el grande [Updated October 2006]  

2006 WBC Report    

 2006 Status: pending 2006 GM commitment

Greg Thatcher, FL

2006 Champion

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Event History
1999     Stu Hendrickson     47
2000     Anthony Burke      40
2001     Jason Levine      70
2002     Mark Guttag      41
2003     Rob Flowers      55
2004      Jay Fox      68
2005     Charlie Kersten      97
2006      Greg Thatcher      55


Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Jason Levine       NY    05     62
  2.  Rob Flowers        MD    03     52
  3.  Greg Thatcher      FL    06     50
  4.  Charlie Kersten    OH    05     40
  5.  Jay Fox            NJ    04     40
  6.  Mark Guttag        VA    02     40
  7.  Stu Hendrickson    VA    00     36
  8.  David Buchholz     MI    05     32
  9.  Anthony Burke      NJ    00     30
 10.  Yoel Weiss         NJ    04     24
 11.  Josh Campbell      NY    03     24
 12.  Eric Freeman       PA    06     18
 13.  Nick Benedict      CA    01     18
 14.  Rob Seulowitz      NY    00     18
 15.  Dan Hoffman        NC    99     18
 16.  Geoff Pounder      ON    05     16
 17.  Barry Shutt        PA    04     16
 18.  Mario Lanza        PA    03     16
 19.  Gary Presser       NY    02     13
 20.  Brian Kirchner Germany   06     12
 21.  Pete Gathmann      NJ    05     12
 22.  John Poniske       PA    04     12
 23.  Davyd Field        SC    03     12
 24.  Mike Hazel         SC    02     12
 25.  Barb Flaxington    NJ    01     12
 26.  Dennis Disney      TX    99     12
 27.  David Gubbay       TX    06      9
 28.  James Pei          TX    00      9
 29.  Sean Vessey        VA    99      9
 30.  Eric Brosius       MA    03      8
 31.  Stan Hilinski      MD    02      8
 32.  Paul Murphy        UT    06      6
 33.  Peter Martin       NJ    01      6
 34.  Paul Hakken        NJ    99      6
 35.  Andrew Greene      VA    04      4
 36.  Gary Noe           FL    03      4
 37.  Joe Pabis          VA    06      3
 38.  Andy Lewis         DE    01      3
 39.  Scott Buckwalter   MD    00      3
 40.  Scott Smith        GA    99      3

2006 Laurelists

Eric Freeman, PA

Brian Kirchner, Germany

David Gubbay, TX

Paul Murphy, UT

Joe Pabis, VA

Past Winners

Stu Hendrickson,VA

Anthony Burke, NJ

Jason Levine, NY

Mark Guttag, VA

Rob Flowers, MD

Jay Fox, NJ

Charlie Kersten, OH

 Close ...

 Closer ...

 Closest ...

Hard Going for Laurelists ...

Heavy competition with other events nearly halved last year's record attendance. Still, competition was tough as many former laurelists and semi-finalists returned to no avail. Only one defending laurelist (Greg Thatcher), returned to the Final. In fact, he was the only former laurelist to do so as the event continues to defy repeated success with only eight players having earned laurels more than once in eight years. Jay Fox, Eric Brosius, and Greg Thatcher pitched in as assistants to allow the GM to play for the first time in three years. This game sometimes runs right up to the two hour limit, requiring GMs to hurry the games along. It's difficult to do this, answer rules questions, and play your own game at the same time.

The three preliminary heats yielded 17 unique winners. The GM had the biggest win of the first heat, by nine points, but was later surpassed by the wins of Yoel Weiss and Tom Johnston. There were no blowouts, or ties for first, as happened last year. 17 players participated in multiple heats, including Joe Pabis who got the win he needed on his third try.

When the call for semi-finalists rang out, there were only two no-shows out of the 25 qualifiers, allowing alternates Eric Brosius and Chris Terrell to step in. Defending champion Charlie Kersten was among these semi-finalists, but was defeated in a close game where the spread between first and last place was only nine points. Eric Freeman had the biggest semi-final win by 14 points. In the semi-fianl with yours truly, Brian Kirchner got out to an early lead by means of scoring cards, but I took over the lead midgame by means of superior board position. In the final stretch, however, David Buchholz and I exchanged blows, allowing Brian to surpass us both.

The first turn of the Final didn't turn up any unusual cards, but there was a "score any region" card, and Greg bid his 12, since he had the most valuable home territory in New Castile. No one overbid with a 13, since that would be overkill, and therefore Greg opened a nine-point lead. The others tried to make Greg pay for this, first by Eric emptying Greg's home province of men, and then Paul locking down the province so Greg was unable to make use of a "move your Grande to any region" the next turn.

Turn 2 had Greg choosing the 2 action card, which sent some people home from other players' courts and provinces, and it ended up such that everyone bid low on the third turn, allowing Greg an incredibly cheap pick of the King card with a bid of 7. He was able to retake his home province during the scoring phase with his pieces in the Castillo, so he did not suffer too badly, or lose the lead. At the end of the first scoring round he had 35 points while his nearest competitor, Eric, was held to 23. During the next three rounds he was also able to move the King twice more, and use his 1-13. The lead opened up to 15 points over Eric.

Turn 7 was one of the most interesting parts of the game. Eric went second, and moved the King, setting up an interesting scoring decision for the third place player, David. Up for grabs was a "Score the first place in all regions" card. Greg was currently not in first place in any region, and winning by 15. Eric had set up the board whereby if David used the card, Eric would score 15, tying Greg, and David would score 12, with Brian and Paul scoring 10 and 9 points respectively. David elected to burn the card, probably since it allowed Eric to get farther ahead of him (their current gap was four points).

The next turn, Greg went first and chose a "Score any region" card, and after choosing his home region again, that pretty much sealed the game.

Since I'm such a big believer in board position, I really like the Move the King card. I thought that it was interesting to note that the first and second place players each got to use it three times. Brian, in third place, used it twice. Paul (5th) only used it once, and David (4th) never used it.

The tournament ran pretty well, and I still like the two hour time limits. I think for next year I will simplify the adjudication process for long games, as the one I have now is cumbersome. More importantly, I intend to put down some more rules clarifications; I had a number of questions this year about the card misprints (again), the veto card, and what happens when players accidentally dial illegal provinces during execution of certain actions. See you next year!

 GM      Rob Flowers  [4th Year]  NA
    rpf1@mindspring.com   (NA) 

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