once more behind the sand dunes
The tournament reached an all-time high of 30 players this
year, thanks largely to an influx of new players to supplement
the "old guard" veterans. Next year's event will feature
a Mulligan first round on Tuesday evening with the regular first
round start on Wednesday morning to give newer players a second
chance and more playing opportunities. It also promises to increase
the overall numbers of interested players for this classic wargame.
A couple past champs meet as Bruno
Sinigaglio (left) and Randy Heller battle in the sand dunes.
Play balance this year swung back in favor of the Germans
overall, with 16 German victories to the British 12. This was
partly because of the veteran players being able to take advantage
of some newer players, and also in part to some upsets by journeyman
players over the favorites. But this would make little difference
to the eventual champion.
The first round saw the greatest number of German wins, with
nine to the British six. First round survivors included 2002
champion Vince Meconi (who defeated 1995 champ Phil Evans in
a tough match), John Clarke, 2000 champ Randy Heller, two time
champion Bruno Sinigaglio, GM and 2003 champion Jonathan Lockwood,
Chris Godfrey, James Tracy II, Kurt Kurtz, (who defeated two-time
champ Greg Smith in a stunning upset), Johnny Hasay, newcomer
Bill Borys, 2003 PBeM champion Ed Menzel, newcomer Todd Bogen,
2001 champion Lane Newbury, Victor F Hogen Jr, and newcomer William
The second round showed a reversal of fortunes, with four
British victories to the German two. Defending champ Lockwood
advanced on a bye, while Chris Godfrey advanced via forfeit.
In the feature match, past champs Newbury and Heller squared
off, with Lane taking the Axis forces. Lane invested the Tobruk
perimeter without having first driven all defending Allied units
into the fortification. By November, Axis forces were within
a hex of the Allied Home Base. At this point, Allied November
reinforcements broke out of the Tobruk perimeter on a 3-1 attack,
threatening to envelop the Italians in the immediate area. German
forces were too far east to provide help so the Axis conceded.
In other action, Sinigaglio (GE) def Hogen, Tracy (GE) def Borys,
Hasay (BR) def Bogen, Meconi (BR) def Clarke, and Menzel (BR)
def Kurtz (GE).
In the third round, Johnny Hasay as the Germans scored a major
upset by defeating GM Lockwood in a lightning fast game which
saw the British attempting to score an early knockout by attacking
and destroying the last German supply on board in a risky soakoff
attack. Hasay responded by counterisolating the British units,
and eventually scored an automatic victory breakthrough which
gave him Tobruk and an early British concession by June I. In
other action, Heller (BR) def Tracy, Menzel (GE) def Godfrey,
and Sinigaglio (GE) def Meconi in a classic confrontation between
two who have played each other for four decades.
Ed Menzel choose to forfeit to Randy Heller so that he could
continue in the VIP tournament, leaving Sinigaglio (GE) to face
Hasay (BR) in the only semifinal match. Bruno won, but Hasay
finished third in his best AFK finish to date.
In the final round, Bruno Sinigaglio and Randy Heller repeated
their 2000 WBC experience, with Bruno taking the Axis forces.
By II June, the Axis player had rolled only one sunk on the supply
table. The first round of German attacks consisted of: 3-1, 4-1,
and two soak-offs. All were successful, with no Axis losses.
Only one hex in front of Tobruk remained in Allied hands. Randy
offered up a 2-1 attack vs Tobruk, which would have captured
the fortification while trapping one 4-4-7, a 3-3-7, and a 2-2-6
in front of the escarpment, effectively ending the game. Bruno
accepted the gambit and rolled an A back 2 on the 2-1, with no
loss on the soak-offs. The Allied player positioned the retreating
units to allow the incoming June reinforcements to surround both
German 7-7-10s while attacking an accompanying Italian 2-3-4
at 3-1 odds. The soak-offs survived while the 3-1 Exchanged.
The resulting position forced the 7-7-10s to be lost prior to
combat due to lack of supply. Bruno followed up with a 1-1 attack
in front of Tobruk that may have placed the counterattacking
Allied units out of supply, but the attack failed with an Attacker
Elim. This abruptly ended a short but exciting game, making Randy
Heller another two-time AFK champion (joining Greg Smith and
Bruno Sinigaglio), and doing it all once again with defense!.
2003 PBeM Tournament
The First Afrika Korps BPA Play by email Tournament
has ended. Veteran wargamer, Ed Menzel, defeated a very tough
opponent, Doug Burke, for the championship. The Single Elimination
Tournament started with 26 entrants and lasted 20 months. Ed
finished 5-0, while Doug went 4-1. There were no easy games for
either of these gentlemen. Ed defeated Richard Van Vugt, Dan
Tierney, Greg Smith, Jonathan Lockwood and finally, Doug. Smith
and Lockwood have a total of three WBC Afrika Korps plaques.
Doug defeated Bruno Sinigaglio, Mark Gutfreund, Vince Meconi
and Randy Heller - dudes who collectively own four WBC Afrika
The Championship - Ed Menzel (Axis) versus Doug Burke (Allies)
The Axis made the standard opening drive toward Tobruch. The
arrival of the 15th Panzer Division forced the Allies off the
escarpment blocking access to the Tobruch heights. On II May
41 the Axis attacked the Tobruch perimeter driving the Allies
back. The two recce units were diverted to the south to block
two Allied brigades attempting to reach the Axis rear supply
lines. On I June, the Axis AV'ed the brigade occupying the last
hex outside Tobruch plus another blocking brigade in the pass
east of Salum.
The Axis drove toward Alexandria leaving Italians to guard
the Tobruch garrison. Over the next two months, several Allied
brigades that were harassing the German rear areas and blocking
the coast road were eliminated through isolation. A 1-1-6 astride
the coast road was isolated rather than attacked, because the
Axis did not want to use a Supply unit to eliminate one factor.
On the other hand, the Allies didn't want the Axis nailing two
units with one supply. The 1-1-6 was positioned so that, while
it blocked the road, it didn't prevent units from going around
While the Axis were busy isolating this unit, the Allies decided
to get in a first strike before the Axis could hit their main
line. Thus an Axis 3-3-10 was attacked at 3-1. The result of
the attack was a DB2. Though at the time, it didn't appear to
be that critical, in hindsight this attack pretty much dictated
the crucial events of the next couple of turns. It turned out
that it was essential for the Allies that the 3-3-10 be eliminated.
Had it died in the attack, even via an exchange, subsequent moves
would have been altered quite a bit. Four 1-1-6's that were eliminated
on the next turn, might not have been attacked and coupled with
the exchange of Ariete, it would have been impossible for the
Axis to get a 3-1 versus Tobruch.
On I Aug, the Axis attacked the Allied defense line around
Fuka. The Allies were aggressive and counterattacked Ariete getting
an exchange. But in doing so, they weakened the Tobruch garrison
so that the Axis could scoot west and get a 3-1 on the fortress.
The Axis had a choice of continuing the assault toward Alexandria
or taking Tobruch. It is a difficult choice, as the Allies are
weak enough that there were good prospects of taking Alexandria
before the horde of Nov reinforcements arrived.
Rommel finally decides to go for Tobruch. But the Allies fight
hard taking out 10 Axis factors in exchange before Tobruch falls.
In addition, the Allies exchange out an Italian blocking the
coast road. The Axis is now down to six units. They are able
to muster one more attack on II Oct and then fall back to a north-south
defensive line around Matruh to await their own November reinforcements.
On I Dec, the Axis again attack the Allied defensive position
around El Alamein eliminating four brigades with AVs. Because
the Axis can concentrate their forces better, they have excellent
prospects of being able to grind down the Allies in a war of
attrition even though the two armies are essentially even in
strength. Realizing this, the Allies launch a desperate counter-attack
including two 1-1s on the 7-7-10s. Both result in AE, and the
Allies graciously surrender their now hopeless position.
It was a tough exciting game, well played by both sides. Lady
luck was fairly even-handed. Supplies were not a problem for
the Axis, although they attacked sparingly and used isolation
to starve out a number of Allied units. The Allies had some poor
luck, as they could not get any DEs with their attacks on Ariete
and a couple other units. But the Axis got hurt rolling two exchanges
on two 3-1 attacks on Tobruch. All in all, an exciting game befitting
the end of an enjoyable tournament.