Marshall Collins (left) and Jamie
Tang argue partisan politics in a much nicer way than they do
on cable news - and with a better result.
Steve Brooks (left) meets defeat at
the hands of Chris Withers in the semi-final round on his way
to a fourth place finish.
The populace appeared to sour quickly on presidential politics
as attendance dropped sharply with the election year behind us.
Only 24 vetted candidates showed up for this year's presidential
campaign. Enthusiasm was high, with one candidate
attempting to literally imitate Nixon's knee injury on an adjacent
chair. (NOTE: no candidates were harmed in the making
of this tournament). News spread quickly that last
year's winner, Chris Byrd, would not be running for re-election. Fox
News reported he has accepted a position as 2010 campaign manager
for New Jersey's Dan Dolan.
Early returns indicated this would be a tight election. The
first round had six wins each by Nixon and Kennedy. Average
electoral scores: Kennedy: 255, Nixon: 263.
One candidate had to drop in the second round and his staff
was unaware of his whereabouts. Fox News reported
he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. Overall results
continued to be close, with three wins by Nixon to two by Kennedy. Average
scores, Kennedy: 250, Nixon: 277.
Six players advanced to the quarter-finals, with the three
winners and highest scoring loser surviiving to do battle once
more. Stefan Mecay and Chris Withers enjoyed lopsided
victories, while Jim Doughan sweated out a close win over Steve
Banks, allowing Steve to continue to the semis. With
their losses, John Wetherell and Philip Yaure accepted 5th and
6th place laurels respectively as they bowed out of the race. Kennedy
won on all three boards with a 120+ electoral vote margin.
There was little drama in the primaries (semis) with Chris
Withers as Nixon winning big over Steve Brooks (4th place). Stefan
Mecay won as Kennedy over Jim Doughan (3rd place). Jim
resigned halfway through the campaign to "spend more time
with his family", although Fox New reports he was trailing
by a wide margin. They also reported he was seen the
next morning with a bunch of children, one of which may not have
actually been his.
The Final was a showdown between this year's WAM winner, Stefan
Mecay, and last year's WBC runner-up, Chris Withers. Chris,
as Nixon, dominated the early going and won all the debates but
Stefan refused to throw in the towel. A late October
push and some election day recounts closed the gap, but Chris
nonetheless persevered for a 277-231 win.
Chris was awarded a DVD of the Kennedy-Nixon debates and recycled
last year's GM prize (1960: The Book) to Stefan. "The
Making of a President 1960" by Theodore White is a must
read for any fan of the game.
The final tally for the entire tournament was 12 wins for
Nixon and 11 for Kennedy. A good time was had by all
and as a first time GM, I also enjoyed myself. Many
thanks to my assistant GM, Greg Schmittgens. In the immortal
words of an inspiring icon, "Ask not what your convention
can do for you, but what you can do for your convention".
Stefan Mecay (left) downs the Breakout
Normandy master James Doughan in the 1960 semi-finals
by relying on a combination of the Kennedy charisma and family
GM Mike Gentile oversees his finalists
as Chris Withers (left) improves on his 2008 runner-up status
and downs Stefan Mecay to win it all. All Hail the Chief.
After a strong debut last year, it was reasonable
to wonder whether 1960: The Making of the President would
continue to draw at WAM, now that the historic real-world election
of 2008 had passed. Attendance did drop slightly, but there were
plenty of newcomers among the 17 campaign managers, a trend which
bodes well for the future.
The early rounds on Saturday showed the tension
this game can produce among well-matched opponents, with several
games going down to the last contested state. Veteran James Terry
had a chance to turn New York for Nixon, but failed three support
checks, allowing a relieved Jeff Finkeldey to escape with a 289-248
electoral victory. Bill Pettus, on the other hand, won a similarly
close game with Nixon over Marvin Birnbaum due to Nixon's superior
Chris Yaure held off Don Chappell, 274-234,
as the long-time We the People GM couldn't find an answer
to Nixon's Momentum cards in the West, South and East. Don would
play an even more memorable game in the following round. After
all the states had been counted, he and Bob Jamelli had tied,
sending the election to Congress! Nixon had won more states,
so Don emerged triumphant, in the only game to go "overtime"
in the history of the event.
Terry Coleman defeated Chris Yaure in a rare
game that had no debate or electoral events played (another first
for the tournament). Meanwhile, Sean McCulloch squeaked past
Mike Mitchell in a contest which saw a number of states change
hands late, 273-246.
In what turned out to be probably the event's
wildest game, Bill Pettus had built up a huge lead early on versus
Steven Brooks. Steve had a strong debate performance with Kennedy
(sound familiar?) to get back into the game late, and managed
to eke out almost all of the big states at the end for a very
hard-fought victory. It turned out to be a big loss for Bill,
as he finished just behind the 4-0 records of Texan Stefan Mecay
and Terry Coleman, who would play for the title.
After the excitement of the prelims, however,
the Final unfortunately couldn't live up to the hype. Terry's
strategy of shutting down his opponent's mobility failed miserably
when Stefan was able to utilize both the Kenn-Air and Bobby Kennedy
card for bonuses and free movement on the critical late turns.
As a result, Terry's considerable endorsements over most of the
board made little difference, and Stefan won going away, 394-114.
After Chris Byrd last year, Stefan becomes the second 1960
winner to win multiple WAM titles in the same year (also winning
Twilight Struggle this year).
26 games were played in all, and overall, the
Nixon side bucked history, emerging victorious 16-10. This 61%
margin of victory was almost identical to last year's WAM results.
Yet the bidding for sides was slightly higher for playing from
the Kennedy side, at about 58%. The average bid for playing Kennedy
was 1, while the typical bid for Nixon was less than 1 (players
were allowed to start bidding at zero). Similar to last year,
about a third of the games were played with no preference shown
by either player (and thus no bids).
It should be noted that the overall edge for
Nixon was offset by a sweep of four Kennedy victories at the
end of the event, including the Final. The average game time
was about 1 hour 45 minutes, with only one game going over 2
hours. The Final was played as a virtual sprint, finishing in
1 hour and 8 minutes.
The best Kennedy player was-no surprise-tournament
winner Stefan Mecay at 4-0, followed by Terry Coleman at 2-0.
Among the best Nixon players was teenager Joe Yaure - who finished
fifth overall - along with Bill Pettus, Terry Coleman, and Marvin
Birnbaum, all 2-1 with Tricky Dick.
Although quick to play, it seems that the WAM
crowd hasn't discovered all of the electoral mysteries of 1960:
The Making of the President quite yet. So, even though the
next couple of years won't tie in to an election year in the
real world, it seems likely that 1960 will continue to
be a WAM staple for years to come.
2009 WAM Laurelists
Terry Coleman, CA
Bill Pettus, NJ
Steven Brooks, FL
Joe Yaure, PA
Marvin Birnbaum, NY
1960 PBeM Tournament:
Justin Nordstrom won the BPA PBeM Tournament in an upset win
over veteran CDW gamer Stefan Mecay and a field of 16. Semi-finalists
Bob Jamelli and Mike Pacheco played a consolation game for third
with Mike taking the bronze. Fifth and sixth place laurels were
awarded to George Young and Anthony Daw respectively based on
the number of electoral votes won in their last losing contest.