 64,
then I was looking at seven rounds, and I might have to address
an odd number. Well, the three heats arrangement appeared to
work as we had less double winners than in previous years with
four heats. 54 qualified to advance and two withdrawals left
26 pairs for Round 2. My published plan to use defeated players
to fill subsequent rounds having an odd number of players worked
this year, but contains flaws and will not be used next year.
Check the Preview for 2014, but, at this time, I believe that
I will return to advancing single winners to fill an odd number.
I may simply fill to 64, but have to run numbers before making
a final decision. Those who offered an opinion generally liked
the new format. One player took exception, but I believe that
was due to a general misunderstanding of the third heat provisions.
lets get to the brass tacks for 2013. Heat 1 seated 69 pairs.
Heat 2 handled 64 pairs. Game 1 of Heat 3 attracted 55 pairs
(lower than I expected), and 19 pairs stayed for Game 2. The
numbers for Game 2 were less than half of Game 1 because some
of the Game 1 winners had achieved their second win and didn't
need to play again. Chris Entwistle, who will appear again in
this narrative, posted the high individual score of 326. Katie
Breza was the only other player to score more than 300. The closest
game was also the best defensive struggle as Virginia Melton
defeated Drew DuBoff 63 to 62. There were no margins of two points.
Four contests were decided by three points: Tom Lind - Steve
Packwood 155-152, Randy Buehler - Thomas Tu 100-97, Derek Glenn
- Kevin Breza 83 -80, and Claire Brosius - Chris Kalmbacher 132-129.
Seven players scored less than ten points with one managing to
finish with -61. Some have asked me how I determine the parameters
for these categories. High/low score and close game are fairly
self-explanatory. To me, a defensive struggle is achieved when
two players combine for no more than125 points with a margin
of victory no greater then 20 points. A slugfest occurs when
the players combine for 450 or more points with a margin of victory
no greater than 20% of the total. With this in mind, the defensive
struggle this year other than the one already mentioned was Chris
Entwistle (59 )vs Mary Ellen Powers (45). The slugfests were
Katie Breza - Ginger Thompson 311-283, Mark Bickel - Jean Younkin
277-182, William Hoch - Ted Lange 260-194, and Akihisa Tabei
- Antony Saccenti 268-196.
This year we awarded plaques to fourth place. The four who outlasted
the field were Thomas Tu, Chris Entwistle, Yoni Weiss and Vidar
Aas. Thomas drew good cards in all three hands and was able to
defeat Yoni for third place. 14 points separated Chris and Vidar
after two hands. At one point, there was a long pause which the
spectators mistook for tense deliberation when actually each
thought that it was the other player's turn. It earned a good
laugh from all. Chris ultimately took the measure of the Norwegian
by a 127 - 110 score to take his second LST championship.
One parting observation: I've heard it said by some that LST
is a game where luck plays a larger role than skill. No doubt
that is true to some extent, especially in comparison to other
favorites those same observers may care to name. However, the
appearance of four two-time champions in the 14-year history
of an event now drawing in excess of 200 players annually would
argue otherwise. The presence of so many double winners would
argue against the "lottery" appellation earned by many
of the larger mega-drawing events. Either that, or we have some
very lucky players and I'd be interested in investing in their
next lottery ticket purchase.
Again, my thanks to all who played this year, and my hope to
see you next year. Special thanks to my daughter, Shea, for all
of her help before, during and after, and to Gary J. Schaefers
for his help with registration during the first heat. Also, all
LST players should recognize Chris Entwistle for his technical
computer help in trying to bring LST registration into
the 21st Century. See you next year.
Thomas Tu and Yoni Weiss meet in a
battle for third in the consolation match after losing in the
GM Lawson watches his finalists as
Norwegian Vidar Aas attempts to prevent Chris Entwistle becoming
our fourth two-time champ.