TRC Champion: There can be only
The 2004 tournament was an unqualified success in many respects.
Not only were records set in terms of participants and games
played, but it's clear that the 4th Edition of this game has
gained a secure foothold with only two games being played using
the old 3rd edition version. While several TRC stalwarts didn't
make it this year to WBC, it's a good sign that the reissuing
of this classic is helping to bring back some of the guys who
played this 20 years ago as well as some newcomers.
* The 32-player threshold was crossed when 36 people played 39
games in this, the 14th year of the convention.
* Five prior champions played, they had nine championship TRC
wood among them.
* The Germans 20 wins, the Russians had 19.
* One match decided by the clock expiring.
* Eleven matches went to the final game turn.
* Eight matches featured 'upsets', i.e., the lower seeded player
kicked off with the TRC tutorial on Thursday. Nine people showed,
including two who'd never played the game before. Basic mechanics
were reviewed. While I always go into the tutorial thinking that
I'm going to be showing 'advanced tactics' and 'scenario strategy',
I consistently end up in the 'explaining the concept of ZOCs'
That same evening, 30 folks played in the mulligan round.
I was flabbergasted by that number. Only one game was played
using the TRC3 map and that was by choice by a veteran player
who wasn't ready to use 'the big board'. Random matchups were
performed and I somehow drew Doug James, the defending champion.
My Germans surrendered in March/April, despite getting optimal
Clear/Light Mud weather! I'm not sure what I learned -- Doug
pummeled me so badly that I went to bed with a headache. The
only bright side, for me, was having beheld the sight of fifteen
matches of TRC on the L2 'Big Board' going on simultaneously.
Friday 9AM Round 1: 14 people played in this round.
(Anybody who won in the evening round could forego this round
and join in during the Friday 2PM round. There was random pairing
between the top half contestant pool and the bottom half. I drew
Doug Porterfield, my WBC roommate. I played the Russians so as
to give him ample opportunity to test drive the Germans while
I practiced 'moving quickly' as the Russians. This was my first
tourney game as the Russians in many years and was a nice change
of pace. (I believe time pressure is consistently on the Germans
and that a key tourney tactic is to spring a new opening defense
with a possible flaw that will cause the Wehrmacht player to
expend a lot of time, 20 minutes+, on his first move.)
Friday 2:45PM Round 2: We entered the first 'real'
round of single elimination with 20 people; we had five prior
TRC champs playing so there definitely were some sharks in the
pool. There were three family combos; Robert & Richard Beyma,
Robert & Bradford Frisby, and Keith and Bert Schoose. Surprisingly,
both Frisby's accomplished the automatic Axis tournament win
in 1941 by capturing Moscow. (This has never been achieved since
this victory condition was created several years ago!) Art Lupinacci
was also knocked out this round in an upset, a victim of some
terrible weather dice and Ed Welsh knowing how to take advantage
of it. Rob McCracken bowed before the strength of Phil's Russian
army but not before he was able to split matches against both
Beymas. Alan Hayes also pulled off a big upset by defeating prior
champ Ed O'Connor; every year Alan seems to make significant
progress towards the wood.
Friday 7:30PM Round 3: We had eightpeople participate;
two prior round winners declined to play further. As this ensured
the tournament would finish Saturday with no byes, I didn't mind.
As several of these folks had endured SIXTEEN hours of TRC this
day, I think fatigue had become a factor. (TRC can definitely
be an endurance event!)
Saturday 10AM Round 4: We were down to four. George
Karahalios defeated Doug James in a ferociously fought game that
went the distance. In a similarly tough match, I beat Joe Collinson
who demonstrated yet again that he can compete at the highest
levels of tournament play.
Saturday 3PM The Finals had me going up against George
Karahalios. He beat me pretty soundly in 2003 and I was determined
to not let that happen again. (Judging by the amount of material
he has with him, he clearly is the best prepared player I've
ever encountered in TRC tournament play.) I took the Germans
with a relatively low bid. Unfortunately, my dice were abysmally
bad on the opening Axis assaults. At the end of the first German
turn, there were seven Axis units in the dead pile! Jul/Aug didn't
start well when the Hungarians were sunk trying to invade a surprisingly
vacant Rostov. Axis blood continued to flow but I was able to
take advantage of some defensive misplacements to push my forces
forward. By the time Nov/Dec 41 started, I'd already exceeded
the 42 replacement quota and things looked grim. Fortunately,
Soviet losses were also relatively large. The Germans won a few
key combats to nail down the flank cities of Leningrad and Sevastopol
and had secured their center by capturing some of the forward
cities. The Russian winter counterattacks inflicted some attrition
but the Red towel was thrown in when the Russian Jan/Feb commenced
with the 1st Gd Infantry perishing in a daring attempt to sea
invade in the Crimea. While the cause of the Red Army was far
from lost, George made the decision that his long-term position
was fatally compromised. While perhaps not the longest finals
match, I happily accepted the first place wood, my third TRC
title and sixth overall, as it gave me a relatively early ending
to my gaming that Saturday night.
The Lancaster Host will be the site of next year's WBC tournament;
we'll be pressed to top this year's event but judging by some
of the comments from the players, it will be another hard fought
event. Gary Dickson, absent this year, has promised to attend
to go for his fourth Wood but there will be more than a few prior
champs who'll stand in his way! Rob Beyma has committed to taking
the event 'seriously' next year which should give some pause
to the many opponents he's left strewn in his wake these past
few years. There has been some suggestion of making TRC a pre-con
event but this will require some more discussion and a strong
pre-commitment before pursuing that path. (In any event, next
year's 5th place TRC winner will earn a plaque. For some unfathomable
reason I thought that current year participation was related
to current year prize level!) While we're a year away, don't
forget that there are THREE on-going PBEeM tournaments in which
to get some good TRC practice. I look forward to campaigning
in 2005 - see you in Dutch Country!