puerto rico [Updated Nov. 21, 2006]  

2006 WBC Report  

 2007 Status: pending 2007 GM commitment

Chris Moffa, NJ

2006 Champion

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Event History
2002    Arthur Field     152
2003    Nicholas Anner     217
2004    Barbara Flaxington     176
2005     Bill Murdock     164
2006     Chris Moffa     136

Euro Quest Event History
2003    Lyman Moquin     57
2004    Arthur Field     44
2005    John Kerr     42
2006     Arthur Field     37


Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  David Platnick     NY    06    126
  2.  Barb Flaxington    NJ    06    112
  3.  Christian Moffa    NJ    06     77
  4.  Arthur Field       SC    06     96
  5.  Bill Murdock       VA    05     61
  6.  Nicholas Anner     NY    03     60
  7.  Lyman Moquin       DC    05     49
  8.  John Kerr          VA    06     45
  9.  Gary Carr          VA    03     36
 10.  Andrew Greene      VA    05     30
 11.  John Weber         MD    06     29
 12.  Malinda Barnes     NY    05     24
 13.  Jonathan Tivel     VA    04     24
 14.  Phil Rennert       MD    03     24
 15.  James Robertson    MD    05     22
 16.  Aaron Buchanan     VA    04     18
 17.  Lucimara Martins   MD    03     18
 18.  Eric Freeman       PA    06     15
 19.  Andrew Gerb        MD    06     12
 20.  Rob Barnes         WV    05     12
 21.  Bruce Reiff        OH    03     12
 22.  Winton LeMoine     CA    06      8
 23.  Bill Salvatore     MD    03      8
 24.  Davyd Field        SC    05      6
 25.  Ted Mullally       NJ    02      6
 26.  Chris LeFevre      AZ    06      5
 27.  Raphael Lehrer     MD    06      4
 28.  John Adams         MD    03      4
 29.  Steve Simmons      NJ    02      4
 30.  Rachel McGinley    SC    02      3
 31.  Raphael Lehrer     MD    06      2
 32.  Tom Browne         PA    02      2

2006 Laurelists

David Platnick, VA

John Weber, MD

Eric Freeman, PA

Barb Flaxington, NJ

Chris LeFevre, AZ

Past Winners

Arthur Field, SC

Nicholas Anner, NY

Barb Flaxington, NJ

Bill Murdock, NY

  Even in a "down" year, Puerto Rico draws a crowd. Down 81 from its record 2003 attendance, it was still the fifth largest event at WBC this year.

Clockwise from lower left, David Platnick, Chris Moffa, "stenographer" Barb Flaxington, John Weber and Eric Freeman vie for the title in the Final.

No Longer the WBC Attendance Champ ...

It was the closest finish in any WBC Puerto Rico Final game since the game debuted in 2002. Chris Moffa and David Platnick were the only players to reach the last round undefeated, each having won their prior three games in convincing fashion. David, in the #1 indigo seat, piled up an early lead, had three manned quarries working for him and appeared to be on his way to victory when he purchased the Guild Hall. Chris, however, had three quarries of his own plus a factory pumping out three doubloons each production phase and he parlayed this into two large buildings of his own as the game reached the home stretch. When the VPs were counted, Chris and Dave had exactly the same -- 43 -- but the half VP Dave had bid for his #1 indigo seat (Chris, by contrast, had bid nothing for the less desirable #2 indigo seat) proved critical. Chris, whose wife Barb had won the tourney in 2004, was the new WBC champion and David was runner-up for the third year in a row. Third place went to GM John Weber, who had originally been declared the winner but dropped to third when a VP count--verified by all players later with the aid of some replay notes--found he had taken an extra 5 VP chit by mistake. Rounding out the final table in fourth place was Eric Freeman, who had earned his spot in the Final the hard way, by besting two former WBC champions (Barb Flaxington and Arthur Field) in the semi-final round.

The first and second heats saw 37 different winners emerge from 35 games. As in the past, there were two games with double winners (tied on points and on doubloons plus goods tiebreaker) but, unlike prior years, no player managed to score two wins in the first two heats. Highlights of the first round were wins by 2004-05 runner-up David Platnick and 2005 fifth place laurelist Rob Barnes, but some other contenders took it on the chin by finishing last in their games, including 2005 laurelist Malinda Barnes (Rob's sister), 2004 champion and Assistant GM Barb Flaxington, and GM John Weber. The second heat saw a 4-0 clean sweep for Puerto Rico GMs, as Barb and John bounced back to win games, as did Assistant GM Anne Norton, and PrezCon GM Chris Terrell also won his game as well.

While overall numbers were down from prior years, the numbers for the third and final heat on Saturday were up as players seemed aware of the fact that just one win would secure advancement, and also that a second win would mean a coveted bye into Sunday morning's semi-final round games. Five tables of winners were paired together, plus an additional 12 tables -- but one winner managed to join the non-winners' group and score a second win, meaning there were six two-game winners and over 40 one-game winners. Four of the two-game winners (Chris Moffa, Chris LeFevre, Arthur Field, and Doug Smith) accepted byes into the semis, one (Andy Gerb) declined the bye and the sixth (Don Tatum) withdrew due to schedule conflicts. The quarterfinal round then brought together exactly 31 one-game winners with the one two-game winner and, unfortunately, that meant that the top alternate (Kevin Walsh, who placed second in all three heats) did not get to play.

Eight quarter-final winners were thus guaranteed advancement to the semis along with the four top second-place finishers from the quarter-final round. Perennial contender David Platnick and former winner Barb Flaxington paced the group of quarter-final winners; this meant that both former champs in the field (Barb and Arthur Field) would be part of the 16-player semi-finals. Father and son Barry and Rob Barnes also won their quarter-final encounters to book spots in the semifinals--the third year in succession for at least one Barnes family member, and the second year in a row that two Barneses graced the semi-final field. The penultimate round consisted of some familiar names from prior WBCs, such as Rodney Bacigalupo (third year in a row to the semis), Rob Barnes (second year in a row) and Barry Barnes (father of Rob and Malinda, who was returning after reaching the semis in 2004), plus Tom Browne, a participant in the very first WBC final in 2002. There were some new faces making their first semi-final round appearance as well, including Athena Padouvas (who had two seconds and two wins after playing all three heats plus the quarterfinals), current and former BPA Board members Ken Whitesell and John Pack, Chris LeFevre, and Princes of Florence expert Doug Smith -- but defending laurelist Malinda Barnes did not advance, managing no better than third on a tiebreak in a one-point loss in her best game.

One innovation this year was mandatory bidding for seat position, starting in the semis. Players could bid in 1/2 VP increments for their favored seat positions, such VPs to be subtracted from the final scores. As it turned out, three of the four semifinal games were won by players who accepted a handicap for one of the two corn seats -- only David Platnick bucked the trend when he finished eight points ahead of Rob Barnes in a game where both accepted indigo seats with no handicaps. David used four manned quarries and ended with three large buildings to cap his semi-final win. Chris Moffa built a Guild Hall and a Harbor to win his semi-final game, despite no coffee or tobacco production, by seven VPs over Rodney Bacigalupo. GM John Weber also put the Guild Hall-Harbor combination to good use, advancing to the Final for the first time by squeaking out a two-point win over Chris LeFevre; John and Chris had both bid for corn seats in the game, and Chris (because of his close finish) walked away with the coveted 6th place plaque. The toughest semi-final table based on the random pairing was the one that brought together the two former champs, 2004 winner Barb Flaxington and 2002 champ Arthur Field. In their prior WBC semi-final encounter in 2004, Barb had edged Arthur by a point, but Arthur got some revenge by beating Barb in the Final at EuroQueat a few months later. Surprisingly, neither Barb nor Arthur reached the Final this time, as their game was won by Eric Freeman. Eric has shown great skill in a variety of Euro-style games before but not, until the 2006 WBC, at Puerto Rico tournaments. Eric bid for the #1 corn seat and made use of an early Factory buy coupled with a mid-game Harbor to finish just one point ahead of Barb (after the VP bids were taken into account). This meant that Eric moved on to the Final, while Barb would settle for the fifth place plaque, for her fourth Top 5 finish going back to 2003 (counting two runner-up results at EuroQuest).

The Final table brought together David Platnick and Chris Moffa, each of whom had swept aside their opponents in three previous games by margins ranging from five to 12 points, with two surprise finalists: GM John Weber, who had squeaked out a two-point win in his semi-final game, and Eric Freeman, who had surprised Barb and Arthur, the two former champs. David, as runner-up at the previous two WBCs, along with wins at two 2006 Puerto Rico tourneys at PrezCon and Origins, would have to be rated the favorite with Chris, who had finished second at the 2005 EuroQuest Final, the only other player with Final table experience a strong second choice. John and Eric both decided to try to help their chances by accepting handicaps of 2 VP and 1.5 VP for the first and second corn seats, respectively. In a move that would later factor into the outcome, David bid 1/2 VP for the first indigo seat while Chris accepted the least desirable #2 indigo seat for no handicap.

As the game developed, all four players aggressively sought to gain the early cash advantage to improve their respective positions. Chris bought a tobacco plant on Turn 2 to assist his trading position, but he also had to deal with having his tobacco clogging up a ship for just about the entire game. John secured the early coffee monopoly, while Eric scored some quick cash and bought the first Factory. David quickly obtained three quarries to earn building discounts, and then he used a Hacienda to draw three corn plantations in three attempts! The jockeying for position continued as John used the funds from an early coffee trade to buy a Harbor, leaving Chris with the opportunity to snap up the remaining Factory. Eric secured the second Harbor but was shut out of the tobacco business when John grabbed the last Tobacco mill after Eric had already acquired a couple of tobacco plantations. David won the race to buy the first large building, selecting the always popular Guild Hall. Eric and David bought the Small Warehouses to keep their goods from rotting. David used his three quarries to start pumping out more buildings to earn maximum bonus points on the Guild Hall, while Chris played catch-up by picking up two more quarries to match David's three. John and Eric did not have time to acquire quarries, focusing on trying to improve their shipping position given their Harbor purchases.

A key moment occurred when Chris picked up a $3 Craftsman, adding another 3 in factory income which wound up giving him just enough cash to build two large buildings in succession -- while David, who was maximizing his Guild Hall points, did not get a second large building. Chris, John and Eric were prepared for the game to end when David -- after eyeing Chris' stack of unrevealed shipping VPs -- decided to extend the game an additional turn to see if he could improve his position relative to Chris. The extra turn allowed John to buy and man a large building and the initial VP count showed John coming in ahead of Chris and David. But, thanks to the benefit of a replay, a vital scoring error was discovered (John had inadvertently picked up an extra 5 VP chit by mistake) and the recalculations showed Chris and David tied with 43 VPs. Had there been no bids for seat position, David would have won on the tiebreaker, but in the end that 1/2 VP bid made all the difference as it was subtracted from his score -- thus Chris became the fifth WBC Champion in the closest finish yet. Final scores (after taking into account the bids for seat position) were Chris 43, David 42.5, John 39 and Eric 36.5.

Overall statistics regarding seat position showed one surprise and one familar pattern. As in past years, the "worst" starting position was the #2 (indigo seat), which trailed the "best" seat by an average of exactly four VPs per game. This data was based on the 60 games played with random draw for seat and did not include the Final or semi rounds where bidding occurred. Only nine of these games were won from the #2 seat, but of course Chris, the tournament winner, bucked the trend by winning the Final after also winning one of his earlier games from the #2 seat. The surprise was that the "best" seat, unlike past tournaments, was not the #3 (first corn) seat, but the #4 (second corn) seat, which won more games and had the highest scoring average as well. The disparity in the point spread has caused the GM to consider a variant where the second seat starts with sugar instead of indigo -- look for the variant to be tested at the EuroQuest tournament in the fall before it is adopted for WBC play, however.

Other highlights from this year's tourney:

*** Three of the top five finishers (Chris, Eric and Barb) were teammates but none of them had the foresight to select Puerto Rico as a team game.
*** David Platnick, now runner-up for the past three years, kept a streak alive that dates back to 2003 by winning a plaque in each of the last four WBC Puerto Rico tournaments, breaking a tie with Arthur Field, who won successive plaques in the first three years (2002-2004).
*** Closest game in any of the heats was a 52-52-51-51 barnburner in the third heat, won by Alex Bove over Gordon Rogers on a tiebreak.
*** Stats were again collected to see the most popular buildings in winning displays, and this year (excluding the mills) it was Small Market #1 (in 41 winning displays), Harbor #2 (36) and Factory #3 (22).
*** The least popular violet buildings on the winning displays were the Large Warehouse (only seen twice), the University (seven times) and the Office (12 times).
*** The most popular bonus building was (once again) the Guild Hall (in 22 winning displays) and least popular was the Residence (in ten displays).
*** Three players won games by constructing three large buildings -- Jason Levine (in the first heat), Neil Ekengren (in the second heat) and then David Platnick in the semi-final round.
*** Neil Ekengren, who was one of four players who participated in this year's demo, went on to win a game in the tournament, to prove that newbies can survive in the "Puerto Rico shark tank," and one of his victims in that game was Eric, who went on to take fourth place overall. Another player who learned the game at the demo, James Tyne, also proved to be a quick study as he finished only two points out of first in his initial game, losing to an eventual laurelist, Chris LeFevre.
*** Eventual winner Chris Moffa and his three first round opponents (Winton Lemoine, Derek Landel, and Josh Githens) proved you can still have fun --despite the pressure cooker of WBC competition -- by taking the stats compilation to a new level by reporting categories such as "most rotted barrels in the Captain phase," "most colonists held in San Juan during the Mayor Phase," plus the ever-popular "times Josh made Derek upset during the game."

For those craving more details on the 2006 WBC Puerto Rico tourney, look for a Final game replay and more stats and info to be posted soon at the GM's website, http://www.home.earthlink.net/~jcw222, under the "2006" page.

The GM wishes to once again acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Anne Norton, who has served as assistant GM for the past three years, and Barb Flaxington, who has served as assistant GM for the past two years, as well as some key impromptu help this year from Alex Brown.

Finally, tournament winner Chris Moffa has added the following comments that are presented here verbatim (Chris's comments in italics).

"His & Hers Puerto Rico championship plaques" : I went through the first three games with strong harbor shipping and did it with little or no crafting. At the final, it was a total about face. I settled for the 2nd seat by bidding zero and decided on the cash/builder stance. I also needed a 1-2 combo because I was to be governor on Turn 2. I saw tobacco out in the plantations, David took settler/quarry, I knew I had to pounce on it. Coffee would take too long to get going, and wouldn't do me that much good being governor next round. My first turn pick was prospector, and then 2nd turn was to take builder/tobacco factory.
With my tobacco ready to roll on Turn 2 it was time to look for phase 2 cash - factory. I was able to acquire this at just the right time. It is very easy to become beguiled by the money craftsman brings when you own the factory and the 1+ doubloons resting atop the role is even more enticing. Previously during my tournament games, I was reluctant to pull the trigger and let others do so.
Later during turn 12, a pivotal moment arose, as John noted, I selected craftsman with 3 doubloons and generated 3 more which put me straight into range for my first large building. My final cash stage was acquiring 3 quarries. Yes, this is a reverse quarry approach, but when you have cash flow coming in early-midgame, you don't need quarries as much at that point. It accomplished a number of things. In my previous 3 games I had piles of vp's to mask my true score with. This time, however, I had a paltry stack of singles. Coming in with quarries on the back end made me a surprise double large builder when the game was on the line. It also gave me a useful "null" play option when the prospector was gone.
Having enough money at the end via the reverse quarry maneuver may have been a surprise. Previously David had blocked off my tobacco sales. When he was going for a late 2nd large bldg, he traded tobacco which allowed me to sell sugar and to exactly afford my 2nd large with the huge help of 3 quarries in place.
The end game was angst ridden for David. He could choose to end the game on his turn immediately and probably settle for a tie with me. I went to the restroom to give him some space. When I returned, he was still agonizing over it. He decided to prolong the game and allowed John and Eric to mount a last ditch shipping attack, closing the gap. Curiously, the end result was about the same - a tie. By not bidding for2nd spot I gained 1/2 pt. on David to break our tie.
"Viva la 2nd seat!"
On a side note, during the first game the other players ingeniously devised a new statistical analysis for PRO. I encouraged them to scan it in and upload it to boardgamegeek for countless PR fans to lose sleep over. Hopefully someday light will be shed on this most intriguing bit of number crunching.

2006 Euro Quest Laurelists

Arthur Field, SC

Andrew Gerb, MD

Winton LeMoine, CA

John Kerr, VA

Raphael Lehrer, MD

 GM      John Weber  [5th Year]   NA
    jcw222@earthlink.net   NA

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