A Continued Changing of the Guard
Seating was tight as attendance rose
for the fifth straight year.
GM Andy Latto with his finalists.
Five new laurelists ...
Deciding who qualified for the semifinals of Thurn and
Taxis this year should have been easy - there were exactly
16 double winners in the heats. But my records showed only 15
players with two wins, so Keith Dent, with a win and two seconds,
had been listed as a qualifier. Former Champ Kyle Smith asked
why, with two wins, he was not on the qualfiers list. It seems
the score sheet from his second win had never been turned in
(it was found two days later inside the
box). Winners, you are responsible for turning in your score
sheets - make sure it happens!
It looked as though I was going to have to make a difficult
GMing decision, either disqualifying Kyle, when he had won two
games (corroborated by an opponent in the game with the missing
scoresheet), because there was no score sheet, or disqualifying
Keith, who had been put on the qualifiers list, and had no score
sheet evidence that Kyle had a better record than he did. Fortunately,
a GM's job is made far easier by good sportsmanship by the players.
Keith graciously offered
to cede his spot to Kyle, not wanting to reach the semifinals
on a technicality over someone he believed to have a better record
in the heats. But Romain Jacques offered to give up his semifinal
seat, allowing both Kyle and Keith to play in the semifinals,
and letting Romain play one more heat of his team game. Thank
you Romain from the entire Thurn and Taxis tournament!
Forgive the intrusion but a CD must never pass up a teaching
moment ... this should have been an easy - if unpleasant - decision.
GMs cannot be expected to be all knowing. Players have a responsibility
to fulfill the requirements of the tournament and turning in
one's scoresheet to the tournament director in a timely manner
is certainly uppermost among them. If you don't comply you certainly
have no grounds for complaint when that win is not recorded.
scores in the heats ranged from a high of 31 to two extremely
low-scoring games where the winner won 10 to 9. There were many
close contests, with eight games decided on tiebreak, and an
additional ten decided by a single point.
As in previous years, there seemed to be a substantial advantage
to going early in the turn order; The player to go first won
36% of their games, with those starting second winning 33%, third
winning an average 24%, and those who went last taking only 16%.
But once again, this advantage did not show itself in the elimination
rounds, where one game was won by the second player and the other
four by the third player! Combining this with the results from
previous years, gives a total of 32% wins by the player going
first, 25% from the second seat, 23% from third, and only 21%
won by the player going last. Despite these differences, the
semifinalists didn't think turn order made much difference: Out
of the 20 seats in the finals and semifinals, 13 were taken with
a zero bid and seven with a one-half point bid..
The semifinals saw two close games and two runaways. Robert
Cranshaw rushed the carriages to trigger the endgame, but only
finished with 18 points to Rebecca Hebner's 20 (reduced to 19.5
by her bid to go first). Jefferson Meyer won his semi over Winton
Lemoine by a margin of only half a point. If Jefferson hadn't
picked up both the blue and purple chits on the last turn, or
Jay Fox had not had Ingolstadt taken from him to deny him Bavaria,
either Jay or Winton could have
won. Kyle Smith got a 7-house multicolered route and an all-white
6 route to score both all colors and Bavaria first, winning decisively
with 29 to runner-up Eric Brosius's 17. In the fourth semifinal,
Andy Latto had to discard his first route, putting him out of
contention, Andrew Emerick seemed hard to stop, cartwrighing
for the 4, 5, and 6 carriages and never needing to use the Administrator,
when disaster struck on his last route. An administrator could
not find him anything to extend Linz-Passau, and he too had to
discard a route. Eric Kleist scored Bavaria on his second route
and scored a total of nine points in long-route bonuses to win
by an even larger margin than Kyle, winning 26-13 over Matthew
The Final saw Rebecca Hebner bidding .5 to go first, and Jefferson
Meyer bidding a half point to go third. Third is not usually
considered the strongest seat, but Jefferson bid a half point
for it in both playoff rounds, so maybe he knows something the
rest of us don't.
The Final saw most players going for long routes, while Jefferson
rushed the carriages. On Turn 13, when Jefferson was the only
player with a 6 carriage, he scored a 3 route, judging that if
he extended his route to a 5 route and cartwrighted to end the
game quickly, Regecca's long route chits would give her the win
over his carriage points. And this unusual play proved to be
correct. Four turns later, he was able to cartwright the 7 carriage,
still ending the game as the only player with a 7 carriage.
It was a close and well-played game all around, and things
could easily have finished differently. If Rebecca had found
Nurenburg to complete Bavaria, or Kyle had been able to complete
his final route, including Linz and Budweis to score the oranges,
the finish order would have been different. But Jefferson's fast-carriages
strategy, combined with efficient routes, carried the day. Maybe
we will see people bidding more for third place in turn order
in the future!