Laughing at the Cold War ...
For some reason, people root for a loser. Soap star Susan
Lucci had scores of fans while getting numerous Emmy nominations
without winning. The Boston Red Sox and both Chicago teams have
plenty of fans even though they all have gone over 80 years without
a World Series victory. At the WBC, we have the plight of the
Kremlin GM. Going into this year's tournament I had not won a
game in three years. A record 51 players showed up to see if
this year would be any different.
Tradition held in the first game as young Zachary Fietsch
won this year's "I Beat the GM in My First Game Award."
I had decided to try for an early win in this game and put six
points on Nestor Aparatschik. Unfortunately Zachary had spent
seven. As the game dragged on it looked like Zachary had lost
his steam, but he cleverly bided his time and at game's end his
man was on top.
The second heat was a heartbreaker. Most of the game I was
able to do little or nothing as my guys dropped like flies. However,
my 8 pointer was able to sneak his way to the top spot just as
the game ran out of Candidates for the Politburo. It appeared
the streak was over. However, just like Bill Buckner thought
he had that ground ball, victory was not to be as John "I
CAN Win Games that I Don't GM" Coussis revealed 9 points
on that character and took my win.
Thursday's first heat went quick as I must have been recovering
from the game the night before. Steve Cameron stormed his way
to an early three-wave win as I sat in a daze working up the
strength for the final heat.
Game Four looked bleak before it even started as I drew three-time
champion Sean Cousins at my table. I've seen enough of Sean through
the years to know that he likes playing the "deep"
game-putting points on characters that are among the People and
waiting. My counter was to put my 8 on the Foreign Minister and
use him to work my other people up the ranks. Unfortunately,
he was killed on the first health roll, forcing me to play the
deep game too.
Sean and I watched as the other players controlled the action
most of the game. However, as the game went on my 10 pointer
turned up in the Politburo-only to soon discov er that also was
Sean's 10 pointer (DUH!). I only had control of him long enough
to age him dramatically by emptying out Siberia, giving Sean
a 90 year old KGB Chief. Well, needless to say, I didn't win,
as Sean's 5 pointer (who was also my 5 pointer) was Party Chief
at game's end.
Other highlights of the heats include:
- Jeff Ladd and Jason O'Donnell (who has had his share of
bad luck in Kremlin) sharing the GM's pain by going 0
for 4 heats.
- Tom McCorry became the first defending champion in three years
to play in the tournament the following year. He won a game but
lost in the finals.
- Sean Cousins and Nick Smith were the only two-heat winners.
Nick had also just been taught the game by the GM, giving new
credence to the old saying, "Those that can't, teach."
The story of the semi-finals and finals was David Buchholz,
who was able to get a quick win in both with three waves in three
turns, giving him the championship. This left the GM to roam
the gaming halls rather early on a Thursday night, wondering
what went wrong again.
I'd like to thank everyone who played in the tournament this
year. Despite my tale of woe above, I have a great time every
year teaching and playing one of my favorite games. Best of all,
the people who play make it easy for me to GM to the point I
feel almost spoiled. If you've never played it, give it a try