Our fearless leader takes on Scott
Fenn (right) in Round 3. Note the likeness to the image on his
Still hitting the beach ten years
Twenty-four intrepid gamers stormed the beaches of Normandy in
first round action on Wednesday. In all ,28 competitors played
at least one round, up by two from last year, thanks mainly to
Jim Doughan's excellent teaching demonstration on Tuesday evening.
Eleven stalwarts played in all four preliminary rounds, and another
five played in three rounds. When the smoke eventually cleared
on Thursday evening, new champion Jim Eliason survived several
harrowing moments en route to a perfect 6-0 record and his first
While the tournament format comprised four rounds of Swiss
competition followed by single elimination semi-finals, it might
as well have been single elimination from the onset as Jim Eliason
and Bruno Passacantando mowed down every obstacle in their respective
paths to meet undefeated in the finals. Though a few prominent
players were missing, including defending champion Alan Applebaum,
the lineup boasted several WBC and D-Day champions, such as Michael
Rinella, Andrew Cummins, Jim Doughan, Don Greenwood, Marvin Birnbaum,
and Brian Eshleman. Throw in a strong cadre of players with recent
successes like Mike Kaye, Bryan Thompson, and Scott Fenn, plus
the usual contingent of returning veterans, and this field did
not lack for competition.
As is usual with Breakout tournaments, there were a
number of unexpected developments. Inactive veteran Byron Stingley
resumed play with a vengeance, taking out D-Day champion and
Caesar Award winner Marvin Birnbaum in the second round. Lady
Luck positively frowned on three-time champion Jim Doughan by
giving him the toughest draw of the tournament: three of the
top eleven AREA-ranked players with an average rating of 5940.
Jim Eliason seemed to have lost his third round match against
Tom Pavy but salvaged the game with a breakout into Zone A on
June 12 after Tom's Le Havre battery whiffed twice on counter
bombardments. It took Mike Kaye until June 12 to contest Caen
and gain his final four contested points to win vs Jim Doughan.
After three rounds of play, nine players still had a viable
shot at making the semi-finals. Four players were 3-0 and five
were 2-1. With only the Round 4 match between Andrew Cummins
and Scott Fenn left to decide, Jim and Bruno were in at 4-0.
Byron at 3-1 took the third slot by virtue of the next tiebreaker,
opponents' average winning percentage.
That left only the fourth slot to be filled by Andrew, Don
Greenwood, or Tom Pavy. Even if Andrew won, though, his strength
of schedule would be inferior to the other two, but he could
still play kingmaker. If Andrew won, Tom Pavy would grab the
last spot with a .583 opponents' percentage. But if Scott won,
Don's .600 percentage would give him the final available position.
But the Cummins-Fenn match failed to complete on time and the
game was adjudicated to Andrew for semi-final purposes, putting
Tom Pavy in the semis, though we allowed the match to continue.
After another turn, the board position had changed enough that
we would have adjudicated Scott the winner and let Don slide
into the semis. That's how close the final margin was.
In the semi-finals Jim faced Bryon and Bruno played Tom. When
both Bruno and Jim won their matches, the stage was set for a
battle of unbeatens. Bruno's Allies had excellent June 6 landings
in the British sector and threatened to blow the game wide open.
But, as he did throughout the tournament, Jim came through with
the right moves at the right time. His last-second bridge demolitions
kept the British 50th Division from penetrating beyond Bretteville.
On June 7 Bruno's dice turned stone cold. Five straight bombardments
against Caen failed to inflict a single attrition point and prevented
Bruno from assaulting the area. In the American sector, the situation
was only marginally better. Bruno had failed the June 6 invasion
against Utah Beach and the follow-up unit of the 4th was interdicted.
Bruno didn't clear Utah until June 9. The final straw came on
June 9 when Bruno's 14-11 assault into Caen was repulsed and
also ended the day. Bruno's concession gave Jim his first championship.
Over the two days, forty matches were played. The Germans
went 22-18 and the Allies 18-22. Congratulations to all and thanks
to Assistant GMs Andy Choptiany and Andrew Cummins. Let's do
it again next year.