GM John Pack (bottom right) keeps
an eye on his finalists.
Attention is focused on the game with
the clock running.
The Medici champion, Carmen Petruzelli, had to stage
a dramatic comeback to claim victory. After the first buying
session, Carmen wasn't in first place or second or even third!
However, by the end of the second session, Carmen had climbed
into second place to set the stage for his victory. Such comebacks
weren't very common - 50% of all winners were in the lead at
the end of the first session and 61% were in the lead by the
end of the second session.
It's a good thing for Carmen that the Final was a five-player
game - because there were ZERO players in four-player games who
overcame a deficit after the second session! The Final almost
was a four-player game. With 19 winners reporting for the semi-final,
the GM determined to play four five-player semi-finals and a
four-player Final. However, at the end of their semi-final, Jeff
Meyer and Ilan Woll found themselves tied with 94 points apiece!
The official Medici rules contain no tie-breaker, and
the GM was loathe to eliminate a player based on the scores from
earlier sessions, so both advanced, and unbeknownst to them sewed
the seeds of Carmen's comeback. The game plays better with five,
so it was an easy decision.
The Final's first buying session ended spectacularly with
Gary Noe filling his boat free-of-charge with cards that not
only gave him three of one color but the highest boat total as
well. Gary had 51 points after just one session (which is right
on the median for all winners but slightly ahead of the 50.5
median for five-player games). However, Gary spent heavily for
his goods and only improved his score by 7 points during the
second session (compared to a median gain of 23 points by all
winners). Steve Shambeda, the leader after the second session
and second-place finisher with 96 points, miscalculated during
the final session when he overbid on a set that was ideal for
Gary Noe and was stuck with it. On the other hand, without that
set Gary finished fifth. One other unusual Final occurrence saw
the gold card, by itself, sell for17 florins.
Carmen finished with a score of exactly 100 after his earlier
sessions ended at 38 and 72. Interestingly, the average winner
finished with 113.9 (109.4 in five-player games). However, compared
to Carmen's gains of 8, 34, and 28 during the three buying sessions,
the average winner gained 20.4, 25.1, and 38.3 (with 20.1, 24.1,
and 35.5 in five-player games). Carmen really hit the accelerator
during the second session. That momentum carried him over the
finish in first place!
The biggest change of the year was the move to a one-hour
timeframe. Over-all, the change was met with appreciation with
more than a dozen players going out of their way to let the GM
know. More importantly, the surge in total participation shows
the effect of the shorter playing time and the guarantee that
players will reach their next event on time.
With a rush of players showing up right after pairings were
made, the first heat had a few games taken by surprise when the
final scoring deadline hit (at 53 minutes after the hour). That
final rush of players caused many games to receive a new player
(resulting in many six-player games). Fortunately, after the
experience of the first heat, the remaining three ran without
a hitch. To ensure speedy play, the GM reminded all available
players about the time guidelines two minutes before pairings
were assigned. In addition to the 20- and 35-minute warnings,
a "five minutes before final scoring" deadline was
added. I also ensured that every copy of the game available was
set up - such that no further six-player games were played. That
was enough for all games (except one semi-final) to finish their
third session before the final scoring deadline. I encourage
the next GM to stick with the one-hour format (I also recommend
running a heat right before the semi-finals). Players will handle
the speedy play more easily once accustomed to it. I thank everyone
in the first heat for their patience while we all learned what
it took to finish the game in a bit less than an hour. Thank