the russian campaign [Updated August 2001]

TRC  4 prizes Beginners Single Elim Continuous 
  Demo 21    9Round 2 14 Round 3 19  
 Round 4 9  Semi Round 5  14  Final     


Phil Evans, VA

2001 Champion

2nd: Tom Gregorio, PA

3rd: Art Lupinaci, ONT

4th: Rob Beyma, MD

 5th: Alan Zasada, IL

  6th: Brad Frisby, MD
Event History
1991    Rob Beyma      31
1992    Alan Frappier      26
1993    Ed O'Connor      20
1994    Jeff Martin      16
1995    Rob Beyma      16
1996    Tom Gregorio      20
1997    Gary Dickson      24
1998    Gary Dickson      27
1999    Gary Dickson     26
2000    Doug James     30
2001    Phil Evans     27

AREA Ratings:

GM: Tom Gregorio

TRC Champion: There can be only one...

This year's tournament drew 27 people into the single elimination event; an excellent showing considering that three mulligan rounds drew only 30 entrants the year before! (It's pretty well known that extra heats pump up the attendance numbers but the cost is, of course, a lot of time the GM could otherwise use to play other games.) While there were a host of new people playing this year, and the 1941-1942 ten-turn scenario with modified weather and bidding was the same as used in prior years, there were several significant changes in the 2001 WBC TRC event. The most important new factor was the application of strict time limits as enforced by the usage of chess clocks. A secondary feature was that the seeding in each round was done randomly, top half players randomly matched against bottom-half players. Feedback on the clocks was uniformly positive but took some adjusting to get used to. The seeding methodology was pretty much unnoticed as most players realized that to get anywhere in single-elimination you'll probably have to meet (and beat) at least one prior champ. The single-elimination format with no preliminary heats almost certainly cost some people the opportunity to participate in the TRC tournament but hopefully the logistics simplification made this a reasonable decision.

The initial 'meeting engagement' on the Eastern front took place at the Thursday night "Jay's Cafe" tutorial; eight or nine players agreeably endured the collective wisdom of Gary Dickson and myself regarding the intricacies of TRC. We briefly covered the rules and a few peculiarities and had plenty of time left to review some opening defensive setups. We detailed some of the broader game strategies and even had time to showcase the TRC PBEM aide created by Hank Burkhalter. My personal assessment of the Cafe sessions is that they are worthwhile and the program should be expanded to other nights. An hour is probably the right amount of time for TRC assuming one doesn't constantly restart the lesson to accommodate those coming in late to the session.

Enough about the preliminaries, what about the games? This year had a couple first round surprises - both Gary and Doug James, my assistant GMs and prior champions, got knocked out in the first round! Gary's Germans were done in by Art Lupinacci's stingy Russian defenders and Doug was bested by Alan Zasada on a last turn 1-2 against a victory point city that saw the dreaded '6' being thrown. I myself would have been knocked out had I not been graciously afforded the opportunity to advance provided by newcomer Steve Koehler who resigned early knowing he'd be unable to continue due to a schedule conflict. Of the 14 players advancing into round 2, no less than five were first timers. After some consultation with the assistant GMs, it was agreed that all combat resolutions would be 'off the clock'. The general sentiment was that the Germans were under the gun in terms of time pressure and subsequent bids reflected that. The average winning bid was 3.6; Germans who bid 4 or more generally emerged the loser.

An amusing factoid from the first round: There was one bye offered and, per the rules previously established, prior years' champions had the opportunity of first refusal. FOUR previous TRC Tourney winners declined the bye in
order to preserve their opportunity to accept a bye in a later round. Phil Evans was then offered the bye based on prior showings and he accepted. He won the event. I'm sure several of the four 'bye decliners' had wished they'd accepted the bye. After being knocked out in the first round, Gary, the 1997-1999 Champion, and Doug, the 2000 Champion, decided to hold their own "Bizarro World" TRC Championship grudge match. I'm not sure who won but I'm sure it was a well-played game.

In the second round, Art's Russian's continued to win while he was simultaneously showcasing his Streets of Stalingrad game design. Rob Beyma accepted the second round bye. At the end of the second round, the only relative newcomer left was Alan Zasada - I don't think he'll be labeled a newcomer next year! At the end of round 3, we were down to myself, Phil, Art, and Rob. (I had accepted a round 3 bye.) I owe a special thanks to Chuck Stapp who made a courageous decision to play in the third round despite having to host a large dinner party later that night - I'm sure he would have had a tough decision to make had he defeated Rob: "Honey, can you just tell folks I'm running a little late... Hmmmm... Maybe five hours or so!" Round 4 saw myself emerging victorious over Art, thanks to some German-friendly weather, and Phil advanced over Rob due to Mr. Beyma's
decision to withdraw.

The final game took place on Saturday. It was warm and humid in the Valley and the clinking of dice and rustling of papers was frequently interrupted by the loud guffaws of the peasantry crowing about their latest 'monster upgrade' in Titan. No matter, Tom Gregorio and Phil Evans were focused and ready. (Not having attended WBC 2000, I'm sure Phil was *more* than ready!) By this point, both players were adjusted to the clock-induced frenzy; the game, in fact, ended before all the time was consumed. Tom had the Germans with a +4 bid.

As often is the case, the weather was decisive with a CLEAR Mar/Apr 42 not making up for a LIGHT MUD in Sep/Oct 41 and a SNOW in Nov/Dec 42. Phil's initial strategy was to preserve the Red Army and this was doubly effective with the inclement weather; at the end of Jan/Feb 42 the Soviets had six units remaining in their replacement pile with only a moderate number of
surrendered units. With the arrival of the Soviet Guard armies, the Russians were able to constantly threaten punishing counterattacks and this consequently forced the Germans to play a more tentatively than normal. Combat dice were relatively even - no freakish strings of good or bad luck for either side.

A German tactical misplay in March/April saw a HQ exposed to a second impulse 5-1. One has to constantly be aware of Soviet 'retreat forward' opportunities! Combined with the earlier sacrifice of an HQ to screen the central front, this resulted in the Germans being short an HQ in June/July 42. During the summer of 42, the replacement HQ had to slowly wend its way
through Rumania and the Ukraine towards the key fighting for the southern city VPs. German forces continued to slug their way forwards with German casualties being relatively heavy. Russian counterattacks were heavy and bloody; German Army Groups North and Center were more than decimated. Army Group South was still stalled in front of Stalino and had to exert itself tremendously to take Sevastopol in May/June of 1942. When a MUD result was rolled in Sep/Oct 42, my hand shot across the table to offer my resignation; I was still several VPs shy of my goal and it was apparent to me that I had a serious fight just to keep the ones I had! A new TRC Champion was crowned.Well done, Phil.

Looking ahead to 2002, I plan to continue the use of chess clocks to enforce time limits. I may institute another qualifier round to raise attendance as well as provide an alternative to people who otherwise could not join us on Friday morning. The scenario bidding for sides may change a little to further balance the weather impact and offer a finer level of bidding granularity. The new scenario rules will be tested during PBEM competition over the next year so stay tuned to (TRC Game Folder) and for more details. Of course, I'm also open to comments, questions, and concerns. TRC continues to attract new players of all skill levels; a key thing I've noticed is that many of these people are not really new to the game but are really just returning to a simple, yet supremely challenging, game they enjoyed years ago. I hope to 'welcome back' many of you to TRC in 2002!

See for other TRC details.

 GM      Tom Gregorio  [2nd Year]   2908 Sheffield Dr., Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462    (610) 292-9973

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