war at sea [Updated August 2000]

    9, 11, 13, 15, 17   19       21    


Pat Richardson, VA

2000 Champion

2nd: Steve Packwood, MN

3rd: Ed Menzel, CA

4th: Ron Dietz, OH

5th: Mike Knautz, WI

6th: Dave Streamo, OH
Event History
1991    Bruce Monnin      20
1992    Tom Scarborough      23
1993    Bruce Monnin      28
1994    Phil Rennert      18
1995    Ray Freeman      33
1996    Steve Packwood      27
1997    Tim Hitchings      33
1998    Mike Kaye      32
1999    Ray Freeman     45
2000    Pat Richardson     42
AREA Ratings
 1    Pat Richardson      6124
 2    Ray Freeman      5929
 3    Phillip Rennert      5900
 4    Michael Kaye      5815
 5    Stephen Packwood      5808
 6    Vince Meconi      5766
 7    Ron Artigues      5705
 8    Tom Scarborough      5594
 9    Robert Mull      5520
10    John Pack      5519

Dice At Sea

Pat Richardson (Warrenton, VA) took top honors this year and became, at 16, the youngest champion in the history of the tournament. He bested former champ Steve Packwood (Eagan, MN) in the final. 3rd and 4th place honors went
to newcomers Ed Menzel (Fullerton, CA) and Ron Dietz (Massillon, OH). The 5th place plaque was captured by returning vet Mike Knautz (Brookfield, WI), edging 6th place finisher and rookie Dave Streamo (Massillon, OH) by strength of schedule.

Though our new champ is but 16, he's no novice. This is his fifth consecutive appearance in the event; his best previous finish was runner-up in 1997 at the ripe age of 13. The tournament's 43 entrants were just shy of last year's record 45, but
the 80 total games played and the 18 players who played all five rounds were all-time highs.

WAS GM and PBeM champ Vince Meconi (left) appears to be giving pointers to defending WBC champ Ray Freeman.

A record 40 players competed in Round 1. One of the day's best matches took place on that round, as defending champ Ray Freeman took on three-time semifinalist Chuck Stapp. Although Ray is known as an Allied specialist, he took the Axis when Chuck offered 2.5 POC, the day's highest bid, to take the Allies. The players wrestled to an exhausting raw-POC tie that became a Freeman win only because of the bid. Although Ray held serve, otherwise after just one round it was apparent that the day would be a rough one for favorites. Four of the top ten seeds dropped their initial contest. Overall, excluding runnerup Packwood, the other four former champions posted only six wins against ten losses.

Nine hours later, as 18 of us answered the bell for the 5th and final round, fully ten players were still firmly in the running for the final four single-elimination berths. Only Pat Richardson and Steve Packwood had managed to win all four rounds by 2 POC, scoring 40 Victory Points each. They faced off and, in a harbinger of the championship, Pat's Allies bested Steve
Packwood's Axis by five POC after the bid. Pat, with 50 Victory Points, was in for the final 4, but Steve with 40 had to await the other matches and a strength of schedule tiebreaker. Of the other eight competitors with a chance at the semifinals, only one, Mike Knautz, had playoff experience. Mike took on Joe Collinson, competing in just his second tournament, and won going away as the Allies. Veteran Bob Hamel met rookie Dave Streamo and Dave eliminated Bob, leaving him one victory short of the final four for the second consecutive year. Another rookie, Ron Dietz, engaged another second-timer, Larry York, and again the rookie emerged victorious. At this point, Packwood, Knautz, Streamo, and Dietz all had 40 Victory Points, with the day's last preliminary round game still underway. That matchup featured yet another rookie, Ed Menzel, and Andy Gardner. Ed was the higher seeded player, having scored 36 VPs with four wins, two of them by a single POC, while Andy had logged three wins and one loss for 30 VPs. Ed needed a win or a draw to clinch the final four, and got it with yet another narrow triumph, this one by 1/2 POC. Andy's 32 VPs were good for 7th place, but Andy didn't go home empty-handed; his consolation prize was the championship in our sister game, Victory in the Pacific.

Ed Menzel's 44 VPs secured the second final four berth, but Steve Packwood, Mike Knautz, Ron Dietz and Dave Streamo, with 40 VPs each, had to sweat out the strength of schedule calculation. Schedule strength is computed by taking the total victory points scored by a player's opponents and dividing that number by the total number of games played by that player's opponents. Steve Packwood, with 6.10, and Ron Dietz, at 5.71, edged out Mike Knautz with 5.29 and Dave Streamo with 3.95. Steve was very happy to win the tiebreaker, having lost a similar tiebreaker to finish 5th back in 1995. In fact, Mike and Dave are just the 3rd and 4th players in the history of the tournament to score 40 VPs and not make the final four. Mike grabbed the 5th place plaque, but Dave had to content himself with the congratulations of his fellow competitors.

In one semifinal, top seed Pat Richardson took on number 4 Ron Dietz. Pat took the Allies, while Ron favored the Axis, with no bid. Pat's "Barents on 1" deployment found the Germans and Italian cruisers sailing in force for the South Atlantic. Despite having two pocket battleships fail their speed rolls, the Axis won a narrow victory to open a 3-POC lead. However, the Allies established a blockade that the Axis were not able to remove for the rest of the game. The Axis in turn used U-boats aggressively and the Luftwaffe effectively. The Axis LBA sank Convoy 1A on Turn 4, disabled Convoy 2B on Turn 5, and disabled Convoy 3C on Turn 7. As a result, the Axis maintained their lead through Turn 7. However, on Turn 8 the Allies were
able to land both Convoy 3C in England and Convoy 2B in Russia, the latter's 3 POC winning the game for the Allies.

In the other semi, runnerup Ed Menzel squared off against 3rd-ranked Steve Packwood. Steve's Axis took a 1/2 POC bid. This game, too, featured a Turn 1 battle in the South Atlantic. While the Germans lost two ships, they took the area and sank four British ships. On Turn 3, the players repeated a big battle in the South Atlantic, with the Axis again putting four British ships down while suffering only one of their own sunk. The Axis built up a big lead, but the Allies landed two convoys to keep within striking distance. The deciding battle took place on Turn 6, once again in the South Atlantic. Hot shooting U-boat torpedoes took out three of four British battleships to let Italian cruisers control the area and build up an unassailable Axis

The final contest thus was a rematch of the Pat Richardson/Steve Packwood faceoff on Round 5. [My thanks to Andy Gardner for these detailed notes.] Pat again took the Allies after paying a 1-POC penalty. Pat's "Barents on 1" variation featured this unorthodox deployment in the North Sea: 2x553, 2x443, 117, 016/2. Steve decided to test it, with near disastrous results. Allied airstrikes took out one 225, and their gunnery claimed the other two pocket battleships as well as a 127, with the loss of only one 443 in return. The Allies controlled the North Sea and led by two POC. The Axis faced a very bad situation after just one turn , blockaded, with four German ships on the sea bottom and behind in POC. However, Steve is known for his comebacks. More than one player in the history of this tournament has thought he had Steve on the ropes, only to find that three turns or so later the tables have been turned. Steve deployed his U-boats and LBA to maximum effect; on Turn 4 they broke control in the North Sea, sank a carrier, and killed the convoy via airstrike. As a result, at the end of that turn the Allied lead had widened only to 3 POC. However, Turn 5 proved decisive. With the North Sea open, Steve sailed his entire remaining fleet (2x496, 2x357, 127, 128/2, 3x117) to the South Atlantic to face this Allied fleet: the Eagle, 4x444, and 3x117. Meanwhile, Axis U-boats decontrolled the Baltic and North Atlantic. But, the Bismarck failed its speed roll and the first round of British gunnery sank the Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, Gniesenau, Graf Zeppelin, and the remaining German cruiser, leaving the Axis navy with three Italian cruisers afloat for round 2. In reply, the Axis could sink but one British 444. With the Allies landing a convoy the same turn, that was the ball game.

This year's final clearly matched the day's two best competitors. Pat's 7-0-0 record marked only the second time in the history of the tourney that a player has won seven in a row. Tim Hitchings pulled off a similar feat in 1997. Steve's 5-2 mark was marred only by the pair of losses to Pat.

Pat's 7-0-0 tally included 3-0-0 as the Axis and 4-0-0 as the Allies, meaning that, in addition to the championship, Pat copped both the Best Axis Player and Best Allied Player awards. Following close behind Pat were Lee Kendter, Jim Kramer, Ed Menzel, and John Pack with 2-0-0 finishes as the Axis, while Mike Knautz's 3-0-0 ledger as the Allies gave him runner-up as Best Allied Player. Of this year's 13 first-time players, three finished in the top 10: Ed Menzel (3rd), Ron Dietz (4th), and Dave Streamo (6th). Ed thus claimed Rookie of the Year honors. It should be noted that Ron Dietz and Dave Streamo comprised the two-member Massillon, OH delegation. While they are longtime gamers and conventiongoers, this was their firstWBC/Avaloncon. We suspect they'll be back for more, provided that the ride home wasn't too rough with Ron having gained the final four on the tiebreaker while Dave lost out to the same tiebreaker.

We don't give an award for Comeback Player of the Year, but if we did it would surely go to Mike Knautz. Despite a three-year layoff, he grabbed the 5th place plaque and missed the final four only by a tiebreaker. Larry York skipped the same three years but came back with a strong 9th place finish.

Bids and play balance: 25 years after the game's release, there seems to be a consensus emerging that the Allies have an edge, if a narrow one. That view is reflected in this year's bidding. For the first time, more games featured bids than did not: 41 to 39. The fact that bids were allowed in half-POC increments for the first time this year probably contributed to the increase as well. Of the 41 games with bids, 39 had bids for the Allies and only two for the Axis. As recently as 1997, more players bid for the Axis than the Allies. That's not to say that everybody wants to play the Allies. Of our top 11 finishers, five played more games as the Axis than Allies, and two of those five played all their games as the Axis. To win you need to be able to play both sides, it would appear, as our top six finishers all won as both sides. Overall, the Allies won 42 games, the Axis came out on
top in 37, and there was one tie. Bids changed the winner in three games. In another six, a 10 VP win became an 8 VP win, or vice versa, due to a bid.

Competition seemed tighter than ever, and here are a few facts to back up that impression. Eight of the 80 games, fully 10%, were decided by fewer than two POC or tied. One player, Ed Menzel, won three games by a single POC, something
never before accomplished. Defending champ Ray Freeman lost two games by one POC and gained one of his victories only after the bid was taken into account. The keenness of the competition proved that seedings and AREA ratings didn't mean much this year. After 1999, when all four semifinalists were well known and top-ranked players, this year only three of the top ten seeds (and none of the top five) actually finished in the top ten.

 GM      Vince Meconi [2nd Year]   P. O. Box 6346, Wilmington, DE 19804-0946
    VMeconi@aol.com  NA

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