up front [updated August 2000]

UPF     
  
       14  17 
  

  Valley

John Emery, SC

2000 Champion

2nd: Bruce Young, SC

3rd: Jeff Paull, OH

4th: Nick Vlahos, IL

5th: Ed Kendrick, UK

6th: Alan Arvold, IL
Event History
1991    Mark Cohen      44
1992    Maria Hawthorne      43
1993    Bruce Young      53
1994    Bruce Young      53
1995    Herbert Gratz      48
1996    William Edwards III      46
1997    John Emery      42
1998    John Emery      55
1999    Larry Davidson     42
2000    John Emery     34
AREA Ratings
 1    William Edwards III      6498
 2    John Emery      6421
 3    John Gibbins      6052
 4    Jeff Mathews      5935
 5    Larry Davidson      5880
 6    Craig Tenhoff      5648
 7    Stephen Buchholz      5631
 8    Henrik Lawaetz      5569
 9    Emanuele Oriano      5563
10    Andrew Maly      5550

Another Year, Another Format

Another year, another GM, another format for Up Front.... This year, the format had three phases, all on Friday. Everybody participated in a five-round Swiss qualification phase. The best 16 players with a minimum of three wins then went through three rounds of single elimination to get the field down to the two finalists. The finalists played a best-of-three series to decide the champion.

As would be expected by removing the heats from the last two years, turnout was lower. Thirty-four brave souls planned on spending all day Friday chasing the title. The defending champion, Larry Davidson, was unable to attend; but several perennial favorites ensured a strong field.

In each of the first five rounds, five different scenario choices were provided. Each scenario had both nationalities and attacker and defender specified. One player picked the scenario, the other picked the nationality. The scenarios and their specifications changed each round. While skeptics thought this format was a recipe for disaster, the approach yielded some spirited and, more importantly, balanced play. Even the Italians did rather well! Discussions with the semifinalists yielded a general consensus that the format should be used in future tournaments with some fine-tuning.

The surprise of the qualification phase was Jeff Paull. Jeff had only intended on playing in the first two rounds because of a Team event that evening, but caught a hot streak and went a perfect 5-0 in the qualification phase. Fifteen players went 3-2 or better, so all qualified for the semi-finals. The tournament rules dropped the semis to eight players if turnout was less than 32. That made the Round 5 matches among the 3-1 players anticlimactic, except for bracket positioning. A proposed modification to the format for next year would limit the semi-finals to one-third of the starting turnout. The matches among 2-2 players, however, made up for that. There were a number of fantastic matches. A majority of players picked Russian-Japanese Outpost Line, historically one of the most balanced scenarios and always a tense event.

The semi-finals used the traditional AnoMaly method scenario selection from many past tournaments. The first round of the semi-finals had all the familiar names as well as some new ones. The first round showed the relative balance of the field, as most of the players that went 4-1 in the qualification lost their first round semi.

Jeff Paull had drawn a bye as the only 5-0 player, and actually managed to play in his Team event thanks to a generous display of sportsmanship by Alan Arvold, who agreed to start their quarterfinal match fifteen minutes late and forgo a later break if he won. Jeff thanked Alan by beating him with the Russians in City Fight in a close match.... Other highlights of round 2 of the semifinals included Ken Katano trying to beat Bruce Young by taking the Japanese ATR in Block Clearing (it didn't work, but Ken had fun trying), a tense Infantry's Iron Fist win by John Emery over Lance Ribeiro, and Nick Vlahos' British defenders beating Ed Kendrick in Outpost Line with almost a dozen lateral group transfers.

In the last semi-final round, Bruce Young continued his American rampage by smashing Nick Vlahos' Japanese defenders in Outpost Line. The scenario was virtually over in half a deck (but lingered into Deck Three) as the American AFV just couldn't miss and the Japanese never found terrain. Meanwhile, John Emery and Jeff Paull played a standard German-Russian patrol. In a long match, John finally prevailed. So, once again, John and Bruce travel 600 miles to end up playing the person that they play against all year. Next year, we're going to have John and Bruce play a 2-of-3 match before they leave home, so the GM can get some extra sleep!

In the finals, Bruce started off hot with Russian Attackers in Scenario D. But suddenly, as wonderful as Bruce's firepower had been in the preceeding three matches, it was all gone. Bruce couldn't find a bullet, and John came back from an early difficult position to squeeze out a very tight victory. In the second match, John and Bruce played Outpost Line, a scenario that they've probably played two hundred times against each other. John's German attackers forged an early lead, and Bruce's Americans still couldn't find any bullets. By the time Bruce found some, it was too late - John had built a killer position and just wore the Americans down, winning by squad break.

Thus, the Carolina domination of the event was reestablished at about 1 AM on Saturday. Bruce has finished in the final four once again, as he has for almost every year since he first played in the tournament in 1993. Meanwhile, John Emery became the event's first three-time champion.

 GM      Nick Vlahos  [1st Year]   150 Schiller Ave 513, Elmhurst, IL 60126
    nvlahos@mediaone.net   NA

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