A New Face in the Winner's Circle
For several years now a number of us veteran PGG tournament
players have been looking for a new bidding system to promote
greater play balance. This year we introduced such a system.
All bids began at 65 and players used "Dutch style"
(counting down by one) bidding to determine sides and victory
point levels. This was a change from what I had originally considered
and had listed on the WBC website. Before the first round, I
gathered all the players and explained the Dutch Style bidding
and asked for a vote, informing the players that if only one
person wanted to use the old bidding system that was what we
would use. Everyone voted to use the new Dutch Style bidding.
This bidding system was well received and worked very well. We
plan to use this bidding system again at the 2004 WBC.
The Final this year featured Robert Frisby, looking for his
fourth championship and his second back-to-back year championship,
against the upstart Californian Keith Schoose. Both finalists
won their shot at the title by beating all would be champions
as the Soviets.
defeated Kevin Hacker, no easy feat in any round let alone the
first round. Robert received a bye in the second round and then
defeated me, Jim Tracy, in the semi-finals to advance to the
Final against Keith. Keith, our west coast upstart who played
against Phil Rennert in an AvalonCon PGG Final years earlier,
reached the Final by defeating Doug Porterfield in the first
round and Mark Hinkle in the second. Going into the semi-finals
a late round dropout occurred, leaving only three contenders.
Keith got the bye into the Final as Robert had already used a
Robert opened the bidding in the Final. He passed at 65 and
both players kept passing until the bid reached 55. At a bid
of 55, Robert decided to play the Germans. Keith said that if
Robert had not taken the Germans at 55, he would have taken them.
Now the stage was set --- the Germans had not had a single victory
in the tournament thus far. The German honor was left for Robert
to reclaim, and it was in good hands.
The Soviet opening defense established a roadblock on the
Smolensk highway in several forest hexes east of Orsha. One Soviet
armored division went north to slow the German divisions advancing
from that direction. The German panzer divisions engaged the
Soviet blocking force to begin the destruction of this force
and open the way to Smolensk. A German panzer division attempted
a flanking maneuver to head SW of Smolensk but was engaged and
pinned next to the Dnepr by a couple of Soviet divisions. As
a result of this pinning action, the Germans were slowed in their
progress and would have to await further forces before eliminating
the defending blocking force. In all of the early confusion,
the 13th, 19th, and 20th Soviet Army HQs escaped to reorganize
an indepth defense of Smolensk and Roslavl.
When the rest of the panzer divisions and some infantry support
finally showed up, the Germans smashed the Orsha and forest road
hexes blocking force and cleared the highway to prepare for the
assault on Smolensk. The German armored assault smashed through
the first line of defense west of Smolensk. German panzer and
motorized divisions poured into the gap between Smolensk and
Roslavl. A potential gap appeared as a single Soviet division
with a defense strength of eight holed up in the woods east of
Smolensk repulsed the onrushing panzers. Had this position not
held, the Germans would have been in position to compromise the
defense of Smolensk. This was the turning point in the battle
for Smolensk as the second Soviet defense line west of the city
held firm. The Soviets in turn caught the Germans a bit overextended
and attempted to destroy a German division. The Soviet counter
attack failed to achieve the objective of destroying a German
Panzer division but it had the secondary effect of diverting
precious panzers from the main assault to attempt to rescue the
beleaguered panzer division. Multiple German assaults on both
hexes of Smolensk failed, and other German attacks failed to
envelop the city from the east.
Meanwhile, the Germans were getting behind their timetable
for obtaining the victory points needed for victory. Although
German forces occupied Roslavl and Yelna and destroyed nearly
all of the nearby Soviet forces, the steady flow of Soviet divisions
from Stavka allowed the Soviets to maintain a solid line of defense
around Smolensk. Under pressure to make progress and create the
breakthrough the Germans desperately needed, they attempted a
risky attack on two untried units in the Soviet line in the forest
northwest of Smolensk. The Germans threw in all available forces
into the assault: two infantry and an armored division. The Soviet
units turned out to be too strong, and all three German divisions
were lost in the 1-2 attack. The Soviets were able to claim a
clear victory by holding the vital communications center of Smolensk,
and by preventing the Germans from taking any cities to the east
When the smoke cleared from the PGG tournament, the Germans,
for the first time at AvalonCon/WBC, had failed to achieve a
single victory. Robert a three-time champion had been defeated
by the west coast upstart Keith. Congratulations to Keith Schoose
on a fine tournament and to Robert for making the Final again.
And a special thanks to all who played in the PGG tournament.
I hope to see all of you back again next year. You make the trip
to Baltimore worthwhile.