ducat to travel light ...
Karen McCulloch (left) smiles as she
wins her semi-final. You'd be smiling too if you just finished
five days in the Juniors room.
GM Lisa Gutermuth records the score
for the finalists as her father preserves the family honor with
With the hours of WBC 2007 trickling down to a precious few,
those searching for their last chance at wood (everyone awake,
that is) or looking for just a bit of fun decided to build train
track across the continental US in TransAmerica. Each
game had a number of turns equal to the number of players at
the table, so that each player would go first once per game.
To allow players to play more games, the 47 starting players
were split into 11 tables: eight 4-player games and three 5-player
games, with both firsts and seconds advancing from each table.
A dropout between the first round and semis resulted in five
semi-final tables, with four 4-player games and one 5-player
game. Winners advanced to contest a 5-player Final, and thanks
to Craig Trader buying a game from the vendor room, there were
enough copies of the game for only TransAmerica to be
Rebecca Hebner, she who will forever be known as the first
to accomplish a WBC grand slam, won all four rounds of her game
to be the only player to advance with a score of zero. Alan
Gormly took second at that table by earning a max of three points
per round. Michelle Hymowitz won her table by three points,
with Karen McCulloch advancing from a three-way tie for second
by scoring only two points in the round where she went first.
Dave Metzger won his table with six points and only one first
place finish, beating Andy Lewis by a point despite the fact
that he had three of four first place finishes at the table (one
round can kill you in this game!). Sean McCulloch and Rob Flowers
advanced from their game, also finishing with six and seven points.
Ken Gutermuth and Joshua Gifford advanced sharing the only tie
for first in the round.
At the table with GM Lisa Gutermuth, Lisa managed first by
leaving the leader Chris LeFevre with nine points in the final
round. Chris had only two points before that round and consequently
still managed to advance. Rod Davidson got second with no first-place
finishes (one of only two to do this) behind Scott Nerney.
At the first 5-player table, Donna Balkan and Kevin Emery
advanced from a table where each player had one first place finish.
John Shaheen advanced with three first place finishes and Eric
Hymowitz joined the semis in geometric fashion by scoring 0,
1, 2, 3, and 4 points in the five rounds of play. At the table
with the highest scores, Matt Calkins and Kathy Stroh advanced
with 12 and 14 points, respectively.
Rod Davidson had to drive his wife to the airport, leaving
21 players, or four 4-player tables and a 5-player table, as
the semi-finals. Only winners advanced. In the only 5-player
semi table Karen McCulloch punched her ticket to the Final by
scoring only one point when she went first, winning the tie breaker
with Kathy Stroh, who scored three points when she went first.
Husband Sean also advanced out of a tie, scoring no points in
his turn as first player to Michelle Hymowitz's one point. Although
Michelle did not advance her tie earned her sixth place laurels.
Despite a nice start by GM Lisa Gutermuth, two harsh rounds
put her out of the running. Although she won the last round
of the game, Rebecca Hebner did not finish early enough, and
Matt Calkins got few enough points so that he advanced from this
table. Ken Gutermuth revisited the Final for the second year
in a row by being first out in rounds 1-3 and scoring only three
points in Round 4. Even though he was last after the first two
rounds and he had only played TransEuropa previously,
Scott Nerney went out first in his last two rounds to advance.
Ken managed to connect first in the Final in a very close
opening round. Matt, Sean, and Scott were just one space
away while Karen was two away. In the second round,
Karen managed a quick connection that left Scott two spaces shy,
Sean three, Ken four, and Matt five spaces. After two rounds,
Karen led Scott by one, Ken and Sean by two, and Matt by four.
Ken completed his connection again in Round 3 with Karen one
space away, Scott two, Matt three and Sean four. This left
Karen with a slim one-point lead over Ken, two ahead of Scott,
five ahead of Sean, and six ahead of Matt. As play entered
the 4th round, Sean and Matt needed a quick connection to get
back into the game. Matt managed to pull off the quick
connection with Ken the closest at two spaces away, Scott three,
Sean five, and our now ex-eader Karen six spaces away.
This quick connection ended Sean's hopes of winning wood but
opened the door to a bigger prize -- finishing ahead of his wife
and preserving some semblance of family bragging rights.
Nor was this the only family pride at stake. Ken was in position
to end his four-year wood drought and keep the Gutermuth family
string of bringing home wood intact -- since the ladies in the
Gutermuth household had been upholding the family honor without
the patriarch ... much to the latter's expense.
Ken held a two-point lead over Scott, three over Karen and
Matt, and seven over Sean. With the end of his travails in sight,
Ken was not to be denied as he completed his route for the third
time and won the wood going away. Scott finished two spaces away
to hold onto second. Karen was three spaces away and finished
third -- or as she would put it -- two places ahead of you-know-who.
Matt was five spaces away but managed to hold onto 4th while
Sean's four-space shortfall left him in fifth place in the game
and -- more importantly -- second in his household.
The final scores were Ken Gutermuth 6 points, Scott Nerney
10 points, Karen McCulloch 12 points, Matt Calkins 14 points,
and Sean McCulloch 17 points.
Trans America Junior
GM Kathy Stroh -- serving her umpteenth
tour as a juniors GM -- teaches the finer points of train travel.
Junior's Monitor Karen McCulloch gets
some pointers on how to beat her husband in railroad games.
There were 20 little train travellers this year. Alyssa Mills
proved to be the most successful and she was followed by
2nd: Wes Lewis
3rd: Brian Pappas
4th: Brian Sherwood
5th: Trevor Middaugh
6th: Nathan Taylor