The 2005 tournament saw the largest attendance in the history
of the event at 54 with a17% icrease despite a reduction in the
number of heats from three to only two this year. I attribute
the increase to the Cooperative Euro Scheduling Initiative. In
addition to being the largest Taj Mahal field yet, this
GM believes this year's field was the most skilled with all four
previous champions returning along with an array of Euro Sharks
looking for their first Taj Mahal wood.
The first heat had seven tables and the second heat ten. That
left me with 17 winners for a 16-player semifinal potential problem.
Fortunately, Anne Norton won two heats including a tournament
high score of 64 so I wouldn't have to turn away any heat winners
even if all them were to appear for the semis. As so often happens,
only 13 of the 16 chose to attend the semis. Heat winners who
bowed out included Joel Tamburo who had to GM a heat of Medieval,
and both Chris Gnech and Chris Johnson along with one of my alternates
who chose to play in the Power Grid semis.
The Final was looking to be a battle of past champions as
Nick Anner, Greg Thatcher and Tom Dunning made it through the
semis along with newcomer Charlie Kersten. Unfortunately, Nick
had to choose between concurrently scheduled Finals and opted
for Sword of Rome. Nick's withdrawal opened the door for
Ian MacInnes, who lost his semifinal on a tie breaker to perennial
Tie Breaker Boy Greg Thatcher. This year, Greg not only won his
heat on a tie breaker but took his semifinal the same way.
The Final was well played with close scores, great camaraderie
and trash table talk. Greg went large with the commodity strategy.
Charlie chose the connectivity route while Greg and Tom went
with more balanced strategies. It came down to the final two
provinces. If Charlie could connect the last two provinces he
would be hard to beat. Likewise, if Greg could win the final
two elephant battles and claim those commodities he would rule.
Charlie connected province 11 while Greg bowed out of the province
to gather more elephants for the final battle. Ian grabbed the
province 11 commodities to take the lead. Greg vowed to wage
an epic battle in province 12, promising to deny Charlie his
connections and Ian the province 12 commodities.
Unfortunately for Greg, Ian chose not to contest the province
12 commodities. Ian grabbed Agra and got out early. Tom also
left early with his small chain. Greg did get his epic battle
and prevented Charlie from connecting province 12 to his chain.
In doing so, Greg seriously depleted both his and Charlie's long
suits. Ian had stockpiled nine green and four white cards to
help him claim victory. Tom had a four length suit and five white
cards to sneak into second place. Greg secured third with the
province 12 commodities and sent Charlie into fourth by denying
him his province 12 connectivity.
While I've been an Assistant GM a few times, this was my first
GM experience. It's different when you're responsible for the
success of the event. I have a newfound respect for all WBC GMs.
In hindsight I see there are things I could've done better. Next
time I will. I wouldn't have had nearly as successful an event
without the help of Assistant GMs Brian Stallings and Jennifer