leader off the starboard bow ...
The 2003 Naval War tournament saw a strong field of
33. Defending champ and GM Jim Fleckenstein was the only one
of last year's top six finishers to set sail in 2003. Players
were randomly assigned to six tables for a single elimination
round to 75 points. The best finisher at each table advanced
to the final.
Table 1 was a generally close-fought battle. Marvin Birnbaum's
second round surge to 63 points fell just shy of victory. As
all guns trained his way, Josh Campbell garnered 87 points to
win going away with 108.
Table 2 was close-fought for all three rounds, with defending
champ Fleckenstein being in the difficult position of leading
the first two rounds. As the entire table concentrated on the
leader, Ann Cornett made her move, going from fourth place to
first, advancing with 77 points to Fleckenstein's 65.
Table 3 was a "sink 'em all" bloodbath that saw
six fleet wipeouts in four rounds. Craig Reece came within one
point of sweeping the table in the second round. Fred Minard
surged to 69 points in round 3; Mike Destro trailed close with
67. The players then took their sights off Reese and Destro to
wipe out Minard, allowing Destro to carry the day by 2 over Reece.
Table 4 was a seesaw battle between several players, but Rob
Paul pulled out a third round victory with 79 points.
Richard Moyer ruled the waves at table 5, leading in the first
round, staying only two off the pace in the second, and holding
off a strong third round challenge by Trevor Bender to eke out
a one point victory, 77 to 76.
Table 6 seemed to belong to Randall MacInnis, as he led through
the first two rounds. But his third round bid for victory fell
four points short and he had a pack in his wake. Matt Bacho had
a 40-point fourth round to overhaul MacInnis and win going away
with 98 to MacInnis' 79.
The final took five rounds. Everyone played conservatively,
knowing that to amass too big a lead was to court disaster. Bacho
led in rounds 1 and 4, Campbell in round 2 and Destro in round
3. But at the finish, Rob Paul suddenly came alive and grabbed
54 points to vault from last to first, posting a 97 to 75 victory
over Bacho for the World Championship.