leader off the starboard bow ...
GM Jon Lockwood appears to be whistling
a foul on Forrest Speck. All that's missing is the striped shirt.
Randy MacInnis, Tom Johnston
and Bruce Monnin avoid eye contact as 2005 champ Bill Place looks
for a victim.
This year's contingent of 36 players, while smaller than the
2007 turnout, provided for a perfect two-round progression of
six tables of six players each, with only the winner advancing
to the six-player Final.
1 turned into a two-man duel for supremacy by the fourth round,
with John Speck eventually emerging as the victor with 89 points
over Phil Bradley with 85.15-year old Danielle Zack kept the
leaders honest with a strong third place showing of 70 points,
while GM Jonathan Lockwood and Grant LaDue managed to avoid last
place status with 56 points each over Forrest Speck with 53 points.
(no family cooperation there!)
Table 2 was a close affair, where the victor was also decided
after four rounds, but in this case it was Rob Brode who managed
to win despite being the main target of the field after his HUGE
round of 55 points in Round 2 gave him a commanding lead with
64 points, but also made him the mandatory first target for the
rest of the game. Despite the handicap of having his fleet sunk
from under him the next two rounds, Rob managed to eke out an
additional net 11 points in Rounds 3 and 4 to secure a narrow
victory with the minimum 75 points, followed closely by Patrick
Maloney with 73 points, Stefany Speck with 71, veteran Robert
Hahn with 66, John Shaheen with 63, and Craig Yope rounding out
the field with 54 points.
Table 3 brought a more familiar sight, where former GM and
Naval War champ Jim Fleckenstein managed to triumph in four rounds
over five other guys named Scott (84 points), Bruce (79), Randy
(72), Tom (60) and Bill (56). Sorry for relegating you to relative
anonymity, guys, but that is what happens when you don't bother
to put your last names on the scorecard!
Table 4 was a particularly lively and competitive match, with
Ruth Evinger compensating for having her fleet sunk twice with
effective use of the SIX destroyer squadrons she drew during
four rounds of play! She drew two of these during Round 4, sinking
two of her opponents' fleets while scoring 50 points to storm
into the Final with 85 points, followed by Bert Calentine with
72 (and the only other person who still had a fleet at the end
of Round 4!), Michael Ussery 66, Alan Arvold 64, 2006 champ Stephen
Cuyler 49, and David Zande 40.
Table 5 was one of only two tables to go five rounds, with
the match eventually coming down to a duel between the aircraft
carriers of skilled newcomer Jean-Christine Hull and eventual
winner Scott Fenn, the two of them having managed to destroy
the other four opposing fleets in Round 5! Scott barely managed
to avoid having his last ship sunk before the deck ran out, finishing
with a tournament high 109 points, followed by Jean-Christine
with 95, Frank Mestre 80, Matt Evinger 74, James Kramer 73, and
Michael Mitchell 67.
Table 6 was the other five-round match, but was a much tighter
game, mainly because all players adhered strictly to the game's
central strategy of always being aware of who the leader was
at any given moment and ganging up on that person to prevent
a large lead. As a result, all six players were within range
at the beginning of Round 5, preventing any easy alliances against
one player and turning it more into "every man (or woman)
for him(her)self." Bryan Eshleman took the most effective
advantage of the ensuing chaos to win with 83 points, followed
closely by Becky Johnston with 81, Roy Pettis 79, Daniel Pappas
76, Tim Evinger 75, and Rob Winslow with 66 points to round out
the closest game of the tournament.
Not surprisingly, the Final proved as unpredictable as most
of the Preliminaries had been. Fenn took the early Round 1 lead
with 38 points, while Fleckenstein and Eshleman, mainly because
of their reputations as good players, were targeted early for
destruction and had their fleets sunk. Brode stayed close with
30 points, followed by Speck 17, Evinger 10, Fleckenstein 4,
and Eshleman trailing with 2 points.
Round 2 saw the field correctly teaming up against the leaders,
with both Fenn and Brode having their fleets sunk to bring them
back to the pack. Eshleman had the big 35 point round to take
a narrow Round 3 lead with 37 points, followed by Speck with
36, Fleckenstein 35, Brode 31, Fenn 28, and Evinger with 23.
Round 3 saw a division of the field into two camps, with three
players zeroing in on the top three perceived leaders to sink
their fleets and impose the 10 point penalty. Even though Eshleman,
Speck and Brode had their fleets sunk, Speck managed to score
well enough with a 37 point round to overcome this and pull to
within striking range of victory at 63 points, followed by Fenn
with 54, Fleckenstein at 49, Evinger and Speck tied at 46, and
Eshleman once again in last at 38 after having his fleet sunk
a second time.
Round 4 proved to be the decisive round, as the field first
zeroed in on Speck as the most dangerous threat and sank his
fleet, then began taking each other's fleets out trying to prevent
victory by the other contenders and extend the match to a fifth
round. During this free-for-all, they all ignored trailer Eshleman.
That would prove to be a fatal mistake, as he steadily picked
off ships and successfully used a destroyer squadron to sink
an opponent's fleet en route to a match-high total of 54 points!
This took him from last place to wood with 92 points, followed
by Speck with 72, and Fleckenstein with 66 points. He would be
closely followed by Brode with 65, Evinger with 61, and Fenn
with 6th place laurels at 52 points.
GM Jon Lockwood checks in his
finalists for the big dance. Let the bombardments and lead denials
Two-time champ Jim Fleckenstein picks
out a bombing target as Rob Brode, Ruth Evinger and Scott Fenn
avoid eye contact. Why me?!