TRC Champion: There can be only
For the twelfth year in a row, The Russian Campaign
was launched not against the deafening roar of an opening barrage
but amidst the relatively quiet din of tinkling dice, ticking
clocks, and hushed voices of commanders vying for European supremacy.
While tested by the Russian winter in the Maryland Ballroom at
the Hunt Valley Inn in Baltimore, Maryland, the contestants rose
to the challenge throughout the six 5-hour rounds of the ten-turn
tournament scenario. The event continues to evolve with changes
to both the game scenario and the tourney format. The main change
this year was the implementation of a new bidding system based
on Russian replacements which had been tested at Prezcon as well
as the BPA PBeM event. (Players bid for the Germans by offering
extra replacements to the Soviets.) Clock allotments were shifted
slightly with the Germans getting ten more minutes and the Soviets
five less. Based on the fact that there were no complaints received
about the time, this GM will assume an equitable balance point
has been reached. Noteworthy is the fact that most last-match-of-the-day
games were played without clocks because both players agreed
to forego their usage.
looked good as things began with a dozen people showing up for
the Thursday night tutorial at Jay's Cafe. As usual, most of
these 'newbies' actually knew the game but just wanted to get
some scoop on the tournament scenario. 22 folks then showed
up for the mulligan round later that night. (Eight new participants
subsequently joined in on the first round on Friday.) Three rounds
took place on Friday and the sixth, and final round was completed
Saturday afternoon. The Germans won 16 of 31 matches. Of the
30 participants, eight had not played in the event before. Among
the entrants were the holders of seven TRC titles so there clearly
was a lot of expertise at the tables.
There were several memorable games that stood out:
* Steve Dickson upset Rob Beyma, a two-time champion, in the
first round. (Steve had recently gained familiarity with the
game via an intense two-week TRC boot-camp supervised by his
dad, Gary, a three-time TRC champ.) Steve's Russians took advantage
of weather and fortunate die rolling to squash the pride of the
Wermacht panzer corps in the frozen swamps south of Leningrad.
If Rob had known that Steve only knew how to play the Russians
than I suspect the bidding would have been different. I expect
both players to do some off-season training and I'm pretty confident
Rob will be aiming to be a serious contender for the title in
* Rob McCracken continues to demonstrate his mastery of the
game. In the second round, he took advantage of good weather
as the Russians to hold a firm line in Russia that stretched
from Riga to Smolensk in the north. Things looked bleak, however,
as the ever-wary Marty Musella had enough victory points to win
because of good German gains in the south. Thinking he was prepared,
he confidently guarded his rear areas against paratroops - Helsinki
and the frontline cities were protected from the imposing presence
of STAVKA in Riga. Unfortunately, Marty didn't guard Koenigsburg
and the paratroop landed there on the last turn which gave Rob
the game. Well done, Rob.
* Alan Zasada continues to gain on his 'giant-killer' reputation
by defeating the reigning champion, Phil Evans, in round 3.
Despite a successful NEGATIVE bid for the Russians, i.e., Alan
was giving up replacement points to the Germans, and getting
pro-German weather, he crafted something wicked and forced a
mid-1942 concession from Phil. I only wish I could have seen
it - the game was put away in less than two minutes after the
resignation, leaving little time for admiration or reflection.
(At WBC 2001, Alan performed a similar feat by knocking out
Doug James who was the reigning champ then.)
* Dick Jarvinin gets the "Eastern Effort" award. Having
tuned up with a punishing set of practice PBeM games, he was
all set to go after a multi-year hiatus from the game. Unfortunately,
he earned the dubious privilege of matching up against another
returning veteran, Randy Heller, who demonstrated that his armed
forces were as lethal on the snowy steppes as they are in the
bitter woods of the Ardennes.
The final match featured yours truly, the GM, against Art
Lupinacci. As always, I bid high for the Germans and got them
after yielding 16 replacement points. Art adroitly managed the
Red Army in 1941 and was in reasonably good shape coming out
of the first winter. The weather was relatively balanced with
my Germans getting CLEAR in Sept/Oct 41 while his Soviets benefited
from SNOW in Nov/Dec 41 and LIGHT MUD in Mar/Apr 1942. No big
gaffes occurred on either side but the game turned in the beginning
of 1942. In a seemingly decisive move, Art committed the bulk
of his Guards to the defeat of Finland. The quantity (and quality)
of this force ensured that Helsink would not be controlled by
the Germans at game's end but this tactical victory, nevertheless,
proved to be fatal to the Soviet cause. Once the Summer of 42
started, the Soviets did not have a viable mobile counterattack
force available as the pride of the Red Army was still engaged
in its push on Helsinki. The Germans were quickly able to grind
up the bulk of the Red Army in the center and south in the summer
campaigning. Art conceded the game in Jul/Aug 42 thus handing
me my second TRC title!
I continued to keep my 'ultimate Soviet defense' a secret
by bidding high in all five of my matches. Experienced players
were bidding between 10 and 15 for the Russians with some 'downwards
drift' in later rounds. It's still hard to tell if bidding really
makes a difference; five games made it through the last turn
and only two individuals felt that the bid impacted the outcome.
Ten of the 31 matches could be termed 'upsets'.
Looking ahead to next year, I foresee several big changes.
The biggest, of course, is the expected usage of the 4th Edition
of TRC. The tournament scenario itself probably won't change
but there will be significant rules cleanups to take care of
some of those especially gamey tricks. The weather system will
be changed to reduce its impact on the game's outcome. A revised
and tested 1942 scenario will also be introduced. (Default version
will continue to be the Barbarossa scenario if either player
would prefer not to play the 1942 scenario.) To enhance the
WBC 2003 experience, mulligan round games will feature random
for other TRC details.