Deep in the deepest jungles ...
72 gamers braved the cardboard jungles of Tikal over three
heats lasting 2.5 hours each. Many players were new to the game.
44 played in the first heat and over 20 played in two heats (but
only two prior round winners, preference being given to others).
The third heat competed with the popular Puerto Rico,
but still drew 23 players. There were three ties for first place
and the GM was immensely grateful he had a tie-breaker rule.
were ranked based upon the previously used equalizing formula
of final score divided by cumulative board score. It will be
used again; it was the fairest system. James Hopkin, Arthur Field
and Kevin Garber, last year's finalists (Jaeger was absent),
advanced to the semi-finals. They were joined by Mario Lanza,
Chris Terrell, Phil Rennert, Allyson Field, Holliday Jones, Brendan
Kerr, Anne Norton, Dan Hoffman, Frank Sinigaglio, Davyd Field,
Ross Jones, Scott Pfeiffer and Paul Murphy. Brendan Kerr was
new to the game. Allyson Field is 12 and may be the youngest
player to qualify for a Tikal semi-final. Scott and Phil
were unable to make the start so Brian Jones and Sandy Wible
stepped in as alternates. This proved critical.
The semi-finals lasted three hours. Table 1: defending champ
Garber handily defeated his competition with the high score of
the semis, a whopping 132. An unusual event occurred in that
game when it was discovered one player had forgotten to place
a tile in the first round, revealed in the third round. The GM
declared a re-start. Since the other players agreed it was an
innocent error, no other sanction was imposed. At Table 2, Davyd
Field won through. Table 3 saw alternate Brian Jones edge James
Hopkin by three points, while keeping Dan Hoffman and Allyson
Field at bay. (The G.M. was very proud of his daughter's performance
in the game against fine players.) At Table 4, Arthur Field swooped
in on an undefended temple of Brendan Kerr's and capped it to
grab a 120 to 105 victory.
The finals evidenced every conflict of interest possible.
Arthur and Davyd Field are father and son. Arthur was a playing
GM. Davyd and Kevin Garber are teammates and this was both Arthur's
and Kevin's team game. Kevin and Brian Jones are close, longtime
friends. So, naturally, everyone immediately stabbed everyone
else in the back. Kevin seized the lead by placing the first
tent in the middle of the board, rather than his usual edge play.
Arthur countered by building a tent in the corner and constructing
a quick temple. In a crucial move, which probably cost him the
game, Arthur elected to cap the temple as a 9 and move his leader,
rather than spend the extra two MP and get the 10. This cost
him three points over the course of the game. He did it because
he thought Kevin or Davyd would take the 10. But Brian quietly
built himself an unchallenged 10 and scored it twice. After round
1, Arthur led with 27, to Brian's 26, Davyd's 25 and Kevin's
24. Hard to get much closer. Arthur captured the northwest corner
of the board.
Brian drew the only natural
triple treasure in the game. Davyd and Kevin drew the exact same
three treasures each. Davyd then went on to draw a total of six
non-matching treasures, a virtual statistical impossibility.
Brian's nine points of treasures helped pushed him into a slight
edge over Arthur at the end of round 2. He kept his head down
and the scores stood at 74, 72, 56 and 50 at the close of round
3 with Arthur back in the lead. Given Kevin's talent for coming
back from significant deficits, it was anybody's game. However,
Davyd and Kevin got into a temple battle over an 8 which neither
would relinquish or cap. It probably cost them the game. It also
freed Brian to develop a corner of the board for himself. Arthur
bid enough to get behind Brian and force him to play last in
the critical final scoring round. This may have been a mistake.
After considerable thought on everyone's part, machetes were
taken to the remaining jungle (and all fellow opponents' backs)
and the final score was revealed. Brian won with 111 to Arthur's
107. Davyd Field placed third with 87 and Kevin scored 76. A
great game was played by all four and much slapping of backs
took place after (with care being used to avoid cutting one's
hand on the protruding knives).