san juan [Updated October 2004]  

2004 WBC Report  

  2005 Status: pending 2005 GM commitment

Jeff Mullet, OH

2004 Champion

2nd: Tom McCorry, VA

3rd: Nate Hoam, OH

4th: Alan Kaiser, OH

5th: Rob Kircher, RI

6th: Chris Kamm, NY

Event History
2004    Jeff Mullet     123


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 Laurels
Rank Name

From

Last
Total
 1. Jeff Mullet

OH

04
30
 2. Tom McCorry

VA

04
18
 3. Nate Hoam

OH

04
12
 4. Alan Kaiser

OH

04
  9
 5. Rob Kircher

RI

04
  6
 6. Chris Kamm

NY

04
  3

Sequel breaks 100

The inaugural WBC San Juan tournament was a success, with 20 four-player games being contested in the first heat, followed by18 more such games in the second heat. The overflow turnout for the initial round forced the GM and his assistant to locate additional space, particularly since the prior event (another popular new Euro game, Goa) was running long in the same space. Four players (Eric Brosius, Tom McCorry, Ray Pfeifer, and Alex Safford) scored wins in both heats to guarantee a spot in the Sunday semi-final round. The other winners had to rely on having a high enough score to advance on a tiebreaker, and it came down to a random draw to determine the last available seat in the16-player semi-finals. All games (in both the preliminary heats and the elimination round games) used the "seat-balancing" rule which allowed players in later seats to look at more cards to compensate for going later in the early rounds.

Some of the highlights in the two preliminary heats were Winton Lemoine's high score of 45 in the first round, Ray Pfeifer's 13-point win in the first heat which was then topped by a 16-point win by Tom McCorry in the second heat as the greatest margin of victory in a single game. There were some close games, with Eric Brosius nosing out Alan Kaiser on a tiebreak in the second heat. Seven games were one-point wins, including a 32-31-31-31 thriller won by Phil Rennert. A number of varied strategies proved successful in the initial round games, with purple building and production building/Guild Hall
strategies prevailing on an equal number of occasions.

The cut-off for the semi-final round proved to be one win and a score of 34 or better, and Mike Zehnal out-cut Aaron Buchanan and Bruce Reiff in a random card draw to claim the last spot in the semis. The four two-game winners were seeded into different games with choice of seating position which, as it turned out, only worked out well for Tom McCorry, who was the only two-game winner to make it three in a row to advance to the finals. For the record, the two-game winners chose seats 1, 2 and 3 (twice) and Tom, who won, selected the #3 starting position. Tom was joined in the final by three members of the Columbus, Ohio-based CABS gaming group - Jeff Mullet, Nate Hoam, and Alan Kaiser. All four semi-final winners used similar strategies - each piled up large points on a Guild Hall - although Jeff needed several purple buildings to overcome Chris Kamm by a one-point margin, 32 to 31, in one of two one-point games. Tom McCorry edged out Rob Kircher, 41-40, with both scoring big with the chapel as well as the Guild Hall. Nate Hoam edged out Eric Brosius by two, 32-30, and Alan Kaiser won by the largest margin, 10 points, in the other semifinal game, scoring big with both the Guild Hall and the chapel. Rob Kircher was awarded fifth and Chris Kamm, sixth, based on having the top second-place scores in the semis.

In the final game, by random draw Alan drew the #1 position, followed around the table by Nate, Jeff and Tom. Early on, Alan, Jeff and Tom jumped into tobacco production, while Nate built a smithy followed by a black market to defray construction costs. Jeff followed with a smithy of his own, and by the third turn, he had the first silver mine up and running. Tom countered with the prefecture, useful to obtain additional cards. Jeff eventually built a diversified production portfolio, topped off with a Guild Hall. Once Jeff followed up with a Palace, he became the obvious leader with everyone else playing for second. Tom made good use of a chapel to score some extra VPs, but he lost out on the opportunity to build in the final game turn. Tom scored with his chapel and Guild Hall to nose out Nate's purple building strategy for second on the tiebreaker, 4 to 3. Alan's city hall and palace kept him close, but was insufficient to offset his lower total in base VPs. Jeff's Guild Hall/smithy strategy continued the streak of all elimination round games being won by a player who had built the Guild Hall.

Statistics collected from all 43 games played suggest that the game (using the draw extra cards by seat position variant) is fairly well-balanced, with no seat recording fewer than nine nor more than 12 wins. The average scores by seat position ranged from a high of 30.79 (seat #2) to a low of 29.23 (seat #1). The most popular non-bonus scoring purple buildings in winning displays were, in order (number of times in parenthesis): prefecture (18), aqueduct (16), carpenter (14), gold mine (13), followed by the library, smithy and hero (12 each). At the other end of the spectrum, least seen in winning displays were the archives (1), the black market (2), and the carne and market stand (3 each). As far as the all-important "6"cost bonus buildings are concerned, the Guild Hall (25) and City Hall (20) proved the most popular, and the victory arch was by far the least used (only three times in winning displays). The chapel, with its variable bonus points, was only used by ten winners in the 45 games played.

The GM wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Keith Levy, who served as assistant GM and was instrumental in finding the additional room space to allow the first heat to conclude on time and Winton Lemoine, who offered his services as an unofficial assistant GM and "rules guru," which was important given that the first heat saw the games split into two different rooms.

Additional highlights from the San Juan tournament as well as stats and a reply of the championship game of its predecessor, Puerto Rico, are available on line at http://home.earthlink.net/~jcw222.

 GM      John Weber  [1st Year]   NA
   NA   NA

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