Resurrecting an old Chestnut ...
The competition was stiff both inside the Polo Room and outside
this venue from competing WBC offerings. As a result, attendance
for OW2 dipped to twelve hearty souls from last year's field
of 16. However, what was missing in quantity was compensated
by quality play and fun.
2002 tournament was noteworthy for the defeat of previous champions,
and the ascendancy of newcomers. In the initial round, both Phil
Rennert (Britain), the 2001 champion shown at right, and Rob
Kircher (Germany), the 2000 recipient of the plaque were defeated
and eliminated quickly. The winner at their table was Johnny
Hasay, a previous WBC champion noted for his PanzerBlitz play.
Johnny decided to enter OW2 this year after having not played
the game for many years. Johnny not only defeated two past champions
and Jason Brown (USSR) in the initial round at his table, but
did so as the French.
The second table was dominated by the participation of newcomers.
Mark Rasich, Alan Hayes and Gene Pappas attended my 12 noon demo
at Jay's Café and apparently decided to take the plunge
along with first time tournament player, David Rynkowski. The
proceedings were quite animated at their table. I was glad to
see that they took to the spirit of the game and played well.
The last table of four featured Brad Jones, Ed Kendrick, Bill
Burch and John Emery engaged in what turned out to be a very
taut contest. Advancement to the finals was based upon the winner
from each table moving forward. The final player was determined
by the participant with the most points would get the nod. Based
upon this system, the finals featured Johnny Hasay, Brad Jones,
Gene Pappas and David Rynkowski.
The final turned out to be a simply great game. It was a mixture
of smart play, suspense, humor featuring the use of French accents,
a surprise finish and dashed expectations. David Rynkowski bid
2.5 points to represent Germany and played masterfully throughout
the match. Eugene Pappas, our demo attendee who advanced to the
final game bid 2 points for Britain and played like a veteran.
Mr. Pappas showed his skills as a diplomat from the outset. Brad
Jones acting as Foreign Minister Molotov had a difficult time
establishing the USSR as a dominant diplomatic aggressor, therefore,
he took a defensive posture and played a key role on the last
turn. Johnny Hasay lost Alsace-Lorraine very early in the proceedings
and was thought by the others as out of the picture. Unfortunately,
OW2 can be deceptive, for not only was Johnny still in the picture,
he turned out to be the champ!
It appeared that Germany would eek out a close victory, but
cunning French play won out by a mere half point. 2002 was the
year of the French. The French player won two of the three preliminary
games and the championship. The results were pleasantly surprising
and illustrates the parity of OW2 using Bruce Reiff's four-player
variant. Hopefully there will be enough votes to continue Origins
of World War II at the WBC. If it returns, hopefully we can swell
the ranks back to 24 players. If 2002 was the game's last gasp,
I can report that it went out in style!