Still on Trial ...
"If it's an even-numbered year, it's Jim Eliason's turn
to bring home the wood in Fifth Fleet." So went
the pre-tournament wisdom. Jim Eliason, 1996, 1998, and 2000
champion, was trying for his fourth plaque in this multi-game
tournament comprised of Fifth Fleet, Seventh Fleet, Third
Fleet, and for the first time, Second Fleet. We had
eight players again in the small but veteran field which included
three former champions. The format was Swiss Elim, with three
preliminary rounds used to determine four semifinalists.
The first round of swiss elim play saw three Fifth Fleet
games: defending champ Jimmy Fleckenstein's Soviet submarines
decisively defeated last year's "giant killer" Aaron
Silverman's Allies in "Indian Ocean Wolfpacks." James
Fleckenstein's Allied subs pulled out a marginal victory over
Luke Warren's Soviet boats in "Undersea Showdown,"
while Ed Karpowicz won a substantive Allied victory over Jeff
Lange, Sr.'s Soviets. Jim Eliason's Allies won a marginal victory
over Mark Van Roeckel's Soviets in Third Fleet's "Soviet
Raiders in the Caribbean."
The second round of play saw one Second and two Seventh
Fleet scenarios. Eliason's Allies handed Karpowicz' Soviets
a marginal loss in "Civil War in the Philippines,"
while Lange's Soviet submarines fought off Warren's hunting Allied
attack subs for a substantive victory in "Soviet Bastion."
James Fleckenstein shepherded his Soviet charges to Norway despite
his son's U.S. carrier battle group, winning a substantive victory
in the Second Fleet scenario, "The Big Stick."
Silverman advanced on a forfeit.
Jimmy Fleckenstein earned a round 3 bye as defending champ,
assuring him of a place in the semis. Lange, enamored with his
success in the northern Pacific, guided his Soviet submarines
to a marginal win over Karpowicz's Allied subs in Third Fleet's
"Soviet Commandos in the Aleutians," earning his spot
in the semis. In a "dignity match," Warren led his
Soviet subs to a marginal win over Silverman's Allies in the
same scenario. Eliason and the elder Fleckenstein advanced to
the semis on the strength of their records versus the surviving
The single-elim semis saw much drama as James Fleckenstein's
Soviet submarines suffered a one-point defeat by Lange's US/UK
forces in Second Fleet's "Damn the Torpedoes."
In the other match, Eliason led his Soviet forces to a marginal
victory over Jimmy Fleckenstein's Allies in a hard-fought Seventh
Fleet "Battle of the South China Sea."
In the final game, Lange's northern Pacific luck finally ran
out as Eliason's Soviets easily defeated Lange's Allies in Third
Fleet's "Soviet Aleutian Offensive." Jeff lost
a crucial air battle on turn 1 in the North Pacific zone, allowing
Jim to detect and destroy an unprotected convoy of three maritime
prepositioning ships. My carriers and land based air destroyed
several airbases. Russian subs and Backfires dispatched all the
cargo ships in another convoy, and the Russians had lost virtually
nothing. With no chance to win, Jeff resigned after Turn 3 of
the six-turn scenario. It was an even numbered year, and Jim
Eliason had indeed earned his fourth WBC Fifth Fleet championship.