March Madness in July ...
The 2003 March Madness Tournament got underway with
a new sheriff in charge taking over from last year's GM Ken Gutermuth.
Ken was kind enough to supply laminated cards for each team and
plenty of score sheets to go around. Thanks Ken! Also, original
MMS GM John Ellman was spotted on Sunday at the convention. Hopefully
this means John will be back next year as he's sorely missed,
plus no one runs March Madness the way John does.
the first heat started on Wednesday morning with yours truly
getting his Florida 2000 team and promptly losing his first game.
It was Ken Gutermuth's Cincinnati '59 team with the big 'O' Oscar
Robertson who ran the table including a 108-80 regional final
win over Georgetown '84.
In the Thursday heat Gordon Elgart took U Conn '99 to the
Final Four with victories over St. Fohn's '85, Rutgers '76, Georgetown
'85 (and Patrick Ewing), and Seton Hall '53. I believe this was
Gordon's first trip to the Final four and he did a good job with
the #2 seed.
Friday's heat was well attended with a perfect field of 16.
Sean "Puffy Hammer" McCulloch ... a fellow CABS member
... remembered my sage advice I'd given him in our practice sessions
the months before. "A double A bench is a good thing, plus
it will annoy Dennis Nicholson to no end". So he picked
another of my favorite teams ... two hours of hell Arkansas Razorbacks
of 1994. Good pick. He survived close matches against veterans
Harry Flawd (Kansas '71) and Terry Coleman (UCLA '73) to meet
Derek Lendel in the regional final. Derek brought his defensive
minded Utah '98 team in - no contest as Arkansas carried the
day 113-97. That put two CABBIES in the Final Four.
Saturday's last heat had 22 people vying for the last ticket
to the Final Four. A lot of old faces showed up with a few new
ones like Ric Manns all the way from Southern Indiana. Ric is
famous for being one of a handful of people who actually BUY
season tickets to watch Indiana and the fighting DiNardo's play
football. Ric's team Indiana '53 didn't fare any better than
the fighting DiNardos do. He lost in the first round to "Caesar"
Marvin Birnbaum's Magic Johnson led '79 Michigan St Spartans.
The heat was won by Harry Flawd's Louisville '80 team who punked
defending champ Debbie (Garver then, Gutermuth now) #1 seed (and
first pick) Louisville '86 team sending the former champ home.
Jeremy Billones led my beloved Buckeye '60 team to the regionals
only to lose to Harry 88-83.
This set up a semi-final of Sean McColloch vs perennial Final
Four participant Harry Flawd. They played their game right next
to my Football Strategy final and it was close throughout,
coming down to a last die roll with Sean and Arkansas winning
85-81 to uphold the honor of CABS and Ohio while advancing to
In the other semi-final, Golden Elgart ran into the convention
juggernaught of "no team points" Ken Gutermuth. Did
you know that until two years ago this was Ken's team event every
year? Then he switched and guess what? He beat Gordon 100-93
to advance to an all CABBIE final.
Sean had no chance, as it was pre-ordained that Ken would
win since it WASN'T his team event. Final score Ken 107, Sean
104 in a surprisingly close game. Sean was a three pointer away
from his first wood, but wood hog Ken captures his third plaque
of the convention. The only bright spot for this reporter is
that the rest of Ken's teammates managed to win their events
and carry - literally - Ken to the team championship as well.
We are looking to tweak a few things next year. If you have
any thoughts or suggestions please email me and we will take
them under advisement. I have a fond personal place for this
event in my heart. The success of this tournament mirrors somewhat
the success of the entire convention. I can still remember the
day in 1992 that I wandered into a hotel room at the old Penn
Harris to play a heat of this game (believe it or not several
events took place in hotel rooms back then). It was that day
I met John Ellman, made a lifelong friend and played him to advance
to the Final Four. There I got to play one of the Legends of
gaming in the final - one Don Greenwood. A large crowd gathered
around to watch that final - no one having a clue to who I was,
everyone coming to watch the big man from Avalon Hill they had
read so many articles from and played so many games designed
by. There were only 14 people in the tournament that year. But
the event, like the con, has grown over the years. There are
so many people I look forward to playing every year and some
years I get to play a lot of them. Other years, like this one,
some upstart like Chris Palermo beats me in the first round and
I only get to play one. But we return every year. I hope that
one day I'll get the chance to play my two daughters here as
well. I will look forward to seeing many friends again next year
and hope to get to play a few more of you! This 'game convention'
is a precious thing we have. We all need to do our part to nurture
it and keep it alive for the future generations.