TRC Champion: There can be only
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.
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
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 www.consimworld.com (TRC
Game Folder) and www.russiancampaign.com 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!
for other TRC details.