A Different Kind of Tiger ...
18 turned out for the tournament, up one from the previous
year. Many regulars were missing, but we had six first time
players participate, and four of them lasted at least three rounds.
In addition, the demo had five people in attendance. Jim Winslow
and Tom Thornsen acted as assistant GMs. This year we played
a mulligan on Tuesday night, three rounds on Wednesday, and the
Final on Thursday.
The event was won by defending champion Tom Thornsen with
a 4-0 score. Tom pretty much erased everyone he played by blowing
them away repeatedly as the Germans. If I remember correctly,
all of his games were essentially decided by the fall of Bastogne
on the 17th. Tom defeated Brad Jones in round 5. Brad's second
place finish was his best so far, topping a third last year.
He has consistently improved each year since he started playing
in the event. In addition to their plaques, Tom and Brad got
the new, improved Tigers T-Shirts.
A total of 22 games were played, with six players still participating
in the fifth round. Each side won 11 games. The Germans did
better this year than they have in recent years, mostly thanks
to Tom's 4-0 record. He should give lessons. Sides were bid
13 times. Following the trend from previous years, no one bid
for the Germans. The average bid for the US was 1.5, with the
range being 0.5 to 2.5. Purists (other than Tom) were Rick Young,
3-1 as the Allies, Murray Cowles, 1-2 as the Allies, and newcomer
Charlie Drozd, 0-3 as the Germans. Brad Jones took second with
a 3-1 record, Rick Young was 3rd, and Ray Freeman 4th at 3-1.
Jim Kramer finished at 2-2, losing to Rick in Round 5, and our
rookie of the year, Nathan Trent, went 2-3, losing to Ray in
Round 5. In looking at the results of these top six players,
the Germans scored 10-4 and the Allies 7-4. When playing each
other, the result was 5-3 in favor of the Germans. Tom got the
Germans in the title game giving up a 1.0 VP bid.
The key to winning this year seemed to be an early collapse
of Bastogne. Tom shredded every defense on the 16th-17th , scoring
three breakouts. Brad did the best defensive job on Tom, losing
Bastogne on 17-3! Brad kept counterattacking, but was unable
to get this key crossroads back as Tom skillfully defended with
active counterattacks of his own while continuing to advance
elsewhere. Brad had a very interesting game against Nathan in
the Mulligan round. Brad, as the Germans never took Bastogne,
but scored a breakout win. Nathan held the town strongly with
the101st airborne, but it was surrounded and placed out of supply.
Not having the division to slow the German drive on the Meuse
turned out to be fatal.
My most interesting games by far were against Brad in Round
4 and Nathan in Round 5. Both games had wild and crazy turns,
and neither could be called flawless. Both featured large forces
of both sides getting surrounded. It was like those Eastern Front
dances of death in POG. In my game with Brad, six German and
seven US SP surrendered to each other at the end of December
20th and marched off hand in hand to Paris to find some Champagne.
Against Nathan, my Germans broke out on 17-1, but failed to take
Bastogne. Clever US counterattacks on 17-2 opened supply lines
to some isolated defenders, but Bastogne fell to the Axis. On
17-3, a US counterattack at Bastogne failed to retake it, but
another attack cut off a German spearhead. Fierce fighting in
the north and at Bastogne occurred on the 18th and the Germans
expanded down south. The 19th was decisive as much of the US
main line of defense was destroyed and pockets of resistance
in the German rear were sealed off for good. Unable to prevent
the exit of many German units, Nathan resigned.
The turnout was good, interesting games were played, and German
results improved dramatically, demonstrating that maybe the final
word has not been written on the tournament scenario.